Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do you identify?

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the following excerpts from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous...

"Cunning, baffling, powerful -- the gradual creeping up of the frequency and quantity of alcohol and what it does to a person is apparent to everyone but the person involved."

"Drink planning became more important than any other plans."

"To wake up at home, not knowing how I got there, and to realize I had driven my car, became torture."

"It was at this stage of my life that resentments came in.  Resenting anyone and everyone who might interfere with my personal plans and ways of doing things -- especially for any interference with my drinking  -- I was full of self-pity."

There are from pages 350, 351 of the fourth edition.  I really identify with these statements.

I'm so glad I don't have to live that way anymore.

The problem with making assumptions
is that we believe they are the truth.
- don Miguel Ruiz

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Step 3

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the power behind Step 3.  We talk about surrendering to win.  Well, Step 3 is where this happens (for this alkie).  The obsession to drink to get drunk was lifted when and only when I surrendered my drinking life to my newly-conceived Higher Power.  I gave up.  I was done (Mary Christine wrote about this yesterday).  Make no mistake, without that HP which began to develp in Step 2, the lifting of that obsession would never have happened.
And to me, surrender means I don't take it back.  It's genuine, it's real, it's sincere.  And it's forever (I hope).

for peace of mind in a chaotic world

for my willingness and faith to stay in integrity

that we're finally getting some proper autumn weather and temperatures in these parts, good buddy

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
- Maya Angelou

Monday, November 28, 2011

Exhausted, but very satisfied

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for 3 of the best days I've had since I got sober in 2003.  I was Co-Chairperson of the 2011 Houston Roundup, a 3 day conference of AA-related workshops, speakers from around the country (and Canada) and other recovery-related events.  It was a year-long love affair as we began the planning back in January.  By March, we had 21 committee chairs and we were off and running.
I was too busy helping to extinguish little fires (unexpected problems) to attend the workshops.  I tried but each time was pulled out to go help with something.  I did get to attend all of our speaker meetings and they were, of course, fabulous.
We had 310 registered participants and 54 of those got to attend on financial scholarhips.  We raised money all year long by holding fundraisers and unless I'm mistaken, we have finished with a small surplus.  This will be donated after ensuring a small prudent reserve.

I am again reminded of the importance of the "WE" of the program.  I can't stay sober by myself and I can't chair a large event by myself.  It takes a village to raise this 57 year-old man and I'm just fine with that.
Just smiling goes a long way toward making you feel better about life.
And when you feel better about life, your life is better.
- Art Linkletter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Short & Sweet

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for all of the blessings bestowed on this world

Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the people in my life ...

who teach me how to act and react
who teach me how not to act and react
who show me how to be friendly, even when I don't want to
who remind me when I'm a little bit off balance
who lead by example
who do more for others than for themselves
who are genuine
who come back
with passion and compassion

An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day # 3000 (and counting)

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for Step 2.  Me?  Insane?

that I didn't give up before I grasped the concept behind this step.  I could not (for the life of me) understand why it was necessary to accept a higher power.  But then I didn't have any intention of stopping drinking either.

that my insanity takes on slightly different looks today.  My thinking can still go "there".  If you don't believe me, just ask my partner.  He'll be more than happy to expound on this issue.

for the excitement this week at my recovery center (Lambda Center).  You can just feel it in the air.  It's tangible.  The fellowship is ready to celebrate our gratitude.

that I've gone 3000 continuous days without a beer, rum/coke or any other alcohol.
Incredible.  Amazing.  Higher Power.

I wept because I had no shoes
until I met a man who had no feet.
- old Persian Proverb

Monday, November 21, 2011

making progress

The harbour at Agadir, Morocco.  I was there in 2002.

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for patience

for the ways that life unfolds -- both good and bad.  I learn from the bad and just enjoy the good.

that I get a little better at not taking on the problems of others.  For me, this takes a lot of conscious effort.

for the Roundup committee that I'm co-chairing.  We had our final monthly meeting yesterday.  It lasted a full 3.5 hours.  Crunch time begins on Thursday afternoon and the conference ends on Sunday.  I think we are just about as ready as we can be at this point.  There will be things overlooked and there will be mistakes but I am sure it will all work out.  What a treat this has been to oversee such a wonderful group of guys and gals.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.
- Mark Twain

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Go With the Flow

Most unhappiness comes from resisting life. Occasionally, we have such a strong commitment to changing the world order that it is worth struggling against the flow of life. Perhaps you have a cause such as universal veganism - your life is committed to preventing even one more animal from being eaten by anyone. But most people don't have that kind of dedication to a cause, and even for those who do, there is much of daily life that is not related to any particular issue of principle. Nonetheless, we live our lives as if each minor happening were a matter of life and death.

Our favorite restaurant has run out of today's blackboard special. The bananas in the grocery store are all green. The drawbridge is stuck in the "up" position. We have demands of the world, these demands aren't met, and we become disappointed and angry. Is that just human nature? Yes and no. It is human nature to prefer the predictable, but this preference becomes highly exaggerated in some societies. Twenty First Century America, especially in dense urban areas, has become the epitome of expectations and demands, which inevitably result in disappointment and anger as the world fails to meet these expectations. Demanding that the world meet our expectations has become a bad habit that causes great unhappiness. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can break the bad habit of being unhappy.

Think of life being like a mighty river, such as the Mississippi or the Amazon. Sometimes the river floods, sometimes it quiets. Sometimes it cuts a new course, drowning some farmland and leaving some old river bottom high and dry. One could fight the river and curse its vicissitudes, or one could sail on the river, fish in the river, drink from the river, irrigate crops from the river, and live happily on the river. Fighting against life, like fighting against a mighty river is a pointless waste of energy and upset. Within the constraints life sets and within its vagaries, we still have immense freedom of action. We can fully express our commitments and live life to the fullest without fighting against it.

To go with the flow of life, without compromising your values:

1. Visualize life as a river, and the challenge of living as being a river pilot. Keep your eye far enough downstream that you can gently maneuver toward your goal using the force of the river to power your journey. Think of setting your course as the game that it is. Outthink life, but don't try to overpower it.

2. Remember that life is not serious. You already know the final score: Life-1, You-0. So just have fun on your run down the river.

3. Take time for yourself. Breathe deeply. Take a quiet walk. Spend time alone in a natural setting and soak up the stillness.

4. Clear your mind of everything you thought you knew. Be like a child in having no preconceptions of how life should turn out. Visualize pouring water into a cup. That's like life flowing into a young child. Now visualize trying to pour clear water into a cup filled with mud. That is like the flow of creation being resisted by expectations and demands one attempts to place upon life.

5. Be grateful for all of life. Be thankful you are alive. Not to be thankful for life is to be like a starving person who is gifted a steak and complains that it is tough.

6. Dance lightly with life. Dancing with life is like dancing with an elephant. She makes a jolly partner so long as you watch her moves, react quickly, and don't get stepped on.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Dare to dream of your great success
- Mary Anne Radmacher

dare to dream of your great success.

become intimate with those things which

deeply motivate you and regularly work

toward the realization of that mission.

At 28 years I traveled out of the country. Alone. In London. My bed and breakfast was filled with accents from all over the world and my ear was not yet trained to the unique inflection spoken in the Queen’s English. My second day there I intended to purchase one ticket for LES MISERABLES (it had opened the October before). Between jet lag and my language challenge I accidentally purchased two.

It took some amount of negotiating to persuade the young intellectual from Germany to be my guest at that night’s performance. While he insisted that musicals were frivolous and a waste of time, he thriftily concurred that not using my second ticket would be a waste of money.

That night both our world views shifted. As Fantine wept over her lost love and life in I DREAMED A DREAM, the heart in my guest was breaking. I resolved: never to be so achingly in the grasp of regret. The music became my soundtrack for many years. I cannot speak of the standing of his life but I know that night he was the first to stand to his feet as the curtain began its close. Hands above his head he was weeping for the wonder. He saw that what he had thought was one thing (frivolous musicals) was something else entirely.

And so it was for Susan Boyle, an almost 48 year old English woman who’s never been kissed, and lives alone with her cat. As she competed on BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT the somewhat cynical judges balked as she answered Simon Cowell’s, “What’s the dream?” with, “I want to become a professional singer.” Who in the audience didn’t laugh?

Somewhat nervous, rather awkward and no apparent stitch of make up on her face she waited for the music to begin. She began to sing. The audience registered audible and visual surprise. Like my reluctant guest their assessment of one thing turned out to be something else entirely. As when any person is completely engaged with their passion, Susan transformed as I watched. Her dream enlivened her and took away any sense of nervousness.

As the audience stilled and returned from their leaping feet to their seats…I was reminded of the wisdom of George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans) who courageously embraced her dream and passion saying, “It is never too late to become who you might have been.” Said another way, “Continue to live toward your dream – the ultimate embrace of it will be worth your journey.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

3 P's

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for progress
for patience
for persistence

Those 3 traits have made up my life since I was a kid.  They come and go at various times and different degrees, but they're always present.


Live boldly. Laugh Loudly. Love Truly.
Play as often as you can.
Work as smart as you are able.
Share your heart as deeply as you can reach.
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, November 17, 2011

my mind is blank

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I'm sober and happy

that I don't have to manage anybody's life except mine and a lot of that I try to leave to my HP

for the wisdom of old timers and the lessons from newcomers

that's about all I can do this morning.  Later.

An old friend will help you move.
A good friend will help you move a dead body.

- Jim Hayes

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Changing me

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for awareness of the way I've changed over the years.  I can look back on my 33 years of drinking and see the progression of my disease.  I see how it quickly became the most important part of every day regardless of whether I was actively drinking yet that day. 

I no longer drink alcohol.  Amazing.

Since I stopped drinking, the evolution of my understanding of a Higher Power still amazes me.  If you knew how negative I was about spirituality and God before I came into AA, you would understand what I mean. 

I've changed in that I am usually no longer afraid of people.  I have trained myself to greet strangers at the AA clubhouse I attend.  It's still a little scary sometime, but I tell myself that it's part of my recovery from isolation.  Just do it, David.

I enjoy doing things for others.  No longer am I only concerned with what I can take away from a situation, but it's important for me to leave some recovery on the table.

My temper seems to be in check.  From day number one of sobriety, I almost never raise my voice any more.  This is a new me! 

We cannot change anything until we accept it.
- Carl Jung

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recovery things

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the 12 steps

that A.A. offers me a wonderful design for living

to know that sobriety does not give me instant manageability; there's alot of work required

for questions from non-alkies who are curious about recovery.  I was asked why I still go to meetings.  The simple answer is so I can stay sober.  But it's really much more than that. 

I go to meetings ...
... to learn more about recovery
... to be reminded of everything I have already forgotten about recovery
... to help others with my experience, strength and hope
... because all of my friends are in recovery
... what else would I do?  Stay home? 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, November 14, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for a peaceful, easy weekend.  It included breakfasts and dinners with friends in recovery.  It included running around with a friend in recovery looking at outdoor markets and plants.  It included a speaker meeting whre a friend in recovery related her story of what it was like and what happened.  Her very personality transmits what it's like now.

that I rarely over-analyze things.  I like things simple.

that I haven't (yet) caught a flu-type bug that seems to be going around town.

that NatGeo Channel played March of the Penguins last night.  One of my favorite films to just sit back and enjoy.  Morgan Freeman has such a great narrator voice.

It is not the man who has too little,
but the man who craves more, that is poor.
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Zero-Based Gratitude

Perhaps you have heard of zero-based budgeting as a technique for governments, businesses, and occasionally individuals. Zero-based budgeting is in contrast to traditional incremental budgeting. In incremental budgeting, one starts with the budget for the last year, or other period, and prepares a budget for the next period based on the budget for the last period - incorporating whatever increases, or very occasionally decreases, are deemed appropriate.

Zero-based budgeting begins with a base-line of no expenditures, rather than the base-line of last year's expenditures. Each and every proposed expense must be justified on its own merits rather that falling back on the argument that it was in the last year's budget, and that everybody expects and demands it.

Most people's gratitude is incremental gratitude. If they receive a raise, a bigger house, a third car, a new love interest, or a healthy new baby, they are grateful. If they lose their job, are forced to downsize, have a tiff with their spouse, or have an illness in the family, they are disappointed and angry. Why disappointed and angry? Because they have not been blessed with as much today as they were yesterday.

Suppose our gratitude could be zero-based gratitude. With zero-based gratitude, we would be grateful for everything we had each day - regardless of whether it was more or less than yesterday. With zero-based gratitude, I can be grateful for a warm comfortable one-bedroom apartment, even if I had a four bedroom house yesterday. I can be grateful for being able to walk, even if I could run yesterday. I can be grateful for all the people, the love, the food, the shelter, the services, the health, that I am blessed with today, regardless of what I had yesterday. With zero-based gratitude, I can be grateful each day for the gift of life itself.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


World's Fastest rollercoaster

150 mph

click here  or here

Friday, November 11, 2011

eleven eleven eleven

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for One's

today's date
the first step
my first year of sobriety
my first sponsee
my first girlfriend
my first sexual experience
my first drinking experience

What can you add to this list?

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand,
nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also, I can't forget that it's Veterans Day.

My fellow Americans,
ask not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country.
- John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 10, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I keep hearing about the insanity of alcoholic behavior. 
that I keep seeing the insanity of alcoholic behavior.

that I don't gamble with my sobriety.  I no longer have any business in a bar, no matter how spiritually fit I may think I am.   
to be able to (sometimes) live one day at a time.  I was watching a show on National Geographic channel and they talked about the Earth ending in 5 billion years.  How are we supposed to plan for this?  What should I be doing to prevent this?

for Al Anon meetings.  LOL (see above)

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.- Dolly Parton

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Just me

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that while it may take a few times for me to really hear something I need to hear, it finally happens when it needs to.  A number of times this has been true since I got sober.
I've read the 4th edition of the big book several times, front to back.  Including the stories.  Yesterday, my 6:30am group read "Student Of Life" starting on page 319.  The writer describes her drinking in this fashion:

"When I was drinking, I was okay.  I understood.  Everything made sense.  I could dance, talk, and enjoy being in my own skin.  It was as if I had been an unfinished jigsaw puzzle with one piece missing:  as soon as I took a drink, the last piece instantly and effortlessly snapped into place."

Damn, that was me!  I have never been able to accurately put into words what getting drunk did for me.  But that's just what it did for me.  I became a different person.  Someone I liked.

Since getting sober, I've had to use the steps to learn how to live sober and happy.  To be comfortable in my own skin. 

AA works for me as long as I work for it.  Have a lovely day, y'all.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.
- The Buddha

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'll begin with a bit of humor ...

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that it's the month of gratitude

that it's really, really difficult to be angry and grateful at the same time

that a day doesn't go by when I don't think and/or write about being grateful for who I am today;
this blog is part of that gratitude

that I'm never going to run for public office.  Never.

The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.
- Neale Donald Walsch

Monday, November 07, 2011

It's Monday Again!

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that some of the feelings I had in early sobriety are no longer part of my life.  Mainly I'm talking about the things that made me want to isolate.  I rarely feel "less than" any more.  I don't feel "left out" much any more. 
But even if I do, I don't feel the need to isolate. 
If you've never experienced these feelings I doubt you can understand how pervasive they can be. 
They absolutely dominated my thinking at times.  Progress.

that my position as co-chairperson of the 2011 Houston Roundup has become pretty intense.  I began this role back in January and we've had very smooth sailing all year.  But the event nears (Thanksgiving weekend) and as everything is coming together, the details seem never-ending and are important to pay attention to. 
This Roundup is a conference of about 300 people in recovery for 3 days.
I can't wait for it to begin. 
And end.

that I was treated to an afternoon at the Texans-Browns football game (we won 30-12)

Gardening is all about optimism.
~~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Living in the Moment

The Paradox Of Living In The Moment - How To Be Happy Today And Prepare For Tomorrow
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Are you feeling stressed and upset? If so, you are worrying about tomorrow. Events that have already occurred may cause you regret, but they only appear to cause worry. If you just lost your job, you are not worrying about losing your job - that already happened. You are worrying about paying your bills and finding a new job. Those are worries about tomorrow.

Worrying is just a natural human emotion, and everyone worries, right? Actually not. Worry is a bad habit that most people acquire, and like all habits, can be broken.

When you worry about what may or may not occur in the future, you miss the joy that is available today - each and every day. So is the answer to focus only on today, and let tomorrow take care of itself? That sounds good - until tomorrow arrives and you are not prepared.

It's a paradox. How does one balance living in the now with preparing responsibly for the future? The key to this dilemma lies in the distinction between "worrying about the future," and "preparing for the future." The two concepts are not at all the same.

There are two aspects to preparing for the future. The one that is more familiar to most people is planning. You know the mortgage is due next week so you save the money - You know you want to fit into your clothes tomorrow, so you forgo that second helping. Planning for the future is fully compatible with living joyfully today.

The other aspect of preparing for the future is accepting that things will probably not turn out the way you plan. Creating this acceptance of life's uncertainties is much more challenging than formulating and following through on plans.

The source of most worry is a lack of acceptance of the uncertainties of the future. When one fully lives a life of acceptance, life's vagaries are not merely tolerated, but are enjoyed because they are life's gifts. If one is religiously inclined, whatever life delivers is a gift from the Creator. If one holds other beliefs, then whatever happens is just what there is to work with - so why not enjoy it.

The recipe for a joyful life is planning and preparing for the future, while simultaneously accepting that you hold virtually no control over future events. By placing no demands on the future, you can enjoy whatever it brings.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward - as an Expression of Universal Gratitude
While many of us recognize the expression "Pay It Forward" from the 2000 movie of that name, the concept is an ancient one. Benjamin Franklin described the process:
I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.
The actual words "pay it forward" are used to describe this sequence by Robert Heinlein in a 1951 novel - perhaps the first use of this phrase.
We have reason to have infinite gratitude to the Universe for everything we have and everything we are, yet we cannot repay the Universe. We have gratitude for our distant ancestors, yet cannot repay them. We have gratitude to our parents for our very life, and to our parents or other caregivers for our nurture, yet we cannot repay them in kind. We may have many other gratitudes that, for one reason or another, cannot be repaid to those who were so generous to us.
Pay It Forward. Gift future generations in proportion to our gratitude. The nature of life is that we pay forward our biological creation and nurture. Our parents gift us with life and nurture, and we gift our children with life and nurture. While this much is essential to continued human existence, choose to take "pay it forward" farther - much farther.
Consider making "pay it forward" a way of life. As we have observed many times, expectation (demand) is always a cause of suffering. Rather than "expecting" to be repaid when we "loan" something to someone, consider the "loans" we make to be forward payments for the "loans" we received from our ancestors, nurturers and others. Request that any "loan" that we make be repaid FORWARD, when the recipient is able, and then completely forget about the "loan."
It is no longer our business if, when, or how the "loan" is repaid - or is not repaid.

Friday, November 04, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that IT was possible for me to find a Higher Power

that IT was possible for me to stop drinking alcohol

that IT is possible for me to stay stopped

that IT is possible for me to pass along the message

that IT is possible for me to do the next right thing

that IT is possible not to make this list go on and on and on ...

It always seems impossible until its done.
- Nelson Mandela

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Things I like

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I have the honor (once again) of chairing a Wednesday noon-time AA speaker meeting.  This means I get to choose the person who will be qualifiying/telling part of their story.  I really enjoy getting to do this.  I have some really fine lads and lassies lined up for the month.

for some excellent test results.  I was diagnosed with Peripheral Artery Disease in 2005.  My symptoms are in my legs (calves) and is mostly noticeable when I walk long distances (15 minutes or more).  Since 2006 I have spent a lot of time on treadmills and eliptical machines with very beneficial results.
In the last 2 weeks, I had my annual ultrasound testings and got the good results yesterday.  My doctor tells me to just keep doing what I'm doing, especially not smoking
(which was the cause in the first place).

that I enjoy being busy, but dislike feeling overwhelmed.  Finding that just right medium is elusive for me.

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
- Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Repeating myself

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that my imagination still runs wild but I don't remember much. 
that my imagination still runs wild but I don't remember much.

for clarity of thought.  for clarity of thought.

that I love being a sober man.  that I love being a sober man.

for sage advice from sagists.  for sage advice from sagists.

that I will record my 300,000th visitor on this blog this morning.

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for people who are real; those with integrity

for people with a sober history; I like to hear them talk

for people who walk the talk; they teach me how to act

for people who don't take themselves too seriously; they make me comfortable

You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.
- Carl Jung