Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aug. 31, 2013 - Step by Step

Just for Today
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
Today, I focus on Step 11 to answer honestly if I have "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve (my) conscious contact with God as (I) understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for (me) and the power to carry that out." In my own Program, simply acknowledging a Higher Power and looking to Him to guide me through my recovery is not enough; I must also seek what He requires of me and the knowledge and power to do what He wants of me. But why is the 11th Step important to both the early and later stages of recovery? In seeking our Higher Power's will or expectations of us, we are getting away from one of our addiction's most dangerous and contributory spiritual afflictions - selfishness. I dare not risk what progress I have made or seek by holding on to those poisonous character and spiritual defects like selfishness, anger, hate and bitterness that will undermine either the quality of my recovery or my very recovery itself. Today, I seek through prayer and meditation the will of my Higher Power, not mine, to repay and maintain the gift of recovery the Program has given me. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Aug. 31, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
"Call on new prospects while they are still jittery. They may be more receptive when depressed. See them alone if possible. Tell them enough about your drinking habits and experiences to encourage them to speak of themselves. If they wish to talk, let them do so. If they are not communicative, talk about the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture. When they see you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic and tell them how you learned you were sick."

Am I ready to talk about myself to new prospects?

Meditation for the Day
Try not to give way to criticism, blame, scorn or judgment of others, when you are trying to help them. Effectiveness in helping others depends on controlling yourself. You may be swept away by a temporary natural urge to criticize or blame, unless you keep a tight rein on your emotions. You should have a firm foundation of spiritual living which makes you truly humble, if you are going to really help other people. Go easy on them and be hard on yourself. That is the way you can be used most to uplift a despairing spirit. And seek no personal recognition for what you are used by God to accomplish.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may try to avoid judgment and criticism. I pray that I may always try to build up others instead of tearing them down.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 31, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
Reflection for the Day
From time to time, I begin to think I know what God's will is for other people. I say to myself, "This person ought to be cured of his terminal illness," or, "That one ought to be freed from the torment she's going through," and I begin to pray for those specific things. My heart is in the right place when I pray in such fashion, but those prayers are based on the supposition that I know God's will for the person for whom I pray. The Program teaches me, instead, that I ought to pray that God's will - whatever it is - be done for others as well as for myself.

Will I remember that God is ready to befriend me, but only to the degree that I trust Him?

Today I Pray
I praise God for the chance to help others. I thank God also for making me want to help others, for taking me out of my tower of self so that I can meet and share with and care about people. Teach me to pray that "Thy will be done" in the spirit of love, which God inspires in me.

Today I Will Remember
I will put my trust in the will of God.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 31, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013

It is a constant source of amazement to some of the Old-Timers to answer a call for help from some alcoholic and to find that the person in trouble is a neighbor, relative, friend or fellow employee or a member of AA.

It sometimes happens that the new man preferred it that way as he would rather discuss the matter with a stranger than someone near him.

It is also true that some of us are not quick to grasp the opportunities to pass the Message along. If you see a man is beyond his depth and can't swim, why should you wait for him to yell for help? He might be deaf and dumb.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 31, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:
Constant togetherness is fine –
But only for Siamese twins.

--Victoria Billings

NewcomerI heard someone in recovery say, "I don’t have relationships, I take hostages." Everyone laughed, but it left me feeling insecure about how to evaluate my own relationships. How close is too close?SponsorThough we may not feel comfortable with many other people when we first get here, perhaps there's one particular person we feel we can trust – a mate, an old friend who has remained loyal, a peer in recovery, a sponsor. We may have the desire to check everything with this other person, and we find ourselves spending hours on the phone or in his or her company.

Strong, healthy relationships are vital. They're a blessing, not a problem. Problems arise if we feel so dependent on another person's approval that we lose touch with our feelings and preferences - if we isolate as a pair, always protected from the joys and challenges of new friendships or if our constant togetherness creates a pressure-cooker buildup of intensity. Recovery requires thoughtful self-examination and self-challenge. Though others can offer to witness, support, and love us, our recovery work is ours alone. It takes courage to allow ourselves and others autonomy with in a relationship.

Today, as I include people in my life, I leave myself and others room to be and to grow.
From the book:
If You Want What We Have © 1998 by Joan Larkin

Friday, August 30, 2013

Aug. 30, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
TodayI take Step 10 for the first time or retake it because it is one of the Program's most integral maintenance Steps: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." The 10th is the logical extension of the Fourth in which we "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." We cannot and should not believe that our personal inventory and admission of our wrongs is a one-time exercise: not only can those wrongs be resurrected in recovery and even after we've asked our Higher Power to remove them, but "new" defects can and do evolve in recovery. But why should we look in the mirror even long after our last drink or use? Failing to do so risks old character defects to rise again, possibly undetected, and a fearless honesty will likely tell us that our active addiction was fueled by those defects. And a relapse, even a so-called "slip," is too high a price to pay for neglecting our maintenance of the progress we achieve in the Fourth Step. Today, I have to muster the honesty required of a continued personal inventory - my recovery is too precious a gift to risk. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Aug. 30, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as extensive work with other alcoholics. Carry the message to other alcoholics. You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Life will take on a new meaning for you. To watch people recover, to see them help others in turn, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow about you, to have a host of friends, this is an experience you must not miss."

Am I always ready and willing to help other alcoholics?

Meditation for the Day
One secret of abundant living is the art of giving. The paradox of life is that the more you give, the more you have. If you lose your life in the service of others, you will save it. You can give abundantly and so live abundantly. You are rich in one respect - you have a spirit that is inexhaustible. Let no mean or selfish thought keep you from sharing this spirit. Of love, of help, of understanding and of sympathy, give and keep giving. Give your personal ease and comfort, your time, your money and most of all, yourself. And you will be living abundantly.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may live to give. I pray that I may learn this secret of abundant living.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 30, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

Reflection for the Day
I'll begin today with a prayer - prayer in my heart, prayer in my mind and words of prayer on my lips. Through prayer, I'll stay tuned to God today, reaching forward to become that to which I aspire. Prayer will redirect my mind, helping me rise in consciousness to the point where I realize that there's no separation between God and me. As I let the power of God flow through me, all limitations will fall away.

Do I know that nothing can overcome the power of God?

Today I Pray
Today may I offer to my Higher Power a constant prayer, not just a "once-in-the-morning-does-it" kind. May I think of my Higher Power at coffee breaks, lunch, tea time, during a quiet evening - and at all times in between. May my consciousness expand and erase the lines of separation, so that the Power is a part of me and I am a part of the Power.

Today I Will Remember
To live an all-day prayer.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 30, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

You can't swim like a fish, run like a deer, fight like a tiger or fly like a bird. Every one of your five senses is excelled by some member of the animal kingdom. Man, physically, has many superiors and would long since have been extinct but for the fact that he alone possess reasoning power.

With this advantage he can build ships to outswim the fish, motor cars to outrun the deer, perfect weapons to outfight the tiger and airplanes to outstrip the fastest of birds. With this reason he can visualize the reason behind all Nature and thus avail himself of a Power greater than himself and all the forces with which he has to contend.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 30, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:
It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
 -- Sir Winston Churchill

How many times today will we think or say, "I wish I knew what was going to happen"? We can find contentment in the knowledge that God will take care of us, regardless of the outcome of any situation. And even more importantly, God already knows the outcome, and we'll know it too when the time is right. We never need to worry; all is well. We're given the knowledge and direction we need when we're ready for it.

If we had known two or three or ten or twenty years ago that we'd be sharing our current journey with non-using, non-drinking men and women, we'd likely have expressed horror and disbelief. And yet we're here, gratefully so, living more peace-filled moments than we would have ever imagined possible. We got here, little by little, with God's care. We'll get where we're supposed to be in the same loving manner.

I will trust each moment of my life to God's loving care.
From the book:
In God's Care by Karen Casey. © 1991 by Hazelden Foundation

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Aug. 29, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013
TodayI must understand that serenity in recovery comes from within and not from people and things on the outside. I wasted too much time, emotion and energy in my drinking days searching and even clinging to outside things and people in whom I vested my sobriety. But now I must accept that my sobriety comes from within. I no longer can demand or hope that the world and other people can change to accommodate my recovery but that I must change myself to fit into my world and the people in it. The Steps of AA give me the road map to arrive at such a lofty destination, in Step Four: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Steps Five, Six and Seven, then, guide us through the admission to God, to ourselves and another human being the "exact nature" of the wrongs we find in Step Four and through asking God to remove our shortcomings. The Steps are dependent on action by me, not someone or something else. Today, I begin assuming responsibility for both my addiction and recovery. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Aug. 29, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
"We cannot get along without prayer and meditation. On awakening, let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking. Our thought lives will be placed on a much higher plane when we start the day with prayer and meditation. We conclude this period of meditation with a prayer that we will be shown through the day what our next step is to be. The basis of all our prayers is: Thy will be done in me and through me today."

Am I sincere in my desire to do God's will today?

Meditation for the Day
Breathe in the inspiration of goodness and truth. It is the spirit of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. It is readily available if we are willing to accept it wholeheartedly. God has given us two things - His spirit and the power of choice - to accept or not, as we will. We have the gift of free will. When we choose the path of selfishness and greed and pride, we are refusing to accept God's spirit. When we choose the path of love and service, we accept God's spirit and it flows into us and makes all things new.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may choose the right way. I pray that I may try to follow it to the end.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 29, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

Reflection for the Day
Prayer can have many rewards. One of the greatest rewards is the sense of belonging it brings to me. No longer do I live as a stranger in a strange land, alien in a completely hostile world. No longer am I lost, frightened and purposeless. I belong. We find, in The Program, that the moment we catch a glimpse of God's will - the moment we begin to see truth, justice and love as the real and eternal things in life - we're no longer so deeply upset by all the seeming evidence to the contrary surrounding us in purely human affairs.

Do I believe that God lovingly watches over me?

Today I Pray
May I be grateful for the comfort and peace of belonging - to God the ultimately wise "parent" and to His family on earth. May I no longer need bumper stickers or boisterous gangs to give me my identity. Through prayer, I am God's.

Today I Will Remember
I find my identity through prayer.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 29, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

The relationship of hours to a lifetime is comparable to the relationship of bricks to a house. Every brick that is laid must be a separate and distinct operation, yet so tied to the preceding and the following brick that their positions are level and plumb. Each one is an entirety in itself, but all the bricks are either supporting or are supported by each other.

Our hours, lived one by one, are in no sense different. The beauty, strength and durability of our lives will be determined by the individual hours viewed collectively.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 29, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Reflection for the Day
In a very real sense, we are imprisoned by our inability or unwillingness to reach out for help to a Power greater than ourselves. But in time, we pray to be relieved of the bondage of self, so that we can better do God's will. In the words of Ramakrishna, "The sun and moon are not mirrored in cloudy waters, thus the Almighty cannot be mirrored in a heart that is obsessed by the idea of 'me and mine.'"

Have I set myself free from the prison of self-will and pride which I myself have built? Have I accepted freedom?

Today I Pray
May the word freedom take on new meanings for me, not just "freedom from" my addiction, but "freedom to" overcome it. Not just freedom from the slavery of self-will, but freedom to hear and carry out the will of God.

Today I Will Remember
Freedom from means freedom to.
From the book:
A Day at a Time © 1989 by Hazelden Foundation

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aug. 28, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

"I realize that all I'm guaranteed in life is today. The poorest person has no less and the wealthiest has no more - each of us has but one day. What we do with it is our own business; how we use it is up to us individually." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, "They Lost Nearly All," Ch 2 ("Promoted to Chronic"), p 473.

Today, let me fully understand and accept that all I have today is just that - today! Whether I have little to nothing, or all and more I can use materially, I am no less and no better than anyone because, in the end, all we take with us to our final chapters is ourselves. But, especially in recovery, I cannot foolishly look too far beyond the forest in my goal to achieve a landmark anniversary of sobriety or any other goal; one of the trees in the forest could cold-cock me. Grant me wisdom and prudence to see first what is in front of me instead of beyond and what must be done to get me intact to a long-term goal. Today, I do with what I have - today. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Aug. 28, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
"We must continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We should grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter; it should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We must not rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."

Am I checking my spiritual condition daily?

Meditation for the Day
Happiness cannot be sought directly; it is a by-product of love and service. Service is a law of our being. With love in your heart, there is always some service to other people. A life of power and joy and satisfaction is built on love and service. Persons who hate or are selfish are going against the law of their own being. They are cutting themselves off from God and other people. Little acts of love and encouragement, of service and help, erase the rough places of life and help to make the path smooth. If we do these things, we cannot help having our share of happiness.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may give my share of love and service. I pray that I may not grow weary in my attempts to do the right thing.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 28, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

"Prayer does not change God," wrote Soren Kierkegaard, "but it changes him who prays." Those of us in The Program who've learned to make regular use of prayer would no more do without it than we'd turn down sunshine, fresh air or food - and for the same reason. Just as the body can wither and fail for lack of nourishment, so can the soul. We all need the light of God's reality, the nourishment of His strength, and the atmosphere of His grace.

Do I thank God for all that He has given me, for all that He has taken away from me, and for all He has left me?

Today I Pray
Dear H.P.: I want to thank you for spreading calm over my confusion, for making the jangled chords of my human relationships harmonize again, for putting together the shattered pieces of my Humpty Dumpty self, for giving me a sobriety present, a whole great expanded world of marvels and opportunities. May I remain truly Yours, Yours truly.

Today I Will Remember
Prayer, however simple, nourishes the soul.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 28, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

The subconscious aim of practically all men is to get the most and the best out of every day of their lives. It is a simple creed and if honestly followed, day by day, act by act, it cannot help but lead to greater heights.

Like AA, it is so simple it is incredible. Why not try it? It's what you honestly want anyway.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 28, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:
I wonder why love is so often equated with joy when it is everything else as well: devastation, balm, obsession, granting and receiving excessive value, and losing it again.
 -- Florida Scott Maxwell


In our quiet moments we dream of the gifts that accompany being loved and imagine ourselves as always filled with laughter, a glowing warmth, a serene perspective. But how short sighted our vision. Love promises us growth as well, and growth may mean a loved one's choice to depart for a time, or a struggle for agreement about future directions. Tears and fears are commonplace when we enter the realm of love.

Let's not forget that all experiences, even the dreaded ones, are meant for our good. We are never given more than we can handle, and we will be given a balanced set of circumstances. A measure of joy will follow a period of sadness. As experience has shown, quick on the heels of the fear of loss is the realization that in the spiritual realm we're secure and all is well.

How grateful we might become that love offers us so much to grow on.
From the book:
Worthy of Love by Karen Casey. © 1985 by Hazelden Foundation

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aug. 27, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

"I will never know all the people I hurt, all the friends I abused, the humiliation of my family, the worry of my business associates or how far-reaching it was. I continue to be surprised by the people I meet who say, 'You haven't had a drink for a long time, have you?' The surprise to me is the fact that I didn't know that they knew my drinking had gotten out of control. That is where we are really fooled. We think we can drink to excess without anyone knowing it. Everyone knows it. The only one we are fooling is ourselves. We rationalize and excuse our conduct beyond all reason." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, "They Stopped in Time," Ch 10 ("It Might Have Been Worse"), p 376.

Today, may the experiences about "hiding" that I have heard over and over in treatment centers and in meetings serve as a hint that I'm hiding nothing and fooling no one but myself about the extent of my drinking. If I am drinking today, let me give up the illusion that no one is paying attention and turn my energies that I expend on "hiding" to sobering up. And if I am not drinking, let me consider that I may have missed in my Eighth Step people to whom I owe amends because I may not know or remember who I have hurt. To them, my greatest amend may be continued abstinence. Today, if I am hiding, let me see that I am hiding only from myself and, if I can't remember all the people who are owed amends, let me make them by continuing in sobriety. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Aug. 27, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
"We must be willing to make amends to all the people we have harmed. We must do the best we can to repair the damage done in the past. When we make amends, when we say: 'I'm sorry,' the person is sure at least to be impressed by our sincere desire to set right the wrong. Sometimes people we are making amends to admit their own faults, so feuds of long standing melt away. Our most ruthless creditors will sometimes surprise us. In general, we must be willing to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences may be for us."

Have I made a sincere effort to make amends to the people I have harmed?

Meditation for the Day
The grace of God cures disharmony and disorder in human relationships. Directly you put your affairs, with their confusion and their difficulties, into God's hands. He begins to effect a cure of all the disharmony and disorder. You can believe that He will cause you no more pain in the doing of it than a physician, who plans and knows that he can effect a cure, would cause his patient. You can have faith that God will do all that is necessary as painlessly as possible. But you must be willing to submit to His treatment, even if you cannot now see the meaning or purpose of it.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may willingly submit to whatever spiritual discipline is necessary. I pray that I may accept whatever it takes to live a better life.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 27, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

Reflection for the Day
Taking a long hard look at those defects I'm unwilling or reluctant to give up, I ought to rub out the rigid lines I've drawn. Perhaps, in some cases, I'll then be able to say, "Well, this one I can't give up yet ..." The one thing I shouldn't say: "This one I'll never give up." The minutes we say, "No, never," our minds close against the grace of God. Such rebelliousness, as we have seen in the experiences of others, may turn out to be fatal. Instead, we should abandon limited objectives and begin to move toward God's will for us.

Am I learning never to say "never ...?"

Today I Pray
May God remove any blocks of rebellion which make me balk at changing my undesirable qualities. Out of my delusion that I am "unique" and "special" and somehow safe from consequences, I confess to God that I have defied the natural laws of health and sanity, along with Divine laws of human kindness. May God drain away the defiance which is such a protected symptom of my addiction.

Today I Will Remember
Defiance is an offspring of delusion.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 27, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

Everyone agrees that excessive drinking is an evil. The alcoholic is convinced that for him it is a necessary evil. He thinks he would surely die if he didn't drink. We know now that it only appeared necessary while we were doing our thinking with our appetites.

No evil is necessary except in the sense that friction is. Without it, we couldn't get traction and without traction we could not move onward and upward.

Hazelden Foundation

Aug. 27, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:
Expectations of Others

It is our job to identify our needs, and then determine a balanced way of getting those needs met. We ultimately expect our Higher Power and the Universe - not one particular person - to be our source.

It is unreasonable to expect anyone to be able or willing to meet our every request. We are responsible for asking for what we want and need. It's the other person's responsibility to freely choose whether or not to respond to our request. If we try to coerce or force another to be there for us, that's controlling. There's a difference between asking and demanding. We want love that is freely given. It is reasonable to have certain and well defined expectations of our spouse, children, and friends.

It is reasonable to sprinkle our wants and needs around and to be realistic about how much we ask or expect of any particular person. We can trust ourselves to know what's reasonable.

The issue of expectations goes back to knowing that we are responsible for identifying our needs, believing they deserve to get met, and discovering an appropriate, satisfactory way to do that in our life.

Today, I will strive for reasonable expectations about getting my needs met in relationships.
From the book:
The Language of Letting Go © 1990 by Hazelden Foundation