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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings – December 4, 2013

NA Just For Today
December 4
God’s Will, Not Ours

“We know that if we pray for God’s will we will receive what is best for us, regardless of what we think.”
—Basic Text pg. 44

By the time we came to NA, our inner voices had become unreliable and self-destructive. Addiction had warped our desires, our interests, and our sense of what was best for ourselves. That’s why it’s been so important in recovery to develop our belief in a Power greater than ourselves, something that could provide saner, more reliable guidance than our own. We’ve begun learning how to rely on this Power’s care and to trust the inner direction it provides us.

As with all learning processes, it takes practice to “pray only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” The selfish, ego-driven attitudes we developed in our addiction are not cast off overnight. Those attitudes may affect the way we pray. We may even find ourselves praying something like, “Relieve me of this character defect so I can look good.”

The more straightforward we are about our own ideas and desires, the easier it will be to distinguish between our own will and our Higher Power’s will. “Just for your information, God;” we might pray, “here’s what I want in this situation. Nonetheless, I ask that your will, not mine, be done.” Once we do this, we are prepared to recognize and accept our Higher Power’s guidance.

Just for today: Higher Power, I’ve learned to trust your guidance, yet I still have my own ideas about how I want to live my life. Let me share those ideas with you, and then let me clearly understand your will for me. In the end, let your will, not mine, be done.

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Daily Reflections
December 4
INTO ACTION

“A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither, and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.”
—AS BILL SEES IT, p. 13

I desperately wanted to live, but if I was to succeed, I had to become active in our God-given program. I joined what became my group, where I opened the hall, made coffee, and cleaned up. I had been sober about three months when an oldtimer told me I was doing Twelfth-Step work. What a satisfying realization that was! I felt I was really accomplishing something. God had given me a second chance, A.A. had shown me the way, and these gifts were not only free—they were also priceless! Now the joy of seeing newcomers grow reminds me of where I have come from, where I am now, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.  I need to attend meetings because they recharge my batteries so that I have light when it’s needed. I’m still a beginner in service work, but already I am receiving more than I’m giving. I can’t keep it unless I give it away. I am responsible when another reaches out for help. I want to be there—sober.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 4
A.A. Thought For The Day

If we allow an alcoholic thought to lodge in our minds for any length of time, we are in danger of having a slip.  Therefore we must dispel such thoughts at once, by refusing their admittance and by immediately putting constructive thoughts in their place. Remember that alcohol is poison to you. Remember that it is impossible for you to drink normally. Remember that one drink will lead to another and you will eventually be drunk. Remember what happened to you in the past as a result of your drinking. Think of every reason you have learned in A.A. for not taking that drink.  Fill your mind with constructive thoughts. Am I keeping my thoughts constructive?

Meditation For The Day

Always seek to set aside the valuations of the world which seem wrong and try to judge only by those valuations which seem right to you. Do not seek too much the praise and notice of men. Be one of those who, though sometimes scoffed at, have a serenity and peace of mind which the scoffers never know. Be one of that band who feel the Divine Principle in the universe, though He be often rejected by men because He cannot be seen.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may not heed too much the judgment of men.  I pray that I may test things by what seems right to me.

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As Bill Sees It
December 4
Those Other People, p.268

“Just like you, I have often thought myself the victim of what other people say and do. Yet every time I confessed the sins of such people, especially those whose sins did not correspond exactly with my own, I found that I only increased the total damage. My own resentment, my self-pity would often render me well-nigh useless to anybody.

“So, nowadays, if anyone talks of me so as to hurt, I first ask myself if there is any truth at all in what they say. If there is none, I try to remember that I, too, have had my periods of speaking bitterly of others; that hurtful gossip is but a symptom of our remaining emotional illness; and, consequently, that I must never be angry at the unreasonableness of sick people.

“Under very trying conditions I have had, again and again, to forgive others—also myself. Have you recently tried this?”

Letter, 1946

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Walk In Dry Places
December 4
The Lure of Greener Pastures
Gratitude

One of our old-timers spent a great deal of time trying to find a new job but never succeeding. When he finally retired, on a good pension, it became clear that the job he had kept was probably better and provided more benefits than any job he had been seeking. He was fortunate that none of his proposed job searches ever worked out.

The fantasy of finding “greener pastures” is something many of us face, in both drinking and sobriety.

We may be very well off where we are, yet feel that something rich and exciting is over in the next meadow. We can feel this way about our jobs, our lifestyles, and our locations.

The answer to this greener-pastures obsession is to feel more gratitude for what we have here and now. We might also focus more upon today’s activities and less upon impossible dreams of other places.

There may be greener pastures somewhere, but I’ll first look for the opportunities and benefits of my own life and surroundings. I may be richly blessed without knowing it.

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Keep It Simple
December 4

“And to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
—Third part of Step Twelve

This is a statement about us. We are now people of values. These values reflect our spiritual growth. We know how to help others. We know how to admit our wrongs.

We know how to look at ourselves and change our defects. We know how to live an honest life.

Step Twelve tells us. “Go use these tools for better living. Go be all you can be. Enjoy life and live a life you can be proud of.” Step Twelve also tells us about how to have loving relationships. By the time we complete Step Twelve, we make or regain many relationships. The most important one is with our Higher Power. As we grow in the program, we realize all our relationships are spiritual gifts.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, I now have one face instead of many masks. Help me be a person who will stand before You with pride, not shame.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll talk with a friend and talk about my new values. I will talk about how much my life has changed.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 4

“I want to feel myself part of things, of the great drift and swirl; not cut off, missing things, like being sent to bed early as a child.”
—Joanna Field

Feeling apart from the action and always looking on; wanting attention, and yet afraid of being noticed; no doubt these are familiar memories to most of us. We may still struggle with our self-perception, but we can celebrate that we no longer drown our moods. Connecting with the people next to us, though difficult, is no longer impossible when we rely on the program.

There is a way to be a part of the action, a way that never fails. It takes only a small effort, really. We can simply look, with love, at someone nearby today and extend our hearts in honest attention. When we make someone else feel special, we’ll become special, too.

Recovery can help each of us move beyond the boundaries of our own ego. Trusting that our lives are in the loving care of God, however we understand God, relieves us of the need for self-centeredness. We can let go of ourselves now that God is in charge, and we’ll discover that we have joined the action.

I will open my heart, and I’ll be joined to all that’s around me.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 4
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.

If there ever was anyone who came to A.A. by mistake, it was I. I just didn’t belong here. Never in my wildest moments had it occurred to me that I might like to be an alcoholic. Never once had my mother even hinted at the idea that, when I grew up, I might like to be president of A.A. Not only did I not think that being an alcoholic was a good idea, I didn’t even feel that I had all that much of a drinking problem! Of course, I had problems, all sorts of problems. “If you had my problems, you’d drink, too” was my feeling.

p. 407

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 4

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

SELF-SUPPORTING alcoholics? Who ever heard of such a thing? Yet we find that’s what we have to be. This principle is telling evidence of the profound change that A.A. has wrought in all of us. Everybody knows that active alcoholics scream that they have no troubles money can’t cure. Always, we’ve had our hands out. Time out of mind we’ve been dependent upon somebody, usually money-wise. When a society composed entirely of alcoholics says it’s going to pay its bills, that’s really news.

p. 160

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Xtra Thoughts
December 4

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what’s going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.”
—Barry Neil Kaufman

“If we wait for perfection before enjoying life, we will never enjoy life.”
—unknown

“One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster; one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.”
—Chinese proverb

“I am getting to know myself today.  I accept who I am today.  I like myself today.”
—Ruth Fishel

“The Lord will drench you with His showers, but He will dry you with His sun.”
—Czech Proverb

“Good morning, This is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today.”
—unknown

“We win half the battle when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it, including the thorns.”
—unknown

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!”
—unknown

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 4
PREJUDICE

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices, just recognize them.”
—Edward R. Murrow

In recovery, I am accepting that I am not perfect and some prejudices are part of my life and what it is to be human. On a daily basis, I am trying to deal with them, and talking about them helps. They don’t go away just because I talk about them, but I get them in perspective and I grow in an understanding of myself through the recognition of my prejudices.

Alcoholism made me into a ” fake.” I appeared to be what I was not, and my prejudices were part of the camouflage. My prejudices revealed my fears and my need to “people-please.” Slowly, in my daily spiritual program, I am discovering the courage to stand alone.

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Bible Scriptures
December 4

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground.”
—Psalm 143:10

“But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.”
—Matthew 5:44

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Daily Inspiration
December 4

Be yourself in all that you do, and you will soon learn that you are very special. Lord, help me find the peace that You have already placed within my soul.

Take less for granted, and you will become very busy enjoying all that you have. Lord, thank you for my blessings and for all those that I am able to share them with.

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A Day At A Time
December 4

Reflection For The Day

Most of us in The Program are far more comfortable with the determination that we won’t take the first drink today, than we are with the “vow” that we’ll never drink again. Saying, “I intend never to drink again,” is quite different from the saying, “I’ll never drink again.” The last statement is far too reflective of self-will; it doesn’t leave much room for the idea that God will remove our obsession to drink if we practice The Program’s Twelve Steps one day at a time. Will I continue to fight against complacency, realizing that I’ll always be just one drink away from disaster?

Today I Pray

“Never again” demands too binding a commitment, even for the strongest among us. Our past lives were full of “never agains” and won’t evers,” promises that were broken before the next dawn. May I, for now, set my sights on just one straight, sober day at a time.

Today I Will Remember

Never say “Never again.”

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One More Day
December 4

“A tragedy means always a man’s struggles with that which is stronger than man.”
—G.K. Chesteron

Once the diagnosis of a long-term illness is learned, some of us may use it as an excuse to be sad, morbid, sullen, unfeeling, and uncaring.  These behaviors are all counterproductive to the fulfilling life we want to lead.

Those of us who undergo a major health change may consider it a tragedy. It is;  loss of good health is a frightening change. But to keep our personal problems hidden, to never reach out for help and for support—that is the truest tragedy.

We can reach out to those who love us and extend our arms to our Higher Power. Rather than being bitter, we can involve ourselves in the lives of others and allow our personal tragedies to generate triumphs.

My faith in a Higher Power and my faith in myself grow stronger each day.

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One Day At A Time
December 4
~ COURAGE ~

“Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve never been a brave person and was always very fearful. I would watch movies where the hero would rescue the heroine, or where someone would climb Mount Everest, or perform some feat of daring, and I would be totally in awe. I was afraid of the dark, of rejection, of failure and of most other things that I was convinced took courage. No way would I go parasailing or deep sea diving as that seemed to require the courage that I lacked. I didn’t understand then that people who do those kinds of things are not totally without fear, but they have a way of overcoming their fear and still doing it anyway.

When I came into the program and learned that I would have to do an inventory and then, worse still, make amends to the people I had harmed, I was paralyzed by fear. Eventually I realized that, even though I feared doing these things, all I had to do was ask my Higher Power for strength and guidance and then do the things I’d most feared. Perhaps these weren’t the feats of daring that I had seen heroes perform, but for me they were great victories, and in being able to do them, I knew that I was developing courage.

One Day at a Time …
I will continue to walk through my fear with my Higher Power at my side, knowing that I am developing the courage that I thought I lacked.

Sharon S.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 4

“In the end I tell my children, there’s no way I can tell you how to be an Acoma, how to be an Indian. You have to experience it.”
—Stanley Paytiamo, ACOMA PUEBLO

Each person must make their own journey. It is like every human is given a life canoe. The canoe has one seat and one paddle. In order to get anything out of life we must be in the canoe and we must paddle down the river of life. Now, I can share with you how my journey has been, but I cannot paddle your canoe. You must paddle your own. Good luck!

Creator, I’m so glad I have You to guide my path.

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Journey To The Heart
December 4
You Decide

This is an old lesson, but it bears repeating and remembering. We don’t have to let anyone control our lives, our choices, our joy.

No matter how well we thought we learned that lesson, it often reappears. Another person starts to pull our strings. We get involved, entangled, hooked in. We hear ourselves singing an old tune– If only she would, if only he wouldn’t, then I would be… We realize that once again we have given up too much control. We have deferred our lives to the wishes, whims, and choices of another.

Yes, if we are living fully, we will have reactions to those around us. Our relationships will help shape us, teach us things. And yes, there are times we are so connected to others, love them so much, that their path does affect ours. But we don’t have to let another person control our choices, our behaviors, or our lives.

Maybe she will. Maybe he won’t. But what about you? What do you want? What course of action feels right for you, for your life? Do you want to assign responsibility for whether you take that course to another? Do you really?

Sometimes, no matter how much you love others, it’s time to let go, time to let them walk their path. Time to realize that it is your responsibility to walk your own. Go in love. Go in peace. Go in gentle power. You are responsible for your life. You are responsible for your choices. It doesn’t matter what the other person does. You are still responsible for you.

Take care of yourself, then take it one step further. Love, nurture, honor, and respect yourself.

Only you can decide what you’re going to do.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 4
Letting Go

“How much do we need to let go of?” a friend asked one day.

“I’m not certain,” I replied, “but maybe everything.”

Letting go is a spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical process, a sometimes mysterious metaphysical process of releasing to God and the Universe that which we are clinging to so tightly.

We let go of our grasp on people, outcomes, ideas, feelings, wants, needs, desires – everything. We let go of trying to control our progress in recovery. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge and accept what we want and what we want to happen. But it’s equally important to follow through by letting go.

Letting go is the action part of faith. It is a behavior that gives God and the Universe permission to send us what we’re meant to have.

Letting go means we acknowledge that hanging on so tightly isn’t helping to solve the problem, change the person, or get the outcome we desire. It isn’t helping us. In fact, we learn that hanging on often blocks us from getting what we want and need.

Who are we to say that things aren’t happening exactly as they need to happen?

There is magic in letting go. Sometimes we get what we want soon after we let go. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes the specific outcome we desire doesn’t happen. Something better does.

Letting go sets us free and connects us to our Source.

Letting go creates the optimum environment for the best possible outcomes and solutions.

Today, I will relax. I will let go of that which is upsetting me the most. I will trust that by letting go, I have started the wheels in motion for things to work out in the best possible way.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 4
The miracle of rebirth

Birth is an exhilarating experience. Walking into a hospital room seconds after a child has been born, you can almost touch the emotion and power of the moment.

Rebirth is like that,too. Sitting in a powerful religious ceremony, standing alone atop a high hill, or walking in the footsteps of an ancient civilization, we can feel our hearts being changed as our spirit is given new birth. “What have I done to deserve this?” we whisper. And the universe whispers, “It’s to move you along your path. It’s to teach you to live.” And we emerge from our experience reborn.

Sometimes, it goes the other way,too. In a single moment, all that we know can be stripped away– the death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job—and suddenly we’re left standing at the mercy of the universe. “Why did this happen? What did I do to deserve this?” we cry. And the universe answers, “It’s to move you along your path. It’s to teach you to live.” And once again, we rise from the ashes, reborn.

Surrender to the exhilarating moments of creation in your life, both the uplifting and the heartrending ones. Touch the emotion and power.

Trust that you’re being moved along your path. You’re learning how to live.

Let yourself be reborn.

God, please help me to accept all the life changing experiences that I may have. Help me to see the wonder in rebirth and to learn your lessons.

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Today’s Gift
December 4

“They were the first … self-created people in the history of the world. And their manners were their own business. And so were their politics. And so, but ten times so, were their souls.”
—Archibald MacLeish

There once was a child named Yemaya. Even before she could walk or talk, her mother introduced her to the trees. Yemaya touched them and they accepted her. They told her she was wonderful and she knew it was true.

As she grew up, Yemaya occasionally met people who said unkind things to her. When this happened, she went back to her trees, who continued to tell her she was just fine. She couldn’t understand what was wrong with those who were mean to her. Whenever they appeared and insisted on being mean, she pretended what they said was an arrow that sailed right by as she stepped out of the way.

We can do the same. What others say or think is part of them and their lives, not ours. When we are wise enough to let go of things that don’t belong to us, we will find our own treasures.

What can I step out of the way of today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 4

“He doesn’t talk to me,” says a woman. “I don’t know what she wants me to talk about,” says a man.
—Lillian B. Rubin

We have often heard that it’s better to be men of deeds, not words. In our relationships with other males, we have learned to do things together, work together, or play a sport together. But in our relationships with women, we often see the other side of this coin. If we haven’t learned to express our thoughts and feelings, the women in our lives may request or demand that we learn now. There is nothing wrong with our not yet having this skill, and there is nothing wrong with women longing to talk with us.

A close relationship promotes talking, and revealing thoughts and feelings. Words, when we are honest, are ways of becoming clearer and being more personal. We have the right to stumble around with our words. We also have the right to feel unsure of ourselves or frightened of saying what we feel. That kind of fear is the excitement of being close to someone we love.

Today, I will express my feelings and ideas so others can know me better.

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Daily TAO
December 4
EXPRESSION

There’s nothing to paint anymore.
We’ve seen everything from the classical to the absurd.
There’s nothing to write anymore.
As many books are shredded as read.
There’s nothing to sing anymore.
The once avant-garde is now background music.

In a world where expression seems futile, it is hard to maintain creativity. But creativity is a primal impulse. Cave people painted on walls; everyone’s house has some image on display. Primitive scribes wrote records of their experiences; people still keep diaries. Early shamans sang; we still live with music. We cannot abandon creative expression in our daily lives, though it seems hard to come up with something new.

The only way to have fresh expression is to go deep within. In a sense, today’s extreme pluralism eliminates the obligation to do the same as others. At one time, artists, priests, writers, musicians, and craftsmen were obligated to their feudal lords. Today we are not constrained by hierarchical standards. We are free to commune directly with our inner callings.

By coincidence, this mirrors a more sophisticated understanding of the divine. We are no longer in a position of supplication with what is divine. Rather, divinity is a quality from within ourselves.

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