Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I've had a couple of significant talks with other AA's in the last few days; one about the various aspects of sobriety - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The other about perception of ourselves and our little worlds; and also how we project and perceive our projection to those about us.

Physical sobriety - On the negative side, withdrawal and post acute withdrawal are relatively short-lived. Weeks to months. Physical cravings usually leave pretty quickly. The general rule of thumb is that the farther you are from your last drink the better you feel; that's a huge plus after years of feeling like crap.

Mental sobriety - Once you start to 'own' your responsibility to recover, you've made a start. Acceptance of the disease as opposed to simple admission seems key. Vigilant, regular self monitoring of our mental condition for major deviations, positive or negative are crucial. We then have to be suspect of our best conclusions as our disease is the only one that continues to assure us that we're perfectly alright. Right up to the point where it kills us. The mental obsession to drink will leave us only when we surrender ourselves in a spiritual sense, else a 'dry' drunk.

Spiritual sobriety - The overall quality of our recovered selves, our sobriety is contigent on the quality of our spiritual condition. Surrender, acceptance, meditation & prayer, resolute compliance on a daily basis will ensure sobriety even in the most negative circumstance. We endevour to align our will as completely as possible with that of the God of our understanding. This is what most people least understand and they relapse as a result. Faith works.

Emotional sobriety - The one thing that is most apparent and also often the most overlooked. Happiness, contentment and serenity as opposed to restless, irritable and discontent. This is reflected not only in our dealings and relationships with others but inwardly as well. Listen to the 'self-talk' for a quick read on how you actually are. If it's positive you likely feel well emotionally and have successful outward dealings; negative and the reverse is likely true. People who don't follow their emotional barometer and get to the root causes of how they feel are at the greatest risk of being dissatisfied in sobriety and actively choose to drink again. 'I don't like my reality. I think I'll change it.'

The other conversation regarding perception/projection of self and others really got me thinking about the cunning, baffling nature of our affliction and complex personalities. It boiled down to this: if we trust our pereptions of self, we're foolish. If we think others perceive us as we do, we're doubly foolish. That, in a nutshell, is why it is so important for alcoholics to get outside input about what we think and feel; to open up, emote, ponder, discuss and process. One alcoholic to another, fearlessly and honestly. That's how it works.

I believe there was a spiritual intervention on the day Bill W met Dr Bob. Thank God.

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Shameless plug

Each Sunday I like to listen, for at least an hour or two, to Toronto's classic rock station Q107's 'Psychedelic Psunday'. It runs from 9 am to 9 pm and does a great job of covering the music of that era 1965 -75; everything from the most famous of bands and artists through the most under-rated and obscure. Each week has a theme and they have some cool features and contests. The usual host for the noon to 6 portion of the show is Andy Frost; this guy is a fountain of knowledge where it comes to background info for the recordings of those times. One time slot that I particularily like is between 4 and 6; it's completely dedicated to listener requests and you never know what you might hear. If you want to hear the best music of the era, check this out. You won't hear any of the bubblegum dreck that was being produced alongside this stuff.

Through the miracle of the web it's available in real-time at www.q107.com. Toronto's time zone is Greenwich -5.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Periodical Posting

Where this blog relates to publishing..... well it isn't a daily; certainly isn't a serial and I hope it never becomes a soap. It's just going to have to fit somewhere along the pace of life...periodically.
It's been a very hectic, off balance, sometimes frustrating, occassionally rewarding and painful stretch for the last month or so.

The only highlights in the last week have been some good time spent with Lynda, getting to a meeting with a new sponsee (and getting to know him a bit better), and helping another sponsee with some step work. And we heard a wonderful speaker at tonights meeting who had a very powerful message of recovery - a very engaging young gal who attained one year sobriety yesterday.

My heart sank when Sarah called Friday morning to say that Shorty had suffered a stroke on Thursday morning. Her Mom and Russ had flown in from Calgary Thursday night; Sarah arrived from Vancouver Friday morning. Lynda and I joined the rest of the family at the hospital for the balance of the day Friday but it was clear that there was no hope for recovery. We carried on over the weekend with our work about the house but our hearts weren't really in it - our minds were elsewhere. My friend and work mate John has offered to cover my shifts on an 'as needed' basis this week; for that I'm grateful. Relief of that worry!

So I'll continue to write when I can; it just won't be as often as I'd like. Next time something more cheerful - honest.

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Testament to a man

Not to be maudlin, overly sentimental or depressing...........but to celebrate a life.

Tonight I lost a great friend. He was my 'original' father-in-law - father of my ex-wife Vicki and her brother Mike, and grandfather to our children, Sarah and Russ. His name was Warren but was known as Shorty. He embodied many fine qualities: a love of people, fun, entertaining, travel and new experience. He had two wonderful marriages; to Vicki's late mother Shirley, and he leaves a widow, a lovely lady Reada; and her two daughters.

Shorty was my father-in-law for over 8 years but he'd been a trusted advisor and friend for the last twenty. He always made Lynda and I feel welcome when we arrived at his door. A friend to many and enemy of none. A beautiful legacy. We will all miss him.

I feel I know where you're going but don't know what you'll find there. I've heard it's name spoken though; it's called Heaven. Bless you.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Here's a poser

I read an article a few months ago about the project dedicated to mapping the human genome. If I remember correctly all of humankind - 10 billion of us, give or take a few - are 99% alike. That essential 1% accounts for all the apparent differences in people; gender, height, body type, hair, complexion, colouring, race characteristics and so on............

Take a moment, think of the variety of people you've seen in your life and marvel at that. 1%!

My initial reaction was that of comfort and kinship, that we're all 99% alike at the molecular level. What a marvellous concept. As I think back on it, it saddens me that there is such disparity and division in this world of ours. How much of that is dependent on the 1% I don't know.

Does character come into the equation? Character that hates, commits crime, wages war, rapes, steals and murders. Of course there's the other side of the coin that doesn't garner headlines - those who provide comfort, heal, wage war on crime, dispense justice, create art and music.

Providing my recollection is correct - how do you fell?

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Work Week Wrap-up

Every couple of months we have one of these weeks where I do my regular shift - 7 nights in a row; average 10.5 hours a night - and Lynda rotates into an afternoon shift that crops up every 5 or 6 weeks. We shared a precious half hour tonight when she arrived home just as I was about to leave for work. It was the first time we'd seen each other since I left to come to work last Sunday night.

What an elixir a simple conversation can be!! Much of it was details; the kitchen goings-on, what the boys are up to, how her day had been. Then Lynda launched into an account of a hawk sighting one day on her way to work. Not just one, but 50-60 of them migrating to the south-east. (I'd pulled her out of the house a couple of weeks ago to see a group of 25 or so lazily making their way.) As she spoke she became more animated in gesture, more expressive of face, eyes sparkling, laughing as she told me how she'd almost ditched the car watching them through the sunroof.

And I'm thinking, God I love this woman. We need more of these moments.........standing in the driveway, just talking.
What can I say? She completes me - yin to my yang. I'd like to pick her up, put her in my pocket and take her wherever I go.

Hmmm.....had a moment there. 'Work week'? Yes, I'm off for a week, although I'm on call for relief shifts. I imagine I'll likely attempt the painting and I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to go about it. A) Do all the cutting in with the brush, then roller everything or B) Do the portions where the pantry and appliances sit and work from there. Hmmm... important to have a plan; and plan to improvise.

It's going to be a busy week. My home group, Grace Group meets Monday night and I've agreed to go to another meeting Wednesday with a new sponsee. Friday we're going to a party honoring the birthday of a late friend of ours. Saturday evening I'm doing a shift on the phones at the local AA offices with another of my sponsees.

I had a nice email update from my daughter Sarah tonight(she lives in Vancouver). She's one busy young lady but mainly she's in looooove!! With Daniel!! Talking marriage & babies (eventually) Oh my!! Grampa Norm!! Please don't hurry on my account, honey!!

Must do a tour of the residence and check on my charges. . . . Later.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

On the homefront

It must be at least 3 weeks ago that Lynda and I started reworking the kitchen; we're still mired in chaos and disorder. She and I managed to get the lighting fixtures down and the ceiling repainted. That damn near killed us - left us weary and aching. I got one of the new fixtures up so we had some light. Then we and stepson #3 scraped the tiles off the floor and got that all bagged up. We called in a pro for the new floor - ceramic - and he's to finish grouting it Saturday. Friends of #3 are supposed to re-mud the walls , patching up all the dings and then paint. I know it should have been done before the floor but..........
It'll be sooooo nice when it's all done, things are back to normal and we can look back on this and laugh or groan. And all because we wanted to freshen up the place; it was looking dingy. Lord, give us strength (and maybe a lotto win). Amen.

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On Another Note Entirely

Ah, music!! Glorious music!! From a very early age I've loved it; loved the way in which it can transport me. An ongoing frustration in life is that I've never been able to cotton on to playing an instrument. I relate it to people having a facility for learning languages other than their native tongue - I just don't get it and will remain unilingual. (heaving sigh) That certainly doesn't stop me from appreciating it though. When I hear what I conceive to be greatness I have a physiological reaction to it - all the hair on my forearms stands up. Whether it's pumping out of my Bose surround system at home or in a live concert setting, it's the same.

Lynda and I try to get to at least 1 major concert a year - 3 years ago it was Jeff Beck at Massey Hall; 2 years ago Alison Krauss & Union Station at Convocation Hall at the U of T; and earlier this year April 9 at Massey Hall, David Gilmour's show in support of his 'On An Island' release.

When 'OAI' was released I liked it but it didn't bowl me over; I'd waited so long for it. It wasn't until we saw & heard it performed that I came to love it and really 'get' it. A half dozen times thru the show I nudged Lynda and held up my arm to show her; she beamed me her loveliest of smiles, laughed her musical laugh and nodded like a champ. It's an incredibly finely crafted piece of work - well written by David and his wife Polly Samson, ably produced by David and Phil Manzanera(sp?) of Roxy Music fame, and the musicianship is outstanding. Journeymen at their finest. David is exceptional on lead guitar, lap steel, hawaiian and incredibly making his debut on sax. I hope there are plans in the works for a DVD. For a sample there are a number of studio performances at aolmusic.sessions archives that were done in New York on April 7. Brilliant!!

Periodically I go on binges for a particular artist - lately it's been Jeff Beck. I've loved his playing since he released 'Truth' back in about '68 and have followed his career thru the years. He played a stellar show here in 2002 and I was hugely disappointed that he has no Canadian dates on his current tour. The good news is that he is working on a new release as he tours. I managed to track down his latest release - an 'official' bootleg (oxymoron) - at sonymusic.com. It's available by web order only, was recorded at B. B. King's Blues club and has 18 tracks. When I saw him he had Jennifer Batten playing 2nd guitar and they put on a great show. I've spent way too much time on YouTube watching videos of him. Highly recommended - 'Declan' and 'Cuz We've Ended as Lovers'.

Alison Krauss & Union Station - probably the finest bluegrass band around. Alison's lead vocals and virtuoso fiddle playing knock me out. Jerry Douglas on guitar/dobro - outstanding. Way too many fine songs to name but 'I'm the Lucky One' comes immediately to mind. There's a DVD of one of those tour dates, from the Ryman Auditorium I think - I must pick it up.

The latest CDs that I have are Bob Dylan's 'Modern Times' and Tom Petty's 'Highway Companion'. For a great review of Modern Times see Glen's post - I know he'll be impressed when I say 'I concur'. lol. I need a few more listens to Highway Companion but the lead off track is great - 'Saving Grace'.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Premiere Post - My debut on the web

This is sort of like dropping pennies down a very deep well. I'll write for a bit and post it; hopefully I'll hear a splash.

What I intend to write about are everyday events; things that are taking space in my head; things I enjoy; bands and artists whose music stirs me; and I'll link to other blogs that I like to follow. I'm hoping this will be an outlet of sorts and a way of getting perspective on how I'm feeling and thinking over time.

In my profile I disclosed that I'm a recovering alcoholic; I'm not particular about my own anonymity but I respect the AA program and their traditions so I will remain anonymous. I also work in the addiction field so from time to time I may share a recovery related story. Anyone that I refer to will be assigned random initials to protect their anonymity.

I've only just got this site set up and I haven't tweaked all the settings as yet - it is a work in progress. Feel free to give me some feedback if there's something obviously wrong. Especially in this first few weeks, posting will be hit and miss. Busy times.........

Things I won't write about: my stepsons would be horrified if I were to write anything about them. They are private people and their business is their own: I won't take licence with that.

I will likely stay out of discussion of politics, ongoing wars, organized religion, etc. I can't promise that I won't take shots at politicians or other people in the media when they richly deserve it.

One thing I should do is thank a couple of people. I've been following Seeking Serenity for a couple of months and have found an on-line friend in Michelle. Thanks for the encouragement. A gentleman whose writing inspires me is Glen Boyd from theworldwideglen - he's a music writer and contributor to blogcritic; we're about the same age and have seen many of the same acts over the years. He in Seattle; me in Toronto. One lady who has a style of her own is dooce - Heather Armstrong. Her's is a great read; no wonder that she's an award winning blogger. When I need a new music fix I go to iguessimfloating; run by a couple of college age guys who have their fingers on the musical pulse. I don't like everything they recommend but I do trust their overall taste and love their spirit.

That'll do for now - I'll pick it up later.

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