Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Monday, June 30, 2014
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.
 -- Charles P. Steinmetz

We often pass up the chance to ask a question of someone because we don't want to feel stupid. In the past, we kept very busy trying to look like we were in control; trying to seem as though we already knew what we needed to know. Now, in our new awareness that we can't live life alone, there is much we need to ask. We can learn a lot from children in this area. They are so wonderfully free of inhibitions when it comes to asking questions, and as a result, they learn. Their world expands.

We understand ourselves and others better when we ask questions, when we seek out new knowledge. We haven't experienced, studied, read about, or heard everything there is to know, so we have many questions, especially in the area of recovery. Now we know we can go ahead and ask, that it's okay, that the answer may help improve the quality of our lives. The more we search, the more we will learn, and the more serenity we will find. Like children, our minds are hungry for knowledge.

Today help me ask questions, without worrying about looking foolish, and respond to questions in the most helpful way I can.
From the book:
Body, Mind, and Spirit © 1990 by Hazelden Foundation

June 30, 2014 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Monday, June 30, 2014

"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." - Step Eleven

"As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day, 'Thy will be done.' We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 6 ("Into Action"), pp 87-8.

Today, let me understand that the 11th Step is the logical extension of Step Three - "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." In handing off to my Higher Power my self-will and entire life, it is then proper that I begin each day and take on any problem by asking through prayer and meditation what His will is for me instead of plunging into the habit of doing it my way. As the Big Book accurately reflects, my way generated anger, fear, worry and self-pity, and a host of other destructive feelings. Today, I can do without them, and an "easier, softer way" is to let a Higher Power who is stronger and wiser than me call the shots. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2014

June 30, 2014 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Monday, June 30, 2014

AA Thought for the Day
Alcoholics are unable or unwilling, during their addiction to alcohol, to live in the present. The result is that they live in a constant state of remorse and fear because of their unholy past and its morbid attraction, or the uncertain future and its vague forebodings. So the only real hope for the alcoholic is to face the present. Now is the time. Now is ours. The past is beyond recall. The future is as uncertain as life itself. Only the now belongs to us.

Am I living in the now?

Meditation for the Day
I must forget the past as much as possible. The past is over and gone forever. Nothing can be done about the past, except to make what restitution I can. I must not carry the burden of my past failures. I must go on in faith. The clouds will clear and the way will lighten. The path will become less stony with every forward step I take. God has no reproach for anything that He has healed. I can be made whole and free, even though I have wrecked my life in the past. Remember the saying, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more."

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may not carry the burden of the past. I pray that I may cast it off and press on in faith.

Hazelden Foundation

June 30, 2014 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Monday, June 30, 2014

Reflection for the Day
I've learned in The Program that the trick, for me, is not stopping drinking but staying stopped and learning how not to start again. It was always relatively easy to stop, if only by sheer incapacity alone; God knows, I stopped literally thousands of times. To stay stopped, I've had to develop a positive program of action. I've had to learn to live sober, cultivating new habit patterns, new interests and new attitudes.

Am I remaining flexible in my new life? Am I exercising my freedom to abandon limited objectives?

Today I Pray
I pray that my new life will be filled with new patterns, new friends, new activities, new ways of looking at things. I need God's help to overhaul my lifestyle to include all the newness it must hold. I also need a few ideas of my own. May my independence from chemicals or compulsive behavior help me make my choices with an open mind and a clear, appraising eye.

Today I Will Remember
Stopping is starting.

Hazelden Foundation

June 30, 2014 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Monday, June 30, 2014
We are very apt to travel in the direction we are headed. Even the brightest of sunshiny days appears overcast if we wear black glasses. If we enter a restaurant by the rear door, we will undoubtedly find garbage cans, smoked and grimy walls and hear the discord of pots and pans. If you enter by the front door, you will find cleanliness and order.
Let us enter each new day by the front door.
Hazelden Foundation

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Sunday, June 29, 2014
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Remember the Golden Key

Whenever trouble arises, the first thing to do is to turn it over to our Higher Power. We can take all necessary practical steps to solve a problem, but we don't need to decide what the answer may be. Do this, and you'll soon be out of your difficulty.

This is essentially the formula of the Golden Key as taught by Emmet Fox. It is also the core idea of Steps Three and Eleven. It is a manner of living one's life with the constant knowledge that a Higher Power is always part of it.

We should also condition ourselves to believe that our Higher Power has been with us all along and will continue to show us the way. Nothing depends on our being "spiritual" or "saintly" or perfect in behavior. With all our shortcomings, we are and ever will be children of God.

My Higher Power is always with me today, supplying whatever I need for the accomplishment of any good purpose.
From the book:
Walk in Dry Places by Mel B. © 1996 by Hazelden Foundation

June 29, 2014 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." - Step Two

" ...(W)e believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 2 ("There Is a Solution"), pp 25-6.

Today, if I remain skeptical about a Higher Power or even atheist, let me accept that the one entity I entrusted to run my life - myself - simply has not worked. Especially if I am in "the region from which there is no return," may I at least want and be willing to accept the possibility that a force for the better and stronger than my self-will exists. If I am still caught up in the myth that the spiritual entity is religious, maybe I have already set myself up as unwillingness to find my own Higher Power. In holding onto unwillingness and not opening myself to the possibility, the recovery I seek probably is not in the cards, especially if I continue to do it my way although it has shown me time after time after time and time and time again that I simply cannot do it on my own. Today, enough is enough, and I take the step to at least consider the possibility that something better, stronger and wiser than myself can help me do it. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2014

June 29, 2014 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Sunday, June 29, 2014

AA Thought for the Day
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous involves a continuous striving for improvement. There can be no long resting period. We must try to work at it all the time. We must continually keep in mind that it is a program not to be measured in years because we never fully reach our goals nor are we ever cured. Our alcoholism is only kept in abeyance by daily living of the program. It is a timeless program in every sense. We live it day by day or, more precisely, moment by moment - now.

Am I always striving for improvement?

Meditation for the Day
Life is all a preparation for something better to come. God has a plan for your life, and it will work out if you try to do His will. God has things planned for you far beyond what you can imagine now. But you must prepare yourself so that you will be ready for the better things to come. Now is the time for discipline and prayer. The time of expression will come later. Life can be flooded through and through with joy and gladness. So prepare yourself for those better things to come.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may prepare myself for better things which God has in store for me. I pray that I may trust God for the future.

Hazelden Foundation

June 29, 2014 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Sunday, June 29, 2014

Reflection for the Day
Once we surrendered and came to The Program, many of us wondered what we would do with all that time on our hands. All the hours we'd previously spent planning, hiding, alibiing, getting loaded, coming down, getting "well," juggling our accounts - and all the rest - threatened to turn into empty chunks of time that somehow had to be filled. We needed new energy previously absorbed by our addictions. We soon realized that substituting a new and different activity is far easier than just stopping the old activity and putting nothing in its place.

Am I redirecting my mind and energy?

Today I Pray
I pray that, once free of the encumbrance of my addiction, I may turn to my Higher Power to discover for me how to fill my time constructively and creatively. May that same Power that makes human paths cross and links certain people to specific situations, lead me along good new roads into good new places.

Today I Will Remember
Happenstance may be more than chance.

Hazelden Foundation

June 29, 2014 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Sunday, June 29, 2014
To pity distress is a natural human characteristic, except in the case of the poor drunk. The hospitals want no part of him. He brought it on himself and, besides, they need their beds for really sick people. Many doctors won't make a house call if they suspect the patient has been drinking and, when they do, their medication consists for the most part of something to knock him out and keep him quiet. People who spend hours raising funds for the tubercular and the cancerous call a cop when they see a drunk.
God knows the drunk and He also knows human nature, and so He invented AA.
Hazelden Foundation

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28, 2014 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Saturday, June 28, 2014
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery.
 -- Ralph Hodgson

Too often we are superstitious and interpret signs in negative or hostile ways. Because we don't believe in ourselves, we tend to think that fate is against us.

But life isn't for us or against us. If we are attentive, we will see many signs of promise during each day. Signs of promise, signs of goodness, signs of beauty. And if we trust ourselves and our Higher Power, we will know how to interpret the world and use it to do good.

Sometimes we may be unsure of our next step or even our general direction. If we are patient and alert to the world around us, we will pick up hints and clues that will help us on our way -- a friend's telephone call, a warm hug, a chance encounter, a job offer, a word of advice from a loved one. When we are ready, we'll know how to respond and what to do.

One thing we are learning to be sure of -- in this world of signs, we are not alone.

I don't want to believe in a hostile fate. The world is good and I am finding my way in it by being patient and learning to read the signs.
From the book:
Answers in the Heart © 1989 by P. Williamson and S. Kiser

June 28, 2014 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Saturday, June 28, 2014

Today ..."having had a spiritual awakening." Today, I ask myself seriously and honestly what "spiritual awakening" means. If I talk the Program's talk but don't walk the walk, I am little more than a dry drunk and have missed out on one of recovery's most elusive and cherished accomplishments - a fundamental change emotionally and spiritually. If I talk of strict adherence to being in service to the Program and other alcoholics who still suffer but beg off because I am too busy to give someone a ride to a meeting, my talk about being in service is little more than self-righteous, self-serving, sanctimonious ego-blowing. Today, I need to ask if I have truly undergone the basic requirement of a spiritual awakening - a fundamental change in attitude, perspective and spirituality. And if I conclude honestly that I have not, it's back to the basics of the Program. And if today I catch myself only talking the talk, may I seek the Higher Power to teach me the walk. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2014

June 28, 2014 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Saturday, June 28, 2014

AA Thought for the Day
You can prove to yourself that life is basically and fundamentally an inner attitude. Just try to remember what troubled you most a week ago. You probably will find it difficult to remember. Why then, should you unduly worry or fret over the problems that arise today? Your attitude toward them can be changed by putting yourself and your problems in God's hands and trusting Him to see that everything will turn out all right, provided you are trying to do the right thing. Your changed mental attitude toward your problems relieves you of their burden and you can face them without fear.

Has my mental attitude changed?

Meditation for the Day
You cannot see the future. It's a blessing that you cannot. You could not bear to know all the future. That is why God only reveals it to you day by day. The first step each day is to lay your will before God as an offering, ready for God to do what is best for you. Be sure that, if you trust God, what He does for you will be for the best. The second step is to be confident that God is powerful enough to do anything He wills, and that no miracle in human lives is impossible with Him. Then leave the future to God.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may gladly leave my future in God's hands. I pray that I may be confident that good things will happen, as long as I am on the right path.

Hazelden Foundation

June 28, 2014 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reflection for the Day
Almost daily, I hear of seemingly mysterious coincidences in the lives of my friends in The Program. From time to time, I've experienced such "coincidences" myself: showing up at the right place at exactly the right time; phoning a friend who, unbeknownst to me, desperately needed that particular phone call at that precise moment; hearing "my story" at an unfamiliar meeting in a strange town. These days, I choose to believe that many of life's so-called "coincidences" are actually small miracles of God, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Am I continuingly grateful for the miracle of my recovery?

Today I Pray
May my awareness of a Higher Power working in our lives grow in sensitivity as I learn, each day, of "coincidences" that defy statistics, illnesses that reverse their prognoses, hair-breadth escapes that defy death, chance meetings that change the course of a life. When the un-understandable happens, may I perceive it as just another of God's frequent miracles. My own death-defying miracle is witness enough for me.

Today I Will Remember
My life is a miracle.

Hazelden Foundation

June 28, 2014 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Exactly what is AA worth to you? Have you ever figured that out? Make a written list sometime of the benefits you have derived from your sobriety. Try hard to make an honest evaluation of what it would be worth to you in dollars and cents. How much have you benefited mentally, spiritually, physically, financially, socially?
Then make another list - how much has AA benefited by your membership? Are you trying to give as much as you have received? If not, you are getting something for nothing and that isn't honest. You can never square the debt, but you can probably give it a little better try than you have been doing.
Hazelden Foundation

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Friday, June 27, 2014
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Stopping, calming, and resting are preconditions for healing. When animals in the forest are wounded they find a place to lie down and rest completely for many days . . . They just rest and get the healing they need.
 -- Thich Nhat Hanh

We hurt. We suffer. We wrong our loved ones and they do wrong by us. Reaching desperately for an answer will not help us. Pretending we're not hurt doesn't help either. When we are wounded, the wound needs rest in order to heal. So it is with our souls. If we poke at our hurt, pick at the sore, rub it in the dirt of others' opinions, we do not allow it time to heal.

If you've been hurt, accept that. Feel the hurt. Be aware of it. Let it heal. Maybe it would be better if you didn't talk to that person for a while. Maybe you need to let go of the relationship. Maybe you just need some quiet time. Whatever the answer is, find a safe place and allow yourself to heal.

If you're feeling pain, be aware of it. Feel the pain, and then quit picking at the wound. Lie low. Quit fighting. Relax. Give your wounds time and enough rest to heal.

God, help me relax enough to stop, calm down, and heal.
From the book:
More Language of Letting Go © 2000 by Melody Beattie

June 27, 2014 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Friday, June 27, 2014

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." - Step Four

"If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies ...We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 5 ("How It Works"), p 70.

Today, if the Fourth I wrote down yesterday is not "a lot," chances are I have not been thorough; more likely, I have been dishonest by not accepting responsibility in any injury I inflicted or by seeing myself as I hope instead of how I am. But putting to paper our indiscretions and injury to others is not sufficient; we are asked to perceive our defects as futile and fatal and begin to understand their damage. Further, we are compelled to begin learning "tolerance, patience and good will toward all men ..." and become willing to undo some of our damage. If I not been moved to understand all this, the Fourth I took yesterday may have been premature or dishonest; today, I seek the courage and understanding to do Step Four as it is intended. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2014

June 27, 2014 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Friday, June 27, 2014

AA Thought for the Day
If you can take your troubles as they come, if you can maintain your calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending engagements, if you can rise above the distressing and disturbing circumstances in which you are set down, you have discovered a priceless secret of daily living. Even if you are forced to go through life weighed down by some inescapable misfortune or handicap and yet live each day as it comes with poise and peace of mind, you have succeeded where most people have failed. You have wrought a greater achievement than a person who rules a nation.

Have I achieved poise and peace of mind?

Meditation for the Day
Take a blessing with you wherever you go. You have been blessed, so bless others. Such stores of blessings are awaiting you in the months and years that lie ahead. Pass on your blessings. Blessing can and does go around the world, passed on from one person to another. Shed a little blessing in the heart of one person. That person is cheered to pass it on, and so, God's vitalizing, joy-giving message travels on. Be a transmitter of God's blessings.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may pass on my blessings. I pray that they may flow into the lives of others.

Hazelden Foundation

June 27, 2014 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Friday, June 27, 2014

Reflection for the Day
Little by little, I'm getting over my tendency to procrastinate. I always used to put things off till tomorrow and, of course, they never got done. Instead of, "Do it now," my motto was, "Tomorrow's another day." When I was loaded, I had grandiose plans; when I came down, I was too busy getting "well" to start anything. I've learned in The Program that it's far better to make a mistake once in a while than to never do anything at all.

Am I learning to do it now?

Today I Pray
May God help me cure my habitual tardiness and "get me to the church on time." May I free myself of the self-imposed chaos of life-long procrastination; library books overdue, appointments half-missed, assignments turned in late, schedules unmet, meals half-cooked. May I be sure if I, as an addict, led a disordered life, I, as a recovering addict, need order. May God give me the serenity to restore order and organization to my daily living.

Today I Will Remember
I will not be put off by my tendency to put off.

Hazelden Foundation

June 27, 2014 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Friday, June 27, 2014

AA is not fundamentally a philosophy, but it is rather a program of active living. To commit the Big Book to memory, to listen attentively to all the group speakers will not guarantee continued sobriety.

The knowledge gained thereby, put into your everyday living, will make drinking practically impossible and certainly unenjoyable. If we fail to make the Program an integral part of our everyday living, we are almost sure to have some rough times ahead.

Hazelden Foundation

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts

I once had a beautiful plant. It sat on my dining room table for three weeks as I waited for it to blossom. Each week, I waited for something to happen. By week three, instead of a luscious blooming bush, what revealed itself was a dry, shriveled piece of nothing.

I stormed angrily into the florist's shop and demanded an explanation for why my plant had died. Puzzled, yet relatively calm, the florist asked, "Did you do everything, I told you to do?"

"Absolutely! I waited for three weeks just like you said. I just waited, and now my plant is dead."

Scratching his head in wonderment, he asked, "Did you also water the plant every three days? Did you feed it the plant food I gave you? Did you keep it out of direct sunlight? Tell me, what did you do?"

"I didn't water it, because it didn't look like it needed it. I lost the food you gave me, and I didn't have time to get more. And I thought you said to keep it in direct sunlight. I waited for three weeks before calling you because I figured it would be okay, I thought if I let go and let God, the plant would eventually bloom."

How easy it is to mistakenly believe that "let go and let God," means to sit back and do nothing. Our words may not speak it, but our behavior says, "If we just wait, God will provide and good things will happen without our having to do anything."

When we're disrespectful of others, it is easy to think that our behavior is an indication of power and self-esteem. On the contrary, it suggests that we care little about ourselves, because we care little about others, For years, I had many excuses for bad behavior: My behavior at the florist's shop was inappropriate. That was no way to speak to anyone. Eventually I went back and made amends for how I spoke to the florist. Self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts.
From the book:
52 Weeks of Esteemable Acts © 2005 by Francine Ward

June 26, 2014 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Thursday, June 26, 2014

"More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn't deserve it." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 6 ("Into Action"), p 73.

Today, if I am poised to take the Fifth Step of talking to another person about "the exact nature of (my) wrongs," may I be given the strength and courage to be honest with perhaps my toughest prospect: myself. Like Jekyll and Hyde, I displayed two personalities in my drinking days - the party animal or the isolated, depressed lonely drinker as I sipped my way into oblivion and, the morning after, the physically and emotionally broken person for everyone to see. I need to meld both characters into one to find the actual self on which to build recovery, and that effort will likely be nil if I am not honest with myself first before taking my Fifth to a chosen confidant. Honesty for me begins with myself; without it, my Fifth - and my Fourth, for that matter - is based on an illusion. In the end, so will my recovery be based on an illusion. Today, let me understand the wisdom that honesty, before it is given to anyone else, has to begin with me. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2014

June 26, 2014 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Thursday, June 26, 2014

AA Thought for the Day
We must know the nature of our weakness before we can determine how to deal with it. When we are honest about its presence, we may discover that it is imaginary and can be overcome by a change of thinking. We admit that we are alcoholics and we would be foolish if we refused to accept our handicap and do something about it. So by honestly facing our weakness and keeping ever present the knowledge that for us alcoholism is a disease with which we are afflicted, we can take the necessary steps to arrest it.

Have I fully accepted my handicap?

Meditation for the Day
There is a proper time for everything. I must learn not to do things at the wrong time, that is, before I am ready or before conditions are right. It is always a temptation to do something at once, instead of waiting until the proper time. Timing is important. I must learn, in the little daily situations of life, to delay action until I am sure that I am doing the right thing at the right time. So many lives lack balance and timing. In the momentous decisions and crises of life, they may ask God's guidance, but into the small situations of life, they rush alone.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may delay action until I feel that I am doing the right thing. I pray that I may not rush in alone.

Hazelden Foundation

June 26, 2014 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflection for the Day
How many of us would presume to announce, "Well, I'm sober and I'm happy. What more can I want, or do? I'm fine just the way I am." Experience has taught us that the price of such smug complacency - or, more politely, self-satisfaction - is an inevitable backslide, punctuated sooner or later by a very rude awakening. We have to grow, or else we deteriorate. For us, the status quo can only be for today, never for tomorrow. Change we must; we can't stand still.

Am I sometimes tempted to rest on my laurels?

Today I Pray
May I look around me and see that all living things are either growing or deteriorating; nothing that is alive is static, life flows on. May I be carried along on that life-flow, unafraid of change, disengaging myself from the snags along the way which hold me back and interrupt my progress.

Today I Will Remember
Living is changing.

Hazelden Foundation

June 26, 2014 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our sobriety is dead-serious. It has to be, to work at all. With it we can retain all we now have, and the limits to which we can add to it are circumscribed only by our initiative and our ability. Without sobriety we are in danger of losing that which we already have.

Sobriety is life itself to us and without it life would again become a living death. To unnecessarily subject ourselves to temptations is another variation of playing "Russian Roulette."

Hazelden Foundation