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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 21

NA Just For Today
December 21
Acceptance And Change

“Freedom to change seems to come after acceptance of ourselves.”
—Basic Text pg. 56

Fear and denial are the opposites of acceptance. None of us are perfect, even in our own eyes; all of us have certain traits that, given the chance, we would like to change. We sometimes become overwhelmed when contemplating how far short we fall of our ideals, so overwhelmed that we fear there’s no chance of becoming the people we’d like to be. That’s when our defense mechanism of denial kicks in, taking us to the opposite extreme: nothing about ourselves needs changing, we tell ourselves, so why worry? Neither extreme gives us the freedom to change.

Whether we are long-time NA members or new to recovery, the freedom to change is acquired by working the Twelve Steps. When we admit our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives, we counteract the lie that says we don’t have to change. In coming to believe that a Power greater than we can help us, we lose our fear that we are damaged beyond repair; we come to believe we can change. We turn ourselves over to the care of the God of our understanding and tap the strength we need to make a thorough, honest examination of ourselves. We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being what we’ve found. We accept the good and the bad in ourselves; with this acceptance, we become free to change.

Just for today: I want to change. By working the steps, I will counter fear and denial and find the acceptance needed to change.

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Daily Reflections
December 21
LISTEN, SHARE AND PRAY

“When working with a man and his family, you should take care not to participate in their quarrels. You may spoil your chance of being helpful if you do.”
—ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 100

When trying to help a fellow alcoholic, I’ve given in to an impulse to give advice, and perhaps that’s inevitable. But allowing others the right to be wrong reaps its own benefits. The best I can do—and it sounds easier than it is to put into practice—is to listen, share personal experience, and pray for others.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 21
A.A. Thought For The Day

Have I ceased being inwardly defeated, at war with myself? Have I given myself freely to A.A. and to the Higher Power? Have I gotten over being sick inside? Am I still wandering mentally or am I “on the beam?” I can face anything, if I am sure I am on the way. When I am sure, I should bet my life on A.A. I have learned how the program works. Now will I follow it with all I have, with all I can give, with all my might, with all my life? Am I going to let A.A. principles guide the rest of my life?

Meditation For The Day

In this time of quiet meditation, follow the pressure of the Lord’s leading. In all decisions to be made today, yield to the gentle pressure of your conscience. Stay or go as that pressure indicates. Take the events of today as part of God’s planning and ordering. He may lead you to a right decision. Wait quietly until you have an inner urge, a leading, a feeling that a thing is right, a pressure on your will by the spirit of God.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that today I may try to follow the inner pressure of God’s leading. I pray that I may try to follow my conscience and do what seems right today.

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As Bill Sees It
December 21
Neither Dependence nor Self-Sufficiency, p.265

When we insisted, like infants, that people protect and take care of us or that the world owed us a living, then the result was unfortunate. The people we most loved often pushed us aside or perhaps deserted us entirely. Our disillusionment was hard to bear.

We failed to see that, though adult in years, we were still behaving childishly, trying to turn everybody—friends, wives, husbands, even the world itself—into protective parents. We refused to learn that overdependence upon people is unsuccessful because all people are fallible, and even the best of them will sometimes let us down, especially when our demands for attention become unreasonable.

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Walk In Dry Places
December 21
Keeping the Faith with Guidance
Good Orderly Direction

Does guidance from our Higher Power always come through? We must believe that it does, even when we don’t seem to receive a visible answer.

Spiritual guidance usually doesn’t come as we think it should. What we’re likely to find instead is that over time, a number of unrelated events come together for a good purpose. Although this appears to be chance or coincidence, very important outcomes often develop from simple happenings, maybe just from meeting someone on the street.

We can never really determine how any chain of events will play out. The best we can do is to continue seeking guidance while following the highest principles in our program. Many chance happenings will be recognized as guidance when we look back at an entire chain of events.

My best way to seek guidance is simply to remember today that my life and affairs are in God’s care and keeping. The highest good will come from this.

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Keep It Simple
December 21

“Don’t give your advice before you are called upon.”
—Desiderius Erasmus

If someone wants your advice, the person will ask for it. That’s one reason why in Twelve Step programs we don’t go around trying to talk people into joining. But people will ask us for advice. They’ll see how we’ve changed, and they’ll want what we have. All we have to do is tell them where we found it—in AA, NA or another Twelve Step group. We don’t tell them what to do. We tell them our own story—what it was like, what happened, and where we are now. And we invite them to join us.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me carry the healing message of the program to these who ask for advice.

Action for the Day: I’ll make a decision to spend time with the next person who asks for my help.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 21

“Every person is responsible for all the good within the scope of her abilities, and no more …”
—Gail Hamilton

We have been given the gift of life. Our recovery validates that fact. Our pleasure with that gift is best expressed by the fullness with which we greet and live life. We need not back off from the invitations our experiences offer. Each one of them gives us a chance, a bit different from all other chances, to fulfill part of our purpose in the lives of others.

It has been said that the most prayerful life is the one most actively lived. Full encounter with each moment is evidence of our trust in the now and thus our trust in our higher power. When we fear what may come or worry over what has gone before, we’re not trusting in God. Growth in the program will help us remember that fact, thus releasing us to participate more actively in the special circumstances of our lives.

When we look around us today, we know that the persons in our midst need our best, and they’re not there by accident but by Divine appointment. We can offer them the best we have—acceptance, love, support, our prayers, and we can know that is God’s plan for our lives and theirs.

I will celebrate my opportunities for goodness today. They’ll bless me in turn.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 21
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.

In the hospital I hung on to the idea I’d had most of my life: that if I could just control the external environment, the internal environment would then become comfortable. Much of my time was spent writing letters, notes, orders, and lists of things for Max, who was also my office nurse, to do to keep the world running while I was locked up. One has to be pretty sick to do that, and perhaps one has to be even sicker to come back every day for a new list, as she did. (Today we don’t have to live that way. Max still works with me in the office, but we have turned our lives and our wills and our work over to the care of God. Each with the other as a witness, we took the Third Step out loud—just as it says in the Big Book. And life keeps getting simpler and easier as we try to reverse my old idea, by taking care of the internal environment via the Twelve Steps, and letting the external environment take care of itself.)

pp. 413-414

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 21

Tradition Eight — “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

At last, however, a plain line of cleavage could be seen between professionalism and nonprofessionalism. When we had agreed that the Twelfth Step couldn’t be sold for money, we had been wise. But when we had declared that our Fellowship couldn’t hire service workers nor could any A.A. member carry our knowledge into other fields, we were taking the counsel of fear, fear which today has been largely dispelled in the light of experience.

p. 167

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Xtra Thoughts
December 21

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
—Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
—Buddha

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”
—Flora Edwards

“As long as I am willing, God will always provide the answers. No one said I would like them, but I accept them.”
—Shelley

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
—Thomas Paine

Sobriety is a journey of joyful discovery.

Recovery is not a race.

Every recovery from alcoholism began with one sober hour.

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 21
ORIGINALITY

“Originality exists in every individual because each of us differ from the others. We are all primary–numbers divisible only by ourselves.”
Jean Guitton

For too many years I tried to be “the same” as other people; matched their styles, repeated their words, did what they wanted, lived to please a crowd of people I did not really know and they certainly did not know me! I said other people’s prayers, quoted other people’s opinions and memorized the ideas of others and I felt empty.

Today I value the lives of others but I am slowly beginning to explore my place in this universe. Today I accept the “specialness” that is me; that uniqueness makes me God’s miracle. Now others are listening and benefiting from my life.

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Bible Scriptures
December 21

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28

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Daily Inspiration
December 21

Growth is not easy. It comes from fully experiencing each situation and mastering it with understanding. Lord, Your presence in my life dispels my fears and guides me through all of life’s circumstances.

Today be cheerful when it is difficult and patient when that, too, is difficult. Lord, I will let Your love for me flow through me and touch those around me.

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A Day At A Time
December 21

Reflection For The Day

Each of us in The Program can, in our own time and own way, reach the triumphant spiritual awakening that is described in the Twelfth Step. The spiritual awakening is a deep-down knowledge that we are no longer alone and helpless. It’s also a deep-down awareness that we’ve learned certain truths which we can now transmit to others so that perhaps they, too, can be helped. Am I keeping myself in constant readiness for the spiritual awakening which is certain to come to me as I practice The Steps and surrender my will to God’s will?

Today I Pray

May I be steady, not expecting that my spiritual awakening will startle me like an alarm clock into sudden awareness of a Higher Power. It may settle on me so quietly that I may not recognize precisely when my money of awareness comes. The clue may come in my desire to Twelfth_Step others. May I realize, then, that I have accepted the principles of The Program and am at home with the spiritual transformation I feel in myself.

Today I Will Remember

My spiritual awakening is my first private moment with God.

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One More Day
December 21

To know after absences the familiar street and road and village and house is to know again the satisfaction of home.
– Hal Borland

Home is a word that carries all kinds of meanings for us. For the majority, home has always been our anchor — the place where we can go even when we have had the worst possible of all days. Home usually means love, but it certainly means security and comfort.

As the years go by we understand that home has little to do with a physical structure. It can be a tiny apartment or an elaborate mansion. Or — better still — it can be the special comfort and security we feel within ourselves. It is , after all, what we bring to it and to the people around us. Home is, and always has been, where our heart is.

My home acts as one of the roots of my life, and it has all the qualities that I bring to it.

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One Day At A Time
December 21
BABY STEPS

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
–Helen Keller

(born Helen Adams Keller (1880 – 1968) American author, activist and lecturer and the first deafblind person to graduate from college).

From as far back as I can remember, I believed that, in order to be worthy or loved, I had to achieve great things. It didn’t matter what it was but I set out to be the best at whatever I did, hoping that would make me feel better. Whether it was academic or one of the many diets or diet clubs I tried, it was the same story, and failure was totally unacceptable. Delayed gratification was definitely not part of my vocabulary, and so things had to be done or achieved in record time. If I wanted something done, it had to be done today, if not yesterday. Everything I did was done compulsively. I was, as one person in a meeting described, a “human doing,” not a “human being”.

Of course the things I could never really achieve were permanent weight loss and the serenity that comes with recovery. These seemed to elude me when I first came into the program, mainly because I expected to do it perfectly and in a very short time. After all, I had lost weight before, and quickly too. I had to realize that recovery is not a race, that this is a journey, not a destination. I don’t have to do it all in one day, nor do I have to be the best at it. All I need to do is to take baby steps, one day at a time, and I will recover as God wills me to do. I just need to put one foot in front of the other and do what is before me. Recovery is cumulative and I build on it, day by day.

One Day at a Time . . .
I do the footwork and put my trust in my Higher Power, believing that, as I do what I need to do for today, God’s healing power will come to me in the form of recovery.

Sharon S.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 21

“He [The Great Spirit] only sketches out the path of life roughly for all the creatures on earth, shows them where to go, where to arrive at, but leaves them to find their own way to get there. He wants them to act independently according to their nature, to the urges of each of them.
–Lame Deer, LAKOTA

Every person is created with purpose and with direction. This purpose and direction is written in our hearts when we are conceived. In addition, we are given access to a quiet guidance system which helps us find our purpose and our direction. We need to recognize this guidance system. It’s called intuition, the quiet voice, urges, the knowing or the feeling. Once we locate our purpose and direction, we are given skills, talents and abilities that are unique to only ourselves. We must practice daily prayer and meditation with God to find this information. To be solid and confident in ourselves, we always need to be able to answer three questions: why am I?, who am I?, and where am I going? If I can answer these three questions, I always know I’m OK!

Great Spirit, show me my path of life.

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Journey To The Heart
December 21, 2011
Reduce Your Stress

“Stress can be caused by many things,” a man, a healing professional, said. “It can be caused by toxins in the air, by food, work, money, or love. And sometimes tension and stress are caused by reacting to old beliefs– the messages in your mind.”

We can’t always eliminate the situations that produce stress. Some stress in life is inevitable; it is part of being alive. Stress is often the impetus that moves us forward into growth, into emotional release and healing, into awareness and change.

While we can’t and don’t want to eliminate all the stress in our lives, we can reduce its impact. We can eat foods we respond well to. We can monitor the quality of the air we breathe in many situations. We can leave a work or love situation that has become too stressful, or we can take better care of ourselves in those situations we choose to stay in.

And we can work on changing stress-producing beliefs within ourselves. I can’t measure up. I can’t get the job done. I won’t be liked. I can’t trust myself. Many of these beliefs are outdated reactions to other times in our lives, and now we know we have the power to change them.

What’s causing stress in your life? Do the things you can to reduce stress in your life. Reduce as much toxicity in your environment and in yourself as you can.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 21
Balance

Strive for balanced expectations of others. Strive for healthy tolerance.

In the past, we may have tolerated too much or too little. We may have expected too much or too little.

We may swing from tolerating abuse, mistreatment, and deception to refusing to tolerate normal, human, imperfect behaviors from people. Although it’s preferable not to remain in either extreme too long, that is how people change – real people who struggle imperfectly toward better lives, improved relationships, and more effective relationship behaviors.

But if we are open to ourselves and to the recovery process, we will, at some time, begin another transition: it becomes time to move away from extremes, toward balance.

We can trust ourselves and the recovery process to bring us to a balanced place of tolerance, giving, understanding, and expectations – of others and ourselves.

We can each find our own path to balance as we begin and continue recovery.

Today, I will practice acceptance with others and myself for the way we change. If I have had to swing to the other extreme of a behavior, I will accept that as appropriate, for a time. But I will make my goal one of balanced tolerance and expectations of others and myself.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 21
Lose those expectations

So you meet someone, become infatuated, date, and allow your mind to create an exaggerated image of that person. Soon you find that he’s your soul mate. You don’t want to live without him; he means everything to you. And then he stumbles, somewhere around three months, maybe six months. He fails to meet your expectations.

He loses soul mate status.

“You just aren’t the person I thought you were,” you say, walking out the door.

Of course he isn’t. He’s a person, not a figment of your imagination. Lighten up. Let each person be themselves.

When we’re with someone, either as a friend or as a lover, a good deal of the success or failure of the relationship can be traced to our expectations. We get angry when we expect someone to behave in a certain way and he or she doesn’t. We feel cheated, lied to, and disappointed. Here we stacked all of our chips on a certain number coming up, and when it doesn’t, we get mad.

Lose those expectations. If you enjoy another person’s company, then enjoy it cleanly and without expectations. People are people. They will stumble, they will get back up again– or not. You cannot control them. All you can do is learn from them, love them, and enjoy their company when they’re around.

Drop the expectations. Allow people to just be themselves. Appreciate them for why they are. Let the love that you have for them grow out of that appreciation, instead of out of what you expect in what writer Natalie Goldberg calls “your monkey mind.”

God, help me remember that when I lose my expectations I just might find real love.

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Today’s Gift
December 21

I came to see the damage that was done and the treasures that prevail.
—Adrienne Rich

It takes great courage to face ourselves – to look honestly and fearlessly at our behavior, especially if we have done and said things we are not proud of. We may have caused a lot of sadness in our own and others’ lives. It’s not easy to look at.

But let’s remember, too, that what we do and say is not all of who we are. And let’s also look at the treasures in ourselves – those things we have said and done that have brought great comfort, joy, and love into the lives of others.

Beneath the negative parts of ourselves, deep within us, is a kernel of good. Let’s look for that as well, and water it so it can grow – so we can grow into the persons we are meant to be.

What is the best part of me, and how can I share it today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 21

“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
—Bob Dylan

An old story has been told of men in the program asking an alcoholic who had a slip, “What Step were you working on at the time?” The man who slipped was not working on any Step, and that is part of how he lost his sobriety. The message of the story is that when we are not busy being born spiritually, we are losing ground. It is essential to always be focusing our attention on one of the Steps. Each time we work a Step again, we are at a new place in life, and the Step will inspire something new in us just as it did the first time.

Although we may know the program well, keeping it as our center protects us from being reactive to the events and pressures in our lives. We are less likely to feel overwhelmed by situations or react with shame or anger. As long as we live, we are in need of being renewed.

Today, I will choose one of the Steps and think about its meaning for me.

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Daily TAO
December 21
WINTER

A homeless man dies in the gutter.
A tree cracks in the cold:
A shocking sound.

At the winter solstice, the day is shortest of all and night is longest. It can also be the time of bitter cold. The wind blows with a frigid ferocity, cutting all before it. Snow and ice became deadly. Those who are homeless die of exposure. Even the mightiest of trees can split from the drop in temperature.

The sound of a tree snapping is a sudden slap.

The horrors, the tragedies that this nadir brings! Winter tortures the world with icy whips, and those who are weak are ground beneath its glacial heels. Sometimes, we dare not even lament those who die in the onslaught of winter, in fear that the tears will freeze upon our faces. But we see, and hear. Huddling closer to the fire, we vow to survive.

No matter how affected we are by misfortune, we must remember that this is the lowest turn of the wheel. Things cannot forever go downward. There are limits to everything — even the cold, and the darkness, and the wind, and the dying.

They call this the first day of winter, but actually it is the beginning of winter’s death. From this day on, we can look forward to warming and brightening.

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