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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 23

Just For Today
December 23
New Ideas

“We reevaluate our ideas so we can become acquainted with the new ideas that lead to a new way of life.”
Basic Text, pg. 91

Learning to live a new way of life can be difficult. Sometimes, when the going gets especially hard, we’re tempted to follow the path of least resistance and live by our old ideas again. We forget that our old ideas were killing us. To live a new way of life, we need to open our minds to new ideas.

Working the steps, attending meetings, sharing with others, trusting a sponsor – these suggestions may meet our resistance, even our rebellion. The NA program requires effort, but each step in the program brings us closer to becoming the kinds of people we truly want to be. We want to change, to grow to become something more than we are today. To do that, we open our mind, try on the new ideas we’ve found in NA, and learn to live a new way of life.

Just for today: I will open my mind to new ideas and learn to live my life in a new way.

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Daily Reflections
December 23
RECOVERY, UNITY, SERVICE

Our Twelfth Step – carrying the message – is the basic service that AA’s Fellowship gives; this is our principal aim and the main reason for our existence.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART, p. 160

I thank God for those who came before me, those who told me not to forget the Three Legacies: Recovery, Unity and Service. In my home group, the Three Legacies were described on a sign which said: “You take a three-legged stool, try to balance it on only one leg, or two. Our Three Legacies must be kept intact. In Recovery, we get sober together; in Unity, we work together for the good of our Steps and Traditions; and through Service – we give away freely what has been given to us.” One of the chief gifts of my life has been to know that I will have no message to give, unless I recover in unity with A.A. principles.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 23
A.A. Thought For The Day

We have definitely left that dream world behind. It was only a sham. It was a world of our own making and it was not the real world. We are sorry for the past, yes, but we learned a lot from it. We can put it down to experience, as we see it now, because it has given us the knowledge necessary to face the world as it really is. We had to become alcoholics in order to find the A.A. program. We would not have got it any other way. In a way, it was worth it. Do I look at my past as valuable experience?

Meditation For The Day

Shed peace, not discord, wherever you go. Try to be part of the cure of every situation, not part of the problem.  Try to ignore evil, rather than to actively combat it.  Always try to build up, never to tear down. Show others by your example that happiness comes from living the right way. The power of your example is greater than the power of what you say.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may try to bring something good into every situation today. I pray that I may be constructive in the way I think and speak and act today.

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As Bill Sees It
December 23
Fear And Faith, p.263

The achievement of freedom from fear is a lifetime undertaking, one that can never be wholly completed.

When under heavy attack, acute illness, or in other conditions of serious insecurity, we shall all react to this emotion–well or badly, as the case may be. Only the self-deceived will claim perfect freedom from fear.

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We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up. Sometimes we had to search persistently, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us.

1. Grapevine, January 1962
2. Alcoholics Anonymous, p.55

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Walk In Dry Places
December 23
AA goes the Distance
Fortitude

Few societies or organizations have better ways of measuring success than AA. Since we are friends as well as recovering people, some of us get to know others fairly well over long periods of time. Even in a large city, we meet people again and again, year after year.

We’ve come to think it very commonplace that some individuals have been sober ten years or more, and that some members have been in the fellowship more than forty years.

The AA program does have staying power; it goes the distance for those who continue to follow it.

We should remind ourselves of this when we hear of new, faddish theories about alcoholism and recovery. Most of the time, the results reported are very short-term. What we really need is recovery with staying power, which we can find in the AA program.

Today’s sobriety can be another link in an endless chain of sobriety. AA will go the distance for me if I take care of each day as it comes.

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Keep It Simple
December 23

We not only need to be willing to give, but also to be open to receiving from others.
—from On Hope

Many of us took so much from others during our addiction that now we may not want to ask for anything.

We may be afraid to ask for help, so our needs go unmet. In fact, many of us would rather give than receive. In recovery, we need to understand the difference between taking and receiving. Giving to others is important. So is receiving from others. As we grow spiritually, we learn to accept gifts. The gift of sobriety teaches us this. We need to accept the gifts the world gives us without shame. We are entitled.

God loves us and will give us much if we’re willing to receive it.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me be receptive to Your gifts. Help me see and believe that I’m entitled to all the happiness of the world.

Action for the Day: I’ll think of what a friend has given me. I’ll thank this friend.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 23

. . . The present enshrines the past.
–Simone de Beauvoir

Each of our lives is a multitude of interconnecting pieces, not unlike a mosaic. What has gone before, what will come today, are at once and always entwined. The past has done its part, never to be erased. The present is always a composite.

In months and years gone by, perhaps we anticipated the days with dread. Fearing the worst, often we found it; we generally find that which we fear. But we can influence the mosaic our experiences create. The contribution today makes to our mosaic can lighten its shade, can heighten its contrast, and can make bold its design.

What faces us today? A job we enjoy or one we fear? Growing pains of our children? Loneliness? How we move through the minutes, the hours, influences our perception of future minutes and hours.

No moment is inviolate. Every moment is part of the whole that we are creating. We are artists. We create our present from influences of our past.

I will go forth today; I will anticipate goodness. I will create the kind of moments that will add beauty to my mosaic.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 23
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.

Against my better judgment, I went to a meeting with him that night and a strange thing began to happen. The psychiatrist, who had generally been ignoring me, now became quite interested; every day he would ask me all kinds of questions about the A.A. meetings. At first I wondered whether he was alcoholic himself and was sending me to find out about A.A. But it quickly became obvious that he had this childish notion instead: If he could get me to go to enough meetings while in the hospital, I would continue to go after he let me out. So, for no better reason than to fool him, I asked Frank to take me to a meeting every night. And Frank did set me up for a meeting every night except Friday, when he thought he might have a date with his girl friend. “That’s a devil of a way to run an organization,” I thought, and I reported Frank to the psychiatrist, who didn’t seem perturbed; he just got someone else to take me on Fridays.

pp. 414-415

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 23

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

Neither could A.A. itself function without full-time workers. At the Foundation* and intergroup offices, we couldn’t employ nonalcoholics as secretaries; we had to have people who knew the A.A. pitch. But the minute we hired them, the ultraconservative and fearful ones shrilled, “Professionalism!” At one period, the status of these faithful servants was almost unbearable. They weren’t asked to speak at A.A. meetings because they were “making money out of A.A.” At times, they were actually shunned by fellow members. Even the charitably disposed described them as “a necessary evil.” Committees took full advantage of this attitude to depress their salaries. They could regain some measure of virtue, it was thought, if they worked for A.A. real cheap. These notions persisted for years. Then we saw that if a hard working secretary answered the phone dozens of times a day, listened to twenty wailing wives, arranged hospitalization and got sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently diplomatic with the irate drunk who complained about the job she was doing and how she was overpaid, then such a person could surely not be called a professional A.A. She was not professionalizing the Twelfth Step; she was just making it possible. She was helping to give the man coming in the door the break he ought to have. Volunteer committeemen and assistants could be of great help, but they could not be expected to carry this load day in and day out.

pp. 168-169

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Xtra Thoughts
December 23

“The tree in which the sap is stagnant remains fruitless.”
–Hosea Ballou

Speaking without thinking is shooting without aiming.
–French Proverb

Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.
–Irish Proverb

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you find you are upset over a situation, stop and ask yourself one very important question. “Is this something I can change?” Whether it is or not, turn your negative energy in to productive energy. You can either change the situation, or change your perspective of the situation.
–unknown

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 23
LANGUAGE

“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
— George Orwell

Sobriety for me means much more than “not drinking” or “not using” — it means the daily decision to be a positive and creative human being in all areas of my life: How I treat people. What I eat. The books I read and how I speak! Not even my worst enemy would call me a “prude” but I think that bad language used on a regular basis is unacceptable in sobriety. Why? Because it hurts the listener and does not show respect for self or the God-given gift of communication.

If you have no respect for language, you will ultimately not grow as a spiritual person.

May Your “words of love” be reflected in my speech and writings.

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Bible Scriptures
December 23

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
Psalms 25:1-2

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalms 25:4-5
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Daily Inspiration
December 23

Each time you have a kind thought, say a kind word or do a kind deed you are living your love. Lord, as I see the world through loving eyes, I experience heaven on earth.

Get and keep a good humored attitude toward life. This will bring you support rather than opposition. Lord, may I always be a peacemaker.

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A Day At A Time
December 23

Reflection For The Day

How can I tell if I have had a spiritual awakening? For many of us in The Program, a spiritual awakening manifest itself in simple rather than complicated evidences: emotional maturity; an end to constant and soul churning resentments; the ability to love and be loved in return; the belief, even without understanding, that something lets the sun rise and set, brings forth and ends life, and gives joy to human hearts. Am I now able to do, feel and believe that which I could not previously do through my own unaided strength and resources alone?

Today I Pray

May my spiritual confidence begin to spread over my attitudes towards others — especially during holiday times, when anticipations and anxieties are high. As an addictive person, I have not handled holidays well — greeting those who gather at home, missing those who are not here. I pray for serenity to cope with the holiday brew of emotions.

Today I Will Remember

Spirit without “spirits.” Cheer without “cheer.”

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One More Day
December 23

It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it.
– Balstar Gracian

Manipulation sounds like such a harsh word, but consider the hands of a surgeon, the moves of an artist, the skill of an electrician. They manipulate their physical environment. In doing so, they are creating. In some subtle way — perhaps we are not even aware that we are doing it — we learn to manipulate our lives. We, too, are very creative.

Some people are able to reach for positive goals, even during seemingly negative times. These people are capable of scooping out the very best of life. Those are the ones who have learned to delicate art of helping themselves. They can create their own luck.

Sometimes luck isn’t always caused by a draw of the cards. I work hard in all areas to improve my lot, to improve my relationships, to improve my life.

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One Day At A Time
December 23
~ FEAR ~

When thinking won’t cure fear, action will.
–W. Clement Stone

When I first came into the program, I was told that I couldn’t think my way into positive actions, but I could act my way into positive thinking. I learned that this was a simple program of action; that if I wanted what you had, I had to do what you did. None of these clichés made any sense to me; I would have to think these over. The nerve of these people telling me that they would do my thinking for me, that all I had to do was follow directions! They prodded and badgered me into working the Steps out of real love and knowledge of truth. I realize now that my actions demonstrated to God my desire to change, and He gave me the courage to try living another way. Most importantly, though, He gave me you.

One Day at a Time . . .
Am I going to “keep on the firing line” or rest on my laurels?

Jeremiah

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 23

“It’s not the package and the wrapping which counts but what is inside, underneath the clothes and the skin.”
–Lame Deer, LAKOTA

Our eyes and ears gather information that is fed to the mind, and we tend to form judgements, opinions and assumptions on what our perception is. We might see someone act a certain way, then label that person forever, not at all concentrating on what is inside the person. It matters not our height, our size, our facial features, or our gender. What matters is our thoughts. Good thoughts overcome all obstacles.

Great Spirit, let my inside contain Your qualities.

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Journey To The Heart
December 23
Bring Your Healing Gifts to Others

Let your healing gifts to the world spring naturally from who you really are.

You want to be a healer. You want to be a force for good in this world. Many of us believe deeply in healing, service, and love. But until you know what heals and helps you, what the truth is for you, you won’t know what heals and helps others.

True service, healing that touches the hearts and souls of men and women, doesn’t happen when we ignore who we are. It doesn’t happen when we try to be who we think we should be or when we pretend, out of fear, that we’re someone we’re not. The ability to bring healing to others can only come when we genuinely accept and love ourselves, past and present, and are vulnerable enough to be honest about what heals and helps us.

When we love and accept ourselves, we will love and accept others. And only from that place of acceptance can true healing spring.

Love yourself. Accept yourself. Be honest about what heals and helps you. Then you’ll bring your healing gifts to others. Your life will be a gift to the world.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 23
Holiday Triggers

One year, when I was a child, my father got drunk and violent at Christmas. I had just unwrapped a present, a bottle of hand lotion, when he exploded in an alcoholic rage. Our Christmas was disrupted. It was terrible. It was frightening for the whole family. Now, thirty-five years later, whenever I smell hand lotion, I immediately feel all the feelings I did that Christmas: the fear, the disappointment, the heartache, the helplessness, and an instinctive desire to control.
–Anonymous

There are many positive triggers that remind us of Christmas: snow, decorations, “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” wrapped packages, a nativity scene, stockings hung on a fireplace. These “triggers” can evoke in us the warm, nostalgic feelings of the Christmas celebration.

There are other kinds of triggers, though, that may be less apparent and evoke different feelings and memories.

Our mind is like a powerful computer. It links sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste with feelings, thoughts, and memories. It links our senses – and we remember.

Sometimes the smallest, most innocuous incident can trigger memories. Not all our memories are pleasant, especially if we grew up in an alcoholic, dysfunctional setting.

We may not understand why we suddenly feel afraid, depressed, and anxious. We may not understand what has triggered our codependent coping behaviors – the low self worth, the need to control, the need to neglect ourselves. When that happens, we need to understand that some innocuous event may be triggering memories recorded deep within us.

If something, even something we don’t understand, triggers painful memories, we can pull ourselves back into the present by self care: acknowledging our feelings, detaching, working the Steps, and affirming ourselves. We can take action to feel good. We can help ourselves feel better each Christmas. No matter what the past held, we can put it in perspective, and create a more pleasant holiday today.

Today, I will gently work through my memories of this holiday season. I will accept my feelings, even if I consider them different than what others are feeling this holiday. God, help me let go, heal from, and release the painful memories surrounding the holidays. Help me finish my business from the past, so I can create the holiday of my choice.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 23
How sweet and precious the moments

It had seemed like such an ordinary time. He was staying at the house, helping me out. I had funeral arrangements to make and to attend. My mother was coming into town. I had a lot to do.

Then the busy days and nights settled into the quiet rhythm of California winters– short days, fires in the fireplace at night, a pot of spagetti sauce on the stove. January at the beach was a time to stay in the house and be quiet and cozy.

Sometimes he cooked a wonderful dinner– Philly steak sandwhiches with real melted cream cheese. Other times, we ordered pizza and just ate in. Sometimes I read. Other times I talked on the phone or puttered around the house.

At night, right before sleep came, bringing a gentle end to another day, he put a Sarah McLaughlin CD on the stereo. She sang about being in the arms of angels as she gently sang me to sleep.

Then the day came. He was ready to leave. Our time together was done. So be it, I thought. What comes around doesn’t come to stay. It always comes to pass.

As he walked out the door, I waved good-bye. Then a wave of emotions rushed through me, flooding my heart. It had seemed like such an ordinary time. And it was. But until it was over, until he walked out that door, I didn’t know how rich and beautiful the ordinary was.

“Hmm,” I thought, watching him leave. Maybe the time hasn’t passed yet.

How sweet and precious are the moments of our lives, especially the ordinary ones. Don’t let them pass unnoticed or unexperienced. Those ordinary moments can easily become the richest part of our lives.

God, help me remember that the way to live a life filled with wonder and awe is to surrender to and live each moment fully, expecting and allowing each one to simply be what it is.

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Today’s Gift
December 23

There are no riches above a sound body, and no joy above the joy of the heart.
—Anonymous

Holidays are a wonderful and exciting time of year – a time to enjoy snowflakes falling, company coming, and presents. Sometimes we find ourselves concentrating solely on the wrapped presents and forgetting about the presents of the heart. With God’s help, we can begin to notice such things as the hug from a brother or sister, the laugh of a grandparent or the hand-drawn card given to us by a friend. All of these wonderful presents and more are ours for the taking; we need only to see beyond the wrapped packages. It is then we will fully experience the joys of the heart.

How many gifts do I see around me right now?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 23

Loneliness is the way by which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself.
—Hermann Hissed

We have an epidemic of loneliness among men in our world. Everywhere, men are walking around as though in plastic bubbles that prevent contact with others. We are cut off from closeness with our brothers and sisters, our own children, our mates, coworkers, and neighbors. We have learned to play the role, be efficient, and look good. Do we dare let others know how we feel? Will they look down on us? Will they think we’re strange?

All this has made us ripe for the diseases of addiction and codependency. Some of us have romanticized the pain of loneliness and glorified it. We sought some comfort for our pain, but we only perpetuated it. Breaking through the barrier to let someone know us can be incredibly difficult. Yet, just to say “I feel lonely” to another person makes us slightly less alone. Going to meetings and working this program provide a way out. The greatest benefits of the program for many of us have been recovery from loneliness and the genuine relationships we have developed.

Today, I will reveal some of my feelings to another person.

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Daily TAO
December 23
RUSTICITY

The laughter of country folk is uncomplicated.
The laughter of city folk is full of dark nuance.
The ambition of country folk is to grow their crops well.
The ambition of city folk is to overcome others.
The joy of country folk is to participate in the seasons.
The joy of city folk is to achieve sophistication.

When you see urban people in the countryside, you can often hear one of them making fun of the simplicity of the country folk. After all, we have so many words to mock them with : bumpkin, yokel, hick, hayseed, peasant, clodhopper, hillbilly, lout, oaf, cabbagehead, simpleton, rube.  If one stops to consider, are these descriptions worse than neurotic, compulsive, stressed, ambitious, devious, shrewd, obsessive, money-hungry, or nouveau riche?

Those who follow Tao celebrate country living over the difficult existence in the cities. While we certainly cannot go back to an exclusively agrarian way of living, it is beneficial for us to consider the agrarian ideal. City living is a mental construct that collapses once we cease to make it real.

Strive in the cities, if you must. But don’t forget that there is little ultimate value in it. Don’t forget your soul, and don’t forget that a rustic setting is the best way to keep your soul.

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