December 31, 2007

Great Expectations in the New Year

Wait, and expect good things - for yourself and your loved ones.

When you wonder what is coming, tell yourself the best is coming, the very best life and love have to offer, the best God and His universe have to send. Then open your hands to receive it. Claim it, and it is yours.

See the best in your mind; envision what it will look like, what it will feel like. Focus, until you can see it clearly. Let your whole being, body and soul, enter into and hold onto the image for a moment.

Then, let it go. Come back into today, the present moment. Do not obsess. Do not become fearful. Become excited. Live today fully, expressing gratitude for all you have been, all you are, and all you will become.

Wait, and expect good things.

Today, when I think abut the year ahead, I will focus on the good that is coming.

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

Beware of the Dogmatists

A discussion of God, religion, spirituality and AA leads naturally into the problem of AA dogmatism – actually, the problem of AA dogmatists. The actual "official" AA program as described in the Big Book and other approved literature is conspicuously and consciously non-dogmatic and broad. The famous Twelve Steps themselves are merely "suggested as a program of recovery."

But because human beings tend to have opinions about matters vital to their welfare, and because alcoholics as a group are probably more prone to having and expressing strong opinions than average, it is not uncommon to find AA members here and there who are convinced that their understanding of the AA program is the only possible correct one, and hence that failure to adhere to their beliefs and practices will inevitably lead to ruin on the part of anyone unwise enough to disregard their superior wisdom.

Since the whole psychological or spiritual aim of AA recovery is to gain a sense of perspective on oneself that leads to tolerance and a nonjudgmental outlook, individuals who attempt to compel others to accept their own beliefs cannot be said to be "practicing the program" themselves. Such people are often described as "dry drunks," i.e. alcoholics who, though not drinking, are nevertheless behaving the way alcoholics commonly do when they drink. These "dry drunks" manifest judgmental and intolerant attitudes and a sense of personal grandiosity and "know-it-all"-ism that causes them to believe they know best, not only for themselves but also for other people.

They are not content to keep their opinions to themselves, nor even to state them humbly or diplomatically. In extreme cases they resemble the firey pulpit preachers of organized religion's yesteryear, always prepared to thunder forth their understanding of the one and only Truth to infidels and unbelievers, coupling their sermons and admonitions with the direst possible warnings of what will unquestionably befall those who fail to heed them. They are unattractive personalities who violate the AA principle of "promotion by attraction," i.e. of the responsibility of each AA member to strive to become the sort of person that others desire to emulate. The AA newcomer can safely ignore the often detailed instructions and advice of such people in favor of the more relaxed and accepting suggestions of less rigid or fanatical members.

Newcomers should also be prepared for the diversity and individuality of opinion that is usually expressed in meetings, and should realize that nobody in the meeting, regardless of how they may present themselves and their beliefs, is officially authorized to speak for AA itself. Everyone's opinion, from the rankest newcomer to the most seasoned and sober veteran, is simply their opinion.

In AA there are no generals, no officers, nor even any non-coms. Everyone alike is a pfc – "private first class." This certainly does not mean that everyone's opinion is just as true or useful as everyone else's – but it does mean that no one has been officially commissioned with the AA authority to lord it over anyone else or to tell them with any authority beyond that of their personal opinion how they must practice their own program of recovery.

From an excellent web page chock full of good advice and resources - Your First AA Meeting, whose table of contents is reproduced below.

Your First AA Meeting
An Unofficial Guide For the Perplexed

Locating a meeting
Types of AA meetings
Discussion meetings
Big Bookand Step Study meetings
Speaker meetings
Clubhouse and church meetings
Meeting size
Smoking or non-smoking?
The diversity of AA groups
Ritualsand readings: What goes on at a typical AA meeting
The problem of fear
90 Meetings in 90 days? You must be CRAZY!
Arriving late, leaving early
Anonymity and confidentiality
What should you say if you share?
God, Religion and Spirituality
Dogmatism and dogmatists
Sponsors and sponsorship
Principles before personalities
Before and after the meeting
Brainwashing, mind control and cultism
Slogans and other superficial things
A New Vocabulary: Acceptance, Humility, Powerlessness
AA and Psychiatry. The Question of Medications
The AA Preamble
The Serenity Prayer
The Twelve Steps of AA
The Twelve Traditions of AA
The Promises of AA
Links to AA resources(Big Book, meeting finders, &etc.)

Self Will Run Riot

There are two wills available for us: self will and God's will. Our choice is: figure it out ourselves, or have the Creator involved in our lives. If we are honest with ourselves and look at past experiences, what are our lives like when we try to figure it out ourselves? Is there fear, confusion, frustration, anger, attacking others, conflict, fault finding, manipulation, teasing others, belittling others or devaluation? If these things are present, they indicate that we are choosing self will. What is it like if we turn our will over to the Creator?

What are the results if we ask the Great Spirit to guide our life? Examples are: freedom, choices, consequences, love forgiveness, helping others, happiness, joy, solutions, and peace. Which will I choose today, self will or God's will?

Creator, I know what my choice is. I want You to direct my life. I want You to direct my thinking. You are the Grandfather. You know what I need even before I do. Today I ask You to tell me what I can do for You today. Tell me in a way I can understand and I will be happy to do it.

Elder's Meditation of the Day from

December 29, 2007

Your Own Conception of a Higher Power is Sufficient

Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with a Higher Power. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps.

based on ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, We Agnostics, pg. 46~

Holiday Surviving and Thriving

Staying sober and healthy during the holiday season is not always easy. These articles from this page offer tips for dealing with many aspects of surviving the holidays safely.

Surviving the Holidays Sober Staying sober during the holidays may not be easy, but it can be done. This six-day e-course provides tips for maintaining sobriety, dealing with depression, and staying healthy during the holiday season.

Holidays and Recovery Recently sober people are often confronted with drinking and using situations for the first time since they began their recoveries. There are solutions.

Dealing With the Holidays The holidays can be a time of great joy and celebration or a time of great pain, sorrow and depression for anyone. These can be particularly dangerous times for people who are in recovery, especially those in early recovery.

Staying Sober During the Holidays Regular visitors to the About Alcoholism site have taken time to share thier personal tips on dealing with the pressures of the Holiday Season.

How To Resist Drinking at a Party Not drinking when everyone else is can be very difficult, but it can be done with careful planning and determination.

It's Okay to Celebrate! We spend so much time trying to "help" those who struggle with the holidays, that sometimes we forget that for most it's a joyful, happy time and a reason to celebrate.

Planning a Safe Party Due to the dangers and liabilities involved, companies and individuals alike are coming to the realization that alcohol should not be the main attraction at holiday parties.

Healthy Holidays Whether you are dealing with stress, depression, grief or you are just allergic to your Christmas tree, your Guides can help you have a safer, happier holiday.

Dealing With Depression Dealing with stress, depression, grief and seasonal blahs during the holidays.

Staying in Shape Staying in shape during the holiday season.

Taking Care of Yourself Looking after you is not always easy during the holiday season.

Safety Tips Tips for having a safe holiday season for you and your family from your About Health Guides.

New Beginnings

Sometimes, as part of taking care of ourselves, it becomes time to end certain relationships. Sometimes, it comes time to change the parameters of a particular relationship.

This is true in love, in friendships, with family, and on the job.

Endings and changes in relationships are not easy. But often, they are necessary.

Sometimes, we linger in relationships that are dead, out of fear of being alone or to postpone the inevitable grieving process that accompanies endings. Sometimes, we need to linger for a while, to prepare ourselves, to get strong and ready enough to handle the change.

If that is what we are doing, we can be gentle with ourselves. It is better to wait until that moment when it feels solid, clear, and consistent to act.

We will know. We will know. We can trust ourselves.

Knowing that a relationship is changing or is about to end is a difficult place to be in, especially when it is not yet time to act but we know the time is drawing near. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, as the lesson draws to a close. We may become impatient to put closure on it, but not yet feel empowered to do that. That's okay. The time is not yet right. Something important is still happening. When the time is right, we can trust that it will happen. We will receive the power and the ability to do what we need to do.

Ending relationships or changing the boundaries of a particular relationship is not easy. It requires courage and faith. It requires a willingness on our part to take care of ourselves and, sometimes, to stand-alone for a while.

Let go of fear. Understand that change is an important part of recovery. Love yourself enough to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and find enough confidence to believe that you will love again.

We are never starting over. In recovery, we are moving forward in a perfectly planned progression of lessons. We will find ourselves with certain people - in love, family, friendships, and work - when we need to be with them. When the lesson has been mastered, we will move on. We will find ourselves in a new place, learning new lessons, with new people.

No, the lessons are not all painful. We will arrive at that place where we can learn, not from pain, but from joy and love.

Our needs will get met.

Today, I will accept where I am in my relationships, even if that place is awkward and uncomfortable. If I am in the midst of endings, I will face and accept my grief. God, help me trust that the path I am on has been perfectly and lovingly planned for me. Help me believe that my relationships are teaching me important lessons. Help me accept and be grateful for middles, endings, and new beginnings.

--You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go. Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved.

December 24, 2007

Spiritual Revolution

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God's universe.

The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

c. 2001AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25

from TransitionsDaily | Google Groups

The Twelve Tips for a Sober Holiday Season

1. Line up extra Recovery activities for the holiday season.Arrange to take newcomers to meetings, answer the phones at a clubhouse or central office,or help line, speak, help with dishes, or visit the detox ward at a hospital.

2. Be host to Recovering friends, especially newcomers. If you don’t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take one person to a diner and spring for the coffee.

3. Keep your Recovery telephone list with you all the time. If a using or drinking urge or panic comes—postpone everything else until you’ve called someone in Recovery.

4. Find out about the special holiday parties, meetings, or other celebrations given by groups in your area, and go. If you’re timid, take someone newer than you are.

5. Skip any social occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when using or drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as saving your life.

6. If you have to go to a party and can’t take a Recovery friend with you, keep some candy handy.

7. Don’t think you have to stay late. Plan in advance an “important date” you have to keep.

8. Worship in your own way.

9. Don’t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, museums, walks, and letters.
10. Don’t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember—“one day at a time.” And “Just for Today”

11. Enjoy the true spirit of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts — but this year, you can give love.

12. “Having had a ….” No need to spell out the Twelfth Step here, since you already know it.

Adapted From a Box 459 Holiday Issue

Embrace Reality

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality.

The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything. I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections. In my mind's eye I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige.

I lived in a dream world.

AA led me gently from this fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms.

And I found it beautiful! For, at last, I was at peace with myself. And with others.

And with God.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 559

December 21, 2007

Freedom from Self-Obsession

"In living the steps, we begin to let go of our self-obsession."
--Basic Text p.94

Many of us came to the program convinced that our feelings, our wants, and our needs were of the utmost importance to everyone. We had practiced a lifetime of self-seeking, self-centered behavior and believed it was the only way to live.

That self-centeredness doesn't cease just because we stop using drugs. Perhaps we attend our first NA function and are positive that everyone in the room is watching us, judging us, and condemning us. We may demand that our sponsor be on call to listen to us whenever we want-and they, in turn, may gently suggest that the world does not revolve around us. The more we insist on being the center of the universe, the less satisfied we will be with our friends, our sponsor, and everything else.

Freedom from self-obsession can be found through concentrating more on the needs of others and less on our own. When others have problems, we can offer help. When newcomers need rides to meetings, we can pick them up. When friends are lonely, we can spend time with them. When we find ourselves feeling unloved or ignored, we can offer the love and attention we need to someone else. In giving, we receive much more in return-and that's a promise we can trust.

Just for today: I will share the world with others, knowing they are just as important as I am. I will nourish my spirit by giving of myself.

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

December 20, 2007

Finding Answers in the Heart

I spent most of my life worrying about myself, thinking that I was unwanted, that I was unloved.

I've learned since being in AA that the more I worry about me loving you, and the less I worry about you loving me, the happier I'll be. I discovered a fellowship of human beings that I'd never seen before. I learned how to have self-respect through work that AA gave me to do. I learned how to be a friend. I learned how to go out and help other people -- there was nowhere else I could have done that. I have learned that the more I give, the more I will have; the more I learn to give, the more I learn to live.

c. 2003 AAWS, Experience, Strength and Hope, p. 218

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .

F A I T H = Finding Answers In The Heart.


Allergy and Obsession

"Alcohol addiction has yet to be completely understood by the scientific and medical communities. One thing commonly agreed upon is that alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a fatal disease if not treated. Luckily... there are numerous ways to combat alcoholism for those willing to stop drinking and accept help.

"Alcoholism is considered by most to be an obsession of the mind and allergy of the body. When thinking of an allergy, most people think of an allergic reaction to, say, shellfish. For someone who is allergic to shellfish to sit at the dinner table and fill their stomach with it could be fatal. But what if this person has an obsession that cannot be controlled once they begin eating the shellfish? They need more and more until they have filled themselves with it and must be hospitalized because of it. Family members and friends can hide the shellfish, not buy it, skip the shellfish sections of the local market but somehow, someway, the individual with the shellfish obsession will find a way to get it and eat it. Again, this sets off a turn of events that nearly kills the person and lands them in the hospital. Alcoholism is similar to the example above.

"As it has been said before, one drink is too many and a thousand is never enough. The disease of alcoholism is sly, mysterious, potent and patient. A non alcoholic can be at a social event, have a drink maybe two, start to feel tipsy or a sense of loss of control, nausea might set in and they will stop. For an alcoholic at the same event, they will have a drink and begin to feel more in control, more elated and free. Another drink increases that feeling so another will be needed after that and another and then another. The alcoholic will continue to drink and will be drunk before the night is over.

"When a person crosses the line between normal drinking and alcoholism, they will never be the same again. It is like changing a cucumber into a pickle. The pickle will never be a cucumber again. The alcoholic will try to grasp the same feelings and emotions they once associated with casual drinking but it will elude them indefinitely. They will continue down numerous paths to try and regain what once was but will exhaust every avenue until there is nowhere else to turn. Even then, they may still drink.

"Alcoholism is misunderstood by the general population and there is good reason behind this. Non alcoholics will never be able to comprehend the powerful obsession affiliated with alcoholism. It is something that cannot be understood unless it is lived by the individual themselves. Even the alcoholic may be baffled by their life threatening dilemma. Not too long ago alcoholics were thrown into insane asylums and locked away. But there is hope for the alcoholic today. By accepting help, an alcoholic can increase their chances of living a purpose-filled and happy, alcohol-free life."

From this Patrick McLemore article.

December 17, 2007

Open to Self-Nurturing

Many of us have been so deprived of nurturing that we think it's silly or self-indulgent. Nurturing is neither silly nor self-indulgent; it's how we show love for ourselves. That's what we're striving for in recovery - a loving relationship with ourselves that works, so we can have loving relationships with others that work.

When we hurt, we ask ourselves what we need to help us feel better. When we feel alone, we reach out to someone safe. Without feeling that we are a burden, we allow that person to be there for us.

We rest when we're tired; eat when we're hungry; have fun or relax when our spirits need a lift. Nurturing means giving ourselves gifts - a trip to the beauty salon or barbershop, a massage, a book, a new jacket, or a new suit or dress. It means a long, hot bath to forget about our problems and the world for a few moments when that would feel good.

We learn to be gentle with ourselves and to open up to the nurturing that others have to offer us.

As part of nurturing ourselves, we allow ourselves to give and receive positive touch - touch that feels appropriate to us, touch that is safe. We reject touch that doesn't feel good or safe and is not positive.

We learn to give ourselves what we need in a gentle, loving, compassionate way. We do this with the understanding it will not make us lazy, spoiled, self centered, or narcissistic. Nurtured people are effective in their work and in their relationships.

We will learn to feel loved by ourselves so much that we can truly love others and let them love us.

Today, I will nurture myself. I will also be open to the nurturing that I can give to others and receive from them.

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

From 12-Step Soul Food For The Spirit

December 15, 2007

Road to Genuine Humility

"Hence it was most evident that a solitary self-appraisal, and the admission of our defects based upon that alone, wouldn't be nearly enough. We'd have to have outside help if we were surely to know and admit the truth about ourselves...the help of God and another human being. Only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty, and genuine humility."

(Twelve and Twelve, Step Five, pg. 59)

From 12 Step Recovery Google Group

December 08, 2007

Holiday Blues

When we catch self-pity starting, we also can take action against it with instant bookkeeping. For every entry of misery on the debit side, we find a blessings we can mark on the credit side. . .

We can use the same method to combat the holiday blues, which are sung not only by alcoholics. Christmas and New Year's, birthdays and anniversaries throw many other people into the morass of self-pity. . .

Instead, we add up the other side of the ledger, in gratitude for health, for loved ones who are around, and for our ability to give love, now that we live in sobriety.

c.1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 58

a Daily Reprieve

"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Into Action, pg. 85~

December 04, 2007

A Beautiful People

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Start By Forgiving

The moment we ponder a twisted or broken relationship with another person, our emotions go on the defensive. To escape looking at the wrongs we have done another, we resentfully focus on the wrong he has done us. Triumphantly we seize upon his slightest misbehavior as the perfect excuse for minimizing or forgetting our own.

Right here we need to fetch ourselves up sharply. Let's remember that alcoholics are not the only ones bedeviled by sick emotions. In many instances we are really dealing with fellow sufferers, people whose woes we have increased. If we are about to ask forgiveness for ourselves, why shouldn't we start out by forgiving them, one and all?


Caution: Ego Ahead

"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

December 03, 2007

New Roads Await

"Don't feel sorry for yourself if you have chosen the wrong road--turn around!"
--Edgar Cayce

I know many people who could stand to hear--and take to heart--this piece of advice. Many people seem to find themselves "stuck" in certain places, jobs, or situations, and they don't realize that all that's necessary for them to change their situations is to make a decision and either turn around and go back and find the right road, or simply to start out on another road that looks positive to them.

It's easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, though. After all, when something goes wrong, we want others to know that something's wrong, that we're deserving of other people's sympathy or pity. But this type of approach does absolutely nothing to change or help our situations; it merely shows a negative reaction to what's going on in our lives.

A positive reaction, though, is one that puts us on the road to make a change when we feel that a change is due. There are times in our lives when things just aren't working; at those times, it's important that we make decisions that put us on the road to improvement, not that keep us on the barren road of self-pity.

We all choose wrong roads now and then, no matter how good or how honorable our intentions. What helps to determine our character and the quality of our lives, though, is not necessarily the road we choose, but what we decide to do once we find out that we're on a wrong road. In those decisions we'll see our lives being constructed, refined, and improved...

"When you find yourself overpowered, as it were, by melancholy, the best way is to go out and do something."
--John Keble

From, motivation, and encouragement

Self Care Involves Setting Boundaries

Many of us are skilled at denying and discounting what hurts us. We may endure a particular situation, telling ourselves repeatedly it's not that bad; we shouldn't be so demanding; it'll change any day; we should be able to live with it; it doesn't annoy us; the other person didn't really mean it; it doesn't hurt; maybe it's just us.

We may fight and argue with ourselves about the reality and validity of our pain - our right to feel it and do something about it. Often we will tolerate too much or so much that we become furious and refuse to tolerate any more.

We can learn to develop healthy tolerance.

We do that by setting healthy boundaries and trusting ourselves to own our power with people. We can lessen our pain and suffering by validating and paying attention to ourselves. We can work at shortening the time between identifying a need to set a boundary, and taking clear, direct action.

We aren't crazy. Some behaviors really do bug us. Some behaviors really are inappropriate, annoying, hurtful, or abusive. We don't have to feel guilty about taking care of ourselves once we identify a boundary that needs to be set. Look at the experience as an experiment in owning our power, in establishing new, healthy boundaries and limits for ourselves.

We don't have to feel guilty or apologize or explain ourselves after we've set a boundary. We can learn to accept the awkwardness and discomfort of setting boundaries with people. We can establish our rights to have these limits. We can give the other person room to have and explore his or her feelings; we can give ourselves room to have our feelings - as we struggle to own our power and create good, working relationships.

Once we can trust our ability to take care of ourselves, we will develop healthy reasonable tolerance of others.

God, help me begin striving for healthy boundaries and healthy tolerance for others and myself.

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

No Longer Trapped

"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, December 3, Vision Without Limits, Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.