Monday, August 29, 2011

Paying the Recovery Insurance premium

Hey all and hope my friends on the east coast survived the storm alright!!

I was blessed Saturday with not having to work. This allowed me to go to an AA district meeting. I have been active in service work in one form or another during both periods of recovery. I didn't know early on when I was setting up the meeting in the tin shed in Korea, starting the coffee and lighting the oil stove/heater, I was doing service work and in doing so I was paying on an insurance premium. From Doctor Bob's Nightmare; " 4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip."

In November we will be hold elections for district offices/committee positions. Like in a lot of areas finding people who are willing to get involved in service work is a struggle. I had been thinking about this struggle and suggested a the meeting we hold a workshop prior to elections on service work. The suggestion was accepted with one change, we aren't calling it a service work workshop, it will be called a back to basics 12th step workshop, since the words "service work" may keep people away. We decide to keep it short and simple; 2 hours, 1 main speaker, panel of 4 speakers and a Q&A session. We will have it at 9:30am on a Saturday in October, this is done so it will not interfere with the Nebraska football game. You never plan an event when there is a football game if you have any hopes of halfway decent attendance :-)

Here just some of my thoughts on service work. Service and 12th step work are first and foremost about getting out of self. It is about the paradox of giving it away to keep it. We/I need to share about how simple acts of service benefit others which in turns benefits me. I can make coffee, unlock meeting places, setup meetings, cleanup meetings, shake the hand of a new face and those returning. When I hear someone share they are new to the meeting or are returning from a relapse I can tell them I am glad they are here and keep coming back. These simple things take very little time and effort on my part. There is no conscience decision to do this, it just happens most of the time and I don't realize I am paying on the insurance premium. This is the simplest form of 12th stepping, caring the message and practicing these principles in all our affairs. We care the message with our smiles and friendliness which offers hope, getting out of self is one of the principles we try to practice.

I don't know about anyone else but our meetings tend to avoid conversations about basic service work, basic 12th step work. Newcomers should be coached in simple service the same as the other suggestions, my opinion only. It seems once people get sober, they get busy and complacent, they forget there are simple things all of us need to do to make sure AA is here for the struggling alcoholic, whether the person is wet or dry. I know people with many years of recovery who will not get a key for the meeting house, nor will they get up and pour coffee for others around the table. Part of me is angered by their arrogance the other part is sad because they have forgot about what it was like in the beginning and about the old timers who showed us the way by doing simple acts of service.

Service at the local, district and area level isn't that hard either, if one considers how much time we spent being self absorbed in our pursuit of the next drink. This kind of service may require one or two days out of the month. We have a hard time finding people willing to attend local jail meetings, really blows considering how many of us where once residence of the steel bar hotel. We sponsor 2 meetings a month at the jail and NA sponsors 2 meetings; alternating Thursdays. We lost our meeting at the local mental health hospital due to lack of outside involvement, people unwilling to chair or share their experience strength and hope with the patients, unwilling is too harsh of a word, it was more about being too busy/other commitments, not understanding the need for hospital meetings, same can be said for jail meetings. A few of us will say we receive much more than we give when we attend such meetings.

I don't know about anyone else but once in awhile I get stagnant with my regular meetings, when this happens I look for new meetings to go to. Going to a jail or treatment center meeting is a good way for me to get refreshed, along with new meetings with some new and old faces. I hit an NA meeting once in awhile for this reason as well.

In this day and age of recovery, the old 12 step isn't very common. It has been years since I have gone with another member and called on a wet drunk or really hungover drunk. Most people show up at meetings via the courts or fresh out of treatment centers. Yet the need to carry the message is as important as ever. People in the medical and social services professions still aren't really clear about who we are and what we really do, thus the need for continued education of professionals. We need to make sure the primary treatment centers, the ones local people go to, have current contact list and meeting list, also road trips to their meetings so people returning to the area know members when they come back. This applies to jails as well, released inmates feel more comfortable with a familiar face and warm hand shake. Counselors also need current information and need to be on friendly bases with people in recovery.

I am totally aware you can no more wish someone into service work than you can wish them into recovery. The best any of us can do is share our experience with people and hope we create a spark or two. The idea for the workshop is all about creating a spark, either with a new member or old member. Old members may say they have done their time, fair enough and understood, hopefully though they will pass the message onto the people they sponsor or are close to.

Stepping out of my low self esteem image of comfort and into service work has done a world of good for me. It has given me the confidence to speak crowds of people and professionals I feel are superior to me. It has allow me to make many new friends throughout the state. It has shown what true commitment is all about and also responsibility. It has allow me to do some serious 3rd, 6th, 7th, 11th and 12th step work. It is a teacher of humility, service work is about the We of AA and not the Me, its joining hands in the Fellowship of the Spirit. AA will survive without me doing service work but will Scott survive?

Anyway these are just my thoughts and opinions. Local, district and area service work isn't for everyone but let us not forget the simple things though.

I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:

1. Sense of duty.
2. It is a pleasure.
3. Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.

Doctor Bob's Nightmare

Peace Love and Light

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mellowed out

This is our campfire from Saturday night. We had 18 people at the potluck and meeting. Nine people camped out. The meeting and fellowship were awesome. The Higher Power has a special effect on people when a meeting is held in the great open cathedral . The sharing tends to come more from the heart; this could be a result of being darker and people being less afraid of others looking too close at them, the special bond with our God's which comes with being in nature, knowing this is a smaller group who are all gathered together for the same purpose, probably a combination of all. We had a woman and her companion show up who just moved to the area and only knew 2 people at the camp out, I love it when someone steps outside their comfort zone for the sake of staying sober, both stated the meeting and fellowship is what they really needed and left with more serenity then they came with. The guy who went to SoberFloat on his own came out as well, another example of being willing to do everything needed to stay sober, live in recovery and establish and new circle of friends.

I really love how the Divine works for 12 step programs. With our busy schedules, odd work hours and days off, it didn't look like we would have another camp out this summer. A few weeks ago the other instigator of the Happy Campers got with me about having a camp out for this weekend and having it 10 miles south of town at a state park. I was able to get the Saturday off, the rest of production had to work, others were also able to get time off or didn't have anything planned. We found a perfect spot for our tents, big enough area around fire pit for circle of chairs, nice shade and bathroom/outhouse close by. I had to work Friday night, so didn't come out until Saturday afternoon. Nine people were at the meeting Friday night, one of the newer members shared his story, this was good for him and others.

I took Angel, my 3 year old granddaughter, with me. I thought there would be other kids which there wasn't but that was alright, we were able to spend some quality time together. I brought some toys along, the over sized bat and waffle ball went over really well, she had fun trying to hit the ball and papa praising her each time she did. She played in the sand by the lake and in general kept herself amused. She never let papa too far out of her sight and was pretty clingy but that was alright. I was afraid she wouldn't go potty in the outhouse; she had a bad experience with a porta potty, she wouldn't go in it and had an accident which really made her upset. She did say it was yucky but as long as papa held her she was alright, she got to the point where she would sit on it by herself. Another example of the Higher Power or maybe Karma working. Having Angel with me didn't allow me to assist in the cooking the way I usually do but others took over without a problem.

In recovery kids for the most part are a welcome part of our lives and events. They are not a burden or hindrance. We understand they are a gift to be cherished, we have a responsibility to make them part of our lives, spend quality time with them when we can. I have noticed, with my circle of friends anyway, kids are welcomed and we all accept them and interact with them, ours and those of others. My friends interact with Angel and Carter and I interact with their kids. The selfishness of active addiction caused us to neglect our kids, they were a burden to our drinking and using. We had to stop momentarily to assist them or communicate with them when all we wanted to do was continue getting messed up. The selfishness of our addiction blocked out the joy of their presence, the understanding of their need for us and our responsibility to them. Today I understand how wonderful the kids are, how important they are to my recovery, even when they are keeping me from doing what I want, they are a lesson in getting out of self.

Work was better this week. Part of it was my attitude and level of acceptance. Part of it was communicating more with my lead man, filling him in on what I was doing, how much time I thought it would take me to do a certain task, this he was able to relay to the supervisor. I was respectful to the guy on 3rd shift and engaged in friendly conversation at times. I still kept to my machine and worked by myself. This proved valuable Thursday night because the 3rd shift crew changed some measurements, measurements which were determined by the lead operator, in doing so they messed up 69 parts. It was not a pretty picture in our area Friday, even with the supervisor not being there. My trainer, myself and the lead man were frustrated and confused as to why they would change the measurements on a critical part after the person with the most amount of knowledge set up the machine to make the parts within specification. I honestly felt sorry for the 3rd shift guys, their arrogance now will have them in front of a board composed of production managers and quality control to explain their actions. My trainer and I both explained the importance of the measurements to the guys when they came on shift, it is sad to know someone has such a big ego they are unwilling to follow directions. Reminds me of active alcoholics and addicts, even when we get into recovery we still like to fly solo until we understand our way doesn't work out and heed the advise of others.

I had a job interview Thursday and a farm retail store. They were looking for a receiving/inventory clerk plus an assistant manager. When I dropped off my resume Tuesday, I told the manager I was interested in the assistant manager position but from my experience most companies aren't interested in me because I don't have a long history of retail. She told me she didn't necessarily look at it that way. The interview lasted 1-1/2 hours. In the end she told me I was very qualified for the receiving/inventory clerk position and bring a lot to the plate due to my background in purchasing and inventory control, she also implied she was interested in having me do another interview with her district manager for the assistant manager position. I told her I was interested in the assistant managers position because it allows for more career opportunities. Friday I have an interview with the district manager for the assistant manager position. At the end of the interview I told her how working second shift was a problem for my recovery, in that I only make 1 or 2 meetings a week and they are for me and I am not able to give something back to the fellowship, via service work or working with others. She told me she has attended Al-anon meetings in the past and understands where I am coming from, HP in work again??

The store has 12 employees, so they are closer knit than a big retail store. Their primary customers are farmers, they sell; fencing, fencing supplies, corral panels/gates, sprayers, small farm implements, repair items for small farm equipment, livestock feed, livestock and pet supplies, tools, gardening supplies, mower, tillers, clothing which is mostly western fashion, same goes for footwear, they have toys like; tractors, farm play sets, farm animals, lots of John Deere stuff. They cater to simple people, I feel I can relate to and assist these people easily. I know if I get this job there will be headaches and stress. I will have to work weekends too. But I will have most evenings off. I needed the job in manufacturing to put my pride in check and my wants. With having limited time off, I have learned to make the most of it. The kids are little so I don't have school and other events interfering with spending time with them. I can ask for a weekend off on occasion if I ask far enough in advance. I will tell them about my planned trip to Idaho and the reason for it and hope they understand and allow me to go. The pay would be a bit higher in one way, I would be loosing out on the overtime pay, so a bit of crunching and budgeting will be needed, actually it is more about spending discipline because I tend to buy wants with OT money. Anyway I will just have to see how the interview goes. If I don't get the assistant managers job maybe she will offer the receiving job to me.

Well I need to mow and trim the yard, finish cleaning the house after Angel's visit.

Hope all of you are doing well. Kristin, I knew about the recipe but haven't had a chance to try it yet, thanks for reminding me and maybe next time I will, we may be camping again in September.

Peace Love and Light

Monday, August 15, 2011


Hey all, hope you all enjoyed your weekend. We have had cooler weather here which is nice. I made the best of my 1 day off by going to my home group meeting, highlight of my week, chilling out and watching a couple of movies, also had friends around to plan this weekends camp-out.

This post is for my sake, if you can get something from it the great, if not cool also.

I have been thinking and mediating on my lack of assertiveness in certain areas of my life and how it causes suffering. I get frustrated with myself because during certain confrontations I lack the ability to stand up for myself in the moment, I can't think quick enough to defend myself or state my perception. This happens most often with people who are more aggressive and have stronger personalities or who I perceive to have power over me.

This awareness and need to work on some form of change has come from my conflicts at work and also the conversation with the ex girlfriend. Accusations where thrown at me about things which I have not been totally at fault on. When under this type of pressure my mind seizes up and I can't think about a constructive reply. After the confrontation I mill it over and over in my mind, thinking of where I was in the right and in the wrong. Problem is it stays in my mind because I don't have the assertiveness to re-confront the person and speak my peace. This has been a life long pattern.

Where this stems from is my life growing up. My dad was a very strong and assertive man. He would stop any counter reply with an angry voice, evil eyes or physical aggression. I learned at an early age to cower when confronted by a strong figure. I was bulled at school for the same reason, never sticking up for myself. My life has been run on fear of strong personality types. This has caused unwarranted shame. Intellectually I know when I am in the right or wrong. Yet I lack the ability to speak up for myself sometimes.

This isn't a constant way of acting. If I feel a person is reasonable I do assert myself, I have stood up to bosses, friends, family members. I can do this either because I have known them long enough to know they respect me or they will not continue to belittle me, they may not agree with what I have to say but they won't hold it against either, we can agree to disagree.

Strong personalities in my perspective are the ones you have to walk on eggshells around. My dad was like this, never knew if something I did, didn't do or said would set him off. These are the people who I feel when confronted will either create bad vibes for a period of time or treat me as less than.

In recovery I have learned to keep my mouth shut to a certain degree and think before I speak, having mindfulness to know whether my words are spoken in loving kindness and whether my intentions are good or not. This is something else I have to work on, being watchful of foot in mouth disease. I have seen where my words or actions have harmed others, learned from them and tried not to repeat them, yet once in awhile I still do this. I have tried not to intellectually bully others but see where my being bullied has caused me to pay back those who have bullied me on innocent others.

I tend to use avoidance with people I perceive have too much power over me. Like the situation at work. My co-worker on 3rd shift has a habit of coming over when I am setting up the machine and taking over the set up. He doesn't explain what he is doing, just like a bull in a china shop he does it. Grant it he is faster than I am and more experienced but I know what I am doing most of the time, just slower out of caution, less experience and some self doubt which makes me recheck some of what I am doing. The guy has a strong personality and ego, this has been noted also by the guy who trained me but moved to another machine, periodically comes over to check on me and chat. This guy, Mr. 3rd shift, also treats me as less than when we work together, always running the controls/show, so sometimes it appears I am not doing anything, which I am not because I am waiting on him. When this happens if the supervisor is walking around it makes me look bad. Now I have 2 choices; one is to accept this, the other is to confront this guy in a proper way and tell him how I feel. I tried last week to distance myself as best as possible from him, this is an attempt to make my work and actions my own, so if the supervisor is around I am working on my own machine and my mistakes or achievements are mine alone. Friday night he was working on his machine with his trainee and came over to my machine, who my trainer was helping me with out of boredom, he started tell us what to do, now at 2:30 in the morning with a 1/2 hours left to work this did nothing but create confusion and animosity. So now I need to put on my big boy underwear and confront the guy next time this happens and tell him I appreciate his knowledge and will ask him for advise but to please leave me alone because he is doing more harm than good, maybe even throw in how he makes me feel very inferior. So I know the answer intellectually now comes the courage to follow through. Thus the mental conflict of years of cowering to strong personalities. Side note, my parts are always done correctly and I haven't had a reject in a couple of months, I may make a scrap part on occasion but it comes with setting up the machine sometimes.

My supervisor is an eggshell person, similar to my last one but at least with her we did have one on one talks which allowed me to express myself, when her mood was stable enough to do so. I don't know where this guy stands, he never talks to me directly, he has made general comments about our operations but never pin pointed who was not doing their job to his satisfaction. The guy is all about big numbers, getting the most parts done on a shift, which isn't always possible due to small orders. He told the lead man to keep an eye on my productivity. The lead man in all fairness told me this as a heads up and I was able to express to him how sometimes it isn't always possible to get big numbers. The lead man is in my corner thankfully. He sees the bigger picture. The 3rd shift guy and his trainee are pets of the supervisor, noted by lead man and other workers, so there appears to be extra pressure on me. When I have my next review which should be coming up in a few weeks, I will try my best to air out my conflicts. I hate being insecure about my ability to talk to my supervisor. I have had problems like this in the past but most of the time they have worked themselves out because supervisors know I am working as hard as I can and see my strong points as well as weaknesses.

Now what can I do about my lack of assertiveness and self esteem with these types of people? First off is to accept myself when I have done nothing wrong even if others think I have, part of this comes in the form of talking the situation over with my sponsors or mentors. In some areas I am very comfortable with me, my views, my stances in life. It just dawned on me, I need to take my faith in my recovery into the work place and use that same faith and conviction when confronted by others who are trying to shame me. I need to learn to speak up, it may not be possible to do so in the moment but for the sake of shutting up the committee in my head I need to do so as soon as I am able. oh boy see this taking some time. With mindful practice in time, who knows how long, I may learn to speak my peace in the moment, do so without sounding like a little kid, to pull forward the inter-strength I know is there.

I feel in the journey of sobriety things are revealed to us when we are ready and able to work on them. Certain situations have not presented themselves in the past because I wasn't completely ready to handle them, emotionally or spiritually. I have learned how to be more assertive in small doses. These doses haves shown me I am worthy, I am not responsible for others feelings. I have learned to handle fear in many different aspects. Life is showing me there are still many fears I need to face. I need to chop the fears up into small doable pieces, handling them this way makes them less overwhelming. I have learned to use breathing and mediation to handle many anxieties yet still find new aspects of life to apply this to, aspect which have a stronger imprinted on how I deal with certain situations. The road of recovery isn't always easy but it is rewarding. The reward comes from facing challenges in life, from lessening the suffering, in finding inter-peace in situations which use to baffle us. The rewards comes in not having a craving for alcohol to kill the feelings of insecurity, of not running away. The reward comes in reaching out for help, either from our God or others.

I am not comfortable with the answers I have found. Growth isn't always the most comfortable of things. I am comfortable with my dad's way of doing things and hold no ill feelings over how I was raised. The uncomfortable comes with knowing once again I have to step outside my comfort zone in order to make my life better, even if better means just accepting the things I can not change after the footwork has been done. I have stepped outside the zone before, I have the experience which tells me everything will be alright in doing so. This is just another aspect of my God telling me to cowboy up and do a bit more self caring. A dear friend of mine says "recovery is not a selfish way of life, it is a self caring way of life." If I care enough about myself I will do the things needed to make my life spiritually and emotionally healthy.

Thanks for letting me babble. In doing so I see things a bit clearer.

Peace Love and Light to all!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Killing time before work

Hey all.

While I finish my morning pot of coffee, my morning starts at noon, and wait for the time to put on the jeans and steel toe boots, thought I would jot some stuff down.

I picked my first cherry tomatoes, all 4 of them and 1 tennis ball sized regular tomato. The cherry tomatoes are in the upside down planter, the bush isn't all that big, so next year I will just plant them in a pot. The upside down planter was just a novelty thing and I haven't had much luck with it. Cucumbers aren't doing the best in the window boxes either, next year I will just have to dig up a spot and plant them in the ground. My flowers and elephant ear plants are finally starting to show some life, couple more weeks and I will take a picture of them to post.

I have had some struggles at work and finally realized I need to keep myself away from my co-workers who come in for 3rd shift, I start at 4:30pm they come in at 7:30pm. It seems they draw the attention of the supervisor and even if I am not doing anything wrong some bad vibes get sent my way. I am ultra critical of myself and don't need to play head games with whether or not the supervisor is pissed at me, the other guys or our work area as a whole. I also have to remember if the supervisor has a beef with me he can tell me, other wise I will keep doing my job to the best of my ability. The other side of this coin is the building of slight resentments towards my coworkers, something I know is unhealthy for me, spiritually and in recovery. Best way to stay out of the drama and line of fire is to remove myself as best as possible.

My poor doggie must have eaten some bad grass, got home the other night to find diarrhea spots all over the carpet. Had to use a wire brush to get them out of the carpet once they dried. Why write about this? Because this is what living a sober life is all about, taking the time to stay on top of things instead of popping tops and saying I will do it tomorrow, like 2 or 3 months at least of tomorrows.

Made plans to take my mom out to Idaho to see my eldest aunt, moms sister, in early October. Time to tighten the money belt. My aunt is 86, she was like a second mom to me when I was a kid. I want to see her one more time before she transcends this life, her health is iffy. Who know she may live another 1o years but I would be upset if I didn't see while I have the chance.

Have a camp out planned for the 19-21st of August just south of town. It will be a chance to have a nice bonfire meeting, good fellowship, good food and relax by some small lakes. The other co-leader of our camping group and I are having a flag made with our Happy Campers logo on it, so people can find us easier, we realized we need something for people to see who may not recognize our vehicles or those who show up after dark. Since it is close to town a lot of people in the fellowship can come out just for the evening. "We create the fellowship we crave", of something like that, don't have my Big Book beside me.

Self reflection and awareness are going well. Seeing areas of improvement and taking action and sometimes inaction to work on them. I feel inaction, like keeping my mouth shut or sitting on my hands is just as important as action. There are time in life when, "do nothing" has its benefits.

Mich is back with her old bf, so I haven't seen her and the kids much of late. She knows I don't like this but I haven't hounded her about it, it is her life to live. She has started a new job and enrolled in college, hope and pray both work out for her.

Even with the heat the days are lovely. Flower bushes in bloom. I have 2 bird feeders and enjoy watching and listening to my little friends hang out at them, they are like a pub for birds. The mice found my bag of bird feed so now I am feeding them as well:-) I have stepped up my practice of the "not killing precept" by not buying a fly swatter and allowing the flies to do their thing and just shoeing them away, all living things are interdependent even if we don't understand the interdependence.

If you want to watch a great movie rent "The Music Never Stopped". It is about a father and son relationship. The son has a major tumor which caused memory loss, he can't remember even things from a few minutes in the past, but he can remember the music of his time, 1965-1970. The only way the dad can connect with the son is through this music. Dad love the music of his era 50's early 60's but learns to enjoy his son's music and understand his son's life better. Oh yeah father and son had a major falling out, it has been 20 years since they have been together. It is a beautiful and heart warming true story, one which will bring tears to your eyes in a good way.

Well time to put together a couple of sandwiches and put on clothes more appropriate to factory work than gym shorts and bare feet.

Take care all and enjoy the warm weather, the bitter cold of winter isn't too far away.

Peace Love Light