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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 2, 2013

Just For Today
December 2
Recovery: Our First Priority

“We have to keep our recovery first and our priorities in order.”
Basic Text pg. 79

Before coming to NA, we used many excuses to justify our use of drugs: “He yelled at me” “She said this.” “My partner left.” “I got fired.” We used these same excuses for not seeking help for our drug problem. We had to realize that these things kept happening because we kept using drugs. Only when we made recovery our first priority did these situations begin to change.

We may be subject to the same tendency today, using excuses for not attending meetings and being of service. Our current excuses may be of a different nature: “I can’t leave my kids.” “My vacation wore me out.” “I have to finish this project so I can impress my boss.” But still, if we don’t make recovery our first priority, chances are that we won’t have to worry about these excuses anymore. Kids, vacations, and jobs probably won’t be in our lives if we relapse.

Our recovery must come first. Job or no job, relationship or no relationship, we have to attend meetings, work the steps, call our sponsor, and be of service to God and others. These simple actions are what make it possible for us to have vacations, families, and bosses to worry about. Recovery is the foundation of our lives, making everything else possible.

Just for today: I will keep my priorities in order. Number One on the list is my recovery.

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Daily Reflections
December 2
SERENITY

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps …”
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 106

As I continued to go to meetings and work the Steps, something began to happen to me. I felt confused because I wasn’t sure what it was that I was feeling, and then I realized I was experiencing serenity. It was a good feeling, but where had it come from? Then I realized it had come ” … as the result of these steps.” The program may not always be easy to practice, but I had to acknowledge that my serenity had come to me after working the Steps. As I work the Steps in everything I do, practicing these principles in all my affairs, now I find that I am awake to God, to others, and to myself. The spiritual awakening I have enjoyed as the result of working the Steps is the awareness that I am no longer alone.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 2
A.A. Thought For The Day

The thoughts that come before having a slip seem to be partly subconscious. And yet it is likely that at least part of these thoughts get into our consciousness. An idle thought connected with drinking casually pops into our mind. That is the crucial moment. Will I harbor that thought even for one minute or will I banish it from my mind at once? If I let it stay, it may develop into a daydream. I may begin to see a cool glass of beer or a Manhattan cocktail in my mind’s eye. If I allow the daydream to stay in my mind, it may lead to a decision, however unconscious, to take a drink. Then I am headed for a slip. Do I let myself daydream?

Meditation For The Day

Many of us have a sort of vision of the kind of person God wants us to be. We must be true to that vision, whatever it is, and we must try to live up to it, by living the way we believe we should live. We can all believe that God has a vision of what He wants us to be like. In all people there is a good person whom God sees in us, the person we could be and that God would like us to be. But many a person fails to fulfill that promise and God’s disappointments must be many.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may strive to be the kind of a person that God would have me be. I pray that I may try to fulfill God’s vision of what I could be.

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As Bill Sees It
December 2
Renew Your Effort, p. 68

“Though I know how hurt and sorry you must be after this slip, please do not worry about a temporary loss of your inner peace. As calmly as you can, just renew your effort in the A.A. program, especially those parts of it which have to do with meditation and self-analysis.

“Could I also suggest that you look at excessive guilt for what it is?  Nothing but a sort of reverse pride. A decent regret for what has happened is fine. But guilt–no.

“Indeed, the slip could well have been brought about by unreasonable feelings of guilt because of other moral failures, so called. Surely, you ought to look into this possibility. Even here you should not blame yourself for failure; you can be penalized only for refusing to try for better things.”

Letter, 1958

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Walk In Dry Places
December 2
Bringing Projects to Completion.
Fortitude

Starting projects without completing them can be part of our alcoholic nature. It’s related to immaturity and a tendency to become bored and discouraged quickly.

The 12 Step program can help us overcome this problem. First, we realize and admit to such tendencies, fearlessly facing what has really been a very bad habit. Then we become honest about our motives. We realize that we didn’t actually have the abiding interest that would have helped us complete some projects. In such cases, the projects never should have been started… and in the future we’ll take are not to embark on similar projects.

When something does need to be completed, the program will help us stay with it until it’s done. We will always find that the satisfaction of completing a necessary project will be part of sober living. We’ll also know that we’re growing in the program.

I’ll take the necessary steps today to move any project toward completion. This will also help with future projects.

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Keep It Simple
December 2

…we tried to carry this message to alcoholics…
–Second part of Step 12.

In this part of Step 12, we carry the message of hope. But it’s not up to us if anyone accepts the message or not. This keeps us from playing God. We just gently deliver the message. We don’t force the program down people’s throats. In general, Step Twelve tells us, “Be helpful to those we can help.” When a neighbor is sick, mow her lawn. When a friend is in the hospital, visit him. Step Twelve reminds us that we make a difference. We have hope to give the world. And hope is what we stand for to the addict who still suffers. Hope is what we stand for to the addict’s family. How beautiful to stand for hope! Remember when our lives stood for despair?? What a change!

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me shine brightly as a symbol of Your hope.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll help someone in need. It may be an alcoholic or other drug addict, or just someone in need. I’ll help make the world a better place.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 2

The old woman I shall become will be quite different from the woman I am now. Another I is beginning . . .
–George Sand

Change is constant. And we are always becoming. Each chance, each feeling, each responsibility we commit ourselves to adds to the richness of our womanhood. We are not yesterday’s woman, today. Our new awarenesses have brought us beyond her. And we can’t go back without knowing, somehow, that she no longer meets the needs of today.

We can look forward to our changes, to the older woman we are becoming. She will have the wisdom that we still lack. She will have learned to live and let live. She will have acquired, through years of experiences, a perspective that lends sanity to all situations.

The lessons we are learning today, the pain that overwhelms us now and again, are nurturing the developing woman within each of us. If only we could accept the lessons and master them. If only we could trust the gift of change that accompanies the pain.

I am becoming. And with the becoming, comes peace. I can sense it today. I know where I was yesterday.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 2
A DRUNK, LIKE YOU

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

That was a big step for me; I finally began to separate the religious aspect of my life from A.A.’s spiritual program. Now the big difference to me is that religion is the ritual, and we all differ there, and spirituality is the way we feel about what we do. It’s about my personal contact with my personal Higher Power, as I understand Him.

p. 406

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 2

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.”

At first glance, it did look like a good thing. Then doubt crept in. The association wanted to use our member’s full name in all its advertising; he was to be described both as its director of publicity and as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course, there couldn’t be the slightest objection if such an association hired an A.A. member solely because of his public relations ability and his knowledge of alcoholism. But that wasn’t the whole story, for in this case not only was an A.A. member to break his anonymity at a public level, he was to link the name Alcoholics Anonymous to this particular educational project in the minds of millions. It would be bound to appear that A.A. was now backing education–liquor trade association style.

p. 158

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Xtra Thoughts
December 2

Destroying pride — man becomes endearing;
Destroying anger — man gets rid of sorrow;
Destroying desire — man acquires peace;
Destroying greed — man achieves happiness.
–Satya Sai Baba

Whoever seeks God . . . has already found God.
–unknown

It’s never too late to begin making an effort.
–unknown

When you find yourself rundown from life, pace yourself and take a refreshing break.
–unknown

BIG BOOK – Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge

WILLING – When I Live Life, I Need God

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 2
PROBLEMS

“The certainties of one age are the problems of the next.”
— R. H. Tawney

Life is a process of change that inevitably produces problems; the fear of the new, the discomfort of old values being seen to be wrong, the confusion that so often accompanies growth. Problems are part of life and we can only escape them in death. (Even then nobody can be sure we will be free of problems!)

As an alcoholic I tried to run away from my problems by drinking. But the next day the old problems were still there and my drinking had usually brought new problems. Alcohol only produced a momentary escape but reality always returned.

Today, with the acceptance of my alcoholism and my decision not to “pick up the first drink”, I face my problems. I deal with my problems. I live with the problems of life.

Teach me to accept joyously the problems that life and growth inevitably bring.

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Bible Scriptures
December 2

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”
Matthew 13:16

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
Hebrews 13:5

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Daily Inspiration
December 2

Life will be so much easier if you can accept that things don’t always go as planned and see that these are often magnificent opportunities. Lord, help me learn from the occurrences of today that seem to go awry and show me how to make the situation better through my own flexibility and creativity.

Enthusiasm keeps the mind young and the spirit growing. Lord, may I always see wonder in the ordinary happenings of my day.

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A Day At A Time
December 2

Reflection For The Day

Once at a meeting held in a church, I saw a stained glass window on which was written, “God Is Love.” For some reason, my mind transposed the words into “Love Is God.” Either way is correct and true, I realized, looking about me and becoming even more conscious of the spirit of love and Power in the small meeting room. I’ll continue to seek out that love and Power, following The Program as if my life depended upon it — as indeed it does. Does life to me today mean living — in the active sense — joyously and comfortably?

Today I Pray

May I feel the spirit of love that gives our prayers their energy. May I feel the oneness in this room, the concentration of love that gives the group its power. May I feel the exemplary love of a Higher Power, which our love echoes.

Today I Will Remember

Love Is God.

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One More Day
December 2

Habituation is a falling asleep or fatiguing of the sense of time;  which explains why young years pass slowly, while later life finds itself faster and faster upon its course.
–Thomas Mann

Our routines can become so rote that we’re unaware of making choices.   Suddenly, we realize we haven’t done many of the things which matter most to us.   With this realization comes another: sometimes making no choice is, in fact  a choice in the same things, saying the same words, living a copy of the day before —  we have chosen to live safely.   But we may think, I wish I had…

We don’t have to completely change our lives in order to make better choices for ourselves.  All we have to do is see all the choices open to us.

What and how I choose makes every day different from the last.

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One Day At A Time
December 2
FAITH

I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.
–Charlotte Bronte

If only I would remember to keep my focus on God and today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. The past is just that … the past. I can’t change any of it, the good memories or the bad. They are just memories. I don’t have to forget my past; I just have to stop hurting myself by constantly agonizing over what I consider mistakes and failures.

Tomorrow is in God’s hands. What better place for it to be! I have to learn to trust God to hold me in the palm of His hands, the same way He holds tomorrow. He isn’t going to drop me or close His fist around me so tightly that I can’t breathe.

We are all created with the ability to make choices, and He gives us that freedom. He will hold us securely, and help us make the right choices, if only we let go and let Him.

One day at a time . . .
I will forget yesterday and tomorrow. I will not look backward or forward. I will look up and put myself in God’s care, knowing He will hold me safely in the palm of His hand.

Debbie K.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day December 2

“The smarter a man is the more he needs God to protect him from thinking he knows everything.”
–George Webb, PIMA

A spiritual person needs to be careful. The more confident we are, the more likely our egos will get us into trouble. It’s relatively easy to become self-righteous. We start to think we are teachers and others are students. We start to judge others. We start, very subtlety at first, to play God. After a while we really get good at it. This is very dangerous. We need to remind ourselves, we are here to do God’s will. We need to pray every morning. Each day we need to check in with God to see what He would have us do. At night we need to spend time with God and review our day. By doing these things, we will stay on track.

My Creator, guide my path and show me how to correct my life.

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Journey To The Heart
December 2
Learn to Visualize Your Path

Learn to visualize what you would like to see happen in your life. Use your mind and your imagination, in connection with your heart, to create a picture of the future.

Visions can help create our future and guide us down the path. If we have a picture of where we’re going, it will help us know when we get there. It will help us know we’re on track.

At times, we find ourselves easily using our imaginations to create a clear picture. We can see ourselves doing something a particular way, comfortably functioning in a particular situation. We can see how what we’re working on is going to look. We can see ourselves living in a particular place, working at a particular job, or vacationing at that special spot. We know clearly what we want.

Other times, our vision may not be as clear. We may have only a few vague ideas about how a thing or place will look. We need to focus our attention and create as clear a picture as we can. Making a list of all we know about what we’d like it to be helps here.

Other times, we may be completely in the dark without a clue about where we’re going. That doesn’t mean we can’t get there or that there is no place for us to go. It means that we need to ask God, the universe, to help us become clear on what would be good, clear enough so we can recognize the answer when it comes.

Learn to use your imagination to create the life you want. Take time at the beginning to develop a vision, an idea about what you want. Visualize how you would like things to be. Then let your vision guide you where you need to go.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 2
Putting Our Life on Hold

We cannot afford to put our needs on hold, waiting for another person to fulfill us, make our life better, or come around and be who and what we want that person to be. That will create resentment, hostility, an unhealthy dependency, and a mess to deal with later on.

If we have decided we want a particular relationship or want to wait about making a decision in a particular relationship, then we must go on with our own life in the interim.

That can be hard. It can feel natural to put our life on hold. That is when we get caught up in the codependent beliefs: That person can make me happy… I need that particular person to do a particular thing in order to be happy….

That’s a circumstance that can hook our low self-esteem, our self-doubt, and our tendency to neglect ourselves.

We can get into this situation in a number of ways. We can do this waiting for a letter, waiting for a job, waiting for a person, waiting for an event.

We do not have to put our life on hold. There will be repercussions from doing this. Go on with your life. Take life a day at a time.

What is something I could be doing now to take care of myself, make myself feel better, get my needs met in an appropriate, healthy way?

How can I own my power to take care of myself, despite what the other person is or isn’t doing?

What will happen if I break the system and begin taking care of myself?

Sometimes, we get the answer we want immediately. Sometimes, we wait for a while. Sometimes, things don’t work out exactly the way we hoped. But they always work out for good, and often better than we expected.

And in the meantime, we have manifested love for ourselves by living our own life and taking the control away from others. That always comes back to us tenfold, because when we actually manifest love for ourselves, we give our Higher Power, other people, and the Universe permission to send us the love we want and need. Stopping living our life to make a thing happen doesn’t work. All it does is make us miserable, because we have stopped living our life.

Today, I will force myself, if necessary, to live my own life. I will act in my own best interest, in a way that reflects self-love. If I have given power or control of my life to someone other than myself, and someone besides a Power greater than myself, I will take it back. I will begin acting in my own best interests, even if it feels awkward to do that.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 2
The lesson is joy

I was visiting a counselor in Minnesota one cold January day in 1991. We were talking about the present and speculating about the lessons to come. She grabbed my hand and looked at me, looked right into my eyes. “This I know for sure,” she said. “You’ve been through enough pain. Now you’re going to learn about joy.”

One week later, my son Shane died.

Mixed in with my grief was rage. I was so angry with her for saying that. It was another instance of getting my hopes up that I could finally be happy. Now, I felt tricked and let down.

The years passed slowly. I lost almost everything, including my desire to write. Nichole graduated from high school. Then she moved out of the house, and to New York. Life kept changing and moving along, in spite of how I felt.

One year I noticed that the anniversary of Shane’s death had passed, and I hadn’t become depressed. Then I began to notice something else. I was beginning to feel alive, vibrant, awestruck with life. It wasn’t a naive assumption that whatever I wanted, I’d get. It was a newfound ability to surrender to each moment and enjoy what life brought my way. I made new friends. My relationships with old friends changed. What inspired me was my new relationship with life. I stopped looking for outward circumstances to provide me with happiness. I began to see that I held that key myself.

If you’re going through something in your life that isn’t what you planned, a transformation is at hand. While we might prefer to be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, it usually doesn’t happen that fast. It takes all the moments added together, and sometimes those moments go on and on. But one day when you least expect it– a phoenix rises from the ashes. That phoenix is you.

Some of us encounter a lot of pain. Some of us have less. If I could sit across from you right now, I’d look into your eyes and say these words to you: “I know you’ve been through a lot. But there’s a new cycle coming. You’re going to learn about joy.”

Life is going to take you on your own journey of personal transformation. You may have let go of some things. But don’t worry, you’ll get some of those things back. And sometimes when we think something is lost, it’s not. It’s just moved to a different place. No pain, no gain, is what many people say. And usually they say that because when the lesson is learned, the pain stops. But then something happens. It just clicks in. The moments start getting better and better. And it’s not because of what we get. It happens because we’ve surrendered. And although it looks like what we’ve surrendered to is pain and heartache, we’ve really surrendered to God’s will.

There’s a world out there– right outside your door. And the key that opens the door is in your hand. The ultimate lesson is learning joy. Put your fears aside. Live your life, whatever that means to you today. It may happen today, tomorrow, next week, or in ten years. but you won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll throw your hat up in the air, look around, and shout, “Oh my God, how sweet life is.”

God, help me get through my lessons, one by one. Then bring me to that place where I learn about joy.

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Today’s Gift
December 2

When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too.
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There’s a person inside each of us just itching to be known and loved. But if we don’t get to know and love that person, how can we expect anyone else to know us?

That’s why it’s so important to spend time alone getting acquainted with ourselves. And how do we do that? We can sit quietly with ourselves, thinking and listening. Then we can write our thoughts in a journal, or we can draw or paint them. If we play a musical instrument, we can put our thoughts and feelings into music.

When we make the time and effort to know ourselves, it encourages others to want to know us, too. Since everything we do and feel begins inside us, we must feel good about ourselves in order to feel good about anything else. What wonders we are, that we have all the power we need to make our world a happy one!

How do I feel about myself today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 2

The management assumes no responsibility for what is found.
—Abraham Maslow

There are so many occasions when we would like to blame somebody – wife, child, parent, or “the management,” for our feelings. When we get frustrated, overworked, or angry, we want somebody else to take responsibility. In truth, each of us has his own path and is responsible for his feelings. One man said that living alone made it clear to him that his wife wasn’t creating his feelings. Until then he thought she was responsible.

This blaming and not taking responsibility keep a man in the role of victim. When we accept the difficult message that our feelings are ours to deal with and no one else’s, self-improvement begins. We begin to walk the difficult but self respecting path of spiritual awakening. We can do something about whatever hurts. Even in that awakening there are no guarantees that who we are will be totally what we want to find. Our only guarantee is that our Higher Power is with us to deal with the realities of our lives.

Today, help me be responsible for what I feel and do.

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Daily TAO
December 2
WISDOM

A white-haired couple sits on the park bench,
Reading the paper, discussing the day’s news.
He repeats a poem, learned in his youth;
She finishes the stanza as he nods in pleasure.
At twilight, the air seems clearer than noon.

In past times, educators emphasized memorization. You can still meet older people who can recite certain poems, passages from classics and religious texts, or mathematical formulae. In fact, some people assert that those who remember more are wiser.

Young people often have a mania for more and more information. But mere accumulation is not enough. The more you take in, the more that data needs to be managed. Without that, you have encyclopedic knowledge and minuscule wisdom. True wisdom is a qualitative value built on a quantitative foundation. The vital elderly did not become venerable through good memory alone. They also learned to manipulate those facts.  They mixed their knowledge with a healthy dose of experience, experimentation, and contemplation. It takes time to intuit special connections between facts.

One might say that wisdom is not simply a mental process but the sum total of a human being.

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