Tuesday, March 14, 2017


     The issues dividing Americans, and many others outside the United States, affect those in Twelve Step programs, as well. They are the kinds of issues that can tear apart a meeting with very real life and death consequences. That is why "we have no opinion on outside issues."
     Still, to be responsible and productive citizens, the issues that affect us and the issues we can affect need to be addressed maturely and responsibly so that when we do sit and share in those meetings, we know we have done what we can do and can then let go of it all at the meeting in order to deal with the big problem: addiction.
      So . . . health care. . . . Maybe we should begin with something easier. The national debt is a prob . . . ."
     Okay, let me start again. Hillary Clinton lost because . . . . Enh! Screw it! I'm going skiing.
PS. That is not me.

Monday, March 13, 2017


One way to look at it:

►When Velveeta got clean, she found herself in serious financial trouble. Her business had gone bust and she was in dire financial straits. She was so desperate that she decided to go straight to her higher power for help. She prayed, “God, please help me. I've lost my business and if I don't get some money, I'm going to lose my home and car as well. Please let me win the lottery.”  
The night of the drawing came, Vel held her breath waiting for the announcement, and, sad to tell, someone else was the winner. The next morning the bank foreclosed on her home.
Disappointed and thinking that she hadn’t prayed hard enough, she prayed again, this time getting down on her knees in the snow. “God, please let me win the lottery! I've lost my business, my home, and I'm going to lose my car as well.”

The night of the next drawing came, Vel held her breath and crossed her fingers waiting for the announcement, and, sad to tell, someone else was the winner. The next morning the repo man came and took her car.
Heartbroken, Velveeta prayed again, this time lying prostrate on the ice. “My God, my god, why hast thou forsaken me? I have lost my business, my house, and my car. My children will starve next. My sponsor told me to pray to you for the things I need, and I really need to win the lottery so I can get my life back in order. Please, please, please, please, please let me win the lottery!”
The clouds parted and a blinding white light appeared as the voice of God boomed down at the woman from the sky: “Velveeta, now work with me on this concept, okay? First, you buy a ticket!”
Another way to look at it:
►St. Francis of Assisi was showing someone his garden, and the man was very impressed. “Your garden is beautiful and so productive,” said the man. “You must have prayed very hard to get it like this.”
“Yes,” said Francis, “and every time I prayed I picked up a hoe.”

►What do the two items above have to do with staying in recovery and growing in the program? Meditate on that question then apply the answer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


This was sent to me by my friend Jeremy.

A man was traveling in a hot air balloon and had become completely lost. He spied a man walking way down below, so he lowered the balloon within calling range.
     “Excuse me,” he called out, “I promised a friend I would meet him a half hour from now and I have no idea where I am. Can you help me out?”
The man on the ground said, “Certainly. You are in a hot air balloon  about 30 feet above the ground. You're at longitude 70 degrees west and latitude 30 degrees north.”
The man in the balloon thought on it a moment and said, “You have got to be a sponsor.”
The man on the ground said, “As a matter of fact I am a sponsor, but how did you know?”
The man in the balloon said, “Everything you've told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with the information and, frankly, I'm still lost.”
The man on the ground nodded and said, “You must be a sponsee.”
The man in the balloon said , “As a matter of fact, I am a sponsee, but how did you know?”
The man on the ground said, “You have no idea where you are, you have no idea where you're going. You've made a promise you have no idea how to keep. You expect me to solve your problem for you and even though you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, it has now somehow become my fault.

Friday, March 10, 2017


"My name is Jay and today I did the most unnatural thing an addict can do: I didn't use."
The above quotation was obtained first hand by me from Jay the first time back when rocks were still soft—a long time ago. Over the years at various events Jay and I attended, at workshops and meetings where the first-name "Who's here?" goes around, Jay always introduced himself that way.

This is not an obituary, so calm down. Jay only moved away from Maine and went West. I consider Jay a valuable friend both for who he is and for his recovery. He has been through the mill several times and survived without using drugs, but by using the program of Narcotics  Anonymous. So, I miss him.

But then, not long after he moved away, I noticed a strange thing. At NA meetings I attend, several times now I have heard addicts introduce themselves with "My name is (so-and-so) and today I did the most unnatural thing an addict can do: I didn't use."

The first time I heard it, I asked the very young man if he knew Jay. He didn't. Then I asked him why he introduced himself that way. He had only weeks in recovery and was brand new to Maine NA. "That's how my new sponsor introduces himself," explained the newcomer. "It sounds good and it's something important I need to remember." Jay's recovery has effects that reach down to persons he has never met.

It reminded me of the closing ceremony at one of the Miracle conventions I attended years ago. Neil, a very good friend of Jay's and a man who I loved and respected, was at the outside meeting. There were perhaps ninety addicts in the circle either sitting on the grass or in a variety of chairs from those molded plastic things to camp chairs and folding chaise-lounges. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze, and birds singing in the trees. Neil had shared at an earlier meeting that day that he had been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, and I had been thinking about that. Then it was my turn to speak.

On my way to the podium, I noticed Neil was only a few places away to the right of me. There was something I had seen many years earlier at a high school graduation that really impressed me, and it seemed like an ideal time to try it out on an NA meeting.

I asked Neil to stand. His face reddened as he stood and said, "Oh, shit," wondering what kind of gag I was going to pull. I don't know why, but I seem to have a reputation as a prankster.

As I stood there looking out at that large ring of recovering addicts, wondering if what I was about to do would have the effect I wanted, I asked everyone who respected and had learned from Neil's shared recovery in NA to stand. It looked to me that around thirty persons in the circle stood. Then I asked everyone who respected and learned from the shared recovery of any of those who were standing to stand, as well. All of those still seated in the circle got to their feet. Everyone in the circle was standing. "That is how it works," I said and returned to my place.

Denis Hall is where the We Are A Miracle convention
takes place. In front of this building is where I said good-bye to Neil
Neil and his shared recovery had affected everyone at the convention, and right there was the visible proof for all to see, especially including Neil. As the meeting broke up and Neil was about to leave, I hugged him, he got into his vehicle, and drove off on his way to New York. That was the last time I saw him. We learned a few months later that he died. 

We don't often realize the good we do in recovery, the extent of it, the valuable lives we help save. In my own case I find that those who leave the program, relapse, and die tend to occupy my attention while the successes occupy a minor "They're safe" bin in the back of my brain.

It is a good thing to recognize those successes we see around us at every meeting, and when one of those miracles lets us know how much we mean to them because of our words, or our actions, or recovery, don't brush it off with a quick "Great," or :"You too." Do that unnatural thing addicts often fail to do properly. Be aware that you have been instrumental in saving a valuable life, and let the person who shared how much you have meant to them know their message has been taken in by saying, "Thank you."

What the hell. Throw in a hug, too. It is a big deal. After all, that person being in recovery is part of an ongoing miracle that you helped keep working.

Monday, February 27, 2017


     I don't know who said it first (a version of this is attributed to Philo), but the following has been for me the route out of many episodes of blaming, resentments, irritation and anger.

     "Be generous. Nearly everyone is fighting a hard battle."

     Pain, age, childhood demons, legal problems, unemployment, failure, relationships, the whole world of art, sports, and business struggles, and the world of issues surrounding addiction and recovery from addiction.
     So, someone gets a little short with you, cuts you out in traffic, butts a line, begins crying, doesn't show up on time, doesn't get perfect grades, before you judge or resort to anger, try to remember that no one knows another well enough to know all the battles that person is fighting.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


As I posted on my Facebook page: "Migraines certainly complicate the shit out of everything." 
     I was upset. Angry. Urging reality to see the mistake it had made and remove my migraine.

     Yeah, I'm one of those migraine sufferers as a result of multiple concussions I received over a twenty-four hour period when I was in the U.S. Army. The first concussion was as a result of a shop accident where I was employed repairing and doing maintenance on HAWK missiles. The second and third concussions happened the next morning as the personnel at our missile site on Tokashiki Jima were called out to assist the islanders in fighting a forest fire. A jungle fire, actually, but there had been a severe drought, and it was as dry as a late summer forest, so we called it a forest fire.
     I was choppered away to the Camp Kue Hospital on Okinawa where I began the eventually successful struggle to regain my vision and also began my association with neck and spinal injuries, as well as migraine headaches.

Life on Life's Terms
     Chronic pain: I spent the next eighteen years trying to get out of what reality had dished up for me by numbing both the headaches and physical pain with alcohol and prescription drugs. Life on life's terms seemed like a bad deal and I was in a search for a better deal. There were two telling results. First, the numbing efforts with chemicals didn't work all that well, and, second, the additional pain inflicted on me, my work, and on those I loved far outweighed any relief I got from drugs.
     Which left me after I got clean with coping. "Coping" always seemed to mean, "If someone takes a swing at you, make sure he gets a clean shot at your chin."  It is very much like being forced into combat with neither weapon nor ammunition.
     There are a million bits of advice on what to do about migraines ranging from dietary changes to acupuncture. Some of them even work, to a degree. In my own case, through diet and exercise, I've managed to cut down the number of migraines from eight to ten per week to perhaps three or four per month. But they still come, they still cripple me, and in those moments of pain, the dragon blows its smoke in my ear: "It would be easier if we got some stuff. Pot is legal in Maine now, and you certainly qualify. There's all kinds of pills, and rum used to---"
     No! No, no, no!
I've heard the lesson at thousands of meetings and in as many telephone calls to other recovering addicts: Migraines eventually go; Active addiction never quits.
     Yeah. Step One, Step Four, I do remember the nightmare. Step Six, I do remember the horror of who I became. Step Eight, I do remember all those I hurt as a result of my using. And, no, I do not want to go back.
     Active addicts often attempt to get a better deal than life on life's terms by using drugs, cheating, and stealing. A thing I've learned since I got clean: Not only is there no better deal than life on life's terms, there is no other deal. All life is life on life's terms.
     Use drugs, the addict becomes addicted. Pick up again, the recovering addict activates his or her addiction. Commit crimes to support your addiction and get caught, it's time in county orange. Fall on your head a few times and get neural damage of a kind, you get a lifetime of migraines. If a frog jumps, it's going to bump its ass when it lands. Those are a few of life's terms. It is often called "reality."
     Life on life's terms is all anyone has whether in the program or out in the big experiment. Understand the terms and comply with them and you'll come out of it the best you can. Casting about looking for better deals where there are not even any other deals calls up that other name for reality: Death on Death's terms. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017


     The disease of addiction is a war gamer and the recovering addict is the disease's opponent. There are many dangerous games addiction plays with those new in recovery, and one of the many is "I never got in trouble with [Insert drug name], so maybe I could safely use that."
      When  I came into the program I was a rank amateur as a drug addict. My drugs were alcohol and prescription medications. Beginning in rehab, talking with the other patients, and later in meetings and talking with my brothers and sisters in Narcotics Anonymous, I learned about the world of drugs, the overwhelming majority of which  I had never used.
     A drug is a drug, I knew. Using or substituting one for another triggers the craving all over again, sending the addict back into the nightmare. It's right there in the readings, the literature, what the old-timers share during meetings.

Yeah, but. . . .
     But I never even tried pot, or Coors, or wine spritzers. Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, crack . . . There had to be something I could use and not get addicted. 
     There were other newcomers in my home group, and my disease had me go to them for counsel rather than to those with time clean. After all, we learned as children not to ask permission from those we knew were going to say "No." Still, during one such parking lot discussion at night after a meeting, an old-timer was listening to the conversation. We all knew who it was when he laughed, his laugh being very distinctive.
    "Sorry," he said. "Just remembering something. Back when I was new in the program the old-timers called what you're planning 'riding pogo sticks through a minefield'. A couple days ago at a meeting I heard it called 'playing leapfrog with a unicorn'."