Saturday, September 6, 2008

We still can't handle life, as life is.

Hello all,

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. Thank you Gwen for goosing me.
Saturday nights used to be big trouble for me; my first home group was Saturday Night Live in West Trenton, NJ. That was 17+ years ago. I still struggle with life on life's terms. The struggles are different now.

I have a beautiful wife, a healthy growing 12 year old son, a slew of friends; tons of good stuff.

Last night I read a paper from my son's bookbag and it generated a strong emotional response. He wrote that he "hates his house". Another question he had to answer was "if you had three wishes, what would they be?"; one response was he wished we had enough money to fix up our house.

My ego was crushed. I am not a "good enough" provider.(negative, irrational tape) I was able to talk with him and I asked him if he was embarrased about our home. He told me not to take it so personally! ( this 12 year old is often light years ahead of me emotionally )

The program tells me whenever I am upset that means there is something wrong with me. I hate that; probably because it's so true. I love my son so much, he is one of the biggest sources of inspiration. I want to provide for him, I want to be a good example, I relish the time and laughter we share. The closeness I feel with him fills me up.

I recently have volunteered to work with our church's youth group. We had a car wash today. It was fun, I got to know some of the kids and the parents. If I was still drinking; there is no way I would even get my car washed by anyone, let alone try and be a positive example for these kids.

God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

Many times I feel like a baby. Scared, immature, small and helpless... I just want someone to take care of me. I have come to find out, that is God's job. No wonder I get overwhelmed trying to do "everything"; it's impossible!

Thank you God, Thank you Gwen, Thank you Reid... you are my life.

I think I'm gonna keep comin'

All the best,


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Improving My Conscious Contact


"All of us, without exception, pass through times when we can pray only with the greatest exertion of will."

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 105

All of us, without exception. What can you tell others that will help them get back on the track with prayer and meditation when they become complacent? How does one muster up that exertion of will?

Struggling with prayer and or meditation is normal. I recently read and article that revealed even Mother Theresa had difficulty in this area. My personal experience is one of growth and different “seasons” of prayer and meditation.

When I have gotten into a groove and am able to carve out time in the morning to do some reading, I am indeed on a stronger spiritual footing. Inevitably something happens that changes my routine and this powerful tool goes dormant. Why does this happen? I am not sure. I keep on moving regardless; action is the key. A five-minute “chat” with my higher power will often do the trick. Asking God to inspire me and energize me has been helpful. Share about it at a meeting, with my sponsor or sponsee… As long as I don’t pick up that next drink, something inevitably happens that leads me back to my next “season” of prayer + meditation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

IOCC Challenge

"The Big Book states: "Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration." (Alcoholics Anonymous page 87) What are some examples of inspiration in your thinking?"

If I am able to stay conscious and in the moment I find inspiration comes in many forms. Nature is a great example, just watching a bird flit between branches and somehow land on a tiny perch in a flutter of feathers. How do they do that? Instincts? I see God.

The "inspiration" that the Big Book refers to is more of a moral imperative. Being driven to become a better man; or even wanting to become a better man is a inner desire that comes from someplace else. GOD perhaps. I know when I was a child the threat of punishment, even eternal damnation was not enough to get me to "do the right thing".

Inspiration comes from hearing about someone who picked up, lost everything and is now back @ a meeting admitting to their struggle; and then asking for help. Humans are awesome creatures, capable of so many unbelievable things. Sacrifices, genuine giving of oneself to another, without any expectations... that is inspiring.

The teenage surfer who lost an arm in the shark attack and still surfs. How do you explain that? Holding my father in my arms crying and telling him about the results of his spinal tap, bawling my eyes out and having him tell me "it's OK" inspires me.

To pass it on and share how precious our time on this planet is... to treat everyone I meet with respect and dignity. I need inspiration DAILY to get up and do it again and again.

Without GOD, prayer, literature, and other defective humans I am lost.

My wife and son inspire me everyday. I am immensely grateful to be sober and to have a chance to experience life, in the moments.



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Improve Our Conscious Contact

"The world's libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers." What are your favorite treasures that helped you and continue to help you on your spiritual journey?"

First off I would like to say what a awesome statement / question! I could use this every single day for the rest of my life to remind me that my goal is to look at life as a spiritual journey.

There are so many things I consider treasures. One of my favorites is a gift from my wife. A simple daily calendar the is flipped over every day and it has a contemporary quote and then a biblical quote that addresses a topic. I LOVE THIS THING! We have it on a little shelf right above the toilet on a cabinet. (I can't miss it) Over time I have come to look forward to these nuggets, most days I get to see it more than once and it is a little anchor for my daily routine.

Other times I get into sitting down and reading daily meditations. Usually in the AM while it is still quiet. Quite a stack of books are scattered all over our home. The 24 hour book was one of the first items I read; to this day I keep a copy in my car. It's great for traffic jams or times of confusion when for whatever reason I cannot talk to someone, or I just need to "re-center" my crazy, racing mind. Conference approved pamphlets are awesome. I love reading about the disease of Alcoholism, what AA is and what AA is not. There is something about the written word that settles my mind and bumps me back toward reality.

Other heavier books will find there way into my search. Emmit Fox's Sermon on the Mount is a very powerful book. The translation of the Beatitudes and the simplification of the Our Father holds a special place for me. Music can overcome me. Gwen and I went to see Sinead O'Connor recently and I was brought to tears. I felt like there was a connection of our spirits. (Gwen, Sinead, myself others around us) Listening to classical music can do it; I listen to Christmas Carols, try to sing @ church and there it is again. Something, contact? Emotion?

Being "conscious" is completely aware... that is very difficult. I have felt fully aware and alive. It is fleeting, usually a split second or so. Very powerful, words will never be able to express this. Yet I share it with others! With a knowing smile or a momentary connection of our eyes, that I think is GOD. Two people connecting, sharing a joy and gratitude for anything is a power that cannot be dissolved. When I get in a spiritual "groove" I feel that anything is possible. Positive energy is contagious. The words written in books over the centuries continue to feed us all.

The Bible is probably the biggest book. I have tried to study it; and aside from reading our daily quote calendar I am by no means a Bible student. (although I find myself drawn to it more and more) I wonder if anyone has even tried to quantify how many people have been effected by this book.

I am rambling on now.... It is 11:00AM on Saturday, lots to do. Life is WAY FULL! I could go on and on and on.... Here are some other "free associations" I would call treasures:

My Wife
My Son
My Mom
My Dog
My Family
The wind and the sky
All wild animals
Any artwork (espically children's)
My five senses

God Bless

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Day after the day

Hello Blogland...

I wanted to try and express a life altering event for me. On Sunday November 4th I ran my first marathon. Location: NYC

What an experience!

I have been running for a few years and always had the goal of completing a marathon. (26.2 miles) Earlier this year a fellow runner nudged me toward this event. If you have ever been to New York it can be an intimidating place.

I now feel like I am part of New York. (perspective) Running through the five boroughs was an amazing thing. The people and the spirit of the city carried me to the finish line in Central Park.

Just to get in to the marathon was exciting. Back in the spring I entered a lottery along with almost 90,000 other hopeful souls. Roughly half get in; many try for years. Me, first try - BOOM I'm in! I actually projected the positive thought that I would get in... my neighbor teaches Sunday school @ her church and had her students pray for me... IT WORKED!

Let the training begin. 18 weeks, over 500 miles; hot sweaty summer days, aching feet, chaffed body parts, my family was very supportive. "Gotta run" was my mantra, 5 days a week, one long run per week... the longest was 18 miles. Tick-tock, tick-tock, counting the days until the race.

Finally the day came. Up @ 5:00AM to get to a bus that dropped us off in the staging area along with the 39,000 other runners. Surreal. Helicopters buzzing overhead, loud speakers emitted instructions in a dozen different languages. The language thing confirmed to me that this was a WORLD event. I imagined for a second that this must be what it is like during a catastrophe, masses of people huddled together waiting. Only, we were waiting for something good.

The excitement grew as the start timed crept closer. Checked my after race bag with the UPS teams and figured out where the BLUE starting corral was. (we were all sorted into one of three different color groups to facilitate the density of bodies)

A red Coast Guard Chopper hovers overhead, very low; taking photos? Or, are they scanning the crowds for bad guys? Eerie thoughts mixed with anxiety mixed with anticipation.

Now all I have is the heat sheet wrapped around me, I have discarded my expendable clothing.(most folks had on sweats or warm up gear that they knew would be discarded right before the start) That too was kinda weird, were we moving towards a race or a orgy? We shuffle towards the Verrazanno; more helicopters... BOOM, the cannon blasts signals the START! NEW YORK, NEW YORK blares out of the loud speakers.

As the sun is shining we begin. It still seems like a dream. 26.2 miles, what was I thinking? I just tried to absorb in as much as possible... I am still processing the thousands of faces, the hundreds of hands slapped on the side lines... Streets lined with people. Many of them cheering - "Go John, You Can Do It!", "Looking good John" - the eye contact with a stranger for a mili-second that I will carry with me for life. Un-$#@%ing believable!

Inspiration to get through the many hurdles life holds. Cramping up in the last few miles introduced me to pain I had not felt before. Keep moving. "C'mon JOHN, you can do it!" I heard another hundred times....

In Central Park - just two mile to go, cramping agian. A medical volunteer hands me a salt packet, "you'll be fine, keep moving" - My favorite sign read "Finishing is your only F---ing option!"

Finally I MADE IT! Got my medal!

In reflection I have thought of the many instances were masses of humans get together with a common goal. D-day came to mind... Hurrican Katrina, 911, my mind swirls... GOD is amazing, the Human Spirit is undeniable. I am in awe of the sheer diversity of people invlovled in this event.

Please take a moment to remember the family of Ryan Shay.

He was a world class runner who died in NY competing in the Olympic Trials on Saturday Nov 3rd.

Say a prayer for Anna Marie, Helen A's sister who is battling with cancer. Helen and I shared the bus ride in to the start... Helen is 75 years old and was competing in her 10th consectutive NYC Marathon!

Grateful to be alive.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Shifting

Good Morning all,

I love this time of year, a crispness in the air, the leaves are changing, winter approaches.... There is something comforting in the familiarity of the seasons.

Last weekend I participated in a spiritual retreat. Twice a year we gather. It is a welcomed respite from the hectic life I now have. A group of men, committed to staying sober, NO MATTER WHAT, looking to reinforce our connections with GOD. Always something happens. I used to go with an agenda; now I just go. My sponsor has pointed out that we are human BEINGS... not human DOINGS! It can be a challenge to "do nothing".

The connection I feel with GOD is sometimes overwhelming. My job is to pay attention. Avoiding the same @#$%*&^ actions and behaviors is really, really difficult. I have a beautiful wife, an awesome son, a good job, loving family, friends and neighbors. Yet I sometimes feel like I have to prove something...

My alcoholism is never going away. My thinking can be a real challenge. GOD has put so many good, good people in my life. The changing season reminds me that nothing lasts forever. The only constant is change.

I have felt something inside of me shift. It is a good thing. My hope and goal is to focus on what is fleeting and precious, the way my wife's eyes twinkle when she laughs... my son's exuberance when he describes a game he enjoys.... my puppy's wagging tail.

Words are unable to express the deep sense of purpose and comfort I feel when GOD and I connect. He is there, I know it.


Last night I was @ a 2nd Step meeting and the words "faith that broadened and deepened" jumped off the page.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Prayer for me has always been a challenge. Growing up Catholic I felt that it was more of a duty or requirement than anything else. My mother would always claim to “pray” for people. I knew many of the prayers that were spoken during mass. The Act of Contrition after Penance always involved many prayers; 10 Our Fathers, 12 Hail Mary’s, not natural at all.

That all changed when I found myself in a Rehab in the spring of 1991, with not much hope. I recall my first real prayer was, “Help me GOD.” This prayer came out of me one night as I knelt next to my bed feeling awkward and not knowing where to turn. The prayer seemed to work, because shortly thereafter my recovery seemed to grab hold.

My journey has since lead me down a path to a wonderful sober life. I met my wife, Gwen, at a recovery dance and the growth we have experienced together is impossible to put into words. Gwen is an incredible woman and I believe GOD placed us together. With the birth of our son Reid, our life became even fuller. While all these wonderful life events unfolded the program was there guiding us.

At different points along the way I felt very close to my Higher Power. When Reid was christened, at our Wedding, I actually felt the presence of GOD, it was awesome! These incredible moments were fleeting and I wanted to feel them again. But how?

Prayer became more important. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the end of meetings has given me practice. The Serenity Prayer, the Third, Seventh, and Eleventh Step Prayers are all very important parts of my Spiritual maintenance.

How to pray, where and when? These are also always changing in my life. I have attended retreats, prayed in groups, out loud, in silence… in search of some sort of routine; or formula.

I often find answers come when I am not looking. Simple, easy solution right under my nose. A thought, a reading even a memory can trigger an urge to thank GOD or to try and share my gratitude with others in my life.

Gwen has created two sets of Prayer Beads for me; these I cherish very much. One is a simple wood set that are small and quite comfortable to hold; the other set is a heavier, ornate metal set that incorporate a crucifix that was as gift from my parents.

Their most common use I have is while driving, which I do a lot, where I’ll hold a set in my hand reminding me that I’m not alone and life is not all about me. Some of the other practices I have found are that during meetings I will wrap the wood set of beads around three of my fingers and gently roll one bead at a time in between my thumb and forefinger, praying for someone specific or asking for patience and tolerance. I also use them during formal prayers, where I am on my knees reciting a prayer, praying for specific people and asking GOD for the knowledge of HIS WILL for me for that day only and the POWER to carry it out.

Ultimately I have found the beads to be a focusing point for me during prayer. I can just feel them in my hand and it’s almost like an antenna to GOD. These feelings and moments are fleeting, but I have experienced them, and nine times out of ten it has been during a quiet moment of prayer or reflection. I would encourage you to try prayer it works!

Thousands of years, hundreds of religion, countless prayers have served many people well. Prayer for me is like spiritual food without it my spirit suffers. I need all the help I can get to maintain my contact, visual reminders such as beads, crosses, daily quotes, have all been a great help.

I wish you well in your life journey, GOD bless.