Monday, July 22, 2024

Recovery: Bringing us life's Riches

As I reflect on my recent trip to the Mexican Riviera, I'm reminded of the incredible journey I've been on for the past 33 years, marked by one significant choice: sobriety. Since January 13, 1991, I've embraced a life free from alcohol and drugs.  And the rewards have been abundant.

One of the most profound benefits of being clean for over three decades is the clarity and presence I bring to each moment. In the past, vacations were often clouded by excessive drinking, leading to missed experiences and regrettable decisions. Now, every trip, like my recent visit to the Mexican Riviera, is a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors that I savor fully.

Sobriety has not only enriched my travel experiences but has transformed my entire life. It has given me the gift of authentic relationships, as I no longer hide behind a veil of intoxication. Instead, I connect deeply with others, forging bonds based on genuine understanding and empathy.

Health has also been a cornerstone of my sober journey. Thirty-three years of sobriety mean I wake up each morning with vitality and energy, ready to embrace the day ahead. My physical and mental well-being are priorities, allowing me to pursue passions such as travel, learning, and exploring new cultures without limitations.

Moreover, sobriety has empowered me to achieve personal and professional goals that once seemed unattainable. Clarity of mind and steadfast determination have propelled me forward, leading to career successes and a sense of fulfillment that substances could never provide.

As I look forward to many more years of sobriety, I'm grateful for the freedom it has afforded me—the freedom to live authentically, to experience life's richness to the fullest, and to inspire others by example. Each day is a testament to the power of choice and the infinite possibilities that await when we embrace sobriety and all it has to offer.

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Friday, July 12, 2024

 John is on vacation for 10 days.  Back on the 22nd,

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Kindness to Newcomers

 Entering a 12-step meeting for the first time can be a daunting experience. Whether you're struggling with addiction or supporting someone who is, these gatherings serve as sanctuaries where individuals find solace, support, and a pathway to recovery. However, the atmosphere and reception newcomers receive can significantly influence their willingness to return and engage in their recovery journey. That's where kindness plays a crucial role.

Imagine walking into a room filled with strangers, each battling their own demons. The courage it takes to step through that door deserves acknowledgment and warmth. Kindness in this context isn't just a nicety; it's a lifeline. Here’s why:

First impressions matter. For someone battling addiction, the decision to seek help marks a pivotal moment. A warm smile, a friendly greeting, or a simple offer of a seat can ease the tension and make them feel welcome. This initial kindness sets the tone for their experience and can determine whether they decide to continue attending meetings.

Building trust and safety. Addiction often breeds feelings of shame and isolation. Kindness from peers can counteract these emotions, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. When newcomers feel safe, they're more likely to open up, share their struggles, and seek the guidance they need to heal.

Setting an example for recovery. 12-step programs emphasize honesty, humility, and compassion—values that are exemplified through acts of kindness. By demonstrating these principles in action, members not only support newcomers but also reinforce the core tenets of recovery for everyone in the room.

Encouraging participation. Active participation is key to the effectiveness of 12-step meetings. Kindness encourages newcomers to speak up, ask questions, and seek guidance from sponsors and fellow members. This engagement is vital for their progress and the overall success of the group.

Ultimately, kindness at 12-step meetings isn't just about being polite; it's about embodying the spirit of empathy and solidarity that defines recovery communities. By extending a hand of kindness to newcomers, we create environments where healing can thrive, where people feel valued, and where the journey to recovery becomes a shared endeavor rather than a solitary struggle. So, the next time you see someone new at a meeting, remember: your kindness could be the beacon of hope that keeps them coming back, one meeting at a time.

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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Gratitude for our freedom

In the tapestry of life, few threads are as precious and significant as freedom. As we celebrate our independence, it’s a poignant moment to reflect on the profound privilege of living in a society where freedom is not just a dream but a reality we cherish daily.

Freedom isn’t merely the absence of constraints; it’s the presence of opportunity and the ability to make choices that define our paths. It’s the liberty to speak our minds, pursue our ambitions, and embrace diverse beliefs without fear of repression. This liberty fuels creativity, innovation, and progress, shaping vibrant communities where individuals thrive.

Moreover, freedom is intertwined with the sacrifices of countless individuals who have fought bravely, often at great personal cost, to secure and uphold our liberties. From historic struggles for national sovereignty to ongoing battles for civil rights, each chapter in our collective narrative underscores the value of freedom and the resilience required to preserve it.

Yet, amid the fireworks and festivities of Independence Day, it’s easy to overlook the everyday freedoms we enjoy: the ability to gather with loved ones, pursue education and career goals, practice our faith, and engage in activities that enrich our lives. These freedoms form the bedrock of our identity and the essence of what it means to live in a society that values human dignity and individual rights.

Being grateful for our freedom isn’t merely a nod to history; it’s an ongoing commitment to safeguarding and expanding these liberties for future generations. It’s a call to nurture empathy, understanding, and unity in the face of challenges, ensuring that the tapestry of freedom remains vibrant and inclusive for all.

As we commemorate this day, let’s take a moment to express gratitude for the precious gift of freedom—cherishing it not just today, but every day—as we strive to build a world where liberty and justice truly flourish for all.

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Sunday, June 30, 2024

Happy 50 Years Ralph

In the hall of the community center, amidst the gentle hum of anticipation and the aroma of coffee, there was an air of reverence on the evening of June 24th. It wasn't just another meeting for those gathered; it was a milestone celebration, a testament to the power of perseverance and the hope found in recovery. At the heart of this gathering was Ralph, a man whose journey through addiction and recovery spanned five decades.

Ralph's story is one of resilience, courage, and the unwavering support of a community that understands the depths of struggle and the heights of triumph. As he sat in his wheelchair before the assembly, a warm smile gracing his face, it was evident that his presence resonated deeply with everyone present – from newcomers nervously clutching their coffee cups to old-timers who had walked similar paths.

Fifty years ago, Ralph found himself at a crossroads. Alcoholism had taken its toll, affecting his marriage and job. It was then that he took his first tentative steps into the world of recovery, guided by the principles of the 12-step program. The journey was not easy; there were setbacks, moments of doubt, and times when the weight of the past threatened to pull him back.

Yet, through it all, Ralph persisted. He attended meetings faithfully, sought guidance from sponsors and mentors, and embraced the healing power of sharing his story with others. Over the years, he became not only a pillar of strength for his fellow members but also a living testament to the possibility of transformation.

The meeting on June 24th was a reflection of Ralph's impact on the lives around him. Friends and acquaintances gathered to honor his dedication, resilience, and the profound effect he had on countless individuals who had found solace in his words and actions. It was a celebration of not just survival, but of thriving against.

As Ralph sat before the microphone, the room hushed in anticipation. His voice, steady and filled with emotion, recounted moments of despair transformed into hope, of loneliness replaced by camaraderie, and of fear giving way to courage. Each word carried weight, resonating with the experiences of those who listened intently.

For Ralph, the milestone of 50 years in recovery was not just a personal achievement but a testament to the transformative power of community and the resilience of the human spirit. His journey serves as a beacon of hope for anyone battling their own demons, showing that with dedication, support, and a willingness to change, a brighter tomorrow is always within reach.

As the meeting drew to a close, applause filled the room, mingling with heartfelt embraces and words of gratitude. Ralph, surrounded by those whose lives he had touched, sat humbly among them, embodying the spirit of recovery in its truest form – one day at a time, one step at a time.

In the days that followed, Ralph's story will continue to inspire and uplift. His journey serves as a reminder that recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but about reclaiming one's life and reshaping it with newfound purpose and meaning. Through his example, Ralph has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who have had the privilege of knowing him and what he stands for.

As we reflect on Ralph's 50 years of recovery, we are reminded of the power of perseverance, the importance of community, and the endless possibilities that await those who dare to embark on the path to healing. His story is a testament to the strength that resides within each of us and a testament to the hope that springs eternal, even in the darkest of times.

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

The power of Gratitude

Gratitude is a cornerstone of the recovery process in 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These programs, rooted in mutual aid and self-improvement principles, emphasize gratitude as a vital tool for transforming lives and maintaining sobriety.

In the context of 12-step programs, gratitude is cultivated through several key practices and philosophies. One of the foundational steps is acknowledging a higher power and recognizing that surrendering control can lead to personal growth and recovery. This acknowledgment often breeds a deep sense of gratitude for the support and guidance received, both from a higher power and the community of fellow members.

The practice of gratitude is also embedded in the daily routines and rituals encouraged by 12-step programs. Members are often advised to keep gratitude journals, wherein they regularly note things they are thankful for. This exercise helps shift focus from negative thoughts and past regrets to positive aspects of life, fostering a mindset of appreciation and hope.

Another significant way gratitude is learned in 12-step programs is by making amends. Step 9, which involves making direct amends to people we harmed, can be a profound experience of humility and appreciation. By facing past mistakes and seeking forgiveness, members often develop a greater appreciation for relationships and the value of making things right.

Additionally, the act of sponsorship in 12-step programs further instills gratitude. Sponsorship involves more experienced members guiding newcomers through the steps. This reciprocal relationship not only supports the recovery of the sponsee but also reinforces the sponsor’s own sobriety. Sponsors often express deep gratitude for the opportunity to help others, as it reminds them of their progress and the communal nature of recovery.

Meetings themselves are environments where gratitude is frequently expressed and encouraged. Members share their experiences, strength, and hope, often highlighting the things they are grateful for. This communal sharing reinforces a collective sense of appreciation and mutual support, fostering a culture where gratitude is not just practiced, but celebrated.

In essence, gratitude in 12-step programs is not a passive feeling but an active, deliberate practice. It transforms how individuals view their past, interact in the present, and envision their future. By embracing gratitude, members of 12-step programs find strength, build resilience, and sustain their commitment to a sober and fulfilling life.

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Monday, June 24, 2024

On the path of Recovery

Over thirty-three years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long since I first walked into a 12-step meeting. I was a different person back then, lost in a haze of addiction and despair. Today, I’m a testament to the power of recovery and the transformative magic of the 12-step program.

In the beginning, I was skeptical. The idea of surrendering to a higher power felt foreign and uncomfortable. But as I listened to others share their stories, I saw reflections of my own struggles and triumphs. I realized I wasn’t alone. For the first time in a long time, I felt a glimmer of hope.

The 12 steps taught me to take responsibility for my actions, to make amends where possible, and to continuously strive for personal growth. The process wasn’t easy. Admitting my flaws, facing the wreckage of my past, and seeking forgiveness required immense courage. But with each step, I felt lighter, freer.

One of the most profound changes came from the fellowship itself. I built relationships based on trust and mutual support. These connections became my lifeline, providing strength and encouragement when I needed it most. I learned the value of service—helping others navigate their own recovery journeys. In doing so, I found purpose and fulfillment.

Spirituality became a cornerstone of my recovery. I discovered a sense of peace and clarity through prayer and meditation, learning to trust in a power greater than myself. This spiritual awakening brought me a deep sense of serenity, guiding me through life’s challenges with grace and resilience.

Today, my life is filled with gratitude. I’m grateful for the 12-step program, for the friends who’ve walked this path with me, and for the chance to live a life of meaning and joy. Thirty-three years in recovery have taught me that change is possible, that healing is real, and that every day is a gift.

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