Archive for the ‘A.A.’ Category



October 28, 2009

In the comment section of the previous post I made reference to the Serenity Prayer. Routinely, the first 4 lines from this ‘long version’ are recited to open A.A. meetings in this area (and many others). For anyone who isn’t familiar with it…. it helps keep me from sitting on the fence. By using this I’m better able to let go of things beyond my control and get on with the work on things I can influence the outcome of.

God grant me the SERENITY to
accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
and WISDOM to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it:

Trusting that He will make all things
right if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

This journey in recovery from alcoholism brought about  the process of redefining my identity and attaching once again to ethics, values and ‘humanness’. This prayer has played an important part in my attitudes to others; in being of service to others. The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

What jumps out at you in this? What do you use for your personal guides? Care to share?


autumn rushes


Things Fall Apart

October 27, 2009

through a glass, lightly

Where to begin? First off; If you’re looking for good news you had best move on.

Back on Friday morning I came to work for a staff meeting expecting a ‘state of the union’ address by both our CEO and Director of Operations updating the lot of us on how bad the numbers are on paper and according to budget. Instead of getting into the numbers they went straight to the bottom line….. they are closing this centre for a minimum of 6 months and all staff here are laid off come this Friday, Oct 30. Head office and both treatment centres in Toronto remain intact and operational. We are the sacrificial lambs….. 8 counsellors, 2 night staff, 2 cooks, our maintenance guy and oh, our manager got blindsided, too.


to the dump, dump, dump

I’ve been through this before when I was caught in a major restructuring back in 2003 which ended a 30 year career in pre-press in commercial print. On this occasion I was no less surprised, shocked, outraged, or disappointed. According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in ‘On Death and Dying’ there are 5 stages in the grief process when you lose someone close to you. Those same 5 stages have been found in those losing their vocation. I can confirm that I’ve experienced stages 1 and 2 – Disbelief/Denial and Anger; moved right past the Bargaining stage and into stage 4, Grief and Depression. Having had a few days to process this I’m working on #5 Acceptance but with little success so far. I’ve been pretty occupied being angry and depressed. Angry at what I perceive as mismanagement and disregard; depressed as new job prospects are slim and I’ll miss my coworkers and our clients.

‘On Becoming a National Statistic’: the current national unemployment rate is 8.4%. Locally it is 9.6%. Those stats are built of straw as they don’t recognize the many who have given up looking for work. Job listings in local papers have shrunk in the last year from multiple pages to a single page. Most on-line ads are for call centres, McJobs, personal attendants for the elderly and disabled, and factory line work. Last week I saw an ad for the first time in over a year in the addictions field. Within an hour of arriving home Friday my CV and cover letter had been sent.


my cranium - internal view

Lots of credit to Lynda; these last 5 or 6 years haven’t been a lot of fun for her. Beginning with my job loss and a long term of unemployment; supporting me while I went back to college for a year; backing me in this new career direction. She surprised me with how well she took the layoff news. ‘What can go wrong, will go wrong’; shrug, *hug*. When I asked if she minded if I carried through with my plan to attend the weekend conference she simply said, ‘No sense hanging around here stewing about something you can’t change. Go hang with your A.A.. buddies.’ I finished packing and waited for my ride to pick me up.

I was thankful to get away and have a full weekend of workshops and meetings to keep me occupied. My home group’s new GSR ( General Service Rep) Francis did the driving and we shared a room. We attended a couple of workshops together but mainly split up so we could cover a greater variety of topics. There were quite a number of people I knew there either from having attended the same meetings locally or because they had been through treatment here. This was my first opportunity to attend one of these regional Assemblies and I’m really glad I went. Interesting to see how the service structure operates above the group and district levels, right on up to world headquarters in New York city. Alcoholics Anonymous home page.

(In case anyone is curious…. no, I didn’t experience any cravings for a drink.)

There won’t be any sitting around collecting unemployment benefits and waiting to be recalled to work. So far as I’m concerned I’m done here…. plus I don’t trust the powers-that-be. I think the 6 month layoff is a way for them to get out of paying severance – most of us would look for other work and if employed elsewhere they aren’t obliged to pay anything.


Catch-Up / Catch-All

October 20, 2009

Since I got off work Sunday morning things have been pretty much a blur. After that lengthy stint – 130 hours over 11 days and nights – there’s a long, long list of things to catch up on.

Sunday afternoon I was to chair that district meeting at 1:30. I sorta, kinda came to in bed knowing I was supposed to be somewhere and wondering what time it was. Roll over to see the clock and it is 1:05!!! SHIT!! Threw some clothes on, ran a brush through my hair, crammed a stick of gum in my mouth and I was off. I broke a few speeding laws on the way but made it across town by 1:25. The meeting itself went well; nothing contentious but we ran almost a half hour long. I walked in the door at home and Lynda loaded up her car and left for her Mom’s place. This ‘hi & bye’ existence is wearing thin, I tell ya. Too soon to tell completely but it seems her Mom is doing pretty well.

Monday was a sleep-in, slow to wake day. Lots of calls to make and arrangements sorted out for this out-of-town trip Friday, S & S. Today, Tuesday, I finally made it to get my hair cut. If it had got much longer I’d have had the full retro early 70’s look happening – not good. A trip to the library for more book and music – found a book that cousin BJ recommended; ‘Water For Elephants’ by Sara Gruen. I got into the first chapter while I waited for my oil change to be done.

Dinner looked like it was going to be complicated but because I’m ‘batching’ it I decided to keep it simple. Instead of dirtying a bunch of dishes I baked chicken pieces, hot Italian sausage and spicy fries all on the same baking sheet (on foil for a quick clean-up.) My evening is mapped out – there’s a re-broadcast of Steve Earle’s appearance showcasing songs from ‘Washington Square Serenade’; followed by ‘Hank Williams – The Show He Never Gave’ featuring Sneezy Waters in the lead role. Time to grab some dessert and park it in front of the TV. See ya…..


gniklat sdrawkcab><backwards talking

October 17, 2009

Silly, I know but… I realized tonight that when read backwards ‘Woo-Hoo’ becomes ‘ooH-ooW’. Doesn’t that completely change your world view for today?? I thought it would.





I couldn’t pick a fave so you get them both… for nothin’.


** Into night #8. I’m on the home stretch now; one to go. How am I feeling?? Still dragging butt, but better – certainly not any worse. No complaints, no whining. With 5 hours to go I think I’ll stick my nose back in my book and put some tunes on. The soundtrack will look like this:

Steve Earle – Washington Square Serenade; Susan Tedeschi – Hope and Desire; Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand; Habib Koite – Afriki.


This will be a big A.A. week for me. When I get off work Sunday morning I get to sleep for a few hours before getting myself over to chair a committee meeting in the early afternoon. Monday evening it is my turn to chair my home group meeting(*note to self; get a speaker”). Starting next Friday and running through Saturday and Sunday I’m supposed to attend the Area 83 Assembly a couple of hours on down the highway. The ‘Area’ includes much of Southern Ontario and a portion of upper New York state. Sometime during the week I have to get together at the bank along with our district Treasurer in order to get me on as a signing authority on our account.



A Shadow of My Former Self

October 14, 2009
shadowy man on a shadowy planet

shadowy man on a shadowy planet

Aacchhoooo! To say I’m feeling kind of lousy would be an understatement. I shoulda listened when blog-friend Amuirin chastized me the other day HERE. This flu / cold started off very mild but appears to be picking up steam with each passing day and night. Maybe today was the nadir when I spent the afternoon sweating my butt off as I did some housework before cleaning up to come to work. There were a couple of times when I stood up too quickly from being bent over and everything went swimmingly greasy; vision-wise. Wooo…. hold ‘er Newt!! Hadn’t had a head-rush like that for 6+ years; y’all know what I mean. Unfortunately I don’t have the option of not working so here I am. C’est la vie; poor, poor me. Bring on the tea and sympathy. Looking forward to home and bed come morning.


On my way to work tonight I visited my friend Terry in hospital. (I was gloved, gowned and masked; sanitized.) His prognosis isn’t good but he seems to be responding to his radiation treatment. His cancer has moved into his bones and he has a mass in the discs at the base of his neck. Apparently the tumour was applying pressure to his spinal column and that is why his larynx was affected causing him to sound like he had laryngitis – the signals from his brain were getting scrambled on the way to his voice box. Back on Saturday night one of my fellow group members brought Terry from hospital to the A.A. meeting we were attending. It was a 10 year medallion presentation and Terry had been asked to take part. I was shocked when he was wheeled in at the last minute and then hauled himself up to the podium to do a reading. He took the opportunity to essentially say good-bye to the many there who knew him. He tore a few hearts out in doing so but he got to say his piece. Tonight he was looking better; better pallor; more energy; lucid. I’m glad I went despite the fact I was sick. No one seems to know how this is going to pan out or how much time he might have left. This series of radiation treatments wraps up this week and there will be a 2 week lag before they can determine what beneficial effect the treatment wrought. God love him; I do.



September 25, 2009
I am plant classification-challenged

I am plant classification-challenged

Bad, bad, bad…. I have a terrible memory where it comes to plant names but these above have leaves that look like they belong to the succulent family. The flowers originally come out green and resemble broccoli before eventually turning pinky-purply red. Nice, eh??

Anyway it has been a quiet week; getting things sorted out here on the homefront, some yard work, helping the brother-in-law move in. Hallelujah! My boarder DID move and I don’t expect to be hearing from him or seeing any of the money he owes. But he is gone, T.G.

Yesterday I had a message relayed to me through an A.A. friend to say that my group’s longest serving member was in hospital and his condition was grave. This fellow, Terry C is one of the primary reasons I joined the group I did – The Grace group. Terry has a long history of diabetes and for the last year has undergone  for cancer. About 6 weeks ago his throat went wierd – like laryngitis – and for the last month was on a soft diet. A few days ago he found he was unable to keep solids or liquids down and his system went kablooey. Sugars off, electrolytes wacky – so he was admitted to hospital. On receiving the call I was immediately full of fear but decided I’d best rest in faith until I had a chance to check in with him myself. Within 2 hours I was there with he and his wife and Terry is being well taken care of and stabilizing. He will be fed for a few days through a nasal tube, then have a permanent feeding tube straight into his abdomen. Terry has been a terrific positive example and influence during my recovery; he’s my mentor (as opposed to A.A. sponsor).

Last night I started in reading Annie Proulx’s ‘The Shipping News’ (Attn: Susan) and from the first couple of chapters don’t know if I’ll be able to get into it. I will persevere and see if I can’t latch onto it.

Happy Friday!


Constant Change

September 22, 2009

Remember the name of my old blog?? ‘The Only Constant Is Change’. Constant change is the norm. Well, moreso than ever that is continuing to hold true.

My boarder is moving tomorrow. I finally got confirmation of that after he had been ducking my calls and ignoring my messages. Hallelujah!!

Late Saturday we learned that one of Lynda’s brothers (she has 10 of them) is in need of a place to stay because his marriage blew up suddenly. He’s in the process of moving in with us – bit by bit.

Sunday was a hit the ground running day and it didn’t quit until it was time to hit the sheets late that evening. On arriving at my A.A. service committee meeting I learned I had suddenly been promoted from Alternate Chair to Chairperson – that will last for the remainder of our term; another year. I was only half awake cuz I’d had at best 4 hours sleep but I muddled through with some good support from others at the executive table. The rest of the day was busy but mainly boring everyday stuff.

Yesterday and today I’ve gone through a bunch of boxes that had remained unpacked since I moved back in with Lynda…. hmmm; 16 months ago now? Trying to make room for the brother-in-law. In sorting through I’ve managed to get rid of some junk but there have been a few treasures unearthed as well. Stuff I had forgotten I owned.

No rest for the wicked – time to get back at it.


Enough About Me

September 19, 2009
time standing still

time standing still

…. and my problems. So sorry folks – I haven’t exactly been ‘on’ this week what with complaining about back pain, insomnia and fatigue. Sometimes life can get on the sucky side…… but all this too shall pass, eventually.

Shazzam!! Flipside of that is I have things to be grateful for, like:

I was up early this afternoon and got some things done and out of the way, then decided to take it easy and maybe snooze through a movie. Surfing the channels I found a show I actually wanted to see – a rarity in itself – the documentary ‘Johnny Cash’s America’. (2007) It was terrific and I think every / any one would find aspects about it they’d enjoy whether they’re a fan of Cash and his music or not. Lots of historic footage, interviews with family, fellow musicians and songwriters – it managed to give a full picture of the man during it’s 2 hour length. I was especially happy they spent about 15 minutes on the series of sessions he did with Rick Rubin producing for ‘American Recordings’ in the years leading up to Cash’s death. Here is the video that had me on the verge of tears at the end of the show – covering Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’.

Once our dogsitter arrived tonight I drove down to check on things at my townhouse. I had to ask my boarder to leave and his time is up at the end of next week. There has been some packing done and some clutter thinned out – a good sign. I’ll have some real gratitude about that whole thing when he has gone and the locks have been changed. Leaving there I headed uptown for a quick visit with Mom before coming to work. She’s happy to be moved, settled and satisfied she made the right decision to give up the house. If she’s happy, I’m happy. I think she made the right move, too – a nice condo in a quiet area.

The weather!?!? Amazing!! We have set a record for the longest period without rain for this time of year because of a big fat high pressure system that has been parked over us for 3 weeks. Beautiful!! It’s just what the farmers needed to finish the growing season after our late, long, cool and wet spring. There has only been a couple of days or nights with short periods of light overcast. It has made for the most excellent star gazing – amazingly clear conditions; no humidity to muddy the view. One of the guys here in tratment loaned me a couple of astronomy magazines he had brought with him; one of which included a sky map for the month. Cool; it’s helping me identify a lot more constellations. Here is a link for the coming week re: celestial events which can be viewed across Canada and the northern US states.

It’s been a long week in part because Lynda has worked afternoon shift all week. Later today when I get up we will finally have some face time, T.G. Phone calls and notes just don’t cut it somehow, ya know? Once my work week is done Sunday morning we’ll have the rest of the day after I’ve slept and then attended an A.A. service committee meeting in the early afternoon. Everything is kicking back into gear following the summer down time / break.

I’ll have to get busy again with my camera because this one below is the last one in the media library. It was taken outside the wee country church where we attended the wedding a couple of weeks ago. The bell is inscribed with the donors name and dated 1920.

no way - it's not tolling for me!

no way - it's not tolling for me!


Catch-up Monday

July 27, 2009

With all the bands of rain we’ve had during the last week I had better seize this wee window of opportunity to tend to the lawns. There has been no time lately when the grass has been dry enough to cut. If I don’t get out there I’ll need a hay-baler soon.

I’ve already dropped Freedom off at the vet for her surgery and dropped into Mom’s place on the way back for a visit. Great news on that front – she made an offer on a condo last night which was accepted this morning. W00-Hoo!! Nice to have that concern off her plate. Big move at her age.

Tonight I chair my A.A. home group and I have asked a woman friend of mine to be the speaker – Cindy has some good sobriety under her belt to share about. Her sponsor and my friend Audrey (who I’ve mentioned here before) has come down wuite ill so I don’t expect to see her there but she’s in my prayers. At 88 or 89 even a garden variety virus can be devastating to the system. God love her.

Mus go & get at it. Pitter-patter; let’s get at ‘er.



July 26, 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Doppelgänger: In the vernacular, “Doppelgänger” has come to refer  to any double or look-alike of a person.

Earlier tonight one of our clients calls me aside and says, ‘ I finally figured out who you remind me of; it’s Peter Fonda.’

‘Hmmm…???’, I’m thinking. Okay, is this a set-up?? Where is the zinger coming from?

Yeah?, I say.’ The more current one of ‘Ulee’s Gold? (1997) Or the old one from ‘Easy Rider’? (1969)

Peter Fonda - 1997

Peter Fonda - 1969

‘Oh – definitely Easy Rider’, he says.

‘Good answer’, sez I.

(Buddy should really get his eyes checked.)


Mistaken Identity:

A few weeks ago I had just arrived at work wearing a dark crewneck shirt that had a cream-coloured band around the neck, a collarless black shirt over it and a grey jacket. From 15 feet away the mother of one of our guests looked my way and said to her son, ‘My, I didn’t know they had clergy on staff here, as well.’

in my father's house

in my father's house

I laughed nervously as I waited for the bolt of lightning to smite me straight to hell. From on high my father is laughing his butt off. ‘Say WHAT???’


Self Image; Self Esteem; and the Face we present to the world

Recently someone (who shall remain nameless) commented on a shot I had posted here of myself and called me ‘handsome’. My reaction to the compliment was same as always – HUH!?!? – I never know what to do with them when they come my way. I suppose it’s because I don’t think much of my looks and like most folks I ‘get up, suit up, present the best face I can, and show up’. Like Popeye always said, ‘I y’am what I am and that’s all that’s I y’am.’ Gotta work with what God gives ya.

I think I could get a consensus to this proposition – 10% of the population would get classed as attractive, beautiful, handsome; at the other end, 10% would be lumped in as unattractive, ugly, hard on the eyes; the rest of us – the other 80% fall somewhere in the big middle ground.

A post I was reading last night included a section where the gal used to play a game with herself – ‘if I could change one thing about myself it would be…..’. Well, as I’m starting to show the signs of my advancing age that one thing would be my eyelids. I’m getting this hooded look to my eyes that I don’t like but in the big scheme of things…. so what?? I’m not going under the knife anytime soon, that’s for sure.

Far more importamt to me these days than the external is anyone’s internal composition – heart, mind and soul sorts of stuff. By the time I sought help for my problems with addiction I was a hurting unit bled practically dry of identity and self-esteem. This process of recovery I’ve engaged in for the last 6 years has been very much one of  re-building; putting things back together when you don’t have all the original pieces. At first it was all about substance, the absence of it and finding ways to a new state of ‘normalcy’. Then it got to be about re-attaching to roles – son, husband, father, friend, employee. Finally it came about to integrating values, ethics, qualities of character, moral beliefs and living a life that included spirituality. From that eventual internal foundation I’ve been able to move more to outside concerns where I’ve been allowed to be of use to others – family, friends, clients and strangers. It’s being open to ongoing change, adopting an attitude of willingness and engaging in action toward improvement. Progress not perfection….. hand steady on the tiller.


When is the last time someone confused you for somebody else or told you that you strongly resemble someone??

Has anyone ever thought you actually were someone you aren’t??

How do you deal with compliments?? How do you feel when complimented??

Do you feel good about how you look?? Satisfied?? or, are there things about your appearance you would change, given the chance?

How do you feel about your internal condition?? Mental, emotional, spiritual??

If other people could see / hear the nature of how you think would they be terribly surprised??

Have some fun and comment.