Monday, January 23, 2012

Common Demoninator Hope

Hey all, after a much needed sleep I am able to think clear enough to write, went to bed at 9:30pm and woke up at 9:45am. Friday night I got off work at midnight, laid down around 2am and was back up at 5:15am so I could be on the road at 6:15am, the joys of working 2nd shift. Thanks to coffee and good conversations I was alert all day Saturday but crashed by 10 and up again at 6.

What this all pertains to is I had my first state AA area meeting as the district chairman for the Kearney area AA, location was in a town 2 hours east of here. I took J with me, J has 14 years sobriety and started going to area meetings about a year ago. J also has a learning disability coupled with brain damage from drug and alcohol use, he lacks listening skills which effect his comprehension which can make him rather annoying because he rambles on without hearing what you are saying sometimes. He reminds me of my elderly mother in ways, you think he understands what you have said and then later talks about the same thing forgetting what you said the first time, I must admit it is challenging being with him for any length of time.

J had called me earlier in the week to see if he could ride with me to the meeting, though he wasn't a choice for a traveling companion I said yes because well it is what we do, we help those who ask and be damn with our opinions of the person. He also stayed in my room because he had a conflict with the guy he was going to stay with. J insisted he pay for 1/2 of the room, the other guys room was paid for by the area because he holds an area chair position, the guy was adamant J not pay and J was adamant he would. I had the same conflict, my room was paid for by the district, J and I share a sponsor, I talked to our sponsor about the conflict, my thought was to let J pay his share and use the money for some Grapevine books for the district. Our sponsor said he is the one who insisted J pay his way because J is a bit of a freeloader and doesn't think things out, he will do stuff and expect others to help him out, my sponsor told me to just give the money J gave me back to the district treasurer saying someone stayed in the room and paid half. So a solution was found without conflict, J was responsible and the district isn't footing the bill.

Spending as much time as a did with J was a lesson in patience and mindfulness. The lesson wasn't overly hard, over time I have become more patient with others, allowing them to be who they are. When I did start picking at his character defects I reminded myself of his mental illness and also about how we are all one; we are one in recovery and dependent on the same elements for existence, we all have our baggage and who I am to criticize his. I hang out with a lot of people with baggage, we are good friends because we accept each others baggage, yet can reject others whose baggage we dislike which is really stupid and hypocritical. I don't go out looking for spiritual growth, spiritual growth finds me and spending weekends with people like J are part of it.

First off it was really good to see old friends at area, the warm welcome hand shakes, hugs and smiles, the mutual warmth of being at area and being of service. I am assigned to the Treatment Center committee, a committee I was only vaguely familiar with. I didn't know the committee chair nor anyone on the committee. The chair briefly outlined what the committee was doing last cycle and wished to continue down this avenue which was agreed upon. We all easily fell into a discussions about improving the website by listing all treatment centers in Nebraska with contact information, also on the website we would like to list all district DCM's and alternates as a means of contact for those getting out of treatment and returning to their local areas, something which is doable with coordination from webmaster and state chairperson. Next we discussed having workshops, last year workshops were held in Omaha and Lincoln, the chair wanted to have workshops in central and western Nebraska. It was agreed upon to have a workshop here in Kearney in May, Kearney is centrally located and easily accessible. With a new homeless shelter coming to Kearney the timing of the workshop is ideal, the homeless shelter will have a program to assist people recover from alcoholism and addiction, though it is faith based we can still support them within the guidelines of the traditions, support not affiliation, with the understanding AA is not faith based. The shelter is run by an organization who has shelters in other parts of the state, they have worked with AA before so this shouldn't be a conflict. We will also have a workshop on the western border of the state, an area which is often over looked due to distance from the most populated areas of the state, eastern and central.

At break I talked to a woman who I have only visited with a couple times in the past, it was one of those odd chance meetings in the hallway. She is on the Corrections committee, jails and prisons, her town 1-1/2 hours from Kearney is having a workshop in Feb on Corrections. She talked about her challenges with the women's prison which are similar to our challenges with the county jail. There was a mutual relief knowing we were both facing similar challenges, acquaintance was turned into friendship via this conversation. Myself and a couple of others from our district will go to her workshop, 1 to support her and 2 to gather any knowledge we can on possibly improving our jail meetings and support for them from members and county officials. I will be in contact this week with our district Corrections chair to fill her in on the conversation, she has been a little frustrated as of late so needs some rays of hope shined on her.

Other than seeing old friends at area meetings the really great thing is meeting those new to service work. I visited with few, most were surprised to find the area meetings were not about politics, general prejudice found in meetings, and were really about how we can better carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic. Sure we talk about finances, any organization has concerns over making the best use of the money available and how to limit spending, we on occasion talk about the wording of certain bits of literature pertaining to structure but over all it is about carrying the message. We have a committee on carrying the message to professionals which in turn assist them in dealing with alcoholics and their victims, increasing their knowledge of alcoholism and AA. We have committee's on literature and the AA magazine the Grapevine who also publishes some great books, both carry the message to those in and out of our rooms. We have a committee on public relationships, carrying the message to the general public, a lot of this is just making sure there is easy knowledge and access to meeting information. We have a special needs committee, something newly formed, to insure people with special needs have access to meeting, I will be working on update our meeting information so people know which meetings are handicap accessible. I have already mentioned corrections and treatment so won't go there again. I would stay 95% of the districts in the state were present, each gave a report letting the general assembly know what was going on in their districts. The benefit for me is knowing what is going on in neighboring districts so we can support them if possible and also connect with their representative's to possibly develop a rapport of mutual support and combine resources for events for future events if the opportunity arises. The representative for the Spanish speaking district found me yesterday, the district covers the whole state, he said he wants to start a meeting in Kearney and asked for assistance, he said he has people willing to get involved and taking advantage of the motivation while it last and hopes to see his district grow, I will do my best help him get a meeting going. .

We heard different people speak this weekend. I have listened to a lot of people speak over the years, both in my past life in recovery and this new one. It is very rarely that hope isn't the underlying message of speakers. Hope there is life without alcohol, hope in how we change our lookout on life and in turn change ourselves. Hope that in periods of darkness there is light. Hope that even when we fall into a recovery rut, if we are willing and seek help we climb out of the rut and better people for doing so. Hope came for me in both new beings by knowing I wasn't alone, others did the same shitty insane stuff I did, felt the same feelings and had the same struggles. Hope is smiles, hand shakes, warm hugs, laughter, a gentle ear listening to what you are saying, giving you feedback even if it hurts a bit sometimes. Hope is knowing things will get better, even if they get worse first, provided we do some footwork to assist ourselves. Hope is a common denominator when anytime we get together with other people going through the same struggles we have and seeking the same solutions. Hope can be found in recovery meeting rooms, therapy groups, places of religious gathers, blogs and anywhere people reach out to one another in love and unity saying " I care, I have been there, I still go there and you are not alone". I see hope in the faces of people who have been in recovery for years and in the faces of those whose feet are new on the path. I also see hope as something we need to give each other, to learn to step out of our selfish enclosure, to be mindful our actions, don't listen to what I say, watch what I do. I am not anywhere near perfect at giving others hope or getting rid of self, but it has become more of an unconscious way of living than a conscience way, it happens now more without thought than it use to. The thing is I try to do my best to practice loving kindness and compassion each day, some days are good, some days are bad and some day are neutral, because life just is.

We this has been a long ramble, if you have made it this far cheers to you. I need to get myself showered then go get a haircut, which is odd for me because I never use to consider getting it trim when it was already short. I have an lunch interview Wednesday for a purchasing job, figured I need a trim to look as good as possible, will take the little silver loop out of my ear also:) I am trying my best not to focus too much on getting or not getting this job, what they are looking for and my background are a good fit but I have thought this before and not landed the job, the best I can do is be myself and share my knowledge, the rest is up whatever it is up to.

Peace Love Light

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Hot, It's Cold, It's Life

Hello fellow travelers.

We have had usually high temperatures here for January, Thursday was in the low 60's and most of the week 50's. Yesterday and today are back in the 30's which is still warm for January in Nebraska. On one side of the coin is the knowledge we will get hit with some bad weather before summer comes on the other side is as each day passes it is one day closer to sandal season. I enjoy winter now, wasn't always the case, my eyes are open to the beauty of a world at sleep and resting. Having said this I am still a lover of warmer weather and less is better when it comes to clothing.

As most of you know Carter turned 2 on Tuesday. I reflect back on the phone call about his birth at 1lb 10oz, the 2 hour drive to get to the hospital. I remember how I put his and Mich's life in the hands of something more powerful than me and how fairly calm I was on the drive to see them. His birth was probably the most traumatic event of my life, my dad's failing health made his death less traumatic, I was aware of how little power I had over anything and was at peace with the powerlessness of it all. I maintained the same sense of peace over powerlessness during his months in the hospital and various surgeries. He is now 2, he is a wonderful little boy, he is content most of the time, happy and sweet. It is a really joy to watch him grow, to watch his personality develop, his impatience for food, how easily his feelings get hurt when he is scolded. I love the bond which has developed since I moved back to Kearney, how he runs up to me when are united, wanting to be picked up and hug just for a few seconds. He is still my little miracle boy and I am blessed to have him in my life.

This brings up another thing, how I am extremely protective of my grand babies and Mich. While writing the above paragraph I remember the how Angel and Mich were treated by Carter's dad and grandparents, how Angel was put in CPS for alleged abuse and how because I didn't live close enough she had to go into foster care instead of live with me. I remember and am reliving the pain of it all. I had bits and peace of inter peace back then, thanks to friends in recovery and Lady B. On Tuesday Carter's dad wouldn't take time to spend more than an hour with his miracle son, he is doing a type of pyramid program selling airfare and hotels, one where he tries to recruit others, does presentations to others all the time and has big plans for making it big. His reason for not doing anything for Carter on his birthday was he had a presentation to give and his success with the presentations would make all of them rich and happy down the road, so he was doing the presentation instead of the birthday because in the long run the presentation was more beneficial to Carter. This of course pissed me off but after some quiet reflection I came to accept it for what it was and him for being the way he is, still don't have much like for the kid but I accept him, his life is also in the hands of something much bigger than me. Mich for now has decided she has had enough of giving him chances to change and him failing to do so, hope she sticks to it this time but I am powerless over her life as well.

Don't know about anyone else but I can find calm it hellish storms yet heavy gust can throw me off balance. Over time I am getting better at staying on the path during all kinds weather. I get these reminders every so often of how important acceptance is in order to maintain inter peace, to see the suffering and use the tools to accept it.

Thursday I clicked on the state's website for job postings and saw a posting for a purchasing agent which was newly posted, I contacted the employment agency who are doing the referral, updated my profile plus added additional information about my experiences in purchasing since 1994, so the footwork is done now I just wait and see. At least I am comfortable in my current job and have accepted it, don't want to be there any longer than I have to but what that length of time is I have no idea.

Held my first district meeting as DCM yesterday and it went really well. The 3 open chair positions were filled. As a group we found some solutions to a few problems we were having with the county jail. Also got some support for the spring event J and I have talked about. J came up with the idea of creating a district activities chair person, so we will bring this up at our next meeting. The district has too much money in the bank and we need to find a way to use it for the benefit of local members. We have a new homeless shelter opening soon, the group all agreed to reach out to them and see what kind of support the district can offer. Part of the what the shelter does is help people with recovery.

Another cool thing which happened was the secretary called me today for last names, I hadn't looked at the sign in sheet since I know everyone I thought. I looked at the sign in sheet and the last name of a new member rang a bell, same name as a guy I went to school with, well of course I had to call and find out and sure enough it was him. He said he thought I was the same Scott W he knew from school but wasn't 100% sure. I apologized for not recognizing him but it has been 30 years, both of us have facial hair and his head is shaved, plus he was an loud bully of kid in school and is now a humble soft spoken man. We talked for a just a couple of minutes, said we would get together in the future to catch up and get to know the sober men we have become.

Just for laughs, I rearranged my living room, my mom bought herself a couple of new chairs, she gave me her glide rocker. I moved stuff around to make room for it but not certain it will stay this way. I don't or didn't have an arm chair, sit on my couch and there is a kind of love seat thing for company. Humor is I am a creature of habit and not sure I like the change even though the glide rocker is comfortable to sit in. A good friend of mine of from my first time around the rooms told me alkies are creatures of routine, are drinking patterns were very routine, well most of us, so we get to be the same way in recovery. I have been to meetings were the room arrangement has been changed and listen to the complaints and I know for myself certain aspects of throw me for a loop; what to you mean the new hotel hosting area meetings is charging for coffee, hey how come they didn't read How it Works or start the meeting with the Serenity prayer, things at work or other basic routines.

I didn't have the kids last weekend but do today, so it is time to make meatloaf and get it cooking and while I have the oven on might as well make brownies for Carter and papa, Angel doesn't love brownies the way papa and little brother do.

Hang in there my friends, sending love, prayers and positive energy your way!!

Peace Love Light

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Night of Newerbies

Hi all and hope you had a good new years eve, whether it was hanging out with friends or chilling in your home with a movie, or maybe you just said F it and crashed early.

The potluck was good, lots of yummy food. The Alanon speaker did a good job, her talk was short but interesting and she had some positive things to say. Brian did a good job also, provided some humor and good reflections. I sat with a couple of older guys, one of them talked about the icy storms of the 50's and life on the farm, something I always find interesting.

My friends Jeremy, Wendy and I put the word out we were going to the dance in GI, town 45 miles east. A couple of guys ho hummed about going and we basically said BS you are going. One of the guys was Francis, Francis is the guy who went to Sober Float on his own and ended up floating with us and having a great time, he also came out to one of our camp outs. Francis has about 18 months sobriety, I think he likes to hangout with recovery people but is too shy to ask about tagging along, so we tend to rather grab him when we get the chance and say you are coming. The other guy Scott, has been in and out for years, he admitted he had been isolating lately so once again we rather twisted his arm into coming. A few others went down in their own cars. Like all AA road trips there was good conversation on the way down and back, a lot of it was just about enjoying life sober and clean and some talked about how in the past we were too messed up to do this or that.

When we got to the dance we connected with some more people from Kearney. It was nice for me since my work schedule doesn't allow me to see many people that often. Brett and Jamie were there with their sweet little 4 month old baby boy. Brett camped out with us last summer and Jamie who was close to popping at the time had come out to the camp-out for supper and bonfire meeting. I talked to Brett about Sober Float, he was concerned about having enough money, told him it wouldn't cost much because they could ride with one of us and there was always plenty to eat and for the most part we just brought what we could afford, plus Jeremy and I always bring a bit too much. So hopefully they we be with us for the float this year, they are a really nice couple of young people in recovery, they have that special light in their eyes which tells me they are living recovery.

A young guy from Kearney is in the treatment center in GI, he is getting out Thursday, a few of the guys spent time talking to him, trying to strength the seedling of his recovery, telling him they will get him to meetings.

 The hall was filled with young people from GI, Kearney and a surrounding towns, I would guess that 75% of the people were under 40. This in itself made the trip worth it for me. I had some great belly laughs watching some of the kids dance, especially doing the crotch thrust thing, they were doing it for laughs too, mimicking current artist dance moves, everybody was cracking up. I went outside  a few times for a smoke and to give my head a break from the hip hop dance music but wasn't disapproving of the music it because the people were dancing and having a good time. Yes I would have enjoy the background music more if would have been Skynard, Seger, Metalica, Human League, or anything from the 60's, 70's, 80's or grunge 90's but it wasn't about me. I remember going on deployments and going to clubs, getting drunk and really pissed about the music, bitching the whole time about the lack of good Southern Rock, Progressive Rock or early Metal, it was all about my taste in music and screw the fact this kind of music isn't really danceable. I remember leaving a club in Germany and wondering around, drunk out of my mind, some how the Divine managed to get me back to my friends and to the dorm safely because I was in a totally unfamiliar town and didn't speak the language. Once again sobriety changed my perspective and I choose to enjoy the night instead of focusing on the things I didn't like.

 Jeremy and I are kicking around the idea of having some kind of social event in late March or April, kind of a beat the winter blues thing. Our idea is rent some rooms at a local motel out of our pockets, maybe one with pool side rooms, have hospitality rooms were people could mingle, plus they could enjoy the pool and hot tube. We thought it we did it this year out of pocket and the results were positive then maybe next year some of the local groups would spring for rooms and we could turn it into a district event. We have a district meeting next Saturday and I am going to bring the idea up to the group representatives and district chair people to see what they think. We have a lot of events in the summer, both AA and NA but nothing in the spring when people really start to get cabin fever. I ran my idea by a service buddy from GI last night and he told me to keep him posted and he would try to drum up support for us if we got something going.

Everyone had a good time at the dance, visited with people, catching up with some and building new bonds with others. I met one guy I was in treatment with, he has stayed sober the whole time too, we were really glad to see each other and a bit sad others weren't there. Ran into a guy I know from out patient treatment, I was aware he had gone back out, he said he had receive his 3rd DUI and was back in and wanted to stay sober this time. He took my phone number, so maybe he will give me a call sometime, the willingness is up to him.

One guy from Kearney, Kelly celebrated 1 year clean and sober at midnight. I joke with him about a new years resolution that stuck. He said no it wasn't a resolution, it just happened to be the day he ran out of dope, with no way to get more and was totally beaten up. He said he called the hot line and a couple of guys took him to treatment. I had seen Kelly a couple of times before, we hit it off last night pretty well, hopefully I will see him some more and build a friendship, he was another one who was shy about going last night. I am friends with the guy who took him, so when things come up I will remind him to make sure Kelly knows about stuff so he can be a part of.

I take recovery damn serious, I am a bit of a Nazi when it comes to steps and traditions, I use the Big Book and 12 and 12 with newcomers, try and shy them aware from other books which can only be a bunch of mental masturbation if they haven't gotten the basics of recovery started in their brains. But I am also a firm believer in making recovery fun, "we are not a glum lot". People need to learn how to have fun in recovery, learn how to socialize with others on the same path, develop healthy relationship which make breaking unhealthy relationships easier, this is what I was taught early on and it help keep me coming back. I believe we can balance the seriousness of working the 12 steps with having social events. Jeremy, Wendy and my other friends enjoy living sober, we try and show others there is a life after drugs and alcohol, one which is both fun and dead serious, one where we may be laughing our asses off one minute and have tears in our eyes the next.

 I am grateful I have the friends I do, we are pretty damn open with each other, we are open about our recovery and about our spiritual paths. Not all of us share the same spiritual path but we have complete respect for each others paths, so the Catholics, Methodist, Buddhist and Agnostics mix really well in loving kindness for each other. Some of us shot dope, some smoked tons of weed,some did all of it and some like me were just garden variety drunks who would do other things just to get messed up but always came back to the bottle. No matter what our differences are, we have a common bond and that bond is staying clean and sober one day at a time, sharing freely of what we have been given, doing what we can to live in the solution and not the problem. We understand where our heads can go if we don't stay in contact with other travelers on the path, we understand the importance of meetings and of fellowship.

We who are in recovery have a great edge over those who aren't because in my experience you don't find this kind of honest and loving friendship in other places, well maybe some churches or temples, but not often in the work place or with neighbors, I never found it in any political organization I belong to and I was looking hard for this type of belonging. I have been removed of the fantasy of having a beer like non-alcoholics, normal is a cycle on the washing machine, because I can't fathom for the life of me just 1 freaking beer, so I no longer get mad about having an incurable disease. This incurable disease has brought into contact with some of the best people in the world, has fulfilled my need to find a place where I belong.

Well that's about it for today, I have black eyed peas and leftover ham in the crock pot. Mich isn't working so I don't have the kids today, so papa is going to chill, watch some movies and later take down the Christmas tree and decorations.

Peace Love Light