Posts Tagged ‘AA’


Today, as I was posting on my Peace In Our Hearts and Around The World Facebook page, two words in this step jumped out at me as if it were the first time I was seeing them.

“improve our………..conscious contact with God…

STEP ELEVEN. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out……Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Having had 36 years and 13,140 “one-day-at-a-time” days (throwing in a few extras for the Leap Years that occurred over this time), it surprises me that something new pops up in the literature and practice of The Twelve Steps after all this time. But it does and it did today.

In truly countless meetings I attended from the late 1970s into the early years of 2000, I learned how it works, as Chapter 5 states which is often read at the beginning of meetings. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has truly followed this path.” The path this refers to is the path of the 12 Steps for recovering addicts, no matter the substance of choice. Repetitive reading of this chapter did no harm and hearing it aloud among companion recovering brothers and sisters imbedded the Truth of the miracle mission of founder Bill Wilson in our own personal lives.

True…..we stood at the turning point. We knew this well. We were on the path of the 12 Steps, one day at a time, that would free us from a life impossible to live if addiction ruled our lives.

So, today, many years later, and on a continuing and increasing lifestyle of contemplative prayer and practice, the words that surprise me are: IMPROVING OUR……

Many who sat around the tables had trouble with the word GOD, having to substitute the word Higher Power, for it. Or the masculine pronoun of HE for God. I could get by all of those. They were not barriers to the step for me or the practice of it. What I thought this step promised was ACTUAL conscious contact with God.

My end wish is that I do have that ACTUAL contact, but I will settle for sobriety AND improved conscious contact with God. I have that all the time.  And conscious seems to be the operative word here.

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Robin Williams  Artist Joe Petruccio

Art by Joe Petruccio

I’m not much about Hollywood these days. I have not seen a movie in a very long time, enjoying crunchy popcorn and a “timeout” from the other “real things”  capturing my attention at the moment.

The act of writing is what makes you a writer. Someone, somewhere, said and wrote that down. The death of Robin Williams has brought a need for me to write. But I don’t want to experience the difficulty of making the words that appear on paper match the experience of some kind of presence within me that needs expression.

This will be hard. I know that. I don’t like to do hard. But I am going to do this.

I don’t need to write about Williams, but he is one human who turns the “one” into the universal. I’ve needed laughter in my life and he and his gigantic talent have provided that from the days of Mork and Mindy through Patch Adams and beyond.

I’ve needed truth in my life and his dramatic performance and dialogue lines, delivered with heart-felt sincerity touched strange truths in my own heart.

In many ways, the mission of his acting career steamrolled both the hilarity and prickly insufficiencies in our humanness with dead-on aim, absolutely no pun intended.

But, perhaps, it is the fact that he had two tougher-than-life opponents to navigate his life with that touches the deep, sad places in me.  Mental illness in the form of clinical depression and addiction.  And he waged battle with both.

I know a little about both and I, too, live my life knowing no truer lines in the Big Book of AA are spoken than,  “we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling and powerful.”  I’m not sure to what degree a counselor would note depression on my chart but I know more true words follow that statement on page 59 in Chapter 5, How It Works:

“without help, it is too much for us.”

Those words are read at every AA meeting around the world  and it doesn’t matter how long it has been since our sobriety date, how deeply we are connected to the fellowship or how we are continuing to work the steps in our lives…….we are still only one drink away….

Recovery can sometimes seem like that two layer cake….everything fine on the outside,  fire below on the inside.  It must have seemed that way for Robin Williams and on any given day it can look like that for me too.

You can’t tell for sure.

I am not afraid of that. I just have enormous respect for that and now much, much more compassion for myself and others who live their lives in a 12 step program because that is ONE of the places where they can receive help.

Nobody gets a pass on this one. From accounts published or reported, it sounds like Robin Williams was seeking this help. In a mention of his checking into a treatment facility in Minnesota, I make a guess that it was Hazelton, the grandaddy of all 12 Step Recovery Program facilities. I’m sure he received the best there was to offer. We never have a guarantee that it is enough, but we can hope.

Robin Williams wanted to be well. To share his talents over the top was part of being well for him. To seek help, he opened himself.

He, like all of us, also can relate to the Big Book line: “who among us wants to admit to complete defeat?” …ah, probably nobody?  But all of us in recovery from addiction have been willing (in whatever fashion we can be) to do this humbling act, and then……..ask for help.

We owe this day — the day we are living —  to the fact that we did that and continue to do it. We owe our gratitude to those who were there for us with their help.

They could not save us, but they could teach us.

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This photo is a great expression of how I’ve attempted to move mountains through the course of my life………….the long and winding road!

I was on the bus on this road last year moving through the Alps and five countries by the expert driving of our young Swiss bus driver. Up and down, and all around, it truly seemed he DID move mountains.

This year, however, I’ve encountered a looming mountain of another type — the type we are warned are only removed by an increase of faith.  The July 20 – 22 Meditations of the Day in the AA Twenty Four Hours a Day little black book outline the instructions for traversing this mountain successfully.

First, it seems I must pray I do not limit myself by doubt.  I do dismantle my doubts and fears by reflecting that many times in the past, personal mountains  have been made into molehills with a combination of prayer, listening and small actions over small periods of time that added up to a solution I helped manifest. Or something better I never even saw coming happened and improved the circumstance.  So limiting my doubt calls once again for the wonderful  “S” word — surrender.


Second,  believing that Faith can and has removed mountains of challenges throughout my life, I lean into the belief that truly Faith can do it one more time. Faith can change any situation for the good, even if there remains much discernment or work to be done.  This has always meant for me to increase the amount of willingness within me.

When I feel willing to work within the circumstance, I become aware that many times I can do little myself to change the situation. But the Serenity Prayer comes to my rescue as I can focus better on what needs to be accepted, what I can work on to change that is within my power, and a little confidence arrives with some sense of wisdom in knowing “the difference”.

Day 3Zugspitze3

The last leg of this three-legged stool of moving mountains seems to be — trust. I try to carry out God’s guidance to the best of my ability. I try to leave the results to God.  The giant step here is to begin to believe that the guidance God gives me has already been worked out by God to produce the required results for my own circumstance.

This week that guidance has led me to look into two areas of service that will be personally challenging but I am following the guidance and see where it leads.

I recommit to living according to the dictates of my conscience and I pray that I may leave the results to God.

The meditation of the day mentions “If you have enough faith to ask God to give you the power you need and if you are grateful enough for the grace God gives you, you can move mountains.”

Here comes the mountain-mover with faith and gratitude.



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One step at a time

I have started a new page on my Facebook page titled Twelve Step Program of Recovery. I am not new to this program and I have not relapsed with alcohol. But I have recently been redirected to the basic literature of the program due to some “internal strife and bickering” that I am working through in my spiritual practices.

I am renewed by the truthful language of the program and the power it has and has had since its founding by Bill W.  to point the way to accepting powerlessness (no matter what the power issue is) in our life as grace and how to get on living  with or without what we are currently deeming as unfair, unjust or just plain yukky.

The language of The Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve and the little black prayerbook of Twenty-Four Hours a Day rings ever-more true and supportive in my thirty-fifth year, one day at a time, than it did when I had the grace to find and join the program.

It is safe to say, I know I would not be on this planet physically, nor would I be enjoying the great blessings I have of family, friends and life I do today, had I not learned through the fellowship of AA, how to make the choice to not take that first drink.  And keep learning.

On my new Facebook page, I will share short quotes from the powerful literature, photography that inspires me and hopefully others, and an occasional short story of the recovery graces and trials along this way.


Going to meetings, you hear lots of tales of trial and tribulations, but if you keep going to the meetings long enough and often enough, you also see and hear these disappear or resolve into a “daily do-able” approach to life….and a laugh or two along the way.

I am grateful and happy to know the people in recovery. They have blessed my life.



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