May 17, 2011

Optimism Heals

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
--Doug Larson

"An optimistic outlook gives us energy to handle the harder things that we have to deal with. Research shows that people who have a positive attitude have a stronger immune system, are healthier, live longer, and are even more likely to recover from serious illness.

"To believe in hopeful outcomes is largely a matter of choice. Many of us have experienced big disappointments and defeats in life. But having come this far, we can look back and see that somehow we had the capacity to deal with it. The Second Step guides us to believe in hopeful possibilities. We can't say that things will always turn out just the way we hope, but that we can cope with whatever happens.

"Today I choose to believe that a power greater than myself can help me deal with life, and I have reason to be optimistic."

---from Today's thought from Hazelden from the book Wisdom to Know.

March 31, 2009

Travel with God's Eyes

"Travelling - seeing new sights, hearing new music, and meeting new people - is exciting and exhilarating. But when we have no home to return to where someone will ask us, "How was your trip?" we might be less eager to go. Travelling is joyful when we travel with the eyes and ears of those who love us, who want to see our slides and hear our stories.

"This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people ... and be happy to return home."

---Henri Nouwen

To Watch Loneliness Vanish

"Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn't quite belong. ? Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were noisy good fellows constantly craving attention and companionship, but rarely getting it. There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand.

"That's one reason we loved alcohol too well. But even Bacchus betrayed us; we were finally struck down and left in terrified isolation."

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"Life takes on new meaning in A.A. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience not to be missed."


February 26, 2009

No Ordinary Success Story

A.A. is no success story in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a story of suffering transmuted, under grace, into spiritual progress.

Upon entering A.A. I listened to others talk about the reality of their drinking: loneliness, terror and pain. As I listened further, I soon heard a description of a very different kind--the reality of sobriety. It is a reality of freedom and happiness, of purpose and direction, and of serenity and peace with God, ourselves and others.

By attending meetings, I am reintroduced to that reality, over and over. I see it
in the eyes and hear it in the voices of those around me. By working the program I find the direction and strength with which to make it mine. The joy of A.A. is that this new reality is available to me.

from Daily Reflections copyright AAWS, Inc.

Focus on a Higher Power

"'The Great Spirit is the one that's looking after us.'
--Jimmy Jackson, Ojibway

"The only place our minds can find peace is when our focus is on the Creator. Daily we need to ask the Creator to direct our thinking. When we look at our brothers and sisters, we need to see the Creator in them. When we look at the trees, plants and the animals, we need to realize the Creator is within us. Our attention needs to be on the Creator. When we work, we do it for the Creator. When we are troubled, we need to pray to the Creator. When we are happy and joyful, we need to realize we are feeling the presence of the Creator. Thinking God thoughts will produce peace.

"Oh Great Mystery, let me focus on You today."

From daily message.

January 30, 2009

Drinking Cuts, Recovery Heals

"A drinking life isn't a happy life. Drinking cuts you off from other people and from God. One of the worst things about drinking is the loneliness. And one of the best things about A.A. is the fellowship. Drinking cuts you off from other people, at least from the people who really matter to you, your wife and children, your family and real friends. No matter how much you love them, you build up a wall between you and them by your drinking. You're cut off from any real companionship with them. As a result, you're terribly lonely. Have I got rid of my loneliness?

"Meditation For The Day

"I will sometimes go into a quiet place of retreat with God. In that place, I will find restoration and healing and power. I will plan quiet times now and then, times when I will commune with God and arise rested and refreshed to carry on the work which God has given me to do. I know that God will never give me a load greater than I can bear. It is in serenity and peace that all true success lies.

"Prayer For The Day

"I pray that I may strengthen my inner life, so that I may find serenity. I pray that my soul may be restored in quietness and peace."

24 Hours a Day meditation is copyright AAWS, Inc.

January 28, 2009

We Pause ... And Ask

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action.

Today I humbly ask my Higher Power for the grace to find the space between my impulse and my action; to let flow a cooling breeze when I would respond with heat; to interrupt fierceness with gentle peace; to accept the moment which allows judgment to become discernment; to defer to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or defend.

I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my Higher Power for guidance. I know where this power is: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain brook, hidden in the hills -- it is the unsuspected Inner Resource.I thank my Higher Power for this world of light and truth I see when I allow it to direct my vision. I trust it today and hope it trusts me to make all effort to find the right thought or action today.


The 12 Steps We Arrived With

1. We admitted we were powerless over nothing - that we could manage our lives perfectly and those of anyone who would allow us.

2. We came to believe that there was no power greater than ourselves and the rest of the world was insane.

3. We made a decision to have our loved ones turn their wills and their lives over to our care even though they couldn't understand us at all.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of everyone we knew.

5. We admitted to the whole world the exact nature of everyone else's wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to make others give us the respect we deserved.

7. We demanded others do our will because we were always enlightened.

8. We made a list of all persons who had harmed us and became willing to go to any lengths to get even with them all.

9. We got direct revenge on such people wherever possible, except when to do so would cost us our lives or at the very least a jail sentence.

10. Continued to take inventory of others and when they were wrong promptly and repeatedly told them about it.

11. Sought through complaining and medication to improve our relations with others, as we would not understand them at all, asking only that they do things our way.

12. Having had a complete physical, emotional and spiritual breakdown as a result of these steps, we tried to blame others and to get sympathy and pity in all our affairs.

January 14, 2009

Step Worksheets

First Step Worksheets, lead you through the First Step.
Adobe PDF format

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Fourth Step Worksheets, lead you through the Fourth Step.
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Accepting Anger

Anger is one of the many profound effects life has on us. It's one of our emotions. And we're going to feel it when it comes our way -- or else repress it.
--Codependent No More

If I were working a good program, I wouldn't get angry.... If I were a good Christian, I wouldn't feel angry.... If I were really using my affirmations about how happy I am, I wouldn't be angry.... Those are old messages that seduce us into not feeling again. Anger is part of life. We need not dwell in it or seek it out, but we can't afford to ignore it.

In recovery, we learn we can shamelessly feel all our feelings, including anger, and still take responsibility for what we do when we feel angry. We don't have to let anger control us, but it surely will if we prevent ourselves from feeling it.

Being grateful, being positive, being healthy, does not mean we never feel angry. Being grateful, positive, and healthy means we feel angry when we need to.

Today, I will let myself be angry, if I need to. I can feel and release my emotions, including anger, constructively. I will be grateful for my anger and the things it is trying to show me. I can feel and accept all my emotions without shame, and I can take responsibility for my actions.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

January 12, 2009

The Spiritual Work of Gratitude

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.

Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

--Henri Nouwen

January 08, 2009

At a Turning Point

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked for God's protection and care with complete abandon.

Every day I stand at turning points. My thoughts and actions can propel me toward growth or turn me down the road to old habits and to booze. Sometimes turning points are beginnings, as when I decide to start praising, instead of condemning someone. Or when I begin to ask for help instead of going it alone.

At other times turning points are endings, such as when I see clearly the need to stop festering resentments or crippling self-seeking. Many shortcomings tempt me daily; therefore, I also have daily opportunities to become aware of them. In one form or another, many of my character defects appear daily: self-condemnation, anger, running away, being prideful, wanting to get even, or acting out of grandiosity.

Attempting half measures to eliminate these defects merely paralyzes my efforts to change. It is only when I ask God for help, with complete abandon, that I become willing -- and able -- to change.

from Daily Reflection copyright AAWS Inc.

December 03, 2008

Check in with God

"'The smarter a man is the more he needs God to protect him from thinking he knows everything.'
--George Webb, PIMA

'A spiritual person needs to be careful. The more confident we are, the more likely our egos will get us into trouble. It's relatively easy to become self-righteous. We start to think we are teachers and others are students. We start to judge others. We start, very subtlely at first, to play God. After a while we really get good at it. This is very dangerous. We need to remind ourselves, we are here to do God's will. We need to pray every morning. Each day we need to check in with God to see what He would have us do. At night we need to spend time with God and review our day. By doing these things, we will stay on track.

'My Creator, guide my path and show me how to correct my life."

Elder's Meditation of the Day from White Bison.

Open to Possibilities

"'Perhaps for the first time, we see a vision of our new life.' Basic Text p. 34

'In our addiction, our vision of ourselves was very limited. Each day, we went through the same routine: getting, using, and finding ways and means to get more. And that's all we could reasonably expect for the duration of our lives. Our potential was limited.

'Today, our prospects are changed. Recovery has given us a new vision of ourselves and our lives. We are no longer trapped in the endlessly gray routine of addiction. We are free to stretch ourselves in new ways, trying out new ideas and new activities. In doing so, we come to see ourselves in a new way. Our potential is limited only by the strength of the Higher Power that cares for us-and that strength has no limits.

'In recovery, life and everything in it appears open to us. Guided by our spiritual principles, driven by the power given us by the God of our understanding, our horizons are limitless.

'Just for today: I will open my eyes to the possibilities before me. My potential is as limitless and as powerful as the God of my understanding.Today, I will act on that potential."

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 22, 2008

Let Me Be Intimate

"'It's the most precious know absolutely where you belong. There's a whole emotional wrapping-around-of-you here. You see the same rock, tree, road, clouds, sun -- you develop a nice kind of intimacy with the world around you. To be intimate is to grow, to learn...[it] is absolutely fulfilling. Intimacy, that's my magic word for why I live here.'
--Tessie Maranjo, SANTA CLARA PUEBLO

"Every human being, to be mentally healthy, must have the feeling of belonging. When we have a sense of belonging we can be intimate. We can feel. We can connect. If we cannot develop this feeling of belonging, then we will feel lost of disconnected. To be disconnected from life is like walking around during the day not knowing the Sun exists. To have the feelings of intimacy is warm, glowy, joyful, loving and connected. The feeling this Elder is talking about is available to everyone.

"Great Spirit, let me be intimate."

From White Bison

November 14, 2008

So Much Depends on My Attitude

"Our...happiness...[is] not necessarily determined by what happens to us in our lives, but how we perceive what happens to us.

Life happens. It happens all day, every day, and there really isn't much we can do to stop it from doing so. With all of our interactions with other people, it's inevitable that someone, some time, is going to do something that hurts us in some way. Some things are going to happen that make it seem like the world is conspiring against us. But the important thing about that, of course, is how we perceive the occurrences, how we see what happens to us.

"If we take the world and its happenings with a grain of salt, we can keep in mind that things really aren't that bad, that everything is a matter of degree. In that perspective lies a realistic view of the world that can allow us to take the things that happen with a high degree of equanimity, with a pragmatism that tells us that yes, things may be going poorly, but life is a series of cycles, and things always come around for the better unless we don't allow them to do so. Many of us do, in fact, keep the better things from happening simply because we get so caught up in the bad things that we tend to perpetuate them in our lives, often unconsciously.

"You don't always have control over the occurrences of your life, but you most certainly do have control over your perspective, over how you see things. What are you going to do with that perspective--train it to see the positive side of everything, or allow it to drag you with it when it focuses only on the negative?...

"For further thought:

'Remember, a small trouble is like a pebble. Hold it too close to your eye and it puts everything out of focus. Hold it at proper viewing distance and it can be examined and classified. Throw it at your feet and see it in its true setting--just one more tiny bump on the pathway.'

--Barbara Johnson"

From Living Life Fully

November 13, 2008

Circle of Self-Examination, Prayer & Meditation

"There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit.

"If I do my self-examination first, then surely, I'll have enough humility to pray and meditate -- because I'll see and feel my need for them. Some wish to begin and end with prayer, leaving the self-examination and meditation to take place in between, whereas others start with meditation, listening for advice from God about their still hidden or unacknowledged defects. Still others engage in written and verbal work on their defects, ending with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. These three -- self-examination, meditation and prayer -- form a circle, without a beginning or an end. No matter where, or how, I start, I eventually arrive at my destination: a better life."

from Daily Reflections

Surrender Leads to Acceptance

"'We surrender quietly and let the God of our understanding take care of us.'
--Basic Text p. 26

"Surrender and acceptance are like infatuation and love. Infatuation begins when we encounter someone special. Infatuation requires nothing but the acknowledgement of the object of our infatuation. For infatuation to become love, however, requires a great deal of effort. That initial connection must be slowly, patiently nurtured into a lasting, durable bond.

"It's the same with surrender and acceptance. We surrender when we acknowledge our powerlessness. Slowly, we come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can give us the care we need. Surrender turns to acceptance when we let this Power into our lives. We examine ourselves and let our God see us as we are. Having allowed the God of our understanding access to the depths of ourselves, we accept more of God's care. We ask this Power to relieve us of our shortcomings and help us amend the wrongs we've done. Then, we embark on a new way of life, improving our conscious contact and accepting our Higher Power's continuing care, guidance, and strength.

"Surrender, like infatuation, can be the beginning of a lifelong relationship. To turn surrender into acceptance, however, we must let the God of our understanding take care of us each day.

"Just for today: My recovery is more than infatuation. I have surrendered."

Just For Today Daily Meditation
Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 10, 2008

Maintain Contact with the Memory of the Pain

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, There Is A Solution, pg. 24~

Pupils in the Great School of Life

"I don't think happiness or unhappiness is the point. How do we meet the problems we face? How do we best learn from them and transmit what we have learned to others, if they would receive the knowledge?

"On my view, we of this world are pupils in a great school of life. It is intended that we try to grow, and that we try to help our fellow travelers to grow in the kind of love that makes no demands. In short, we try to move toward the image and likeness of God as we understand Him.

"When pain comes, we are expected to learn from it willingly, and help others to learn. When happiness comes, we accept it as a gift, and thank God for it."

Letter, 1950
from "As Bill Sees It"
Is Happiness The Goal?, p. 306

August 25, 2008

Ready to Serve

"God is making use of you - you should be grateful He's found a use for you."
--Mathew King, LAKOTA

The Creator can only create through human beings. Each human being has a purpose given to us by the Creator. We are on this earth to fulfill this purpose. Our only work is to make ourselves ready, to become a channel, to perform for the Creator. We prepare ourselves by prayer. We prepare ourselves by becoming unselfish. We prepare ourselves by seeking and choosing to walk on a spiritual path. Each morning we look to the east and we say an honor prayer to the Creator. We offer our gifts: tobacco and corn. We ask him to help us do His will for today. In this simple way, we still fulfill our purpose. It should be an honor to serve the Creator.

Great Spirit, today I am ready to serve You.

Elder's Meditation of the Day - August 25 from White Bison