Showing posts with label service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label service. Show all posts

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday on the island

More stream of consciousness happenings in Paradise City and my little piece of paradise:

  • Saint Patrick's Day madness has gripped the town this weekend.  It all started on Friday with a continuous party going through Saturday. Peace has returned to the land and the villagers are happy once again. The streets are now clear of drunken partiers.  The drunken crackers, drag strip officials, NASCAR losers, vacant fratboys, vapid sorority chicks, dudes that have a Budweiser as an appendage, and loutish jerks are now a thing of the immediate past.  This town isn't as crazy as Savannah, but the streets still smell like a frat house after a wild beer bash.  I was glad to get away from the city yesterday and head back to the sublime silence of the island, punctuated only by the sound of waves breaking on the sandbars and birds singing and performing their morning concert. 
  • The blue glow of the moon has ushered in a new day that promises to be beautiful and peaceful. The seabirds fly in the sea breeze and dolphins cruise just beyond the breakers that gently lap the shore. There is a hint of rain coming. Today will be an inside day to work on furniture in the workshop. And at noon, I am meeting an old friend from college that I haven't seen in many years. We are going to catch up on life. 
  • Two of our dogs, Deacon and Tobias, decided to take off around 11 PM on Wednesday night.  He and the rest of the dogs were out for their evening pee. The rascals must have gotten scent of something so they decided to head down the drive.  We live a mile down a dirt road--lots of things to smell.  So C. and I drove the road calling for him until 2 AM.  I found Tobias walking along, looking sheepish.  But no Deacon.  Early on Thursday morning, we put flyers in mailboxes in the area, called people, put up a large sign on the front fence and drove the roads every couple of hours.  I think that we both gave up by Friday morning. We knew that it was going to be a body recovery, looking for buzzards in the sky to give us a clue.  Our hearts were leaden. Neither of us could eat much.  I thought--here we go again with death and grief.  On Friday night around 10:30 PM, we got a call from a neighbor at a nearby plantation telling me that she thought she had our dog. I had called them on Thursday, and they kept the information.  Evidently, Deacon had followed their beagle Woody through the short cut wooded trail to their plantation.  He was happy relaxing with Woody in their house when we got there.  None the worse for wear, we hugged Deacon and the good people who took him in and called us.  Extra precautions are being made to make sure that Deacon and Tobias don't go out for their evening walk without a leash on.  After getting the wayward boy home, we slept soundly for the first time in a couple of days.  
  • The anniversary of my father's death passed without sadness. I thought of him many times that day. Now, I am concerned about my first sponsor who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. I am hoping that it can be treated. More will be revealed for him. For now, he is accepting of the diagnosis. 
  • At the District Al-Anon meeting yesterday, I volunteered to do additional service work for the District.  I was really motivated by a speaker at the convention who was inspirational in what she does. After the meeting, a group of us went out to lunch.  It was great fun to have a meeting after the meeting and enjoy some great discussions.  
  • Friday is my wife's birthday.  We are going out to a play on Thursday evening.  Friday we leave for a cruise up the waterway to another favorite anchorage.  Some other boats will be joining us there. 
Hope that you are enjoying your Sunday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Giving back

I went to the noon meeting today.  It was about the joy of service.  I looked around the table and saw a lot of blank looks.  A lot of people in my meetings come because they want to share their pain.  They want to be rid of the problems in their lives.  "Service?  What's that?"

The more I go to meetings, the more I realize that there are few people who actually get a sponsor and work the steps.  There is no real "guide" for so many who are suffering from the affects of alcoholism in a relative or friend.  What is amazing is that people are helped by coming and listening to the experience, strength and hope of others.  They are getting a message.  It may not be the entire message but some part of the program is helping them.  And today, I think that some got a good message about giving back.

Probably one of the best kept secrets for many people who come to meetings is that helping others can actually help your recovery.  My sponsor stressed service and doing for others.  It was not the co-dependent type of doing that I had done in the past.  Rather, it was about becoming involved with Al-Anon through talking to newcomers,  chairing a meeting,  participating in meetings, and simply doing for the good of the group.  I got to know other members, made friends,  and found that my recovery was helped when I gave something back.

I have moments when I get really weary of taking on more activities/jobs.  I have to find a balance between taking care of myself and doing for others.  I do reserve the right to say, "No thanks" if I am asked to do something when I am feeling overwhelmed with existing projects.  Lately, I have felt overwhelmed with class and family.  So I met with the District Representative yesterday to discuss how best to hand over something that I have done for the district for several years.  I know that it's time to let another person take this work over.

I also get tired when people, who ask me to sponsor them, balk at working the steps.  But I've learned that I can't make anyone do anything.  All I can be is an example of willingness.  I can share what helped me.  And then I have to let the outcome go.  In Al-Anon, I've learned that it is healthy for me to detach with love.

So, if you find that your recovery may be feeling a bit stale, think about getting out of yourself and doing something for others in the fellowship.  It can be an amazing lift to the spirit.

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James

This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hope from a newcomer

There was a newcomer at the meeting tonight.  She was in a lot of pain and for much of the meeting could hardly speak for being so emotional.  Her husband has been drinking for quite a few years but the amount being drunk has accelerated recently.  He begins drinking in the early morning and continues throughout the day.  He has promised her that he will stop but has not been able to.

Every time there is a person who comes to a meeting in pain from what alcoholism has done, I feel so much compassion.  But I am also filled with a great deal of hope.  My compassion comes from having been confused and angry, filled with despair when I went to my first meeting.  My hope comes from seeing where I am now and how far I have come in taking care of myself and not fixating on the alcoholic.

I know that if the newcomer can keep coming to meetings, there will be a chance that the pain will cease and there can be happiness in its place.  I have felt so low that I seriously thought at one time about suicide.  And yet,  now I see that was totally my disease telling me that I was no good, unworthy of love, and a complete failure as a human being.  It was through the steps of this program that I learned that I wasn't as bad as I thought nor as good as others thought I was.

Newcomers who keep coming back, get a sponsor and work the steps can feel hope again.  The tears that seem as if they will never go away will be replaced with laughter.  I know because I have seen it happen with others and with myself.  So when a newcomer walks through the door of a meeting,  I am grateful.

I not only am reminded of how I have been helped but am also given an opportunity to extend my hand to offer help to another.  That is what keeps me filled with hope.  I have seen what the 12 steps have done for me and how the 12 traditions have helped me deal with others.  Newcomers do bring hope.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being of service

Last night at a meeting, I got to reflect on something that has been passed down from my sponsor to me and that I pass on to my sponsees.  It is one of the fundamental principles of AA and Al-Anon: "In order to keep it, you have to give it away."

I've found that service work is a great thing. There are so many ways to be of service in the fellowship.  My sponsor shared that he took a position as GR about 2 weeks into Al-Anon.  He asked what being a GR entailed and was told that it was like being President of the group.  He admitted to having a big ego and said, "Okay, I can do that!". 

I didn't come into Al-Anon with much self-esteem when it came to relationships, but I did know how to step up to the plate and be responsible. So probably some of my first service with the group was ego based.  I've always been a sucker to volunteer to do something, especially when no one else wants to. But a lot of why I have done service work is to give back to the program what has been so freely given to me. And I appreciate that there were people at the meetings when I was new that took the time to share their experience, strength, and hope which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.  So I have done a lot of different service work in all sorts of ways since being in the fellowship.  It has helped me to get out of myself, out of my own head, and made my recovery stronger.

I have gotten a lot from working with the newcomers who keep coming back.  Like so many newcomers, when I first came to Al-Anon, I was in deep despair. I didn't want to fix anyone but myself because I was past the point of trying to fix the alcoholic. I didn't believe that the relationship could be saved. In fact, I didn't believe in much when I came in. I definitely was at an emotional bottom and in need of guidance.

At first, I didn't feel much like I belonged. Everyone was further along than I. It was as if there was a different language. But it just felt like I had found a place where I could finally talk about what was wrong in my life and in my marriage.

Even though I felt shame and guilt at first, I kept going to meetings.  I wanted what was offered. After working the steps and with the help of my sponsor, I've created a new life for myself. I have hobbies that I enjoy and fill my life with things that I like to do and can do with or without my spouse. I don't have expectations that she will participate but if she wants to, that's great. I've learned from the program that keeping the focus on myself isn't selfish.

So when I see a newcomer at a meeting, it inspires me. I feel sad for them.  But I know that the path through the door leaves a trail of tears but eventually laughter follows us out.  I am now able to laugh at meetings and can see how far I've come. I can see the raw emotion of the newcomer and pray that each will hear something that will make them want to keep returning. And with God working through me, I get to reach out my hand and give away some of what I have learned. And that's a great feeling.  I think that I’ve given away something but kept something far more valuable by helping others.

Last night, the newcomers heard that they are the most important person in the room. When I heard those words, it made me feel special and that was something that I hadn't felt for a long time.

So I want to say thanks to the newcomers who have the courage to come into a meeting. Hopefully, you'll hear something that will make you keep coming back and will lead you to recovery.  And if you are not new, reach out your hand to be of service. Give it away and you'll get far more in return.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pictures, Pollen and Service = Muchness

I want to go out and play today.  I simply don't want to be sitting at a desk behind a computer and going through file after file that will be put on the server as a cache of my work here.  Instead I want to go to the beach, flop down and wiggle my bare feet in the sand.

I took a few photos this morning of plants and trees leafing out.  The pollen has almost finished the annual ritual.  Reproduction has literally been in the air here for weeks.  Pollen contains the sperm cells that are floating to land on the pistil or female part of plants. No wonder the saying is that "love is in the air".

Tonight I will be out on the water rowing.  It will be a small crew tonight, but the weather looks to be fantastic for a good row with enough wind to keep the gnats away.  This is Race Week so there will be many sleek racers around with bright spinnakers aloft.  I am also going to look at a 36 ft. Cape Dory tonight as I begin my search for a suitable long-range cruising boat.  This fills me with some trepidation since I am unsure what C. will think about sailing the coast for a month or so.  It feels like an adventure to me but I won't make the decision unilaterally.

Last night we had a group conscience meeting about the "step study".  It was an informative meeting.  I am volunteering to help finish up the book Paths to Recovery that discusses the steps, traditions and concepts.  I posted on the steps and traditions before but have not studied the concepts.  I realize that they are important in guiding service that we do in Al-Anon but like the steps and traditions, are valuable in relationships with others.  This will be a challenging and exciting opportunity to understand the concepts and apply them in my life. As always I will rely upon my sponsor, readings, and my friends here and in the fellowship to make suggestions about the 12 concepts of service.  

I hope that you are enjoying your day.  I am filled with a lot of "muchness" today.  I may lose it tomorrow but today I'm plum filled up.

You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness. The Mad Hatter

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm too tired...blah, blah, blah and other excuses

I am having my fifth sponsee meeting of the week today.  It has been a week of work, a week of not feeling well, a week of late nights due to evening meetings.  I could go on but feel that I don't need to explain more to you because I'm sure that you are also running to catch up.

I know that I have extraordinary energy and stamina.  I can be robotic in my ability to work long hours.  And I've added to that the extra time that I spend with Al-Anon meetings and sponsees.  And this brings me to an observation: It seems that I am putting my heart and soul into recovery, yet it seems that there are so few of us at meetings I attend that are willing to sponsor, to become GR's, to do service work. 

Ed summed it up nicely in his great post about sponsorship . He said:
"It's puzzling to me why so few people get engaged in some level of AA service.  I heard my wife (also in AA) make a statement today that "...It used to be that you took your AA service commitments very seriously and, as a part of that, you learned to take yourself less seriously.  Today the sentiment largely seems to be that I have to take myself seriously and that the only service I will do is what's fun and easy for me."

The fun and easy part may well be the real issue.  Service work can be time-consuming and tiring work.  I know at the GR level, I see that personalities can clash and disagreements can occur.  There are hurt feelings sometimes. Maybe that is the reason that it is hard to fill positions and that resentments can start to rise when few new individuals step up to help out.

Nonetheless, I tell my sponsees to get into service, give it away in order to keep it. Some get it and some don't. I hear a lot of excuses: I'm too tired, that meeting is too far away, I'm still new--I'm sure that you have hear these and more. I have to resist the eye roll when I hear some of these "reasons" to not get more involved.

For me, service has helped my recovery.  I believed my sponsor when he told me to become involved.  And from working with others, doing jobs at the district level, I have learned so much more about my higher power and myself. I have grown spiritually through doing things that used to bring out my shortcomings of impatience and judgmentalism.

I've learned that I can sacrifice my feeling of how things should go in order to serve the group and maintain unity.  I have kept my mouth shut when I wanted to set people straight. I have practiced humility when I felt I knew a better way. I have paused when agitated.   Essentially,  I have been shown chances to put my will second to something greater than me, and the internal rewards have been well worth it.

Although it may take me a few 24 hours and a lot of prayer, I am grateful for the people who irritate, try to control, or stick their shortcomings right in my face. I have learned through them to do things that I don't want to do and to not do things that I may want to do.

Hope that you enjoy this day.  It is Friday which is all right by me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Impressions from the convention

The theme of the state convention was Seeking a Balanced Life. I heard some excellent speakers.

The AA speaker Dick A. had a good message that was filled with humor. He spoke about doing God's will in the best way I can given the gifts I was given.

I thought about that quite a bit and decided that one of the gifts I can share will be to become certified as an Alateen sponsor. I could see that the behavior of the Alateens reflected the alcoholic household they grew up in. There are more Alateen meetings needed in our area. We have no children but perhaps there will be a way to extend a hand to those young people who, like me,were affected by someone else's drinking. It is a strong feeling that I have that God is directing me to help these troubled kids.

The convention was held at the beach. So I'll share a few other photos from this inspiring weekend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seeing hope

Last night I joined a group of people from work to host a dinner at Hope Lodge. For those of you who aren't familiar with Hope Lodge, the first was established in Charleston in 1970 by a Holocaust survivor and cancer patient who saw a similar facility while traveling in Australia and New Zealand. I couldn't help but think how it came together that a woman survived the Holocaust, became a doctor, and just "happened" to visit in far away countries from which an idea was formed to bring help and hope.

The concept was to provide a "home away from home" for those individuals and their families who are undergoing treatment for cancer. Nationwide, there are now more than 20 Hope Lodges which are part of a national patient service program run by the American Cancer Society. Last night, as we brought and prepared food for the residents and their caregivers, it was obvious what a Godsend this place is. Not only is it free of charge, but there is a great sense of comraderie and support amongst the patients and staff.

I met so many people who are filled with hope that they will survive. They knew each others' stories, encouraged each other, and were interested in socializing. I talked at length with a man being treated for prostate cancer. He wore a lapel pin that said "Cancer Sucks". He was funny and feisty. No doubt the Christmas decorations throughout the place contributed to the festive atmosphere. After dinner, the Renaissance Ensemble sang traditional English and French Christmas carols and after they sang their repertoire, the rest of us joined them for familiar carols.

Last night was a good reminder to me about how grateful I am to have my health and that there are others struggling with major illnesses that seem as devastating to them as alcoholism does to me. Sometimes I seem to focus so much on alcoholism that I tend to forget that pain and suffering comes in other forms.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tired Monday

The July 4 celebration at the island was over the top. There were probably close to 400 boats and well over a thousand people on the beach.

I've tried to capture the scene here, but it's really hard to realize just how much drinking was going on unless you were there.

On Sunday, what was left on the beach was close to a ton of trash. I did the best that I could to pick up and consolidate the beer cans, liquor bottles, pieces of clothing, and coolers that were left. But it was a nearly impossible job.

I worked for over three hours in the morning and then decided that I needed to get others to help. I called the local Waterkeeper and he came out to give a hand, along with a news crew from the local network. Another friend who has a large pontoon boat came out and after hauling trash from the beach in a cart, it was all loaded on his boat to be carried to another location where it could be loaded into trucks.

I am tired from all of this today. I didn't think that so many young people would care so little about a place that I think is beautiful. It's a privilege to be able to walk that beach, and it has become a really special place to me. On Saturday it looked like a giant frat party. And on Sunday, it looked like a land fill.

Do you remember the commercial in which the Native American cried because of all the litter? Well, that was how I felt on Sunday.

At least the island was clean when we left. And I think that I heard it sigh happily as we sailed away near dark. Or maybe it was just the wind and waves.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In remembrance of Lois

Today is Lois Wilson's birthday. She is the co-founder of Al-Anon and the wife to Bill Wilson.

If you haven't read the book The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is Not Enough (Hazelden Press), I would encourage you to do so. It tells the story of her life and how she stuck by Bill W. through his 17 years of alcoholic drinking. Lois, like so many of us who have lived with an alcoholic, thought that her love could cure his disease.

It's remarkable that she stuck by Bill, always hopeful that he would get better. Even after he was sober, she stayed by his side in spite of his affairs. Theirs wasn't a fairy tale love story. Both Lois and Bill W. had character defects, as do all of us.

But it was what she learned from being with her husband and what she saw in herself and others who were struggling everyday, that caused her to realize that alcoholism is a family disease and that the families and friends of alcoholics needed a program of recovery too.

In remembrance of Lois's birthday, members are asked to participate in a project called 'Leave Hope" on March 4th. This is the project where members "forget" a piece of Al-Anon literature in a public place where it will be found, such as a doctor's office, work, library, grocery store, etc. Basically, it can be a piece of literature from your meeting, past issues of the Forum, or any CAL that you choose. We're encouraged to leave the District phone number on the literature.

Maybe some one who needs help in dealing with the effects of alcoholism will pick up a pamphlet and make a phone call that will change their life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tradition Nine: Lighten up

Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

The principles for this tradition are equal opportunity and rotation in service. The traits that I think this tradition embody are equality and "lightening up".

To me this tradition says that I don't need to control the group or people in my life. I need not do it all or know it all. I don’t need to be nor am I expected to take myself too seriously. I am responsible for my own growth and needs, and others are responsible for theirs. We are all responsible to share responsibility of service.

This seems to be one of the more difficult traditions to talk about, but what usually comes up in our group discussions is that there is no hierarchy here - no leader, no boss, no working your way up the ladder, etc.

I had to work my way up the ladder as a new Ph.D. I had to "get known" in my field. And then eventually I was put on various boards and national committees. That's probably true for many people in my meetings who are active in the community and in their career. After all, we may be a bit crazy, but we know how to do our crazy stuff responsibly! But Alanon is different from community and career work, and there is a lot of value in that difference. We do not make message boards or committees to "govern" us. Instead, we look to each other for the work that is needed. And it's all voluntary.

Tradition 9 is not as difficult or complex as I thought it was. It simply means we are a "fellowship" of people with like goals and hopes that are helped by each other. No one is above another, we serve each other, and as we get more seasoned in recovery, we may feel like we want to be of even more service to others. We are a "trusted servant" for the group.

This tradition is also an exhortation to have fun, be playful, and to lighten up. I'm learning not to take myself too seriously. Our lives have been very difficult at times, and for most of us there haven't been many laughs. I've given myself permission to have a lot of laughs and to exercise my sense of humor.
On another note:

I'll be hosting the chat on Sunday night, Feb. 15, over at the Second Road. The chat starts at 8 PM, and the topic is going to be how to get balance in your life. It's open to anyone who wants to show up. Let your fingers do the talking.

The Traditions will continue next Tuesday as Steve and I take a short break. Whew!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pieces of Eight

Tradition 8: Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

The principle of this step is equality and the traits are guidance, sharing and humility.

This tradition is important for the health of our meetings. It means to me that each member is equal and should remain so, with no one setting him/herself above another as teacher, adviser, or in some other non Al-Anon capacity.

The 8th Tradition insures that anytime a newcomer reaches out for help, he will receive it, free of charge. Members freely share their own experience, strength, and hope with the newcomer and by doing so, help themselves by reinforcing their own recovery in the process.

The word "nonprofessional" means that I interact in a way that neither affirms nor implies that I am something other than a person in recovery just like others who come to Al-Anon. It means that if I need professional help then I should go where such help is available--outside Al-Anon.
I must also avoid taking a "professional" or know-it-all attitude. In the final analysis, personal opinions are just that - personal. Neither of us is a certified expert on alcoholism, the twelve steps, sex, marriage, medicine, child psychology, spirituality, or humility.

Unfortunately, this tradition isn't always practiced at some meetings. I've heard advice given to people not to take medication for depression or a bi-polar condition. This is not only contrary to this tradition but is dangerous advice. It isn't a good idea to play doctor or therapist where medications or relationships are concerned. A friend who is a psychiatrist asked me not long ago when I was telling him about the "experts" in meetings, "And how many people have they killed with such advice?" Good question.

I know that I have leaned hard on my sponsor more than once to give advice on relationships. But I have a wise sponsor who tells me to keep the focus on myself. I do not know what is best for another person. We should each be free to ask for outside professional help, but never set ourselves up as professionals nor set another up as a professional to us, and that includes sponsors.

The 8th Tradition is one that reminds me that what I am to do in meetings is talk about my experience, not my opinion; not give advice, but try to give hope. If I do make suggestions, they should be spiritual in nature rather than advice about actions to take. Thankfully, I don't hear much "therapy" in meetings. I want to remember that Al-Anon has a spiritual approach and that is how the message is carried.

I also need to realize that I am not an expert on the workings of Al-Anon but simply do service work as needed. We have no paid staff but volunteers in this district. Just for today, it is a good idea for me to stick close to the message of Al-Anon as I encounter it in my home group and at others.

(Check out Steve's blog Another Sober Alcoholic for the AA perspective on this tradition. We're collaborating to bring you our thoughts on the traditions that bind us together in harmony).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Friday

The photo above is in the entrance hall. I'm going to post a Christmas photo every day. I guess that I'm in the spirit!

Yesterday there was a good meeting on "Let It Begin with Me". This was a timely topic for me, especially in view of my thoughts about service work this week. I know that getting honest with myself about what I can realistically do and what I can't is an essential part of the slogan.

If I want things to change in my life for the better then it will need to begin with me. When I first came to Al-Anon, my marriage was just about dead. This was a last ditch effort for me. I didn't want to live with alcoholism, I wanted to get away from the anger, shame and humiliation that was the fall out from the disease.

After I began to finally hear what was being said in meetings and through the help of my sponsor and the steps, I began to shift my focus from the alcoholic to myself: my attitudes, my actions, my thoughts, my emotions began to be clearer. I began to see who I was and who I could be.

And I've come to learn that it can begin with me when I'm wearing my program right. I can be of maximum service to others when things are okay in my head. And that means that my motives are right, my expectations aren't clouding my vision which allows me to share what I have with others. Becoming a part of the beginning of recovery for others is a great gift of the program.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday comes after Wednesday

Today is my noon meeting. I haven't been to it in a couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to seeing the regulars there. It is the oldest Al-Anon meeting in this town. And since it's at noon time, that means that I will get home tonight right after work.

I took the day off yesterday and did some Christmas things. I wrapped presents for my wife. I took a nap. And I bought a new Blue.

Blue who was wrecked on November 26 has been the subject of much discussion between the insurance adjusters and the body shop. The body shop wants to total Blue because she has a bent frame. The adjusters are wanting to go over every inch and hope for a fix. So I made a decision (sounds like step 3) and decided that if the frame is bent, I won't be keeping Blue. Structural integrity is something that I want in a car. A bent frame doesn't fill me with much confidence.

So I looked at what was available in the pre-owned (nice fancy word for used) certified listings. And there she was: a 2006 Monaco Blue 330 ci with 6 speed manual. Too good to be true I thought. So I made an appointment for us to go "look". One look and I was sold. Kinda atypical for this Capricorn. But with all the incentives being offered, it seemed like acting now instead of later was the best idea. So now there is a new Blue. Merry Christmas to us.

And if that isn't enough, after the meeting on Tuesday when I said that I was rotating out of service for the Beginner's Group, I was approached by a fellow who asked me to be his sponsor. God is sending me a message here. Service is where He wants me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inventorying myself

Thanks to all for your comments regarding getting out of the doldrums with regard to meetings and service work. This is a great group of people who step up to share their thoughts. I greatly appreciate what you have to say.

I shared last night at my home group meeting that I have begun to feel as if I am taking on more and more service work with Al-Anon. And the feeling that I get is similar to those pre-program years when I took on more and more things at work and at home, only to feel trapped and resentful that I had taken on too much.

I inventoried what was going on and find that I'm not wanting to take on anything else. In fact, I'm wanting to rotate out of service on chairing the Beginner's meeting that I've been doing for three months. I'll still go to my meetings and be the GR for my home group, but I am going to ask that someone else take over with the beginner's starting in January. On that night, I have 2 hours of Al-Anon and don't get home until nearly 10 PM. I just need a break and more flexibility with my time.

I've found that service work is a great thing. Maybe some of it at first was ego based. I've always been one to step up out of a feeling of responsibility, especially when no one else volunteers. But a lot of why I have done service work is to give back to the program what has been so freely given to me. And I appreciate that there were people at the meetings when I was new that took the time to share their experience, strength, and hope which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. And I have gotten a lot from working with the newcomers who keep coming back.

So maybe it's time for me to step back, go to meetings, listen to the sharing of others, absorb and think about how the topic relates to my life and situation. Last night's home group meeting was a good example: the topic was on the Al-Anon "Bill of Rights". These were excerpted from the ODAT for January 13.
  • I have a right to free myself from any situation that interferes with my having a decent life and pleasant experiences.
  • I am entitled to life without fear, uncertainty and discomfort.
  • I have a right to help not only myself and my family, but the suffering alcoholic as well.
  • I have a right to stand firm against constant wavering, which can only hinder me from breaking out of my present thinking pattern.
And I would add the following ones to this:

1. I have the right to ask for what I want

2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet.

3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.

4. I have the right to change my mind.

5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.

6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or it violates my values.

8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.

9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems

10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.

11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.

12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.

13. I have the right to feel scared and say 'I'm afraid."

14. I have the right to say 'I don't know'.

15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.

16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.

17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.

18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.

19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.

20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.

21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.

22. I have the right to change and grow.

23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others

24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect

25. I have the right to be happy.

"God guide me to make the right decision and give me the fortitude to cling to it against all pressures and persuasions."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Recovery, Unity, Service

I am feeling grateful and filled with so much hope today. It's a feeling of comfort. I couldn't help but think about the AA triangle of recovery, unity and service.

I am hopeful that now our country can start to recover its image abroad and refresh its spirit at home.

I am hopeful that this election brings people of all races, religions and philosophies closer to unity. And that we begin to feel encouraged about the country, and embrace our tolerance and inclusiveness.

I am hopeful that through service at home and abroad, we will do our part to make the world a better place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spiritual malady

I've been wanting to comment on this for a while. If you've been going to meetings for a while, yet you still feel unrest and unsettled, maybe there is something else that could be done to remedy the situation.

It's not the external things that are unmanageable, although at times they can cause a lot of heartache. It's the inward unmanageability that made me miserable for so long. For me, I felt discontent, out of sorts with myself and others, and generally unhappy. With my disease of thinking, I had to get at the root of those issues that had affected me my entire life. I had to understand what the pain was within me.

For the alcoholic, it is clearly spelled out in the Big Book that a spiritual malady has symptoms like:
  1. being restless, irritable, and discontented,
  2. having trouble with personal relationships,
  3. not being able to control our emotional natures,
  4. being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,
  5. not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life),
  6. having feelings of uselessness,
  7. being full of fear,
  8. unhappiness,
  9. inability to be of real help to other people (page 52),
  10. being like "the actor who wants to run the whole show" (pages 60-61),
  11. being "driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity" (page 62),
  12. self-will run riot (page 62),
  13. leading a double life (page 73),
  14. living like a tornado running through the lives of others (page 82), and
  15. exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits.
These symptoms of unmanageablity were prevalent in my life when I first came to Al-Anon and continued until I took actions to work at removing them. These actions were:
  • Getting a sponsor
  • Following the guidance of my sponsor
  • Talking to my sponsor on a daily basis
  • Working the steps with my sponsor
  • Being of service to others
  • Continuing to take personal inventory daily
  • Using prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God daily
I don't know why there are those in the program who think that only going to meetings is going to solve the spiritual malady. It certainly helps to go to meetings, but unless there is recognition of powerlessness, the need to seek a Power Greater than myself, and being of service to others, I would not be getting the full promise of the program.

I hear people in meetings say that they have been coming for years to Al-Anon and yet, they don't have a sponsor, don't use a sponsor, don't work the steps, and wonder why they feel miserable. This program has so much to offer, if I choose to work it. I may know that I'm powerless but that's just the first step. There are Twelve Steps, not just one.

In working the steps, I learn to trust and accept what I hear in my interactions with other people in the group. I awaken spiritually to parts of me that have been blocked by my character defects. And I continue to grow spiritually through service to others.

So if I'm to benefit from all that Al-Anon has to offer and want the promises to come true in my life, then I need to work the complete program of recovery.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Double winners?

When I first heard the term "double winners", I didn't really care for it. I couldn't see who would "win" anything by being in AA and in Al-Anon. It seemed more like double losers. Nothing was won in a competition or even a lottery unless there's some sort of cosmic lotto that determines who stays sober and who doesn't.

But now I realize that those who have been in AA for a while and come to Al-Anon have been twice blessed.
An AA who has found alanon or an alanon who has found AA is fully working the programs to their benefit and the benefit of all the others they touch with their story. They are winners in this life. They have my respect for their strength and courage to change.

One of the meetings that I go to has many "double winners". I benefit from hearing what they have to say.
With their knowledge of both sides of the disease, they provide a powerful perspective because of their life experiences. I also like the idea of having Al-Anon talk in meetings with the focus being on the family disease of alcoholism.

Sometimes conflicts of interest do arise. A friend in the group who has been the GR has decided that he is also an alcoholic so there will be a group conscience meeting next week to discuss his replacement. A decision of the World Service Organization was that
Al-Anon members who are also members of A.A. may hold office within their own Al-Anon or Alateen group, but may not serve as Al-Anon group representatives or hold Al-Anon office beyond the group level.

I'm glad that he made a decision to step aside as GR. He has been active and engaged with Al-Anon within the district but had the honesty and courage to set aside his personal agenda for the greater good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Phone service

I've been taking phone messages for our Al-Anon district. There's a number that people can call and leave a message. Most people want to know where a meeting is being held. Today, I returned two calls from women who needed to talk.

One was a lady who is in rehab and who wants her son to go to Al-Anon. She talked to me about how she knows her 18 year old son is hurting, angry and in need of sharing those feelings. She wanted to know if her son could call me. I gave her my number and he did call. He was quiet but asked if he could go to a meeting. He didn't have a car so I'm to pick him up this evening and will take him to my home group meeting.

The other call was from a lady who was sobbing about her son who is an alcoholic/addict. She said that he is in rehab and is going to AA meetings. But he has left a lot of wreckage in his wake. She wants her son to be okay and wishes that she could take away his pain. I felt compassion for her and explained that he had a good program that he was working. I did my best to let her know that she isn't responsible for his addiction or his sobriety. I gave her a list of meetings and shared some of my experience with her.

I hope that I got through to her that her life doesn't have to be filled with so much anxiety. It's hard though when people are really hurting. They don't hear the words. They don't believe that there is a solution. I'm glad that there is an opportunity to let people know that there is a life line in the program. They just have to grab onto it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Out of town

I got to my destination last night around midnight. My flight was delayed due to a small "dent" in the plane. I was wondering whether it could be a bird, a very small asteroid, or some other mystery object that hit the plane. Whatever the reason, the "dent" was investigated, reports written, paperwork filed, and finally we left.

After I got in, I took the Metro from National Airport to Silver Spring which is where NOAA lives. The Metro is another adventure but it is on time for the most part. It's an inexpensive and efficient way to get around the DC area. If a city has public transportation woes, it would seem that this city provides an example of infrastructure that moves a person from point A to point B fairly quickly and cheaply.

Once I got to the metro station at Silver Spring, I started walking towards the hotel. I was within sight of the hotel when a car ran a red light and T-boned another car. I was right there so I went over to see if the person in the T-boned car was okay. He was an elderly gentleman who was a bit shook up but seemed visibly unhurt. His Northstar had kicked in and true to the TV ad, there was a voice coming through asking him if he was in an accident and was okay. The voice said that she would stay there with him until help arrived. Amazing-- truth in advertising.

I stayed with him until the police came, got names and phone numbers, etc. and then I was off again. By this time, I was hungry but nothing was open. I checked the Al-Anon phone message system since I've volunteered to do that this week. There were a couple of calls from people wanting to get to a meeting. So far, there have been about an equal number of men and women calling in. I'm glad that we have this service and that I can help get someone to a meeting.

Today will be a full day. Hope that I can catch up on my blog friends. Maybe I am in cyber withdrawal.

Have a good one.