About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy new year, and all that stuff.. I have FREE cyber cake! Cool!

Cool. If you put your name in here, you get a free slice of cyber cake and a cyber coffee!! Excellent! You can't beat a freebie!

As far as I can tell it will be 20 yrs on the 1st Jan since I had an alcoholic drink! Cool! I cant even remember when exactly I stopped drinking, as I was not drinking every day at the time I decided to stop, Pretty infrequently actually. On the occasions when I DID drink, I was trying to cut down to see if I could control it that way. Needless to say it didn't work! So it could have been a few days before 1st Jan for all I know. Whatever. I just call it 1st Jan 87.
I had been going to Al Anon regularly, and somehow or other bumped into some 12 step therapists along my (miserable) way who asked me about my drinking, and told me to stop drinking and go to 6 aa meetings. So I did! Funny!
Anyway all I can remember was that it had been mulling this over in my brain for some time, and I figured I should give this 'not drinking' thing a go at some point, and new year seemed as good a time as any. So I kind of decided to knock it on the head in the new year.
I know it doesn't sound very dramatic, but that's because it wasn't. I was suffering, no doubt about that, but I just got lucky and managed to identify my problem with alcohol at a very early stage of my drinking career. Half the time I don't even remember how long it is since I had a drink. I really don't give it a lot of thought. Drink just doesn't seem like an issue now.
Anyway although I was lucky to get it early, I had suffered a great deal with alcohol before that point, which is why the therapists were so resolute in their judgment about me not drinking! So I'm not really a 'high bottom'. I have paid my dues! I may not have reached a point where I had a compulsion to drink every day, but things were pretty bad. More in the sense of 'cancer of the soul'. I think this is one of the main reasons I am so drawn to peace of mind/joy in recovery. I know pain FAR too well!! Anyway, Just thought I'd share that with you!

I figured I'd post this before I head out to a silly old aa new year thing in town. Actually its not that crummy, but I always think of aa things as being a bit crummy, on account of the fact they are a bit 'low rent', compared to the TOTALLY swanky places in town. Anyway, I quite like the 'low rent' thing, every now and then. I very rarely go to these things, but as a bunch of former Sponsees (I really have to start referring to them as former Sponsees!) were going, it seemed like a nice idea. I see aa things as being very harmless in the main. It's just getting there will be a pain, as its a bit ! Windy and rainy out there! Bleh!

Anyway, I am very gratified with the progress of my now sponsorless, former Sponsees. My work is done!! I bumped into some today and they are doing as well as I did post-9th without a sponsor. Perfect! I'm very happy, as I deviated from the norm of my former home group on that issue. On the basis that it had worked out for me, I felt it was only right to pass that on to them, seeing as how they had dutifully done all the same things I did, so logic would suppose that they ought to have the same experience as myself without a sponsor. What I mean is it was a bit of a social experiment based on the results I had achieved. Anyway, I'm just very glad that they are happy, well adjusted individuals getting on with their lives. I spoke to a good few today, and I am always impressed by how well they are getting on. I love their new found independence. I am very happy being a sponsor free person, and it makes me happy that I am able to share that ability with them. I only mention that because I don't see them very often at all as I am wrapped up in study usually.

At the moment I'm very tempted to start another blog just for my study subjects and let this one languish for a while, as this one can be VERY distracting. It's very hard for me to read posts about people who are suffering, and not respond to them in some form or other. Very difficult! It;s just I have a raft of other academic problems to sort out right now, and am still behind. I am pretty sure even if I spent all my time trying to figure out this subject it would still be possible to do more. Like in aa, the possibilities for interpretation in this subject are endless!
Who know. I'm sure I will figure it out! I've still got LOADS of work to do!! Busy busy busy!!

Anyway I'd better be getting off. Too long as usual! Have a VERY positive and fulfilling new year you guys!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight

'You can't control what comes into your head, but you CAN control how you deal with it'

'Right slap bang in the middle of a contradiction' was a phrase I heard Bono use in an interview, and I like these lyrics as an interpretation of where we can be in our heads, as we truly are POWERLESS over what comes into them. The only thing we can HOPE to control is how we decide to deal with it. I suppose I just love any description of the spiritual struggle toward recovery/enlightenment which includes all the ugly, disturbed bits of the mind. I'm just no good at wimpy, 'fluffy' spirituality. I like mine gritty and real. With all the lumps and bumps included! The other side of the spiritual life is equally real, the weird, peaceful, 'spaced out' part. But I get a bit annoyed when people only describe that one side of the coin, the 'wafty, esoteric' bit, when there is this other 'dark' side as well. Its what they call the 'shadow' if you ever get round to reading any Robert Bly. The shadow doesn't negate the positive aspects of the mind, but it IS there, and failure to acknowledge it can lead to all sorts of problems. I'm a strong believer in learning about shadow work in recovery. After step 9 anyway.
Who knows why I like what I do, but I do know I love this song, and it felt very satisfying to listen to it today on my ipod.
Because we are all in a constant, utterly uncontrollable state of change, the only thing we really can look to as being a constant in our lives is our higher power. I have always liked thinking of my higher power as love, (amongst other things), so these lyrics fit my concept of a HP.

U2 Lyrics: God Part II
Don't believe the devil, I don't believe his book
But the truth is not the same without the lies he made up
I don't believe in excess, success is to give
I don't believe in riches, but you should see where I live
I... I believe in love

Don't believe in forced entry, I don't believe in rape
But every time she passes by, wild thoughts escape
I don't believe in death row
skid row or the gangs
Don't believe in the Uzi, it just went off in my hands
I... I believe in love

Don't believe in cocaine, I got a speedball in my head
I could cut and crack you open... did you hear what I said?
Don't believe them when they tell me there ain't no cure
The rich stay healthy, the sick stay poor
I... I believe in love

I don't believe in Goldman, his type like a curse
Instant karma's gonna get him, if I don't get him first
I don't believe that Rock 'N Roll can really change the world
As it spins in revolution, spirals and turns
I... I believe in love

I don't believe in the 60's, in the golden age of pop
You glorify the past, when the future dries up
I heard a singer on the radio late last night
Says he's gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight*
I... I believe in love

I feel like I'm falling
like I'm spinning on a wheel
It always stops beside a name, a presence I can feel
I... I believe in love
-for John Lennon

*Bruce Cockburn

Notice who is offering you pears today

I loved this story so much from two dogs blogging , (Posted under the heading How full is your basket?) that I asked if I could post it here. I think it's marvelous.

Our minds have a very sort of 'car crash tv' slant, in that we morbidly get drawn to negativity, like when people slow down when they drive past a car crash. It's just a habit. Once you realize there IS this 'magnetic' pull of the mind toward black negativity, it's very easy to fix. The trick is to think about the solution instead of dwelling on the problem. That's how I see this story anyway. And in this case, the trick is to notice all the places that are providing the very thing you seek instead of focusing on a place where that need simply cannot be met.
I STILL have to keep moving my focus to the solution instead of the problem, but then these things are never cured, just managed, on a daily basis.

The aa slogan that I feel sums up what this passage has to say is:
The more you think about the problem, the bigger the problem gets. The more you think about the solution, the bigger the solution gets.

Anyway, thanks 2 dogs! And hope you like..

From two dogs blogging
I went to the women's meeting this morning and although there were only four of us there, I heard something that really struck home with me. One member talked about dealing with the pain in her early recovery of a mother who was never emotionally available to her. She received some wonderful advice from another recovering woman when she shared with her how her mother had never been there for her.

The woman she was talking to about her parent's lack of emotional availability said, "Dear, if someone is holding a basket of apples and you want a pear, they can't offer you a pear, they can only offer you an apple. God gives us what we need; it just may not come from people that we want or demand it should come from. If you keep your focus on having pears magically appear from your mom's basket of apples, you will miss the other women who come into your life bearing pears because your "vision" will focused on your mom. You won't be looking around for the multitude of places one can find pears."

An online copy of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Here is the link for the online copy of The Prophet

The link for all Kahlil Gibrans other written stuff online here

I've only just discovered that Kahlil Gibrans works are all posted online. Cool! I never got round to buying his books, but have always meant to get round to reading The Prophet. Now I can! Online! Anyway, these are pretty standard books of spiritual wisdom as far as I know, so it's quite nice to know you don't have to buy a copy. They are always displayed prominently in Watkins Books. Now I will dip into them as I meander round the web.

Gibran died in New York City on April 10, 1931: the cause was determined to be cirrhosis of the liver.

He may very well have been a raving alky as it happens, but it wouldn't be the first time great teachers have had this illness. The presence of alcoholism in a teacher does not undermine their material for me, any more than I would disregard a teacher because they had cancer. As far as I am concerned alcoholism is just a disease, and does not interfere with other skills and abilities in a person. Except when they become too ill to render their skill, in which case it does interfere! So what I mean is that his written work still is of value regardless of his alcoholism.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

May you be well, may you be happy

Just thought I'd share a Metta blessing with you over the holiday period.
When you do a metta meditation, you repeat this statement with someone in mind.

You can also apply it to yourself, by repeating the same statement
May I be well, may I be happy
You can do it in time with your in breath and out breath if you like.

This is a real 'feel good' meditation and can make you TOTALLY high. (Not a chemical high) But it does make you high as a kite if you do it long enough.
You can always tell who is doing the metta practices because they have great big beaming grins all over their face!
Give it a go, for just half an hour, and notice how your mood is affected. It quite funny really!
I did it for an entire weekend 'Metta' retreat once and I was on an amazing serotonin (or ?? whatever) high.

Anyway I'll leave you with that!

My (all learned as opposed to original) ideas of what constitutes a balanced attitude to difficult emotions

The 'rule' I learned from a senior monk that I use is: 'Neither repression nor indulgence'. stated by the monk as 'We walk a fine line between repression and indulgence'.
Another guiding principle I use is contained in the poem by Thich Nhat Hanh called 'Call Me By My True Names', where he says,

'My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.'

I think this is pretty accurate as (in my opinion) we all share the 'collective unconscious' which contains ALL emotions. Besides, we are all hopelessly interconnected anyway, so we cannot help but experience the limitless collective emotional experience, good bad and ugly.

But even if you choose to view it from a purely personal historical perspective, we can all still access limitless sources of pain and joy if we so choose by selective focus on different glass half full/ half empty perspectives.

I suppose my favorite summary of the incredible 'flexibility' of the mind is in the slogan 'You MOVE TOWARDS, and BECOME LIKE, THAT WHICH YOU THINK ABOUT, whether it is good for you, or bad for you'.

This seems to be true on EVERY level for me. Both in a very worldly practical sense, and in an utterly inexplicable 'other' worldly sense.
I have Sponsees with pretty disturbed pasts, and they are able to feel real joy in their hearts 'provided they remain willing to follow a few simple rules'. So you CAN have peace of mind, no matter what your history. Thank god this programme goes FAR beyond logic in it's application..

Basically, you can feel your feelings without letting them 'run the show' or be 'in charge'. It takes a bit of practice though, as we tend to clumsily veer toward imbalanced viewpoints. Like any skill, it gets better with practice!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It really is JUST ANOTHER DAY. (Christmas I mean)

This time of year. there are so many social pressures and expectations to live up to. (If you allow yourself to be bullied into them.) It takes quite a bit of effort not to buy into the whole thing. but its worth it! It really is JUST ANOTHER DAY. (Christmas I mean) I expect to barely notice it. Apart from a short trip to see my sisters nephews, it will be almost unnoticeable. but I'm helped in that I am distracted by study anyway.
I think London is at its best at Christmas. Its the most peaceful time of year. It gets SO empty in the city centre. No noise, no buses, bliss!

Christmas. Just don't buy into the whole thing. Don't even CONSIDER forcing yourself to so stuff you hate, or go see people you can't stand. Forget it!!
Avoid the shops unless your life depends upon it.
Meetings can be a bit grim at this time of year because people on the whole do not deal very well with it, but the 'diehard' service types working at the phone office or getting involved in setting up meetings on Christmas day are always in a good mood. So try to find those types when you go to a meeting. Either that or a newcomer. That's the best thing.

Unless you have kids and so a certain amount of paraphernalia is to be expected!! An empty room with one abject bauble wouldn't work for a three year old!
I know it sounds like bah humbug, but it really is JUST ANOTHER DAY, so why use it as an excuse to foist a load of irritating expectations and obligations on top of an already overcrowded schedule? I just don't see the point. I require no gifts, no fixes, no special attention, no special food. It'll just be the same ol same ol. Except I'll make a trip to see nephews.

Its just another day!
Its no big deal!
Don't do stuff you hate!
Don't see people you cant stand!
Tell all those people who keep asking you to take part in tedious social obligations, to stick their mindlessly-active-lifestyle-choices where the sun don't shine! (Not really! You can THINK it, but you can't SAY it!)
Just enjoy the lapse in frenetic work life and have a mince pie and a cup of tea or something. Or fall asleep in front of the telly. Haahaa
Or be a total rebel and eat pancakes all day or something else totally UNchristmassy.
Actually I have to say, some of the bigger Christmas day meetings here are really good if you can be bothered getting there. The big all day ones are always have upbeat chairs.

Oh yeah, and the same thing goes for the new year...
You're all going to think I'm a miserable bastard now! Hahaaha
Well I'm not, I just don't like being 'expected' to do stuff because a load of other people think its a bright idea..
Basically just do as you please. Don't feel obliged or pressured to do ANYTHING. Just do what makes you feel COMFORTABLE, no matter what it is. And if there's a social situation you cannot avoid, use it as an opportunity for service. (without being a doormat of course!)

Right I'd better get to the gym and back to the books..

Friday, December 22, 2006

A strange 'dual' mind space shared by myself and my Sponsees. (And their Sponsees)

I still can have very unpleasant reactions to people but at some level, NO MATTER HOW PISSED OFF I AM, or how offensive their behavior is, I sort of KNOW that I will see it differently later, and that I have no right to judge another human being. It's quite cool really. It can feel as if two parallel mind states are existing simultaneously. One, heated and emotional. Another, very calm and wise, sort of observing everything that unfolds. I checked with my Sponsees (And their Sponsees) to see if they experience the same kind of mental state, and they said they did too. So it's nice to know that I have succeeded in passing on that faculty, via the steps. Meaning it's not unique to me or dependent upon anything other than the way we went through the steps. It never ceases to amaze me what can be 'passed down' to other people.

I mention this so that you know that if you are going through the Steps with one of my Sponsees, that there is a STRONG likelihood that you will also inherit this mind space. (Usually sometime between step 5 and 9) Provided you are following the suggestions given to you!! Not just in outward appearance, but in MOTIVATION also.
Based on the little research I have done in AA, I have found that this mind state is NOT a common experience. I could be proved wrong, but that is what I have found so far.
It might sound a bit crap (So what? sort of thing) to someone who is new, but, speaking as someone with long term sobriety, I can tell you I REALLY value this faculty of the mind. It provides an opportunity to lend calm objectivity to an otherwise heated and unreasonable mind set. I am EXTREMELY grateful for this ability. And it makes me VERY happy to have found out (via my obedient guinea-pig Sponsees) that it is so transferable! So thank you for providing me with that information!

Anyway, I need to study!!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Alcoholic foods to avoid!

For those of you that don't already know which foods tend to have alcohol in...
Unheated foods (mostly desserts) are the ones that contain alcohol in its unaltered state. Because at christmas we tend to eat stuff that we wouldn't eat the rest of the year, its easier to get caught out.

Brandy butter: Obvious I know. Besides it just sounds quite disgusting. I've never had it so I don't know. But I think it sounds VERY easy to avoid.
Mince pies: Sometimes they put brandy or liqueurs in them.
Chocolates: Watch out for the ones with liqueurs in. the barrel shaped ones are always a bad idea! ALWAYS read the accompanying pictorial guide BEFORE you eat the chocolate!
Sherry trifle: Obvious I know, but I thought I should include it.
Christmas pudding: Nearly always has some sort of alcohol in it. You can get alcohol free ones in tesco and most places.
Black forest gateau.
'Normal' cakes from places like Patisserie Valerie. They are always doused in alcohol after cooking.
Cakes and Gateaux. Often have Kirsch in.
Any kind of pudding that is on fire!
Ice creams in restaurants. Often have liqueurs added.
Not sure but I think the Hagen daaz chocolate ice cream has a liqueur in it. But even if it didn't, you shouldn't be eating it anyway! Hahaaaha..
Any cooked main meal where the alcohol has been added at the later stage.
A cooked main meal including alcohol which has been cooked minimally.

Each to their own. I have an unusual eating regime in that I don't eat a lot of cooked food at all, bar whole wheat rice,pasta and bread. Basically, I don't cook! But when I used to eat 'normal food' or when I was eating out I would pretty much choose things which had not been cooked in wine, beer etc, because I just felt more comfortable doing that.

That reminds me. I don't really eat out at all, but when I used to eat out and went to places that were not familiar or regular haunts, I was VERY disappointed by how unhelpful and disinterested the staff were in checking if certain recipes had alcohol in them or not. They very clearly could not give a toss. But what do you expect from people on a minimum wage?
What I mean is, do NOT expect staff unbeknownst to you to care, or even show the slightest interest in whether there is alcohol in your food or not. It's very 'whatever' out there.
In the end I used to just not bother with puddings as I got SO fed up with nagging staff for non alcoholic desserts, only to be given ones with alcohol in. These would not have been standard 'family style' restaurants, more 'grown up' ones. Not a harvester for instance! I don't think harvester DO alcoholic puddings!! Perhaps you have a better service culture in your area, but I dismay with the stuff I've had to deal with. Especially when the staff barely speak English. I think minimum wage culture just lends itself to total apathy and indifference to diners.

I do eat the weirdest crap, but I love it! I felt really tired this morning so adopted my 'tired' food regime. Which is a pint of freshly juiced carrot juice with ginger, and 750g of finely shredded organic carrot topped with 3 apples blended into a smoothie. Sound disgusting, but I LOVE it! And it ALWAYS raises my energy level and makes me feel bright as a button. Even when I felt BLEH beforehand. Food is really cool, if you can find ways of making it work for you. I always resort to raw fruit and veg when I need extra reserves of energy and general bounciness. I just can't imagine going back to the old way I used to eat. Processed food is all chemicals and additives. Yuk! Mind you I do have quorn and soya from time to time, which is probably got got lots of weird stuff in it. Note to self: ditch the ready-made veggie Quorn crap.

Anyway, I have study to do! Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

SERIOUSLY easy going, and a little bit wild!

Its very common for aa's to interpret sobriety as some sort of 'super responsible' 'well-meaning, 'well-intentioned' identity.
Well yes it is, but its also VERY easy going. If you try too hard to be 'good', you will wear yourself out! Plus it will be no fun!
There has to be a little room for wildness and unpredictability and play, otherwise it all gets VERY serious and dreary. I like the book 'Women who run with the wolves' because it describes a very healthy form of 'wildness'. Amongst other things.

Stop trying so hard!
Stop trying to be 'good' or 'nice'. (It looks sugary and fake anyway) Integrity is FAR more attractive.
Avoid being earnest, over responsible, and serious.

Easy does it, but do it!
Wear life like a loose garment.

A picture I've been unable to load onto my template. Grr

just thought i'd try posting it. weird. i'll be dammed if i know why i'm having no luck adding it as a page element..

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm feeling bloody marvelous

Just in case you weren't sure! Not only can I run 6k EASY, but all this mind boggling weird pile of stuff I'm reading is starting to make sense. I've been bitten by the study bug and now actually CRAVE library time to figure out the rest of it. Hurrah! I do not feel like a study LOSER. Like I did before. Whew!
Deep deep joy!
Also I'm nauseatingly chirpy about Christmas and not even REMOTELY tired after getting up at 4am and going to work all day.
Apart from that, everything is c**p! Hahaaha
Anyway I just thought id say something totally pointless and unprovoked as I reckon a load of alkys go a bit 'peculiar' over the Christmas period. So I figured I would confess my wanton optimism instead.

I've still got LOADS !! to be getting on with, (so will still be in the library) but I just thought I'd mention my insufferable good mood.
It gets better! Thank God!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hurrah! I ran two 3k runs this morning

..On my way to and from an EARLY aa meeting. Having not ever really tried to do running before apart from once a few years ago. !!!! Cool!
I was finding it difficult to spend my usual time in the gym AND do library, so I thought I'd try running to this early meeting, and it was MUCH easier than I thought it would be. Running/jogging is pretty cool! Contempt prior to investigation! It looks MUCH more boring than it actually is. Music makes al the difference. Hopefully this will buy me some more library time if I get this out of the way first thing. I think I may end up becoming a born again runner. I've been meaning to get round to it for AGES, but now my time constraints necessitate it. I wonder how many calories 6k burns up? If my legs don't feel like kack tomorrow, I'll give it another go!
Now I want to get down the nike shop for some new running gear. I have overpriced running shoes, but I might need some new breathable tops.
Now all I have left to do is massive amounts of reading!!
I should have done this running lark AGES ago! For some reason I just thought it would be much more difficult. I was convinced I would have to stop for breath or something. I always thought I was a total pansy at the gym and that running outdoors was for 'tougher' people. We shall see I suppose!
Anyway I think the moral of the story is that AS USUAL, we tend to TOTALLY UNDERESTIMATE OURSELVES. I always think I am crap, even when I'm not. It just goes to show! (Well provided you are not a cocky, overconfident person, in which case you probably OVERestimate yourself!)
Back to the library!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

6 Weird Things about me

Hey blame Pam not me! It was her idea. I had no choice but to comply! ;) (See her comment on previous post)

1. I have drawn the conclusion (for some time) that all these things DO in fact exist: the power of good and of evil, angels, demons, beings from other dimensions, ghosts (..whatever they are), infinite numbers of parallel universes, non duality, time travel, everything 'weird' basically.
2. If you inadvertently slam a door in my face as you enter it, ahead of me, I am never offended. Same goes for all other acts of consideration. This is because I have very low or no expectations of other people.
3. If I misplace something, my first thought will always be that someone else has taken it, even if it is almost worthless, (like a cheap pen or a ruler) I end up finding the object 98% of the time, and it never has been 'taken'.
4. I dislike attention. It feels unpleasant. I am happiest ‘behind the scenes’.
5. I take great pleasure in doing the opposite of whatever people expect or want me to do.
6. I am a Reverend, so I can legally marry and bury people. Ideally not at the same time!

Weird enough for you? Who knows..
In a typical act of defiance, I will dispense with the convention of following the directions to ‘tag’ other people as I NEVER normally comply with ANY request to pass on cyber stuff to others, but have made this ONE exception to fulfill one half of the request. Bah humbug!

Now back to those DAMMED books...
(Curse you Internet!!, you TAUNT me with your foolish time-wasting diversions...)
If anyone knows a way to develop a photographic memory, DO let me know!

The Prestige

I took a study break and went to see The Prestige, and it is indeed an eye-candy feast for the ladies! I heartily recommend!
Dave Bowie too! Well anyway the reason I liked it was because it was all about magic, real and imagined, and effortless showmanship and the brutal reality of trying to be excellent at ANYTHING.
But anyway, just thought I'd mention it because it was one of those rare cinema occasions where you are pleasantly surprised instead of feeling disappointed. But I suppose I DO believe in 'magic' as well so that had a lot to do with why I enjoyed it.

Trailer for the film here

Back to the library!!!
(Smacking my wrists as we speak!!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tell me to get OFF the (thoroughly addictive) internet, and go do some study!

Instead of saying 'that's nice' or 'that really helped' etc etc, make some hard-assed Nazi-like comment along the lines of 'Shouldn't you be studying right now?' 'Why ARE you blogging today?' and things like that!!
I am not an antisocial bastard, I just HAVE SO MUCH READING TO DO RIGHT NOW IT'S NOT FUNNY. I need to be either
In the library
At home reading

I like aa, and alkys. I love it actually. Well I love what it taught me and the life it has given me, BUT I NEED TO CONCENTRATE ON OTHER STUFF RIGHT NOW. Like study and a MILLION books. I think even if I used ALL my free time to study, it would STILL be insufficient to read things 'properly', so THE FREE TIME IS SIMPLY NOT THERE.
So please help me in my woeful journey towards a disciplined study life by telling me to naff off and do some study!
Well you don't HAVE to, but its wrong for me to spend time getting sidetracked by all your interesting and uplifting stories when my priorities need to be somewhere else. I cannot seem to do it in sufficient moderation, so its best to avoid it as much as possible. 'One is too many and a hundred isn't enough' sort of thing. Well for now anyway. Hopefully not for long.
So there. Anyone who has done a step 4 will know how creative we can be when it comes to finding diversionary activities!! Displacement activity I think they call it.

I'm not uneducated by any stretch, but this is a whole new level of academic challenge. And in THIS respect, I am a beginner. I find AA stuff really easy to be honest. It just feels like second nature to me now. Its a total comfort zone.
This new level of academic brain-ache on the other hand, is NOT.

So I need to do less blogging!!!! Ideally none, till I get on top of this study! 'First things first' as they say..
So please don't think im being antisocial. I just need to study, study, and study, oh yeah, and then do some study. Finished off with a little bit more studying.
Reading stuff that makes my brain hurt and makes me think I must be actually rather stupid because its so intractable.
Apart from that my life is one of happy leisure!!

Good old April seems to have it all down to a fine art. I'm not quite there yet, but intend to be!!
So anyway, just thought I would let you know, so you don't encourage me to spend any more time on here than is truly necessary.
I have SO much self discipline when it comes to other stuff, but when it comes to this stuff I'm 'not there yet'. I'm hoping my 'inner nazi' or 'inner marine' will take over and start ordering me around soon! My 'inner hippy' seems to be running the show in regard to this area, although you would never know that by the other things I manage to get done. Oh well. The joys of being a 'beginner' at a new skill!!

All nazi-like reminders to study will be gratefully received!
In the meantime I hope you all have as fabulously interesting spiritual journeys as I have had. I'll pop my head round the door from time to time, but really I SHOULD be studying!!

So I'm off to do some (guess what?) STUDY. Hahaaa
Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wow. Even I am surprised how quickly I get over things these days

I can't believe how 'normal' I feel after the crummy guy at work thing the other day. I will NEVER understand how this thing works. It baffles me UTTERLY. Even to this day.
Even though I've seen it work a million times, I'm still in awe when I see new people get better. It stuns me to see people transform.
I find a BIG factor in healing is 'surrendering to the moment' no matter what it is. All I know is that I am in a position after many years practice (!!) to to really accept whatever I happen to be experiencing. Even though it might be unpleasant. The weird thing is, that the more I seem to accept it, the quicker it changes into something else.
I don't know about you, but to me this is INFINITELY better than any therapy I've ever seen or come across. I ADORE the totally inexplicable aspects of this recovery path. It IS like witnessing miracles every day! I'm not kidding, but I really DO rely on them! Sounds really naff I know, but I really DO.
I am SO glad I do NOT rely on the rule of logic or therapeutic precedent to guide me through these aspects of my dysfunction.
Isn't recovery amazing? I think it is.
So many times I have been faced with (what I consider to be) really bleak odds, yet somehow things just 'change' for the better. I have NO idea how it works, but it is blissful and wonderful and I love it!
Sorry if that makes you want to puke, but I'm afraid that's the mood I'm in and I can't help it.
The reason I'm so impressed with how quickly I feel good again is because I KNOW enough about the type of mental symptoms I can experience to know that IT IS NOT NORMAL to be restored to wellbeing as quickly as I do. Its really not normal. I have done my research and I know about these things!
Sod therapy! Give me the healing powers of this spiritual programme anyway!

(Sorry I don't mean to offend those of you that make different choices, I only speak for MYSELF remember!)
By the way I like SOME therapists. They have their uses. I just PREFER this method, that's all. Also I don't have a 'reason' why I make that choice. My choices are made for me by the 'track record'. Whatever works BEST, well that's what I do, NOMATTER WHAT IT IS.
So if in future sometime, I were to come across a therapist that could create more powerful healing than my spiritual programme, I would dump the programme like a hot brick, and do what the therapist said. The reason I HAVEN'T done that is because my EXPERIENCE suggests the spiritual programme I have been shown is by FAR the most powerful choice. That's all.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jonathan Cainers' thoughts on what it might be like being Enlightened

I'm a big fan of Jonathan. He's my type of guy! This is from his 'old favorites' section under 'ancient lost knowledge' that he wrote in the Daily Express in 2000. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but so does String Theory! (See the post on the Horizon BBC programme on Parallel Universes)
Anyway I always like his view on things, but I like this passage and the view it provides of what enlightenment might look like. It's actually not far off the string theory view of reality. -Well in my opinion anyway. They seem very similar to me. Anyway just thought I'd repeat it here, as I just like anything to do with monastics really..

Place yourself, please, in a dreamlike state. Relax. Let your mind go blank for a moment. Be willing to float in and out of this world – and a thousand others. Imagine that you can levitate if you only make your body feel light enough. Pretend that, if you wish to, you can turn back the clock. Or send it sweeping forward to the future.
Envisage the ability to see into other people’s minds. Envisage, too, the power to influence their thoughts. You can do anything you want to. You can be whatever you dream of being.
You are under the influence of no drug. Your mind is perfectly sane and rational. You just happen to know about the existence of another dimension. You know how to enter and leave it at will. This all seems perfectly normal to you.
Congratulations. You have just taken your first step into a mystical, timeless realm.
You have drifted a little closer to the state that some people call enlightenment. And, just possibly, you have glimpsed the future of humanity. You may be only pretending – but on the path of self-discovery, pretence is a key part of the process.
You have entered what psychologists call the world of the shared subconscious. You have encountered what artists and writers call “the muse”. It is a delicate, fragile place. Yet it is full of wealth and wonder. Tap into it and you can bring forth a flow of inspiration. Siphon off a symphony. Draw down a design. Fish out, from this wondrous river, as many inventive ideas as you care to. You will never drain it dry.
We all enter this world from time to time. Yet our visits there are only fleeting. Even the greatest creatives cannot dwell there more than moment. It is too fluid, too different, too weird. To live there all day every day, you must either go mad...or become a monk.

Old Trauma: Rabbit in headlights. Spineless, Weak, Mute, Jellyfish 'mode'

My 'stuff' is still very real.
Here's an example. One of my things is that if someone is just plain nasty or attacking to me, I can REALLY feel it. There's no way I would have been able to feel it the way I do if I hadn't done the steps.
Anyway. I digress. Its just that when someone maliciously out and out attacks me verbally, with bad intentions, I feel it very forcefully, and it CAN (in certain cases) sort of 'nudge' my head into this 'other place' where my normal functioning just isn't there. I think I have always been like this. I hate confrontation. I have always hated it. Probably because my mind state can sort of 'regress' when it happens. Thankfully I very rarely have to contend with this as most of the time I do not come in to contact with what I call 'toxic people'. Not for long enough for it to have any noticeable effect anyway.

Anyway, I got 'caught out' at work yesterday when a guy (who has a history of being difficult with people) came over. Normally I avoid conversation with him, but he had been 'ok' with me in recent conversations so my usual defenses were off guard.
He came over and started 'normally' but then deteriorated into a rant of bile, directed at me. Character assassination.
None of this would have mattered but I was 'open' and unguarded, and made the mistake I could reason with him. Wrong!
What surprised me was how powerfully I went into another, very old, childhood? Mind state. I've been there before, so I know how it works. The first thing for me that 'goes' is speech. Speech just seems more difficult. My body feels very 'weak', almost like I have no bones, or my body has turned into a jellyfish. My muscles feel very weak. Its like power has just left my body. Suddenly I become I spineless, weak, mute, jellyfish. Like a rabbit, paralyzed in headlights. Also I become convinced that I am indeed at fault. Instead of thinking 'what an arse!', I think I am stupid and at fault. I feel embarrassed and 'caught out'. This makes 'normal functioning' (like speaking up for yourself) very difficult! It was like swimming through treacle! Like one of those dreams where you want to run, but your legs just won't seem to work.
Thankfully I DID manage to reason with him and say the 'right' things, leaving him no defense in his argument other than to keep telling me to 'shut up'. ?? By which point I was able to tell him that he really couldn't speak to ANYONE like that, and that he couldn't just walk up to people and tell them to shut up because it just plain nasty. To which all he could say was 'shut up'. Lovely!
Anyway, I was pleased that I managed to say the right things, but that guy is full of bile for whatever reason, and I am not likely to change his behavior with one attempt at reasoning.

The good news is that I complained to his manager, who knew he had been difficult with other people, and he will be spoken to. Also I will be in no hurry to engage him in conversation again as I have no intention of risking further bile, no matter how weak. Also everyone I spoke to about it at work was really sweet and kind. Kindness always reduces me to tears!

The reason I find this interesting, is because of the 'place I went to in my head ' or emotions when this happened. It shows that old trauma (or whatever it is) doesn't just vanish overnight. And that how bad for us it is to be around negative toxic people. I am a real stickler for 'sticking with the winners', and I just think this episode shows how important that is.
I feel as though I have enough tools to steer me safely through this type of thing. I can sustain just enough functioning to pull it off. But I wouldn't say I liked dealing with it! Also I really am sensitive to other peoples 'stuff', and it means that now I have a duty of responsibility to myself to protect myself from these types of people.
I suppose what I'm saying is we ALL have our 'stuff', our 'weak places' that we need to work on. And all I know is I seem to have a keener ability to feel those weak places than I ever did before. My mind just seems much more 'open' and flexible, so things get 'in' easier, good and bad.

I know Sponsees who are very 'mouthy' from the off. I have never been like that, and I do not hide behind bravado, so my personality makes me less likely to just tell people to eff off when they push my buttons. Everyone is different. I don't lose it verbally with people, I just don't have that tendency. I go quiet instead. People think I'm terribly self restrained, but I'm not, it's just the more disturbed I am, the more mute I become.

Also I thought you might like to know some tricks I have for when I have been knocked sideways emotionally.
Really this is what I would call a 'shock trauma' response. So that's how I 'treat it'
For the increasing tendency towards panic, distress, and shakiness: I love the 'emergency' Australian Bush Flower formula for stuff like this. Experiences like this really shake up your energy,and this remedy sort of helps calm it all down again.
Vetiver and Lavender in an oil burner. Again settles down all the energy and protects.
For the weepiness. Taoist Arch.
For the 'wisdom' or insight into the situation: Active imagination. I really love just thinking of the dalai lama. I love him.
For energetic protection: I have protection sprays which I use. Also the vetiver and lavender work. Also the green tara mantra.
For the tendency towards ''muteness': I speak about it. To everyone usually! Also singing out loud is very good for opening the voice centre again. Shiana Twain type stuff is good for me. Anything really. Not depressing stuff!
For the tendency towards physical inaction: Avoid staying in one place. Physical movement. The gym. Housecleaning is good as it keeps you going.
Motivation: I like listening to uplifting and positive music when I'm 'recovering from psychic attack.

Phew! So there you go! My shock trauma response! The more sensitivity you have, the more keenly you feel your 'old stuff'. Its do able, and not everyone has old trauma to deal with, but if you do, you might benefit form these tricks. If you have traumatic events in your past, even if you do not 'feel' them now, you may very well feel them more as you get further down the road in sobriety and you become more 'open' to ALL your emotions. Don't worry! It's do able!
Emotional 'work' is not 'pleasant'. But you just have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it! Keep doing the next right thing till you are back to your normal self. It doesn't take that long. I hope to be ok again in less than 24hrs. We'll see!
'Normal functioning will resume shortly' as they say..

I encourage you to become 'interested' in your weak places, and the way your mind and body plays tricks with you when your buttons are pushed. We cannot change our past, but we can change the way our body and mind habitually respond to old triggers, by becoming very aware of the shifts in consciousness and physical changes that occur. Also we need a good 'plan B' of action that can restore us to our old self. Get to know what works for you. None of us are the same, we all have slightly different triggers, and different involuntary responses. I don't expect you to have the same as mine. I just mapped mine out so you can see the way in which I break it down into different component parts.

Thank god for AA! I am so grateful for having a 'plan' for life!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A quote seen on packaging for a perfume called 'Falling in love'

'When it comes to love you need not fall but rather surrender.
Surrender to the idea that you must love yourself before you love another.
You must absolutely trust yourself before you can absolutely trust another and most importantly you must accept your flaws before you can accept the flaws of another.'

Seen on the side of packaging of a new perfume called 'Falling in love'

I have heard these ideas expressed before, but I just liked this summary of them. I have found all the above statements to be true. I believe it expresses the true meaning of 'love your brother as you love yourself'.

Although I'm very clear about the things I have learned to date, I would not describe myself as the 'arrogant personality'. I have ALWAYS doubted myself, at every step, regardless of the level of proficiency I achieve in any area. Not everyone is like this. So for me, learning to trust myself has been very important in recovery. I think this is the main motivation to shed a sponsor in the traditional aa sense after having been taken through the steps once. For me it has been very healing to resist the urge to constantly cross reference my ideas about what is best for me with outside sources in aa. 'External validation' I think they call it. Anyway I can only speak for myself, but that's what works for me. When I have encountered Sponsees that desperately want me to do all their thinking for them, or become responsible for problem solving all their 'stuff', I try to throw them back onto their own resources. Asking questions such as 'well what do YOU think you should do?' and things like that.
Other times I have to order people about a bit because they are just way too cocky and confident for their own good. They're all different.
I'm on the other end of the scale, totally lacking in confidence, so learning to trust myself is important work.

I love what this passage says about relationships. I have found it to be true there too. We really can only relate to what we believe deep down we deserve. And if we think we are useless, know nothing slobs, then its very hard to accept love from other people.
Oh well. All grist for the mill. Our work is just never done! The journey never ends, but I don't mind doing the work a day at a time..

Also, just to add, that this statement is also an expression of the principle of Metta meditation practice. This is a 'heart' practice, where we try to cultivate good will toward ALL sentient beings.
Westerners are sometimes surprised that the starting point of the meditation is to cultivate good will toward ONESELF. This is no accident. It is because we just CANNOT love others if we still secretly hold ourself in contempt for being flawed.

Funnily enough, it has mainly been through talking to newcomers and trying to help other alcoholics that I have learned to have a compassionate view of my own flaws. So often I see myself in them, and that's when the healing takes place. They truly are a blessing. I could not have achieved the peace of mind I now have without them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Combating worry: The 'firing line' quote says it all really..

I find a good way to stop worrying about little problems is to get a BIGGER problem! True! It works! It helps put things in perspective!
You know the term 'compassion fatigue'? Well I sort of got 'anxiety fatigue' after one thing, then another...
In the end i just gave up worrying. no point. there's only so much adrenalin your body can deal with!
My situation has many uncertains, but I can honestly say I'm not bothered. 'ill cross that bridge when I get to it' sort of thing. but initially when the first uncertainties came along, I thrashed about a bit, looking VAINLY for something secure to hang on to, then I got 'sick and tired of being sick and tired', and sort of 'gave in'. Now I feel fine! Nothing has changed, I just trust more!
But I like to think I have 'paid my dues' when it comes to helping alcoholics. that's MY 'insurance policy'. and I make SURE I make those payments EVERY DAY.
All I know is that things seem to work out as long as I GENUINELY look for ways of contributing to the stream of life EVERY DAY. Faith without WORKS is dead as they say. the 'firing line' quote says it all really. well that's the 'rule' I live by anyway...

Keep on the firing line of life with these MOTIVES* and God WILL keep you unharmed. p102

(*Motive here refers to the 'desire to be of MAXIMUM helpfulness/service')

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Jungian Model: I think the Monday 4th Dec 7pm talk looks good

I think it's very useful to have some sort of insight into the Jungian model. If you really don't know any Jungian stuff, then I think this will be very useful.
Jungian stuff is where all the archetype stuff comes from, and shadow work. Its a good model of reality really. In my opinion. Not perfect, but it'll do for now. If you come from a troubled family background this stuff helps.

Heres some blurb on tomorrow evenings talk..
Reclaiming Mother, Reclaiming Father

Our earliest experiences and relationships shape us but need not determine how we choose to live. Living soulfully involves not only accepting our wounds as our greatest gifts, but also our life initiations as spiritual tasks of empowerment.

This talk will look at early life, particularly the prenatal and birth experience, as our first formative initiation. Benig Mauger will explain the way in which archetypal soul and family patterns are inherited and how our first relationships form a template for all future relationships. Although our earliest experiences often diminish our ability to live from our essential self, she will discuss how we can heal early wounds, release and transform soul bonds and live authentic empowered lives.

Benig Mauger is a Jungian psychotherapist and pioneer in pre and peri-natal psychology. She is a birth teacher and author of Songs from the Womb, Healing the Wounded Mother and Reclaiming Father: The Search for Wholeness in Men, Women and Children. She has a private practice in Ireland and teaches internationally.

ST JAMES'S CHURCH £10/5 concs
197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

The Cost of Retreats at Amaravati

(from the amaravati webpage)
The running of the Retreat Centre is made possible through the generosity of previous retreatants who have made a donation so that others can attend. The Retreat Centre now totally depends on this generosity to meet its running costs.
Similarly, all retreatants will be given an opportunity at the end of their retreat to make a contribution so that others can attend future retreats.
It has been calculated that the basic costs of running the Retreat Centre (food, heating, maintenance, administration, insurance, etc.) averages out at about £60 per person per weekend and £200 per person for a 10 day retreat.  Any donation made is anonymous and voluntary, and retreatants are invited to give whatever they are able to offer.  It is hoped that this spirit of generosity will enable the Retreat Centre to continue to provide facilities for teaching and practice into the future. For, after all, the teaching of the Buddha is that of generosity, virtue and meditation.

Recommended Retreats 2007

Any one of the Ajahns leading retreats at amaravati would be good. In theory anyway. An Ajahn is just someone who has been a 'proper' monk or nun for 10 years.
Obviously a lot depends on the individual. So just try one and see what you make of them

I like thanissara as she used to be a monastic.
She is doing 2 retreats in Gaia house this year. They would both be very good I reckon. I like her partner Kitissaro as well, but he's off doing a retreat this year so you'll have to wait till 2008 to get a retreat with him! Shame!
The only problem about gaia house is that it takes for bloody ever to get there by train, and the train fare is NOT cheap!! I think going by car I probably even worse in terms of traffic. Oh well.

But I rate thanissara as she lives with kittisaro.

I like (sister) Ajahn Upekkha who is doing a retreat 27th Dec till 1st of Jan 2008. She's what I would call a 'heart' teacher. She know her stuff too mind.

I'm not crazy about Ajahn Sucitto, (16th-25th Nov 2007) but there's no denying he knows his stuff. I see him as a bit 'clunky' socially. But he's got a really excellent grasp of the methods and details of the practice. He teaches extensively. I just don't 'warm' to him or something.

I think I like sister Ajahn Metta (19th-21st Oct 2007) but my memory is lousy so I don't remember her very well.

Sister Ajahn Candasiri (28th-30th Sept 2007) is an old hand. Very gentle and unassuming. But I think I prefer the slightly more energized 'wilder' types. That's just me. She knows her stuff though, and she keeps her skills hidden under her hat, so to speak. No doubt she has had a very weird journey since she's been doing all this stuff.

Luang Por Sumedho (7th-16th Sept 2007) is very advanced no doubt. Again for some reason I'm not drawn to him. Although I can see he's very far down the road. It must be weird seeing the world through his eyes. It would be an experience to do a reteat with him, but he always 'sells out' very quickly. Theres a lottery for places to be drawn on the 1st of jan if you feel like trying for it.

Ajahn Sundara sounds interesting (13th july to 17th July 2007) as she has a colorful past and has traveled quite a bit.

Again, for reasons I can't really explain I find a lot of the non monastic teachers at Gaia house a bit disappointing. They have a completely different presence. The monastics seem to have much better/ stronger energy. But what do I know? That's just my guess. I'm not exactly an expert!

If I wanted to get 'in' with a bunch of monastics today, I would just spend weekends as a visitor at amaravati so I could get to know the nuns that way. I would go there for weekend retreats.
But I would LOVE to get to know the monks at Harnham. I would go up at an unpopular time. December is good because its freezing. And I would see what happens. For all I know they get LOADS of visitors, but I have a feeling they are a cool bunch. In it for pretty good reasons. Just a hunch though. Again, what do I know!

You know, the thing is just to try things out yourself and see what works.

Reality is weird with a capital W! Watch this: BBC Horizon: INFINITE numbers of Parallel Universes..

To watch this simply type in 'horizon parallel universes' into Google Video search and the English programme should come up with Italian subtitles. Unless someone puts the 'normal' one on this site as well without subtitles. Makes no difference though. So the Italian version will do nicely!

Some blurb about the programme from the BBC Horizon page....
Horizon: BBC Two 9.00pm Thursday 14 February 2002
Everything you're about to read here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it's all true.

Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe - in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter. Some of them may even contain you, in a slightly different form. Astonishingly, scientists believe that these parallel universes exist less than one millimetre away from us. In fact, our gravity is just a weak signal leaking out of another universe into ours.

The same but different
For years parallel universes were a staple of the Twilight Zone. Science fiction writers loved to speculate on the possible other universes which might exist. In one, they said, Elvis Presley might still be alive or in another the British Empire might still be going strong. Serious scientists dismissed all this speculation as absurd. But now it seems the speculation wasn't absurd enough. Parallel universes really do exist and they are much stranger than even the science fiction writers dared to imagine.

Greater dimensions
It all started when superstring theory, hyperspace and dark matter made physicists realise that the three dimensions we thought described the Universe weren't enough. There are actually 11 dimensions. By the time they had finished they'd come to the conclusion that our Universe is just one bubble among an infinite number of membranous bubbles which ripple as they wobble through the eleventh dimension.

A creative touch
Now imagine what might happen if two such bubble universes touched. Neil Turok from Cambridge, Burt Ovrut from the University of Pennsylvania and Paul Steinhardt from Princeton believe that has happened. The result? A very big bang indeed and a new universe was born - our Universe. The idea has shocked the scientific community; it turns the conventional Big Bang theory on its head. It may well be that the Big Bang wasn't really the beginning of everything after all. Time and space all existed before it. In fact Big Bangs may happen all the time.

Of course this extraordinary story about the origin of our Universe has one alarming implication. If a collision started our Universe, could it happen again? Anything is possible in this extra-dimensional cosmos. Perhaps out there in space there is another universe heading directly towards us - it may only be a matter of time before we collide.

Calling all DOORMATS: Don't confuse being DEFENSIVE and SHIRTY with 'Sticking up for yourself'

Doormats (ie people who LACK ASSERITVENESS SKILLS) nearly ALWAYS have a problem with ANGER. Especially when they begin to realize they are being doormats.
Women can be the WORST offenders in this category. Not always. But its a common mistake I see women making.
Sort out your anger ladies!!! Life is TOO SHORT!!!

'Proper' assertiveness is VERY CALM. Not NEUROTIC, or AGITATED.
Just a sincere desire to re-establish arrangements in such a way as to cause least friction.
If you are full of resentment. SAY NOTHING!! You will only say something that makes you look like an uptight old bag. Which is not attractive I can tell you!
So, if you are angry, stay away till you have stopped frothing at the mouth!, and then ask politely for a different arrangement.
I've seen this SO many times with women that perceive themselves to have been 'victims' and want to try to be attentive.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Like any new skill, you will do it BADLY to begin with. But don't worry, you'll get better!

What assertiveness isn't:
Defensive. Aggressive. Shirty. Agitated, Rancor, Accusatory. Sarcastic. Blaming. Indignant. Pissed off. Narky. Arsey. Smart ass. Flustered. Knickers in a twist. Frothing at the mouth.

What assertiveness is:
Calm. Un neurotic. Clear. Unflustered

Here's some definitions:

excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings.
Psychology Constantly protecting oneself from criticism, exposure of one's shortcomings, or other real or perceived threats to the ego.

Shirty: Bad-tempered; irritable; cranky.

Sarcasm is SNEERING, jesting, or MOCKING a person, situation or thing. It is strongly associated with irony, with some definitions classifying it as a type of verbal irony INTENEDED TO INSULT OR WOUND -- stating the opposite of the intended meaning, e.g. using "that's amazing" to mean "that's awful". It is used in a humorous manner, often harshly, and is expressed through vocal intonations such as over-emphasizing the actual statement or particular words. Use of sarcasm is sometimes viewed as an expression of CONCEALED ANGER

As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from AGGRESSION and PASSIVITY. How people deal with personal boundaries; their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or otherwise unduly influence them. They are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that RESPECTS THE PERSONAL BOUNDARIES OF OTHERS. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions.
Link here

60% of those diagnosed with HIV in the UK are in London. That's about FOURTY TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE.

So dating in London SHOULD take on a very 'distinctive' slant, in terms of HEALTH RISK. Be careful out there!!!!!

BBC London's Matt Barbet
"60% of those diagnosed with HIV in the UK are in London"
Link here

There are now over 70,000 people living with HIV in the UK, including 7,450 new HIV infections last year
Friday, 24 November 2006, BBC
Link here

The number of HETEROSEXUALLY ACQUIRED HIV infections diagnosed in the UK has risen hugely over the last 15 years. In 1999, for the first time, THE RATE OF HETEROSEXUALLY ACQUIRED HIV DIAGNOSES OVERTOOK the rate of diagnoses in men who have sex with men. During 2005, there were 3,839 reports of heterosexually acquired HIV, and a total of 32,361 had been reported by the end of June 2006.
Link here

Women are biologically more vulnerable to HIV. THEY ARE TWICE AS LIKELY TO CONTRACT HIV FROM UNPROTECTED SEX WITH MEN, and young women are most vulnerable to infection.
From: Aids: a feminist issue by Bianca Jagger in the Guardian.
Link here

An "increasing pool" of people in the UK are living with HIV and Aids, official statistics show.
The Health Protection Agency says around 63,500 UK adults were living with HIV in 2005 - with as many as a third unaware of their infection.
Link here

Record rise in Scottish HIV rates
New cases were up 11% on the previous year - the biggest rise ever seen north of the border, they claimed.
Friday, 1 December 2006,
Link here

Across the UK, heterosexual women account for 35% of new diagnoses of HIV - nearly twice figure in 1996
Heterosexuals represent 54% of new HIV diagnoses, with 85% infections acquired outside UK

Although sex between men and, in a minority of countries, injecting drug use remain important routes for HIV transmission, UNPROTECTED HETERSEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS PLAYING A INCREASINGLY SIGNIFICANT ROLE
Not enough resources are being allocated to deal with the rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a specialist in the field has said.
"It is an absolute tragedy," Dr Maw told BBC radio's Good Morning Ulster.
"The government targets would be 48 hours - our present access is well over SIX WEEKS for a ROUTINE appointment, even URGENT appointments have to wait for OVER A WEEK.
Link here

One of my favorite 'tricks' I use at the moment..

You know the term 'someone living rent free in your head?
You know when you have an unsatisfactory conversation, and leave it, only to continue the conversation in your head. Only this time imagining what you would have said DIFFERENT. So that you 'win' the argument?

Ok well this 'trick' is a bit like that. Its an imaginary conversation. Of sorts.

Sometimes when I haven't really figured out what's 'wrong'. I rehearse conversations in my head when I try to explain what is 'wrong'. This is really just for my benefit. Because I need to 'hear it out', to see what I make of it. Whether or not the 'disturbed part of me' is actually making any sense or not. When do this, I would describe the exchange as fairly exasperated. There's a lot of energy being used to try to get to the bottom of the thing. And because there is something that disturbs me or bothers me, the 'tone' of the voice I hear explaining itself, if often quite exasperated, or pitiful, or despairing. Anyway I just thought I would explain it as I want you to get a picture of what these 'inner conversations' are like.
When I have these conversations, I'm not sure who it is they are directed to. A understanding fair minded person perhaps? Nobody in particular. The motive is to make sense of the feelings I am experiencing.

My 'trick' is that I have the conversation described above, but that I switch the 'identity' of the person speaking my thoughts.

I imagine someone I love and admire / hold dear saying the things I AM CURRENTLY THINKING. My beliefs about myself and my life. Its like I'm observing a conversation except THEY are uttering the words I hear in my head. articulating MY thoughts.

I LOVE this 'trick'. I've been using it quite a lot lately. I find it very moving.

'Thrashing about' is a prelude to growth

Thrashing about in early recovery is pretty normal. not even remotely atypical.
In later recovery it's a HEALTHY sign that you are challenging some deeply held 'old ideas'.
I can STILL feel pulled in two separate directions, 20 years on! There is always SOME sort of pull toward sabotage and another towards hope and a better life. I may not think of drinking (I don't AT ALL as a matter of fact), but the proverbial 'devil' on the one shoulder and the 'angel on the other, is just a STANDARD FEATURE of the human condition. I just think it gets played out more dramatically in early recovery.
Its' important to be honest about whatever is bothering you. that's what honesty is. telling the truth, without worrying what others think. It's a VERY valuable skill.
As long as I continue to grow and challenge my old ways of looking at things, I experience that 'thrashing about' to SOME extent. so you're in good company!
So for those of who who have (wrongly) concluded you are 'off course' because you are experiencing this, don't!. I think you're getting there, no doubt about it! Just keep on keepin on, and all that..

Impulse Control: Restraint of tongue and pen: Harmful speech

The trick is to not believe the anger even when it seems REALLY compelling. Sometimes the best I can do is stay away from conversation with the person I'm mad at till the 'dust settles' and I realize what an idiot I've been.

Restraint of tongue and pen is a VERY powerful practice. highly revered amongst Buddhist monastics. except they call it a 'precept'. their words for it are 'no harmful speech'. it is recognized amongst senior practitioners as being one of THE MOST DIFFICULT aspects of the practice to follow. this is why I have SO much respect for this AA 'instruction'.

If I 'failed' and regretted what I had said..
I would admit it was a foolish and inconsiderate thing to say, regardless of what prompted it, and that I would resolve not to speak in that fashion again.

Justifying 'harmful speech' AFTER the event in an attempt to save face:
Justifying behavior that others find unpleasant (even if you're right) makes others think that you will do it again in future, with a new justification. So I always try to avoid that if possible.

We ALL make STUPID mistakes!

There's no excuse for being a 'victim' over the Xmas holidays

The holidays are what you make it. Not someone else…you! Guilt is your responsibility. No one can make you feel guilty. No doubt they can help with their friendly reminders but they can’t make you.
Rhonda Britten - "Fearless Year Ebook"

'No victims only volunteers' as they say. Do your own thing! Doesn't matter what it is! 'To thine own self be true'

Just Pedal

At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him.

But later on, when I met God, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back, helping me pedal. I don't know when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable... It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal." I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey...and we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight."

So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light. I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with God as my delightful constant companion. And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore, He just smiles and says, "Pedal."

Shamelessly borrowed from Daaves blog.
Daave finds some FABULOUS stuff, I'll give you that.
I REALLY like this passage. I'm making it one of my 'favorites'. Its very VERY good.
I don't know about you but this is the closest description I have found of my relationship with my higher power. I would not describe it as 'cozy', because it asks me to step out of my comfort zone and old ideas. Spiritual growth really does feel like this. And the presence of love feels absolutely like this.
For those of you who have yet to experience a SANE, SUPPORTIVE relationship with another human being, this is a good example of what love feels like. It CHALLENGES us but at the same time, IS A COMFORT. But not necessarily in the way we expect it to be! The other may not agree with us, they may not sit back while we make excuses for not trying. They very often disagree, BUT IN A LOVING LIGHTHEARTED WAY.
Bad news for all the self-centered people out there who thought being loved meant they 'got their own way' all the time. Far from it! Real love is VERY CHALLENGING. There are no days off! And bullshitting doesn't work either!
This passage is a total blessing. It explains so much.

The Greatest Gift

Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can' t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together .

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

I've shamelessly borrowed this from Rex's Blog .
I find this useful as it describes a type of thinking which I think is a very natural consequence of practicing the aa programme. This type of thinking should become more standard as time goes on. I find the best way to cultivate this mindset is to talk to newcomers and try to be helpful generally. Everyone has a 'story'. Even the 'grotty' people. You'd be surprised what you find out about people if you approach them with an attitude of service.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A good 'study' of what I would call 'toxic shame'

And the redeeming power of love!

Friday 1st Dec Afternoon Play on Radio 4
You have until next Friday to 'listen again' to this broadcast. As they keep them online or 7 days.
See the right hand links menu for the radio 4 afternoon play link.

Wooden Heart: Hattie Naylor's drama is based on the true stories of Jenisch gypsy children who were forcibly removed from their parents by the Swiss authorities.

I'm a big fan of the afternoon play as it sometimes touches on some powerful emotional themes. Not always. But the good ones are very good.

I think its always useful to see these conditions as objectively as possible and stories sometimes help us do that. I loved this story. I think its very emotionally 'accurate', for want of a better word. That always impresses me when someone manages to capture an aspect of the human condition faithfully.
What I particularly like is the way the story shows the 'ordinariness' of the child's acceptance of her lot. This frequently happens with kids. People make the mistake of thinking kids deal really well with things because they do not appear to be passing judgment on their situation, but I see that as wrong. They are in pain, its just they don't realize that they are being persecuted and that they have a right to object. Obviously not all children are like this, but most take the blame for cruel treatment, or chaos around them. Whatever. The story explains it a lot better than I ever could.