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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings – October 9, 2014

Just For Today
October 9
Order

“We emphasize setting our house in order because it brings us relief.”
Basic Text p. 93

Focusing on what others are doing can provide momentary relief from having to take a look at ourselves. But one of the secrets of success in Narcotics Anonymous is making sure our own house is in order. So what does “setting our house in order” mean, anyway?

It means we work the steps, allowing us to look at our role in our relationships with others. When we have a problem with someone, we can take our own inventory to find out what our part in the problem has been. With the help of our sponsor, we strive to set it right. Then, each day, we continue taking our inventory to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

It’s pretty simple. We treat others as we would like others to treat us. We promptly make amends when we owe them. And when we turn our lives over to the care of our Higher Power on a daily basis, we can start to avoid running on the self-will so characteristic of our active addiction. Guided by a Power that seeks the best for everyone, our relationships with others will surely improve.

Just for today: I will set my own house in order. Today, I will examine my part in the problems in my life. If I owe amends, I will make them.

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Daily Reflections
October 9
A SPIRITUAL AXIOM

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.
12 & 12, p. 90

I never truly understood the Tenth Step’s spiritual axiom until I had the following experience. I was sitting in my bedroom, reading into the wee hours, when suddenly I heard my dogs barking in the back yard. My neighbors frown on this kind of disturbance so, with mixed feelings of anger and shame, as well as fear of my neighbor’s disapproval, I immediately called in my dogs. Several weeks later the exact situation repeated itself but this time, because I was feeling more at peace with myself, I was able to accept the situation–dogs will bark–and I calmly called in the dogs. Both incidents taught me that when a person experiences nearly identical events and reacts two different ways, then it is not the event that is of prime importance, but the person’s spiritual condition. Feelings come from inside, not from outward circumstances. When my spiritual condition is positive, I react positively.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
October 9
A.A. Thought For The Day

Am I willing to be bored sometimes at meetings? Am I willing to listen to much repetition of A.A. principles? Am I willing to hear the same thing over and over again? Am I willing to listen to a long blow by blow personal story, because it might help some new member?  Am I willing to sit quietly and listen to long-winded members go into every detail of their past? Am I willing to take it, because it is doing them good to get it off their chest? My feelings are not too important. The good of A.A. comes first, even if it is not always comfortable for me. Have I learned to take it?

Meditation For The Day

God would draw us all closer to Him in the bonds of the spirit. He would have all people drawn closer to each other in the bonds of the spirit. God, the great Spirit of the universe, of which each of our own spirits is a small part, must want unity between Himself and all His children. “Unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.” Each experience of our life, of joy, of sorrow, of danger, of safety, of difficulty, of success, of hardship, of ease, each should be accepted as part of our common lot, in the bonds of the spirit.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may welcome the bonds of true fellowship. I pray that I may be brought closer to unity with God and other people.

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As Bill Sees It
October 9
Spiritually Fit, p.280

Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.

We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland icecap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of Scotch and ruin everything!

Alcoholics Anonymous, p.100-101

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Walk In Dry Places
October 9
Can we tell others they are wrong?
Sharing

As we become more sensitive to others, we soon learn that it’s very difficult to tell another person he or she is wrong. Even when we struggle to be kind and diplomatic, we can provoke an angry reaction.

We should not be surprised, because showing people they’re wrong is one of the most difficult things in human experience. Few people like to be told that they’re wrong, as we can see when our wrongs are advertised to others.

There is almost no way to directly tell people they’re wrong without hurting or offending the. Furthermore, if they are hurt or offended, they might feel less inclined to work to correct their behavior.

If we’ve taken the 12 Step principles to heart, however, we learn first that we are usually not required to tell anybody that he or she is wrong. But we can help people simply by relating accounts of situations when we were wrong and what we did to change. If done properly, this gives the other person the opportunity to change without feeling resentment or humiliation.

I’ll try to be as sensitive as possible to the feelings of others. I’ll be especially careful about trying to show them that they’re wrong.

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Keep It Simple
October 9

A man should never be ashamed to own he was in the wrong.
—Jonathan Swift

In the past, we felt a mistake was a crisis. We thought we had a to be perfect. Our old ways was to try to hide our mistakes. We were ashamed. We thought making mistakes meant we were bad.

Mistakes are normal. We can learn from our mistakes. They can teach us.

They can guide us. The Tenth Step directs us to promptly admit when we’re wrong. Then, over time, we start to see mistakes as normal life events. As we face and correct our mistakes, shame is washed away. We feel lighter.  We know it is normal to make mistakes.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me see that mistakes are normal life events. Help me promptly admit when I’m wrong.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll talk to my sponsor about mistakes I’ve made the past week. I’ll not act ashamed of my mistakes.

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Each Day a New Beginning
October 9

When all of the remedies and all of the rhetorical armor have been dropped, the absence of love in our lives is what makes them seem raw and unfinished.
–Ingrid Bengis

Love soothes, encourages, inspires. It enhances our wholeness, both when we give it and when we receive it. Without the expression of love we are severed from our family and friends. It’s the bond that strengthens each of us, giving us the courage to tackle what’s lying ahead.

We need not wait for someone else’s expression of love before giving it. Loving must be unconditional. And when it is, it will be returned tenfold. Loving attracts itself, and it will heal us, soften the hard edges of our lives, and open us up to receive the blessings that others’ gratitude will foster.

It’s such a simple thing asked of us–to love one another. Unconditional love of our sisters, our lovers, and our children breaks down the barriers to our achievements and theirs. Loving frees us to enjoy life. It energizes us and makes all goals attainable.  We carry God’s message through our love of one another.

I am charged with only one responsibility today: to love someone, dearly and wholly.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
October 9
THE PERPETUAL QUEST

– This lawyer tried psychiatrists. biofeedback, relaxation exercises, and a host of other techniques to control her drinking. She finally found a solution, uniquely tailored, in the Twelve Steps.

When I was a newly minted lawyer starting out in the practice of criminal law, there were five of us in our law office. My favorite lawyer was the eccentric, disheveled, wild-eyed Irish law professor who was brilliant or crazy, depending on your point of view, constantly cleaning out his pipe bowl with a black fingernail and tossing back vodka martinis whenever he got the chance. Then there was the new but world-weary litigation lawyer who told endless tales of his former life of white wine and bouillabaisse under the Mediterranean sun as he conducted his exporting business on the Riviera.

Why would he leave such an ideal, wine-drenched job in sunny climes to slog away at law school? I kept wondering. There was also a giant good-hearted bear of a man, who today is a judge, who spent more time listening and helping others than he did practicing criminal law. Into this office landed a pair of know-it-all, fast-acting, but not too experienced young lawyers: my husband and me.

p. 388

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
October 9

Tradition Two – “For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.”

Growing pains now beset the group. Panhandlers panhandle. Lonely hearts pine.  Problems descend like an avalanche. Still more important, murmurs are heard in the body politic, which swell into a loud cry: “Do these oldtimers think they can run this group forever? Let’s have an election!” The founder and his friends are hurt and depressed. They rush from crisis to crisis and from member to member, pleading; but it’s no use, the revolution is on. The group conscience is about to take over.

pp. 133-134

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Xtra Thoughts
October 9

“If you could choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor.”
–Jennifer Jones

It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.
–Lena Horne

“If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it!”
–From As We See It

“Criticizing anothers garden does not keep the weeds out of yours.”
–Unknown

“Do you live in tomorrow when you must face today? At times, I forget to live in the moment, but what do I miss? The setting sun, the sound of birds’ singing and, most importantly, I miss meeting myself. I am constantly changing, and if I don’t spend time with myself in the here and now, I will never get to appreciate who I truly am because I am too busy focusing on who I want to be.”
–Gary Barnes

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
October 9
HUMILITY

“I believe the first test of a really great man is humility.”
– John Ruskin

An understanding of humility that makes sense to me is that of the man who is aware of his limitations but still reaches for the stars.

For years I thought that humility was groveling in the dirt. Keeping quiet and acting obsequious. Being a religious doormat for others to walk upon.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Humility is about speaking your mind, fighting for your ideas and opinions, creating through effort, sweat and debate. The humble man’s ego is based on reality — not fed on illusion. When he is wrong, he can admit it and is open to the ideas of others.

Humility is based upon a realistic self-love.

O God, let me humbly rejoice in Your gift of creativity.

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Bible Scriptures
October 9

He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom, and broke away their chains.
Psalm 107:14

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
Psalm 78:7

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Daily Inspiration
October 9

When something bothers or upsets you, you can either complain about it or make peace with it. Lord, help me promptly deal with the distractions of my day and move on to the things that truly make my day a pleasure.

In your pursuit of happiness, pause to relax and be happy. Lord, slow me down just enough to enjoy all that You have given to me.

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A Day At A Time
October 9

Reflection For The Day

I remember once hearing someone in The Program say, “Life is a series of agreeing or disagreeing with the universe.”  There is much truth in that statement, for I’m only a small cog in the machinery of the universe.  When I try to run things my way, I’ll experience only frustration and a sense of failure.  If, instead, I learn to let go, success will assuredly be mine.  Then I’ll have time to count my blessings, work on my shortcomings, and live fully and richly in The Now.  Do I believe that what I am meant to know will come to my knowledge if I practice the Eleventh Step — praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out?

Today I Pray

May I take my direction from the Eleventh Step — and not fall into my usual habit of making itemized list for god of all my pleas and entreaties and complaints.  May I no longer second-guess God with my specific solutions, but pray only that His will be done.  May  I count my blessings instead of my beseeching.

Today I Will Remember

Stop list-making for God.

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One More Day
October 9

Bitterness and anger seem to be very closely related and are interchangeable words for the same emotion.
–  Robert Lovering

Bitterness and anger don’t arrive out of the blue when there is a health change.  Chronic illness doesn’t cause these reactions, but it may bring these and other feelings to light.

If negative emotions and attitudes cause us pain or embarrassment, if we are unhappy with ourselves, it may be time to take a personal inventory.  How do we act toward other people?  What do we expect?  Do we create our own problems?

We can change negative into positives, but it requires time and great emotional effort.  Our attitudes do improve when we want to change,  when we’re willing to grow, and when we’re patient with ourselves.

I can begin today to change my negative emotions by admitting them and asking for the help I need.

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One Day At A Time
October 9
BALANCE SHEET

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
–Harry S. Truman

Before I came to OA, I kept an emotional account of all my positive actions. I didn’t really do that many good things, but the few I did were meant to show how great and kind I was. I even “wrote down” smiles, talking politely, giving a hand in the house, or filling in at work. I expected a great reward one day for all of my good actions ~ especially considering all of the things I put up with. I wanted people to speak well of me. I wanted people to grieve in great sorrow at my funeral for losing the fantastic person I was. Because I felt I never got back half of what I had put into this balance sheet, my resentments started to block me from acting nicely. Why help out, when nobody ever does anything for me? I didn’t have an honest focus on reality. I felt worn out, bitter, used and angry. Why was I never paid what I deserved?

I learned in OA that I have a terminal disease which will kill me sooner or later — if I do not change my thinking and acting. I am powerless over this disease. The only thing I can do is to admit I’m powerless and surrender. As I see it, this disease is the primary reason I have gotten into trouble all my life. I am self-centered, bitter, immature and insecure. Before I entered these rooms, I didn’t know how to have a real friend, or brush my teeth on a daily basis. In this program, I learned that I am worthy, loveable, and an ordinary woman — with my positive and negative sides — just like everyone else. When I am accountable today to God as I understand him, I do not need an emotional balance sheet. I do not need to grow bitter or hate other people.

One day at a time…
Because I have so generously been given a new life in this program, I choose to give service to my homegroup and to give time and patience to my sponsees. I choose to give of myself, for that does not have a price, in money or in diplomas. I no longer need the credit for what I give.

~ Trine

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 9

“That spiritual power I wear is much more beautiful and much greater. We call it wisdom, knowledge, power and gift or love. There are these four parts to that spiritual power. So I wear those. When you wear that power it will beautify your mind and spirit. You become beautiful. Everything that Tunkashila creates is beautiful.”
–Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

When I was young, I asked my grandfather, “What should I pray for?” He thought for a long time and then he said, “Pray only for wisdom and for the knowledge of love.” This makes a lot of sense. No matter what happens I ask the Creator to show me the lessons I should be learning. I pray for Him to help me learn the lessons. By doing this everyday we become beautiful human beings.

Great Spirit, grant me Your wisdom.

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Journey To The Heart
October 9
The Scattered Pieces Will Come Together

Scattered pieces. Sometimes we look around, and that’s what we see. Scattered pieces of ourselves, our lives, a project, a season of our lives. Where is the connecting thread, we wonder? How can we ever pull this together into something that makes sense, something with purpose, something with meaning?

There are pieces to every whole, yet each piece is complete. Don’t worry about how they will come together. Work joyfully on the piece that’s before you, the piece that’s in your life today.

There are many pieces of you, many beautiful parts. The universe will help you bring all those parts alive. It will bring mirrors to you, people who will reflect those beautiful pieces back to you. Look in the mirror of your life. What pieces do you see reflected? Know it’s you you’re seeing. Then let that part of you come alive.

Pull in the parts of yourself, the many beautiful parts that have come alive. Beckon your warrior, your healer, your playful child. Bring together your professional self, your adult, the passionate part of you, the nurturing part. Let all the parts come together. Don’t send any of them away. You need them all. Each is a beautiful piece of the soul, the life, the person you are.

Trust. Trust the process. Joy is yours, available for the asking and the desiring– even in the developmental stages. Even before the puzzle has been put together. The scattered pieces will come together– the scattered pieces of yourself, your project, your life. The connecting thread is love.

The picture will be beautiful. Wait and see.

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Today’s Gift
October 9

…but time and chance happeneth to them all.
—Ecclesiastes

Life, director of the comedy, always lets things get a little out of hand. We all know what would be normal and right, but the right horse sometimes finishes last in the race, and the jerk has all the money. The wise people, like us, are ignored by all, and the good woman gets in trouble with the law. The saint cheats on his income tax, but he never gets caught the way the needy ones like us do, and the worst sinners get saved in the nick of time, while the fittest sometimes just drop dead.

If all the best-laid plans go wrong, maybe we are meant to learn that such important things aren’t so important, after all.

If the skies are custard pies waiting to plop down on our hopeful faces, maybe it is best to accept the gift, count it a blessing, and lick our chops.

How have my failures been successes in disguise?

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The Language Of Letting Go
October 9
Self-Disclosure

Learning to gently reveal who we are is how we open ourselves up to love and intimacy in our relationships.

Many of us have hidden under a protective shell, a casing that prevents others from seeing or hurting us. We do not want to be that vulnerable. We do not want to expose our thoughts, feelings, fears, weaknesses, and sometimes our strengths, to others.

We do not want others to see who we really are.

We may be afraid they might judge us, go away, or not like us. We may be uncertain that who we are is okay or exactly how we should reveal ourselves to others.

Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have lived with people who abused, mistreated, manipulated, or did not appreciate us.

Little by little, we learn to take the risk of revealing ourselves. We disclose the real person within to others. We pick safe people, and we begin to disclose bits and pieces about ourselves.

Sometimes, out of fear, we may withhold, thinking that will help the relationship or will help others like us more. That is an illusion. Withholding who we are does not help the other person, the relationship, or us. Withholding is behavior that backfires. For true intimacy and closeness to exist, for us to love ourselves and be content in a relationship, we need to disclose who we are.

That does not mean we tell all to everyone at once. That can be a self-defeating behavior too. We can learn to trust ourselves, about who to tell, when to tell, where to tell, and how much to tell.

To trust that people will love and like us if we are exactly who we are is frightening. But it is the only way we can achieve what we want in relationships. To let go of our need to control others – their opinions, their feelings about us, or the course of the relationship – is the key.

Gently, like a flower, we can learn to open up. Like a flower, we will do that when the sun shines and there is warmth.

Today, I will begin to take the risk of disclosing who I am to someone with whom I feel safe. I will let go of some of my protective devices and risk being vulnerable – even though I may have been taught differently, even though I may have taught myself differently. I will disclose who I am in a way that reflects self-responsibility, self-love, directness, and honesty. God, help me let go of my fears about disclosing who I am to people. Help me accept who I am, and help me let go of my need to be who people want me to be.

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More Language Of Letting Go
October 9
Lower your expectations

When you’re starting a first creative project or beginning the study of an art or craft, what I want you to do is lower your standards until they disappear. That’s right. You’re not supposed to be any good at the beginning. So you might as well give yourself the liberating gift of joyously expecting yourself to be bad.
–Barbara Sheer and Annie Gotlieb, Wishcraft

When I first began writing newspaper and magazine articles, it took me anywhere from one to three months to complete a short article. After writing for a few years, I brought a timer into my office one day. I told myself I knew how to do what I was doing, now I was going to learn to do it more quickly. Before long, I was able to write in two hours what had previously taken me months to accomplish. The key words here are in time.

When I first began recovering from chemical dependency, it took me eight months of treatment to understand what other people were comprehending in six weeks. In time, I became a chemical dependency counselor. In time, I wrote books on the subject. The key words here are in time.

When I first began recovering from codependency, I couldn’t tell a control gesture from setting a boundary. I didn’t know when I was taking care of myself or what that even meant. I didn’t know manipulation from an honest attempt at expressing my emotions. In time, I wrote a best-seller on the subject. Again, the key words here are in time.

Start where you are. Start poorly. Just begin. Let yourself fumble, be awkward and confused. If you already knew how to do it, it wouldn’t be a lesson in your life. And you wouldn’t get the thrill of victory two, five, or ten years from now when you look back and say, “Wow. I’ve gotten good at that over time.”

All things are possible to him or her that believeth, the Bible says. Enjoy those awkward beginnings. Revel in then. They’re the key to your success.

God, help me stop putting off living out of fear of doing it poorly. Help me lower my expectations to allow room for awkward beginnings.

Activity: What have you been putting off or avoiding out of fear or beginning badly? Make a list of each accomplishment you have, whether it’s graduating from elelmentary school or college, learning a new skill at a job, or being a parent. Then, write in your journal about how it felt in the beginning. Now, make a list of the things you want to do. Next to your goal, write these words to yourself: I give you permission to do this poorly in the beginning. Document your performance each time you attempt that goal. Keep coming back to this section of your journal until you find yourself logging how well you did.

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Touchstones Meditation For Men
October 9

Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood.
—Carl Jung

We so often long to be understood. We imagine it would cure our loneliness and empty feelings. We think of it as a kind of intimacy. Yet, we may be longing for a false goal. We are each a unique man on an incomplete journey. We don’t yet fully understand ourselves. There is still much mystery beneath the surface of our being. If our partners or friends completely understood us, where would we go from there? We would no longer belong to ourselves.

Perhaps we are completely understood by our Higher Power but not by another person. It is a fact of life that we continue to grow and to reveal deeper layers of ourselves. We have relationships in which we can share the mysteries as they unfold. We can talk and be understood. In communication we find our closeness and intimacy.

Today, I will remember that at the deepest level no one can fully understand me. I will communicate with others to deal with my loneliness.

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Daily TAO
October 9
FOCUS

Two chess masters confront each other
Without music, chorus, or sound.
Chairs do not squeak,
Audience does not talk.
Why, then, do people meditate carelessly?

When two chess masters play, the audience is solemn. Everyone understands what is at stake. Everyone knows that the masters must be allowed utter silence and total concentration. But when it comes to people’s attitudes about meditation, they assume that noisy streets, inconsiderate roommates, foul smells, and dirty rooms have no impact.  After all, isn’t meditation just a mental activity divorced from the realities of environment?

If that was so, there wouldn’t be meditation halls. If that was so, there wouldn’t be places of solace. If that was so, then people wouldn’t seek the quiet of secret gardens. Meditation is not a supplementary activity. It is not mere relaxation and stress reduction. It is the way to bring one’s very humanity into focus.

If we want to succeed in meditation, we must act in the correct setting. We need places where the air is fresh, nature is close by, and we can remain undisturbed. Then we can slip into serenity. If we can understand the need of the chess masters for uninterrupted focus, we can also understand the precise attention that we must bring to our meditation.

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