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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 1, 2013

Just For Today
December 1
Life’s Rewards

“We begin to pray only for God’s will for us. That way, we get only what we are capable of handling.”
Basic Text pg. 47

Imagine what might happen if God gave us everything we wanted. A fabulous new car, straight A’s, a triple salary raise – all ours without effort, just for the asking.

Now imagine the problems that come along with unearned riches, new luxury cars, and unmerited scholastic recognition. What would we do with a huge salary raise that had been granted for no reason? How would we handle our new financial responsibilities? And how would we live up to that raise? Could we ever make it appear that we deserve such pay when we know we don’t?

What about that fantastic new car? Most come with expensive insurance premiums and hefty maintenance costs. Are we prepared to care for what we’ve asked for?

Academic honors? Could we perform like A students after we’d been given high marks we hadn’t earned? What would we do if we were exposed as frauds?

When we talk to God, we need to remember that we live in the real world. We earn rewards and learn to handle them as we do. Confining our prayers to requests for knowledge of God’s will, the power to carry it out, and the ability to live with the consequences will ensure that we get no more than we can handle.

Just for today: I will pray only for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry that out in the real world.

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Daily Reflections
December 1
“SUGGESTED” STEPS

Our Twelfth Step also says that as a result of practicing all the Steps, we have each found something called a spiritual awakening. . . . A.A.’s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the Twelve Steps in our program.”
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pp. 106-07

I remember my sponsor’s answer when I told him that the Steps were “suggested.” He replied that they are “suggested” in the same way that, if you were to jump out of a airplane with a parachute, it is “suggested” that you pull the ripcord to save your life. He pointed out that it was “suggested” I practice the Twelve Steps, if I wanted to save my life. So I try to remember daily that I have a whole program of recovery based on all Twelve of the “suggested” Steps.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 1
A.A. Thought For The Day

The thoughts that come before having a slip are often largely subconscious. It is a question whether or not our subconscious minds ever become entirely free from alcoholic thoughts as long as we live. For instance, some of us dream about being drunk when we are asleep, even after several years of sobriety in A.A. During the period of our drinking days, our subconscious minds have been thoroughly conditioned by our alcoholic way of thinking and it is doubtful that they ever become entirely free of such thoughts during our lifetime. But when our conscious minds are fully conditioned against drinking, we can stay sober and our subconscious minds do not often bother us. Am I still conditioning my conscious mind?

Meditation For The Day

Having sympathy and compassion for all who are in temptation, a condition which we are sometimes in, we have a responsibility towards them. Sympathy always includes responsibility. Pity is useless because it does not have a remedy for the need. But wherever our sympathy goes, our responsibility goes too. When we are moved with compassion, we should go to the one in need and bind up his wounds as best we can.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may have sympathy for those in temptation.  I pray that I may have compassion for others’ trials.

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As Bill Sees It
December 1
Quantity or Quality, p. 11

“About this slip business–I would not be too discouraged. I think you
are suffering a great deal from a needless guilt. For some reason or
other, the Lord has laid out tougher paths for some of us, and I guess
you are treading one of them. God is not asking us to be successful. He
is only asking us to try to be. That, you surely are doing, and have been
doing. So I would not stay away from A.A. through any feeling of
discouragement or shame. It’s just the place you should be. Why don’t
you try just as a member? You don’t have to carry the whole A.A. on
your back, you know!

“It is not always the quantity of good things that you do, it is also the
quality that counts.

“Above all, take it one day at a time.”

Letter, 1958

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Walk In Dry Places
December 1
Why do bad things happen?
Understanding life

No one has been able to explain why pain and misfortune must be part of the human condition. Bad things can and do happen to everybody, and sometimes there’s no way to explain it.

Even in sobriety, AA members have misfortunes—times when it appears that God is hiding. We even hear members share such experiences at meetings.

Many of us have found ways to use misfortunes constructively, however, by seeing how the program helps us deal with it. In some cases—but not all—we even learn that a misfortune was a disguised blessing.

Most important, by using the program, we are eliminating the drinking that has been the cause of many misfortunes in our lives. That alone makes our immediate world a much better place for everyone.

My life today can be both easy and hard. It gives me great comfort to know that I am not making conditions worse for myself and others.

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Keep It Simple
December 1

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps
—First part of Step Twelve.

We are awake! Our spirits are alive. We are part of the world. Our addiction no longer clouds our vision. How? Step

Twelve answers this.

The beauty of Step Twelve is that if we feel our spirits starting to go dead, we know how to awaken them. It’s simple. Turn to the Steps. After all, working the Steps has awakened our spirits. The hope and serenity we feel are gifts given to us through the Steps of our program. And the more we turn to the Steps for help, the more life we’ll feel. The Steps are what feed and heal our souls. Prayer for the Day

Higher Power: Thank you for the Steps. If I start to believe it is I who keeps me sober, remind me of my life before the Twelve Steps.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll read the Twelve Steps. I’ll think of how each Step helped awaken my spirit.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 1

And it isn’t the thing you do, dear, It’s the thing you leave undone Which gives you a bit of a heartache At the setting of the sun.
–Margaret Sangster

A quality we all share, a very human quality, is to expect perfection from ourselves, to expect the impossible in all tasks done. We must rejoice for the good we do. Each time we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, our confidence grows a little bit more. Recovery is best measured by our emotional and spiritual health, expressed in our apparent confidence and trust in “the process.”

We need to recognize and celebrate our strong points, and they’ll gain even more strength. Likewise, we need to practice prayer and listening to guidance first to develop our ties to God, but more importantly to be able to acknowledge when help is at hand. We can do all we need to do with God’s help.

Having goals but keeping them realistic, for the day or the year, is a sign of emotional health. Not dwelling on those that can’t be accomplished, at the moment, is another sign. A change of attitude is all most of us need to move from where we are to a better place emotionally.

There’s never a better time than right now for rejoicing over what I’ve done.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 1
A DRUNK, LIKE YOU

– The more he listened at meetings, the more he came to know about his own drinking history.

The last big hurdle was closing the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer. As a Jew, I was uncomfortable with it and decided to talk to my sponsor about it. So I said, “The Lord’s Prayer bothers me.” Oh,” he said, “what’s the problem?” “Well, I’m Jewish and it’s not a Jewish prayer.” “Well, then,” he said “say it in Jewish.” I said, “It would still be the Lord’s Prayer.” “Right,” he said. “Then say something else that you like. Your Higher Power, whatever you call it, is helping you, and you need to say thank you.”

p. 406

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 1

Tradition Six – “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.”

Soon they’d spotted their man, an A.A. with the necessary experience. Straightway he appeared at New York’s A.A. headquarters, asking, “Is there anything in our tradition that suggests I shouldn’t take a job like this one? The kind of education seems good to me, and is not too controversial. Do you headquarters folks see any bugs in it?”

pp. 157-158

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Xtra Thoughts
December 1

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
–Benjamin Franklin

“There are no gains without pains.”
–Benjamin Franklin

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.
–C. Neil Strait

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.
–Blaise Pascal

“It is a sign of strength, not of weakness, to admit that you don’t know all the answers.”
–John P. Loughrane

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.”
–Joseph Addison

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 1
GOSSIP

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss wants, small minds discuss people.”
— Laurence J. Peter

Gossip is ultimately a form of malicious cowardice. It is a “blasphemy” because it seeks to denigrate the human being that God has made in His image.

As a practicing alcoholic I was a gossip. I exaggerated and manipulated the truth with my gossip. I made up stories against those people I had a resentment towards; innocent people were abused and victimized by my gossip.

Also I loved listening to gossip. The listener plays an important role in the life of “gossip” because without the listener it could not exist. It takes two to gossip!

Today gossip is unacceptable behavior in my program.

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Bible Scriptures
December 1

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:18

“If I say I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and smile.”
Job 9:27

Daniel prayed: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Daniel 2:20-23

For if by the offense of the one death reigned by the one, much more those who are receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall rule in life by the One, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17

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Daily Inspiration
December 1

Accept yourself for who you are because who you are has a purpose and an important reason for being. Lord, Your love for me makes me special and lovable.

Take care of yourself so that you may give care to others. Lord, may I never totally ignore myself and my feelings for the sake of others and fit in time daily to refresh my spirit.

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A Day At A Time
December 1

Reflection For The Day

It has truly been said that “We become what we do.” It’s emphasized to us over and over in The Program that our thoughts and actions toward others color and shape our spiritual lives. Words and acts of kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness and forgiveness serve to strengthen those qualities within us that heighten our consciousness of God’s love. In asking God to direct and guide my life, am I also asking love to take over and lead me where it will?

Today I Pray

May I make a resolute attempt at acting out the way I want to be — loving, forgiving, kind, thoughtful. May I be aware that each small, attentive act carries with it an echo of God’s all-caring. For God so loved the world; may we make His love our example.

Today I Will Remember

We become what we do.

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One More Day
December 1

The wise man looks at death with honesty, dignityu and calm, recognizing that the tragedy it brings is inherent in the great gift of life.
—  Corliss Lamont

Chronic illness trends to heighten our awareness of the fragility of life.  Some of us may even become concerned that due to poor health we may not live as long as we’d once expected.

To ease our fears, we may feel better if we initiated a conversation with family members about dying.  Since each one of us have personal ideas about how we would like our funeral handled — which hymns, who will say the eulogy, and where it should be held — it only makes sense to share that information with loved ones. Few people feel comfortable talking about the possibility of dying, but with a straightforward discussion we can, at least for a while, set aside our own anxieties.

I am comforted knowing my family understands my fears and needs.

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One Day At A Time
December 1
~ SPIRITUALITY ~

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.
–Sufi proverb

Before I came into this program, I had thrown God out the window. In fact, I was plain angry at Him. Where was He when my only brother was killed in a car accident, when my only nephews were lost to me for many years as a result? Where was He when my parents died, when I went through my ugly divorce, when my step-son committed suicide, or when I had two major car accidents? I didn’t know how to deal with all the feelings around the grief, loss and pain. I was spiritually bereft, although I didn’t know it then. All I knew was that I was depressed a lot of the time, and had this great big hole in my soul that I had to keep feeding so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain or deal with anything in my life. But the truth was that no amount of food could relieve that constant ache, and all that happened was that I felt more and more fat, bloated and miserable. The food that was supposed to take away all the pain of living was really causing me more pain.

When I came into program and heard the three letter word, God, I nearly ran away. I’m a very rational, logical person so it was really hard for me to believe what these crazy people were saying, but I was desperate enough to keep coming back. I had to act as if I did believe that I could recover and that a Higher Power might help me. When the miracles started to happen, my faith began to develop, and I slowly realized that my Higher Power was always with me. I now have a far better way to fill that hole in my soul, and it is a far more satisfying and saner way than filling it with mountains of food.

One Day at a Time . . .
I pray to keep my Higher Power in my heart and in my soul, because if I do, my life will be enriched immeasurably in ways that food could never do.

~ Sharon S.~

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day December 1

“Sometimes dreams are wiser then waking.”
–Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa), OGLALA

The Great Spirit has many ways of communicating with the human being. He talks to us through the five senses-sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. For example, we can observe nature and see a lesson or get an answer. These five senses function primarily in the physical world. But we also have the ability to receive communication from the Unseen World. To do this we have a sixth sense. It comes in the form of dreams, imagination, intuition, inspiration or a hunch. Along with the dream or intuitive thought there is a feeling, a knowing. We just know it’s true without the need for proof. We need to pay attention to our dreams and intuition. Don’t cast them off as being silly or useless. Be respectful to our dreams and feelings.

Creator, if you speak to me through dreams, let me know it in terms I can understand.

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Journey To The Heart
December 1
Let Yourself Be Who You Are

It’s difficult to be around people who are trying to be perfect– perfectly healthy , perfectly polite, perfectly poised, perfectly controlled.

Remember that being human means being imperfect, being flawed. Let yourself be. Let others be. Slouch in your chair. Eat with the wrong fork. Laugh out loud. Stand up and reveal who you are and know that you’re good enough.

Stop worrying that people will find out who you really are. Instead, hope that they do. Help them by openly sharing yourself and being not who you think you should be, but who you really are.

Freedom is just a small step away– a step into self-love and acceptance. When you take it, others will follow. And they’ll be grateful you led the way.

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Today’s Gift
December 1

Go rich in poverty. Go rich in poetry.
—May Sarton

Poetry lets us put the beauty of nature – the clouds, the flowers, and the waterfall – into words. Poetry lets us see that things, which appear to be opposites, may just be different ways of looking at the same thing. How can we be rich in poverty? Wealth in poverty means finding pleasure in simplicity, finding the core of what’s important, and saying it in the fewest possible words.

We are so often caught up in the pursuit of more – more money, more toys, more prestige that we forget how satisfying the simple things can be. Think of the beauty of a sunset or a walk by the river, the fun of playing in a sandbox or swinging on the swings in the park, or in simply taking time to get something done the right way, without hurry.

What riches lie around me right this moment?

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The Language Of Letting Go
December 1
Letting People Be There for Us

Sometimes, we need nurturing. Sometimes, we need people to support us.

Many of us have been deprived of support and nurturing for so long we may not realize it’s something we want and need. Many of us have learned to block our stop ourselves from getting what we want and need.

We may not reach out to have our needs met. We may be in relationships with people who cannot or will not be available to meet our needs. Or we may be in relationships with people who would be happy to respond to a direct request from us.

We may have to give up something to do this. We may have to let go of our martyr or victim role. If we ask for what we want and need, and get those needs met, we will not be able to punish people, or push them away later on, for disappointing us.

We may have to let go of our fears enough to experience the intimacy that will occur when we allow someone to love and support us. We may even have to learn, one day at a time, how to be happy and content.

Learn to let others be there for us.
Today, I will be open to identifying what I need from people, and I will ask for what I want directly. I will let others be there for me.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 1

Say how sweet it is

Many of us have been seeking diligently for the meaning of life, at least for the meaning of our lives. I thought I had found it when I began recovering from chemical dependency. Aha, I thought. The meaning of life is to stay sober. Then along came codependecy and my need to recover from those issues. Surely, the seach for enlightenment would culminate there.

No, not yet.

It was as if there was a big locked metal door. On one side of it was supreme knowledge of why we’re here, that elusive “thing” called enlightenment. I was on the other side of the door, locked out, searching for the key.

Over the years, I’ve been to therapists, doctors, and healers. I’ve used homeopathy, kinesiology, acupuncture, and acupressure. In my youth, I tried alcohol and drugs, thinking they were the answer. I looked for the answer to the meaning of life in relationships. Then I searched for enlightenent by avoiding commitment and romantic love at any cost. I’ve tried Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, hypnotherapy, prayer, and meditation,too. Over the past twenty-seven years, I’ve actively participated in more than one Twelve Step program in this quest for truth.

I’ve dutifully plodded through the grinding work so many people have come to know as family of origin work. Hooray, I finally found and healed my inner child. I even have a fuzzy teddy bear on the floor next to my bed. After my son died, I stayed with every moment of my grief until I worked through it by finally accepting the lifetime handicap that I would live in spite of the loss of Shane.

I’ve perused A Course in Miracles, learning with Marianne Williamson’s help about the magic of love in all its myriad shapes and forms. At last, I opened my heart. But the search for enlightenment eluded me. I wasn’t depressed, but my spirit ached.

I started traveling, first around the United States and then around the world. I visited the vortexes of Sedona, the ancient Anasazi village in Chaco Canyon, and the Santuarior de Chimayo, the blessed Mexican church. I should have been glowing in the dark. Occasionally, I glimpsed the Light. But I still didn’t understand what life was all about. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find that key, I’d think. It seemed as if enlightenment was always one day, one step, one therapist, one book, one healer away. Over twenty years ago, when I was already well immersed in this quest, a trusted friend told me that the secret to life was simple: there wasn’t one. Maybe my friend was right. Maybe I was looking for something that didn’t exist.

One day, I stopped looking. It wasn’t that I gave up. I gave in. I stopped waiting to win the spiritual lottery. Stopped trying to become enlightened. Stopped looking for that perfect soul mate. And started surrendering to enjoying each moment of my life– just as it is.

That’s when I found joy. Or maybe joy found me.

The key to enlightenment might be simpler than we think. We’re here to experience joy. Look at each moment in your life and learn to say, How sweet it is.

God, help me learn joy.

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 1

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
—Albert Camus

Sometimes we suddenly see or sense opposite emotions within ourselves. The cold of winter presses in on us, and we may feel tested by its bite. Yet, when we think we cannot bear it a moment longer, we find a counterforce within, an inner reassurance that comes like a summer breeze and says we can do what we must. Perhaps it comes in a time of dark despair, and we realize that at least we’ve made it this far. We are pretty tough. In our deepest sadness about the loss of a love, we may find a more meaningful contact with our Higher Power.

The opposites in our lives may tempt us to fight them. One side may be very clear and obvious while the other side is hidden. When we are open, these extremes are spiritual teachers for us. As we think about life and our feelings today, what opposites do we find?

Today, I will remember that I have an invincible summer at the deepest part of winter in my life.

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Daily TAO
December 1
PROWESS

The wrestler was once more solid than a bull.
He loved to flex enormous, oiled forearms
Before he delightedly vanquished foes.
But now, brittle skin is taught over bone,
And his wheeze is a ghost of his manly bellow.

At any point in life, it is prudent to contemplate the nature of prowess. If you have it, glory in it, and use it wisely and compassionately. But you should not think that it is you yourself who are doing these things. You are borrowing this strength. It isn’t yours.  It is a gift, something here for you for as long as you are lucky to have it. Once it passes, you will not have the victories, and you will be stuck with the same body and mind. When you have been humbled, what is gone? You are still here, here to feel the pain of not being able to do what you were once able to do — unless you learn how to exercise your prowess without identifying with it.

Those who fail to learn this become bitter old people. They curse life. They lose faith. That is because they placed all their self-worth in their abilities and not in who they were. That is why it is good to meditate, and to accumulate not victories but the experience of those victories. Savor them. No one can ever take that away from you.

It is the experiences that come out of prowess, not prowess itself, that are valuable.

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