MANY OF YOU WILL NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT THE MANY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL SITES OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.

I PLAN TO SHARE WITH YOU PHOTOS I HAVE TAKEN OF THEM AS WELL AS PHOTOS I HAVE TAKEN OF SPECIAL MEETING LOCATIONS THAT I HAVE VISITED.





Friday, 31 July 2020

JUL 31, 20 .. ACCEPTANCE


In both the Third (page 449) and Fourth (page 417) editions of the Big Book are writings about acceptance.

I partially quote :

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, 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.
 
It took me a very long time before I could embrace the above philosophy.

The story of my accepting the above words began in late July of 1988 when I was in Akron, Ohio, visiting the home of Doctor Bob. At that time (it is no longer the case), on the dining room wall, were photographs of long time A.A. members. I asked one of the staff to point out the photo of the man who wrote the above words about acceptance. I was told that his photo was not posted because he was alive, and living in California. I mentally filed this information in my brain.

In March of 1990, I was attending a 'round up' in San Angelo, Texas. The key speakers at the 'round up' were from the Canyon Club in Laguna Beach, California. During the weekend, I casually said to one of the speakers, "I understand the man who wrote the story Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict (in the third edition of the Big Book) lives in California." He immediately replied,"His name is Doctor Paul. He and his wife Max (who is mentioned by name in the story Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict) live in the Laguna Beach area. Doctor Paul is a member of the Canyon Club along with several of us here this weekend. If you are ever at the Canyon Club on a Wednesday evening, you may see him as he is a regular attendee of that meeting."

Fast forward to June 1992. I was in a Friday night speaker meeting in San Francisco (where I was living at the time) and as is often the case in meetings, when attendees visiting the meeting were asked to identify themselves, one man said, "My name is Fred. I am from Laguna Beach, California."

After the meeting ended, I dashed through the crowd to find Fred and, as I introduced myself while shaking his hand I said to him, "Fred, The Canyon Club is in Laguna Beach and I have heard that the gentleman who wrote the story Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict is a member. Further I was told that if I was at a Wednesday night meeting I might have a chance to meet him."

I continued to hold his hand. He paused, and said to me as he gestured to a lady on his right, "And this is my wife Max!"

Because of his 'fame' within A.A., when he introduced himself, he used the alias Fred so as not to give-himself-away to the large crowd.

That is how I met Doctor Paul. As the fate of human-chemistry would have it, we two bonded and became friends. 

The first time I visited them in their home, I said to Doctor Paul, "I have a lot of trouble accepting what you wrote in the Big Book that acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today." 

Instantly he said to me :

"Acceptance does NOT MEAN APPROVAL ! "

"What is ... IS !  You very well may not like whatever you have an issue with but, if you are powerless to change it, until you accept it you will be unhappy and frustrated to no avail ! "

What a difference his words have made in my life as to acceptance.

Our Serenity Prayer states :

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

What a gift being able to actively interact with Doctor Paul for approximately ten years was in my life.

"Acceptance does NOT MEAN APPROVAL ! "

Friday, 26 June 2020

JUN 26, 20 .. ANGER, RESENTMENT, 10th STEP .. WALK THE WALK .. DO THE DEAL

On page 90, under Step Ten, in the book The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditons, we are advised that even "justified" anger should be left to those better qualified to handle it.

In the Big Book on page 66 we are told : "If we were to live, we had to be free of anger."

Never forget that anger is one letter away from Danger. When I feel anger cropping up I immediately think DANGER! And try to immediately evaluate the situation.

Each and every time we read How It Works (Chapter 5) we are asked, "If you want what we have..".

What have we got here? A Design For Living. The A.A. Program offers us a way of life that will allow us to be happy, joyous and free.

On page 64 of the Big Book we are told that : Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.

Step 10 : "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."

Therefore if we want to be happy, joyous and free then we can not harbor anger and resentment.

The bottom line here is this : We've got to Do The Deal, Walk The Walk and not Talk The Talk.

Day One.

While staying in a motel during a recent trip, I had occasion to go to the front office of the motel. As I walked out of my room and headed up the sidewalk towards the motel office (I did not see the lady in the doorway of the room next to mine) as I passed the next room this lady blew a large puff of cigarette smoke into my face.

Instant Anger. As this enormous puff of cigarette smoke hit my face, to clear the air, I instantly and visciously waved my arms and shook an ice bucket that I was carrying. 

She said : "I have a right to smoke."

I did the right thing. I kept walking. 

I did NOT engage her. I returned to my room another way circumventing passing her.

However my anger was then joined by feelings of resentment toward this  'crone' -  an old woman, disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner.

On-the-spot she took up (rent-free) space in my mind.

I did a Step 10 inventory. 

I concluded that I didn't think she deliberately blew smoke into my face. I also thought about having to be living beside this 'crone' for who-knows-how-long with my mind filled with anger and resentment.

Day Two.

The next morning, after seeing that she was again smoking in her doorway, I headed for the front office of the motel. As I passed my local 'crone' I said to her : "Ma'am, I am sorry if I was rude to you yesterday morning."

And I kept on walking. I did NOT engage with her. Again I returned to my room a back way circumventing further contact with her.

Day Three.

As I had done the previous day, after seeing her smoking in her doorway, I again walked past her saying : "Ma'am, I can see that you are handicapped. IF my wife and I can be of assistance to you, please knock on our door."

Again I kept walking and did not engage with her.

Day Four.

As we were getting into our truck, 'she' was in her doorway (smoking) and I said, "My name is and my wife's name is. Again IF we may be of assistance to you, please knock on our door."

She replied : "My name is Linda."

And?

That was that. Linda became our friend. She is handicapped and elderly and is basically living in her car staying in the motel when she has the money to do so.

And?

I had a choice. 

Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

Do I really and truly want to be happy, joyous and free or not?

In my heart I feel that I made the 'right-call' on this.




Wednesday, 27 May 2020

MAY 27, 20 .. A.A. GRAPEVINE STORY .. RELAPSE AT 30-YEARS SOBRIETY

In this Month's May 2020 A.A. Grapevine, is a story about a woman who, two months before having 30-years sobriety, drank.

What happened?

She stopped going to meetings. Does THAT sound familiar?

She makes the usual good points.

We all know that we set ourselves up to take that first drink long before we actually physically take it.

She had moved and didn't like how meetings were run in her new location.

She didn't get a new sponsor in her new location.

She was busy. 

Her husband (who she met and married in A.A. and who has 38-years) told her .. "Don't worry. If you go back out and drink again, you will magically find lots of time for meetings!"

She lost sight of God and had no support system in A.A. Then things got bad in her personal life. A long time sponsor (back home in her previous location) died. Her mother and three uncles died. Her dog died.

"I wanted to hurt myself and I knew the simplest way to do that was to drink. And that's what I did."

To quote her .. "Let me be very clear. I did not drink because I thought that maybe I wasn't an alcoholic any longer after all those years sober. No, I knew that once alcohol hit my lips it was going to go badly."

The below IS important.

"I truly believed, when I took that first drink after so long, that when I was done drinking this time, I'd be able to simply turn my 'AA head' back on. I would go to meetings again and get sober. In fact, I told myself, maybe I wouldn't even tell anyone I'd gone back out. I would drink secretly for awhile to numb the pain and then get sober again."

Alcoholism, as the Big Book says, gets worse over time, not better.

"The craving hit me like never before. I tried to turn my AA head back on and stop drinking but I couldn't."

"There is nothing more insane than driving around drinking and reciting Chapter Five from memory, while throwing empty bottles of Vodka out the window."

"I was cited for extreme DUI. That ended up costing me nearly $20,000 to pay for lawyers, experts, fines, classes, traffic school and an Interlock device on my car. To go from nearly 30-years sober to sitting in a courtroom eight hours a day for almost three days with six jurors deciding my fate was mind blowing."

THEN?

"I drank for another six months before I was finally able to get sober."

Her conclusion :

"It's so much easier to stay than it is to try and come back."

In my humble opinion, this is one great story. So many Grapevine stories (most in fact) are about wonderful solutions to impossible problems. 

Thursday, 9 April 2020

APR 9, 20 .. ZOOM.US AND MY THIRD ON-LINE MEETING

At least for the 'time being', this brief wrap up of my third meeting will be my last Post about the zoom.us online A.A. meetings.

Like all of life's many adventures, as we become more and more familiar with something that is radically new to us, the more comfortable our experience therewith becomes.

In the final analysis a zoom.us meeting is still an online, internet meeting using a computer or a smart phone etc et al. And therein lies a built-in problem because computers and online activities are fraught with all of the many challenges one encounters.

To wit: I was successfully signed into the meeting. I was feeling very comfortable with the venue. After several other members had shared, I was asked to share. I happily began to share about an event that happened recently (one which I plan to write a separate Post about in the near future) here in the Motel we are staying in. 

When out-of-the-blue my internet connection was disrupted and I was instantly and unceremoniously dropped! Just-like-that! An internet experience we've all had!

It took me some 15 or so minutes to get back into the meeting and my interest and momentum suffered a severe hit!

To end on an upbeat note: After the meeting ended, five of us remained signed in and online and we had a really great meeting-after-the-meeting.

But there is no doubt that these zoom.us meetings have a time and a place and I plan to continue to sign in weekly.


Thursday, 2 April 2020

APR 2, 20 .. ZOOM.US AND MY SECOND EVER ON-LINE MEETING

This post is about my second online meeting using zoom.us. 

It follows my two previous posts, Parts 1 and 2, dated MAR 28, 20 in which I discuss my first ever on-line meeting. Just in case you did not see the two above posts, below are links to them.

http://aaphotoshere.blogspot.com/2020/03/mar-28-20-part-1-of-2-zoomcom-and-my.html

http://aaphotoshere.blogspot.com/2020/03/mar-28-20-part-2-of-2-zoomcom-and-my.html

In Part 2 above I wrote that "My Jury is out as to my feelings was it good / enjoyable or not?"

It is a lengthy post that goes into some detail about my (was it good / enjoyable or not) feelings.

Now I am fresh from my second on-line meeting and here are tonight's feelings.

First I went back to zoom.us and opened up a new (my second) zoom.us account using a different name. My initial zoom.us account uses my Mongolian name and connected Mongolian e-mail address. I did this for total anonymity being new to the zoom.us system.

For anyone new to zoom.us, be sure to closely read the next three paragraphs about work e-mail addresses and full last names.

Then last week, as I participated in my first ever on-line meeting, I noticed that many of the members were using both their first and full last names. When you initially open up / establish a zoom.us account you are asked for a work e-mail address and a full name. Being retired thirty years I have no work e-mail address. If I had to have used a work e-mail address I would NOT have opened up a zoom.us account (as in no way would I ever use a work e-mail address).  


So having successfully jumped (the work e-mail address) hurdle I set out to open a second zoom.us account with my English language name using only the first letter of my surname.

Bingo. I was able to do that. First name and first letter of my surname. I was very pleased with this feat.

However, when I signed into the meeting, zoom.us used my e-mail address instead of my name. More on this later.**

SECOND ON-LINE MEETING FEELINGS

Right-off-the-bat I felt much more comfortable with the on-line meeting format and feeling. When they asked "Will someone read the traditions?" I jumped in and read them. The instant I share in a meeting (I often volunteer to read How It Works or the Traditions) I feel a part of the meeting and this applied to tonight's on-line meeting.

It was a one hour meeting to the minute. I liked this. Not everyone shared. I liked this. I felt a lot less odd / stressed just looking at my lap top screen from 12-inches or so away than I did last week. I did a lot of site exploring (full screen/gallery screen/etc) tonight.

Then the volume of the speaker's voice stopped and the speaker became frozen on the screen. There I sat. I telephoned my main meeting contact and he assured me that the meeting was most certainly still underway. So I then knew the problem was at my end and not at the transmission end.

It took me about ten or so minutes (this is where it sure helps to have some computer experience with frozen screens etc) to get back to the meeting but arrive back I did.

**When I came back on-line, my first name and first initial of my last name (not my e-mail address) were shown. This was much to my great satisfaction because on-line I don't want my e-mail address shown for anonymity reasons not to mention spam!

Bottom Line: 

An on-line meeting will never ever be even remotely the same as a live-in-person meeting.

Since I was vastly more comfortable with this my second on-line meeting, I have reason to believe that this will continue to be the case.

My wife shut her eyes and she greatly enjoyed the meeting.

On-line meetings are available 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. This may be my next on-line zoom.us meeting adventure.

Smiling all the while.








Saturday, 28 March 2020

MAR 28, 20 (Part 1 of 2) .. ZOOM.US AND MY FIRST EVER ON-LINE MEETING

My welcome to the 'high tech' (at least it is 'high tech' to me) world of AA Meetings on the internet (be it via lap top / desk top / or even a smart phone) has now begun.

With so very many meetings being closed/shut down/meeting room doors locked due to the COVID-19 corona virus issue sweeping the entire planet (or so it seems) more than a casual member or two or three have asked me.. 

"Are you using on-line access to meetings?"

"No I haven't been doing that."

"Why not?"

Unable to provide even the smallest credible reply to the above simple question, I decided to look into it.

Just in case one of you reading along here is interested, here was my process.

Step 1 (sound familiar?)

Realize that I have a problem that I want to solve but that I'm not able to solve myself.

Step 2

Seek out a power greater than myself to assist me.

Step 3

Make a decision to get assistance.

Step 4 

TAKE ACTION. 

I called two of my closest allies (I'll call them Dan and Tom) for assistance. Dan is actively hosting an online / internet meeting and Tom who is trying to accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish, gain access to an on-line meeting. 

How odd is this? My also uninitiated friend Tom, who knew just a smidgen more than me, managed to get me successfully online while he himself is still struggling to fully complete his task.

This is why newcomers to our program can sometimes actually be of more assistance to another newcomer that we long-timers with our decades of recovery!

Action Step 1.

I don't know why I did this, but I began by calling Tom my fellow newcomer to on-line meetings.

I was instructed by Tom that first I needed to sign into and then join something called zoom.us.

https://zoom.us/

With Tom on the phone with me, I went to the above website and said to him .. "I'm at zoom.us."

Tom said for me to look at the far upper right corner where it says .. SIGN UP, IT'S FREE.

Taking a very deep breath (after looking at all of the disclaimers such as this site uses cookies, etc) I clicked onto the SIGN UP, IT'S FREE button and I signed up with my Mongolian name (an anonymous name here in the U.S.) and established ("Lord do I really need yet another password in my life?") a password for zoom.us.

Action Step 2.

Tom then said that I needed to get with Dan who would tell me how to find 'our' meeting online and to access it using zoom.us.

Dan sent me an email with an attachment showing, not just one, but many meetings for the entire week.

Then I tried but I could NOT sign into 'our' meeting. 

Back to Dan I went who said .. 

"The meeting is not open yet. Wait until this evening at our regular meeting time and then sign into our meeting on the link I gave you."

And now, please scroll down to Part 2 of 2 below, where I will continue with..

The Rest Of This Story

Post Script .. The date of this meeting was Thursday, March the 26th 2020

MAR 28, 20 (Part 2 of 2) .. ZOOM.US AND MY FIRST EVER ON-LINE MEETING

In Part 1 of 2 above, I shared how I got interested in, and decided to explore, an on-line recovery meeting.

Now for the actual meeting itself.

I am not new to computers nor to the internet and there are some things I am unable to share with you who are either totally inexperienced or who are running other computer brands (I have a Lenovo lap top) and various operating systems (I am running Windows 10).

I am not using a smart phone. I believe that some people are and I can't imagine doing that.

You have to know how to get onto video, turn on your speakers, etc. 

So (it was actually very simple) I arrived at the meeting. I did not know about myself being either muted or able to speak into my lap top so other members could hear me. Dan led me through this simple process. In the lower left of my screen was a microphone with a vertical red line through it indicating it was muted (off). Clicking onto the icon I could then speak and be heard.

THE MEETING ITSELF

My Jury is out as to my feelings (was it good / enjoyable or not?) about my one meeting.

At a live / in-person meeting, you have the chemistry of the drive to and from the meeting and that of the meeting room itself along with the fact that you are surrounded by other attendees present. You are not literally alone. Many of us have 'our chairs' (we sit in the same location each meeting) and often 'our chairs' are comfortable for us. For some odd reason I didn't feel all that comfortable during my on-line meeting. Nor was there any pre-meeting / after-meeting socialization I am used to.

Here was a big thing for me personally.

At 'my' meetings I know many people, the attendees (to a large extent) are familiar to me. I have years of history with many of them. At my on-line meeting there were 27 members and I only knew 5 of them. So I was listening to 22 members who I'd never met nor even seen previously. Further some were not even local members but those who'd 'found' the meeting on-line even through they lived elsewhere.

In a live meeting I relax and look around. At the on-line meeting I was 'glued to' my computer screen the entire meeting. YES I KNOW I could have gotten up and walked around but I don't do this in a regular meeting. I sit and stay seated but at the same time I am not 'glued to' a computer screen. 

There were also some on again / off again transmission problems with sound and picture that were distracting to me.

I spoke with a local friend here who also had just visited an on-line meeting for the first time. My friend also had mixed feelings quite similar to mine.

Will I return? I may, at least once more. I may also try some of the very large, multi-state, on-line meetings, knowing that everyone will be a stranger.

"Does The Shadow Know?" Maybe I will publish a Part 3 in the future.

Post Script .. The date of this meeting was Thursday, March the 26th 2020

Thursday, 27 February 2020

FEB 27, 20 .. FINDING MEETINGS IN A LARGE CITY

FINDING MEETINGS IN A LARGE CITY can, at best, be quite a challenge. Here, in the greater Phoenix Arizona Metropolitan area, there are approximately 1,800 meetings each week. One is at a meeting location known as the Pigeon Coop.



Obviously, although it took some effort, we found the Pigeon Coop. It is located in a large shopping area and it is set back from the street. IF you know where it is, you can see it from the street but, at the same time, it is sort of hidden away.

The instant we finally came upon the Pigeon Coop we two howled.

Do all of you see why we laughed out loud? 

Just look at what is located immediately beside the Pigeon Coop?


Dr. Bob's Coffee!




Hard to miss the Pigeon Coop!

There are many meetings of several different programs of recovery here at the Pigeon Coop. We were warmly welcomed and enjoyed the meeting we attended.

Friday, 31 January 2020

JAN 31, 20 .. THE FIRST MONTH .. THE FIRST STEP

Welcome to year 2020. Now ending its first full month.

For those of us 'in recovery', January, the first month of the year, means Step 1.

Step 1 in its most basic sense is the admission that we have a problem. Pure and simple. IF one does not admit, IF one does not know, IF one does not accept the reality of a problem, there can be no solution to the same said problem can there?

Page 30 of the A.A. Big Book, More About Alcoholism, clearly states this:

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.

It goes on to state on page 31 that .. 

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic.

It is oft said that Step 1 is the only step we can do perfectly.

This brings me to the definition of the word alcoholic.

Again back to page 30 where it states..

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking.

I feel that many of us honestly believe that we can control our drinking. This flawed thinking causes many to pick up that first drink that begins the cycle of relapse.

For me personally I use the below definition..

I am an alcoholic because I cannot guarantee my actions after I take a drink of alcohol.

Good Luck and Best Wishes in Year 2020.