Thursday, 31 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 31 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 31 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 31, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Every single moment we are impacted by our mood if we are living in the moment. How often are we living in the past? We can be reviewing what happened yesterday, last week, and all the way back to our early memories. How we felt when life was good, how we felt when life is bad and how we felt when life took an ugly turn. Knowing the past and then knowing where we are today can give great perspective if we are open, honest and willing to learn.


The fourth step in the twelve step way of life is a real eye-opener about the past and the more fearless we are when we review our history; the easier it becomes to feel life in the moment of now. No one is immune to their feelings if they choose to acknowledge them and don't live in denial. This may seem like a sweeping statement, at the same time I feel many of us were very good at sweeping difficult moments under the metaphorical carpet, preferring to move on without review and without perspective. A huge desire driven by romance and finance can impact greatly. To overcome fear, putting on a brave face, pride and ego often cover up guilt and shame about not being good enough. Feelings which are unfamiliar; rage, anger and resentment, extreme desires are fostered without our knowing. Step ten: always available to see our part in matters, to deal with reality rather than history and grow with humility today.


I don't find all my feelings easy to cope with: I will forever be a learner in love with people, places and things. Learning what I like and don't like has been a real trial. I was always taught to be a polite person, manners were important, and wanting to be a likeable individual was all part of romance and finance. When I was in the right job, the right girl would be there too? I realised early on that life is not predictable, and we do not always recognise love in others in a romantic way, and in the way of compensation finance and career can often substitute and become the focus of life, rather than a life lived with loving relationships forged on the anvils of experience. Learning how to love, how to be loved back and feel useful really started a new chapter for me in recovery.


Being assertive in the moment of now, three questions: "how am I feeling right now?" Then the second question "why do I feel this way right now?" And the third question "what can I do about it?" Trying to answer the questions about feelings is an awkward exercise in being assertive with ourselves and our outlook. And then it becomes even more difficult when we try to have empathy and when we asked the same sort of questions it becomes quite awkward: "how do we feel or how are we feeling right now?" And then "why do we feel this way together?" And the real grip on reality: "what can we do together?" Being assertive is knowing our own feelings, empathy is about the feelings that everyone has around us and what we can do together. Step ten is not an isolated endeavour, we need to develop not only our own understanding of our feelings, with humility we become inclusive and try understand the feelings of others.


What to do today being the last day of step ten and tradition eleven on my agenda and then moving along to prayer and meditation and what it means to me. Step ten is often seen as the maintenance step of three, always useful at any time of day. I did start practising step ten as a novice to recovery and write a gratitude list to accompany my feelings about my situation. Gratitude for sober never occurred to me before I was completely addicted to alcohol. Alcohol was the social lubricant, filling the cracks and disappointments of life. These days, even though life has its complications, there is fear and there is courage, there is always pride and there is always humility, there is ego and there is self-confidence based on the truth of who I am today. I am powerless over feelings as they emerge from the past and happen in the present, at the same time I am able to cope in the moment of now and can ask for help when life is difficult. And we are able to judge what next far better than we ever did by our actions and not our intentions. Rock on step ten…


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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 30 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 30 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 30, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." To thine own self be true! Living to the truth of now is accomplished with humility, vulnerability, and being open honest and willing to change. Step ten: the on the spot check inventory of what is going on, how am I feeling in the moment of now?


Sometimes we have to sound off, share our innermost feelings and try expressing them as best we can. Expressing our feelings in the moment of now is a truthful and honest response to our current situation, or at least I hope it is. Very often a flash of anger can be created when people, places and things conspire to be the same as old events we hated or detested. For example when somebody tells us what to do without authority and without due care for us as individuals. Usually, if we are practising step ten, we realise the futility of trying to change other people, it is often simpler and easier to walk around immovable objects, rocks and hard places where nothing changes. We can change with courage, we can have faith in doing the next right thing and we can gain confidence with humility one day at a time.


I was privileged to hear the experience strength and hope shared about tradition ten this month. AA has no opinion on outside matters. In other words, you keep your beliefs and opinions; you keep your affiliations and to thine own self be true. Within Fellowship it is about recovery, a message of experience strength and hope, sharing the truth of our situation as best we can. Tradition ten is great, it means we can all hold our own opinions, to thine own self be true means you have a right to be wherever you are, and I have a right to be wherever I am.


I am hoping that my closest friend is coping okay with the situation of another who is stricken and only has a short time to live. Trying to respect the wishes of a person with little or no time is very difficult. A well of emotions are thrown up, a desire to do the right thing is being respectful of their wishes. Our own sadness and grief, it is something we deal with moment to moment in such situations and coping is not the issue. We are not built to cope with loss and we need support as best we can from other people. And we can only do this as we are asked and we offer what we can.


Spot-check inventory: H.A.L.T. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? None of these quite frankly, I was irritated at a representative of something called the London region of AA. And I forgive everything, with humility because I know I could be wrong. The person who used to say after their writing, presenting and sharing that they could be wrong was a man called Richard Alpert, who is better known as Ram Dass. "And of course I could be wrong…"


Every single day, life is different, our outlooks change, the truth changes. And with humility we can change. Hard enough to find the answers for ourselves, and alone the answers are limited to our current experience. When we are included in something bigger than ourselves, the rate of change is faster most often; inclusion offers a wider outlook and a wider understanding of the world. The outlook I have sober is clearer, more informed by everyone sharing and being included. And there needs to be respect for different outlooks, different points of view and different ways of living. Diversity offers the best solutions day by day and this is how I keep learning what works and who I am becoming one day at a time.


And it can be difficult to let go of old ideas about life. Change is happening, what worked yesterday may not work today and if we have humility we don't get stuck in the mud. At the age of seventy-five, my mother said she would never touch computer, now she has a laptop and an iPad at the age of 82, and is able to keep in touch with many people near and distant today. Being true to oneself, well if my mother can overcome personal prejudice about computers, there is hope in our family about anything and everything.


A conversation with my sister about loss and grief, what next in her own life, when everything has turned out differently to what she imagined and anticipated. Grief becomes cherished good memories as well as the deep depression evoked by loss. This is a lifelong journey which is not about closure which is very similar to the way we share experience strength and hope. We always acknowledge the truth of who we are, and then share how it was and how it is today. Indeed anyone and everyone in recovery is still acknowledging their situation when they speak in a meeting stating their name, and that they are an alcoholic. We are alcoholics, we are not stigmatised by being alcoholics, and we live a new sober life cherishing the good of the old life and make a new start at the beginning of every day.


Before recovery, before heartbreak, before the drink finally took me over, I did understand what it was to be true to oneself. And to thine own self be true means that each day with humility I simply learn a little bit more about who I am and who I can be one day at a time. Always it is the journey of living and with humility we learn what we can and cannot do. Best to stick with the truth, test it out with other people and see if we are on track. Just because other people are on different tracks which are right for them, better to be careful to keep to the tracks which are right for you. We find on some banknotes the words: "in God we trust." And if God manifests in: "truth, love and wisdom," then we are probably on the right tracks today.


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Speaking For Myself October 30 2013

Dear Tom,

It is been a long time since anyone anywhere wrote to me expressing their concern about any of my recovery activities outside of AA. As you know I do not represent AA, I only speak for myself as requested by other people over the years. I belong to many Fellowship groups online who are not anonymous in any shape or form, unless they choose to be. The ultimate freedom: to learn the truth of now. That is the purpose of the twelve steps and twelve traditions. I understand we all have different belief systems and ways of living. Truth is my spiritual guide in all matters. Truth and transparency has served me well in recovery and I would be undermining the truth of my recovery and sharing it in the way I do if I had no face and no voice. The truth of recovery is sober today. And the concern created by Anonymity being a spiritual foundation is about ego, pride and fear that AA might fail. Actually I am quite capable of failing myself and if I did fail and not keep sober I would have to write about it and share the truth. And the truth of my recovery was very rocky to start with and I was encouraged and made more confident when people told the truth about their relapse and human qualities. I don't represent AA ever and if you have watched my videos, you would know this.


If you really understand emotional and spiritual living, and respect the outlook each person has, you know one voice is never enough, and it is the many equal voices in the Fellowship which keeps us sober. I don't expect nor do I need to call on the support of anyone reluctant to share their truth in the way I do. I continue to write and share about recovery because it works one day at a time. I never have represented the views of other people in a way which exposes their anonymity, and I wish to maintain anyone else's anonymity because it is not for me to undermine anyone else in their recovery, indeed I do not feel I have the right to interfere in what other people do outside Fellowship to help others.


Anonymity of other people who choose to keep their affiliation to Fellowship secret is absolutely right and need not be interfered with. You did suggest you are representing the London region in your letter to me. And the problem with this is that you are gossiping and representing other people who remain anonymous in meetings which I go to. This could put me in a very awkward position of being suspicious about other people who may be against something I do, treat me with contempt by their silence and use you as their representative. When it comes to personal beliefs and the way people choose to live their lives, I really do keep out of their way and never judge them for their decisions and their choices.


I have never had any financial gain as a result of recovery activities and have turned down the opportunity to talk on behalf of AA many times because there are no spokespeople for the Fellowship. I have simply shared how recovery works one day at a time for one person. I do thank you for writing to me, because you felt it was important for you to do so. Breaking anonymity or violating something, these are big issues if I were breaking or violating something. Tradition one: freedom to be myself, and we don't tell each other what to do. Very much like the first article of the human rights declaration in the last century. Fellowship affords the freedom to choose life and be free. And ultimately if anyone anywhere tries to control another person in Fellowship, it offers nothing but prejudice and judgement to those involved.


Courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and gaining confidence is the ultimate goal on a daily basis for anyone anywhere in the world to live free and make the best choices they can in life. I have gratitude for each and every day in recovery. I have many, many people to thank for every day I live sober. Pretending to be something else, to hide my face, pretending anything is not good for my spiritual journey in life. My life is far from perfect; I have many flaws and defects caused by alcoholism and my upbringing. I share experience strength and hope on a daily basis in quite a number of forums to illustrate that life can be good some of the time bad some of the time and downright ugly some of the time.


What I fear most and did fear most in early recovery were the people who never had a bad day, would express what they thought the Fellowship ought to say to people and often not what was going on in their daily life. When people offer up a sanitised version of experience strength and hope and do not talk or share about the pain of life as well as the joy of life that is where people in Fellowship fail each other. There is nothing wrong with the truth of now, be it good bad or ugly. There is a lot wrong when we misrepresent other people, we misrepresent ourselves as individuals and misrepresent the truth. In my world or my belief system: God is truth; God is love and God is wisdom. Truth develops moment to moment, love develops moment to moment and wisdom develops moment to moment. Coping in the reality of now with the help of the twelve steps and twelve traditions and the way I understand it works one day at a time. Truth is my spiritual touchstone, not anonymity. Fellowship is for sober, and Fellowship is about respecting the confidence and sanctuary it offers each human being one day at a time.


Thank you very much for sharing the views of the London region with me,




Dear Don,


I’m writing to you because concern has been expressed regarding a break in your anonymity at the public level, i.e. YouTube. This email is meant as a gentle and loving reminder of our Traditions.


Alcoholics Anonymous’ Eleventh Tradition states “We need always maintain personal

Anonymity at the level of press, radio and films” remembering the AA programme is a programme of attraction rather than promotion.


Our Twelfth Tradition reminds us that anonymity is our spiritual foundation and to place principles before personalities.


The use of anonymity is extremely important to the newcomer to AA and to us for our spiritual growth within the programme. The newcomer must be reassured that their name will not be used outside the doors of an AA meeting and no one will know they are an AA member unless the newcomer chooses to tell them.


If a newcomer, or a potential newcomer, hears or sees an anonymity break, with a member of AA using their full name or allowing their picture to be seen, this could frighten them away from the help they need, causing many more years of pain and suffering.


I’m sending this letter in the spirit of AA love, and best wishes to you for continuing joys of sobriety.



Tom B.

London Region,,


October 29, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." The weather! Expectations of a hurricane, and hurricane winds happened, not in my backyard fortunately. Yes I had high expectations of wind and it only blew a little bit where I was in London. I stayed awake to enjoy the bluster and nothing happened of any great importance where I was, elsewhere it was chaos.


I had a phone call which interrupted my thoughts as I started to write for today. The phone call was all about trying to help another person who is stricken and does not have long to live. I guess the reality of this stopped me from writing whatever it was that was on my mind. Indeed it was all about step ten. But I lost track and also needed to call family living quite a long way from me. Two of my sponsors, my older sister and my mother are really positive influences and live the truth one day at a time.


Even though my sister and mother are very accomplished individuals, full of wisdom and love, they too face the realities of life, that life is precious and fragile the older we get and sometimes days can be downright difficult, bad and ugly. The longer we live, the more we have to share about the truth of living which includes the grief and loss, the heartbreak, loneliness and desolation.


In between the call to my family and the earlier call from a friend, I opened up an email which lavished love upon me and then told me to stop doing something which I feel is truly important, sharing the truth of now as it is. When we are in meetings of Fellowship, we share experience strength and hope to a group of people. When we use multimedia to share our experience strength and hope, the irony is that we are still sharing one-to-one with people interested and with a desire to stop drinking and keep sober one day at a time.


I wrote a reply to the loving individual representing the London region of the Fellowship of alcoholics anonymous, and I have not sent it yet, because I really needed to thrash out my own understanding of helping other alcoholics find sobriety. It has been some years since I received an anonymous instruction on how to be in recovery, how to conduct my life, and how to follow a doctrine rather than be myself, in other words what you see is what you get, WYSIWYG. I would not suggest a doctrine of anything to anyone and I guess I don't appreciate a doctrine being thrust upon me in a loving way, and so I share the letter:

Dear Don,

I’m writing to you because concern has been expressed regarding a break in your anonymity at the public level, i.e. YouTube. This email is meant as a gentle and loving reminder of our Traditions.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ Eleventh Tradition states “We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films” remembering the AA programme is a programme of attraction rather than promotion.

Our Twelfth Tradition reminds us that anonymity is our spiritual foundation and to place principles before personalities.

The use of anonymity is extremely important to the newcomer to AA and to us for our spiritual growth within the programme. The newcomer must be reassured that their name will not be used outside the doors of an AA meeting and no one will know they are an AA member unless the newcomer chooses to tell them.

If a newcomer, or a potential newcomer, hears or sees an anonymity break, with a member of AA using their full name or allowing their picture to be seen, this could frighten them away from the help they need, causing many more years of pain and suffering.

I’m sending this letter in the spirit of AA love, and best wishes to you for continuing joys of sobriety.


Tom B.

London Region,

In this letter, Tom reveals that he is speaking on behalf of the London region and their concerns about me and my behaviour. He has every right to deliver his concerns and I appreciate that he and the London region are holding different beliefs and opinions to me. And at the same time Tom is taking on a responsibility which is erroneous and unhelpful to anyone anywhere reaching out for help. I am one voice in many, the many voices and shares of experience strength and hope are what counts. Not a doctrine and not a policy and not some form of intimidation. To represent others was never something that anyone ought to do in the Fellowship. Indeed for a group of people to be represented in such a way undermines everything. Many years of work, many conversations via multimedia invalidated, the notion that one person has a better view than another reveals something much more ugly in those who would control, rather than someone who just talks about and shares the truth of now. I am respectful of other people's views and opinions, even when I don't like them, I prefer they defend them for whatever reason. It does not mean I will agree and conform, indeed I will not or I would have to become something I would find abhorrent, a slave to a doctrine.


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October 30, 2013 step ten month: it's quite early today, just after four in the morning and I've had plenty of sleep in the last twenty-four hours. The news over the last twenty-four hours on a local basis has been good bad and ugly. Any day, we face good bad and ugly situations. And although we might prefer to have a good day, bad things are happening and ugly situations develop.


A friend, not a close friend is in a hospice and my closest friend is supporting them to the utmost of their abilities. And in a rush to help and support, helping and supporting someone who is stricken and there is no hope of recovery, is very difficult. First things first, respect the person's wishes and not overstep and make their final days complicated by good intention. As we know the road to hell is paved with good intent. And we have all walked the road to hell.


A letter arrived sometime over the last few days and I only opened it yesterday. All about tradition eleven: "our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films." And in a loving way the letter was all about breakage and violation of something. Something which is not often understood, what is the difference between attraction and promotion? And what is personal anonymity all about? And in this modern age of electronic communication, sharing experience strength and hope one-to-one has taken on new dimensions. One alcoholic: reading, listening, watching another alcoholic share their experience strength and hope is a one-to-one experience.


Attraction = WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get. In other words sharing the truth of now, sharing the truth of good bad and ugly living with a sober head offers an understanding of reality in recovery.


Promotion = an offer of a guarantee, a way to fix ourselves to a way of life which will keep us sober in all conditions. That would not be true when it comes to recovery in my own experience and seeing the experience of others in our Fellowship.


Myths and legends grow around people, places and things. Internal discussions and sharing of experience strength and hope within the Fellowship can be very revealing. And the creation of mystical qualities associated with spiritual development and emotional development do not help and do not offer sustained and useful recovery in my own opinion. Promoting the idea is all very well but it does not serve those who wish to tell the truth about recovery one day at a time.


The truth about recovery is heard throughout the world on a daily basis within the Fellowship of AA, and outside Fellowship of AA via press radio and films. And there are many multimedia opportunities to gather material about recovery in this modern world. Truth is attractive, reality is attractive and how to cope with reality is the very essence of living in the moment of now. Emotional development in the moment of now means we are able to feel life as it is, and not how we imagine it ought to be. Expectations are resentments under construction. Anonymity on the personal level is an opportunity to find oneself without the world looking in. Anonymity of other people is their business and quite frankly none of my business.


How are people attracted to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous? I would suggest that the truth we share in meetings on a daily basis about how we cope with life is a good starting point for anyone with a desire to stop drinking. If I went out into the world and said AA can keep you sober and the Fellowship of AA will keep you sober, I would be offering a false promise to fix you. I may have been sober for many years, I still know that life could be so overwhelming, I might slip and relapse. I do not fear such an occasion, at the same time one day at a time, sober, I have been able to cope with life on life's terms. This is my message about my recovery and not the Fellowship of AA. And the way I keep sober is to live and practice the twelve steps and live and practice the intention behind the twelve traditions. This does not mean I agree with everything that is suggested in the twelve traditions because the twelve traditions do not fit with my spiritual path of living to truth, which helped me understand how to be loved, how to love and keep on learning the wisdom of life. Anonymity is unhelpful in my spiritual development which relies on truth, the truth I share and the truth I receive.


I appreciate that my understanding of spiritual: living to the truth of now, may not be everybody's cup of tea. Living to the truth, I cannot bend other people to the truth I find, nor can I bend others from their truth. Indeed truthfulness is often based on belief and opinion. Step eleven: all about prayer and meditation, developing our spiritual core, understanding our feelings in the moment of now and the truth of those feelings and how they impact on our thinking in every single moment. Tradition eleven: anonymity at the level of anything is the worst proposition for me. Anonymity never served truth very well. Anonymity can be very attractive and manipulated by those who wish to control, enforce or develop a particular doctrine without any responsibility. Anonymity to preserve and help people grow into being themselves again, is quite a useful and meaningful way to keep people safe long enough to find themselves.


Live and let live was a poster on the wall in my early meetings when I first came to the Fellowship of AA. Live and let live! I don't interfere with the beliefs of other people in the world directly. I prefer truth of living rather than belief and opinion. Seven billion people on the planet all with their own beliefs and opinions. It is very important that everyone develops their own path in life and hopefully to good conscience with love at their core. And of course many are diverted from the path of good conscience and love for many reasons. As a believer in truth, love and wisdom, I have thrived and learned and benefited by being in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have learned from every individual I encounter in the world. I never suggest or tell people what to do; it interferes with their own spiritual and emotional development. And I hope that while we may debate spiritual and emotional, I respect as you respect each other's beliefs and opinions.


I have no desire to interfere with the beliefs of other people. I have no desire to undermine the development and recovery of anyone anywhere; I hope a hand reaches out to help a person find recovery one day at a time. And I have helped over the years, and I also accept that my outlook is not right for everyone, indeed I truly hope that my outlook is not right for anyone, I would rather you had your own outlook which is right for you. Live and let live, be free in your choices today and not stuck in pride, ego or fear about what next in your life. Opportunity to thrive emotionally and spiritually, with courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and confidence to try again is a key. At the same time, life is relentlessly on-going and it can be good bad or ugly. Every human does the best they can in the moment of now. Truth is the ultimate determinant of how we cope with reality, and truth offers humility to anyone anywhere on their path of life.



Sunday, 27 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 27 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 27 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!

Step 10 "Reality Check"

October 27, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." When I was a raw recruit to Fellowship, twelve steps and twelve traditions were written in a book, on some posters on the walls and talked about incessantly in step meetings and tradition meetings. I could understand step ten, it was something I could start doing immediately. And I was by being sober one day at a time!


It's a beautiful morning: the weather forecast is for a hurricane or nearly a hurricane. Last time I was in a hurricane was a long time ago. A category five Caribbean hurricane which goes on for days meant I had to stock up on rum, sticky tape for the windows, cigarettes to see me through and more rum just in case I ran out. The case of rum would not be enough! A very lively hurricane kept me on my toes, when a tree came through the window, and fortunately only knocked one bottle of rum over. And I caught it. Ironically for the duration which was several days, the film Titanic played over and over again dubbed in Spanish. All I need today is to go get a loaf of bread, a jar of coffee and a bar of chocolate because I'm sober today.


Step ten to self: thank you God for the help and support which keeps me sober one day at a time. As you know God, I cannot define you and what I understand or have come to understand is: there are 7 billion people on the planet, each with their own understanding of a higher power. And that's alright by me because if I cannot define God and no one else can, whatever God works is the right God for me and you. A multi-faith universal God and nobody's definition is any better or worse or indifferent to each other. We are of nature and of nature: as God works through people, so can the devil. And we learn which way we can go far easier when we are sober today.


Nearly the eleventh month and prayer and meditation becomes my focus. Step ten is about exploration and truth. Step ten is about humility to keep on learning the truth. I always felt that step ten was part of me and my outlook, because I wanted to find out more, I needed it to learn more about humility and learning. I can remember as a child coming top of the class in religious education. Somebody once suggested if I ever believed in God I would be a good priest or vicar or something. How wrong those suggestions would be for me, faith comes from learning, courage comes from vulnerability, and confidence grows by learning what works day by day. I was tormented in my youth preferring to label myself as an atheist or an agnostic: nuts and bolts rather than faith and God. I prefer no label today; at the same time recognise again and again that people get labelled one way or another. And as to whatever the label may be what counts is what goes on inside us: to thine own self be true as often as you can and step ten is handy when we can't.


When people share about how God is working for them I do listen intently to see if I could join in with their philosophy. Then I realised it’s not about joining in somebody else's philosophy, it is about developing your own philosophy and the twelve steps and twelve traditions offer limitless opportunity; to be free to be yourself and make your own choices based on reality. And reality can include God as you understand and how he/she impacts on your life. And I have no doubt the impact is true.


Step ten and gratitude: spot check and gratitude are balancing outlooks. We know that life on a daily basis is never perfection unless we understand that life is imperfectly perfect in the moment of now. And that we are subject to natural forces in all our activities. And the more people live in one particular place, the more their features blend together. Slowly through time, climate will impact on all generations and as each generation stays put, the more indigenous to those areas people's complexions become. Everlasting ignorance is built on contempt and prejudice. And I am happy these days that I don't know what is right for me most of the time, and I will certainly not know what is right for you today. Freedom to choose: step ten and gratitude makes anything possible or impossible one day at a time.


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Friday, 25 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 25 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 25 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 25, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Spot-check inventory at any time of day, all the way to bedtime! And an extra hour in bed over the weekend, courtesy of a change in daylight savings time. Not that that matters too much to me, I rest when I need to, and allow myself to sleep when I can, insomnia can be the very devil in recovery!


Reactive depression: we find out what the cause may be. Non-reactive depression: there is no cause to identify. Anxiety: everyone gets anxious when there is danger. Panic: everyone gets panic when they are overwhelmed and fear what to do next. If we never get anxious, we don't learn how to cope, if we don't experience panic, we don't learn how to? If we do not have depression, never experienced it, it can be very difficult to have any understanding of what happens to a person in such circumstances. Fortunately if we are emotional and spiritual beings, we develop a repertoire of feelings appropriate to whatever situation we find ourselves in, and we learn from it. If we do not experience life to the full emotionally, then we are at a disadvantage.


Some say, "I have never had a bad day in recovery." What they may be saying is that they have experienced everything in recovery and sober, the outcomes are better. I might not agree with either position, life on life's terms is good, bad and ugly. We don't control the world; it is what we do day by day which makes a difference to the way we live. Sober, our choices are far better than turning off the reality of now. And we still need denial; denial offers a way to cope with overwhelming grief and loss.


Problems with energy in our country are causing real hardship for people who are considered hard-working and responsible individuals. Fuel poverty is growing. The political reaction is about history and ideology and there is a failure to react and respond. Blame, blame and more blame whistles in the wind and down the corridors of power. Powerlessness is something to behold in others as they argued position and intention rather than delivering any useful action. Thank God I'm in recovery, being judged by my actions and not my intentions. As an individual I have freedom of choice even though I am powerless over the current conditions of the day. It is about action and not intention, and recovery works on an individual level every single day.


Yesterday I mentioned that reason medical procedures and issues have made me tired. When the post arrived yesterday I opened the letter with an appointment at the hospital arranged on the hour received. I rang up the hospital and said I could get there late and they said it was right to come. So having got there, the specialist had already left, but there was a professional medical person available to put my mind at ease, that the results were not worst case scenario. It is good to be in recovery, because the anxiety about the results only struck home a few minutes before seeing the medical professional. And the twinge of panic was as long as it took to walk from the waiting room to their office. And at my age, cancer is a common problem and thankfully it is not my problem today. There are other things which need to be discussed when I go back next week. At least I can rest easy and calmly until then. We are not immune to feelings; it is good to feel the right feelings in the right moment and not for prolonged periods as in the past. Mind you, whatever is going on with my physical structure, is yet to be diagnosed. One day at a time always.


Step ten yesterday: forgive the admin Department at the hospital for late posting, forgive the newly privatised Post Office for late arrival of my appointment letter. Forgive the specialist for leaving on time. Gratitude that the cancer nurse was there to put my mind at ease after recent tests and procedures. Thankful for six hours sleep in a row! Thankful to be mentally aware, in the moment and my feelings in balance with the reality I have. Living to the truth is far easier than the lives I see spoiled by ideology, economic dogma, political incompetence and all the other fracas common to everyone in their daily lives. Including me of course, energy prices are really undermining my own personal economic situation, no different to anyone else.


Step ten: desist from pen and tongue, tolerance and love, live and let live, gratitude list. Comparing and despairing comes in three ways: comparing our old life and comparing life today, and comparing our situation with others. If I compare utilising the right measures, my life is the best it has ever been. And the measures I use today are quite different to many utilised in our current culture. The way I measure my life: emotional and spiritual, being able to feel right and cope in the moment of now. How do I cherish people, and how to cherish myself? Do I have the ability to love other people without conditions, and can I feel the love others give me without conditions? If I'm doing okay, I cherish life and everyone. If I step backwards in time I might become the old me, more superficial than I ever imagined and indifferent to myself and others.


Acceptance of life on life's terms offers a freedom which many of us never really understood. That even though the current conditions might be favourable or unfavourable to our preferences, ultimately we do have freedom of choice to say yes or no and move on. I had an interesting discussion with my mother about many philosophers who wrote about life over the centuries. And interestingly she had only started looking at the philosophy of living and the history of these ancient writings after her eightieth birthday. My mum found more freedom over the last twenty-two years or thereabouts after my father died. And although we loved the old rogue, he was a living nightmare and an alcoholic. He is forgiven by all in our family and we cherish him. The legacy of new freedoms continues today.


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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 24 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 24 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 24, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Spot-check inventory at any time of day, all the way to bedtime! Oh and not forgetting in any given moment, gratitude for being sober, even when life is good bad or ugly. We can be forgetful of the journey into sobriety, a friend of mine used to say, "what have I done to deserve this?"


"I don't deserve it, why me?" Very easy to be resentful at the world when life is tough. Romance and finance, and especially family and partners have a right to be here and exactly the way they are today. Just because we got sober, it does not mean and it does not guarantee that life will be beyond our wildest dreams. The wildest dream of all, being able to do all the things we used to do, when we were under the influence of a substance and or particular people in particular places doing particular things. We can look back fondly at the good times and be very forgetful about the bad and ugly times. Beyond my wildest dreams: being able to feel right in the moment of now under all the current conditions. Feeling right means all my emotions work and I do not suppress the truth in the moment.


Just because I am right in how I see the world, it does not mean you are wrong if you disagree with me. What I see as right with this world, you may have a conflicting point of view, because of your experience and your knowledge and your interpretation in the moment of now. This can be disagreeable, argumentative and conflicting states of being in the moment. Age-old questions about love: "why don't I love her when she loves me?" And, "I love her and she does not love me, how can that be?" No matter what we do, sometimes we are not loved, we are not able to love others as they may wish, and life can be very confusing. Romance, especially when it's working out and love is growing, can be so intoxicating, we forget ourselves and we can be turned upside down in any moment of any day.


Truth opens the door in any given moment with a quick spot check inventory. How do we do this? In our emotional and spiritual development: knowing our feelings in the moment of now, and asking about feelings of others around us in the moment of now can be very illuminating. Being assertive: "how am I feeling?" "Why?" And, "what can I do?" Developing empathy in the moment: "how are we feeling?" "Why are we feeling this way?" And together, "what can we do?" Being assertive is not selfish unless you are in a selfish frame of mind. Developing empathy is not imposing your will on others, it is about inclusion and working out good outcomes for everyone concerned. Step ten: not an isolated practice when others are involved in the moment of now.


Twelve steps: twelve principles which help us develop self-awareness about the past and the present. Step ten is a personal development and practical way to understand ourselves in the present moment. If we know our feelings in the moment of now, whatever they may be, we can acknowledge them. Our mood will always impact on the way we think, the way we respond and the actions we take. Sometimes the actions we take can be quite different to our intentions if we are not aware of our feelings. That internal voice which on the one hand wants everything our way because our way is best, is always tempered by the reactions and responses of others around us. Most often if we think alone, we act on our own and we never develop beyond what we know. When we include others, even though they hold different points of view, want different things and behave differently, inclusion and discussion will offer better understanding and better outcomes, very different to our own inner desires and intentions.


How am I feeling? Still recovering from different tests and minor procedures to find out what is going on physically. Getting older one day at a time, dealing with the ups and downs truthfully means nothing is getting clogged up in my mind. The simple tools of hungry, angry, lonely, and tired: today I have enough to eat, I'm not angry about anything, not lonely, quite tired though. I know the cause, recuperation and careful activities are key. If I let my imagine fly, there are millions of things I want to do, and only one thing I need to do today: keep it simple.


Step ten is really good when we are trying to be the best we can. In any given moment, our brain works at 100%. Our brain is always working, and the hundred percent rule always applies. No matter what you might think, that you can add more activities and keep on adding more activities, your brain still works at 100%, even when you are asleep. If you don't get enough sleep you are not able to work at 100% when you are awake. Quality always impacted by quantity. If you concentrate 100% on particular activities, and there is quality in the outcomes, all good. If you concentrate 100% on too many activities, the likelihood is poor quality in all activities. The notion of multitasking or the science of multitasking will always show the difference in quality and quantity. When you add something into your daily activities, without removing something else, quality will suffer immediately. Saying yes to the right things, saying no to the wrong things is always key in recovery.


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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 23 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 23 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 23, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Step ten all the way to bedtime! Step ten is not automatic serenity in any sense. The world is still full of good, bad and ugly moments. If we cannot feel the good bad and ugly of life, how can we possibly keep on learning how to be a spiritual and emotional being from moment to moment?


Our emotions, our instincts about life have been developing ever since human beings began walking upright and had consciousness. If we had no emotions and no instincts, we would not be human. And yet our thinking tries to establish a different pattern when life is difficult. Self-medication with alcohol, self-medication with drugs, self-medication with people places and things to extremes is a very human thing to do when we are at extremes of good bad and ugly. And what was once a coping mechanism, a coping tactic turned into complete dependence and we were ruled by our addiction and not our intentions. Step ten takes the heat out of extreme situations and step ten helps us cope, change our attitudes and behaviour towards difficulty beyond our power to control on our own.


Desist from pen and tongue! Live and let live! Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said at all? When it comes to everlasting ignorance, contempt prior to investigation is a serious problem when we encounter other people who lie regularly, deny the truth and cannot see beyond their own outlook. It is not surprising to find old outlooks in long-standing bureaucratic organisations. And the same applies to new organisations formed with old attitudes and behaviour. People within want and intend to be different to fit in, but the truth is no one is showing them the way. Just like my landlord and their repair agents. I could not resist any longer, they have been adversely impacting my life and it does need to be said by me! I checked with my sister, a legal person at senior levels in organisations for years. Now the question is do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? I am right and have said so, let it go so other people can deal with it because that is their job, and I can be happy to do my part and own my part in all matters.


Having stated my case, written it down, shared how it impacts on my life, and reckoned it needed to be said by me, the consequences of what happens next is beyond my control. In relation to my landlord and their agents, I do not need to say any more until there is a response. In my abode, me, the mice, the faulty plumbing, and the leaks are all things I can cope with. I don't know about my neighbour, who has to put up with the leaks and the mice and hellish conditions. And I don't advocate on their behalf, at the same time I make blinking well certain that the landlord, their agents and their primary senior management are aware of their defects of character and action. There is no pleasure in doing this, I have tried it the nice way and got nowhere, organisational and individual incompetence will not respond to kindness, tolerance and love, they remain silent. Bad and ugly! I don't have to like everyone in recovery, and I don't have to like incompetence, just work out with help what the right response may be. And then I let go and I slept well last night.


Doormat! I had a wonderful girlfriend, who was the love of my life at that time. She was very good at her career and got to the top of her profession. At the same time, the journey was always hard work, more hard work and even more hard work. She would take on any organisational job and do it well. An ideal girlfriend for me, because she was like me, any challenge and she would say yes, work hard like I would work hard. The inability to say no suddenly snapped, and she said no to more promotion and more hard work and went off to travel. A very sensible thing to do. What did I do? I waved goodbye, continue to work hard, worked harder, got to the top of where I wanted to get to, drank to cope and drank on heartbreak and went wild before I broke down into a complete wreckage. Some people know when to get off and get well clear of the impending doom. She was right to opt out of work and me. And I careered on in my career, the more successful I became, the more broken on the journey to rock bottom.


Step ten helps me every day cope with history which comes up, present-day stuff which kicks up old history, old attitudes and old behaviour. My old attitudes and behaviour are now tempered, my old attitudes weren't wrong per se, they just turned me inside out in the end. And the old behaviour of blocking out the pain is not required. Being more open honest and willing to face the challenges of life: life being good, bad and ugly and all mixed up all the time, it does take a while to get our sensibilities back and be able to deal with our emotions in the moment of now. Anger and resentment are the number one offender's when it comes to relapse. Anger and resentment turned inward into rage and personal breakdown and depression are part of our killer disease.


Hearing magical stories in recovery: marriage and romance flourishing, economic success generating wealth and prosperity are all good. Until the high leads to prideful neglect in recovery. And I don't say this with prejudice, I have often wondered what would happen if I were able enough to resume old activities which would make me rich. Or win the lottery. Extremes of anything especially good fortune can make us susceptible to relapse. Being in love, being successful, it is not the money, it is the personal journey back to a life beyond wildest dreams. And the life beyond wildest dreams is learning to live in the moment and truthfully. The number one truth being: sober we get our freedom back, sober we need to be careful rather than careless with our own personal maintenance or we lose everything very quickly. The charm of living normally and everyone wanting us to be normal, and we want to fit in. We have a right to fit in wherever we are, and we are better fitting in when we are sober.


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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 22 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 22 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 22, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." We are allowed our feelings in recovery. If we do not acknowledge our feelings in recovery, how can we possibly understand the way we think? And if we do not understand what drives our thinking, we continue to make the mistake or have a misunderstanding that we do not control our world. What we have is freedom to choose based on our current conditions.


If I don't know how I am feeling, H.A.L.T. at the base level of hungry, angry, lonely, tired: I do not know whether or not I am stressed enough to check, or distressed and thinking without realising which emotions are governing my thought processes. Many others have tried to use our thinking abilities to suppress the real human inside each of us. Real humans have real feelings and real feelings once we understand them are factual states of being. The misunderstanding that many humans make is they can suppress and ignore their emotions when there is a dire need to get something done, to get out of doing something, to obscure the truth of now.


Step ten and spot-check inventory is a way to acknowledge our emotional and spiritual condition at any given moment. The simple reason for doing this is to know our current emotional state. Once we realise it is okay to have extreme feelings in extreme situations, and share them, it is a sign of strength to be able to express our truth. If we hide this truth, we are slowing down our own understanding of what we can do next, and we are disabling everyone else who is involved in the situation. Playing poker with life is simply delaying, obscuring, pretending and denying the truth of now. In many ways the ideas that secrets give us a competitive advantage in many situations, is very disabling and causes extreme reactions and extreme outcomes. How we choose to live, how we choose to live to the truth or not is the freedom we can exercise in any moment of now.


Medical stuff about me. Five days of physical and emotional difficulty dealing with minor procedures to investigate medical conditions which are still unknown to me. All but the last one, the medical procedures are okay and the last one I will know more about in good time, the good time being the time it takes for one department to send information to another department, write me with an appointment, me wait until the appointment and then get the results. Of course I did ask yesterday if there was anything to be concerned about, and it is always a little bit unsettling if not downright difficult to accept that I have to wait for the results. Meanwhile my symptoms are on-going. And physically it is difficult, emotionally after all these years in recovery, acceptance comes quickly and I can be as good as I can be knowing what I know today. I feel good! Even though not everything is right. Step 10 to self is; acceptance of life as it is right now.


Landlords and surveyors! Following my initial contact to express my concerns about the surveyor and their behaviour, their ignorance, their lack of knowledge about why they had come to my home, their lack of knowledge about the problems, there perfunctory inspection and expression of not knowing why they were there in the first place and then leaving with a remark over the shoulder, "I'll put a call in," has led to a very defensive and inaccurate statement from the landlord. Having had my mind focused on my own medical matters, I did put this particular situation to one side because my medical health is far more important than bricks and mortar! However when I woke up this morning at silly o'clock, my mind started with a feeling of anger and resentment about the report back to me on what happened. Anger is a good feeling, it tells me I feel wronged and it is good to feel upset. What I do next is what is important, my actions and not my intentions. And also to focus on the problem of repairs, and also remind myself of the accuracy of my feedback to the landlord and be certain that I can recollect everything pertinent. This is all part of recovery and I have a right to my feelings and acknowledge them and to know how they impact on my thinking and then my actions. It then helps me understand the consequences of next steps for me.


I have a friend coming to talk about a particular type of career they feel is right for them. It certainly is not for me to judge them on their choice. In this instance it is for me to help a person find the real truth, not my truth, their truth about their personal choices. Indeed I want them to be a success, simply because if a person is successful in what they do, emotionally and spiritually they will feel good as can be in the moment. No matter what we choose to do in life, there will be good bad and ugly, some of it we will have initiated, a lot of it is dealing with reality which can be very bad and very ugly and not of our making. Step ten all the way to bedtime is an emotional and spiritual key today.


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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Oct 17 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 17 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"

Step 10 "Reality Check"


October 17, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Preparation for some events is quite essential or we miss some of the ingredients, some of the details we need to share with other people. Although I forgot to include some of my medical history with the specialist at the hospital, I'm still booked in for a CT scan on Monday and a camera where the sun don't shine tomorrow. Overall a success in getting the right result.


Usually I go armed with all the information I need for particular medical events with the specialists who look after me. I made an assumption that the information had already been supplied by the GP, which was my mistake. Although it did not matter in the end, because the student and the Professor needed practice in the teaching arena, I could have done better. Forgive oneself, if we don't write things down, very easy to be forgetful.


Hospitals are very large, long corridors in between different departments, which made it difficult. So I need a rest, sharing need be minimal. I am always keen to be helpful when students need practice. And although the discussion of my bowel habits could have been one of those embarrassing things, by being open honest and willing, and even though the student was a beautiful young lady, concentrating on the medical situation is quite easy for me. Not so for her, new to the Department of intrusion. We can all make it easy by being able to share the truth, even when it feels like the last thing we want to do. I'm lucky, sharing the truth is a way of life today.


Expectations could be resentments under construction. And I just received a reply to a complaint I made about various repairs required to my abode by my landlord. Having had a surveyor round to inspect, inspection was perfunctory, indeed to the point of being completely useless. One would expect a surveyor to take notes, take account of all the repairs required and then schedule people to attend and do the repairs in a satisfactory order. This issue is not resolved. And in recovery, patience is a virtue, tolerance is a virtue and setting one's expectations to zero, means that I am not resentful at the present outcome, I merely accept the process is somewhat broken and it will take time to get a satisfactory result. I can influence to an extent, I do not have power over the surveyor or how he works, or does not work one day at a time. Forgive, forgive, and don't give up just yet.


Life is funny, the whole medical escapades going on; the difference between specialists who take notes, look you in the eye and ask questions in a holistic way is quite different to the GP glued to his computer screen and singular and not holistic in his diagnosis approach. So life is tedious sometimes, and although it is difficult, we do get to see lots of different people in the process, and with a kind and friendly outlook we get what we need in the end. The whole world is in a rush and sometimes because everything is rushed, we do need to be persistent and kindly.


For the next set of appointments I am going to construct a crib sheet with all the various medical issues. And even though people write things down, in the process of writing things down, they may get tunnel vision and miss critical connections between different parts of my medical situation. Part of getting older! And in this rush to conclusion by others who may get tunnel vision, a crib sheet with all the different elements will be helpful, because I can be very forgetful when getting stuck into the details of just one issue. Anyway just for today, medical staff on track, repairs to my abode not quite on track and I am grateful to have got this far. In the olden days, I might have been more forceful and provocative and combative. And likely that would be a waste of time and would have led to a poor outcome. Forgive, be persistent in a gentle manner one day at a time.


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