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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings – January 8

Just For Today
January 8
Growing Up

“Our spiritual condition is the basis for a successful recovery that offers unlimited growth.”
Basic Text p. 43

When our members celebrate their recovery anniversaries, they often say that they’ve “grown up” in NA. Well, then, we think, what does that mean? We start to wonder if we’re grown-ups yet. We check our lives and yes, all the trappings of adulthood are there: the checkbook, the children, the job, the responsibilities. On the inside, though, we often feel like children. We’re still confused by life much of the time. We don’t always know how to act. We sometimes wonder whether we’re really grown-ups at all, or whether we’re children who’ve somehow been put into adult bodies and given adult responsibilities.

Growth is not best measured by physical age or levels of responsibility. Our best measure of growth is our spiritual condition, the basis of our recovery. If we’re still depending on people, places, and things to provide our inner satisfaction, like a child depending on its parents for everything, we do indeed have some growing to do. But if we stand secure on the foundation of our spiritual condition, considering its maintenance our most important responsibility, we can claim maturity. Upon that foundation, our opportunities for growth are limitless.

Just for today: The measure of my maturity is the extent to which I take responsibility for the maintenance of my spiritual condition. Today, this will be my highest priority.

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Daily Reflections
January 8
DO I HAVE A CHOICE?

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically nonexistent.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p.24

My powerlessness over alcohol does not cease when I quit drinking. In sobriety I still have no choice – I can’t drink. The choice I do have is to pick up and use the “kit of spiritual tools” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25).  When I do that, my Higher Power relieves me of my lack of choice – and keeps me sober one more day. If I could choose not to pick up a drink today, where then would be my need for A.A. or a Higher Power?

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
January 8
A.A. Thought For The Day

Everyone who comes into A.A. knows from bitter experience that he or she can’t drink. I know that drinking has been the cause of all my major troubles or has made them worse.  Now that I have found a way out, I will hang on to A.A. with both hands. Saint Paul once said that nothing in the world, neither powers nor principles, life nor death, could separate him from the love of God. Once I have given my drink problem to God, should anything in the world separate me from my sobriety?

Meditation For The Day

I know that my new life will not be immune from difficulties, but I will have peace even in difficulties.  I know that serenity is the result of faithful, trusting acceptance of God’s will, even in the midst of difficulties. Saint Paul said: “Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may welcome difficulties. I pray that they may test my strength and build my character.

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As Bill Sees It
January 8
A New Life, p. 8

Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening? No,  sobriety is only a bare beginning; it is only the first gift of the first awakening. If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. As it does go on, we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life–the one that did not work–for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever.

Regardless of worldly success or failure, regardless of pain or joy, regardless of sickness or health or even of death itself, a new life of endless possibilities can be lived if we are willing to continue our awakening, through the practice of A.A.’s Twelve Steps.

Grapevine, December 1957

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Walk In Dry Places
January 8

Finding New Values
____Restoration

Recovering alcoholics sometimes waste time and energy brooding over lost opportunities, and we do have a record of many lost opportunities! Bill W., the co-founder of AA, once made it big on Wall Street before crashing in the 1929 cataclysm. He later drank away two wonderful chances for a comeback. Most of us can recall similar opportunities we lost by drinking. We can eliminate these regrets by practicing gratitude for the recovery we have made. Without rationalizing, we can remind ourselves that few opportunities would have benefited us if we had continued to drink.

We can take comfort, too, in the clear evidence that there’s a wonderful restoration going on in our lives. While not every one gets aback a lost job or rebuilds a business, manly of us do find sufficient prosperity and productive work in our new lives. Some even find satisfying second careers or businesses after getting sober. Best of all, most recovering people discover that sobriety gives them the ability to appreciate their opportunities without worshipping material success.

I will make the best of my opportunities today and see them as stepping stones toward a more abundant life. I will not regret the past, because it brought necessary lessons.

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Keep It Simple
January 8

Believe more deeply. Hold your face up to the light, even though for the moment you do not see
…Bill W.

At times, we’ll go through pain and hardship, At times, we’ll have doubts. At times, we’ll get angry and think we just don’t care anymore. These things can spiritually blind us. But this normal. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for those times. Hopefully, we will have friends who will be there for you. Thank God for these moments! Yes, hard times can make our spirits deep and strong. These moments tell us who we are as sober people. These moments help us grow and change. Spirituality is about choice. To be spiritual, we must turn ourselves over to the care of our Higher Power.

Prayer for the Day: God, help me find You in my moments of blindness. This is when I really need You.

Action for the Day: Today I’ll get ready for the hard times ahead. I will list my friends who will be there for me.

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Each Day a New Beginning
January 8

When people make changes in their lives in a certain area, they may start by changing the way they talk bout that subject, how they act about it, their attitude toward it, or an underlying decision concerning it.
–Jean Illsley Clarke

Acting “as if” is powerful. It leads the way to a changed attitude, a changed woman. If we are self-conscious in crowds and fearful about meeting new people and yet act poised and extend our hands in friendship, we’ll not only behave in a new way, but feel good about it, too. Each act we take in this way brings us closer to the woman we are behaving like. Each positive change we make builds our self-esteem. Realizing that through our own actions we are becoming the kind of women we admire gives us the strength, in fact, encourages the excitement in us that’s needed to keep changing. Making positive changes in our lives is the stuff that comprises self-esteem. Each gain makes the next one easier to attempt.

I will accept an opportunity today to act “as if” I can handle a situation I used to run from.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
January 8
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.

Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.

p. 420

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
January 8

Tradition Nine – “A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”

A.A. has to function, but at the same time it must avoid those dangers of great wealth, prestige, and entrenched power which necessarily tempt other societies. Though Tradition Nine at first sight seems to deal with a purely practical matter, in its actual operation it discloses a society without organization, animated only by the spirit of service–a true fellowship.

p. 175

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Xtra Thoughts
January 8

Dig within.  There lies the wellspring of good:  Ever dig and it will ever flow.
–Marcus Aurelius

What are you going through in your life right now?  Don’t feel you’re the only one.  Open your eyes.  Open your heart to your connections with your larger family.  Let them share their stories with you.  Let them share their strengths, hopes, fears, and joys.  Stop looking for what’s different and what makes you separate and apart.  Go on an adventure of discovering your common bonds.
–Melody Beattie

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
–Mother Theresa

“Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.”
–Leo Buscaglia

“Any fool can try to defend his mistakes–and most fools do–but it gives one a feeling of nobility to admit one’s mistakes. By fighting, you never get enough, but by yielding, you get more than you expected.”
–Lawrence G. Lovasik

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
January 8
MUSIC

“I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.”
— Igor Stravinsky

It is okay not to “understand”.

A miracle is not to be understood but experienced. So much in life we will never understand and there is growth in confusion. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. The mystery of life is exactly that — a mystery.

As an alcoholic I often sought to appear “as God”. I had to have an answer for everything, even if I made up the answer! Not to know was humiliating for me because it took away control, my need to be in charge, my hopeless and exhausting quest for perfection. With the failure to be perfect came the guilt, shame and anger.

Today I am able to live with life’s daily confusions — and it’s okay!

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Bible Scriptures
January 8

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving to all that He has made.
Psalm 145:17

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
Job 19:25

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Daily Inspiration
January 8

Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors. Lord, teach me as I am able to learn so that I may grow from my difficulties and become the person You intended.

Know that you can do even if things are not always easy. Lord, in You I have the support of an unlimited power source and can accomplish great things because You strengthen me.

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A Day At A Time
January 8

Reflection For The Day

Today is the day for which I asked and for which I have been given strength. That in itself is a miracle. In my old life, I constantly endangered myself as well as countless others. So the very fact that I am alive is the great miracle from which all other miracles will flow, providing I continue to do the things that have brought me this far in my new life. Am I grateful that I have been given this day?

Today I Pray

May God’s goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life. May I never cease to wonder at thee greatest miracle in my life — that I am alive, here, on the green earth, and growing healthier with the life preserving tools I have been given. Since God has chosen to give me life and to preserve my life, even through the dangers of addiction, may I always continue to listen for His plan for me. May I always believe in miracles.

Today I Will Remember

My life is a Miracle.

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One More Day
January 8

Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.
— Euripides

Our definition of success varies as we move through stages of life. While we once may have dreamed of a large lake home and a large salary, we may have settled for a modest home and salary. As we reevaluated our goals, we become aware that we have succeeded in our own way.

Success, for us, might mean we have many friends. Or that our children have become worthwhile citizens. We may feel successful largely because we have learned to accept ourselves — the total package of strengths and weaknesses. We set and reset out goals throughout a lifetime, and our successes are measured, not by specific deeds or accumulations of cash, but by how well we set our goals and how faithful we are to them.

I’ll look again at my values and goals to be sure they leave me room for success.

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One Day At A Time
January 8
RESENTMENT

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.  Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind.”
Buddha

It was not until I came into the program that I learned that resentment is just another name for anger. There are some areas in which letting go of resentment is not so easy, especially when dealing with hurtful words. Word wounds have a tendency to fester. The program shows me how to approach someone and make amends to them for saying something hurtful. That can be extremely healing. Unfortunately, there is no step in the program which makes provisions for others to make amends to me when my feelings are hurt.

I have learned something that has helped: telling others how I feel when my feelings are hurt. Instead of internalizing my feelings, I am beginning to speak up and ask, “Why did you say that? I felt hurt when you said that.”

Doing this releases the negativity and turns it into a positive action for me. Rather than just reacting to a bad situation, I am taking positive action. When I begin to take positive action, I find myself surrounded with positive influences and I am letting go of those friendships which are unhealthy.

One day at a time…
I will take positive action and surround myself with positive influences.

~ Marilyn S.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 8

“Native Americans are essentially calling for righteousness. By this they mean a shared ideology developed by all people using their purest and most unselfish minds.”
–Lorraine Canoe/Tom Porter, MOHAWK

The Native way is to first focus on decisions that will be good for the people and then for yourself. Righteousness means “to think right.” Our way is to consider the good of all first. This helps our minds to be unselfish and pure. This it the spiritual way. This can be very hard to do because the world we live in says to take care of yourself first. A man of God cannot be taken advantage of unless it is the will of the Creator. The Creator really controls everything. To have a good future, the people must gather in a circle and pray for the highest good for the people.

Great Mystery, today let me love instead of being loved. Le me be giving instead of receiving. Show me the advantages of having a giving heart.

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Journey To The Heart
January 8
Love Yourself Until It’s Real

What does it mean to love yourself? To do nice things for and to yourself? Yes, sometimes. But self-love runs deeper than that. Self-love means loving and accepting yourself, your thoughts, beauty, emotions, your faults, imperfections, and flaws, your strengths, wit, wisdom, as well as your peculiar and unique way of seeing the world…

Loving yourself means accepting and loving each and every part of you, and knowing– knowing– that you’re worthy, valuable, and lovable. It means loving and accepting yourself when you’re surrounded by people who love you, and during those times when you think everyone’s gone away, when you wonder if God’s gone away,too.

During one of the darkest parts of my life, Al Franken, a comedian and producer, asked me to write an introduction to the book he was writing– Stewart Smalley’s daily meditation book. I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me. I wasn’t able to do much during that time in my life, except walk to my fax machine and tear off the curled up pages. I’d take the pages back to my bed, lie down (because I felt too shattered to stand) and read them. I’d laugh a little at Stewarts outrageous behavior. But the pages made me smile about something else,too. Despite our search for sophisticated, sage advice and advanced learning, sometimes it helps to remember the simple wisdom of bumbling Stewart Smalley.

Sometimes, loving ourselves means accepting ourselves enough to tell ourselves other people like and approve of us. Sometimes, loving ourselves means approving of ourselves, even when they don’t. It takes courage to stop cowering and openly love, accept, and approve of ourselves.

Don’t just say the words. Love yourself until you experience that love.

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Today’s Gift
January 8

Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light
—Theodore Roethke

All flowers begin with the potential to grow and blossom. Yet in winter, perennial flowers are buried under the snow. Inside the dark earth, they are patiently waiting for their time to bloom. For the flowers, faith is believing that spring will return. It is carrying the light of summer deep in their roots so that even in times of cold and dark, there is hope that they will bloom again.

When spring does return, they shoot out of the ground and burst into blossom. In times of light, they drink it deep into their roots – deep enough to sustain them through the next season of darkness. We can do the same, keeping the memory of good times deep within us, so that when we’re feeling low, it will keep our faith in the happy future strong.

What helps sustain my faith today?

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The Language of Letting Go
January 8
Vulnerability

Some of us may have made a decision that no one was ever going to hurt us again. We may automatically go on “feelings freeze mode” when faced with emotional pain. Or, we may terminate a relationship the first time we feel hurt. Hurt feelings are a part of life, relationships, and recovery. It is understandable that we don’t want to feel any more pain. Many of us have had more than our share, in fact, at some time in our life, we may have been overwhelmed, crushed, or stopped in our tracks by the amount of pain we felt. We may not have had the resources to cope with our pain or take care of ourselves.

That was yesterday. Today, we don’t have to be so frightened of pain. It does not have to overwhelm us. We are becoming strong enough to deal with hurt feelings. And we don’t have to become martyrs, claiming that hurt feelings and suffering are all there is to life.

We need only allow ourselves to feel vulnerable enough to feel hurt, when that’s appropriate, and take responsibility for our feelings, behaviors, and what we need to do to take care of ourselves. We don’t have to analyze or justify our feelings. We need to feel them, and try not to let them control our behavior.

Maybe our pain is showing us we need to set a boundary; maybe it’s showing us we’re going in a wrong direction; maybe it’s triggering a deep healing process.

It’s okay to feel hurt; it’s okay to cry; it’s okay to heal; it’s okay to move on to the next feeling, when it’s time. Our willingness and capacity to feel joy will eventually match our willingness and capacity to feel hurt.

Being in recovery does not mean immunity from pain; it means learning to take loving care of ourselves when we are in pain.

Today, I will not strike out at those who cause me pain. I will feel my emotions and take responsibility for them. I will accept hurt feelings as part of being in relationships. l am willing to surrender to the pain as well as the joy in life.

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More Language Of Letting Go
January 8
Letting go to save our lives

I crouched in the doorway of the airplane, next to my skydiving coach. I held on to the doorway with my right hand for balance. With my left hand, I firmly grasped my coach’s gripper, a padded piece of cloth on his jumpsuit.

It was up to me to give the count. “Ready,” I hollered. “Set…”

I backed up and took another breath. “Ready, set…”

I heard a snicker. “Get out of the plane,” someone hollered.

“Go.”

I released my grip on the door, closed my eyes, and dived headfirst into the air– with my left hand firmly attached to my jump master’s gripper. We wobbled around for a moment. The plan was, we would turn to face each other in the air, I would grab his other shoulder grip, get my balance, then I’d release him.

He turned to face me. I grabbed his other grip. Now I was falling stable and holding on with both hands. He nodded, giving me my cue to let go.

I shook my head, carefully, so as not to lose my balance.

He looked confused, then nodded again.

I shook my head again, clinging more tightly.

I looked at my altimeter. Six thousand feet. Thank God. It was almost time to pull. I released my grips. I just let go. Obviously, I couldn’t safely pull my rip cord while I was hanging on to him.

It was time to save my own life.

My coach backed away.

I signaled, then pulled my rip cord. My parachute made that sweet whooshing sound, the one I had come to identify as the sound it makes when it opens correctly and fills with air, slowing my fall into a float.

Wow! I thought. This is really fun!

Sometimes we’re so scared, all we can think to do is hang on. Hanging on in this case was a silly illusion. We we’re both falling through the air. Holding on to a relationship that’s not working, a negative self-image, a job that isn’t working, moments and times that have passed, or emotions such as fear and hurt can be a silly illusion,too.

To save our own lives, sometimes we have to let go first.

God, show me what I need to let go of, and when it’s time to do that.

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Touchstones Meditation For Men
January 8

In wildness is the preservation of the world.
—Henry David Thoreau

Nature confronts us with its beauty in a flower or a furry animal. The awesomeness of nature is in a lightning bolt or a majestic mountain. Every variety of tree has its own uniquely textured bark. Each annual ring in a tree trunk is a natural record of the growing conditions in each year it grew. These things remind us we are not in charge, and we are moved by the experience.

This wildness is everywhere around us, and we are renewed by it when we interact with it. At night, in the city, we look up and see the ancient moon. When we live with a pet, it reminds us we are creatures too. We are part of this larger whole. We don’t just appreciate nature – we are nature. When we open our eyes and learn to be a part of it, it renews and lifts our spirits.

Today, I will notice my relationship with the sun and moon, with the plants and animals in my world.

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Daily TAO
January 8
WORK

The woodcutter
Works in all seasons.
Splitting wood is both
Action and inaction.

Even when it is snowy, the woodcutter must split wood. Unless he does, he and his family will not stay warm, and those who depend upon him will not survive. But the woodcutter does not work simply on a piecemeal basis. He labors in concert with the seasons : He worked hard to store wood prior to the first cold so that he would have the luxury of merely splitting kindling now. His work seems slight in one season, because he was industrious in the previous one.

When he splits wood, he must place the log on the block and raise his axe. But he must strike the wood with the grain, and he must let the axe fall with its own weight. If he tries to chop across the grain, his effort would be wasted. If he tries to add strength to the swing of the axe, there would be no gain.

Like the woodcutter, we can all benefit from working according to seasonal circumstances. Whether it is the time or the method, true labor is half initiative and half knowing how to let things proceed on their own.

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