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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 17

NA Just For Today
December 17
Service Motives

“Everything that occurs in the course of NA service must be motivated by the desire to more successfully carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers.”
—Basic Text pg. xvi

Our motives are often a surprise to us. In our early days of recovery, they were almost always a surprise! We’ve learned to check our motives through prayer, meditation, the steps, and talking to our sponsor or other addicts. When we find ourselves with an especially strong urge to do or have something, it’s particularly important to check our motives to find out what we really want.

In early recovery, many of us throw ourselves into service with great fervor before we have started the regular practice of motive-checking. It takes awhile before we become aware of the real reasons for our zeal. We may want to impress others, show off our talents, or be recognized and important. Now, these desires may not be harmful in another setting, expressed through another outlet. In NA service, however, they can do serious damage.

When we decide to serve NA, we make a decision to help addicts find and maintain recovery. We have to carefully check our motives in service, remembering that it’s much easier to frighten away using addicts than to convince them to stay. When we show them game-playing, manipulation, or pomposity, we present an unattractive picture of recovery. However, the unselfish desire to serve others creates an atmosphere that is attractive to the addict who still suffers.

Just for today: I will check my motives for the true spirit of service.

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Daily Reflections
December 17
A PRICELESS REWARD

” … work with other alcoholics … It works when other activities fail.”
—ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 89

“Life will take on a new meaning,” as the Big Book says (p. 89). This promise has helped me to avoid self-seeking and self-pity. To watch others grow in this wonderful program, to see them improve the quality of their lives, is a priceless reward for my effort to help others.  Self-examination is yet another reward for an ongoing recovery, as are serenity, peace and contentment. The energy derived from seeing others on a successful path, of sharing with them the joys of the journey, gives to my life a new meaning.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 17
A.A. Thought For The Day

The way of faith is of course not confined to A.A. It is the way for everybody who wants to really live. But many people can go through life without much of it. Many are doing so, to their own sorrow. The world is full of lack of faith. Many people have lost confidence in any meaning in the universe. Many are wondering if it has any meaning at all. Many are at loose ends. Life has no goal for many.  They are strangers in the land. They are not at home. But for us in A.A. the way of faith is the way of life. We have proved by our past lives that we could not live without it. Do I think I could live happily without faith?

Meditation For The Day

“He maketh His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain on the just and the unjust.” God does not interfere with the working of natural laws. The laws of nature are unchangeable, otherwise we could not depend on them. As far as natural laws are concerned, God makes no distinction between good and bad people. Sickness or death may strike anywhere. But spiritual laws are also made to be obeyed. On our choice of good or evil depends whether we go upward to true success and victory in life or downward to loss and defeat.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may choose today the way of the spiritual life.  I pray that I may live today with faith and hope and love.

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As Bill Sees It
December 17
WHEN CONFLICTS MOUNT, p. 289

Sometimes I would be forced to look at situations where I was doing badly. Right away, the search for excuses would become—frantic.

“These,” I would exclaim, “are really a good man’s faults.” When that pet gadget broke apart, I would think, “Well, if those people would only treat me right, I wouldn’t have to behave the way I do.” Next was this: “God well knows that I do have awful compulsions. I just can’t get over this one. So He will have to release me.” At last came the time when I would shout, “This, I positively will not do! I won’t even try.”

Of course, my conflicts went right on mounting, because I was simply loaded with excuses, refusals, and outright rebellion.

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Walk In Dry Places
December 17
Looking For Protectors

Self-Reliance: Many of us managed to survive while drinking by finding protectors we could lean on. Sometimes the protector wasn’t a very strong person—only someone who was willing to support us in some way. A protector could even be a person who gave us flattery or companionship when we wanted it.

Such alliances are usually unhealthy and have no lasting place in society. We cannot depend on protectors who will eventually betray us or fail us through no fault of their own.

In sobriety, we must grow into a satisfactory form of self-reliance. This is not reliance on our own resources; rather, it is really a way of relying on our Higher Power, the group, our sponsors, and the higher understanding we’ve found in the program. If we’re still looking for people willing to protect us, we need more growth in sobriety.

I’ve been given tools for understanding myself and my life. I can use those tools effectively as I go through the day.

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Keep It Simple
December 17

“The rose and the thorn, and sorrow and gladness are linked together.”
—Saadi

When we were drinking and drugging, we didn’t have to deal much with feelings. We turned them off. Then, when we let go of the alcohol and other drugs, we started to come back to life. Now—we have feelings again! But, even now, in recovery, we’re scared of too much happiness. It’s true—we don’t want sadness and pain at all. Yet, feelings—the good and the bad—keep on coming.

And we have to handle them. We are learning to handle our feelings. We’re getting strong enough to deal with them. With the help of our friends in the program, and our Higher Power, we’re ready for life.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, I want to be fully alive, but I’m a little scared. Help me know what to do with my feelings today.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll be open to feelings. I’ll enjoy my good feelings and share them. I’ll ask for help with hard feelings by praying, and by calling my sponsor.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 17

“Give to the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.”
—Madeline Bridge

We do reap, in some measure, at some time, what we sow. Our respect for others will result in kind. Our love expressed will return tenfold. The kindness we greet others with will ease their relations with us. We get from others what we give, if not at this time and place, at another. We can be certain that our best efforts toward others do not go unnoticed. And we can measure our due by what we give.

A major element of our recovery is the focus we place on our behavior, the seriousness with which we tackle our inventories. We can look at ourselves and how we reach out and act toward others; it is a far cry from where we were before entering this program. Most of us obsessed on “What he did to me,” or “What she said.” And then returned their actions in kind.

How thrilling is the knowledge that we can invite loving behavior by giving it! We have a great deal of control over the ebb and flow of our lives. In every instance we can control our behavior. Thus never should we be surprised about the conditions of our lives.

What goes around comes around. I will look for the opportunities to be kind and feel the results.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 17
ACCEPTANCE WAS THE ANSWER

The physician wasn’t hooked, he thought—he just prescribed drugs medically indicated for his many ailments. Acceptance was his key to liberation.

On two occasions, over weekends, I had decided I would take absolutely nothing. On each occasion I had a convulsion on Sunday morning. Both times my reaction was that I had had nothing to drink the night before, so obviously alcohol had nothing to do with it. The neurologist in charge of my case didn’t think to ask me whether I drank, and I didn’t tell him. As a result, he couldn’t figure out why I had the convulsions, and he decided to send me to the Mayo Clinic. It seemed to me I needed a consultation first. I happened to be the best diagnostician I knew at the time, and certainly I knew my case better than anyone else. So I sat down with me and went over the facts behind the convulsions: personality changes, daily headaches, sense of impending doom, sense of impending insanity. Suddenly, it was obvious to me: I had a brain tumor and would die, and everyone would be sorry for me. The Mayo Clinic seemed like a good place to have my diagnosis confirmed.

pp. 411-412

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 17

Tradition Seven — “Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”

When these facts were printed, there was a profound reaction. To people familiar with endless drives for charitable funds, A.A. presented a strange and refreshing spectacle. Approving editorials here and abroad generated a wave of confidence in the integrity of Alcoholics Anonymous. They pointed out that the irresponsible had become responsible, and that by making financial independence part of its tradition, Alcoholics Anonymous had revived an ideal that its era had almost forgotten.

p. 165

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Xtra Thoughts
December 17

“Enthusiastic people experience life from the inside out.”
—Nido Qubein

“There are two days about which nobody should ever worry, and these are yesterday and tomorrow.”
—Robert J. Burdette

“What people really need is a good listening-to.”
—Mary Lou Casey

“When I have done all the footwork I know to do and things are still not working out, I know today that it is time to meditate. I have faith that my answer is still to come.”
—Ruth Fishel

“No one else’s opinion about me can determine my worth.”
—Mary Manin Morrissey

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
—Melody Beattie

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 17
FEAR

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”
—Marie Curie

God is on my side. Today I really believe and understand this truth, and it helps me cope with my fears. Now I am beginning to understand that I was the only real enemy in my life. With this new understanding of God I have the power of choice back in my life.

I do not have to stay in a sick process. I do not need sick and negative people in my life. I do not have to place myself in destructive relationships or in fearful situations. God is alive in my life and I am discovering the spiritual power of choice.

God, give me the courage to confront my fear and be willing to make changes in my life.

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Bible Scriptures
December 17

“Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.”
—2 Corinthians 6:2

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
—Proverbs 30:5

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Daily Inspiration
December 17

Treat your family as you would treat a best friend. Lord, help me to treasure my family with all of their imperfections as well as my own and cherish the time we have together.

Let nothing that others do alter how you treat them. Lord, may I treat all with love and consideration.

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A Day At A Time
December 17

Reflection For The Day

More and more these days, as I progress in my recovery, I seem to do a lot of listening—quietly waiting to hear God’s unmistakable voice within me. Prayer is becoming a two-way street—of seeking and listening, of searching and finding. A favorite bit of Scripture for me is, “Be still and know that I am God.” Do I pay quiet and loving attention to Him, ever more confident of an enlightened knowledge of His will for me?

Today I Pray

As I seek to know my Higher Power, may I learn the best ways—for me—to reach and hear Him. May I begin to feel prayer, not just listening to the sound of my own verbalizing. May I feel the sharp outlines of my humanness fading as His Godliness becomes a part of me. May I feel that I am one with Him.

Today I will Remember

Feel the stillness of God.

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One More Day
December 17

“Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light.”
—Jean Giraudoux

Many people—not just the chronically ill—experience a sense of sadness or longing at this time of year. Perhaps the season stirs memories of carefree, happier times or, instead, of holidays long ago that were unhappy and without fantasy.

Knowing that this sadness is not uncommon can be comforting and so is knowing we can resist sadness. If we’re unhappy with old traditions, we can introduce new ones. If we’ve isolated ourselves, we can join in some group activities. And if we’re tired, we can give ourselves permission to say no and to have time alone. We might also examine our expectations and remember that special days are not copies of earlier ones. Each is new.

In the holidays ahead, I will continue to do the things that have been special. I will abandon any pattern that gives me no joy.

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One Day At A Time
December 17
PEACE

“We cannot find peace if we are afraid of the windstorms of life.”
—Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Psychiatrist and author of ‘On Death and Dying’)

My life always seemed so filled with difficulty. I seemed to have more than my fair share of traumas and losses. Why was I always being tested like this? It just didn’t seem fair. I was so wrapped up in myself and the unfairness of my difficult life that I couldn’t see that each of these harsh experiences had been opportunities for growth. Instead of bemoaning my fate and blaming people or situations for what seemed to me to be the cause of the current difficulty, I never looked at what part I had played in the whole situation, or the lessons I could learn from each of these experiences.

It has often been said that God doesn’t give us more than we can cope with. What I realized later, once I’d come into the program, was that each of these experiences had been a unique learning opportunity for me; they were a chance to grow and mature. I had been too stuck in self-pity and blame that I hadn’t seen the wonderful gifts that I was being given with each new life experience. When I was able to open myself up fully to the lessons that I could learn from life, I became a whole person. It was then that the promises of the program begin to be fulfilled in my life, and I began to know serenity and peace.

One Day at a Time …
I will look for what lesson my Higher Power wants me to learn from life. I am then able to grow and change, and by doing so, I will come to know serenity and peace.
—Sharon S.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 17

“Hear me! A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.”
—Tecumseh, SHAWNEE

You can take one arrow and break it in half. But if you take 12 arrows in a bundle, it’s almost impossible to break any of them. There is strength in Unity. When we are together we are very powerful. This is the way the ancestors told us we need to be. Strong. We need to unite ourselves. This is why the Elders say, when we make decisions, we must first consider the good of the people. If every person in the community thinks this way, then we will always make strong decisions.

Creator, let my decisions have the strength of the bundle.

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Journey To The Heart
December 17
Don’t Complicate Things

The simple, clear answer to life’s situations can be easily found in the heart. Don’t limit its wisdom to just one or two areas; let it guide you through all of your life.

Are you struggling with finances? Feeling overwhelmed by taxes? Not certain what to do to help someone you love? Do you have a problem with a friend? Has a business relationship gotten sticky, maybe hopelessly adversarial? Are you at war with the person you love? Problems with children? Problems with parents? A landlord who just won’t get the job done? All of these areas, and more, can be brought to your heart.

Do you need to find a new hobby? Are you stuck on a project? Do you need an idea, some creative inspiration? Do you need a new place to live, or a way to fix your current home? Take it all back to your heart.

Calm your mind. Let go. Get quiet. You don’t have to know the plan. Just put out the question, then listen to your inner voice. It will guide you through any maze you’ve been lost in.

Don’t complicate things or try to figure it all out. The answer is simple: look in your heart.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 17
Nurturing Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 17
Take another look at your world

Oh, the glory of the ordinary!

I wake up, roll over, and look out the sliding glass door at the sun rising over the distant layers of hills.

Today will be a day of errands. We’re out of milk, so we’ll make a run to the grocery store, probably returning home with too much chocolate and no milk. The pictures from the last trip needed to be dropped off. We have a flying lesson at 2:00. Then it will be supper at the Lodge with our friend Andy. It’ll probably be something simple, like burgers on the grill.

An ordinary day.

I remember a time when the ordinary meant searching for another high, searching for money to get drugs. I’m grateful for the ordinary life that I lead.

“When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is happiness. But later, when we don’t have a toothache, we don’t treasure our non-toothache” Thich Nhat Hanh gently reminds us in his book The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching.

Take another look at your ordinary world.

See how glorious it is.

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Today’s Gift
December 16

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.”
—Erma Bombeck

The most precious time we will ever have we give away by doing volunteer chores to help others get more out of life. There is no material wage for this kind of work, but a host of emotional rewards. The height of volunteer giving is doing an act of kindness or love so quietly that none but ourselves will ever know we had a part in it.

What great humility this can bring to us, who live in a world where selfish people often insist on credit for all their deeds—often things they had nothing to do with.

All we need do is think of all we have received without deserving it or asking for it. By taking part in the giving end of life, we find the true wealth of our own generosity.

What secret gift can I give today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 17

“The purpose of man’s life is not happiness but worthiness.”
—Felix Adler

When we pursue happiness as a goal for its own sake, we usually reach the opposite point of emptiness. Feeling happy is a by-product of other life experiences. Happiness comes and goes. We welcome it but cannot capture and hold it, nor can we create a recipe for achieving happiness.

We will lead far more successful lives pursuing other values which we do have control over, such as honesty, respect for others and ourselves, seeking loving relationships, and making a contribution to the well being of others. We can accept unhappiness and difficulties without struggle when we know we are doing something that has greater meaning. Our Eleventh Step tells us we pray only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. This helps us focus on God’s purpose for us. We can have an inner sense of joy knowing we are leading meaningful lives, even when we aren’t having a particularly happy day.

I will seek the goals that make my life worthwhile and welcome happiness when it comes.

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Daily TAO
December 17
BREATH

You breathe,
Frosting mountains white,
Exciting trees to verdant flame,
Dancing sparrows on your wing,
Swirling waves into long sighs.
You breathe,
And all things live.

A central concept for Tao is breath. Without breath, there is no life. The complexity of this idea is great indeed. You breathe; that brings you oxygen. You breathe; that sustains you. You breathe; that regulates your heartbeat, feeds your brain, makes your blood red. Deeper still : You breathe, and the entire energy field of your body is sustained and set into motion. When that field, so intimately tied to breathing, is integrated with your mind, you have the power of spirituality. Breath. Don’t crassly think of it as mere gas.

Just as we breathe, so too does the universe breathe. In fact, we can think of the entire medium of life as breath. When the world breathes, all things are sustained. Weather moves as it should. Plants grow as they should. Animals are made strong. The very forces of geology are set into motion. And together, a mighty field of energy is generated, a much larger version of what happens in your own body.  Connected to that field is a universal mind.

Do you want to know how spirituality works? Breathe.

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