November 27: What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous

Being of Service and what it has meant to my sobriety.

 

Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of AA, often said, “Love is Service in Action.”

I was fortunate to belong to an active Home Group where service commitments were strongly encouraged.

 

After I had been sober about a month, my Sponsor suggested I get two service commitments a week. One would be at my Home Group and the other would be at another meeting I regularly attended. She told me the importance of Service was for the following reasons:

·      It was an important factor in feeling a part of; and for an alcoholic whose default position is feeling apart from, this would make a profound difference in my recovery.

·      It would keep me coming back to meetings on the days when I didn’t want to come to meetings.

·      It would teach me about responsibility, about the importance of being accountable to the group- that I was never to miss my commitment and if some calamity should be-fall me and I did miss, it was up to me to contact another AA member to fulfill my commitment; I was to call the Secretary and let her know I wouldn’t be at the meeting and who was filling in for me.

·      It would help me to get to know the faces in my meetings and just as I would get to know them, they would get to know me. She told me this was important because Alcoholics tend to isolate. If I was not attending the meeting, other regular members would call to check on me. Also, she said, I was to check on them if they weren’t present.

 

Service became another tool of my sobriety. I was taught by my sponsor to ask the Secretary for a commitment and ask, “Where can I be of service to the meeting? The Secretary would tell me what commitment I would have.

 

I was in my first year of sobriety and we were rotating commitments. I asked the Secretary what commitment is available? She said, “cleaning the women’s restroom.” Oh my. I was so offended! I didn’t say anything but went directly to my sponsor and told her. My Sponsor asked why I was so offended. I said, “Cleaning the bathroom is beneath me!” She said, “I think that would be the perfect commitment for you then. Your ego will thank you later.”

 

One more story on service and then I’ll stop.

 

 I was at the same meeting a couple of years later and a friend of mine who was new to the group was called on to share. He went on a tear about the meeting, he said he didn’t feel a part of, and everyone was in cliques at the meeting. Another member was called on to share after this and said, “if you’re not feeling a part of, ask yourself if you are taking the action to be a part of.” I have never forgotten that. Whenever I feel apart from at a meeting, it is imperative I self-inventory and question myself, “Am I giving to the meeting rather than taking?”

 

TOPIC: “What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholic Anonymous”

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my experience, strength, and hope! Great blessings to each of you.

 

Kim O’Connor

July 1, 1990

November 20: Self-medicating

Topic for the week: Self-medicating

I have learned so many things from this program, about alcoholism and about myself. I know that I am powerless over the first drink and that I must have spiritual help in order to stay sober. I need to quit trying to play God and turn to a higher power for guidance. Above all else, no matter what happens, just don’t take that first drink. “We are without defense against the first drink.” (AA Big Book, page 24)

When I was first sober, that was all I focused on. Just don’t drink–each hour, each day. As the days and hours went by, I realized the other issues I had to deal with that contributed to my drinking, such as anger against my mother, trying to be in control of everything around me, fear of failure. Once the blurriness of being drunk and hungover was out of the way, I could see these things I had to work on to heal myself.

Recently, I was diagnosed with ADD. This was a relief after 30 years of being told it was hormones, too much work, depression, etc. I have more understanding now of why I have felt and behaved in certain ways, and I can work on it. This complicates my alcoholism, because I realize that part of why I was drinking in the first place was self-medication.

For me, and maybe for some of you, it’s not so simple as just not drinking. That is key, but to know that I will actually stay sober, I need to deal with the dual diagnosis and underlying issues that could cause me to drink again. With dual diagnosis (when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously), there is a mental or neurological disorder that may require medication or therapy, and without that, it’s possible I could turn again to self-medicating with alcohol.


That is what I’ve been dealing with and learning about the last couple months. What are your experiences with dual diagnosis, or other underlying issues that caused you to self-medicate yourself with alcohol? I look forward to hearing your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group with this meeting.
Katie

November 13: 5th Step – Completing the housecleaning

Topic for the week: 5th Step, Completing the housecleaning. pp. 72-73, ‘Into Action’ chapter, BB

Time after time, newcomers have tried to keep to themselves shoddy facts about their lives. Trying to avoid the humbling experience of the 5th step, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably, they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness & honesty, in the sense that we find it necessary, until they told someone else their entire life story.

I remember my first 5th step. I was terrified. I felt that no one I’d ever want to talk to had done some of the things I’d done. What saved me was p. 74, where it says that we can go to clergy, a psychologist, a doctor, a close-mouthed friend, or a family member, and I’ve heard of people approaching a total stranger that felt ‘right’. On pp. 74-75, it mentions approaching the person by explaining what we are needing to do and why, which makes them receptive to listening seriously.

I used a couple of different people for different parts of my story. For one part, I had to hide my face in my hands as I spoke, my shame and fear of rejection were so strong.

There are still a few degrading things I did while drunk that I rarely discuss unless it can be helpful to someone else who is struggling with the same or similar bits of personal history.

The biggest thing I learned from the 5th step process was that I had not committed a single original sin; therefore, I was still a part of the struggling human race. For the first time, I felt ‘a part of’ something rather than ‘apart from’ everything. AA’s 5th step gave me permission to join the world I’d excluded myself from with my drunken behavior and thinking.

Please share your experience with doing a thorough, fearless & honest 5th step, or what is holding you back from doing so.

October 30: Darkness and Light

Topic for the week: Darkness and Light

Ladies – Thanks again for allowing me to host. In this part of the world, the nights are getting longer and I am seeing less and less of the Sun. Being Irish with my pale skin I yearn for the Sun to feed my vitamin D mood… In these winter months, my mood can take a turn, my motivation lessens and like hedgehogs and groundhogs (for you American folk…), I don’t want to go out…

I take comfort in warm fires, electric blankets and fluffy coats. But I also look to these emails, my nightly readings, my step 10s, my online meetings, new ways to reach out to others, my sponsor.

When my brain needs a break, I watch tv, read a good book, learn something new, put furniture together….

Bottom line, If I am not AAing, I am keeping busy…. Because I know, if I don’t… I can enter the bottle and Ill never get out…

So my question for you, as the days get colder and the nights get longer, is how do you deal?

Thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

October 23: Patience, love and tolerance is our code

Topic for the week: Patience, love and tolerance is our code.

Last night at my home group, a woman I have seen come in and out, was obviously under the influence. She sat in her seat, mumbling, swaying, eyes half open. She would say some random words, but generally not too disruptive. I felt my heart rate speed up. I was trying to so hard to focus on the speaker.

The woman started getting louder and making comments. I repeatedly asked her to be quiet. I sat there telling myself she has every right to be here, so long as she’s not disturbing the meeting. It was awkward and uncomfortable. A minute later, she shouted out something terrible to the group and I said “Ok, that’s it, time to go.” I stood up and with the help of another woman, we got her outside.

We were trying to find out how to get in touch with her mother, to get her a ride home, she was belligerent, trying to get back into the church, screaming, she raised her fist, and grazed my jaw, trying to hit me. It was scary, sad and disturbing. One of the men came out and sat with her and calmed her down.

We ultimately called EMS. Her mother came up as she was getting into the ambulance. The look on her face was so sad. She looked defeated, scared and sad.

After they were on their way, we went back to the meeting, just in time for the Lords Prayer.

It was the first time that I experienced something like this in my sobriety. It was a reminder that I must be diligent in working on my recovery. My last drunk landed me in an ambulance and the hospital, just like this woman. I know the most I can do is pray for her.

As I drove home, I was thinking of my former sponsor (who also recently relapsed) thinking that she taught me that patience, love and tolerance is our code. While I felt selfish (annoyed) that I missed my meeting, I knew that I was responsible for helping this woman and I was grateful to grow in patience, love and tolerance. There before the grace of God, go I.

Please share on patience, tolerance, love or anything that might be on your mind.

October 16: Acceptance, getting what we need vs getting what we want

Topic for the week:

I have been thinking a lot about this quote on acceptance that can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous (commonly referred to as the Big Book), pg 417 of the Fourth Edition:

“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and 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.”

There have been many situations I have been struggling with the last few years, particularly a sense of a lack of control over my own time. It feels like there’s not enough time to do all that’s on my plate. At the same time, I’m struggling with the sound of the clock ticking, because I am aging and so are many of the people I am closest to.

As is described in the Big Book (p 60), as alcoholics we want to be in charge, arranging the lights as we see fit, even dictating what others say and how they act.

It’s a grand illusion though. I am not in charge. And that’s probably a good thing.

Early in sobriety, I learned a powerful lesson and that’s that even though I don’t always get what I want in recovery, I always, always get what I need.

Another important lesson I was taught is that alcoholics have only one problem and that is the disease of alcoholism; everything else is just situations.

Alcoholism is a cunning, powerful and baffling illness that wants all of us dead. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for sobriety.

It’s important whenever I’m feeling disturbed that I ask myself, “Are you getting what you need today?” I have found that the answer is always yes.

I also remind myself that when I’m not getting what I want, a power greater than myself has a better idea.

Accepting that everything is playing out exactly the way it’s supposed to, even if it doesn’t make sense at this time, is an important key to sobriety and serenity.

This week I invite you to share on acceptance, getting what we need versus getting what we want or any other topic you feel moved to share about.

Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

Thank you all for being part of this group and for letting me lead this week.

Hugs to all who need or want one.
Valerie D
DOS 2/8/88

October 9: The A B C’s

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic.

I’m aware we’ve had lots of new ladies join us in recent months. I wanted to bring a topic to the meeting to share something that helped me when I was new in AA and new to the idea of sobriety. 

I found I loved reading the AA Big Book, especially the stories in the back. Those chapters in the back, I could read by myself and they made sense. I related. It slightly scared me but I could see easily lots of similarities despite often glaring differences too. The words in those chapters soothed me. Especially at night, alone and lonely and scared and unable to sleep in those early months. 

But one of the sections in the earlier chapters is one that began to make sense in those early days and continues to be a huge help now. 

When I need to recentre or regroup myself, the a,b,c’s in Chapter Five make a huge difference to me. Re-reading these simple statements sum up the core of who I now know today I am.

In those early days I kind of felt it but the words were in my head. Then as I gave AA and the fellowship, the people, a chance to enter into my heart those words became an anchor. So I’m sharing them here today…. 

“Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.”

Is there anything in these statements that helps you today or has helped you? 

Today I apply the idea of “no human power” far beyond just my alcoholism. But in the beginning that was enough and that’s what AA exists for after all. And today I know the solution to all my problems lies with the god of my understanding, the Higher Power I found here. Anything I don’t address with my program and with the god of my understanding has the power to affect my sanity, my serenity and and my sobriety. 

I love the phrase “personal adventures” and I often wonder if the newcomers here might need a little more of our before and after stories as they settle. I know for me I got so much out of hearing how things were different for people in their sober lives. Speaker shares online are the main way I connect to hearing peoples Experience Strength and Hope shares these days. And, past the initial identification of losing the power to control how often and when or where I drank, what brings me so much is hearing the miracles of this program and of god at work in the lives of fellow alcoholics. 

The word “sought” reminds me its up to me to take the action to move towards god. And then I find the peace and serenity and sanity I need and guidance to know the next right action and courage to take it. 

How have the a,b,c’s helped you in your sobriety or in your life? Do they continue to help you? 

I’ve needed the reminder that no human power could have helped my alcoholism and that the god of my understanding is there for me. I can apply this to all aspects of my life and to my AA home group. I’m here to serve and my primary purpose is to stay sober and help another alcoholic. 

The meeting is open for sharing from anyone in GROW.

Please share on topic, the a,b,c’s or off topic related to alcoholism or sobriety as you wish.

The meeting is yours. 

In love and fellowship and with warm hugs.

Thank you for having me be of service.

Sophie 

October 2: Step 10

*** Step 10 ***

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting in the middle of page 84. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

As a Catholic, the Tenth Step can feel routine to me. Apologizing for sleights was second nature, to the point where I wondered if my amends had any meaning. But then I realized that I wasn’t going deep enough. It was easy for me to apologize and make amends for the easy stuff (i.e., sorry I didn’t respond to your email more quickly, sorry that I missed your call, sorry that dinner was late, sorry, sorry, sorry). But it took some work to make amends for the harder stuff (e.g., I am so sorry that I was not there when you needed me; I am so sorry that I treated you like an object and not my partner; I am so sorry that my choice had a negative impact on you).

I knew that I was really working my Tenth Step when the people to whom I was trying to make amends either needed some time to process my amends or still have not offered them. Some of the things I did in my drinking days (and even more recently) have really hurt people and as a result, people have drawn boundaries. In the past, those boundaries would have really hurt me and I would have done anything for someone to forgive me. But now I realize that the purpose of the Tenth Step is for me to have an awareness for how my actions impact others and if they have a negative impact, I need to be accountable. For me, the gift of the Tenth Step is that accountability, not whether someone forgives me. I cannot make anyone forgive me -(that’s up to them and their higher power) — but I can strive to be the best person I can be.

I went to confession yesterday and at the end, the priest told me to keep coming back, that the purpose of going to confession on a regular basis was not to achieve perfection but rather to keep on trying to be a better person. There’s a lot of similarities between what he said and the Tenth Step — as recovering alcoholics, we don’t strive for perfection — we try to be better people, one day at a time.

If you are looking for a tool to help you on your Tenth Step journey, check out the “My Spiritual Toolkit” app. I am grateful to my sponsor for introducing this app to me, as it includes nightly and spot check inventories. And yes, these tools have helped me go deep. 🙂

September 25: Self-confidence, before and after sobriety

Topic for the week: Self confidence before and after sobriety

When I was using I had no self confidence at all, not one speck unless I was loaded. Everyday was a merry-go-round of what-ifs and how things were always my fault. I was always trying to fix things, trying for other outcomes. I was absolutely paralyzed with devastation if someone didn’t like me or blamed me for something. The self recrimination and self abuse was round the clock if I was not drinking. Alcohol has me so beat down I did not feel I deserved better, I was a worthless excuse for a person. Everyone was going to see what a fake I truly was. So pour on more alcohol to numb that feeling which always came back even stronger when I sobered up.

I do not feel that way today. Working the steps in sobriety, I have slowly gained self respect leading to self confidence and self love. Each worked step not only put the thought of a drink farther and farther away, it also brought about a spiritual and mental change. The many gifts of this program permeate into every aspect of my life, attitude and personality. I no longer grovel and beg you to love me. I do the right things which lead me to be proud of myself. I don’t need others and alcohol to validate me today, I am whole. I have self confidence in my life now. If I don’t have the answer to a problem I can go to my HP or others in the program for direction and advice. Even after that, if something does not go well, I know that day is still a success because I did not drink and stayed close to my program.

I celebrate an anniversary soon and upon reflection I realize that more miracles come to me each day.

Please share about your journey to healthy self confidence in the program or anything else you need to talk about today. Thanks for letting me lead.

Lynn

September 18: What It Was Like (My Early Days in A.A.)

Topic for the week:  WHAT IT WAS LIKE (My Early Days in A.A.)

I’d vowed I’d never drink.  Surely I wouldn’t be an alcoholic.  I was afraid of drinkers and they made me mad.  However…well, you know.  Celebrating a sober anniversary, I try to explain.

I was a late starter but soon realized I was proficient at this thing called drinking.  Perhaps not even getting drunk, I thought.  LOL!  Early on, I’d perfected my character defects. They did yield to some inhibitions.  When I drank they were full blown.

There came a time when the frequency and progression of my drinking sped up.  One day I couldn’t stop at all.  I was scared.  I called an ex who was in the Program who took me to counseling. I was sent to AA.  I thought it was a mistake but what else could I do?  When I got to that church basement I was bewildered but felt at home.  I am an inveterate people watcher.  I watched and listened to everyone.  I  really couldn’t make sense of what was happening.

Nothing seemed like it would stop my drinking.

I had to agree, I was powerless over alcohol.  My life surely was unmanageable.  But I stopped drinking on the spot. The obsession was lifted. I have no idea why.  For sure I didn’t make it happen.  Without alcohol I couldn’t stand the emotional pain and thought I’d die.  I was losing my mind!  This one was beyond me.  Now what?  I had long dropped the ‘god’ of my childhood for non-performance!  I tried to make that work but it just didn’t.  I didn’t know where to turn.  I couldn’t deny there was ‘something’ out there. If I coulda, I woulda!

I came to the rooms with a smattering of spirituality.  I think that for a long time the group was a power greater than myself.  All these people doing what I couldn’t.  So many of them found a god they liked.  I considered trying one of theirs.  A most amazing chapter of  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, our Big Book, We Agnostics, Chapter 4 explains it all. I’d have to stay in this limbo for a while first.

I was a poster child for the first 3 Steps.  I saw them as one chunk of a step.  I was there for a good while.  Slowly the message began to seep in.  I was in wild emotional pain but I didn’t even want to drink.  I just wanted to get better from the hurt and rage that drinking alcohol powered. I found out that I’d had one of those nice Higher Powers who looked after me all along, but who was just waiting til I settled somewhere in life to finish the job.  I understood that.  I continued to marvel at the meetings and how others managed their lives without drinking and not giving up.  And every meeting gave me more hints.  It started to work.

Sometimes I still read How It Works again to find out just how indeed it did work.  You know, like the details. I know it was a MIracle-but what in particular helped me stop drinking at that meeting. Right there.  I only just arrived.

I am forever grateful, a day at a time.  I guess newcomers look at me and wonder too.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the process.  Maybe my experience, strength and hope will help.  September makes me think about things: the month I was born, the month I got sober. That’s what it was like.  I would never have imagined. So glad I’m here.  What were your early days like?   What a gift to join with all of you today!  hgz, b.  9/21/84

September 11: Joy of Sobriety

Topic for the week:

Last week, Hilarie L’s share on AA’s history included Dr. Paul’s Interview, excerpted from the July 1995, issue of Grapevine. Here’s a quote from Dr. Paul’s interview:

*I got a couple of friends together and we started a “joy of sobriety” meeting. It’s a one-hour topic discussion meeting and it has to be a topic out of the Big Book and it has to be on the program and how you enjoy living the program.*

I’d like to suggest that this week’s meeting be a “joy of sobriety” meeting! We often discuss working the Program in order to continue living a sane, sober life. Sometimes that work can feel like drudgery, like with that mythological guy Sisyphus forced to roll a humongous rock uphill for all eternity (or is that just me?!) There were no rewards in store for Sisyphus, but there are huge payoffs for us when we do the work. Joy is just one of them.

Here are some of my deepest joys, courtesy of AA & working the Program:

– knowing that I know that God’s got me right where I need to be…sometimes I may not feel it, but I know it

– when I know my place, I’m right-sized…rather than thinking less of myself anymore, I think of myself less – in a good way

– learning to know when I need to make amends to re-right myself, because I own my life…I’m no longer a victim or a saint

– I accept & respect that you own your life, so my focus stays where it should, on my own business & not yours

– it’s not my job to fix or rescue everything or anyone…what a relief!

– I can respect the woman in the mirror, remembering where she was, where she is today, & where she has the potential to be tomorrow…I even like her

– my daughters know these things, too…& they love me

– I’m a living example for them of what is possible…the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the restored, & the hopeful

– the joy of hope…Andy, a character from The Shawshank Redemption said, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, & no good thing ever dies.” Turns out my hope wasn’t dead after all 🙂

What are your joys of sobriety? Please share them with us! Thank you for the opportunity to chair today’s meeting. It’s been my privilege & pleasure.

Gratefully,

Julie <3

September 4: Step 9

Topic for the week: Step 9

We are all invited to share on Step 9. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 9 ***

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s much more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting in the middle of page 76. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Making amends….not something I was familiar with while an active alcoholic! It’s a good thing I went through the Steps starting at Step 1 as I surely couldn’t have done Step 9 if I hadn’t done the other Steps in the order in which they’re written – there’s just no way. I wouldn’t have had an understanding of what it means to make amends, I wouldn’t have known who I needed to make amends to, and I wouldn’t have had the calmness of spirit to understand that making amends to those I’ve hurt is for their benefit and also mine. For me, it’s the step that allows me to begin being of service to others by cleaning my side of the street, trying to mend broken relationships and therefore finally making an attempt to connect with others in a meaningful way (i.e., not just to get something from them), and starting the process of forgiving myself for what I’d done while an active alcoholic.

I don’t know that I consciously made the decision to do this – it may just have been that they were the ones I was in contact with most often – but most of my initial amends were made to family members. It wasn’t easy; I found myself getting choked up due to nerves, wondering how the person I was making amends to would react, if they’d be angry, and so on. But every time after making the amends – every time! – I felt SO much better…truly, it felt like a weight had been lifted from me. In making my amends I tried to remain focused only on myself and my part, which wasn’t easy when it came to my parents. In all honesty I don’t think I did a good job when it came to my mother; she was a single parent for much of my childhood, raising my older sister, brother and me. However, it’s not too late to “update” my amends as she’s still alive and well, and I’ve certainly made a conscious effort to live my amends to her by being a helpful, honest, loving daughter, none of which I was when I was actively drinking.

One of the first amends I made was to a former employer; as an undergraduate I worked part-time in a convenience store. While at work I’d occasionally take a soda or an iced tea, I’d eat a sandwich (I worked in the deli area sometimes) and I’d often take the Sunday newspaper insert that had the comics, TV guide, grocery store coupons, etc. I didn’t pay for any of these things. Because the company is a large one with many locations I didn’t feel that making amends to the manager of my store was appropriate, after all, he didn’t own the store. I discussed it with my sponsor and we came to the decision that I’d write to the office of the company’s president and, along with my written amends, I’d include a check for the estimated amount of money I owed for all the items I stole. I sent the amends and check, and about two or three weeks later I came home from work, listened to my phone messages (this was long ago, in the days before cell phones) and there was a message from the secretary of the company’s president asking me to call her. I thought, shit – they’re going to press charges! I shouldn’t have sent the letter!

Once I’d calmed down and remembered that we make amends in order to stay sober and leave the outcome up to our HP – I have no control over how my amends will be taken. I called the secretary, and with numerous fearful scenarios swirling around in my head, I told her who I was and that I’d received her message. She then told me the most wonderful thing; her boss had read my letter and was overcome with gratitude because his wife had just begun in AA and he was so happy to see what AA might do, could do, for her. The secretary couldn’t thank me enough for sending the letter, and it was I who was saying “You’re welcome.” several times throughout the conversation!  Now granted, not all of my amends have been like that, but this one is such a great reminder to me that I never know how my honesty and willingness to work the program will affect others.

I know this is a long share but I’d like to mention one other amends. I happened to be in Paris a number of years ago and was in a park when I turned around and thought I recognized a man as someone I owed amends to. I wasn’t sure so I hid behind a tree and tried to get a better look at him. I was pretty sure it was him so I started to think about what my amends were as I really hadn’t expected to ever see this guy again – I didn’t even remember his last name even though I’d shared an apt. with him (and another friend) in San Francisco for about six months in the mid-’80s

As I was trying to recall what I’d written on my 4th step, it looked as though he was leaving the park. I started to debate in my head whether or not to go after him…I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have the opportunity to make amends, and while on vacation in Paris! I kept hiding behind the tree and debating until it was clear he was definitely leaving. I thought, Michele, you made a promise to yourself to go to any lengths to stay sober and here is your chance to make amends to Scott – you may never get this chance again! So, I made the split-second decision to go after him and after walking up to him (he was waiting at a bus stop) I excused myself and asked him if his name was Scott; it had been about 20 years since I’d seen him so I wanted to be sure I had the right guy before making my amends. He smiled and said, “No.” I said, “Oh, okay.”, and walked away, laughing at myself for being so nervous when I didn’t even have the right person! I never confirmed this, but I think the guy I spoke to was an English actor as a few months after this incident I saw a program about British spies in France during WWII and one of the male actors looked just like the guy I talked to, and this actor looked a lot like Scott.

For me, making amends for the things I did, or didn’t do and should have, while an active alcoholic has released me from much of the self-hate, guilt, and overall negative feelings about myself I carried around for many, many years. And as I mentioned earlier, it has allowed me to start connecting with others in meaningful ways, ways I’d never been able to before due to my selfishness and dishonesty. Making amends is still somewhat difficult for me, but knowing the benefits of making them is what keeps me willing when the opportunity arises. As for Scott, our paths have yet to cross, but I remain willing 🙂

Thanks for letting me share. Please share on your experience with Step 9.

August 28: Service

Topic for the week: Service

When I first joined the program, I had this lofty vision of what service was — being a sponsor, chairing a meeting — all things I could not imagine doing in my early days of recovery. Working the program to keep myself sober one day at a time already took up so much time and effort — how on earth could I find the bandwidth to do more? As I did my 90 meetings in 90 days (over Zoom during the pandemic), I heard old-timers talking about what service looked like in in-person meetings: making coffee, setting up chairs, cleaning up.

But what does service look like in a virtual world? Responding privately to someone who posted to provide words of encouragement. Sharing reflections in response to the weekly topic. Volunteering to be a greeter to respond to prospective new members. Volunteering to lead a meeting. I wasn’t ready to do any of this until I reached the 12th step. And what I found was that I was indeed ready — I just needed time to work the steps and let the miracle unfold so that things would happen in my Higher Power’s time, not mine.

What does service in AA look like to you? What are some of the challenges you face in your service? What are miracles you have seen unfold as a result of your service? The floor is open to your thoughts and reflections.

August 21: Fear or faith, which is it to be?

Topic for the week:  Fear or faith, which is it to be?

“This short word (fear) 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 great misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.

Perhaps there is a better way–we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns, Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.” (p.67-8)

Hello all, TheresaB alcoholic here. This has been the most common thread for me this year, I keep hearing “which is it? He either is or He isn’t, the choice is mine. Do I allow the fear to overtake and pervade my life, or do I act on faith even when I am not feeling it?

For me the solution is to pray, incessantly until the fear leaves me. Some nights I fall asleep saying God, God, God ad infinium. It is very unsettling to have all these days of sobriety and still question the basic premise of our program. Intellectually I have faith but every so often doubts overwhelm me and I am faced with the basic question, which is it to be? I know the answer even when the path is unclear.

How do you face your fears and how do you overcome them? Thanks for letting me chair, the meeting is now open and I look forward to your responses

August 14: Integrity

Topic for the week: Integrity

Integrity, noun.

  1. The quality of being honest and having moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.

(From: Oxford Languages online dictionary)

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to be of service! I got sober in this meeting nine years ago Tuesday. And this week I realized that the greatest gift of sobriety has been learning to act with integrity.

I had a growth opportunity last week–standing up for myself. I was scared to do it, and I did it anyhow, because that is what you taught me to do.

The response I got surprised me. The person thanked me for being so clear and honest. And I realized that it was very difficult to be clear and honest when I was drinking and trying to hide my behavior and my real self from everyone because I felt ashamed and/or entitled!

Before I got sober I lied in order to manipulate outcomes, even when I had nothing to hide. I felt entitled to act without considering others. I stole from my employers and the government, and refused to take care of myself. I farmed that out to partners, boyfriends, my parents.

Integrity is what I feel every time I act despite fear in order to take care of myself, every time I take action in a way that reflects my values and my sobriety. When I see myself giving to a sponsee or someone I’ve never met without thinking “now you owe me something,” I feel as though I have won the lottery. Who is this person!? She’s me. And I’m so grateful.

What does integrity feel like for you? What is the greatest gift sobriety has given you? I’m looking forward to reading your shares!

The meeting is open. Have a beautiful day!

X

Kirsten

August 7: Step 8

Topic for the week: Step 8

We are all invited to share on Step 8. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 8 ***
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting at the top of page 76.

I have experienced this step once myself, and I appreciated that it didn’t just leap right into making the amends. I love how the 12 steps in AA take each part of what is being done and focus on just that – become willing, make a decision – before acting. It ended up feeling less overwhelming than I had imagined (I guess most things are).

Step 8 came after the action of asking my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings (listed during step 4). So next would be making things right with the humans in my life. The list of all persons I had harmed was included in that step 4 inventory list, so I already had the starting ground.

I had to take a look at my list of people, and become willing to make amends. What would that look like? The Big Book says, “If we haven’t the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.”

For me, having a plan helps with anxiety and at the suggestion of my sponsor, I took each person one-by-one and figured out the best course. Just planning it out – Who could I make amends to without harming them, who could I not make amends to because they were dead or no longer in my life and not willing to contact? (For them, I decided the plan would be to write a letter and then throw it away.) Who could I start with first, and who would come later? Having a plan helped me to be less afraid of the action to come in step 9 and it helped me to become willing. And able to complete step 8.

Please share any thoughts or experience you’ve had with this step, how it has helped you, and any challenges you’ve gone through. I look forward to reading your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group.

Katie S.

July 31: 4 horsemen and bedevilments

Topic for the week: 4 Horsemen and Bedevilment

July 30, 2022

Hello ladies, Welcome everyone to this week’s meeting. Also. Congratulations to those who have celebrated an anniversary in the month of July.

I can not take credit for this week’s topic. Last week Hilaire sent out an email about the four horsemen and the 8 bedevilments. Being honest my first thought was where did she read this in the Big Book because I don’t remember this. Then I felt embarrassed having all this time in the rooms of AA and not knowing about the terms four horsemen and the bedevilments. Yep, so I spent a short period of time in my head (which is not a good choice to make putting myself down). After talking to another person, I was able to take a step back and re-read the book and did some additional reading.

It was said that they used the 8 bedevilments are yardstick as to whether the person was going on a spiritual level. Will here is a short summary of the four horsemen

Four horsemen

Four Horsemen are said to be terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair which describes the alcoholic at the end of his/her drinking “career”. Boy, I can relate to being at this stage the despair for me was so consuming.

 

8 bedevilments of AA

The AA Bedevilments

1 We were having trouble with personal relationships

2 we couldn’t control our emotional natures

3 we were 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.

 

Now I looked at the 8 bedevilments of AA and it was said that alcoholics would use this as a yardstick about how well the person was living the spiritual principle of the program. It is also said which I agree with that the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments can describe the state of any member who does not practice a life of rigorous honesty and practice this principle in all our affairs.

I have taken time to look at the four horsemen and can say that since I have put down the drink these behavior patterns are quiet, far in the distance but if I step away from the program they will return with force.

As for the 8 bedevilments, coming into recovery I would have had yes to all but making a living. For some reason I was able to do this. As a matter of fact, my career gave me a purpose in life to live for a very long time.  I still struggle with developing personal connections, being happy, and feeling useful. To be fully honest at this moment, I feel like I am in time square (in NYC, I grew up on Staten Island) and I have no idea which way to go, a sense of emptiness. This state will be worked out in time. I have the tools at my feet, I connect with my HP and I have to accept that life is filled with ups, downs and everything in between.

Where are you at with the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments? What do the four horsemen and bedevilments mean to you? How do you keep your spiritual growth of the program progressing whether you have a little time in or a lot of time in? or please share what is on your heart.

I wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety

Hugs

July 24: Instincts

Topic for the week:

“CREATION gave us instincts for a purpose. . . . these desires— for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship — are perfectly necessary and right. . . . Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper function. . . . Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct.” pp 42 Alcoholics Anonymous

My greatest challenge in sobriety is not not picking up a drink. That desire has been taken away, thank God. But understanding where my instincts/needs/rights end and yours begin does not come easily to me. Finding a healthy balance, setting appropriate boundaries, is a slippery slope, tricky sticky stuff. I know that I can never drink alcohol, but I don’t have the right to tell my husband that he can’t, even though he’s had his own battles with the bottle and I’d feel better if he’d abstain. I know that my most important job is staying sober, that I need to do what I need to do and invest the time and effort to continue to grow and serve to remain sober, but not to the exclusion of meeting my other responsibilities in my home and community. I know I need your companionship to walk this sober road with me so that we can help each other stay between the white lines, but not to the point of neglecting my God, my spouse, my family and my other friends, or even myself. What is a healthy margin and what is encroachment? What is sufficient, when is enough, enough? What is compromise and what is caving in? What is sober, and what is selfish? I am learning, thanks to our Steps, to feel/sense/identify when I’m stumbling into the emotional/instinctual danger zone, but I don’t always know, honestly still often don’t know, where the actual border is, or where to set the fence.

Do you have similar challenges in learning about and maintaining healthy margins of integrity with your instincts? Please share them with us. Or share how your own sober journey is challenging, or rewarding!, you right now.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our group. Thank you!

July 17: I am enough

Topic for the week:      I am enough.

Hello my Ladies of GROW

I have chosen this for my Topic today for many reasons, particularly as it has become a daily affirmation and a truth I now believe.

When out there rockin and reelin, I never felt like I was good in any way, let alone enough.

Today, because of the program of AA, and the fellowship of wonderful people like you, I get to be enough each and every day, and gratefully sober on top of it.

Gone are the days and feelings of “only”  ~  right/wrong    good/bad    enough/or not     on top/at the bottom  black/white      and are replaced by greys and lavenders and middles of the road. Stability, consistency, accountability, responsibility and kindness have taken their place.

I am so fortunate and in gratitude. Thank you for letting me be of service. Taylor D.

Please share on your “enoughs” in your life and recovery today.

July 10: How To Handle Sobriety

Topic for the week:

 “To Handle Sobriety” (Story on page 553) –

“But above all, it [AA] taught me how to handle sobriety” (p. 558)

”How do we do it? By learning—through practicing the Twelve Steps and through sharing at meetings—how to cope with the problems that we looked to booze to solve, back in our drinking days.  For example we are told in A.A. that we cannot afford resentments and self-pity, so we learn to avoid these festering mental attitudes.  Similarly, we rid ourselves of guild and remorse as we “clean out the garbage” from our minds through the Fourth and Fifth Steps of our recovery program.  We learn how to level out the emotional swings that got us into trouble both when we were up and when we were down.

We are taught to differentiate between our wants (which are never satisfied) and our needs (which are always provided for).  We cast off the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future, as we begin to live in the present, one day at a time.  We are granted “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change”—and thus lose our quickness to anger and our sensitivity to criticism.

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality.  The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything.  I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections.  In my mind’s eye I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige.  I lived in a dream world.  A.A. led me gently from fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms.  And I found it beautiful!  For at last, I was at peace with myself.  And with others.  And with God.” (p. 559).

July 3: Step Seven

Topic for the week: Step 7

We are all invited to share on Step 7. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 7 ***
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting at the top of page 76. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

 

My personal take on this Step is evolving as I grow in this program.

In my home f2f group this morning, we read and discussed this step from the 12 & 12.  So much of what is written refers to humility, and quite a bit of what was discussed around the room was related to humility.  One person reflected that “Humility does not mean to think less of yourself, it means to thinks of yourself less.”

The reading of the chapter ended with the person before me, and I was on the spot to start the discussion portion of the meeting.  I admitted that I often “demand” rather than “humbly ask” God to remove these shortcomings.  However, over time, this has changed somewhat and as I ask, I also ask to be shown how to make the changes necessary to replace the shortcomings with positive characteristics.

I consulted a therapist for a period of time several years ago, and she started me on the tool of journaling.  I hated it at the beginning, but it has become a very useful tool that is definitely part of my recovery.  I sometimes find that as I write down my thoughts and thought processes, my HP is showing me where I need to make changes, and some of the ways I can actually make the changes.  I often squirm under this guidance, but I know that it is for my betterment.  I am finding that I am truly learning from these moments.

Many of the changes that are taking place happen as a result of my HP showing me a change in my attitude.  The key of willingness is definitely involved here.  I have to be willing to co-operate with my HP in changing my attitude.  I cannot do it on my own.

How are things changing for you as you work this Step?  I look forward to reading your shares.

Pat S  DOS:  06 July 2012

June 26: The Gift of Desperation

In just a few days, I will have been sober for 26 years. This is for me a miracle and beyond my understanding. I drank for more than three decades before I made my first attempt at quitting. But even then, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to drink more than I wanted to stay sober. It was as simple as that. I loved being drunk or high more than anything else in life. I wasn’t ready to give it up. My first go-round in AA lasted 15 months. I always knew I’d drink again, but I acted “as if.” I got a sponsor and did the Steps through Step 5. But Step 6 was a step too far. I wouldn’t admit to character defects. With my low self-esteem, I thought I was just one big character defect, and there wouldn’t be anything left if a Higher Power removed it. So, I walked away from AA, vowing never to return again.

Little did I know that alcohol would drive me back to the rooms. After five more years of heavy drinking, my disease had progressed to the point where I was truly enslaved by alcohol. I was making very unwise life decisions. I’d gone from party animal to solitary drinker. My mind was occupied with all the wrongs that had been done to me over the years. I was drowning in self-pity. I was cut off from other people and from God. I was alone and miserable. I wanted nothing more than to die, but I didn’t have the courage to do it.

Then one night, a power much greater than me showed me what I had become. I was full of anger and capable of violence. I was in a rage. An invisible mirror dropped down in front of me, and what I saw shocked and terrified me. I couldn’t be that middle-aged, raging, drunk woman another day. It was time to go back to AA. But I didn’t believe I could quit. I had no hope. But I’d run out of options. AA was the last house on the block. So, I went to a meeting. I have not had a drink since that meeting almost 26 years ago. I know now that I had been given the gift of desperation. I was desperate not to be the woman I’d seen. Never again.

Because I was desperate to change, I was willing to do what people suggested – without questioning them or their instructions. I was willing to listen with an open mind and to recognize how much I was like everyone else in the rooms rather than how different. When I listened, I learned. When I found the right sponsor and did the steps, I didn’t hesitate at Step 6. I wanted with all my heart to change, and I needed help – both from the fellowship and from the God of my misundertanding. But I did the footwork they told me was necessary. I read the literature, took on service positions, gave people rides to and from meetings, and started feeling less like one big character defect. I worked the program, and the program worked for me.

Looking back, I don’t think I’d have made it had I not been desperate to change mySelf and my life. That vision of myself as I was, rather than who I wanted to be, was what it took. I still believe there was a Higher Power who wanted me to live and had a job for me to do. For me, that job is helping other alcoholics get and stay sober. I do what I can. And I have changed. I’m now the person I want to be, although I’m still driven to be a better person than I am.

My suggestion for this week’s topic is the Gift of Desperation. Please share with us what that phrase means to you and how it has and has not worked for you. If you have anything else you need to talk about, please feel free to share it with us. 

 

June 19: living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine

Topic for today:

Greetings!  Yesterday, I was sitting with my husband when the thought popped in my head that my last drink was consumed at 430am, 22 years ago, at age 23. I did not wake up on the 18th with the intention to sober up. Sick from the booze, everything tastes like cardboard, and another promise broken (to my boss) that I would show up to work.  We closed the office at 2pm.  I talked him into to a day drink with the promise that I would not miss work the next day. My first day sober, I went to work and was sent home. My boss was not happy with me again.  Annoyed, I went to my mom’s house who was scared for me. She would not stop yelling and lecturing from the other room.  Sitting with my 15-year-old sister, I said, “I’m an alcoholic and I need help.” I heard this voice say, “it’s time”.  Opened the yellow pages, ripped out a page from the rehab section, and proceeded to look for the treatment center.   22 years later, I have the freedom to wake up sober and lead an A. A. meeting through the internet.

There is a lot of life packed into 22 years of sobriety.  Both positive and challenging, painful, and exciting, serene, and stark raving sober.  AA members stressed that I could face anything sober so long as the program comes first in my life.  The members told me to keep it simple by practicing a sober routine, work the steps with a sponsor, use the telephone, follow direction, and attend meetings.  Members taught me through their sober walk how we can face anything life throws at us and stay sober.  Their actions convinced me that A. A. works so long as I put this first in my life.  What I found difficult was to live one day at a time.  Wake up with prayers, to ask Higher Power to remove the obsession from alcohol.  Kick off the day with meditation books (e.g. daily reflections, 24 hours day).  Use page 86 in my morning prayers.  Ending my day with page 86 was key in early recovery.  Communicating with my sponsor daily.  Attending meetings regularly, super active in the first two years.  When I thought about two weeks from “today” or the past, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread.  To stay sober for one day was something simple.  I could see myself trusting God with my sobriety for today.  Surrender did not happen overnight.

I have learned that nothing, but God, this way of life, and time can ease the pain when everything feels like it is falling apart.   In the book “Pass It On”, a cofounder shares about his depression.  How he would lay in bed for days, feeling the overwhelming sense of despair.  He was a World War I veteran who had bouts of depression.  When he would rise out of bed, head to the local hospital to 12 step detox patients, Bill Wilson left a new man.  This gives me hope. Living this way of life, one day at a time, offers me the chance to keep things simple.  Living one day at a time has allowed for days to turn into weeks to turn into months to years.  I have not had to pick up any mood-altering substance since the last drunk.  I have learned that “tomorrow” does not exist and to place all of it into God’s hands.  Trust God, clean house, and help others.  This is my formula.  One day at a time.

Thank you, ladies, for paying a 12-step call on me.  I would love to read about your experience, strength, and hope with living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine.  Have a beautiful day!

June 12: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th Anniversary

Topic for the week: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th anniversary

Hi friends. I’m Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic.

Yesterday we celebrated 87 years of AA’s being in existence. I have been in touch with AA for 50 of those years, and continuously sober for the last 39. It’s made me sit back and take pause to think that the Fellowship was relatively young when I was first introduced to it– it had been going 37 years only. My next thought was to wonder what would have become of me if I hadn’t been introduced to AA.. Now that makes me shudder…

I have very good reason to believe that I would not be here today, that the disease would have taken me. Where would I have got the help that took me and transformed me when I became hopeless and helpless enough to surrender to it. Where would I be without the groups of fabulous women and men who can relate to me, and me to them, for we have all been in that dark pit of despair. I love you people for you know what it’s like to turn to the bottle again and again even though you know it’s destroying you– the big hallmark of the disease. Only someone else who has ‘been there’ knows what it’s like. I’m so very grateful for each and every one of you.

Bill and Dr Bob’s meeting when they did, the springing up of this now global fellowship, the 12-Step program which has been adopted by so many other organisations today– because it works– these are just amazing facts which save lives! And in many cases the lives of those who love us.. .

To my mind, AA’s 87 years of thriving is cause for remembering, reflecting and celebrating the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. And one of the greatest gifts it’s given me is to realize how powerful having an attitude of gratitude is in my life. I practice this every day by writing out what I’m grateful for and sending it on to a group of other women. In return they send back to me what they’re grateful for. Often, if I’m feeling a bit low, caught up in self, and self pity or resentment has started to creep in, this gets me back on track. Writing it, yes, but also listening to the truth behind what others share with me.

I can look at the same world, same set of circumstances, on two days and see different things. One day I could be focused on what I haven’t got, and how my loved ones or friends either aren’t changing or not doing it quickly enough …I could look at my home and want things beyond my means. .. I could focus negatively on me and what I haven’t achieved. But throw a pinch of gratitude in there and everything changes, starting from the inside out…it truly is an inside job. Chuck C called it wearing ‘a new pair of glasses’. Inventorying daily is part of how I live today. I can easily see when I’m ‘off’. It doesn’t always mean I get out of it easily– some things take me longer than others…I struggle. But mostly I turn pretty quickly to my Power and ask for self to be removed.

Gratitude is an attitude that is worth cultivating, in my experience. And what underpins it is my relationship with a Power greater than me. I can turn to my God as I understand God each and every day, moment by moment. And as I’ve heard it said– the more of God, the less of me.

I’d love for you to share about gratitude in your life this week. About what the Fellowship means to you. And maybe even how it’s changed or evolved throughout the pandemic.

Thanks for being here, ladies, and for reading. I look forward to your shares this week.

Hugs

Louise

June 5: Step Six

Topic for the week: Step 6

This was not an easy step for me. I’ve always been rebellious and contrary. I wanted to be noticed. I wasn’t a popular kid, so I acted out a lot. I also wanted to feel superior to those who seemed to not want to be friendly with me. These traits led to all sorts of attention-getting behavior. A lot of the time I had to act ‘as if’ I wanted to change, but I really didn’t want to. I enjoyed people’s reactions to my behavior, positive & negative – at least they noticed me! I was afraid that I’d disappear if I wasn’t outrageous. I have taken comfort in the line (p. 65, bottom) that says, ‘How many of us have this degree of readiness? In an absolute sense practically nobody has it. The best we can do, with all the honesty we can summon, is to TRY to have it.’

But as time passed, I was surprised to discover that I was making progress. Some of my defects were less obvious, and others had lost their status as rock-hard parts of my individuality.

Now I try to remember another line (p.68, pp. 2), that only step 1 can be practiced with absolute perfection. I was a perfectionist for years, in my own way, in sobriety. I worried a lot that I’d never be good enough, spiritual enough, enough of anything truly worth being.

Not true. I’m much better than I used to be; I’m no longer a perfectionist in any way, and I’ve stopped judging myself so harshly. I am good enough, and open for growth where needed.

We are all invited to share on Step 6. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 6 ***
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting about page 75. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

May 29: Altered Attitudes

Topic for the week:

Sophie, alcoholic, here to lead our topic this week; Altered Attitudes.

Welcome to everyone who’s been joining GROW recently and especially those who’ve joined or re-joined AA.

When I came to AA I found that many of the slogans and bitesize pieces of AA were the things that stuck in my mind between meetings.

I remember my mantra in my early days was part of the AA Preamble; my primary purpose is to stay sober. I found this slightly adapted line from the Preamble kicking in at all sorts of times through my week. A big difference from my pre-AA thinking which had been along the lines of “one won’t hurt” or “it’ll be different this time”.

Other new ideas that came to me in bitesize chunks was the idea of powerlessness and unmanageability. Wow, this was a totally new idea too. One I couldn’t reach on my own. That I was powerless over the first drink. That it was the first drink that set off my craving for more. That I had an obsession, an illness that centred in my mind. That one day at a time it was possible to live sober without turning to alcohol.

These ideas were seeds planted in my mind. But I needed to hear them brought to life through the sharing I heard in meetings. This was the sunshine that helped these ideas grow in my heart and become the foundations for my today. The rain was my tears. Crying, letting go, grieving the losses. And the healing and growth was this whole process, continually, a day at a time turning up for my recovery and learning to give back so others could experience sobriety too.

Today I’m finding a very simple prayer is the thing that is coming into my thoughts and altering my attitude and lessening the power of my need to be right or my need to have things my way. The words of this prayer are; “Bless them, change me”. It is coming to my mind at all sorts of times and again is a big difference to my thinking. I picked it up in a share here in GROW and it’s been invaluable. I can’t change anyone else, that much I learned early on, but it’s still taken a while to tie that up with it’s me that can change or rather me that can be changed by my Higher Power and through the power of living the steps in my life as best I can. I was shown here how praying for someone sets me free of the past and these four simple words “Bless them, Change me” bring me freedom.

I’ve heard AA can stand for Altered Attitudes. My attitude can certainly need altering at times and I love that line “some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely” from page 58 of the Big Book. That’s my reminder for when I’m banging my head against the metaphorical brick wall of Sophie knows best 😉 and a sure pink neon flashing sign that I’ll feel better if I find a way to a new perspective.

I know all this is possible with AA, with prayer, with trusting a god of my understanding has a different way for me, with the Steps, with reaching out to my sponsor or AA friends.

So I invite everyone to join us with a share on this topic – what attitude are you needing or have needed to alter and which prayer or slogan or AA tool helped? What old idea needed changing? Or please share “off topic” with whatever is affecting your sobriety or serenity today. Thank you for having me be of service. The meeting is open.

May 22: New happiness

Topic this week: The Promise… “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”

I have learned much about happiness in the last few years and felt inspired to pull this wonderful promise into our meeting this week.  Back in the old days (pre-12 steps, pre-sanity), I thought that happiness was the end goal to reach in this life.  The ticket to get there was the degree, the job, the husband and family, the friends, the house, the wardrobe, the gadgets and toys, the food, the drug, the drink.  You get the picture.  I believed getting everything in this list would lead to ‘true happiness’.  Yet even as I walked through those milestones and experiences, moments of happiness were generally few and far between.  This was especially the case during the years that drinking was my crutch of choice.  I just couldn’t figure out why my happiness never lasted for any length of time.

I’m ‘happy’ (pun intended) to report that my perspective is very different today.  Since I began working the 12 steps, I no longer see happiness (aka joy, peace, contentment, serenity) as ‘the goal’, yet I experience more of it.  Joy seems to be a by-product of what I give, not based on a self-centered pattern of what I get.  Helping someone when I don’t feel like doing so brings far more serenity than buying a new outfit.  Sharing and listening well in a conversation, stuffing envelopes for my women’s group, thanking my husband for working so hard – all of these small things make me feel happy.  Choosing to be grateful for the blessings in my life also brings peace and calm during dark moments.

Most importantly, I know that I alone am responsible for my happiness, there is no legitimate reason to blame others for my moods or state of mind.  I can decide to be happy at any given moment.  Today I’m very grateful for this program and understanding how to live this promise.

Please feel free to share your experience, strength and hope in regards to the promise of knowing a new happiness.

Susan P.

May 15: Resentments

May 15

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. . . . But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 66

Know God;
Know peace.
No God;
No peace.

The topic of resentments being a block to progress has surfaced in many meetings that I have attended in the last couple of weeks. Prior to recovery and even throughout my journey of recovery I have taken the view and still fall into the pattern that I was/am entitled to my resentments. For example, I had and still have resentments towards my parents, and others who have caused me pain especially the persons who sexually abused me as a child.  What I could not see is that my pain of the past trauma, pain that I created at work, or in personal situations because I would give the person the silent treatment was connected to my wall of protection. And who was this really hurting them-I think not

Where am I today, well  I have been able to let go of resentments better today because I have learned and continue to be reminded of the difference between being angry or hurt vs holding onto the resentment and beating myself up.  I need to hear my little girl and acknowledge how and what she is feeling. Then I must ask if my reaction, feelings and views of the situation are accurate and I do not do this by myself, this is where others in the program/rooms of AA, and a connection with my HP helps me see what the truth is. Once I can see and talk about the situation as it really is then I can work to let it go and give it to the universe/HP. Sometimes it is quick and other times it is slow, and I choose to pick it back up and let it go again until I hit that wall that is not working for me and really let go. By letting go of resentments I can and have experienced progress, growth, and a deeper connection with my HP.

Thank you for letting me lead this week’s meeting and I invite you to share about the daily share for May 15 or whatever is on your heart.

Take Care with hugs

Mary O

Wisconsin

May 8: Waiting for the miracle

Topic for the week:

I have been in survival mode my entire life.  The state of hypervigilance is still just under the surface, living in constant fear, waiting for all hell to break loose and something terrible to happen.  The years of pain, grief and perceived failures are a heavy load to bear.  I turned to lying in hopes of avoiding punishment.  Lies were found out, more punishment. Respect was something I never got growing up.  I was supposed to have it for others, yet I never seemed to get any for myself.

I needed to read, practice and pray to find change in my life.  I still have feelings and fears totally out of proportion to the situation.  In my own thoughts, no matter how hard I try, I am still in the wrong, subject to criticism.  The shame can be unbearable. I want to crawl out of my own skin.   Today I can let go, trust that all is well. Right here right now. I live with the faith I found as a result of the 12 steps. I have confidence in things unseen, a fundamental goodness in the universe, living each day in Good Orderly Direction, with willingness, gratitude, love, humility, honesty, and compassion.

By attending meetings, finding a sponsor and working the steps, I learned that I had to look at my survival skills, the places I was vulnerable. Through the steps I found what no longer serves me.  Here is where I found HOPE, hearing other peoples experiences.  Today the steps still serve as a way to live my life, work through the unmanageability of life on life’s terms.

There have been many times that “God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.”  Finding answers, putting one foot in front of the other. In the last 26 years, 24 hours at a time, I have completed tasks I would never have accomplished had I been drinking.  At the age of 55 I went back to finish my Bachelors Degree.  I completed it the same time the bottom fell out of the economy. I was unable to go on to the Masters program.  Instead I had to get a real job.   I would not have been able to work for that employer had we followed through on our plans to declare bankruptcy. I held that job for 8 years. That is the longest I ever stayed with one employer.

Today I seek help outside the rooms when I need it, taking suggestions and still finding my way.

Gratitude is important to me, recognizing the small things and saying Thank You for the efforts made on my behalf by my DH.

All that I say and do related to the program and fellowship is not unique to me.  I am simply passing on what has been so freely given to me by others in the rooms over the years.

Today, I can’t bring myself to attend F2F meetings, online meetings creep me out.  These email meetings are sustaining me and helping me stay sober. Thank you for being here.

What part of my story reflects your story?  The meeting is now open.

May 1: Step Five

Topic for the week: Step 5

 

We are all invited to share on Step 5.

 

This Step is described on pages 72 – 75. The directions for taking Steps 5 are on page 75:1, the first sentence of 75:2, and 75:3. The results of taking Step 5 are on page 75:2 after the first sentence.

 

*** Step 5 ***

 

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

 

I was raised a catholic. My parents, did the needful for me to graduate in this, so I was like everyone else…. But it was a graduation of attendance and not study. For example my first confession, it was by rote. Perhaps all confessions afterwards. I am not a sinner, but I don’t know if I ever admitted my wrongs.

 

Go to mass, stand up, sit down, kneel at the right bits… Go less and less…. Forget to go…..

 

I became accountable to know one and found a better God….. BOOZE 🙂

 

Booze never expected me to pray and I was always right.  My pedestal was high and mighty.

 

Fast forward to the sleepless nights when I wrote my step 4. For the first time in my life, I wanted to scream my sins. Firstly I registered that they were bad,,, Some my bad, some others… Then I wanted to admit…. Just to talk about it for the first time ever…. I realised…. The days of bullshite were over…. 

 

The relief was immediate…… I was like a teenager again. The heaviness of the adult life left me… My first true confession. And like all good confessions (And hers something they don’t teach too often), but once your done it big… You will want and need to do it again and again 🙂

 

So ladies…. Do you remember your first confession? Looking forward to hearing from you xxxx

 

Carmel

April 24: Courage and Prudence

Topic for the week:

Courage and Prudence.  When fear persisted, we knew it for what it was, and we became able to handle it. We began to see each adversity as a God-given opportunity to develop the kind of courage, which is born of humility, rather than of bravado.  

Prudence is a workable middle ground, a channel of clear sailing between the obstacles of fear on the one side and of recklessness on the other. Prudence in practice creates a definite climate, the only climate in which harmony, effectiveness, and consistent spiritual progress can be achieved. “Prudence is rational concern without worry.” 

AA World Services Inc. As Bill Sees It .  

I love finding readings in As Bill Sees.  I always seem to find readings that need to talk to me.  This reading jumped out to me as I found out my mom has cancer and it’s not good news.  It was hard hearing the news from my sister last Monday and I know this year is not going to be easy.  I live in London and my family are in So Cal.  I used to always say that having 6000 miles between me and my crazy family was a good thing.  It doesn’t feel like that today.  I have been through a lot of things in my sobriety.  Life is life and it’s on life’s terms, not mine.  I have learned to accept and ask for help and prayers when needed.  I am so grateful that there are sober ladies available to offer me support by email, message or phone call – some of who have already been through what I’m going through.  Prudence is rational concern without worry – I so need to hear that today.  I can’t worry myself sick (which I can so easily do) but it’s okay for me to have rational concerns and acknowledge my fears.  I am going back to California 8th May for about 2 ½ weeks.  I’ll be there for Mother’s Day and then for my mom’s birthday.  Grateful that my sister was able to help me with my plane ticket. It’s one day at a time.   Please share your experience of courage and prudence.

April 17: Forgiveness

Topic for the week: Forgiveness

I was recently in a situation where one of my character defects reared its

ugly head: Impatience, in a situation where I could not understand why the other person was not grasping what was said, to me it was simple, and voiced my opinion much to soon of course. I was gently reminded of my ego, was I also not once there before? Do I know the whole situation before speaking?

It was a humbling experience.

Page 78 Big Book:

“”These obstacles however are very real. The first one and one of the most difficult, has to do with forgiveness. The moment we ponder a twisted or broken relationship with another person, our emotions are on the defensive””

“”Furthermore who am I call the kettle black.””

0422 – Minutes for the third 3-day session

Minutes for the third 3-day session

During the third 3-day session of our meeting, we invited the Minority Opinion on one proposal and voted on four proposals.

Proposal 3 would change the language of the Preamble as it appears in our weekly meeting by replacing “men and women” with “people.” Sixteen people voted on the proposal. Eleven voted “I agree” (69%), and five voted “I disagree.” The vote exceeded the requirement for a two-thirds majority. During this session, we invited those who voted against the change to submit a Minority Opinion; however, no one chose to do so. Therefore, the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision.

Proposal 1 addressed GROW membership requirements for those Trusted Servant positions that had not contained the requirement. The discussion period was extended to allow us to consider each position separately. For all but one position, the required length of membership in GROW is equal to the term of office. However, most participants felt that a 2-year requirement for the GSR was too much. After this change was made, Fourteen participants voted unanimously to accept the proposed GROW Membership Requirements, and the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision.

Proposal 4 sought to authorize the Website Administrator to use professional website services to help resolve issues with WordPress and related plugin issues, with a spending limit of $300 per year. Fourteen participants voted unanimously to approve the expenditure of GROW funds for the service, and the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision. We will add a bullet to the Treasurer and Website Administrator positions to reflect this decision.

Proposal 5 would add a form letter for the Temporary Mentor position to facilitate the task of informing all GROW members of AA resources available to them. Temporary Mentor Form Letter #3 contains links to AA resources including GSO, OIAA, and the Grapevine. Fifteen participants voted unanimously to adopt the form letter, and the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision.

Proposal 6 offered revised website-related position descriptions for the Website Administrator and Webkeeper and replaced the Webkeeper Backup with the more accurate Topic Archivist position. Fourteen participants voted unanimously to adopt the new position descriptions, and the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision.

Most of the proposals considered during the meeting reflected topics that came up during the October 2021 meeting or in follow-up activities. One topic that had been raised was the idea of job-sharing of Trusted Servant positions, similar to what our Listkeepers and Greeters do now. The Listkeepers submitted a Statement on Job-Sharing that explained why they had decided against proposing further job-sharing arrangements. The statement is available on the website in the April 2022 business meeting.

In closing the meeting, the Chair asked Trusted Servants to review their position descriptions and to download their form letters at this time. She explained that these materials now include all Group Conscience Decisions made between April 2018 and October 2021 that had not been posted since 2018.

April 10: Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Topic for the week:  Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Good morning/evening beautiful ladies!  As I reflect on my sobriety… it seems like yesterday I walked into my first AA meeting shaking and quaking not even knowing what you all could do for ME!  Lol  Now it’s about what can I do for others.  This program continues to teach me I am one among many.  Believe me, I still have my days when I’m pointing fingers and quick to anger, but when I PAUSE and look at my part or what I could do differently… my EGO is deflated.  I’ll never get it perfect, but I’m willing to keep practicing.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service,

Statia

DOS 4/15/2010

0422 – Minutes for the second 3-day session

Minutes for the second 3-day session

(Links to Proposals open a new page.)

During the second 3-day session of our business meeting, we voted on Proposal 2 (Revise Secretary’s Position Description) and Proposal 3 (Preamble Language).

We did not vote on Proposal 1 (assigning GROW membership requirements to Trusted Servant position descriptions that do not currently address this issue). The Chair extended discussion so that participants could discuss the requirement for specific positions. Two people submitted comments that did not change the proposed terms of service.

Sixteen people voted in favor of revising the Secretary’s position description and no one voted against it; therefore, Proposal 2 is adopted as a Group Conscience Decision.

Sixteen participants voted on Proposal 3 to change “men and women” in the Preamble to “people.” As background, this change was approved at the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting in April 2021 as a non-binding advisory action. By Tradition, each AA group is autonomous and can make its own decision about whether to change the Preamble it uses in its meetings. It’s impossible to know what decision the thousands of individual AA meetings are making for their own group. The change does not involve our basic text. It is not suggested that Big Book language should be changed. The Preamble was developed years after the BB’s first publication by people in the General Services Office.

Eleven (69%) voted in favor of making the change, and five voted against it. The majority vote is greater than the 66% required to carry the measure. During the third 3-day session, we invite those who voted “I disagree” to offer their minority opinion on the issue during the third 3-day session. If anyone changes their vote as a result, we will conduct a re-vote on Proposal 3. If no one changes their vote as a result, the proposal is accepted as a Group Conscience Decision.

During the second 3-day session, participants discussed Proposal 4 (Website Support Services), Proposal 5 (Temporary Mentor Letter #3), and Proposal 6 (Website Position Descriptions).

Six women commented on Proposal 4 which would authorize the expenditure of up to $300 per year for professional consulting services in support of our website. The consultant would help resolve issues related to WordPress plugins. All of the comments supported the proposal, but there were some questions. One participant wanted clarification on the relationship between support services for the mailing list and the website. The most likely candidate for providing these services also runs the oso-aa.org server, but this work would be completely independent of that activity. Another expressed concern about the amount of Prudent Reserve GROW should withhold but agreed that we could wait to see what impact this decision might have.

Seven participants commented on Proposal 5 to add Form Letter #3 to the Temporary Mentor’s position description. All of them supported the proposal. Several reported that our form letters are helpful to them in their own Trusted Servant positions.

Six women commented on Proposal 6 which presented new position descriptions (PD) for the Website Administrator, Webkeeper, and Webkeeper Backup (who would become the Topic Archivist). All of the comments were supportive of the proposal; however, there were questions. One participant asked for an explanation for setting the terms of office for Website Administrator and Webkeeper to five years. The primary reasons are how difficult it has been to fill the Webkeeper position and the level of skills necessary. One woman suggested adding a line to the Website Administrator’s position description about working with a professional(s) in support of website management. The Chair will add a bullet to the PD. Another wanted clarification of the PD item saying “Should be familiar with WordPress and website management,” suggesting that the words “should be familiar” do not clearly convey the demands of the position for someone considering volunteering.

During the third 3-day session, we will vote on Proposals 1, 4, 5, and 6 and consider any Minority Opinion on Proposal 3 that is submitted.

0422 – Minutes for the first 3-day session

Minutes for the first 3-day session

The Business Meeting has completed the first three-day session. Twenty-three GROW members are enrolled for the meeting. If you would like to participate, please send an e-mail to our listkeepers at grow-owner@oso-aa.org, and they’ll put you on our business mailing list. Trusted Servants provided reports at the beginning of the meeting.

Summary of Comments on Proposals 1-3

During the first session, we discussed three proposals. (The titles below are linked to the proposals on GROW’s website – password: sobertodayhow2484.)

Proposal 1 (GROW membership requirements): Eleven participants commented on Proposal 1. No one opposed the proposal, but more than half disagreed with the proposed requirement for length of membership in GROW for the General Services Representative. Feeling that a requirement for two years’ membership in GROW was unreasonable, they wanted to reduce that to one year. There was general agreement that the six-month requirement for the three six-month term Trusted Servants is appropriate. However, one person felt that 12th Step Volunteer Listkeeper should have been in GROW for at least a year. There were a few participants who wanted to shorten the membership requirements proposed for the OIAA Rep, Grapevine Rep, and Greeter from one year to six months. Given the interest in addressing specific positions and the lack of general consensus for many of the positions, the Chair is extending the discussion period through the second 3-day period when we will discuss the preferred required length of GROW membership for specific positions.

Proposal 2 (Secretary’s position description): Eleven participants commented on Proposal 2, all of them supporting the revisions to the Secretary’s position description. One participant suggested that the language changes related to the Mini-Steering Committee should also be made to the position descriptions for the Business Chair and Listkeepers. The Chair has added this to the proposal.

Proposal 3 (Preamble language): Twelve people commented on Proposal 3 to change “men and women” to “people” in GROW’s Preamble. This change was approved at the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting in April 2021 as a non-binding advisory action. By Tradition, each AA group is autonomous and can make its own decision about whether to change the Preamble it uses in its meetings. It’s impossible to know what decision the thousands of individual AA meetings are making for their own group. The change does not involve our basic text. It is not suggested that Big Book language should be changed. The Preamble was developed years after the BB’s first publication by people in the General Services Office.

During the first days of commenting, there appeared to be consensus for approving the wording change. However, one participant submitted a persuasive argument that the language should not be changed based on, among other things, AA’s Traditions – specifically Tradition 3, Tradition 4, and Tradition 10 The commenter also cited language in the first paragraph of the Preamble, pointing out an inherent contradiction between the advisory action and the statement that “A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” After reading the opposing viewpoint, several participants commented that they would not support the change, and discussion of this proposal continued late into the night.

We will vote on Proposal 3 to change the Preamble that GROW uses in its weekly meeting and wherever it appears on our website. Voting will end late on Thursday, April 7th. The Chair will report on the outcome in the summary of our second 3-day session.

During the second 3-day session, we will vote on Proposals 2 and 3. We will continue to discuss Proposal 1 to fine-tune the requirement for GROW membership for seven positions. We will also discuss the last three proposals:

Proposal 4: Website Support Services
Proposal 5: Temporary Mentor Letter #3
Proposal 6: Website Position Descriptions

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

danna M
GROW Business Meeting Chair
dmcd.growmail@gmail.com

Respectfully,
danna M
GROW Business Meeting Chair
dmcd.grow@gmail.com

0422 – Proposal 6: Website Position Descriptions

Proposal 6: GROW modifies the current web keeping-related trusted servant positions, eliminating the webkeeper backup position, adding a ‘Topic Archivist’ position, and establishing 5-year terms for the Website Administrator and Webkeeper positions. (See proposed Position Descriptions below.)

Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale:

Since the current website administrator has been in her position, the webkeeper and webkeeper backup positions have not been filled at the same time.  In addition, the roles and responsibilities are not outlined correctly.

Our current Webkeeper Backup is really posting the weekly meeting topics and not maintaining any aspects of the website structure or design.  This position is necessary for the group and more accurately defined by the new position that is being proposed: Topic Archivist.  Posting the weekly meeting topics maintains an archive of topics that is available for all members to review.  Simplifying this position description will very likely result in more members being willing to volunteer for this position.

The Website Administrator and Webkeeper roles have been very hard to fill by volunteers and are key to maintaining the infrastructure for the group. The premise of this proposal is that by having these two positions with 5-year terms, we can a) better communicate our expectations to the members who fill these roles, b) ensure continuity of infrastructure for the group, and c) have more lead time to identify and train future volunteers.

We will discuss this proposal during the second 3-day session. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org or to me privately before midnight (your time) on Thursday, April 7th.
Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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The 3 positions are:

Website Administrator: Basically, our current web admin is doing both Web Administrator and Webkeeper jobs now. Main focus would be on keeping the plug-ins up-to-date, patched, maintaining security of the website, etc.

Webkeeper: Would manage the webpage structure (categories, menus, etc.), would make any adjustments to content based on group conscience decisions, and would maintain the business meeting content

Topic Archivist: Duties would be what our current webkeeper backup is doing now, posting the weekly topics to the webpage. The requirements for this position have been simplified.

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Recommended Language:

Website Administrator

  • 5 year term
  • 4 years sobriety
  • 4 years GROW membership
  • Must be familiar with WordPress and the administration of Websites
  • Member of Business List
  • Non-voting member of the Steering Committee
  • Maintains GROW Server account
  • Maintains a periodic backup of the GROW database
  • Maintains GROW website updates (WordPress, theme, and plugins)
  • May seek professional services to resolve technical issues up to an annual limit of $300.
  • Consults with Steering Committee before making substantial design or content changes to GROW website
  • Supports Web-keeper and Topic Archivist on WordPress site issues
  • Provides Web-keeper and Topic Archivist with all necessary information and passwords to access all web accounts and web server
  • Provides the Webkeeper’s email address to the web hosting service and designate her as co-owner
  • As owner of the g-r-o-w web account, helps ensure that the annual service fee is paid. If necessary, provide copies of invoice/receipt to GROW Treasurer for reimbursement
  • Upon retirement, transfers website account to successor, provide successor with all necessary information, including job guidelines, and serve as a mentor during the transition to ensure continuity of service.
  • Common duties and requirements to all Trusted Servant positions is described here.

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Webkeeper

  • 5 year term
  • 2 years sobriety
  • 2 years GROW membership
  • Must be member of Business List
  • Non-voting member of the Steering Committee
  • Should be familiar with WordPress and website management
  • Maintains public website (g-r-o-w.com) for GROW to provide information about Alcoholics Anonymous and for the purpose of attracting new members. Information should include:
    • Info about Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Info about GROW
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Our Guiding Philosophy
    • Guide for Email Etiquette
    • Traditions in Cyberspace
    • How to become a member
  • Maintains the password-protected private section on g-r-o-w.com to provide GROW members with information about GROW, including:
    • List of trusted servants and job descriptions
    • Info about how we conduct business
    • Group conscience decisions
    • Common Welfare Guidelines
    • Archives in keeping with group conscience guidelines
    • Important Addresses
  • Works closely with the Business Meeting Chair and the Steering Committee to ensure that pertinent group history is preserved in the member’s section of the GROW website and that archived materials are accessible to GROW members
  • Consults with Steering Committee before making substantial design changes to GROW website that have not been dictated by group conscience decisions
  • Posts all business meetings and keep updated throughout the business meeting
  • Ensure that any material posted on g-r-o-w.com appropriately protects the anonymity of anyone mentioned
  • Upon retirement, transfers website account to successor, provide successor with all necessary information, including job guidelines, and serve as a mentor during the transition to ensure continuity of service
  • Common duties and requirements to all Trusted Servant positions is described here.

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Webkeeper Backup Topic Archivist

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Summary of Comments

Six people commented on Proposal 6 which presented revised position descriptions for all of the website-related Trusted Servant positions. In addition, the proposal would abolish the position of Webkeeper Backup and create a new position of Topic Archivist. The comments supported the proposal; however, there were questions to which the Chair responded ‘publicly’ on the business list.

One commenter asked about the reasoning behind the proposed 5-year terms of office for the Website Administrator and Webkeeper. The proposal initially made both positions non-rotating; however, this was changed to five years to reflect AA’s principle of rotation. The 5-year term also recognizes the difficulty we’ve had in attracting volunteers.
Another commenter suggested that the Website Administrator’s position description should include a bullet authorizing her to use professional services to assist with website management. The Chair has added a bullet as suggested.

Finally, a commenter asked about the implications for getting volunteers of the language “should be familiar with WordPress and website management” in the Webkeeper’s position description. There is a clear but unavoidable tension between the need for volunteers and the skill levels necessary to perform the job.

In the third 3-day session, we will vote on Proposal 6.

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Results of Voting

0422 – Proposal 5: Temporary Mentor Letter #3

Proposal 5: GROW approves a new form letter that the Temporary Mentor can send to the group each month, as required in her position description.

Rationale
Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale: The Temporary Mentor position descriptions calls for her to send a short letter each month reminding GROW members of AA resources (GSO, OIAA, and Grapevine) available to them. However, this hasn’t happened regularly in the past. Providing a form letter will be a reminder and will make it easier for the Temporary Mentor to fulfill this task.

During the second 3-day session, we will discuss Proposal 5. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org before midnight (your time) on Thursday, April 7th.
Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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Recommended Language: Temporary Mentor Letter #3

“Hello, GROW members. As Temporary Mentor, I work with new members who often do not know how to find more information about AA. I provide this to our new members in my first message to them, but all GROW members might also benefit from visiting AA’s main websites. This is just a reminder that you can learn more about AA by visiting one of these links:

  • The Alcoholics Anonymous general services office and information such as the AA Big Book (titled “Alcoholics Anonymous”) or the “12 Steps and 12 Traditions,” along with many pamphlets as well as links to local resources for AA.
  • AA’s Online Intergroup (OIAA) where you can find meeting lists as well as real-time phone numbers and other Internet types of meetings.
  • AA’s Grapevine magazine with stories and audio stories and Grapevine subscription options.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

[ Name ]
Temporary Mentor

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Summary of Comments

Six people commented on Proposal 5 adding a new form letter to the Temporary Mentor position description, all of them supporting the proposal. Several talked about how useful form letters have been to fulfilling their own duties. The letter facilitates the Trusted Servant in fulfilling a responsibility: “Each month, the Temporary Mentor will send a short letter reminding GROW members of AA resources available to them.” The letter mirrors form letter #1 but provides links to AA resources to all GROW members instead of just new members.”

In the third 3-day session of the meeting, we will vote on Proposal 5.

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Results of Voting

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0422 – Proposal 4: Website Support Services

Proposal 4: GROW approves the expenditure of funds to acquire support services from Dean Collins (oso-aa.org) or other professionals in managing the GROW website. For example, the Website Administrator will request help in better utilizing current 3rd-party applications that allow us to offer improved information access. GROW therefore authorizes the Website Administrator to incur expenses up to $300 per year to secure the needed support. Prior to enlisting the help of an IT professional, the Website Administrator will provide the Mini-Steering Committee and Treasurer a short summary of the tasks and an estimated cost.

Rationale
Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale: Our Website Administrator is familiar with WordPress (the content management software that makes the site work); however, she is not as familiar with the many plug-ins that had been added to accomplish specific tasks (like creating sidebar menus and automatically-generated lists like the one for Trusted Servants and the table of contents for a meeting).

Another Trusted Servant is now training for the Webkeeper position and will volunteer for it in October. When this immediate problem is solved, our Website Administrator will be able to devote most of her time to website administration rather than content management. She will need ofessional technical support to accomplish needed website improvements.

Our current point of contact for the oso-aa.org domain, Dean Collins, has agreed to provide services at $20/hour with no monthly minimum, which is FAR less than his professional website pricing.

We will discuss this proposal during the second 3-day session. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org or to me privately before midnight (your time) on Thursday, April 7th.
Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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Recommended Language: Add a fifth bullet to the Treasurer’s position description under the bullet authorizing expenditures (“Pay all group expenses…”) to authorize the Treasurer to make payments to Dean Collins or reimburse the Website Administrator for consulting support on the Grow website.

  • Pay all group expenses per the distribution below and maintain a prudent reserve of $122.00:
    • Make bi-annual contributions before GROW Business Meetings, to GSO (The General Service Office, Grand Central Station, PO Box 459, New York, NY 10164-0423; Group Service # 633230).
    • Allocate 80% of the total available contribution amount to GSO
    • Allocate 20% of GROW’s total available contribution amount to OIAA
      $24.00 monthly to OSO-AA (PayPal: dean.collins@insightplanners.com) ($144 – 6 months expenses)
    • $50.00 annual subscription to Grapevine magazine
    • Up to $300 per year to Dean Collins dba Insight Planners, or other professionals, for consulting services on GROW’s WordPress-based website

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Summary of Comments

Six people commented on Proposal 4 authorizing the expenditure of up to $300 per year to secure professional website support services. All of the comments supported the proposal, although one participant had a question about whether the proposal applies to both the website and the mailing list. The Chair clarified that it applies only to the website.

In the third 3-day session of the meeting, we will vote on Proposal 4.

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Results of Voting

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April 3: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

When I came into the rooms of AA in Miami Beach in the early ’90s I kept hearing that if you don’t do a Step 4 you’ll go out again; I didn’t want to drink again so I thought I should do a 4th Step – makes sense, right? However, there was a little problem – I hadn’t formally done Steps 1, 2, and 3 with a sponsor, so jumping ahead to do a 4th Step proved to be just about impossible. I even had a sponsor, but as with most things I didn’t bother mentioning my plans to her and instead just took it upon myself to do a 4th Step on my own.

While I’d accepted Step 1 and wasn’t totally opposed to Step 2, I definitely hadn’t turned my will and my life over to the care of a Higher Power. I didn’t trust most people and wasn’t comfortable putting my trust in a nebulous entity that had let me down time and time again, or at least that’s how I saw God/a Higher Power at that point in my life. After struggling with the 4th Step for a few weeks I finally told my sponsor what I was up to and she suggested we start from the beginning – what a novel idea! – so I went back to Step 1 with her and progressed to where I was ready to begin Step 4.

I’d never looked too hard at my behavior while drinking other than being vaguely aware that a lot of it wasn’t acceptable, or even legal. I excused a lot of my behavior because I felt I was owed BIG time for all the difficulties I’d experienced growing up; I had a huge chip on my shoulder that fueled my drinking and much of my regrettable behavior. So, when I was finally ready to take a look at my behavior and how it had affected others, I found it difficult not to rationalize what I’d done. But fortunately my sponsor got me to put aside that huge chip on my shoulder and focus specifically on what I had done to others, excluding what I felt/believed others had done to me. This was a great help, and started me in the right direction as far as making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.

It certainly wasn’t easy to look at my behavior so scrupulously; at times I felt like I must be the worst person on the planet to have done what I’d done and lived the way I had. But my sponsor pointed out that she believed the 4th Step isn’t only about the “bad” stuff; it’s a 360-degree view of an individual – the bad, the good, the useful, the non-useful, and so on. The outline provided in the Big Book focuses on resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harm done to others, and digging into each of those categories was illuminating as far as allowing me to uncover motives, the patterns of my behavior, and why I react to situations or people in a certain way. Eventually, the more I wrote the more I wanted to find out about myself because I came to understand that this would enable me to break the cycle of destructive behavior and mature emotionally, both of which I desperately wanted.

Along with the resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harm done to others, I also had a column stating what I felt was worth keeping, e.g., my sense of humor, my organizational skills, my love of nature, and so on. This column gave me something to build on, while the other columns gave me direction by showing me what needed to change. In the end, I found Step 4 to be liberating and yes, quite useful as far as helping me stay sober. Doing the 4th Step with a sponsor was a turning point in my sobriety, and although it was difficult facing up to some aspects of myself, I had to look at the active-alcoholic me in order to change into the sober me…I had to go through the mess that was my active-alcoholic life in order to see what I was, what I no longer wanted to be, and who I could be as a sober woman.

We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives

*** Step 4 ***
“Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.”
This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s a lot more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 64. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

0422 – Statement on Job-Sharing

The following summarizes conclusions made in considering how Trusted Servant job-sharing could be expanded. It is not a proposal, nor does it require any action on your part. However, if you want to make comments, please feel free to do so. Your input could influence our future discussions of job-sharing. There is no deadline for comments.


Statement on Job-Sharing

Our October 2021 Business Meeting ended with a list of four subjects that we wanted to follow up on this April.

Now, April is here. The side-by-side comparison is done and posted both to the group and on our website. There will be a proposal to make changes to the Secretary’s position description. Our Listkeepers have, with input from our greeters, decided not to submit a proposal for job-sharing at this time. There has been no follow-up on proposing a meeting on the 12 Concepts of World Service and, unless someone has a concrete proposal, the subject is tabled for now.

The idea of job-sharing had two major objectives: to make some Trusted Servant positions more appealing to potential volunteers and to ease workload burdens on people serving in TS positions. Underlying these objectives are the larger and over-riding goals of helping alcoholic women get and stay sober and ensuring the smooth operation of our e-mail meeting.

Keeping all of these objectives in mind, we have decided that it is not necessary at this time to propose job-sharing for other GROW TS positions. Many of our positions are complicated and involve one or more of the following demands:

  • maintaining a current list of a subset of members over time
  • following up on requests or correspondence over time
  • providing specific accurate and timely information to GROW members
  • being a focal point for GROW members on a specific topic or issue

Given the above, as we looked at various GROW TS positions, job-sharing had a real potential of causing confusion for GROW members and creating a heavier workload for the TS due to the extra communication that would be required with their job-share partner.

The Listkeeper and Greeter positions have been successful in job-sharing largely because their duties entail responding to specific requests and taking actions that do not require follow-up. The workload requires checking email several times each day; thus, the job-share approach gives team members a break. In addition, a listkeeper term is two years—a heavy daily workload without the team approach.

After reviewing all Trusted Servant positions, we found that one other position might benefit from job-sharing – that of 12th Step Volunteer Listkeeper. However, because that workload is relatively light, we question the value of adding a second position to that function.

For these reasons, we do not think it is necessary to submit a proposal or change GROW’s positions at this time. However, if a Trusted Servant should find that their workload is unmanageable (due to their own schedule or volume of activity within GROW), we agree that it would be appropriate for that TS to request job-sharing.

Prepared by our Listkeepers with input from our Greeters 
and writing assistance from the Business Chair

0422 – Proposal 3: Preamble

Proposal 3: Revise the AA Preamble wherever it appears in our form letters and on our website to reflect the October 2021 General Service Conference decision to change the wording in AA’s Preamble from “men and women” to “people.”

Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale: At the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting (April 2021), a revision to the AA Preamble was approved through advisory action. The change replaced the words “men and women” with the word “people” in the first sentence of the Preamble. The language has been changed on the AA website. GROW should reflect this decision in the Preamble where it appears in our correspondence and on our website.

In our October 2021 meeting, we discussed the change. Most of the comments expressed strong opposition to changing a word of the Big Book. However, the Preamble isn’t in the Big Book. The Big Book was published in 1939. The Preamble was written by Grapevine editors in 1947.

Each AA group is autonomous and should decide whether they want to adopt this change. No AA group is required to read the Preamble at its meetings. In fact, AA groups have adopted similar but different Preamble language in the past. For example, the Texas AA adopted a very long preamble, but individual AA groups in Texas choose whether to use it.

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Recommended Language: Change the first sentence in the Preamble included in the Weekly Format Letter (used by the Weekly Leader Listkeeper) as follows:

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”

During the first 3-day session, we will discuss Proposal3. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org before midnight (your time) on Monday, April 4th.

Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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Summary of Comments

Twelve people commented on Proposal 3 to change “men and women” to “people” in GROW’s Preamble.

As background, this change was approved at the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting in April 2021 as a non-binding advisory action. By Tradition, each AA group is autonomous and can make its own decision about whether to change the Preamble it uses in its meetings. It’s impossible to know what decision the thousands of individual AA meetings are making for their own group. This is a Group Conscience decision at a profound level.

One writer commenting on the change in a white paper pointed out that many groups and AA organizations at higher levels have written their own preambles in the past, citing a state-level decision in Texas to create a much longer and more detailed Preamble. Living in Texas, I can testify that no group I’ve been to here uses the Texas version.

The change does not involve our basic text. It is not suggested that Big Book language should be changed. The Preamble was developed years after the BB’s first publication.

During the first days of commenting, there appeared to be consensus for approving the wording change. However, one participant submitted a persuasive argument that the language should not be changed based on, among other things, AA’s Traditions – specifically Tradition 3 (“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”), Tradition 4 (“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.”), and Tradition 10 (“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”).

The commenter also cited language in the first paragraph of the Preamble, pointing out an inherent contradiction between the advisory action and the claim that “A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” After reading the opposing viewpoint, several participants commented that they would not support the change, and discussion of this proposal continued late into the night.

We will vote on Proposal 3 to change the Preamble that GROW uses in its weekly meeting and wherever it appears on our website. Voting will end late on Thursday, April 7th. The Chair will report on the outcome in the summary of our second 3-day session.

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Results of Voting

Sixteen (16) women (69%) voted on Proposal 3 to change the language in the Preamble contained in the Weekly Lead format letter and anywhere it appears on the website. Eleven (11) voted in favor of the change, and five (5) voted against it. The vote exceeds the requirement for a 2/3 majority.

During the third 3-day session, we invite those who voted against the proposal to submit a Minority Opinion explaining their position. If anyone changes their vote as a result of the Minority Opinion(s), we will have a re-vote. If no one changes their vote as a result, the vote stands and the proposal becomes a Group Conscience Decision.

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0422 – Proposal 2: Revise Secretary Position Description

Proposal 2: Revise the Secretary’s position description to delete contradictory, ambiguous, or unreasonable expectations.

Rationale: The Secretary’s current position description assigns duties to the Secretary that are not clearly articulated or that duplicate or contradict GROW policies contained in the Common Welfare Guidelines and Item #9 of the Business Meeting Guidelines. The suggested changes eliminate the contradictions and reflect existing GROW policies.

Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Secretary

  • 1 year term
  • 2 years sobriety
  • One year membership in GROW
  • Must be member of Business List
  • Should have completed AA Steps 1 – 12.
  • Adheres to confidentiality of private emails
  • Serves on the Steering Committee
  • Works closely with the other Trusted Servants including privately and discreetly informing members who stray from the guidelines
  • Serves on GROW’s “Mini-Steering Committee” Will be available, in conjunction with the Business Chairperson and Listkeepers, to answeraddress questions/concerns/issues from any member of GROW. These Trusted Servants will confer among each other to provide an appropriate answer or resolution based on prior Group Conscience guidelines, and will respond back to the inquiring member
  • Maintains a list of emergency contact phone numbers of all trusted servants for use by trusted servants, not for general distribution.
  • KeepsMaintains a current list of trusted servants and term dates
  • Calls for nominations/volunteers
  • Confirms nominees will accept and serve
  • Announces new trusted servants
  • Sends Steering Committee Welcome Letter to all new trusted servants
  • Fields questions sent both publicly and privately (This is too general to be useful. It should either be written more specifically or be removed.)
  • Serves as temporary back-up to the Business Meeting Chair
  • Does NOT handle anything related to the business meeting (These two lines are contradictory and unnecessary.)
  • Informs the business chair if elections are needed for trusted servants.
  • Reviews GROW mail daily. (Not necessary to the position.)
  • Has an understanding of the duties of each job. (There is no way to verify that the TS “understands” the duty of all jobs. Therefore, this line is meaningless. It is also unreasonable to expect one person to understand everyone else’s job.)
  • Sends FYI Letter and GROW Mail List Guidelines monthly to GROW membership
  • Knows how to access job descriptions and form letters (particularly the monthly FYI and GROW Guidelines letters) necessary to carry out the tasks. (This “duty” should be included in the Common Duties, not in this specific job. Every Trusted Servant should do this.)
  • Sends letter of introduction to new Temporary Mentor and the birthday, sponsor, weekly meeting lead, and 12th step listkeepers when they begin new term. (She already sends welcome letters to all new Trusted Servants. Delete this item.)
  • Is available to temporarily carry out the tasks of the Temporary Mentor and Birthday, Sponsor, Weekly Meeting Lead, and 12th Step Volunteer listkeepers, as necessary. (There is no reason to expect the Secretary to carry out the duties of other Trusted Servants. The Common Duties places responsibility for covering jobs on each Trusted Servant. They are supposed to contact the Secretary or Business Chair to work out solutions when they can’t carry out their duties temporarily or permanently.)
  • Maintains current copies of birthday, sponsor, weekly meeting lead, and 12th Step Volunteer lists. (It should not be the Secretary’s responsibility to maintain current lists. (At the most, the TSs should be responsible for providing her with copies of their current lists. There may be better ways to keep back-up copies of these lists – for example, on the website.)
  • Acts as a focal point to receive complaints when Trusted Servant(s) do not fulfill responsibilities and works with the Steering Committee and the Trusted Servant to resolve performance issues.
  • When a Trusted Servant becomes unavailable or unwilling to fulfill her duties, temporarily serves in that role and works with the Steering Committee to fill the position. Train the new volunteer who accepts the vacant position. (It is not appropriate to expect the Secretary to cover for every TS position. It is her job to work with – even lead – the Steering Committee to see that the job gets done, hopefully by someone who has been in the position before.)
  • Conducts a Group Inventory every 2 years (in even-numbered years) between the Business Meetings of April and October by sending out the 12 Questions on our website. 3 questions will be sent to the group each week over a 4-week period. Each week’s responses will be summarized, posted back to the group, and the results discussed and reviewed by members at the next Business Meeting to determine if action needs to be taken. These will be posted in addition to the Weekly Topics.
  • In the event that the current Greeter and / or Listkeeper is unable to complete the task of their respected positions, the Secretary can put out a call to the membership for help to fulfill those tasks needed until the current Greeter and / or Listkeeper issue is resolved. The Secretary’s call to the membership would include a prerequisite of having served in those requested positions so that they may assume those duties quickly and efficiently.
  • In 12th Step Volunteer Listkeeper’s temporary absence, either alert 12th Step volunteers of a need for support or work with Steering Committee to assure these duties are covered. (There is a process for TSs who can’t do their job to work with the Secretary and Business Chair … and the Steering Committee … to fill the position temporarily or permanently.)
  • Common duties and requirements to all Trusted Servant positions is described here.
  • Wording for letters commonly used are provided in the links below:

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We will discuss this proposal during the first 3-day session. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org or to me privately before midnight (your time) on Monday, April 4th.
Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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Position Description as Revised:

Secretary

  • 1 year term
  • 2 years sobriety
  • One year membership in GROW
  • Must be member of Business List
  • Adheres to confidentiality of private emails
  • Serves on the Steering Committee
  • Works closely with the other Trusted Servants including privately and discreetly informing members who stray from the guidelines
  • Serves on GROW’s Mini-Steering Committee with the Business Chairperson and Listkeepers, to address questions/concerns/issues from any member of GROW
  • Maintains a list of emergency contact phone numbers of all trusted servants for use by trusted servants, not for general distribution
  • Maintains a current list of trusted servants and term dates
  • Calls for nominations/volunteers
  • Confirms nominees will accept and serve
  • Announces new trusted servants
  • Sends Steering Committee Welcome Letter to all new trusted servants.
  • Informs the business chair if elections are needed for trusted servants
  • Acts as a focal point to receive complaints when Trusted Servant(s) do not fulfill responsibilities and works with the Steering Committee and the Trusted Servant to resolve performance issues
  • When a Trusted Servant becomes unavailable or unwilling to fulfill her duties, works with the Steering Committee to fill the position
  • Conducts a Group Inventory every 2 years (in even-numbered years) between the Business Meetings of April and October by sending out the 12 Questions on our website. 3 questions will be sent to the group each week over a 4-week period. Each week’s responses will be summarized, posted back to the group, and the results discussed and reviewed by members at the next Business Meeting to determine if action needs to be taken. These will be posted in addition to the Weekly Topics
  • In the event that the current Greeter and / or Listkeeper is unable to complete the task of their respected positions, the Secretary can put out a call to the membership for help to fulfill those tasks needed until the current Greeter and / or Listkeeper issue is resolved. The Secretary’s call to the membership would include a prerequisite of having served in those requested positions so that they may assume those duties quickly and efficiently
  • Common duties and requirements to all Trusted Servant positions is described here
  • Wording for letters commonly used are provided in the links below:

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Summary of Comments

Eleven participants commented on Proposal 2, all of them supporting the revisions to the Secretary’s position description. One participant suggested that the language changes related to the Mini-Steering Committee should also be made to the position descriptions for the Business Chair and Listkeepers. The Chair has added this to the proposal.

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Results of Voting

Sixteen (16) women voted for, and no one voted against, Proposal 2 to revise the Secretary’s position description. The vote was unanimous and therefore becomes a Group Conscience Decision.

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0422 – Proposal 1: Trusted Servant Membership Requirements

Proposal 1: Assign “qualifying GROW membership” to TS positions for which this requirement has not been specified. Required membership in GROW will be equal to the length of the term of office.

Requirement for membership in GROW equal to the term of office will be assigned to the following Trusted Servant Position Descriptions:

  • 12th Step Listkeeper – 6 months
  • Birthday Listkeeper – 6 months
  • Sponsor Listkeeper – 6 months
  • General Service Representative (GSR) – 21 years
  • Grapevine Representative (GVR) – 1 year
  • Greeter – 1 year
  • OIAA Representative – 1 year

Rationale
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale In compiling the “Comparison Chart,” we identified several positions for which no requirement for length of GROW membership had been assigned. To make all TS requirements consistent and reduce confusion about GROW membership requirements, this proposal corrects that omission by assigning a value equal to the term of office for each position.

We will discuss this proposal during the first 3-day session. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org or to me privately before midnight (your time) on Monday, April 4th.

Respectfully,
danna M
GROW Business Meeting Chair
dmcd.grow@gmail.com

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Summary of Comments

Eleven participants commented on Proposal 1. No one opposed the proposal, but more than half disagreed with the proposed requirement for length of membership in GROW for the General Services Representative. Feeling that a requirement for two years’ membership in GROW was unreasonable, they wanted to reduce that to one year.

There seemed to be general agreement that the six-month requirement for the three six-month term Trusted Servants is appropriate. However, one person felt that 12th Step Volunteer Listkeeper should have been in GROW for at least a year.

There were a few participants who wanted to shorten the membership requirements proposed for the OIAA Rep, Grapevine Rep, and Greeter from one year to six months.

Given the interest in addressing specific positions and the lack of general consensus for many of the positions, the Chair is extending the discussion period through the second 3-day period when we will discuss the preferred required length of GROW membership for specific positions.

Extended discussion:

During the second 3-day session, very few people commented on the proposed GROW membership requirement for Trusted Servant positions beyond the GSR. The two people that did comment supported the proposed terms of office.

In the third 3-day session of our meeting, we will vote on Proposal 1 which will reflect the GROW membership requirement for the GSR from at one year.

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Results of Voting

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0422 – Mini-Steering Committee Report

Mini-Steering Committee Report
Covering October 2021 to April 2022

The Mini-Steering Committee was established in 2018 to handle issues that arise between business meetings. The four-member panel includes the Business Meeting Chair, Secretary, and Listkeepers. They handle issues that come up that can be resolved quickly – based on AA’s Traditions, GROW Group Conscience Decisions, or common-sense solutions. The Committee takes more complex or difficult issues to the full Steering Committee for resolution.

In the period since the end of the October 2021 meeting, no issues have been presented.

Respectfully,
danna M
GROW Business Meeting Chair
dmcd.grow@gmail.com

0422 – OIAA Representative’s Report

OIAA Representative Report
April 2022

Being OIAA rep is not demanding at all. At the end of the month, I send GROW stats to OIAA. There are almost daily emails, mostly other groups asking for their details to be added and welcoming to new members. Also, OIAA sends emails about business meetings or anything new from GSO. Members are free to ask questions. Joining OIAA in other aspects is rewarding. I am currently on the finance committee and intend to stay with OIAA.

Rene G

0422 – Listkeepers’ Report

Listkeepers’ Report
April 2022 Business Meeting

Hello GROW

I’m Karen, alcoholic and one of your two Listkeepers.
Sophie R is our other Listkeeper.

Listkeepers work closely with the team of two Greeters, currently Amy N and Karrie C.
As a team of four we manage requests from new ladies interested in joining GROW. Karrie’s term ended in October 2021; however, our new Greeter was unable to fulfill her TS responsibilities and Karrie graciously agreed to step back in and serve until April. Thank you Karrie!

Karen H. has completed her term as listkeeper. Sophie R. will continue as listkeeper until April 2023 and work with Susan P., our incoming listkeeper alternate. Amy and Karrie will be stepping down as Greeters. Diane L and De W have volunteered to be of service as our new Greeters. Diane will serve until October 2022 and De until April 2023.

Our roles don’t take much time but do need us to check our GROW emails several times a day so that requests to join are responded to quickly. We work in pairs – one week on, one week off. Sophie, Amy, and Karrie have been great to work with and I appreciate how the four of us have functioned as a team to keep the list running smoothly and respond quickly to the new ladies.

At our last Business Meeting in October we had 284 members.
Today we currently have 284 members.
We are welcoming new ladies to GROW each month; however, we currently have members unsubscribing at about the same rate as our new subscribers. Thus, our membership has not increased overall in this six-month period.

Listkeepers also administer the Business List to ensure everyone who wants to be included is signed up. So far we have 23 ladies signed up to join the Business Meeting starting Friday, April 1.

In love and service
Karen H.
Co-Listkeeper

0422 – Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer’s Report – April 2022

Deposits
Paypal – Oct5 thru March 30, 2022 $227.28
Ally – Oct 5 thru March 30, 2022 $767.03
TOTAL = $994.31
Disbursements
Dean Collins $144.00
Prudent Reserve $122.00
TOTAL = $266.00
Total Deposits $994.31
Total Bills -266.00
BALANCE = $728.31
80% of $728.31 goes to GSO $582.65
and 20% goes to OIAA $145.66

Respectfully Submitted,

Cheryl Baughman
GROW Treasurer

0422 – Secretary’s Report (Trusted Servants)

Secretary’s Report (Trusted Servants)
April 2022

Outgoing Trusted Servants

Incoming Trusted Servants

  • 12 Step Volunteer Listkeeper – Mary O
  • Birthday Listkeeper – Rene G
  • Sponsor Listkeeper – Theresa B
  • Greeter (4/22 – 10/22) – Diane L
  • Greeter (4/22 – 4/23) – De W
  • Listkeeper (4/22-4/23 – Sophie R
  • Listkeeper Alternate – Susan P
  • Temporary Mentor – Becky L

Trusted Servants – April 2022

  • 12 Step Volunteer Listkeeper (4/22 – 10/22): Mary O
  • Birthday Listkeeper (4/22 – 10/22): Rene G
  • Sponsor Listkeeper (4/22 – 10/22): Theresa B

Trusted Servants who make up the Steering Committee:

  • Business Meeting Chair (10/20-10/22): Danna M
  • GSR (10/21-10/22): VACANT
  • GVR (10/21-10/22): Julie K
  • Greeter (4/22 – 10/22): Diane L
  • Greeter (4/22 – 4/23): De W
  • Listkeeper (4/22 – 4/23): Sophie R
  • Listkeeper Alternate (4/22 – 4/23): Susan P
  • OIAA Rep (4/22 – 4/23): VACANT
  • Secretary (10/21-10/22): Michele R
  • Temporary Mentor (4/22 – 4/23): Becky L
  • Treasurer (10/21-10/22): Cheryl B
  • Website Administrator (10/21-10/22): Cheryl D
  • Webkeeper (10/21-10/22): VACANT
  • Webkeeper Backup (10/21-10/22): Pat S
  • Weekly Leader Listkeeper (4/22 – 4/23): Emily M
  • Immediate Past Business Meeting Chair: Joan B.
  • Immediate Past GSR: Nicole W
  • Immediate Past OIAA Rep: Lynn H & Kirsten V
  • Immediate Past Secretary: Nancy C (deceased)

0422 – Excerpt from Pamphlet “The AA Group”

Excerpt from Pamphlet “The AA Group”

What is an Informed A.A. Group Conscience?

“The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group membership and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of view, and the practice of A.A. principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind.

“On sensitive issues, the group works slowly discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view emerges. Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at a decision. The result rests on more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ count precisely because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience. The term “informed group conscience” implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes.

– From the pamphlet,
The AA Group: Where it all begins. 2005, p. 26-77.

0422 – Business Meeting Guidelines

GROW Business Meeting Guidelines

  1. Proposals to be considered during GROW business meetings should include the following:
    1. A clear brief statement that summarizes the proposal;
    2. A rationale that describes why the group conscience decision is needed, and
    3. Specific language to be presented for discussion and voting in the business meeting (including, as appropriate, language for a job description, form letter, or GROW policy or guideline). This language may need to be modified by the Trusted Servant responsible for the area to reflect the group’s discussions.
    4. Before submitting a proposal, meeting participants are encouraged to consult with the Business Chair, Secretary, or Steering Committee members to formulate their proposals if they need help. They should also review past Group Conscience Decisions related to the proposal (see http://www.g-r-o-w.com/members/groupc/gctopics/gc_index.htm).
  2. We allow a minimum of 3 days for discussion, more when warranted.
  3. At the end of the 3-day discussion period, the Chair calls for a vote. 3 days are allowed for voting, which can be done either publicly on the list, or privately by sending votes to the Chair. The Chair counts the votes.
  4. The voting is done by: I agree or I disagree.
  5. At the end of the voting period, the Chair announces the results of the vote. The group holds to a 2/3 majority to pass or fail any group conscience decision.
  6. Following the announcement of results, the Chair will ask if the minority wants 3 days to discuss their minority opinion.
    1. If yes, then 3 days of discussion will begin.
    2. At the end of the 3 days of discussion, the Chair will ask if anyone who originally voted for the Proposal (a majority voter) has been persuaded by this discussion to change her opinion. If yes, the Chair then calls for another 3-day voting period. The outcome of the second vote is the determining vote. As in the first vote, the 2/3 majority vote will be observed. If no majority voters have been persuaded to change their opinion, there will not be another vote.
    3. If the minority does not want 3 days to express their opinion, there will be no further discussion and there will not be another vote.
  7. At the end of the voting period, the Business Chair announces the final results of the vote. The group holds to a 2/3 majority to pass or fail any group conscience decision.
  8. Note: if any item on the agenda has not reached a consensus or a motion by the 17th day of the Business Meeting, the item is tabled and held over to the next scheduled Business Meeting.

Please read the excerpt from the AA pamphlet “The AA Group” offering
Guidance About Informed Group Conscience Decisions.

0422 – Business Meeting Welcome

Welcome to the April 2022 Business Meeting

Welcome to the April 2022 Business Meeting of Grateful Recovering Online Women (GROW). I am danna, a recovering alcoholic, and your Business Chair for this meeting. Thank you for participating!

This is a closed meeting, open only to members of GROW, for the discussion of business as it relates to our group. Our business meetings run in three-day segments and run for about 17, depending on the volume of business we have.

I will post each Agenda item, one by one, in separate emails and **ask that you respond to each accordingly.** This makes it easier to “tally” the responses and suggestions to each item. We will have a three (3) day period of open discussion on each Agenda item. This, hopefully, will allow all members regardless of work schedules, time zones, etc. to participate and comment. At the beginning of the fourth day, I will post a summary of our discussions.

Before we begin, let’s have a moment of silence to reflect on why we are here, followed by 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. Amen.

In this Business Meeting, let us be guided by The Twelve Traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Let us all keep in mind our Unity of Service statement from the Grapevine of September 1998:

“Unity seldom means that we all agree on everything. Nor is unity served by setting aside our concerns and conforming to the majority opinion (or the vocal minority) . . . Unity is best achieved by a full hearing of all points of view . . . time for all of those involved to step back from emotional responses . . . as well as careful consideration and prayer for that which will best serve the group or AA as a whole.”

Thank you for being here and for your dedication to GROW.

Respectfully,
danna M.
GROW Business Chair
dmcd.grow@gmail.com

March 27: Keep it Simple, Out of the weeds

Meeting topic for the week:  Keep it Simple, Out of the weeds

About 25 years ago, I worked as a waitress and a term we used was “in the weeds” when we would get extremely busy and behind/overwhelmed.

I don’t work in restaurants anymore, but sometimes I still get that overwhelmed feeling, when I overthink things and get lost in the details or complexities of life.

When there are many things going on, so much on the to-do list, kids activities and school, work assignments and meetings, my sobriety, my relationships, etc., it can be hard for me to quiet my mind. It races from one thing to another and each thing feels like a mountain to climb.

Lately I’ve been working on ways that I can soberly keep myself out of the weeds.

When I was looking into this idea, I read that “Keep it Simple” was the last thing Dr. Bob Smith, co-founder of A.A., said to Bill Wilson. It is a catch-phrase in A.A. because we tend to make things more difficult than they need to be.

In the A.A. Big Book (page 62), I found, “This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”

This reminds me that overthinking and over-analyzing everything will get me nowhere. And I usually struggle because I’m trying to be in control.

To keep it simple, I can listen to my Higher Power everyday, to let go of control and ask my HP for help. To guide me in dealing with one thing at a time and keeping it simple.

When I listen, my Higher Power shows me that I can help myself by taking action to stay out of my head, where the weeds try to drag me down – read the Big Book, participate in meetings, exercise, deep breathing, take opportunities to help others, spend time outside, clean and do chores.

Mostly surrender and let go, focus on love and service, keep things simple, and trust that everything will happen as it should. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Please share any challenges or successes you’ve had with trying to keep things simple during your sober journey.

Thank you for letting me lead this meeting,

Katie

12/23/20

March 20: The Fellowship of AA & Lemonade

Topic for the week:  The Fellowship of AA & Lemonade

My name is Alison B and I am an alcoholic.  Welcome new members and congratulations to those who are celebrating a milestone.  I for one, am so very grateful to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It goes without saying that I am also very grateful to be a sober woman today.  I celebrate………wait for it……..drumroll, lol.  29 years today March 20th.

So naturally I am reflecting back on who I was March 20th, 1993.  It seems like that time was someone else’s life not mine.  I can see myself, the 37 year old woman with two young children ages 4 & 7, unhappily married, living far from my family, on a sailboat, in a foreign country.  (I had also given much of my power to my husband at the time & that’s my part.)  I was a chameleon in my own life, trying to blend in, make you happy and be whomever I thought you wanted me to be.  Mostly because I had no idea who I was.  I never really made choices of my own, I pretty much went where the wind took me.  (Pardon the sailing metaphor, lol)  I had been to AA in 1985, but I did not stay.  I was not as bad as you guys, I had never been arrested, I had not lost everything, I had never been to jail, etc. etc.  I was comparing my outside to yours, and it just didn’t match up.  I decided to go out and do some of that “controlled drinking”…………..

for 7 ½ very long years.

Then along comes my personal bottom……again.  It was after yet another fight with my husband.  I snuck onto a friends boat and drank Sally’s gin when she was not home.  (I don’t even like gin)  I had an out of body experience in that moment.  And I was able to see the insanity of what I was doing.   I was deep in self pity and thought about ending my life.  I couldn’t figure out how to do it and be 100% successful, so I canned that idea.  I did not want to leave my kids.  So I got down on my knees that evening in the cockpit of my boat anchored in the Bay of La Paz, Mexico and looked to the heavens.  I asked the sky to help me.  If there was a God in this world, I needed help to learn to live happily.

I had a sense that if there was a God, He/She/It, wouldn’t want me to leave these two beautiful kids.  So, I scooped myself up, told my husband I needed to go to AA meetings.  (He was newly sober a few months, so we picked the meetings each of us could attend as we had these two little kids to take care of.)  And thus began my sober journey.  I was given the gift of desperation.  I did not want to go back to that intense feeling of despair I felt that lonely night I dropped to my knees.  I got a sponsor, worked the steps with her and was of service to my tiny English speaking AA group in La Paz.

Lots of stuff has transpired in my sober life.  Some tragedy, pain, fear, loss and love, happiness, feeling worthy & joy just to name a few.  Lots of joy.  It is up to me to make lemonade out of the lemons.  And believe me when I say, I have made lots of lemonade.  At about 10 years sober I was camping in my own yard with my two kids while litigating with my homeowners insurance about a water damage claim that made our house uninhabitable.  I was going to lots and lots of meetings when my kids were at school.  One lady brought a box of lemons from her tree to give away.  After me sharing a little during the meeting about the crap on my plate (living in tents in my own yard for a year), she gave me the whole box of lemons and told me to go home and make lemonade for my kids.  And I did just that!!!  I did it with a smile on my face.

With the help of the AA Fellowship and especially the women, I have navigated through some really tough stuff.  I have always come out stronger on the other side.  You have given me lemons, held my had, helped me move multiple times, sat with me in the ER, prayed for me, helped me through a divorce etc. etc.  You have seen my children graduate, celebrated a second marriage, watch my kids have kids.  You have taught me just how to find joy in my journey.  I am here to help you find joy in yours today.

The 12 Steps are a gift.  They are the tools to help me turn my life around, One Day At A Time.  I use them.  I do my best to practice these principals in all of my affairs.  I am kinder to people that cross paths with me.  I have been blessed to have friendships that last a lifetime.  I stay connected to the women of AA, for they have shown me the way out of my misery.  I have beautiful relationships with my children and my expanding family.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I thank my Higher Power for the lemons of life today.  Those lemons have brought me to lean on you.  The Fellowship of AA has taught me how to build a life worth living.  I do not have to do this alone.  Thank you.

How do you lean into the Fellowship and how do you make your own lemonade?

Blessings,

Alison B.

March 13: Love without strings

Topic for the week: Love without strings:

September 28 Daily reflections:

“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics” (BB Pg 89)

I love this passage, thinking back and reflecting when I first came into these rooms, I am a loner by nature, yet the love and acceptance I received without any questions asked despite all my drinking escapades. I am accepted for who I am not what I was, to me that is a GIFT, the love transcends all boundaries, all starting with the first step, “Admitting we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable”, that to me was a no brainer I knew I was beaten. The steps that follow are a preclude on how to accept and practice what we have learnt. I would never have that compassion and love shown to me any other way.

My family was/is dysfunctional, I can count on 1 hand how many times my Mom gave me a hug or told me she loved me, she herself had a tough life growing up, that has changed dramatically in the following years.

To me anyone who had more sobriety than me was awesome, yet with this program it is a joy to learn (I am still learning), we can only pass on what we have been taught, and ensuring sobriety is continous work, working the steps and working with others, attending meetings to me is the safety net.

Rene

March 6: Step Three

Hi,

My name is Julie, & I’m an alcoholic. I’m honored by this opportunity to serve GROW by getting our meeting started!

Topic for the week: Step 3

We are all invited to share on Step 3. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. Step 3 is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 60. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Step 3 ***

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

I pulled the following quote referring to Step 3 from 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, p. 35:

. . . a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed. Once we have placed the key of willingness in the lock & have the door ever so slightly open, we find that we can always open it some more. Though self-will may slam it shut again, as it frequently does, it will always respond the moment we again pick up the key of willingness.

I’m struggling to put regular exercise back into my schedule. I read something today that suggested starting out with small, easily achievable goals & building from there. For example, the article suggested the first step in my new exercise regimen might be sleeping in my work out clothes so when I wake up, I’m ready to go. Genius, right? Then the next achievable mini goal might be setting my alarm half an hour earlier so that I’ll be dressed & have allowed the time for exercise before starting the rest of my day. Another step might be picking an audio book (or aa speaker recording) to listen to while I exercise, & so on.

I was thinking that applying this strategy to Step 3 could be really effective. “Picking up the key of willingness” is the preparatory step, like sleeping in my workout garb. Setting my alarm for half an hour earlier in the morning is like placing the key in the lock of the door of decision that leads to God. Taking the first step out of my front door to start my walk would equate to stepping through that decision & toward God. Once those things are happening, the rest unfolds before me ~ not without potholes or some crappy weather, but I’m on my way.

For me, Step 3 at first read like, “Made-a-decision-to-turn-our-will-&-our-lives-over-to-the-care-of-God-as-we-understood-God.”  Lofty, awesome, & totally intimidating!  For me, breaking Step 3 into small, bite-sized, more easily digested pieces works better & is far less overwhelming. I can turn my will & my life over to God every morning when I think of it like that. How did you/do you take Step 3? Please share about this, or about anything along your sober journey that you’d like to share.

Gratefully,

Julie <3

[“Today, my short version of the Third Step is this: Keep taking care of me, Lord, because I appreciate it now.”

“Dear God: Keep Coming Back,” Berrien Springs, Michigan, April 1991, AA Grapevine]

February 27: Service/Gifts of Service Work

Topic for the week: Service/Gifts of Service Work

Service in Recovery

Hello Ladies of GROW this week’s topic is the importance of service in recovery. Before writing my share I did a little reading about service from the Daily Reflection book and reflected on my own service in and out of AA.

I read December 4th from the Daily Reflection and this is what it said:

INTO ACTION

A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 13

I desperately wanted to live, but if I was to succeed, I had to become active in our God-given program. I joined what became my group, where I opened the hall, made coffee, and cleaned up. I had been sober about three months when an old-timer told me I was doing Twelfth-Step work. What a satisfying realization that was! I felt I was really accomplishing something. God had given me a second chance, A.A. had shown me the way, and these gifts were not only free—they were also priceless! Now the joy of seeing newcomers grow reminds me of where I have come from, where I am now, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. I need to attend meetings because they recharge my batteries so that I have light when it’s needed. I’m still a beginner in service work, but already I am receiving more than I’m giving. I can’t keep it unless I give it away. I am responsible when another reaches out for help. I want to be there—sober.

When I read this reflection about service work the word wither stood out to me. If I do not give to others, do the right thing each day, help when I am able to help then I will be in a static state of growth on an emotional, spiritual, and mental level and my connection with my HP would be broken to say the least. To be frank this state of being static scares me.

When I first came to the rooms of AA service work was very difficult for me.  I had little self-esteem and had such a low sense of worth. I often felt like, and some days still feel like I am on the outside of the circle trying to break in, but I often feel like I do not know to break in the circle, or my feet feel like they are/were frozen to the ground. So have at times, stood in the frozen spot feeling stuck or I have kept walking around the circle. At first the only way I could do service was to attend meetings, share when I could, and help clean up after the meeting. I would do this as much as I could.

Time has passed, healing has taken place and today in recovery I look for ways to do service in and outside of AA. With some much needed nudging from the people in the rooms of AA I can find my way into the circle and/or my feet do not feel like they are frozen to the earth.  Today I know that by attending meetings my batteries are recharged as well as doing other self care tasks which help give back the gifts that I have received by being in the rooms of AA which have included unconditional support, understanding, a place to belong, people who loved me until I could love myself and would say keep coming back!

There are times, I still feel like a beginner in my service work but today I know I MUST be involved. Why because it is how AA continues to exist. Our forefathers gave us, gave me, a solution on how to live a life of sobriety and the truth is if this program was not here, I would still be in my despair, and life of misery. I want to share the solution with others which means I must do my part, so AA is here now as well as for the future. Plus, by doing service work, I have and continue to learn how to build connections with others, see how others grow in their recovery, and I continue to grow in my own recovery.  Finally, I want my hand to be there for the person who needs support/help as it was when I came in the rooms of AA.

Please share how you have gotten involved in service work and what lessons and/or gifts have you received by doing service work?

Thank you for listening to me and I look forward to your shares.

Be well and have an awesome week,

Mary O

(Wisconsin)

February 20: Big Book Study

Topic for the week:

Big Book Study

When I was new, my sponsor at the time, bless her-I am forever grateful for her, but we didn’t go through the book together. I was given very little, just told to go to a lot of meetings. Only until I started listening to spiritual fit big book thumpers, not big book lawyers, but people in the program who genuinely get that the program is the book Alcoholics Anonymous-that fellowship is asset, but the textbook contains the Steps that brings me into a relationship with the only Power that will keep me sober and growing. That power is God, may you find Him now…as it states!

I do my sponsoring online and so we do not meet in person and I do not go through the book with them as they did back in the day. But, as I grow in my own spirit and sobriety, I am learning more and more about studying the book. Transmitting what I am learning in my own book study now, what was not transmitted to me from the fellowship in the beginning. This format has truly helped me to understand the Steps in correlation with the chapters in the Big Book. As I learn this way I am able to teach this way and become a more effective sponsor in the process.

Step 1 in the Big Book is:

  1. Doctors Opinion
  2. Bill’s Story
  3. There is a Solution
  4. More about Alcoholism

So essentially they took 4 Chapters to make sure I understood the allergy of alcoholism and identified with Bill’ Story so that I could properly diagnose myself. If based upon what I have read in these 4 chapters I conclude that I am in fact an alcoholic, then I can proceed to Step 2.

I couldn’t move into Step 2 if I didn’t fully concede that I am powerless over alcohol, that my life is unmanageable because of it.

Step 2:

We the Agnostics

Step 3:

How it Works (Pages 58-Bottom of 63

Step 4:

How it Works (Bottom of 63-71)

Step 5:

Into Action (Pages 72-Top 76)

Step 6 & 7:

Into Action (Top of 76-middle of 76)

Steps 8 & 9:

Into Action (middle of 76-middle of page 84)

Step 10:

Into Action (Middle of page 84-bottom of 85)

Step 11:

Into Action (Bottom of page 85-88)

Step 12

Working With Others (Entire Chapter)

I study our text daily. Not for inspiration per say, but as a structured daily outline. This works for me and how I learn and grow.  How do you actively study our text? Do you do a big book study online or with your home group? Do you take you sponsees through the book? Has your sponsor taken you through the book? How do you personally grow in effectiveness in your 12th Step?

Thank you for letting me be a service!

Hilarie

4/8/14

February 13: Alternate topic – Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs 

Topic for the Week

Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs

This last week I have been doing a lot of reflection, meditation and writing on this topic.

I guess for me its really easy to get caught up in all the gossip and rumours that goes on in the place where I live. For those of you who don’t know me, I have MS, and when I developed a very rare symptom of MS, because I have a particularly large lesion of MS on my brain stem, although I was still a very much functioning person, because of this symptom I ended up in a Care Facility, and have been here since Dec 2007.

As a consequence of this I have a revolving staff every day through a 24 hour period. Hence the source of gossip and rumours, although the same is true of AA whether its  f2f, email, Zoom, FB, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, phone in etc meetings. Gossip and rumours run riot through these meetings, secret backchat can be easier to arrange and so on it goes. The worst part of all this is ease of which it can be to become involved.

The reasons are very easy to justify, “I just want to be informed” or “I should be able to make an informed decision” etc, and so I can become involved.

Recently we got a new Manager and she began the week of Xmas and had to then get her head around a complicated AIN/DSW roster as well as a resident calendar, since she, Karen, a lovely Irish woman, working in an Australian world, mixed with many different nationalities, each with their own version of the Australian work effort of “she’ll be right, mate”, a certain kind of Australian way of saying “easy does it, mate”. Which is a basic principle of we’ll get it done eventually in the “never-ending-tomorrow syndrome”.

In this climate it’s easy for gossip and rumours to get carried and to become involved with, as this is the stuff I need to make informed decisions about or I need to know about etc.

So I duly got involved in this gossip etc, because I needed to make an “informed” decision about Karen our new Manager, but then I found other thing became interlaced, which of course became a “priority” too, just as what happens when I begin with this activity.

Then it was pointed out to me what was happening and I listened to some old time recovery on Podcast and these two principles began to be discussed in general and in particular.

I’ve since changed my attitude but I learned a hard lesson through this process, most of all the need to talk to other  members of this program sober or not, new, first day sober or old-timers.

Life as a sober alcoholic no mater how long you’ve been here is about talking to another sober alcoholic, speaking it out, getting rid of my self-centredness, selfishness, self-seeking and dishonest ways. I haven’t had a Sponsor for a number of years and I haven’t been in regular contact with GROW, AA or any individuals for the same length of time. I’ve been a drifter, firstly because I’m not such a great fan of social media and, secondly, because I’ve been very unwell physically for over 5 years.

I’m returning now to GROW, regular Zoom meetings, and finally picking up that 10kg phone again. This helps me enormously. I’m coming back. And I’m getting back in the saddle with interpersonal contact before and after the meetings, however I attend them. Getting back to f2f meetings is a little more tricky but I’m hoping all will work out by the end of March.

Thank you for allowing me the honour to lead the topic this week.

Please share on your experience with this topic and I look forward to reading your Experience, Strength and Hope with being on either side of Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs.

Yours in sobriety, hugs to all

Bobby

February 13: We can’t think our way sober

Topic for the week:

WE CAN’T THINK OUR WAY SOBER

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you — far too smart for our own good. . . . Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.”

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 60

Even the most brilliant mind is no defense against the disease of alcoholism. I can’t think my way sober. I try to remember that intelligence is a Godgiven attribute that I may use, a joy—like having a talent for dancing or drawing or carpentry. It does not make me better than anyone else, and it is not a particularly reliable tool for recovery, for it is a power greater than myself who will restore me to sanity—not a high IQ or a college degree.

(Daily Reflections, February 13)

Hi ladies, Emily here, alcoholic and your weekly topic listkeeper here at GROW. I’m not sure what has happened to our originally planned meeting, so I chose the Daily Reflections for todays topic to get a conversation going for us. If the original meeting poster brings us another topic, all the better and we will have 2 items as good for thought and conversation this week.

My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all saying I was too smart for my own good as far back as I can remember. I know for me my “intelligence” often gets in the way of my spiritual growth and progress. It prevents me from asking for help, from being open to suggestions, and to admitting I could be wrong. Todays Daily Reflections is a reminder to me to humble myself and remain teachable. What is it bringing up for you?

The floor is open for sharing.

February 6: Step Two

Topic for the week: Step 2

We are all invited to share on Step 2. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 2 ***
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

My share is this – Step 2 was really hard for me. I’m agnostic and still don’t believe in a personal god who looks over me. Fortunately, I have had good sponsors and have known many other agnostics and some atheists in AA. I learned I was free to develop any concept of a power greater than myself, and it has evolved many times since I first joined AA in 1981. The example of electricity being a greater power helped me get started. I knew a guy who used door knobs – can’t get through that door without a doorknob, right?? I used AA as my greater power, and also the people of AA as a group. I used many forces of nature – wind, sun, tides. The longer I searched, the easier it became to see that almost anything was a power greater than myself. Fuel sources, vehicles of transport, the laws of the universe and physics were all greater than me. Eventually, I relaxed about religion and was willing to admit that it helped people cope with life, and has since the dawn of time. I even studied many religions and joined a religious body for a few years, though it wasn’t a good fit for me. 

My sanity was returning. I calmed down. I didn’t have to have an absolute answer, I just had to admit that I wasn’t a higher power, and have faith in all those things that were. My ego got smaller. My humility and acceptance of things I can’t change grew, and continues to grow. I can now accept the mystery of it all. With that, my inner capacity for intuitive thought grew. I had powerful ideas and solutions come to me in flashes that furthered my growth. They seemed to simply appear, and I stopped trying to explain them. Yes, I pray in my own way, to the universe rather than a deity. I pray for wisdom, understanding, another day of sobriety, opportunities to serve others and our planet. I’ve stopped fighting and just accept the mystery. One day at a time, I have been restored to sanity. And usually I can stay there, LOL!

January 30: How were we convinced that we were a real alcoholic?

For this week’s topic I would like to suggest how were we convinced that we were a real alcoholic?

But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker, but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink (AA p.21).

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. … We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control (AA, p.30).

For me it took time, sure I was able to joke with my friends that when I drank I did so alcoholically, but to actually come to terms with being an alcoholic full time, all the time, it took much longer. I was lucky, the spiritual aspect of the program appealed to me so much that I was willing to stick around to learn how that came about and eventually even I had to admit I was an alcoholic.

As a counselor in my outpatient treatment center said, “if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.” I have NEVER heard of a non-alcoholic having blackouts, getting DWIs or driving drunk. Normal drinkers can take it or leave it, their whole life does not resolve around drinking and getting drunk. They don’t have to worry about what they said or to whom they said something. They don’t wake up in strange places, with people they don’t know.

When I came to AA I found what I had been searching for my whole life. I was one of those who came to scoff but remained to pray (AA p. xxxii). The serenity I found amongst giants in this program gave me hope, that if I did what they did and worked the steps in all my affairs, I might become the person I was meant to be. I would be able to hold my head up and mingle with anyone without worrying that I might do something wrong.

As time passed, I got to chuckle when AA principles were explained to non-alcoholics, or seeds were planted in potential alcoholics. But most of all I was proud of the person I became and the life I led. I stopped having to lie to anyone about anything, I never had to wonder which story I told to whom.

I am eternally grateful to AA for the fellowship, concepts and principles by which I live my life today. I wish all of you another 24 hours sober.

Thanks for letting me chair this meeting,

Theresa B (TX)

5/10/91

January 23: Contempt prior to investigation

Topic for the week:  Contempt Prior to Investigation

One of the character defects that I struggle with often is ‘contempt prior to investigation’.  While my daily drinking fix was my highest priority in life, this behavior had become especially prevalent in my family and marital relationships.  So, it came up in a big way as I did my fourth step inventory. I was the queen of judging others negatively before I understood them and/or the facts.

While I have made some progress since working the steps, last week I was slapped in the face with it again!  A dear longtime friend of mine for many years had not communicated with me for the last 2 months.  With each passing week I repeatedly decided I knew the reason she had disappeared, and I became convinced that our friendship was over.  “Well fine!” I told myself, I will accept it and move on.  So in my mind I did just that.  I was angry with her, disappointed and hurt.

Then last week I received an email invitation to a party at her house next month, all of our close friends on the list.  Within a few minutes of sending it she began a text conversation with me explaining that this normally busy season at work (which coincidentally began 2 months ago) was worse than ever this year.  It was like a punch in the gut.  While I literally cried tears of joy that I had not lost my friend after all, I was also filled with shame and guilt.  I engaged in yet another self-inflicted dalliance with ‘contempt prior to investigation’.  I completely judged her without ‘investigating’ the situation.  I could have saved myself a lot of anguish by asking her directly about her absence, and she likely would have appreciated a supportive check-in.  But instead I let emotions, pride and self-will rule the day.

This episode was a blunt reminder and lesson that I must pay better attention to this ever challenging defect.  Thanks to all I have learned by studying and working the 12 steps, I can seek God’s will instead of relying on mine.  (Progress, not perfection…!)

Grateful to hear your experience, strength and hope regarding this topic, or anything else you need to share.  Thank you!

Susan P.

January 16: Rewards as a result of this program

Topic for the week: Rewards as a result of this program

Before AA I had many losses in my life and very few rewards as a direct result of my drinking. I had also lost any self respect I had for myself by the end of my drinking career. As a mother I put alcohol before the well being of my children, who could respect themselves after that? I lost the respect and love of my husband after many, many drunken episodes with violence. I had been demoted at work after coming in many times hungover and declining work performance. I was the talk of the neighborhood after many drunken, public episodes. Even my dentist knew I was a drunk when I came in for appts. There was nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice in order to get and stay drunk. Who could have any self respect after these events? I was a burden to my family and the subject of ridicule and condemnation. What I lost in respect for myself I gained in soul shattering remorse. I wanted to end my life.

When I walked into my first AA meeting, as mentioned in the Big Book, I was amazed to see smiling happy people. Everyone looked together, happy and confident. I didn’t know that this was one of many rewards of the AA program. I began my AA journey fraught with relapse and back sliding even though I had nowhere else to turn. But I kept coming back and did what was suggested (there may have been some grumbling). I got a sponsor and started work on the steps. Those days weren’t easy but I kept my head down and kept doing the work. Slowly I started to see glimmers of psychic change along with abstinence from drinking. My big aha moment was when I had the means and the opportunity to drink and stopped myself. No one else would have known (this would have been a huge moment of glee in my drinking days) but I would know if I drank. Somehow working this program started to restore my self respect. I slowly started to lift my head up and regain a feeling of worthiness. I was now at the point where I had awareness of the danger and damage drinking could do to me and I cared about that now, what a reward of this program! I could hide a relapse from others but could not hide from myself and I actually cared about that!

The longer I stayed on this road with you I became more aware of the changes within myself. The rewards that followed were many. New relationships with my children that have blossomed into a closeness I cherish. Being allowed access to my grandchildren which would not have happened if I was still actively drinking. I became a good employee who was appreciated and valued. I would not have bet money on it but my husband stayed and we evolved into a better relationship than ever. I have free time now and substitute volunteering with animals instead of drinking. Hundreds of little things I was always afraid to do while drinking I have the confidence to do now. I have been told I am nothing like that old me. Not only the non drinking part but a different personality that is more caring and considerate of others. The rewards of this program for me are in the hundreds, some small and some monumental. AA is not just a means to stop drinking but a program that brought about a large change in me which is the biggest reward and blessing.

Thanks for letting me share on topic this week.

Lynn

DOS 9/30/96

January 9: Courage

Topic for the week: Courage

I’m Mari Ann and I’m an alcoholic.

Thirty four years ago this morning I entered the Institute of Living in Hartford CT to get sober. I had been drinking daily for 23 years and was 100% certain I would be dead within 6 months if I didn’t stop drinking and about 99.99% sure that stopping drinking would also kill me. Only that .01% was hope I might get to live a sober life.

What is striking me this year, especially after all the gut-wrenching shares on Step One, is how much courage it takes to come into this program and give up everything familiar to us – including the only selves we know. Everyone who shared on Step One deeply touched me last week.

Each share reminded me of exactly how I felt when I entered the IOL.

I was shaking, sick to my stomach, and full of fear. I had no idea what to expect from treatment beyond being pretty sure I was doomed to AA meetings for the rest of my life.

I dug out my journal for 1988 and read the entries from January 1 to the top of January 9th last night to remind myself of the beginning. That Mari Ann surprises me with her courage and determination. I had been given the “gift of desperation” days before I put down the drink and came into the program.  I hope it never leaves me. Courage was the by-product of that gift. It gives us the guts to do what we think we cannot do.

I’m lucky in getting sober in January when all my meetings focus on Step One because it allows me to see the grace and mercy given me during all the years since which let me come to an acceptance of who I am today.

Today I am a woman I genuinely like. I’ve filled my life with people whom I genuinely like and who fill my world with love and friendship. All of it made possible by simply living this magical journey of recovery in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to the best of my ability every single day.

The pandemic has pushed all my f2f meetings to zoom and even there the courage of newcomers is strikingly visible. Daring to announce themselves to a screen of little windows full of women they don’t know. And then they come back and do it the next week, and the next.  I’ve been privileged to witness one woman celebrate 2 years sober on zoom, a couple of others have passed the 18 month milestone, and another local woman announced she had 11 months on January 1st.  They have no idea how important they are to all of us in the meeting but I do. I may not be able to hug them, but I can send them a card and a medallion. I’m not sure if that’s helpful to them but it sure is helpful to me.

SIS has been part of my sober journey since July of 1997 and some of you have been part of my world ever since. I added GROW to my recovery aids when it started and I read every share in both groups. I consider online AA an important feature of my recovery, one Bill Wilson could never have foreseen, yet it is always there if I want a quick reminder that I am not alone.

So thank you for your courage in getting and staying sober. Thank you for sharing your experience with me during all these years. Thank you for the gasp of recognition your shares produce at times. Thank you for daring to be sober-you.

This is your meeting so please feel free to share on topic, or on anything impacting your sobriety today.

January 2: Step One

Topic for the week: Step One ‘ We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable ‘

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share in this space with you ladies.

I was rescued by a loving God on 05/01/2021 who led me here. The support , warmth and wisdom I received as a newcomer made me feel loved. God was/is working through you all, I feel it.

Over the past week, I have had moments of… this time last year. This time last year I was sleeping with a couple of men. None of them cared about me, one I obsessed about, one gave me attention when I was at home drinking, one had alcohol in his house so when the booze had run out and the phenomena called craving kicked in, he was who I rang. My ‘dating’ life evolved around men who I knew would supply it or men that would heighten my warped sense of self and low esteem so I could go deeper into the moral abyss I had created with my alcoholic mind and behaviour.

I would wake up in blackout, not remembering what had happened apart from the last thought being, I want more alcohol.

The allergy would be on me and I never knew what could occur.

To live in a constant state of fear, of everything. Alcohol was my best friend, never letting me down, giving me the comfort I desperately sought.

Until it did start letting me down, my behaviour , relationships. The unpredictable nature of my actions, the guilt, shame and as I became isolated with it, loneliness , because I didn’t want to share what I had at home and I had stopped going to social events.

Over the years my alcoholism had peaked and dipped, only dipped as much as a maintenance daily drinker I would describe it as.  As long as there was at least one bottle of wine but where the alcoholism centred, in my mind was hyper active from being in my teens.

Not fitting in, not understanding how abuse manifests, desperate to be loved. Discovering alcohol, a few of cans of extra strong lager could knock me out till the morning when I lived in a sort of homeless unit. Loneliness and self pity were companions to my bottles.

Pride, self, self, self . When I had my first child, I mellowed a bit drinking but my alcoholic mind gave me a chip on my shoulder , I provided for my children, I worked hard, I did everything , which I did including hurting, manipulating that sometimes good quality into a weapon if I didn’t get what I wanted. I was very controlling & still can want to control everything, but I AM powerless and on awakening, I ask God to direct my thinking.

As we are when we arrive at Step one, the dis- ease has spread and I was v.spiritually unwell.

I had started working with alcohol services after a couple of trips to the doctor. When I was first assessed he asked who I had as a support network and my younger sister who bless her put up with years of my drinking was and that was pretty much it . A few v.dear friends did but lived many miles away and I suppose didn’t think I seriously could get sober. Did I? I didn’t know but the key was I was willing.

I had previously dated someone who was in the fellowship locally and once told that I wasn’t to show my face at any meetings if we broke up.

We did and it was with that and lockdown that I looked online for women only meetings. I found GROW. I didn’t know whether the group would still be active and it saved my life.

One lady that welcomed me, I asked her straight away to sponsor me which she did and I wouldn’t know her to walk past her in the street but with her guidance, her love and God centred AA sponsorship she got me through the first week, the first ten days, the first 3 months … the acceptance & my foundation, Step 1.

What a gift.

The most important Step. The chink of light, it wasn’t lack of willpower and I wasn’t a bad person , I have an illness and there is a solution.

Please share your experience strength and hope on Step one. Thank you for this space to be honest.

In sobriety,

Becky