Dec 25: The Promises

The Promises

Good Sunday afternoon GROW Sisters! I am very grateful for the opportunity to be of service today as our topic chair! Thank you so much for the many birthday wishes as I celebrated my 2 year sober birthday last week!!

This week’s topic comes from the “Family Afterward” section of the BB, and with us in the thick of the holiday season, I thought it an appropriate topic. The BB states:

“We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders…

So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

I love this because it reminds me that in sobriety, I can still be joyous, happy and free. My days as a drunk often ended with me being bitchy and I lived a very cynical life. EVERYTHING bothered me- molehills were mountains at every turn. But in sobriety, I’ve learned to pause and accept life on life’s terms. To be honest, this doesn’t just happen, I have to put in the work, have a good Program, communicate my feelings, and talk to my sponsor and other alcoholics to get out of my own brain. I don’t have to see doom and gloom at every turn, I can laugh and find joy in the smallest areas.

With the holidays, I have to stay in touch with my Higher Power, not give in to the stress and take care of myself. I waited until the last minute to go Christmas shopping, so why am I mad at the traffic??!! A little self-talk goes a long way. I can change my “stinking thinking.”

So, my sober sisters, I would love for you to share how you’re going to find joy in this season that can be stressful enough to make folks drink. How will you handle the life without being irritable, restless and discontent?

If something else is on your mind, please share that, too. Thank you for allowing me to chair; the floor is now open to you.

Dec 18: We Are Not a Glum Lot

We Are Not a Glum Lot

Good Sunday afternoon GROW Sisters! I am very grateful for the opportunity to be of service today as our topic chair! Thank you so much for the many birthday wishes as I celebrated my 2 year sober birthday last week!!

This week’s topic comes from the “Family Afterward” section of the BB, and with us in the thick of the holiday season, I thought it an appropriate topic. The BB states:

“We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders…

So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

I love this because it reminds me that in sobriety, I can still be joyous, happy and free. My days as a drunk often ended with me being bitchy and I lived a very cynical life. EVERYTHING bothered me- molehills were mountains at every turn. But in sobriety, I’ve learned to pause and accept life on life’s terms. To be honest, this doesn’t just happen, I have to put in the work, have a good Program, communicate my feelings, and talk to my sponsor and other alcoholics to get out of my own brain. I don’t have to see doom and gloom at every turn, I can laugh and find joy in the smallest areas.

With the holidays, I have to stay in touch with my Higher Power, not give in to the stress and take care of myself. I waited until the last minute to go Christmas shopping, so why am I mad at the traffic??!! A little self-talk goes a long way. I can change my “stinking thinking.”

So, my sober sisters, I would love for you to share how you’re going to find joy in this season that can be stressful enough to make folks drink. How will you handle the life without being irritable, restless and discontent?

If something else is on your mind, please share that, too. Thank you for allowing me to chair; the floor is now open to you.

Dec 11: Staying Sober…No Matter What

Staying Sober…No Matter What

Sorry Ladies for getting this out a bit late today…I’m Jennifer and I’m a women in long term recovery. I would like to send congrats to all of our celebrants past and present…and welcome all the newcomers both coming here for the first time and those joining us. I am not an active participant in sharing, however, I am active in reading. Due to health challenges, it’s difficult a lot of times to type. With that being said, I like to be of service when I can so thank you for the honor.

I have been going through a lot of changes. I have, as I mentioned, health challenges which are ever changing and apparently progressive. I never know what the day will bring until I am able to get up for the morning. Some days it’s like I don’t have many limitations, other days, like today, I’m unable to do much of anything.

The good news today is, I don’t have to drink over it. No matter what. The program has afforded me some very rich tools in the form of having a sponsor, a network, the steps, trads, slogans, meetings and most importantly, a connection to something greater then myself which I choose to call HP (Higher Power).

A few things have helped me stay sober during my challenging times. Learning about having and living “A New Normal”. This is where I look at what I am able to to, rather then what I’m not able to do and live within those parameters with gratitude and acceptance. When I am in acceptance of these changes, then they become “normal…or my new normal” and I don’t have to live in anger or contentment. Like when I first got sober…old normal was to drink over my emotions. My new normal became using the 12 steps and tools of the program to not drink over my emotions.

My dear friend Claudia, who recently passed away (natural causes and sober) use to say, “take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minutue at a time (and she would add) one breath at a time”. We would say to each other, (ODAT–OHAT–OMAT–OBAT) and “Just Breath”..that I can do!! She also had one other saying…when she would be in her “stuff” she would say, “Ok, I’m done being on the pity pot, time to flush”!! I love that!! I try not to stay on too long these days, and by coming to a meeting or sharing with another alcoholic, I can then flush a lot quicker then in early sobriety…I use to have to pry myself off the potty, smiles. Today I chose to not sit too long.

So, this is totally not anywhere near what I was going to chair about I think for a topic…and since the holidays are approaching and times can be challenging…I’d like to throw out there a topic of :: “Staying sober..No Matter What”…how do you do that today?

Thanks for letting me be of service…If this topic does not resinate with you, please share from your heart anything that is AA 12 step related that resinates with you today. Blessings and in service, Jennifer

Dec 04: Expectations Low, Acceptance High

Expectations Low, Acceptance High

Good Sunday morning GROW Sisters! Elizabeth, a very grateful alcoholic here. I am also very grateful for the opportunity to be of service today as our topic chair!

For our topic, I have selected the phrase I often hear in meetings and read online, keeping expectations low and acceptance high in regards to people, place and things.

I have found this phrase to be extremely helpful in keeping me in balance and more serene throughout my sobriety. It was introduced to me early in my recovery and have used it as part of my AA ‘code’ again and again.

It has been particularly helpful recently with a life on life’s terms situation with the father of my children. We have had a very negative encounter this past week. Keeping my expectations low, as he is an active alcoholic and addict, and acceptance high as acceptance is the key to all things, has helped me so much in refraining from engaging in the ‘junk’ that has been spewed my way.

I am so so grateful to have a program with gems like this phrase to help me deal with life on life’s terms as a strong and steady sober woman of grace, staying close to my God, staying connected with my sponsor, sharing with a very few people in my network, using prayer and meditation to maintain my conscience contact.

Thank you for letting me be of service. The meeting is yours. Please feel to share on this topic or anything that is in your heart and needs to be shared with the group.

In gratitude and appreciation and with love, Elizabeth

Nov 27: A Vision For You

A Vision For You

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you-until then.”

I was thinking about how I have enjoyed having a couple days off of work, spending time with my husband and daughter… yet I’ve allowed my extended family to disrupt my peace and serenity.

When I was reading these paragraphs from the book, I realized over the past week I have been slightly off my routine and perhaps (definitely) that’s why. I’ve been relying on the work I have done up to this week. And I haven’t quite been working as hard. Haven’t been as diligent or humble in my thoughts and words.

I have to work this program every single day. In the same way, in order to stay in my right mind.

It’s a simple program. I just have to work it every day! Follow the suggestions of those that have come before me. I don’t get a day off like I do from work. Every day I wake up an untreated alcoholic. When I get connected with my God and follow the suggestions, life is good. When I don’t, it’s not. Plain and simple.

The good news is I have the awareness and can make changes right now!

Thank you for letting me be of service. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get back into the book and be reminded how good life is when I’m doing the work!

Please share on this topic or anything that’s on your mind.

Nov 20: Steps 4 and 5

Steps 4 and 5

I prayed on what the topic should be. I am a new member of Grow. I just celebrated 6 months sobriety. As I head towards this step, I am afraid of some truths and worry I will fall into the despair of depression. Looking at me is difficult. And now I have to do this and tell someone. But here I go!!!

From the Big Book, “It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent, we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile.” Chapter 5, How it works, page 66. I have squandered many an hour blaming other people. My reactions and attitude, especially in my drinking were awful.

Now I get to understand my part in the whole thing. To review my short comings was something I never thought of. It was not my fault that everyone had attitudes and issues. I never thought to look and see how my attitude and issues affected everyone else. Sitting with a pen, paper and deep reflection I can now see the part I played. But what about telling someone? Fear, comes into mind. What will my sponsor think of me? The horrible person I have been. I try to remember the others who have taken this step. They talk of release and relief. The sense of peace that comes with admitting out loud and the promise that my HP will help remove these shortcomings if I ask. What a glorious thing to happen. To be rid of past and all the baggage I have dragged with me all this time.

“This vital step was also the means by which we began to get the feeling that we could be forgiven, no matter what we had done.” From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions Step Five, page 57-58.

How did you get ready for these steps without getting trapped in regrets? What was it like when you finished step 5?

Thank you.

This topic is now open for discussion.

Nov 13: Fear


Good morning friends. My name is Karrie and I am an alcoholic. Today I Celebrate my third anniversary in sobriety. Yahooooo. I am incredibly grateful to my higher power and to AA. It is only by the grace of a power greater than myself that I am here writing this morning. So many positive and beautiful things have happened since I put the bottle down. It’s not always been easy but it sure is a lot better then I ever imagined it could be.

As I sit here writing, I am struggling with a topic that will sound spiritual and that you all will say “WOW look at this girl she has it going on.” So I think I’ll skip over all of that. Over and over I find myself trying to please people. Working a fourth step with my sponsor, I have come to see that I am seeking love and approval from people by performing. It’s been a hard thing to look at and work on. It’s basis is that ugly word … FEAR. I am not going to get what I want, when I want it, and how much I want of it, and the way I want it and on and on.

The big book describes me perfectly over and over: “Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.”

“This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve.”

In sobriety I have had many opportunities to face things afraid. I’m grateful for my sponsor and all of you who are here with me as I walk this journey and get better. I want my life to be happy joyous and free. As I face my fears and look at myself, by working the steps, there is freedom and peace from this disease. Thank you for being part of my journey, I am grateful to you all. The meeting is now open on the topic of fear or anything else that you need to talk about to keep you from a drink.

Nov 06: Acceptance At a Slightly New Level

Acceptance At a Slightly New Level

GROW topic: For today’s topic I have chosen acceptance at a slightly new level.

We are all familiar with Dr.: Paul’s rendition in “Steps & Traditions AA p. 139” and acceptance is the answer to my problems…I must accept everything exactly as it is else I wind be at fault with new opinions and to new criticism.

Or with God’s world?

I always keep in mind God’s portion of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can …
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I recently survived a critical blood disease but was left unable to walk. Staffers at my assisted gave little encouragement so I have, with my son Jeff’s help, been trying to overcome the puzzling details on my own.

I think about COURAGE to CHANGE when I buckle, and the WISDOM TO KNOW the difference when I am about to fall down.

I will not ask what I can accomplish tomorrow nor take it for granted, but it is something I am determined to do with God’s grace and direction.

Also with his help, over and over again I overcame the pain of alcoholism, heavy depression, growing old and being cranky. Dr. Paul is Right and St. Francis of Assisi is also right because they endorse love and service of other along with rappers and clappers and snap-chatters.

But first, we had to embrace it, and Second, accept completely the god of our understanding in editions 3 or 4?

Can we share stores about acceptance, and love? And sharing with love?

How have stories increased or decreased a life of acceptance?

Thank you for honor of sharing this meeting.

The book and the topic are now open for sharing.

Oct 31: Tenth Step Inventory

Tenth Step Inventory

“As we work the first nine Steps we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life. But when we reach Step 10 we commence to put our AA way of living to practical use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test; can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions?”

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 88

Since the day I began the Steps with my GROW sponsor, I have done a 10th Step at night and started my day with prayers. My initial 10th Step practice included two questions that have been critical to my spiritual development and emotional sobriety: Have I demonstrated courage and have I expressed my creativity.

Over time I have added different inventories, including one that my partner and I do together. But the habit of starting and ending my day with a focus on my Program has been the backbone of my sobriety. No matter where I am, I take this practice with me.

There was a time no too long ago when I hit the ground each morning in a state of panic or dread. I think of my 10th Step as the frame for each 24 hour period. Knowing that I will be checking in with myself daily helps keeps me Program focused, “under all conditions.”

I’d love to hear how you practice the 10th Step. How has it helped you maintain emotional balance and live to good purpose under all conditions? As always, please feel free to share whatever else is on your heart this week.

Thank you for allowing me to be of service.

Oct 23: Putting Sobriety First

Puting Sobriety First

I was surprised when I heard 90 meetings in 90 days at my first few meetings. It seemed pretty drastic and I was unsure I was willing to do that. But I took it a day at a time and after a couple of weeks, being sober became more and more important. At first putting sobriety first meant getting to several meetings a week, meeting with my sponsor, working steps participating in meetings. As time has gone on I would also include daily prayer, reviewing my day, talking to someone quickly when I get that uneasy feeling that I’ve done something wrong or am fearful and also being willing to sponsor other women.

I was told at one time that if I put sobriety first, I would have more than enough time for everything else and that has proved to be true. It also helped me to remember how much time and effort I put into making sure I had enough alcohol and the hours wasted in solitary drinking.

By being a sober member of AA, I have become more available to people in my life and more aware of how to be a useful human being. Trusting that God is taking care of me and that God will show me where and how to be useful is much more rewarding and productive than when I was running the show with selfish motives, motives I was unaware of until I wrote an inventory.

I continue to put sobriety in AA ahead of anything else and as a result everything else is better.

For a topic, what have been the results when you put sobriety first or maybe when you didn’t?

Oct 16: U-Turns. How To Handle Your Mistakes?

U-Turns. How To Handle Your Mistakes?

Hi. My name is. Michelle. M a. Grateful. Recovering Alcoholic. For our meeting I have chosen Step. 2. God. Allows. U-TURNS. How do you handle your mistakes?

A quote from the 12&12 pg 63. ” one of A.A.’s greatest friends said any person capable of enough willingness and honesty to try repeatedly to not repeat their mistakes without reservations whatever has indeed come a long way. It took me many years to develop the honesty to forgive myself and others for my negative actions. I came here beaten by alcohol addiction.

My mind was closed against the grace of God. That was a big mistake. But I had a long and honest sponsor who taught me how to stop fighting everyone and everything. God restored my sanity. Through my pain and suffering I was set free from anger, fear, and found peace. My gratitude speaks from my heart. I love giving back what others gave me. Love for my fellows.

Step 2 taught me that doing the same things (blaming others) over and over is a perfect example of how insane thinking pg 33 God allows. starts with me and ends with me. The Steps taught me that true humility, an open mind can lead us to forgiving ourselves. for the mistakes we made during our drinking days and in our sobriety. To thine own self be true.

Today I have a faith unshaken by the mistakes I make. And at every meeting of A.A. is the assurance that God will restore anyone of us who is capable of enough honesty not to take that first drink. Progress not perfection. I never intended to become an alcoholic. My God never intended it either. God allowed me a second chance. I use the 10th step to keep myself honest with my sponsor and family members and all of you.

The Steps helped me let go of my past. How my actions hurt the people I loved. I came here feeling I was a mistake. Why was I even born? On October 4th daily thoughts said ” it’s not making a mistake that will kill me. It’s defending it that does the damage.”

My mistakes took my precious daughter Andrea to wake me up. After she walked away from our home. I was left alone. The rest is history. A.A. saved my life. The Steps changed my thinking and gave me a loving God. I made my amends. I corrected my mistakes. I just celebrated my 29th A.A. birthday. I continue to make mistakes. But I know I’m not one today. I thank you beautiful alkies for keeping me right sized and humble.

Congratulations to all our birthdays.

You keep me coming back. Blessings to all of you.

Oct 09: Dealing With Grief in Sobriety

Dealing With Grief in Sobriety

Last week brought a terrible loss to many of us in GROW with the passing of Jean L., nicknamed Afgo. I am only one of several women who lost not only a good friend, but a sponsor as well. I’m sure that each of us feels the loss very personally. Despite many health problems, Jean was always loving and supportive, even while she was telling hard truths.

There have been many losses for me in sobriety, including beloved pets, my best friend, and my parents. Each one has been difficult, but the AA program gives me many tools and approaches that helps me walk through the grief in a way that would have been impossible when I was drinking. Each loss turned out to be Another F*^&ing Growth Experience, an Afgo.

There were other losses for which I had to grieve when I first got sober. Not drinking meant losing a whole way of life, a set of “friends,” and most of all, alcohol itself. At first, the prospect of never drinking again was terrifying. Walking away from people and places left me with a very small social circle. But the biggest loss was the booze itself. It had been the constant in my life for decades, always there to numb my senses and emotions, always there to help me avoid life’s stresses and wounds. How was I going to life without it?

Learning to live one day at a time made it easier but, for me, I had to break single days into hours. I had to learn to crawl before I could walk. I had to grieve the loss of a way of life that had become intolerable. I knew it was killing me, but I still felt the loss deeply. I had to write a Dear John letter to my liquid friend. I had to learn how to do things sober. I had to make new friends who did not drink. I had to learn how to cope with uncomfortable feelings. It was the biggest challenge of my life. Thank God for AA, the 12 Steps, and God. Eventually, the hole that not drinking left in my life was filled with hope, love, and confidence.

Please share with us how you have dealt with loss in sobriety, including the loss of alcohol and that way of life.

Oct 02: Accepting Hardship as a Pathway to Peace

Accepting Hardship as a Pathway to Peace

I start many mornings with the long version of the serenity prayer, there is one section I find particularly meaningful: “…Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.”

In the past, I have typically viewed challenges of any size to be my personal burden. I carried the world’s problems on my shoulders and assumed that if my life wasn’t perfect there must be something wrong with me. I beat myself up constantly, all day, every day. This negative circle of thinking lead me to many emotional and physical problems, the least of which was turning outside of myself to soothe (and numb) my aching, bruised up soul.

Since my sobriety began joining AA and GROW almost 2 years ago, I am beginning to look at life and my role in it so differently. When I read the words “accepting hardship as the pathway to peace” in the morning, my entire being lets out a huge sigh of relief! Just like working out to improve my body’s muscles at the gym, each day I am building my emotional and spiritual ‘muscles’ by accepting all of the issues that inevitably crop up as a routine part of life. Regardless of the size or type of challenge (currently my job and a few painful marital issues), I understand I can face them head on, arm in arm with my HP. I start by admitting my part, then plowing forward with the necessary amends and/or action. I also realize now there are many troubles that I can simply just accept as is.

It’s certainly not always an easy path, but I’m becoming stronger and more confident as I soldier through each hill (or mountain!) in front of me. The rewards are magnificently worth it, I find encouragement and comfort knowing the hardship pathway can lead me to peace and serenity.

Please share your thoughts about these words, and if this specific part of the prayer helps you too!

Thank you lovely ladies of GROW, Susan P.

Sep 25: Dry Drunk Syndrome

Dry Drunk Syndrome

For this meeting I have chosen the topic: Dry Drunk Syndrome. I didn’t get here a drink short or a day late. My SD is 9/22/87. By God’s grace today is my 29th year sober. Thank you all for sharing in my AA recovery. I chose this topic because I had experience as a dry drunk. Most AA’s don’t like this name, but I feel it is an important one. AA is truly the best thing that ever happened to me. One alcoholic helping another. A safe place for all of us.

Willingness was key for me. At first, I came here to get my daughter Andrea back. For my first two years, I was a dry drunk. I was full of resentments, anger. Instead of finding joy, peace, and spiritual happiness away from alcohol, I felt like AA was a prison sentence. Lonely. I had a very understanding sponsor. She had everything I wanted. Love for God, love for others, and love for herself. And unconditional love for me. At first the meetings were my Higher Power. I had hope. The only thing I did was not take that first drink. After all, I didn’t touch a drop for two years.

Another term we use is “white knuckling” it, holding on until one day we could drink again. If you are an alcoholic like me. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. A pickle will never be turned back into a cucumber. If nothing changes, nothing changes. I was unconscious, I needed a Higher Power. I was not alone anymore. I became open-minded as only the dying could be.

What makes a dry drunk? Here is a list of the Dry drunk syndrome:
(1) impulsive actions. Denial there is a problem
(2) Judgmental, Blaming others, low self-esteem
(3) Complacent, lazy, disinterested in spiritual things, selfish

At two years sober, my life did a 180 turn for the better. Step Two was (page 33, 12&12) the rallying point for me. I was willing to accept a Higher Power. It took work and more work. Getting honest with myself and my sponsor and you. I had humility. God restored my sanity. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me.

Sobriety is good. By God’s grace, I have no desire to drink again. Only a few times in my sobriety have I wanted to drink – when I lost my mother to cancer, and the second time was a situation with my daughter, Carol. What I learned to do when I felt like drinking was to call my sponsor. Newcomers, it does get better. God has blessed me with wonderful sponsees, a good relationship with Him, friends & family ties improved. Keep coming back. It works if we work it, and it don’t if we don’t.

Please share your experience, strength, and hope with us.

Sep 18: Service


For today’s meeting I have chosen the topic of service.

A cornerstone of our philosophy, reaching out to another alcoholic has saved many an AA old-timer or newcomer from that first drink or drug.

“Practical experience shows nothing will insure immunity from drinking like intensive work with other alcoholic. Carry this message to other alcoholics…it works!” (BB of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 89)

When I got sober in 1984, I started washing coffee cups and ashtrays at the clubhouse where I attended meetings. They were yellow plastic cups, and I stood at that sink for hours: washing, drying, putting away, laughing, and socializing.

At 9 months I was elected secretary of a large morning meeting. My duties included picking up the doughnuts, bringing in coffee from the kitchen, picking a leader, and cleaning the room when it was all over—every Wednesday.

These jobs showed me how to be more giving and also saved my life.

Now I try to be of service on line by answering all the emails in two women’s groups and chairing meetings as often as I can. You can be of service to anyone, non-alcoholics too.

Think about someone else and your own complaints will shrink or disappear.

This quote from the May 2016 Grapevine says it best: 
“At six months he was still grumbling, so his sponsor volunteered him to be the group/s coffee maker … though incensed and nervous, he got the job done.

Along the way he learned important things like asking for help, connecting with his Higher Power, becoming responsible to the group, feeling gratitude and thinking of others.”

How has service work been important in your sobriety?
What was your first service position in AA?
Did you accept the job willingly?
What have you learned through service?

Sep 11: Do the Next Right Thing

Do the Next Right Thing

As Bill Sees It, p. 199: “I see “humility for today” as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points towards eternal values.” (Grapevine, June 1961).

I have always loved our little book ‘As Bill Sees It’. There is so much wisdom in those pages. The quote above taken from it translates for me into — do the next right thing. I guess if I say I have some humility today that means I’m not humble! So I won’t say that. What I do know is that I am not the same gal I was many years ago when I came into these rooms, ready to surrender it all. I was arrogant, with shockingly low self-esteem. I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex … as it is said. Life was p-a-i-n-f-u-l to live. Today it is a joy. I experience peace every day, and I laugh a lot. A lot! I love laughing, and can even do it at myself)

The action of the 12 steps in my life has been phenomenal. I no longer crave alcohol or escaping from my hell. I am not responsible for any of this — It was through recognizing my powerlessness that I became whole, little by little. It was and is by surrendering all my ‘wants’ to a Power greater than me that I have more than I could ever have dreamed of in terms of peace, joy, and serenity. Even in the face of painful situations, there is a fundamental peace, especially when I clock in with that God of mine and spend time in conversation. And listening for the still, small voice. And then trusting it when I hear it. Although it’s always good to check in with other alcoholics, sponsor or friend, to make sure I’m still on track! If I am, then this still, small voice becomes stronger, if I nurture it with prayer and meditation and service.

There are no longer violent emotional extremes … wow. I find myself in that ‘quiet place’ most days. I have perspective and balance (who’d have thunk). When I lose perspective, I have tools to get back to it.

When fear comes in, when I have taken on too much or when I am not trusting that all will be fine, if I but trust in the next step in front of me, I know I am safe. That’s all I have to work with — today. And each step I take, one foot in front of the other, cooking something, going to the shops, buying that card, writing that letter, preparing those lessons, showering, weeding, the various projects that give meaning to my life and the tasks associated with them … if I just do a little one of these and then maybe another, well, I am way ahead in the living game!

Do the next right thing is one of my favorite phrases. And I am by nature a control freak, an organizer, a someone who wants to see the whole picture … but it gets easier with time, especially when I experience the great rewards from handing over.

What are your experiences with this? I’m looking forward to reading your ESH but feel free to share on anything you like.

Sep 04: Spiritually Fit vs. Bedevilments

Spiritually Fit vs. Bedevilments

Bedevilment’s are aspects of the alcoholic’s life and personality that are usually in effect before the alcoholic comes into AA and will continue unless the alcoholic actively works the Steps each day.

“We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.” 
Big Book, page 52

The Bedevilment’s are:

  1. We were having trouble with personal relationships,
  2. we couldn’t control our emotional natures,
  3. we were a prey to misery and depression,
  4. we couldn’t make a living,
  5. we had a feeling of uselessness,
  6. we were full of fear,
  7. we were unhappy,
  8. we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people

When I am not spiritually fit, I am ALL over page 52, even in sobriety. If I am not spiritually fit, I am on a thinking spree, controlling others from fear, managing their life instead of mine … even when these intentions come from a “good place,” thinking I know what’s best for them. This is playing God, this is manipulation, this is not turning ALL of my life over, and I am having a Step 3 issues. Only when I am fit can I let others be themselves … Only when I am fit can I stay out of this mind that wants me dead but will settle for me drunk. Only when I am fit am I and those who love me happy.

How I start my day … rolling out of bed, onto my knees … complete surrender … God’s/HP will, not mine be done. Not my business how others do life.

Coffee with my journal … Gratitude list, Inventory on my defects, intentions for my day, study Big Book, reach out to sponsees, prayer and meditation … takes about an hour or so. This hour is a small price to pay — actually I enjoy it — to keep me from going on a spree and gives me and my family peace, safety, and happiness. We all deserve this. It’s truly up to me to keep fit … or they suffer. I am tired of making others suffer for my defects. It’s not their cross to bear, and I refuse to drain people anymore.

My question to you wonderful ladies is: “How do you keep spiritually fit?” What is your daily routine? How do you keep from unmanageability and off of page 52?

Aug 28: Attraction Not Promotion

Attraction Not Promotion

I attend four meetings a week, three face-to-face and one online. Two are literature meetings, and two are topic discussions. I hear approximately 60 people per week sharing their experience, strength, and hope with me. There are some that preach the program, and I find them hard to listen to. It is difficult for me to relate because they aren’t sharing how they personally worked what they are talking about. I start to lose interest and feel bored. It reminds me of why I couldn’t understand algebra in high school. I just couldn’t relate or see how it would work in my life. Give me a share where someone relates an experience, and how they used the steps to grow and live through it, and I dive right in. My attention is captured. I have always heard AA is a program of attraction, and it’s here for those who need it, but only those that want it … get it.

The other aspect of someone sharing, in a general way, of what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now, is that I get to know them.

In cyberspace, I read shares. I can’t see you, I don’t know what you look like, what physical ailments you may have or not, whether you’re young or old. I only have what you say, and how sane it is sounding to me. I have learned to have a different level of discernment here in cyberspace than I do in a face-to-face where I can see a person and know right away by the disheveled look to take what they say with caution. AA taught me to take what I need and leave the rest. The Traditions also taught me that I am fully self-supporting declining outside contributions. My sponsor taught me to apply that in ALL areas of my life, emotional and intellectual as well as financial.

Let me wrap this up, dear ladies. I am looking forward to reading about the missteps of taking blind faith and placing too much power in one person or how different sharing styles have affected your sobriety. Please share on the idea that inspires you. And if there is something you need to bring to the tables, please feel free to share that, too.

Thank you for this opportunity of service.

Aug 21: Tolerance


As Bill Sees It 203: True Tolerance Gradually we began to accept the other fellow’s sins as well as his virtues. We coined the potent and meaningful expression: “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.”

Finally, we began to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong. When this happens, we approach true tolerance and we see what real love for our fellows actually means. Grapevine, January 1962; Twelve and Twelve, p.94

Thanks everyone for the opportunity to chair this week’s meeting! Congrats to all others also celebrating anniversaries in August and welcome to new members.

I picked this topic because I once heard someone say she regretted her own attitude of indifference towards people. I didn’t understand it at the time. Now, a day at a time, I see my own coldness and lack of acceptance of others.

I love the phrase in the reading “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.” I try to say this to myself many times. It is my own mind playing tricks. I seize upon their faults whilst burying my own. Without the steps and faith, I will always be at war – annoyance, irritation, suspicion, jealousy, envy, fear, criticism, anger … it doesn’t take a lot, about the size of a grain of sand, to make my own pearl of resentment.

If I want to be at peace with the world around me – and ultimately myself – I need to pray for tolerance and acceptance of others. No matter how much that hurts my pride.

How do you practice tolerance of others?

Aug 14: Keeping It Simple

Keeping It Simple

Here is how I Keep it Simple:

  1. I acknowledge that LIFE just keeps happening – no matter what I do about it! It’s up to me how I respond to it;
  2. I accept what is instead of resisting what is placed before me;
  3. I trust that WHATEVER is placed before me is what my God wants me to take a look at, go through it, and experience the lesson;
  4. I have TOTAL trust in my Higher Power;
  5. I look at EVERYTHING as an “opportunity for growth” instead of as a “problem”; and
  6. I know today that EVERYTHING passes, and I will never experience this moment again and what it holds for me.

I am keeping my discussion on this topic short and simple and look forward to hearing how you keep your life simple today

Aug 07: Staying in the Solution

Staying in the Solution

When I was newly sober there was lots of talk about relapse, the alcoholic mind, being stuck, and that alcoholism continues to progress even without the drink. I would get scared hearing some of this, and I talked to my sponsor about it.

While she had a healthy respect for the disease, she always focused on the solution and she taught me to do that too. She believed the disease progresses without drinking, but that recovery is also progressive, and that I could become a positive presence with friends, family and at work. I started to concentrate on that, and the fear started to diminish.

At the end of the month, I am going on a 10-day silent retreat. As it gets closer, I find that I am a bit fearful. I’m not sure what the fear is, but I am asking God to remove it and trying to stay in today.

For a topic please share about staying in the solution, living in today, and/or how you deal with fear

Jul 31: Cravings


In the Big Book, the Doctors Opinion states “All these and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.”

I have to say that I have read many newcomers and others struggling in this group with cravings, and I am one of them. People, places, things, and stressors that I cannot always avoid seem to be the triggers that get my cravings moving.

How harsh the craving ends up being seems to depend on how quickly I can remember to surrender to my HP and move back to steps 1-3. But I am definitely not perfect, so I can say that’s not always pretty for me.

I’d love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly on cravings this week. ESH is needed for those of us who have these tough times, particularly the newcomers in early sobriety and would be very much welcome.

So please feel free to share on this topic or any other burning desire.

Jul 24: First Things First

First Things First

For this week’s topic I have chosen the slogan First Things First.

Of all AA’s saying, quotes and slogans, FTF is most useful for me.

When struck with a great loss: a loved one dies, a sudden financial crisis or critical health issue, I stop my tracks, “pause when agitated” and then go to my Higher Power for guidance.

With His help, I can usually see the solution. Then I think: what do I do first, second, third, and so forth.

What DO I do first? We are running out of money before I get paid again. Do I pay the phone bill or buy my heart medicine? Should the rent check or the car payment be late?

Common values and personal circumstances help me decide, along with prayers for answers from my Higher Power.

“If we always put first things first, we shall have all our actions, thoughts, living, wishes in order and without conflict.” (Central Committee Newsletter for Western New York and Niagara Frontier, March 2008).

“If things are too out of order we get friction, conflict, disorder, unhappiness and frustration.”

When I am puzzled about what is the next right thing and there seem to be 2 or 3, I know I have a choice. Again, I ask HP for direction.

“We receive guidance for our lives just to the extent we stop demands that God give it to us on our order and our terms.” (12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p. 104)

“The moment we catch a glimpse of God’s will, and see truth, justice and love as the real and eternal things in life despite evidence to the contrary in purely human affairs, we know that God lovingly watches over us.” (p. 105).

How have you practiced First Things First in your life? Please share with us how the slogan has made a difference.

Jul 17: Forgiving Ourselves

Forgiving Ourselves

For myself, this was a difficult journey, especially in the beginning. I had hurt so many people directly or indirectly by either cheating, stealing, lying, physically or emotionally hurting them, and losing my son for almost two years. The pain of all the chaos I had caused was overwhelming.

Only by praying to my Higher Power and working my program was I able to forgive myself a little bit at a time. It has not been an easy journey to do this, but well worth it. With perseverance and rigourous honesty, I have been able to work through all these issues.

Occasionally, a memory will come back to me even today, and I will pray for forgiveness again and, if possible, make amends.

We need to forgive ourselves in order to get better. Without self-forgiveness, we are constantly in a spiral of guilt.

So dear ladies, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself because God has. Please feel free to share how you are doing this and your progress. Let your Higher Power, AA, and your sponsor help you on your journey to wellness.

Jul 10: Halfway Through…

Halfway Through

I got sober in December 2014 and, right from the beginning, I was comforted by what the Promises offered. I have clung to those and listened to shares about the Promises coming true. Over the past 18 months I’ve seen it, felt it, and experienced it personally.

I was at a meeting recently, and there was a lot of sharing around the 9th Step Promises. As I was listening, I had a bit of an epiphany regarding this line: “we will be amazed before we are half way through.”

I started to question what this meant and why no one has ever explained to me what exactly this means. So I started thinking about this — before we are halfway through … halfway through with what? The Steps, the traditions, the BB, or our amends? Could it be something else, something bigger than that?

I decided it wasn’t really defined because it’s something that’s personal to you. It could be a struggle you’re going through, a personal tragedy, a conversation/argument, an illness … the list of possibilities is endless. I have been in the middle of my day and realized I was halfway through it or frustrated with something going on and relying on the hope that it’s almost complete.

Have you ever thought about this? For this week’s topic, I would love to hear how being “halfway through” relates to you and your sobriety.

Jul 03: Keep it all in Perspective

Keep it all in Perspective

Two days ago I celebrated 11 years sober. Honestly, it kind of snuck up on me! My daily life is filled with some pretty serious and devastating illnesses. My focus is always on them. That made me feel like I’d screwed up my priorities by pushing sobriety to the back burner. Yet, in truth, the reality is that I have to keep my perspective right, or priorities don’t even come into play. If I don’t keep my health condition in check, I can’t stay sober — crashing health-wise would send me straight to the bottle.

So, is my perspective right? It is now. I was loading up the guilt and laying stuff on me that just isn’t true.

Other things happen in life that can do the same thing, but I just refuse to pick up a drink! No matter what occurs in life, if I keep my perspective, I can make it through it, honestly, steady, committed, and yes, drink-free.

How is your perspective? Let’s hear about it.

Jun 26: The Gift of Sobriety

The Gift of Sobriety

If I do not pick up a drink in the next four days, I will celebrate 20 years without a drink this coming Thursday. It is amazing to me to reach this milestone, for when I came back to AA in 1996, I didn’t believe I could stop drinking. I took my first drink when I was 17 and my last drink when I was 49. Along the way, drugs were part of my story too.

Because I knew I couldn’t quit, I never tried. In all those 32 years, I think two weeks was the longest I went without getting drunk or high. I never doubted that I was an alcoholic and addict, and I never fought it either. I came to AA the first time in 1987, and until 1990, I went to a meeting every day and drank every day. I’d have downed a 6-pack before the meeting, and usually there was a cooler in my car so that I could start drinking again immediately after the meeting. The people at the meeting never judged me. They just told me to keep coming back.

I managed to finally go to treatment and then go 15 months before a 5-year relapse when I swore I would never go back to AA. In those early days, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t willing to do what people suggested. I just wanted my husband off my back. In my heart, I knew I was a hopeless drunk. I didn’t fight it. But after five years and a painful bottom, that moment finally came when I just couldn’t do it anymore. In the middle of a rage, my HP showed me what I had become – an angry, foul-mouthed, drunk woman. That was my moment of clarity. I sat on the edge of my bed and said out loud, “It’s time to go back.”

This time, I didn’t have to go through the meetings-drinking merry-go-round. This time, when I walked out of that first meeting, I had a choice. I could say no to that beer. The compulsion to drink was gone. The obsession lingered for a few months, but I finally had a choice, and I had the strength to make the right choice.

I did not earn my seat in AA, nor did I deserve it. It was a gift of grace from a God I still do not understand. For me, AA has been God’s handmaiden. God gave me the ability not to drink, and AA has given me the ability to live life on life’s terms. Doing the 12 Steps made it possible to put the past behind me, to live one day at a time without mind-altering substances, and to be reasonably happy.

For me, AA is the solution to my life-long pursuit of oblivion and emotional numbness. Without it, I would have drunk or used myself to death. There is no doubt about that in my mind. God gave me the willingness to follow directions. Alcohol gave me the fear of who I become when I drink. It is not easy, but it is simple. All I have to do is follow “a few simple rules,” and life gets better.

For those who are struggling, if sobriety can happen for me, it can happen for anyone. I was a hopeless case. I went to AA and still drank regularly. I left AA and swore I would never go back. I drank and drugged for more than 30 years with no thought of ever stopping. Yet, God still found me worthy of the gift of sobriety. AA gave me the gift of living normal, sober life. I do not know whether I will ever drink again, but I know I will not drink today. That’s all that matters. Just for today, I can get through anything because there is a solution available to me as long as I stay willing to do the footwork.

This week, I’d like to hear what “the Gift of Sobriety” means to you. Of course, please share on anything that you need to.

Jun 19: Emotional Hangovers

Emotional Hangovers

Thank you for the opportunity to chair this meeting following my recent celebration of 27 years of continuous sobriety on June 17th. I am happy to still be a sober member who is working and living the AA program to the best of my ability. I am so grateful that I was given the chance at a better life. All I had to do was to ask my God for help, take advantage of the help that was so freely given by people like you, follow the principles and work the program, and trust that God would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

Today, I would like to talk about feelings/emotions we all have from time to time even when we are not drinking and what we can do about them by working the Steps. I will also tie in with the topic from last week on getting rid of resentments.

I know that I’ve had many, many hangovers from drinking in the past where I was sick, sorry, disgusted, fed up, anxious and full of worry from my behaviour the night before. Sometimes I get those feelings in sobriety so today I’d like to touch on the emotional hangover. What is it anyway? Please keep an open mind.

Pages 88-89 of the Twelve and Twelve tell us: “But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers. This doesn’t mean we need to wander morbidly around in the past. It requires an admission and correction of errors now … “

Yes, I have had emotional hangovers in sobriety, and they usually end up with me thinking that I’m a terrible person and saying, ‘when will I ever learn.’ I used to get them when I lost my temper and got into arguments. These days, I ‘intuitively know’ when I have said or done something that not only has hurt another person but has destroyed my sense of well-being. I get a feeling of a hole in the pit of my stomach, and my head begins to review what happened and what I can do about it. My sponsor is a great listener and provides me with meaningful suggestions that have worked for her over the years.

Through working the Steps, I have gained insight into the cause and consequences of my actions and have lost most of my passion for arguments and temper tantrums. Steps 1 through 9 teach me how to deal with my feelings towards people, places, and things so that I avoid a resentment, and Steps 10 to 12 show me how to do it to maintain my serenity. Specifically, Step 10 tells me how to deal with a budding resentment and that is to deal with it immediately before it becomes full-blown and to make the appropriate amends.

If I find myself hanging on to a resentment, I ‘intuitively’ go to my favourite story in the Big Book: Freedom from Bondage – Page 552 – and pray for the person I’m resenting until I can see him/her as just another person who can make mistakes just as I do. What I’ve found out over time, is that the very thing that I can’t overlook in others is the very thing of which I am guilty. Over time, the resentment is gradually relieved, and my sense of personal well-being and peace returns. What a program we have through the Big Book which I’ve always referred to as my “Guide to Life”!

Do you have moments/times of “Emotional Hangovers”? How do you deal with them? Please feel free to share on this topic or on anything else that’s going on with you that you’d like to get off your chest. Thanks for giving me this opportunity and for trudging along with me on the ‘Road of Happy Destiny’.

Jun 12: Letting Go of Resentments

Letting Go of Resentments

Been thinking about the sunshine the last few days. I need it, the grey /dark/rainy days get to me. This past week, I was sitting on the porch and had to keep moving to a different chair as the light moved and was in my eyes. The thought struck me about what the BB says about being in the sunlight of the spirit. I feel so much better when I am in the sunlight both figuratively and physically. I looked up the passage in the BB about the sunlight, here it is:

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.”

I can really see when I hold on to the angry, resentful feelings, I move into a very dark place — one that pushes me toward thinking of a drink. It struck me that I can choose that dark place or I can choose to be in the sunlight place. I struggle with anger and anxiety, but why? My sponsor often asks me what am I getting out of it. I don’t like that question but it’s a valid one. Especially when I can choose to let things go (stop harboring resentments) and be in the “sunlight.” It’s a much better place to be.

Please feel free to share your ESH on letting go of resentments.

Jun 05: Expect Miracles Big and Small

Expect Miracles Big and Small

Excerpts from the Big Book:

“In working the steps, my life changed. I think differently today; I feel different today. I am new. We have a sign at the A.A. meetings I go to that says ‘Expect A Miracle.’ My sobriety is full of miracles.”

“Today my life is filled with miracles big and small, not one of which would ever have come to pass had I not found the door of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

I wanted to share a recent experience as to how my life has changed since I stopped drinking and began participating in AA 16 months ago.

My story took place at Disneyland during my 60th birthday celebration a couple of months ago. My husband and I were there for four days with my daughter and two grandkids. It was the night before my actual birthday. I was really looking forward to turning 60 at a park where I “grew up,” and it was such a blessing to celebrate with my loved ones. As we were having dinner on my birthday-eve, my husband got a call from work and found out that he needed to address a critical issue immediately. (I had hoped he wasn’t even going to bring his work laptop on the trip in the first place, but he insisted he had to, ‘just in case’.) So when he got the call, my heart sank as I realized this could ruin the celebrating planned for the next day. The subsequent emotions that follow when circumstances don’t go my way immediately set in, including anger and self-pity. (How could his work possibly be more important than my milestone birthday?!)

As I started to react the same way that I always have in the past, somehow I managed to put the brakes on. I looked at my husband’s face after the work call came in and noticed how upset and stressed he was. In the past, I used to think he wanted work to interrupt our leisure time because he likes to be plugged into a computer. But I could clearly see (since my mind was “all there”) that wasn’t the case. Instead of giving him my usual rant and rave routine, I gave him a great big kiss and told him I loved him. He reacted like a prince (we were after all at Disneyland!). He stayed at the park with us as long as he could until 9pm, carried his sleeping grandson back to our hotel, then logged onto work for 3 hours so he could finish in time to celebrate my birthday. This was small miracle #1. The next morning (my birthday), he actually left his cell phone locked in our hotel room so that work could not reach him. Leaving his phone behind? This is unheard of, large miracle #2.

Had I been drinking through this trip, the call from his work would have triggered a huge fight. I’m quite sure the change in my reaction was because I was 100% sober, not to mention a few new “tools” in the box. Because I reacted unselfishly (for a change), it worked out so much better for everyone. I owe that to my sobriety (i.e., GROW, A.A. and God).

There is plenty more work ahead for me, but I do see a pattern of miracles big and small in many areas of my life since I became sober. When I’m socializing with family or friends, I listen to what they are saying and ‘connect’ with them because I’m not worried that my wine glass is getting empty and how quickly I can fill it. My daughter sent me flowers on Mother’s Day and thanked me for being there for her. My brain is clear which makes me a more productive employee. I am generally a better wife, mother, and grandmother. I apologize more often and promptly which means I sleep better at night. And the list goes on … I’m so grateful to be sober!

I would be honored to hear about any miracles big and small that are part of your life today.

May 29: Work With Other Alcoholics

Work With Other Alcoholics

From page 89 of The Big Book (4th edition):

“PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill.”

This reading reminds me how the program works. Service was something I could do from the beginning. Before I worked all the steps. By sharing my story and listening to others. I’m reminded of what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now.

I’ve been able to adjust my perspective in life. Today I do not regret the past as it brought me here. I’m here not to wallow in self-pity, but to share my ESH and carry the message.

Life was unmanageable. Today it’s not. I go to meetings, work the steps with my sponsor, and try my best to practice these principles in all my affairs.

When I hear you share, it strengthens my sobriety. When I share with you, it strengthens my sobriety.

I’ll keep coming back. 🙂

Please feel free to share on this topic or anything that may be on your mind.

May 22: Fun in Sobriety

Fun in Sobriety

I decided to suggest a concept I often struggle with: fun in sobriety.

Although I am very grateful for my new life, I don’t always know how to enjoy it.

When I look around, I see a lot that needs fixing. I still boss my boyfriend around, I have trouble taking direction, I tend to isolate. There is plenty of room for improvement. In fact, I could exhaust myself worrying about my character “defaults.” And that is one of my character defaults: I tend to be hard on myself.

So I’m trying to lighten up. There is a time to work on character defects, and there is a time to have fun. Because the old “fun” was killing me, my first job was finding new things to do.

I didn’t know what I liked, so I started trying stuff out. I’ve taken adult tap and meditation classes. I’ve discovered I love birds and hanging out with my cat. Last month, I attended an interpretative dance class. And danced! And I wasn’t wasted!

Sometimes when I’m spacing out with my cat, I think: “You really need to be taking care of business, Kirsten.” Then I remember that I am.

Taking time to learn what I like is helping me figure out who I am. So far I’ve learned that I have more energy and more courage than I knew. Sometimes I can give myself a break. I’m sure that’s what my HP wants for me.

How have you learned to have fun in sobriety? What have you discovered about your sober self that was a surprise?

Please feel free to share on this topic or whatever is on your heart this week.

May 15: The day I stopped drinking

The day I stopped drinking

t’s very special for me to chair the meeting today as it’s the anniversary of the day I took my last drink. My first memories of that day (I would have been drinking from the moment I woke) are putting the lead on the dog and looking at the clock, it was 10am exactly.

I walked down to the phone box (I remember that walk) and looked up AA’s number in the phone book. I had no idea what AA was, but I thought tramps who slept on park benches went there. I didn’t care, I was at my rock bottom and didn’t know where to turn. I had been drinking too much, too often for too long, and I didn’t know how to stop. Eventually when I managed to dial correctly, a nun from the local convent answered the phone and gave me the number of an AA member.

I have no idea what I said to him but by the time I’d walked home, two twelfth steppers were at my door. They talked to me about my drinking and about AA. I had that amazing feeling that I was not alone. The lady, her name was Brilda, took me to her home for the day, then took me back to my house so that I could change for the meeting that night. I was lucky. It was a Thursday, a day when one of the three meetings in my city was held.

I can’t really describe what I felt as I walked into the room with about fifteen ‘normal’ looking people standing around drinking coffee and smoking. I didn’t understand but as the meeting started and people shared their stories, that night I knew I had found a home, a place of safety where I could be myself for the first time in many years.

That happened thirty-six years ago today.

I was going to introduce a different topic for this week, but as I wrote this introduction, I had that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, memories of that day are intense. I found myself reaffirming the fact that I NEVER want to go through anything like that again.

I wondered if it would be useful for all of us, whether one day or fifty years sober, to share about the day we stopped drinking. I know I would love to hear your stories. Of course, please share about anything that’s concerning you.

A word of comfort before we revisit those days comes from ‘The Keys of the Kingdom’ (page 312 in my Big Book):

“There is no more ‘aloneness’ with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing before could ever reach it. That ache is gone and need never return again. Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved.”

May 08: Acceptance and How It Works in Your Life

Acceptance and How It Works in Your Life

The program offers us another way to approach life without a drink. We can learn to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can.

The answers to our questions are all found in the Big Book and in the Step Book, the Twelve & Twelve helps us change the things we can, with practice. We can learn to trust, once again, when we apply the Steps of this program to our daily lives. I didn’t get here a drink short, or a day late. (SD 9/22/87)

When I got to A.A. I felt hopeless. If you are new here, I understand how you are feeling. Difficulties, opposition, criticism are meant to be overcome. When I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and my life was unmanageable by me, acceptance followed and my daily recovery began. I started by working Step One. My sponsor and I shared our stories. For the first time in years, I didn’t feel alone. I spent my first year as a shut-in. My detox was hard and painful. The only thing I knew was if I drank again, I would die!

Having a sponsor assures us we’re never alone. Trust is not a given. Trust is earned. As times went by, I began to trust. I got a sense of security which accompanies my belief that the miracle of recovery is one alcoholic helping another. That is my experience. It flows between us. When I became willing to get honest, I opened my heart. The key I found is being there for another person and accepting them just the way they are with no judgment of any kind. They accept my help.

The solution to all my problems are found in the Steps. No human power can relieve my alcoholism. For me, it was to change my stinking thinking. To find a Higher Power. Acceptance of this fact had many drawbacks. I didn’t believe. Acceptance of a Higher Power was a terribly hard risk to take. As I stayed sober, I let down my defenses.

At two years sober, I went to my first f2f (face-to-face) women’s meeting. There the miracle happened. There I heard their stories. That day, I became willing to work Step Two. This Step taught me that we all get to choose a Higher Power of our own understanding. “Step Two (page 25 in the Twelve & Twelve): “CAME TO BELIEVE that a POWER greater than OURSELVES could restore us to sanity.” For our newcomers, all of the Steps are but suggestions. But when I got honest with my sponsor, things began to get better. Life took on new meaning. (Page 31, 12&12): Whatever price in humility we must pay, we would pay.” It gets better. God restored my sanity. Today, when I accept and practice humility and responsibility, I grow. I take care not to hurt myself or others. Words have the power to hurt. The Steps and many inventories have taught me that to love others here is to give our es&h (experience, strength and hope). Thank you for giving me yours. No drink on earth could ever compare to the unconditional love and acceptance you give me everyday. Accepting God was the best decision I’ve made.

I accepted a God of my own understanding. God was restoring the sanity I lost in my disease. The best acceptance was eventually of myself and all my defects and accepting others of theirs.

My recovery has been a whole series of storms, storms that helped me garner a closer relationship with God, my sponsor, and all of you dear alkies that help sprout new growth. Acceptance is a process. Today, I focus not on the problems I face; I focus on the solution. Accepting we are not perfect. We are human beings who help each other stay sober.

Acceptance to me truly means letting others see who I really am. It has alleviated my suffering. It took a lot of courage to allow myself to risk being vulnerable. God makes all things possible.

There is only one way acceptance has worked in my life. It is only one appropriate choice to every hardship, storm, or angry feeling. It is the one that is honest and wholly reflective of who I am at this moment. After 28+ years sober, acceptance is still a process. My solution is still working the Steps and helping others stay sober ODAAT (one day at a time).

I don’t always understand the way my God works. But I believe He works through people. Today, I accept with faith that each day is a new beginning for all of us. The Steps have given me the peace that I use to seek in a bottle. We can’t talk to a bottle. Each day of abstinence offers us the chance to look ahead with hope. Helping others is the bright spot of my days.

Thanks for letting me lead our meeting.

May 01: Good Advice

Good Advice

A quote from an AA member, who was asked to share some good advice with those who are trying to get and stay sober.

“It is crucial to surround yourself with people that are up to what you are up to in your new way of living. There is joy in sobriety; you can bring that out in each other as you spend time with friends in recovery. Stay engaged, stay outside of your head, and appreciate the new things you can learn from new friends.”

For me, the primary person who is “up to what I’m up to” is my sponsor. She actually teaches me a lot during our calls and emails.

When I am depressed and following one-track thinking, she may hop from subject to subject, sometimes absolutely dragging me where I don’t want to follow. I didn’t see this as deliberate. I just thought she was easily distracted! Now I know better.

Or, I would reach out to her to check in, and she would tell me about some really funny event. I would laugh, of course; but I’d also wonder, “What is WITH her? She is not as AA “tuned in” or spiritually “deep” as I am!” Now I recognize her laughter as the other part of recovery, the part I could have missed!

We always engage in some “small talk” — just a few minutes of news headlines, anything that might remind me there IS a world outside and I MAY want to be able to talk about it in a caring, interesting manner. She knows that my mind tends toward depression and self, and she reminds me I am part of a caring community.

When an Inventory or a Step is getting the best of me, my sponsor shines. I may be trying to figure out how I can find out the full name of a person I hardly remember so that I can apologize deeply and sincerely. I’m practically ready to hire a detective to show my sincerity, and my Sponsor says something quietly about “daily amends” or “everyday amends”… I turn my attention back to her. What? Learn the lesson and apply it daily, as if that person were here? Oh! Ok. Amends. I can live that. My Sponsor is so familiar with these AA things that are new to me, she helps me to get to what matters, and skip the drama. We pray together, learn together, share sobriety together.

I’m grateful to be “surrounded by” my sponsor, grateful that she cares enough to share her recovery road with me. I’m learning so much more than I ever expected.

Would you like to share what the opening quote means to you, OR share your greatest bit of advice with us?

Apr 24: Acceptance


“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation, some fact of my life unacceptable to ME, I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake!” 
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 449 or 417

Wow, some powerful yet simple words of wisdom. I am learning how to let go of things and allow them to fall as they may. I have always been a control freak but when I accept the things I cannot change, when I do God’s will instead of mine, my life is serene. Whenever I am disturbed, my sponsor directs me to Page 417 of the Big Book. It never fails to bring me back to reality and reminds me I’m not the Director!! LOL

Please feel free to share on acceptance or anything that is on your mind. Remember, we’re in this together!

Apr 17: A Tool in Your Recovery Toolbox

A Tool in Your Recovery Toolbox

April 17 : A tool in your Recovery Toolbox

For our topic this week, I am suggesting, what tool in your recovery toolbox stands out for today as one that you find particularly helpful or inspiring in your recovery.

The one that I am selecting is the nightly review that is shared on page 86 … the first full paragraph in Step 11. It contains a series of questions about my day. I find this review helps me to be honest with myself about my day – particularly when I share it with another. It causes me to take pause and truly review the day for any character defects that may have come up – and I particularly like the part that asks if I thought of myself primarily or others. And then it directs me to pray for correction where needed … and I can go to sleep with a clear conscience. Whether I have lived a healthy sober day or not, I have a least prayed for direction about how to correct it if I have not. It is up to me to follow through with that guided direction from the God of my understanding.

So, ladies, the meeting is yours. I have shared my tool that I am finding to be particularly inspiring and growth–producing in my recovery for today, and I open it to each and all to share the tool that they find the same thing with.

Apr 17: A Vision For You

A Vision For You

Taking from page 152 of the BB,

“… Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping – off place. He will wish for an end … Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.”

Wow! To me, the above just described the last 74 months of my life!!! 😉 I celebrated my 6th anniversary, this past March. It is a time of great reflection, remembrance and joy for me. March 13th is my anniversary, a week later is my belly button birthday, and March 27th would be my Mother’s birthday. Six years and 11 months ago, my Mother was at that jumping off point, and very sadly she succumbed to this disease. Fast forward 10 months later, and that is exactly where I was. I wished for that end. I had created so much chaos, destruction and misery in my life that I thought there was absolutely no way I could crawl out of the hole that I have dug. I had picked up many white chips, in the process.

Until, I FINALLY surrendered completely and started doing what you guys told me to do. My life is a far cry from what it was in March 2010. I have purpose, life, freedom and happiness. My life is far from boredom, as it states in another paragraph of this page. I have these tools to live life and this program and fellowship that I am so grateful for. Without them, I would not be the person, wife, mother … friend that I am now. Believe me, it seems like it is a tug of war, sometimes 😉 But these day if I fall, I always get right back up!

Thank you so very much, in allowing my to chair this meeting. Please, share on where you were and where you are now (if you like). Or, share on anything that is on your mind.

Apr 10: The Family Afterward

The Family Afterward

As I approach the occasion of my 32nd AA birthday, I have chosen relationships with the family as the topic of this week’s meeting. A lot has changed for me since May 1984, when I left a drug and alcohol rehab shaky and scared, still experiencing withdrawals, but incredibly hopeful about starting a new life.

Because of my disease, I had lost custody of all 4 of my children; my 3 boys all went to be with their father one by one; and I was forced to choose adoption for my daughter.

Without drugs to numb the pain, I felt the debilitating losses for the first time, but I was reeling from detox and unable to face these tough issues for some time.

During my drinking/using years, I had traveled 50 miles to Simi Valley to visit the boys where they lived in that community with their Dad. I would take them, and we would stay at the Motel 6 overnight; they all were polite but did not enjoy that much. I was heartbroken I had given birth to them, yet we were many miles apart.

My new sobriety hardly affected them. They were all in college by that time: two of them far away and one was fairly close at Cal State Northridge. Eventually he started visiting me, and we built a relationship which we still have. After 32 years and life changes for me, we are loving, kind, and tolerant toward each other.

Another son started a relationship with me, but it ended due to other circumstances, and I haven’t seen him for eight years. A third son has two boys. I DO have a long-distance relationship with his teenage son, who is unaware of my alcohol and drug abuse. It is with great joy that I anticipate a visit from son and grandson in early 2017.

The BB of Alcoholics Anonymous in Chapter 9 (p. 122-135 4th ed.) reminds us: “living with an alcoholic would make anyone neurotic. The entire family is to some extent ill.” I must keep this in mind if I balk at the way family members behave, both early in my sobriety right up to the present.

Like the alcoholic, family members can, if they desire, remember the bad times and use them as lessons to change their own behavior or help other people.

The BB quoted Henry Ford, who once said experience is the thing of supreme value in life, explaining that is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account.

“We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets.” This has been true, not just for me, but for all of my family.

The chapter tells us, “We are not a glum lot; we absolutely insist on having fun,” and we are sure that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. For me and my adult children, we all make our own misery and a background in AA helps us to avoid such pitfalls but to use spiritual principles to restore peace of mind.

With a birthday in sight and a useful life with opportunities for me to help others in AA, a relationship with my dear brother, and a step-son as well, with a natal birthday in June when I will be 77, I AM GOOD.

Please share with us your experiences with family before and after sobriety and where you are today.

Apr 03: Keeping Sobriety as My Number 1 Priority and Not Taking it for Granted

Keeping Sobriety as My Number 1 Priority and Not Taking it for Granted

I chose this topic because I have a sober anniversary coming up in a few days. I have been in AA since 2008, but I had not maintained continuous sobriety as many of you know. I will have three years, God willing, on April 5th. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would stay sober for that long. As Susanne L says, “It works if we work it.” It really is a “daily reprieve,” and I continue to take it one day at a time.

There have been plenty of times when I didn’t keep my sobriety as my number one priority and when I have taken it for granted. My disease would tell me that I don’t have a disease. I would put other things ahead of it such as jobs, an affair, exercising, changing careers, Facebook, etc. There were times when I didn’t have a sponsor – did not want a sponsor (in other words – did not want to be accountable to anybody), thought that I didn’t have that “low” of a bottom, and thought that I didn’t need to go to as many meetings. Honestly, every time I got into that situation, I ended up relapsing.

In the past two months or even a little less, there have been two women that I once knew who died from this disease. Both of them left behind young children. It makes me so sad and really shakes me up, especially when it hits so close to home. On the other hand, it makes me so much more grateful for my sobriety and makes me realize that I can never take it for granted. Sobriety is truly a gift, and we are truly the lucky ones!

I just want to share how just recently I had to make a difficult decision. If I hadn’t taken this course of action, there is no telling what it may have done to my sobriety. Although it was a positive thing that I was doing, it was taking up a lot of my time and causing me stress – causing me to feel like my life was becoming unmanageable. To me, that is progress and shows me that I am growing in this program. In the past, I would have fought it and insisted on having everything my way. Amazing – I feel like I’m actually starting to “grow up” but still have a ways to go. Progress not perfection, right?!

I also have a new sponsor who I absolutely love! We go to a lot of the same meetings at the AA club in my home town. I am so grateful to have her in my life! I also have a new sponsee who I’ve known for about 6 years. She had moved away and recently moved back after a relapse. I am very grateful to help other women in the program.

Lastly, I would like to end with part of a reading from Daily Reflections: COMMITMENT p.55 (February 16)

“… I could no longer hide behind self-rationalization, nor behind the insanity of my disease. The only course open to me, if I was to attain a joyous life for myself (and subsequently for those I love), was one in which I imposed on myself an effort of commitment, discipline, and responsibility.”

I need to keep doing the foot work – stay committed to my AA program, remain accountable and responsible, do the next right thing, and help other alcoholics. I also wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my Higher Power, who I call God.

Grateful for all of you and for being on this journey with you! I look forward to reading your shares. Thank you for allowing me to be of service!

Mar 27: Rebirth, New Beginning

Rebirth, New Beginning

This is my first time chairing a meeting, either online or in person, so it’s an exciting opportunity, but I also worried about what topic I’d share. I do have a lot of questions and ideas would pop into my head, but I kept telling myself that when it was time, my HP would guide me. I originally chose this date, March 27, 2016, because it was the closest to my 9-month sobriety date, not even realizing at the time that I was choosing Easter Sunday. So, it seems most meaningful to me to discuss what Easter symbolizes, rebirth and new beginning, as it relates to being an alcoholic.

I remember sitting in my first meeting on Day 1 and reading the steps before the meeting began. I naively thought something to the effect of: “Yes, I can agree to these. I’ll speed through these steps in record pace.” I had no idea at the time that not drinking alcohol has more to it than just not drinking alcohol or how hard it would be. But that was where I was beginning, and showing up at that first meeting was an amazing beginning for me.

I will admit that it has become more of a habit to not drink alcohol and, therefore, easier in some ways. But I also know that I cannot become cocky and think I’ve solved my alcoholism and can now drink moderately. I still get cravings sometimes, especially if I’m extremely stressed or if I smell it or if there’s an event that I’d normally associate with drinking: weddings, Happy Hour, or weekend dinners for example. I have thought about drinking alcohol a lot over the past nine months, and I don’t know if that will change with time. I still feel jealous when I see pictures of people with a drink in their hand and still sometimes feel uncomfortable walking through the alcohol section of the market (kind of like I think that I need to keep my defenses up). I can say that it has only been until recently that I’ve realized that my hard work is paying off.

The biggest realization has been from going from a mindset of “I’m just not going to drink alcohol, and this sucks that other people get to drink and I can’t” to “Hey, there are some benefits to not drinking alcohol and admitting I’m an alcoholic and doing the work (steps and counseling to work on cognitive behavior therapy for depression and anxiety) is showing some positive evidence in my life.” I still have to ‘play the tape’ to talk myself out of the first drink (i.e. what would happen after that first drink), and I can never think that I’ve cured my disease and can become a moderate drinker. I know alcoholism is a tricky disease that will try to convince me I’m cured and can drink again.

I’m seeing some positive evidence and happiness, despite all kinds of stress in my life:

  • I’m growing a relationship with my HP that wasn’t there nine months ago, and it is a spiritual awakening.
  • I’ve handled nine months of sobriety despite all that has gone on around me.
  • I’ve noticed I’m reacting to situations differently: more confidence, less worrying about what other people think, way less taking on of other people’s problems, more awareness of my previous patterns and habits that were unhealthy or unbalanced, slowing down before reacting, feeling less overwhelmed.
  • I’m spending money that I used to spend on alcohol in much more productive ways.
  • I’m spending time that I used spend on alcohol in better ways: more meaningful conversations with people I love, more reading, more creative pursuits.
  • I have more energy and no hangovers, which just makes life better.
  • I have no more regrets about not remembering or remembering and feeling shameful about what I said or did.
  • I’m aware that there is more work to be done and always will need to be done in my journey since beginning with AA. I’m also aware of how much more I need to do with step work.
  • I’m aware that none of these positive changes would have happened without beginning a life without alcohol.

So, my questions for you are: What has been your rebirth or new beginning since your first day of sobriety? How have your ideas, thoughts or actions changed since your Day 1? Or what else would you like to share?

Mar 20: Service


My AA birthday is always a time for reflection for me. Each year, I am amazed that so much time has passed. And each year, I am so grateful that through the Grace of my Higher Power whom I choose to call God I have been blessed with so many 24 hours without needing to pick up that first drink. Each day is a pearl to me, a gem as it were. And I string them together one by one, day by day, and the light of my Higher Power becomes reflective through me, as I adorn myself with His gifts One Day At A Time. I ask myself, how exactly did I do it?

AA, my sponsor, and a willingness to take suggestions and/or direction. I tried to do this AA thing all on my own when I first came through the doors. (I was fiercely independent, and I did not need your help.) Never mind that my life was a mess and I was a mess, I was convinced that I was not as bad (that’s some twisted thinking!) as you, and I could control and manage my drinking. I did what was suggested: I went back out and “controlled and managed” my alcohol consumption until I was down on my knees some years later asking God for help. I was lost when I got back to AA, and I needed a guide.

When I walked back through the doors of AA, I made a pact with myself to do this differently. I agreed to follow direction this time. That meant that I needed to attend regular meetings and to find a Home Group and a Sponsor. My “Home Group” was the local AA Fellowship that I made a commitment to. My commitment was to attend the same meetings each week. (I was able to attend twice a week where I lived in La Paz, Mexico.) It was suggested that I get a Service commitment in my Home Group. That could be making coffee, leading a meetings, unlocking the door each week, or simply greeting people at the door.

I picked a Sponsor in my Home Group that I could relate to. (There were only two sober women in my tiny English Speaking Fellowship, so I picked the one that did not remind me of my mother.) Well, as God would have it, the one I picked ended up moving, and so I was left with the only other woman in the group, Sylvia. She “plugged me in” at times, as she was so much like my Mom in my eyes. But in the end, Sylvia became my sponsor, and I love her so much today. (My God apparently wanted me to work through my “mother stuff,” and He picked Sylvia for me is how I choose to see it!) She did not have any strict protocol for me to follow, but she was a gentle guide for me – not at all what I expected.

I have heard it said that for the newcomer, the soul searching that we are asked to do, is a bit like going 10-42 on a jungle safari. A safari can be a dangerous place, and it is best to go with a knowledgeable guide. So, that is what Sylvia was for me. She had traveled the dangerous and tricky waters and dry deserts of the mind and was able to guide me as I ventured in between my own two ears. (I have heard it said that if my mind did not need me for transportation, I would probably be dead by now.) So, you see my mind is out to get me. It will tell me that this time is different, one drink won’t hurt, etc. etc. My sponsor became my sounding board. She did not tell me what to do. She would offer up suggestions now and again and support me in finding my own truths. She was careful not to bombard me with her ideas but let me find my own way. In all honesty, she loved me until I could love myself.

Through my relationship with my sponsor, I learned to be of Service to others. At first that began with some sort of service commitment in my Home group. I learned to participate in business meetings, be part of a group conscience, take a position such as secretary or coffee maker, etc. I learned to be accountable by committing to a service position at the group level. By learning to do for others in AA by participation, I learned that I could also be of service to others outside of AA. It has made all of the difference in the world. I have learned over the years to think of myself less and others more. Baby steps. It began by sharing my story at an AA meeting, and it has grown from there. It was suggested that if I was asked to be of Service in AA, that I should never turn that opportunity down. I have carried that into my personal life outside of AA, and sometimes I get creative with it. I got to know one of my neighbors years ago, and I would take her meals on occasion. She lived alone and never cooked for herself. It was “the next indicated thing” to me. We are very close today, though we live a world apart.

I had two small children when I first came back to AA so many years ago, and while it would have been easy to use them as an excuse to not attend, it was imperative that I figure out how to get my butt into the rooms of AA. I think if this online venue had been available to me at the time, I might still be drinking, as to me this would have been a place that I could have hidden and not given 100% of myself. My life was all about what was convenient for Alison, and I had to do the opposite of that in order to stay sober, heal, and get well. AA has given me my life back and so very much more. I like to think I am the happiest woman in the world today. Thank you, ladies. I could not have done it without you and your service and commitment to the program we like to call Alcoholics Anonymous.

What benefits have you found from being of service in AA, and how has that extended into your daily life?

Mar 13: Honesty


The topic of Honesty has been rolling around in my thoughts all week. When I came into the rooms, I was anything but honest, with myself and with others. The web of lies and deception was thick. Through working the steps with my sponsor and allowing that onion of an inventory to peel back the layers, I have been able to face truths and begin to live an honest life. Each day I have opportunities to practice honesty … but telling the truth is just the beginning.

Yesterday, I had the experience of hearing someone become brutally honest with those they had hurt. With this honesty comes the very real possibility of life in prison. This person was willing to do what was right, no matter what the personal consequences might be. What struck me the most was that, by being honest, the chains that imprisoned this person in the darkness of guilt and shame were broken. Honesty does that for me, too.

My questions for you to ponder this week is: How does honesty play out in your own sobriety? What has been your experience with being honest with yourselves and others? How has your approach to this topic changed as you have grown in your sobriety?

Mar 06: Personal Power/Powerlessness

Personal Power/Powerlessness

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines POWER as “the ability to act or produce an effect.” Real power is basically the ability to change something if you want to change it. It’s the ability to make change happen. Real power is unlimited — we don’t need to fight over it because there is plenty to go around. And the great thing about real power is our ability to create it. Real power doesn’t force us to take it away from others — it is something we CREATE and BUILD WITH OTHERS — (Understanding Shame, I thought it was just me, but it isn’t written by Brene’ Brown.)

I read those words and thought about a time in my life where the only changes I could make were which liquor I would buy — Change was something I was held captive by. But then I arrived into the rooms of AA and started living a new way of life. By working the steps with a sponsor (many times), I have been given the ability to make choices and to produce effect/s. I have power.

The Steps enable me to see things in a different perspective and give me the ability to change something if I want to change it. This definition of power struck me as an asset and something I want. I had the idea that in order to admit powerlessness I had to give up my personal power. I also had the idea that having personal power was at odds with humility. In order to have humility, I couldn’t have power. However, if I understand the definition in this light I can have both. I can admit defeat. I can admit I am powerless, but by the above definition that is the first step towards effecting change and to gaining personal power.

The topic I am suggesting is Power/powerlessness. (The great thing about real power is our ability to create it.)

Feb 28: Promise #2

Promise #2

“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Recently, I’ve read several statements on social media sites like: ‘Don’t judge me by my past behaviour; I don’t live there anymore.’

Another one is: ‘Even though there are days I wish I could change some things that happened in the past, there’s a reason why the rear-view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big – where I’m headed is much more important than what I’ve left behind.’

I’ve been sober for awhile now and, thanks to our program, I have dealt with things that I did when I was drinking through forgiveness, making amends, and changing my ways. I know today that I had to go through those things in order to get to where I am today.

I don’t regret my past, for it is one of my greatest assets. All I have to do is remember what it used to be like, and I am filled with gratitude for the kind of life I am living today.

Do you have remorse or bitterness of your actions in your past? If not, how did you get rid of these feelings? Are you grateful for the kind of life you have today?

Feb 21: 7 Deadly Sins

7 Deadly Sins

Recently I have come face to face with the 7 deadly sins, also known as my 7 deadly character defects: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. Some have been more glaring than others. Pride and anger are the culprits dogging my every step of late — I go to sleep with them and wake up with them. Hard as I try to shake them, they cling like shadows.

It got me thinking about making a greater effort to shift my focus to their “virtuous counterparts:” Humility, Abstinence, Purity, Kindness, Generosity, Forgiveness, and Diligence. When I feel myself letting pride dictate my reactions, I try shifting to thoughts of humility as a preferred response.

Quite honestly, I don’t really ‘prefer’ to be humble, but I know humility will do me a great deal less harm than pride. When I feel anger hijacking my brain, I try to remind myself how patience and forgiveness could better quiet my stormy thinking.

What this program has taught me is that my character defects don’t serve me well at all. If I want peace and serenity, I have to learn to like the virtuous counterparts better than the defects. That is not as easy as I just made it sound, but well worth the effort. Please share what defects have been giving you problems lately and how you can replace them with their virtuous alternatives .

Feb 14: Anonymity


While trying to decide on a topic for this week, Dr. Bob’s words kept coming to mind, so I decided to go with Anonymity as the topic!

On page 264-265 of “DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers” (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., New York 1980), it states:

“As far as anonymity was concerned, we knew who we were. It wasn’t only A.A., but our social life. All of our lives seemed to be spent together. We took people home with us to dry out. The Cleveland group had the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the members,” said Warren. “In fact, I remember Dr. Bob saying, ‘If I got up and gave my name as Dr. Bob S., people who needed help would have a hard time getting in touch with me.'”

Warren recalled: “He (Dr. Bob) said there were two ways to break the anonymity Tradition: (1) by giving your name at the public level of press or radio; (2) by being so anonymous that you can’t be reached by other drunks.”

In an article in the February 1969 Grapevine, D.S. of San Mateo, California, wrote that Dr. Bob commented on the Eleventh Tradition as follows:

“Since our Tradition on anonymity designates the exact level where the line should be held, it must be obvious to everyone who can read and understand the English language that to maintain anonymity at any other level is definitely a violation of this ‘Tradition’.

Ladies what do you feel about anonymity? Are you open within your group about your last name? Do you agree with Dr Bob?

Feb 07: Getting What You Need

Getting What You Need

While I was considering what topic I would lead with today, I randomly opened a meditation book I read daily. It opened to a passage in which the author told of reading of a best-selling writer who had suddenly lost her child in a freak accident. The author commented that her eyes looked out the window at her own child bouncing a tennis ball off the house, and she realized that she had exactly what she needed in that moment. She whispered a prayer “Help me to remember that all I have is all I need.”

One of the most significant lessons for me in sobriety has been to realize that although I may not always get what I want, I always get what I need. I learned this fairly early in my sobriety when at two years sober, I suffered a loss that was devastating to me. I was heartbroken and in so much pain that I didn’t believe there was any point in being sober.

At the time I lived near a beach and I stopped at the beach, saying to myself that I would spend an hour on the beach, and then I would go to a liquor store. As I walked down the road to the beach, I ran into a young man that I didn’t know well, but I did know that he was also a friend of Bill W. He suggested we spend some time together talking on the beach, and we did. Talking to a sober friend calmed me down and reminded me that I did in fact want to be sober and that picking up a drink wouldn’t get rid of my pain – it would only postpone it. But I knew in that moment of encountering this earthly angel at exactly that moment, I knew I would always get exactly what I needed to get through one 24-hour period.

Later, during a time of extreme turbulence in my sobriety when my late husband was actively addicted to crack cocaine, I had an Al-Anon sponsor that kept reminding me of that lesson. Whenever I would call her extremely distraught about the external situation I was in that I was powerless over, she would say, “Be quiet a minute. Are you getting what you need today?” I always had to admit that I was. I have lost touch with that beautiful woman, but on stressful days, I can still hear her voice saying “Are you getting what you need today?”

This week, I would love to hear how you recognize that you are getting what you need in your sobriety. Have you met just the right sponsor or friend at just the right time? Have you read just the right passage in a book that helped you get through another day or heard just the right message at a meeting? As always, you are welcome to share on or off this topic.

Jan 31: Contempt Prior to Investigation

Contempt Prior to Investigation

In the Fourth Edition of the Big Book, there is a quote by Herbert Spencer on BB page 568 that reads:

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

I chose this quote following an incident that I had this week in the grocery store. I was shopping and trying to reach something above my head. Whenever I do this post-accident, I get very dizzy and stagger a bit, and it appears to anyone watching that I have had a liquid lunch. It appears that way because I keep trying to get what I am after off the shelf, and the more attempts, I make the more dizzy I become. It is not pleasant, it is embarrassing but it is what it is.

This week when trying to shop, a member of the fellowship who I had not seen or spoken to in some time was witness to this phenomenon in my life. She reached the thing I was after and told me to “get my ass back to a meeting that I knew better than to drink,” and she walked away. She didn’t ask me any questions, she made up her mind and decided she knew everything. I had no chance to respond. I got a taste of my own medicine.

When working the steps early in my program, I was unwilling to investigate the gift of spirituality offered me. I often crossed my arms and was adamant that it wouldn’t work, wasn’t for me … I have since learned different … but I had to put away my contempt to be open to the lessons.

I would like to hear your interpretations of the quote or about anything else you feel a need to share.

Jan 24: Choosing to Surrender

Choosing to Surrender

I have been reading and looking at Step 1 this month. It was only when I was broken and desperate enough that I chose to surrender and come to AA for help. Back when I was a kid, we played “uncle” — you would get tickled until you couldn’t take it anymore and then you would cry “UNCLE” and the person would have to stop. That’s kind of how I felt coming to AA — crying UNCLE — I couldn’t stop that the craving/obsession to drink.

It wasn’t just drinking that was the problem — my entire life was unmanageable. I didn’t necessarily think so at first. I only wanted “help” with my drinking problem. I could not imagine that I would never drink again. Alcohol was my best friend. Great friend, huh? My life was a mess and I thought (my best thinking) that I had it “ALL under control”. It’s almost comical looking back at it now.

Surrender seems like a continuously difficult thing to do, but gradually I am learning that it’s my choice whether I surrender or not. It’s a better choice. This weekend is a perfect example — the east coast storm.

I work at hospital, and this is my on call weekend. Due to the weather (I am powerless over it), the hospital has required all on call staff to spend the weekend at the hospital. Not one part of me desires to do this — I can come up with lots of reasons and arguments and be mad and pouty. BUT I am choosing NOT to take that approach — I have to keep reminding myself of that throughout the day. In fact, I wrote a gratitude list this morning after I woke up. (My sponsor has suggested that I pray and ask God how I can be of service to the patients and staff and take the focus off my situation.)

As I choose to surrender and turn things/situations over to my higher power, my life is simpler and easier to maneuver. I do not have it all together — very far from it — I can say that I am growing and getting better, and that’s a nice feeling.

Please feel free to share how you choose to surrender in your life and how that works for you.

Jan 17: Happy Usefulness

Happy Usefulness

“Those of us who have spent much time in the world of spiritual make-believe have eventually seen the childishness of it. This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power of God in our lives. We have come to believe He would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth. That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. These are the realities for us. We have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual experience and a life of sane and happy usefulness.” 
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 130

Before coming to the rooms, I used to be so darn self-absorbed. I would tell you that I was selfless, doing for others, but really it was only to get something in return. I had low self-esteem, yet I only thought of myself. All the time.

Enter the program, the steps, the ES&H of you ladies and my sponsor, and I have come to find my purpose. It is to be useful to my family, my friends and my employer … and to my God. Today I am grateful that I know my purpose, and I am grateful for the peace that it brings me.

Today I can speak slowly, clearly, and with purpose. My actions are thought out and organized (most of the time.) The reality of my life today is that, thanks to several spiritual awakenings, I am useful. I know that, thanks to the God of my understanding, nothing is impossible, and everything is possible.

I have dreams today. I know that keeping my feet firmly planted in this program, I can achieve these dreams. There’s no need to worry. I need only to trust and have faith that so long as I keep doing the next right thing. And in doing so, dreams that I didn’t even know I had will also come true …

Please share on this topic or anything else that’s on your mind.

Jan 10: Boundaries


I have been thinking about the holiday season with its heightened emotions and extra activities and how my approach has changed from year to year as I learn more about my preferences.

I was at a restaurant with others in a small group, some of whom I had never met before. I discussed with the waiter my “alcohol allergy.” I enquired about a meal that was described in the menu as having some kind of alcohol base on the steamed greens. After receiving assurances that the chef could easily provide the meal alcohol free, I ordered it.

The restaurant was busy, and when the meal finally came out I immediately tried the greens and knew straight away they had served me a meal with alcohol.

After a discussion with the waitress, she started talking about alcohol being cooked off while others at the table looked on and even behaved as though I was being difficult to get along with. Of course, when I told the waitress this was unacceptable, she took the plate away and returned within minutes announcing that another identical meal was coincidentally just being prepared and I could have that instead.

Despite my reticence, I tried the greens again. Being super sensitive to the taste of alcohol, I could recognise the taste of it immediately. The plate looked exactly the same and it seemed to me that the veges had been, if you can believe it, “rinsed off”. By this point others at the table were taking quite an interest in my meal instead of their own.

I left the meal on the table uneaten. I did not trust the kitchen and no longer wanted to eat in this restaurant, so I decided to focus on conversation instead. Someone at the table, who didn’t know me, even began making veiled comments about appreciation and the art of being flexible in a busy restaurant.

My point is this. I couldn’t care less! I just absolutely didn’t care! Maybe there would have been a time when making what appears to be a scene matters to me, or going hungry matters to me, or what I think others think of me matters to me, but when it comes to my sobriety (I don’t care) about any of those things. I speak up and behave according to my own truth no matter what, without feeling a need to explain or excuse myself, and if it gets down to it, I will do whatever it takes to take best care of me without a moment’s hesitation. Regardless of the fall out. Anywhere, anytime.

My partner wasn’t with me during that meal, and when she found out she was angry. She told me she would have wanted to storm the kitchen or insist on speaking to management, demanding satisfaction and refunds or whatever. I understand this is because she cares, and the way it unfolded was unacceptable to her.

But my HP and I have an understanding. God removes the obsession and compulsion, and I take care of the leg work, guided by God’s will as I understand it, and by our steps and our traditions. By the program principles, again, as I understand them. For me, this is about setting boundaries, and it also means going quietly about the business of being vigilant. Being responsible and accountable for myself in all matters pertaining to alcohol, without depending upon or involving anyone else where possible. And in this instance, I decided to avoid any more controversy. For me, the level of escalation and drama would have become detrimental to my peace of mind, so I chose to remain calm, seated at the table, and talking to the other guests.

And I am wondering …

In addition to attending meetings and doing the steps, what does vigilance mean to each of us, and how do we practice it in practical ways to protect our boundaries? What lines in the sand have we drawn in advance to keep ourselves safe from the unexpected?

My own vigilance in order to protect my boundaries, in the first instance, along with attending meetings and handing over to my HP, was to make sure that no alcohol entered my body or my psyche, through the taste of it, the smell of it, the touch of it, or even the idea of it. To this end, I started reading all labels including medicines, stayed away from people, places and events, where alcohol was a focus – or where it would be a focus for me (which was everywhere and everyone in those first days), and always asked questions when eating away from home.

Later on, those things became habit. And I still do them today. In fact, perhaps today I do them as much as ever so that complacency cannot get a foot in the door. I need to always respect this disease and my powerlessness over it. And to remember those aspects of this disease that hide so effectively. Denial, justification, self-sabotage, rationalisation, and the list goes on.

And so today it is within my boundaries to expect whoever is drinking to clean up their own bottles and glasses. This is my preference. It’s not that I can’t, it’s just that I don’t pick up bottles and glasses, full or empty. I have no business doing that. I also expect whoever is doing the drinking to buy their own alcohol. Again, it’s not that I can’t, it’s just that I don’t.

It is not my preference to stop in at the pub or bottle shop while I am out doing the grocery shopping. And the food I eat is 100% clean. I avoid eating in pubs with the smell of alcohol soaked into the carpets, not because I am at immediate risk but because I prefer not to. The conversations I have about the drinking days are only ever connected to twelve step work. I do not reminisce and would never compare drunkalogues. And at the end-of-day drink o’clock time I choose to walk the dog, or read a book. etc. or sit quietly by myself. I rarely sit around in drinking get-togethers with a soda in my hand. The habit and ritual is unacceptable to me.

Maybe these boundaries seem extreme to some, but for me there is no such thing as over reacting when it comes to keeping myself sober, straight, safe, and sane. And while I don’t make a loud song and dance about it, I know what is negotiable and not negotiable for me, and I act accordingly. I have communicated much of this to those closest to me and with whom there is mutual trust.

Having boundaries means I don’t test limits. I just take care of me, in the same way, all the time, without exceptions. So it doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, some other celebration, or a lazy Sunday afternoon with family or friends, my vigilance does not rest, and my preferred boundaries remain in place.

What about you? What boundaries do you have, and how vigilant are you in maintaining them?

Please feel welcome to share on the topic of boundaries or on anything else that may come up for you.

Jan 03: Just For Today

Just For Today

Here we are in a new year, and it’s easy to get caught up in looking ahead, making plans and fearing the future. One of the first things I was told when I came to AA was that I only had to do this thing today, just for today. I had been a daily drinker, and for many years, it was not possible for me to make two days in a row sober. The concept of just staying sober today was, therefore, acceptable to me. Doing it was a very different thing.

My mind constantly wandered to tomorrow. Could I stay sober tomorrow too? How would I do it? And what would I do when I failed? Slowly, I found strategies for getting through today without a drink. For me, it was often one hour at a time. I’d give myself permission to have that drink … in an hour. Then I’d get busy with some task. Before I knew it, a few hours had passed. I’d give myself permission again to have a drink … in an hour. This way, I managed to string days together and stay sober. I had the cleanest oven in Northern Virginia!

As time passed, as I did the steps and worked with my sponsor, as I attended meetings every day, I began to learn that this approach worked for life too. All I had to do was get through this one day without freaking out. I began to ask in my morning prayer that HP get me through this day without a drink OR an emotional meltdown. I could always thank him for keeping me from drinking, but often, I had to ignore the emotional meltdown part in my bedtime prayer.

Early sobriety is so hard emotionally. I drank to become numb to my emotions, which were usually dark, angry, resentful, hurt. I would go on ’emotional drunks’ every couple of months. They’d last for about two weeks before I was finally exhausted and willing to let go and let God. Little by little, I began to trust my HP’s solutions rather than try to force my own. Things got better. Life got easier when all I focused on was this one day. I learned that Just for Today worked as well for life as it did for not drinking.

Over time, living Just for Today has become more important. I find that when I can stay in this one day, life is pretty easy. Problems may arise, but it will be ok. All I have to do is let my HP handle it and go about my business. The impact of my emotions is not nearly so severe as it once was. I can actually handle them – mostly by giving them to God. I don’t have to solve everything now. I can make plans, but they are always subject to revision, depending on what is going on in the omnipresent today.

It took a LOT of practice – a lot of trial and error – to get to the point where Just for Today is my Number One tool for sobriety and for life. There were many times when it seemed impossible. But I have figured something out …

Today is literally all there is. It is the only time I can make the choice not to drink. It is the only day I can nurture friendships or apply one of the program’s tools. Most important, it is the only day I can experience the rich relationship I have with my Higher Power. Today is truly the only day that exists. Living in that space is both comfortable and rewarding.

My suggestion for the topic is Just for Today. Are you struggling with living in this one day? What are or have been your challenges? And how has this approach changed you and your life? Of course, please feel free to share on anything you need to talk about.