Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A few answers to inquiring minds--Part 1

You asked quite a few questions.  Thanks for asking and for reading.  I heard from some of you that I didn't even know read my blog. And I got more comments than I've ever had! Amazing.

So here is what you asked and how I responded. I'm breaking this up into two parts so it's not too much in one post.

Dad and Mom said...
What got you so involved in the sea? Marine science, sailing, it seems your life is full of wonder and interest. Was there a single event, childhood dream, person, mentor?

I attribute my love of the sea to my parents.  My mother taught me to love nature from an early age.  My father took me on the water when I couldn't even walk. I fished with him and enjoyed being on his boat.  There was also a graduate school of marine science near my home town.  My mother would take me there to see the horseshoe crabs, sea stars, crabs, and sting rays.  She actually took courses there.  She had a very inquisitive mind.  I worked there in the summers during high school.  So the choice of marine science was a natural for me. 

Lolly said... Ok, Syd. I've got a question for you. What if I haven't yet found a sponsor after being in the program for more than a year?

I think that choosing a sponsor is one of those "Ah-ha" moments.  I suggest going to several meetings and looking for someone who has what you want in recovery.  I believe that if you are willing, the person will be there for you.  It's like the saying that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears".  Some people go for years without a sponsor and some don't want one.  I did what others told me to do--get a sponsor and work the steps--and I'm glad that I did. 

Lou said... briefs, boxers, or bare naked??

LOL, Lou! It depends on the season and circumstances.  Briefs in the winter and bare naked when it is hot.  We used to post our "skin" photos on the blog "Half Naaked Thursdays". 

Smitty and Holly asked...Syd, how did you decide on your pen-name?

My name found me and seemed to be a good fit.    

My question is this, and it is fairly mundane. If you found yourself in a new
town without Alanon meetings, how would you go about starting a meeting?

I would pick a location and a time, contact the District Rep,, and get a flyer together to announce the new meeting on the district website.  I would also contact WSO to get their information packet on starting a meeting.  Here is a good page on what is needed to be done: http://www.al-anon.org/members/pdf/StartingAlAnonENg.pdf

And if you could start any kind of meeting, would it be a regular one, or something completely different?

I like meetings that are recovery oriented so it would have a step study, a tradition study, a literature study, and an open discussion topic for each month. I think that it's important to stress recovery through the steps and traditions. 

And what would you write about if you could write about anything? Would you publish this blog if the right editor approached you?

Well, my experience has been with writing about science.   I used to write and publish scientific papers, so publishing isn't new to me.  I still like to write about science, but I am drawn to write now about recovery and snippets from every day life. I suppose if someone were interested in what I wrote and wanted me to submit it for publication, I would consider it.  But I would have to protect the anonymity of the alcoholics in my life as well as my own anonymity.  I think that respecting the Traditions is important to consider so it would have to be clear that I don't represent Al-Anon.  

Chris Long said... I am considering early retirement at 58 years old and wondered if you are semi-retired and active in your profession. I also wondered if you stepped up your recovery program in retirement.

I suppose semi-retired sounds like a good description, although I like to think of it as moving on to the next chapter in life where I don't get a regular pay check and just goof off a lot.  I do give eco-tours to school groups when asked.  Sometimes that is spectacularly uninspiring or inspiring depending on the group.  

As far as recovery, I still do my best to get to 3 meetings a week, sponsor people, and write.  Not much has changed with that since I left my full-time job. 

happygirl said...So, what's your favorite color?

Glynis said...  What is the thing you are most proud of in yourself and in your growth, your life etc. and did you grow to be proud of this or was it in you all along.. does that make sense?

I don't think of pride when I think of myself, but rather I think that I am gifted in certain areas.  First and foremost, I have a strong intuition which is a gift. I sense things about people that I'm close to.   I have an ability to also move through the BS and get to the crux of things.  That's just part of my personality. I also have a strong empathy for people who are underdogs and for animals.  I believe that these traits were ones that I became more aware of in recovery and actually am happy to have. 

Sharon and DMcClear asked...
How will I know it is time to ask someone to be my sponsor? How do I decide who to ask?

I think that finding a sponsor takes going to a fair number of meetings, observing people, and finding someone who has what you want.  For me, I knew who that person was within a short time. I was fortunate in that I was willing and the person appeared.  The relationship between sponsor and those being sponsored is special, based on trust, and requires give and take. If you listen to someone in a meeting and find that you are hearing a strong message of recovery, then talk to them after the meeting.  Sometimes, people get a temporary sponsor to take them through the first three steps.  It takes willingness and trust to move forward.  

kel said--How did you meet C and how long have you been together. Did you have an elaborate wedding or a simple quiet celebration?

Kel, we met in graduate school when we were working on our Master's degrees.  If you count the years from the time we met until now, then it will 34 years.  Our wedding was at my parent's home in Virginia.  It was not elaborate or fancy. The most important part was that my aging grandmother attended.  And our dog was there too. 

Brian Miller said--how did you meet your wife? at what point did you know she was the one?  i know at one point you were living in VA and if i recall you were young, but what were you doing here?

Brian, we were both graduate students in marine science.  She lectured in one of my classes and blew me away with her intelligence and looks.  I think that I knew she was the one from the moment I met her.  I was transfixed.  

I was born in Virginia as were my parents and many generations before them. It was home to all my relatives from James Town to the present. 

Annette said--Syd, I have often wondered if you are someone who is secretly famous. Not like an actor or celebrity....but someone famous in your field.

Annette, I don't think anyone but Jacques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle (a well known explorer in the field), and Bob Ballard (who discovered Titanic wreck) are really famous (like celebrity famous) in this field.  Most of us work in our laboratories and shun the spot light! But I am well-known in my field, although I like your idea of being secretly famous! 

Mrs D said--My question is; do you think I will every change my belief that sober people can be very boring at parties? I am worried about this because when I was boozing I thought sober people were boring. Now I'm sober I'm worried that other people think I'm boring.

Mrs. D., if you go to a party and some sober gentleman jumps up on the table to dance, then you will probably change your belief that sober people are boring. I've been to some great AA parties.  On the other hand, I like the boring aspect of parties because fights seldom break out, people aren't throwing up or peeing in the corner, and people can drive home without fear of getting a DUI.  I've learned not to worry much about what other people think.  That's one of the benefits of recovery.  

Ms S said...
If I have a question it is how do you connect to God? (I wondered if the sea is an element of this?)

I can have a conscious contact with my Higher Power at any time.  I say little prayers through out the day.  There are times when I meet a person, or am in a particular situation where I feel a "God" moment.  But I do find the magnificence of nature is a strong reminder of how connected I am to something so much bigger and more powerful than I.  

Christina said--What part of the al-anon program do you just not agree with? For me, its the line in the opening that says "We can be happy whether the alcoholic is drinking or not"...though I believe at times, we can be happy, but for me, its intermittent at best.

I think the statement that says the beginner is the most important person in the room is one that I disagree with.  I think that we have so often felt so unimportant in life, that there is no need to diminish our importance in a meeting. We are all equals there, no matter how long or short the time. 

I know that I don't want to live with active alcoholism, so I do think that I could be happy even if the alcoholic is still drinking.  I would not be living with the active alcoholic though.  Physical and emotional detachment would be necessary for me.  

Kristin H.said...do you ever drink alcohol at all now that C is sober?

Yes, I like to have a beer now and then.  And I prefer Newcastle. 

Kelly said-- In life/Al-anon whichever you choose, what was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

To treat others as I would like to be treated.  When I do that, I cannot go wrong.

If you could share 1 thing about yourself no one would ever guess about you what would it be?

Hmmmm.....I like being bare naked (see answer to Lou above) and am secretly famous (see answer to Annette). 

Tune in on Thursday for the remainder of the questions and answers.


  1. Great answers, Syd...love this concept!!

    But...I still want to know how tall you are!


  2. oh no need to be modest..you are secretly famous...smiles...she lectured in one of your classes...hmm...

  3. Syd,Celestine and I have been together for almost 33 years. we meet in Sept 1979 and got married on 1 March 1980.on our wedding day my Dad was questioning me about the lenght of time we have know each other,I said to him you did not know Mom too long before you entered the service and look how long the two of you have been together. he did not say another word.

  4. Like your mother, I have an inquisitive mind and love satisfying answers. Love the pic of the small boy and his dog!

  5. I agree with bare naked when it is hot..ha, ha.

    Syd, I have those God moments when talking/meeting with people. I'm intuitive also, and consider it a gift to be used wisely. Now that I'm more conscious of it (as I get older) it feels very spiritual.

  6. If nothing else Syd, you are an honest man. these answers just feel like there is no dissimulation or hesitation in them.

  7. I remember those HNT photos of you! Syd goes commando!!!

    Love your answer about the newcomer being the most important person in the room. I find that offensive, and definitely not helpful to the egocentric person who ends up there.

  8. Great questions. Enjoyed reading your answers!

  9. Funny how even though I had no questions, I really enjoyed reading your answers to others' questions.

  10. Loved reading this! But ow I am dying to know who you are!!! lol Famous in the science world. Bill Nye? ;o)

  11. i love your answers.

    and i agree about the newcomer answer - didn't know that was used... maybe they mean it in terms of "don't let her/him escape" lol but it doesn't work that way.

    i thought of another question if the statue of limitations hasn't run out lol....

    has any of your writing been published in a layman's publication? Something one of us might have picked up?

  12. Oh and...the back of that photo makes me think you ARE famous. All that hair, on the ocean, a dog - looks like a Kennedy!


  13. I love that you can trace your family back to Jamestown. Such solid stock you come from. I, myself, only second generation American. My husband's mother is a daughter of the American revolution and can trace her family even further back. LOVE it. btw, is black a color or the absence of color? hmmmm.

  14. I didn't have any specific questions for you, but I've really enjoyed reading those that others had and your responses. You're kind of interesting! :)

  15. Really enjoyed the Q&A :0) Love the photo.

  16. I hope you are having fun with the answers. I'm loving it.

  17. Happy Girl, black is the color of objects that do not emit or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum; they absorb all such frequencies of light. Although black is sometimes described as an "achromatic", or hueless, color, in practice it can be considered a color, as in expressions like "black cat" or "black paint".

  18. One more who had, and has no questions, although many I might have asked.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.