Monday, October 31, 2011

New service position

HI all, to those on the east coast hope you didn't get hit too bad by the snow, didn't read anything on the news about Virginia and West Virginia so I think a few of you who live there got lucky this time. Our time is coming just don't know when, so far it has been nice.

Saturday we held elections for our AA district, the turn out was low due to the Nebraska vs Michigan St football game and the current D.C.M (District Committee Member) isn't very well liked in the district. Since I have moved back to Kearney I have attended district meetings even though I don't hold a committee position. Those who read my blog know how I feel about service work.

The responsibilities of the DCM are; represent the district at area meetings (in our case the whole state of Nebraska) they take to voice of the local AA to area and vote on issues in accordance to the voice of the local members, they chair district business meeting, support ideas of local members, communicate with the groups, make sure events are posted in a timely manner and try to generate involvement in AA as a whole. There is also an alternate DCM, who assist the DCM and attends area meetings if the DCM can't make it. Next we have secretary, treasurer and committee positions.

The majority of the people doing district service work have been doing it for years but over the last couple of years some younger people are coming into the fold. My friend Jeremy who is the treasurer and I were talking about how the district has become a bit stagnant because the older members don't connect with the younger members.

General rule of thumb is for the alternate DCM to become the next DCM. The current alternate is also not very well respected in local meetings, she is a very sweet lady but her and her husband tend to get a bit preachy and not keep their personal spirituality out of meetings, this is part of the problem with the DCM also, they both tend to imply more of a Christian God, instead of the God of the individual members understanding.

Prior to the meeting Jeremy was going to nominate me for treasurer which I was fine with if that is where the others wanted me to be. Jeremy had decided not to take another AA service position since he is involved in NA service work as well. We got to the meeting and found out the alternate is moving to northern Nebraska in January, out of our district.

I was elected DCM. Jeremy was nominated and elected alternate DCM, the reason for this was; a lady said Jeremy and I seem to work well together, Jeremy accepted the position. Jeremy and I are kind of the spearheads for local young people, we are the instigators for the camp-outs, try and take people to recovery events and gets events started, we have also both been involved in talking to the public about AA and recovery.

My niece who has 3 years sobriety was elected secretary, this is her first time doing service work at the district level. She is another young person who tries to get others involved. The guy elected for treasurer is new to district service work. We have 2 other people new to service work filling committee positions. Our corrections committee member rolled over her position and will be doing it for another 2 years, she is finally making some headway at the local jail, she enjoys area meetings and wants try and improve corrections in our area. To everyone's surprise the Public Information committee member rolled over too, he didn't get along with the past DCM but since his primary job is making sure meeting cards are updated and printed, he said he would continue, the job wasn't that hard and was comfortable with the procedure, he also has a good rapport with Jeremy and myself.

So our district has some new blood. We are younger for the most part, more liberal in some ways but with a deep respect for the Traditions. I told my sponsor, I don't know how much change we can bring about, this is up to the Divine but we bring a new enthusiasm to the district, we have a connection younger members and younger people in general, my sponsor agreed with this statement. Jeremy, Kristin (my niece) and I all would like to generate some events to bring people together, for fun and fellowship, to show people there is more to recovery than just going to meetings. All we can do is the footwork, we can serve the district to the best of our ability, you can lead a drunk to water but you can make him or her drink. Our sponsors and a few other older members have faith and hope in us, which is nice to have, they have offered their guidance and support. We will listen to the group conscience as it is expressed because we are their voice, we may have our own agenda's but our service is to the district and AA as a whole, we are but humble servants and when our ego's get inflated they will be deflated by the reminder that we are just 1 part of the greater whole.

I am honored to be the new DCM and hope I can serve the district and the fellowship well. I am grateful to have Jeremy, Kristin and the others with me I feel we are a good team, we will keep each other grounded and offer each other support. I am grateful for my sponsors and others who have taught me what service work is all about, the successes and failures.

Well I have the day off, Angel is here, she spent the night. I need to shower, then we are going outside to do a bit more work on the shed, yes it isn't finished yet, 95% done, I need to caulk some of the places where the panels aren't quite tight, the last thing to do is build a door. I am going with Mich and the kids Trick or Treating tonight, it will be fun watching them get candy. Angel is going as Snow White and Carter is a cow, we are taking them over to great grandma's before we hit the streets.

Hope all is going well with everyone.

Peace Love Light

Sunday, October 23, 2011

There and back plus a bit more

This is a picture of the elusive western Jackalope , Jackalope are native to only Wyoming and eastern Idaho, rarely photographed or captured.

This is a summary of the trip to Idaho, plus some other thoughts and stuff which have happen over the last few days. I woke up at 10:00am Tuesday morning, worked 4:30pm to 3:00am Wednesday morning, didn't go to sleep because I had to pick my mom up at 6am and then Angel, I drove until 8pm Wednesday night, about 800 miles, yup one long day. I was leery of letting mom drive because her eye was bothering her plus I don't really trust her driving in truck traffic and high winds, she just can't make quick decision anymore. I stopped every couple of hours to stretch, smoke, bathroom breaks if needed and I also kept my coffee cup filled. I drove as far as the first big town in Idaho, Montpelier, town of about 2500. All 3 of us were glad to be done for the day. We got to my aunts house around 3pm on Thursday.

Having a portable DVD player in the car was a God sent, I had bought a 2 disc set of old Loony Tune cartoons and Angel watched them over an over, plus she looked at and colored in the color books, when she got tired she let me know, turn off the player and crashed. I was concerned she wouldn't go with my mom to the bathroom but for the most part she was good about going potty with great grandma. She has only been potty trained for a few months but she is excellent about it, she never had an accident and even though we brought Pull-ups along for her to sleep in she was dry the next morning, I didn't want her wetting the motel beds or my aunts bed. My mom got the biggest kick out of Angel breaking out into laughter in the back seat over something she found funny on the videos. Angel was good as gold on the drive out and back, the only problem was her wanting suckers for stores and papa refusing to buy her one, big screaming fit which only last a few minutes.

Having my mom in the car wasn't too bad, we visited off and on, didn't talk too much about anything important. A couple of times on the way out and back she would bring up family members who had drug or alcohol problems, I tried to explain the obsession of addiction but like most people she just couldn't grasp how once a person drinks or uses their mental thinking and reasoning completely changes and we do things even when we know deep down inside it is wrong. A few times she would repeat the same things over but I am use to this, heard some of the story many times and just blow it off, she doesn't realize what she is doing, so I just let her talk. The one thing which did concern me was her over use of Benadryl, mom has fought allergies and sinus pressure her whole life, she has also become addicted to over the counter medicines and is probably immune to Benadryl and a couple of others, complains they don't seem to work yet will not go to the doctor for something which will work, medical expense have been something my parents tried to avoid, so even with insurance she and I are both reluctant to go to the doctor unless we are very sick, crazy mind set which is hard to break.

My aunt is doing fairly well for a woman of 86, she is on oxygen but gets around pretty well. She has home health care come in once a day, they check on her plus clean her house and do odd jobs for her. Mentally she is much sharper than mom. She is worried about my mom but knows there isn't too much which can be done. My mom's hearing even with aids isn't very good, which adds to confusion, my aunt really picked up on this, plus mom being tired a lot. Having said this they had a good visit still. Angel was very well behaved at my aunts house, didn't mess with all my aunts pretty things, my aunt got a kick out of her and I think Angel kind of help keep things going at times. I had a good visit with my aunt, asked some questions about my moms family on things I didn't know or quite understand. My moms dad died in 1954 and I didn't have a clear understanding of him, mom and I talked about her family as well while traveling. We had a beautiful drive in the mountains on Saturday, 200 mile jaunt, it was a perfect fall day, leaves were just starting to change colors, the air was crisp but not cold.

Angel and my mom bonded really well, this is what my mom was hoping for. Angel would play with grandma, try and talk to her as best as she could. Angel only sees my mom once every 6 weeks or so, so even though Angel knows grandma, she hasn't been that close to her, this trip made them much closer.

One last thing about my mom, even though she has some problems mentally and physically, she is very capable of doing things in her apartment without assistance. She is use to being on her own, it is only when others are around does she get overly confused or flustered, cooking, cleaning and taking care of herself are second nature and something she doesn't have to think about. My moms youngest sister and I keep a close eye on things and will know if and when the time comes for a different living arrangement for her. She is also able to drive herself during non busy hours or she will drive to my aunts house and let my aunt take her shopping, she understands her limitations when it comes to driving. The main reason she wants to continue to drives is so she can go to church and the occasional appointment to the doctor.

My stomach is getting better, still some slight pain which I will have to get checked out in a week or so if it doesn't go away. Wednesday, first day home, I got up and drank a pot of coffee plus had half a pot in the afternoon, prior to this I hadn't drank a whole lot of coffee, even driving I was only sipping on it, maybe only 4 big cups a day. Well Wednesday night at work I wasn't feeling very good, realized the coffee may be the problem, plus I ate super nacho's with meat for lunch, ended up throwing up at work, which made me feel well enough to finish out the night. Thursday I only drank half a pot of coffee and ate peanut butter sandwiches, felt a lot better. I repeated this on Friday. So the process of elimination is telling me, I have to lay off drinking so much of my beloved coffee, freaking downer man. I have laid off the coffee over this weekend plus kept my food fairly bland, both seem to help. Damn it sucks getting old:)

Yesterday we had a small AA workshop. My sponsor spoke, he talked a lot about stepping outside of his comfort zone, something he has been doing for 28 years in recovery. I reflected a lot on what he was saying and how he has taught me to do the same. He said he would rather be a fly on the wall but has learned what has help him grow the most spiritually in recovery has been getting outside the comfort zone. By this I mean, talking to people I don't know, speaking when I really am afraid to, putting aside my fear of being judged, going places where I only know a few people if any at all. My first instinct when walking into a big meeting or speaker meeting is to sit in the back of the room but he taught me to sit closer to the front. He taught me do service work when asked, praying for strength and guidance, by doing this I have spoken to crowds of people without messing my pants, saying what is in my heart and being o.k. with it. We are both shy by nature but have learned and are continuing to learn that it is by stepping outside of our comfort zones that has allowed us to serve the newcomer and AA as a whole better. This has also brought about a stronger trust in my Higher Power and benefits of practicing the Dharma to the best of my ability. When I get into a situation which scares me, mediation and breathing calm my mind. It really amazes me how I am able to do some of the things I do, how I have overcome some of my fears. Yesterday I had one of those moments of sincere gratitude, gratitude in knowing the 12 steps and spiritual principles are doing for me what I can't do for myself and making my life a whole lot better in the process.

Speaking of gratitude. I am grateful I was able to take my mom on this trip, to spend quality time with her, my aunt and Angel. I wasn't craving a beer at the end of a long drive, nor guzzling beer in the hotel or a bar on the way just so I could relax and sleep. I was totally there in the nature of the landscape we drove through even the desolate places. I was in the moment with my mom in the car, I played music for relaxation and not to escape conversation. I wasn't worried about getting pulled over by the few highway patrol cars we saw. My aunt drank her normal 2 mixed drinks before bed and I didn't feel the urge to join her, didn't have a craving for an artificial social lubricant. I use to have to drink to feel comfortable talking to people, today I don't. I am grateful I am able to get out of self, get in a car and take an 82 year old lady on what may be her last trip to see her big sister, yes I enjoyed the trip but it wasn't about me this time, not like camping is about me, something deep down inside told me to do it, I believe it was the 11Th step in action.

Well friends it is after midnight and I have a long day ahead of me, my Facebook friends will know why, so I better get to bed.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictures at 11

I am back home and it is close to 11:00pm. Here are some photos of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. I will blog about trip later. Since I am not smart enough to figure out how to insert an image then post a caption, we will start at the top and work our way down.

Windmill farms of Wyoming; the land in southern Wyoming isn't good for anything, not enough good vegetation for livestock to feed off of and soil is too poor for raising crops, only in few small places close to a river do you see any cattle but in western and eastern Wyoming you are seeing more and more windmill farms, these windmills stretch for a good 5 miles in places, how wonderful is that. Along Interstate 80 there are frequent signs warning you of high winds and I fought winds going to Idaho and heading home, in the winter when it snow you can experience white out conditions which cause the interstate to be closed, oh yeah southern Wyoming and also southern Idaho are literally treeless, only thing which grows well is sage brush. Image being a pioneer on the Oregon trail having to cross this waste land.

Mountains outside of Ogden Utah; trying to show the beautiful orange color of the trees on the mountain side, going home we drove to Ogden then up the beautiful mountain pass into Wyoming. I lived in Ogden for 4 years in the 80's, nice place to live once you get use to its ultra conservative way of thinking, state is run by the Mormon church, separation of church and state does not apply in Utah:)

Next 4 are of the Snake river at Twin Falls Idaho, notice the high gorge, this is all volcanic rock, southern Idaho is littered with volcanic rock and sage brush, in the 2nd picture on the right side you will notice a golf course, I am not a golfer but to me this is one of the coolest golf courses ever, 4th picture is of a spring coming out of the canyon wall, there are 1,000 springs in a 40 mile stretch of river between Twin Falls and Hagerman Idaho. Once again think of what this must have looked like to the pioneers, doubt if any of them saw something like this in the eastern part of America.

Next is the Snake River valley outside of Hagerman, notice the canyon walls are getting less high and the valley has lush vegetation, great soil for certain crops and grazing. Before the white people the natives live here, farming, hunting and fishing, there are huge sturgeon in the river, the native people gone but some of the land they loved is still with us in its natural beauty.

These are hop poles, they stand about 20 feet high, the hops grow up them like pole beans, hops are a pod plant and it is the dust of the pod which is used in beer, just add corn and barley and you have what used to be my favorite beverage.

Last one of the Snake river, taken at Homedale Idaho, 15 miles from my aunts house, by now the river has gotten smaller and shallower, the local farmers depend on it for irrigation, the valleys west of Boise are home to onions, sugar beets, potatoes, corn, hops, dry beans farms, apple, grape and peach orchards, of course their corn fields are puny compared to those in the heart of corn country, Nebraska and Iowa. If we Nebraskans have nothing else to brag about we can brag about our corn fields and cattle;)

Next is a valley in the Cascade mountains north of Boise, I took my aunt and mom for a drive up there on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day, temps in the high 50's, the trees where just starting to turn red, yellow and orange, there was snow on the high mountain tops.

This is the Payette river just north of Boise, taken on same drive. Of course everyone one knows who the curly headed little girl is, she got mad because she couldn't see any fishes in the river like she could at the zoo but had fun throwing rocks in the river anyway.

All the mountain traveling made me crave for buying either a pull type camper or a small RV. It has been quite a few years since I have been in the mountains and really miss them. I want to get a camper so I can take a trip once or twice a year to the mountains of Colorado or Wyoming, both are within a 5 hour drive of Kearney. Tents are alright but campers are so much more comfortable especially if the weather gets bad or it is cold, at least you have a dry, warm, comfortable place to kick back and read if need be.

Well it is almost midnight, I am tired from all the driving, good 12 to 14 hours both days. My little dog is happy I am home and curled up on the couch beside me, I am sure she is ready to go sleep in bed next to daddy, she stayed with Mich while I was gone. Hope you all enjoyed the photo journey and didn't wear your scroll out going up and down between words and photo's.

Hope all of you are doing well, love and prayers to all!!

Namaste, Peace, Love and Light

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to Idaho

The medicine I was put on last week did the trick and my stomach virus is gone I hope. I lost about 8 pounds which isn't a good thing for me, I am already very slim and can't afford to loss more weight. I ended up taking the whole week off, I needed to rest, regain my appetite and build my strength back up, there was no way I could have stood at my machine for 10 hours. Upon returning to work the boss said it was still alright to take my planned vacation after only being back for 2 days, he understood last weeks missing of work wasn't for fun or DIY projects, also we are slowing way down. The next few weeks will be work 10 hour days 4 days a week, my week day off is Monday, it will be nice to have 3 day weekends for a few weeks.

So I am sitting here waiting for 5:30am to roll around, got off at 3am. I am picking up Mom then Angel. I have drank enough coffee I should be good to go for another few hours, drive about 3 hours then stop for breakfast, by then we will also be out of major traffic and mom can take over driving. I borrowed a DVD player for Angel, so hopefully the movies will keep her amused. Mom can drive in most of Wyoming and if she gets tired she will wake me and I can take over. We will drive as far as the Idaho Wyoming border tonight then the rest of the way Thursday, we should pull into my aunts late evening. If you look at the map, we will be going through Soda Springs and Pocatello, then back south and west to Caldwell which is west of Boise. On the way back I will swing south at Rupert, go to Ogden Utah then north to Wyoming. Most of the drive is through some really desolate country but we do cross through some mountain ranges which are beautiful, I have my camera handy so may get a few photo's for the blog. I will be taking a picture of the great Snake river at Twin Falls, there is an amazing scenic overlook there. Not sure what all we will be doing while at my aunts other than visiting but more than likely we will take a drive north of Boise to McCall, beautiful forest county up there.

Not sure if I will have internet service for my remote router, I think my provider has a tower in Boise, so not sure if I will even be able to get on line, may have to hit a McDonald's and use their WiFi while Angel eats a happy meal.

Well time to finish last minute loading, cooler and snacks. Hope everyone is doing well.

Peace Love and Light

Friday, October 7, 2011

Captive Audience

I love this picture Mich took yesterday. I had loaned her my laptop and she was having troubles loading the WiFi device, so finally after a couple of fruitless phone conversations I went over to her house to get it up and running. Of course when I get there the first priority is Angel and Carter, I tried to mess with the computer first but had 2 grand-kid's at my side letting me know in their own way "we come first". Angel grabbed her Sponge Bob book and told Papa to read it. I held the book open in front of me so both could see the pictures and made up a story based on the pictures and story from reading book before, both kids stood there glued to the pictures and the story. Afterwards they went on and played and Papa fixed the computer.

I may spoil Angel and Carter but they are such as joy in my life, as anyone who reads my blog knows. There is instant happiness when we see each other, they rush to me, smiles with Angel yelling Papa Papa, whether it is at my house or theirs. Carter was so happy to see me yesterday, he kept hugging my leg. It is a really blessing to have them in my life to feel their love and return it. Very rarely do I have anything so important that I can't put them first and if I do have something I don't go around them knowing they can't understand why Papa can't give them his attention. I don't watch them if I am ill, really exhausted from work or have projects around the house which have to be done without interruptions or if there is a chance one of them may get hurt while I am working on something. Mich also knows meetings and most AA events come before babysitting, because without AA there would be no healthy Papa or dad.

Another thing which hit me is; this is really what being in the moment is all about. Stopping whatever the hell I are doing, whatever my mind is racing about and being in the moment with those who mean the most in my life. Be completely in this moment right now with our kids, grand-kids, companions, parents, siblings, pets, friends, newcomers. This takes practice, I still have a hard time being in the moment with people who ramble on, my daughter is one of these, I have to work really hard on staying focused on what she is saying, this is also a lesson in getting out of self.

Anyway this was such a wonderful picture I thought I would share it with you. Went to the noon meeting today, talked with a relatively newcomer I see on occasion, he is going through a bit of a confusing time. Since I am on medical absence from work, I am going to pick him up tonight and take him up north about 15 miles to a bonfire meeting and potluck out in the country. Not sure how much he will benefit from going but I know helping another by getting out of self and spending time with a group of fellow travelers will help me out a whole bunch!

Peace Love and Light

Monday, October 3, 2011

This, that and the other

Hi all and hope every one is doing well and enjoying the beautiful Indian summer.

So I don't go to see a doctor unless things are really bad, last time was probably 4 years ago. Last week I couldn't cowboy up anymore and went to see a doc for stomach trouble, after 3 weeks worth of problems. What finally got my butt to the doc was 4 days of diarrhea and stomach cramps. My blood and urine test all came back good, so doc gave me a prescription for 20mg of Pilosec, this was Thursday, by then I was worn down enough I couldn't stand at my machine for 10 hours so went home from work sick. By last night my stomach cramps and diarrhea had become so severe I was ready to take a trip to the ER. I looked up the side effects of Pilosec and sure enough, diarrhea, cramping and nausea were part of them. When back to doc this morning, he took me off Prilosec and gave me a med for cramping and diarrhea, plus a note to get me off work tonight so my body can hopefully heal some and get my energy back. Scary thing is I have lost 4 pounds in 4 days, not sure how much prior to that. I am a fairly skinny person and can't afford to lose weight. I know I will back to normal shortly, I don't do sick very well and I hate missing work for illness. I still have this preconceived notion about how bad it is to be sick and I cowboy up when I really need to practice self care.

The doctor visit was good for 2 reasons; 1 I was afraid I had major stomach problems, pancreas, ulcer, colon or something along those lines, at 48 years old this stuff does creep into my head. I didn't panic or get too overly worried about what might be the cause of problems, the thoughts went through my head and then moved on without dwelling on worst case scenarios, which is a benefit of learning how to live in the moment. The 2Nd thing is my blood pressure is normal, this came as a surprise. I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure a few years ago but refused medication because my blood pressure wasn't sky high and also for me I do not want to start taking medication on a regular bases quite yet, someone told me once you are on blood pressure meds, you can't get off because your body is too use to them regulating your pressure. I am a pack a day smoker, plus at least a pot of coffee a day, I salt my food because taste buds are shot from years of smoking, so figured I would have high blood pressure.

I think mindfulness practices and mediation have paid off with my normal blood pressure. Both have allowed me to stay calm even under stressful circumstances. Practicing mindfulness and mediation has been something I have done to try and keep grounded, maintain inter-peace and serenity. I never thought another benefit would be my blood pressure. I am grateful and a bit awed by this benefit. Once again living in recovery has proven to be a blessing.

We finally sold my mom's house last week. It had been sitting vacant since April. This is a huge stress release for my mom, it was costing her money. It was also a relief for me. We took a loss but it is alright, it is better to take the loss than have it sit empty through the winter and have the expenses continue. I had to channel my dad's spirit to make sure I was doing the right thing by selling it at loss, I thought about different decisions he has made over the years and felt comfortable in knowing he would have done the same thing.

October 12th I am taking my mom out to western Idaho to see her oldest sister. My aunt is 86 years old and my mom is 82. Right now at work we are slowing down and will probably be slow until the first of the year, so it is the perfect time to go. Driving through Wyoming from November through March can be tough, it is extremely wide open and you can get caught in a blizzard really easily. Also to get to western Idaho you have to cross the mountains, once again this isn't to be done when there are chances of winter storms, so weather wise now is the time to go. Mom has been to Idaho a few times in the last few years but always with my other aunts, I have one aunt who constantly talks and controls conversations. It has been a while since mom has had a chance just to visit with my aunt one on one, so I thought I would take her out. My aunt is my favorite aunt, I lived in Idaho and Washington state as a young kid, my aunt was like a second mother to me, she holds a special place in my heart and I in hers, this may very well be the last time I get to see her alive, her health is iffy and so is my mom's.

We are taking Angel along to Idaho, I almost backed out of doing so but my mom wants to try and bond more with her. Also my aunt has never meet Michelle and Angel is a mini Michelle. Angel is at that age where she is fun to be around so my aunt will get a kick out of her. I have a portable DVD player for movies, crayon's and color books for the ride.

All which I have written is a benefit of sober living. Five years ago I didn't have a drivers license, so couldn't have taken mom on a vacation, I also couldn't have handle trying to control my drinking around her. I wouldn't have been trusted to handle mom's business affairs, in fact I shied away from my parents out of shame for the amount I was drinking. Any medications I was put on got messed up because they counteracted with the alcohol, I am not happy about having to lay off my beloved coffee but know it is what I have to do for a few days and I more concerned about my heath than my coffee, whereas I didn't give up beer for anything. My days of brown bottle flu are over, so I can talk to my boss about loss of work without him thinking it is alcohol related. Recovery and a spiritual life have amazing benefits, I hope my gratitude for these benefits never stop.

Peace Love and Light

P.s. I have nothing against others taking medication on a daily bases, some people need meds to live. Other than my natural supplements and the occasional pain reliever I just prefer to stay away from them as long as I can.