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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings – February 19

NA Just For Today
February 19
Reservations

“Relapse is never an accident. Relapse is a sign that we have a reservation in our program.”
Basic Text, p. 76

A reservation is something we set aside for future use. In our case, a reservation is the expectation that, if such-and-such happens, we will surely relapse. What event do we expect will be too painful to bear? Maybe we think that if a spouse or lover leaves us, we will have to get high. If we lose our job, surely, we think, we will use. Or maybe it’s the death of a loved one that we expect to be unbearable. In any case, the reservations we harbor give us permission to use when they come true-as they often do.

We can prepare ourselves for success instead of relapse by examining our expectations and altering them where we can. Most of us carry within us a catalog of anticipated misery closely related to our fears. We can learn how to survive pain by watching other members live through similar pain. We can apply their lessons to our own expectations. Instead of telling ourselves we will have to get high if this happens, we can quietly reassure ourselves that we, too, can stay clean through whatever life brings us today.

Just for today: I will check for any reservations that may endanger my recovery and share them with another addict.

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Daily Reflections
February 19
I’M NOT DIFFERENT

In the beginning, it was four whole years before A.A. brought permanent sobriety to even one alcoholic woman. Like the “high bottoms, ” the women said they were different; . . . The Skid-Rower said he was different . . . so did the artists and the professional people, the rich, the poor, the religious, the agnostic, the Indians and the Eskimos, the veterans, and the prisoners. . . . nowadays all of these, and legions more, soberly talk about how very much alike all of us alcoholics are when we admit that the chips are finally down.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 24

I cannot consider myself “different” in A.A.; if I do I isolate myself from others and from contact with my Higher Power. If I feel isolated in A.A., it is not something for which others are responsible. It is something I’ve created by feeling I’m “different” in some way.  Today I practice being just another alcoholic in the worldwide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
February 19
A.A. Thought For The Day

Many things we do in A.A. are in preparation for that crucial moment when, walking down the street on a nice sunshiny day, we see a nice cool cocktail lounge and the idea of having a drink pops into our minds. If we’ve trained our minds so that we’re well prepared for that crucial moment, we won’t take that first drink. In other words, if we’ve done our A.A. homework well, we won’t slip when temptation comes. In preparation for that crucial moment when I’ll be tempted, will I keep in mind the fact that liquor is my enemy?

Meditation For The Day

How many of the world’s prayers have gone unanswered because those who prayed did not endure to the end? They thought it was too late, that they must act for themselves, that God was not going to guide them. “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”  Can I endure to the very end? If so, I shall be saved. I will try to endure with courage. If I endure, God will unlock those secret spiritual treasures that are hidden from those who do not endure to the end.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may follow God’s guidance, so that spiritual success shall be mine. I pray that I may never doubt the power of God and so take things into my own hands.

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As Bill Sees It
February 19
A.A.: Benign Anarchy and Democracy, p. 50

When we come into A.A. we find a greater personal freedom than any other society knows. We cannot be compelled to do anything. In that sense our Society is a benign anarchy. The word “anarchy” has a bad meaning to most of us. But I think that the idealist who first advocated the concept felt that if only men were granted absolute liberty, and were compelled to obey no one, they would then voluntarily associate themselves in the common interest. A.A. is an association of the benign sort he envisioned.

But when we had to go into action–to function as groups–we discovered that we also had to become a democracy. As our oldtimers retired, we therefore began to elect our trusted servants by majority vote. Each group in this sense became a town meeting. All plans for group action had to be approved by the majority. This meant that no single individual could appoint himself to act for his group or for A.A. as a whole.  Neither dictatorship nor paternalism was for us.

A.A. Comes Of Age, pp. 224-225

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Walk In Dry Places
February 19
Sticking with the winners
Prudence

“Stick with the winners,” newcomers are told at Twelve Step meetings. The real message of this statement is to share the attitudes and actions of people who are successful in living sober.

No recovering person can have a successful day while dwelling on ideas that can be harmful. We’ll meet people in the course of the day whose attitudes may appall us. We may work with people who are critical, gossipy, or resentful. It’s not our duty to correct them or argue with them. We’re wise, however, not to accept what we recognize as wrong thinking.

Winners, in AA terms, are people who seek sobriety first and live up to the principles of the program. Seem them out for help in doing likewise.

I’ll try to associate with people who exemplify the highest and best in good attitudes.

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Keep It Simple
February 19

Changing brings questions, and questions bring change.
—Anonymous

What am I becoming? How do I know if what I’m doing is right? Is it best for me? We are full of questions. Often, times of question a are times of change. We are becoming something new, and there is always a little fear of change. Luckily, we don’t need to know what we are becoming to find peace. What we need to know is what we believe in. And we’ll become what we believe in. If we believe in sobriety, we’ll be sober. If we believe in honestly, we’ll struggle to be more honest. We must give ourselves the freedom of becoming. Becoming means we’re on a trip, a journey. Over time, becoming takes on a comfort of its own.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, what am I becoming? I give up having to know the answer. All I need to believe is that You love me and will do what is best for me.

Action for the Day: I’ll ask lots of questions. Often, the question is more important than the answer.

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Each Day a New Beginning
February 19

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.
–Agnes DeMille

The day ahead offers us choices of many kinds–some big ones, many that will affect other persons close to us, a few that will have profound effects on our destiny. But no choice, no decision we make, will be wrong. A particular decision may lead us slightly astray. Down a dead-end path perhaps–but we can always turn back and choose again.

We are seldom aware of the gravity of a particular choice at the time of making it. Only hindsight reveals the wisdom of an important choice. Nevertheless, no choice is without importance in the overall picture of our lives. And at the same time, no choice is all-powerful regarding our destiny. We are offered chances again and again for making the right choices, the ones that will most contribute to the bigger plan for our lives.

I need not worry about today’s opportunities for decision-making. I will listen to those around me. I will seek guidance in the messages coming to me. I will make the choices I need to, today.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
February 19
MY BOTTLE, MY RESENTMENTS, AND ME

– From childhood trauma to skid row drunk, this hobo finally found a Higher Power, bringing sobriety and a long-lost family.

In the largest city close by I could be found, dead broke, drinking myself into oblivion on skid row. At first a day-labor job provided for rent and food, but before long all the money had to go for booze. I found a mission where someone in need could sleep and eat free. But the bugs were so bad, the food so terrible, and people were such thieves, I decided that it was easier just to sleep outside and that I really didn’t need to eat so often. So I found that hobo jungles, parked cars, and abandoned houses made nice places for my bottle, my resentments, and me. No one dared to bother me! I was utterly bewildered at where life had taken me.

p. 440

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
February 19

Foreword

As A.A. now enters maturity, it has begun to reach into forty foreign lands.* In the view of its friends, this is but the beginning of its unique and valuable service.
It is hoped that this volume will afford all who read it a close-up view of the principles and forces which have made Alcoholics Anonymous what it is.

(A.A.’s General Service Office may be reached by writing:
Alcoholics Anonymous, P.O. Box 459,
Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, U.S.A.)

*In 1998, A.A. is established in 150 countries.

p. 18

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Xtra Thoughts
February 19

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched… but are felt in the heart.
–Hellen Keller

“It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.”
–Gertrude Stein

We need to let the old go, so the new can emerge.
–Peggy Bassett

The more I force things, the tougher my life gets.
–Helen Neujahr

My daily choice is to rise and shine or rise and whine.
–Anonymous

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
February 19
PREJUDICE

“The chief cause of human errors is to be found in the prejudices picked up in childhood.”
— Rene Descartes

During the past few years I have begun to recognize how many of my prejudices were planted in childhood. Family, teachers, priests and “the neighborhood” passed on to me prejudices: ” The Jews are bad because they killed Jesus.” “Blacks are inferior to white people — but you should be kind to them.” “Women should obey the man of the house.” “Gays are child molesters.” “People who do not accept Jesus will not go to Heaven.” “Sex is for having babies and you should not enjoy it.”

Today I live with the problem of knowing that these statements are untrue but a part of me is still affected by them.

Today my spiritual program demands that I expose prejudice for the “hate-mail” that it is, and try to pass on to the next generation the joy that comes from love, acceptance and freedom.

Let the children grow in freedom.

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Bible Scriptures
February 19

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.
Lamentations 3:24-25

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Daily Inspiration
February 19

Joy is left if you rid your heart of all that pulls you down. Lord, help me to heal my spirit and grow from today’s experiences.

You have a responsibility to be the best that you can be. Lord, may I find a good balance in my life so that I neither neglect myself and my duties nor my responsibility to those that need or depend on me.

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A Day At A Time
February 19

Reflection For The Day

When a person says something rash or ugly, we sometimes say they are “forgetting themselves,” meaning they’re forgetting heir best selves in a sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury.  If I remember the kind of person I want to be,m hopefully I won’t “forget myself”  and yield to a fit of temper.  I’ll believe that the positive always defeats the negative:  courage over comes fear;  patience overcomes anger and irritability;  love overcomes hatred.  Am I always striving for improvement?

Today I Pray

Today I ask that God, to Whom all things are possible, help me turn negatives into positives — anger into super-energy, fear into a chance to be courageous, hatred into love.  May I take time out of remember examples of such positive-groom-negative transformations from the whole of my lifetime.  Uppermost is God’s miracle;  my freedom from the slavery of addiction.

Today I Will Remember

Turn negatives into positives.

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One More Day
February 19

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
–  John Dewey

Accepting change is our lives is the basis of growth.  To often, we’ve seen marks are razed, friends move away or die, we become ill.

Eventually, we come to see change in a different light.  For good or bad, or weather we approve or don’t approve, change will happen.  The only thing we can control is our reaction to it.  Change that is progress or growth, such as old landmarks disappearing and new ones being built or friends becoming involved in self-help groups, can be welcomed.  Other changes which can’t be greeted with enthusiasm — losing friends or becoming ill — can at least be seen as random, not personal, consequences of human life.  With this frame of mind, we are able to accept the challenges demanded of us.

Changes in my life can encourage growth.

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One Day At A Time
February 19
~ SELF KNOWLEDGE ~

We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.
–Tom Robbins

I always tried to do my best in everything I did. Studies, school, and managing my own family are some good examples. Being in control made it seem as though I always did as I was told, but I had a very difficult time Being on my own and thinking for myself. The talent I was born with gave me a good start at being an artist, but I couldn’t seem to make a successful career out of it. I was scared and shy and didn’t dare be on the forefront of making this talent into what I wanted it to be.

When I started on my path to Recovery, I found that I was being too much of a perfectionist. I was always told to do things perfectly and I tried and tried but never seemed to satisfy my parents or the god of my childhood. So when I grew up I was so hard on myself that I lost the creativity I was born with. Creativity can’t thrive in a hostile environment.

One day while reading an author I liked, I read that I had to “get out of my own way”. I was a dragon trying to do something creative and it didn’t work. I have to learn to “rescue myself from myself” so I can do my art with the talents that are God-given.

One day at a time …

I realize that if I want to see myself as I really am,I cannot stand in my own shadow.

~ Myrlene ~

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day February 19

The Old Man said,`you are both ugly and handsome and you must accept your ugliness as well as your handsomeness in order to really accept yourself.”
–Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA

My Grandfather told me one time that any person who is judgmental to another is also judgmental to themselves. If we want to be free of being judgmental, we need to first work on how judgmental we are to ourselves. If we quit judging ourselves and start accepting ourselves as we are, we will start accepting others as they are. Then we will experience a level of new freedom.

Great Spirit, let me accept myself as I am – honoring both my strengths and my weaknesses.

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Journey to the Heart
February 19
Be Gentle with Your Heart

On this road, this journey to the heart, you will see more, feel more, and be more than you’ve ever been before.

Your heart is open, your spirit is alive. You’re open to all that the universe, life, and God hold for you. Because you’re that open, you are more sensitive than ever to people, energies, places, things. You are more sensitive to any unresolved issues in yourself and in those around you. You are open, more open that you’ve ever been.

Comfort yourself. Wrap yourself up in a blanket of love and hope. Know that you will be feeling, seeing, and taking in a great deal. Know that you will be healing at a deeper level than ever before. Most of the time, this will bring joy. But an open heart is not one-dimensional, joy is not the only emotion it will embrace. Make room in your heart, room in your life, and time in your days to feel other feelings,too– anger, grief, fear, exuberance, tenderness, betrayal, and exhilaration– all the emotions an open heart feels.

You’re more open than you’ve ever been. Take gentle, loving care of yourself. Be tender with your heart.

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Today’s Gift
February 19

I have often thought morality may perhaps consist solely in the courage of making a choice.
—Leon Blum

Sometimes, trying to do the right thing isn’t easy because it isn’t what we want to do. For instance, we may want to sneak a cookie to take to bed with us, or we may want to stay out late. But is that the right thing to do?

One way to tell is to think how we’ll feel after we’ve done it. Will we be happy, or will we feel guilty because we know in our hearts it is wrong? On the other hand, how would we feel if we resisted the temptation? Perhaps we’d feel great because we’d know in our hearts we’d done the right thing. And don’t we deserve to feel good about ourselves? Of course we do!

How wonderful it is that our feelings can help us do the right thing when we’re in doubt.

Will I have the courage to follow my true feelings today?

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The Language of Letting Go
February 19
Our Path

I just spent several hours with someone from my group, and I feel like I’m losing my mind. This woman insisted that the only way I would make progress in my program was to go to her church and succumb to her religious rules. She pushed and insisted, and insisted and pushed. She’s been in the program so much longer than I have. I kept thinking that she must know what she’s talking about. But it didn’t feel right. And now I feel crazy, afraid, guilty, and ashamed.
—Anonymous

The spiritual path and growth promised to us by the Twelve Steps does not depend on any religious belief. They are not contingent upon any denomination or sect. They are not, as the traditions of Twelve Step programs state, affiliated with any religious denomination or organization.

We do not have to allow anyone to badger us about religion in recovery. We do not have to allow people to make us feel ashamed, afraid, or less than because we do not subscribe to their beliefs about religion.

We do not have to let them do it to us in the name of God, love, or recovery.

The spiritual experience we will find as a result of recovery and the Twelve Steps will be our own spiritual experience. It will be a relationship with God, a Higher Power, as we understand God.

Each of us must find our own spiritual path. Each of us must build our own relationship with God, as we understand God. Each of us needs a Power greater than ourselves. These concepts are critical to recovery.

So is the freedom to choose how to do that.

Higher Power, help me know that I don’t have to allow anyone to shame or badger me into religious beliefs. If they confuse that with the spirituality available in recovery, help me give their issue back to them. Help me discover and develop my own spirituality, a path that works for me. Guide me, with Divine Wisdom, as I grow spiritually.

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More Language Of Letting Go
February 19
Make your own fun

My house renovation project was way behind schedule. Spring was right around the corner. Stress was a pounding ache in the back of my head.

Then we went to the toy store. “Oh, these will be great,” he said, grabbing two Nerf guns off the shelf. “And how about a bow-and-arrow set,too?”

When we got home, we took some markers and drew a big target on the wall in the living room. We started shooting at it, but soon grew tired of that game and started shooting at each other instead.

A friend walked in the front door.

We shot him. Two in the belly and one to the forehead.

He threw me into the hot tub.

And I forgot that the ceiling wasn’t done, and that the walls weren’t painted, and that the carpet would have to be delayed. That night we had a barbecue, and our friends took out the markers and drew pictures of themselves, their experiences, and their hopes on the unpainted walls of the house that was behind schedule. And we laughed, and no one cared that the house was unlivable.

We can’t always control the timing of our plans, but we can have fun along the way. Friends don’t care if the project is finished; they just want to be a part of the magic of life.

Look at things from a new perspective. Laugh. Be grateful you’re where you are at this moment. Don’t worry about trying to hurry the future along. Look for the joy in life now.

Maybe a visit to the toy store would help you,too.

God, if I can’t see the joy in life, help me look again.

Activity: Go to the toy store today. But something that appeals to you, or buy something ridiculous– a twirl-o-paint, an Erector set, a game of Operation, a bead-o-matic. Break out of your mold; look at life from a new perspective. Learn how to play, again.

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
February 19

He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Our sense of purpose in life is not fixed in concrete. It changes from youth through all the stages of life. Often in the transitions to a new growth stage we are most confused. In the chaotic life created by our own addictive or codependent thinking, all meaning collapses around us. At these times we wonder, “What is the point?” “Does anything really matter?”

We receive a why for our existence by participating in the whole of this world. We are sons, or fathers, or husbands, or brothers, or friends to very specific people – and to the rest of our community, extending to all of creation. Our sense of purpose may change when life circumstances change. We get married, for instance, and then say, “Now what?” Or a child is born, or a parent dies, or we become disabled. Each time we may be confronted again with the questions. Being open to contact with our world, keeping our barriers down so we stay in touch, restores our awareness of purpose.

May I continue to respond to the changing phases in life – and be open to the renewal of purpose, which is here for me.

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Daily TAO
February 19
INTERACTION

We make life real
By the thoughts we project.

The panorama of the objective world is meaningless until we interact with it. For example, if there is a rock that we pass day after day but we do not notice, then that rock has no significance for us. If we decide to make that rock a votive object and pray to it for decades, then that rock becomes quite important. To an outsider who does not subscribe to the rock’s assigned meaning, it will continue to be just a rock. In all cases, the rock was just a rock. It was only human interaction that created its meaning.

It is a mistake to assume that the meaning we give to something is as concrete and tangible as the object itself. We should not confuse the two. For example, our house may be precious to us, but our sense of preciousness has nothing to do with the building — it comes from the values and memories we associate with it. If we lose our house, we must remember that it is the feeling we have for it, not just the building itself, that determines our loss.

If all perception of reality is subjective, some schools of thought suggest that we should therefore see everything as unreal. By contrast, followers of Tao maintain that we must still interact with the world. If we do not take initiative and work with this phenomena of projecting meaning and receiving its echoes, we fall into a state of dormancy, and the world will not exist for us at all. As long as we remember that meanings we attribute to objects are subjective, we will avoid mistakes.

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Daily Zen
February 19

Knowing that sentient beings
All have a thousand desires
Gripping the depths of their minds,
The Buddha teaches them
In accordance with their characters
And conditions.
With stories, words, and skillful means
He teaches them the truth.

– Lotus Sutra

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Food for Thought
February 19
Responsibility for Whom?

Before we came to OA, some of us felt responsible for seeing that others did what we thought they should do. By the time we took the Fourth Step, and often long before, we began to realize how manipulative we had tried to be. We may not have thought we could run the whole world, but we sometimes felt that we should maintain control over our little corner, at least.

Through this program, we are learning that we can only be responsible for ourselves. We cannot change anyone else. We can only work on ourselves. No matter how good our advice is, it is useful to someone else only if that person desires and requests it.

Learning that we are responsible to our Higher Power for ourselves alone lifts a heavy weight from our weak shoulders. We stop trying to decide what others should do and how they will react to what we do. We do the best we can, seeking guidance and direction from God, and then we leave the results to Him.

Show me my area of responsibility, Lord.

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In God’s Care
February 19

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Behind us are all the things we ever thought and said and did. They’re gone, finished, done with. There’s no bringing them back.

Before us are our hopes and fears; we don’t know how the future will turn out. And there’s nothing we can do, for all our yearning.

God is within us. It means that right now, without our tryin, without doing anything to earn it, we have been delivered from or past and from our future. In the present we can find the wisdom of the universe. We need only go within.

I thank God for deliverance from my past and future.

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