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
On the other side of the world
2 days ago