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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some great quotes..

Some great quotes that Ajahn Brahm makes quite often.. I loved some of these so I thought I would share them. He has the standard 'This too will pass', but I include it just to demonstrate the similarities between what he is talking about and AA I suppose. I love step 11 practitioners. Well not ALL of them, but I occasionally am very inspired by them. Some of these are gems. I love em :)
btw Ajahn Brahm has loads of talks on youtube on the BuddhistSocietyWA's Channel if you ? like that kind of thing. I find them very helpful for getting a good nights sleep during exams :)
Anyway, Hope you are having a volcanic dust-free weekend :) Meanwhile here's the quotes:

Whatever you think it's going to be..
It will always be something different.

"Never allow your knowledge to stand in the way of truth."

"The secret to life is... Everything is out of control"

"Pushing the wheelbarrow is easy, its the thinking about it that is hard"

"Suffering is asking from the world what it can never give you"

"The door of my heart will always be open to you, no matter what you did, who you are."

We should always be grateful for the faults in our partner because if they didn't have those faults from the start, they would have been able to marry someone much better than us.

How many times should you forgive someone? Always "one more time."

There is no right or wrong decision, only a decision with consequences

"What is the Law of Khamma in short? You get everything you deserve."

"This is good enough"

"A Busy person is not someone who has lots to do...Busy person is someone who does too many things at the same time"

"The purpose of life is finding the purpose of life"

Anger comes from frustrated plans..

Less expectations..Less Anger...

"When you expect less you can appreciate more"

What's the challenge in loving someone who's perfect?

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, if he gets angry, he's a mile away and barefoot.

"Teach your child two things - teach him to be honest and to question."

"Complaining is finding faults, wisdom is finding solutions"

Better to Light a Candle than Complain about the Darkness

"It's very compelling, very attractive to have a big daddy in the sky or a big mummy in the sky who will actually make sure that everything is okay for you and will make sure that all your problems disappear... BUT, you know, we're grown up now."

"When the stock market goes down, spiritual values go up."

Buddhist aircon: When it's cold outside, keep a warm heart. When it's warm outside, keep a cool head.

"Don't allow others to control your Happiness"

This too will pass.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Wings of desire: What it must be like to listen in to the thoughts of others

Wings of desire is a lovely film about 'Angels that walk the earth'. I am not saying it reflects reality in exactly the way I see it, but I like the insight into the private thoughts of passers-by in this film. I know that the longer I am sober and the more successfully I am able to communicate with others, that lots of things become apparent that were not apparent before. I feel I can read between the lines. I believe I can see where people are coming from much better than before. Even when they insist on chattering aimlessly about nothing in particular. I think we are very fortunate to get this ability to connect better with our fellow human beings as a by-product of recovery.
This film reminds me of how it feels to be around people who give the impression that they can see right through people. In a good way :) Another version of the same film is City of Angels. Both films have their moments. This film makes me wonder what my perception of humans would be if I could listen in to the thoughts and feelings of others. I like to think that I would feel nothing but compassion for the human condition if I could see that much. It would be a very humbling insight into our shared condition.

What's great about this film is that it is an intimate and vulnerable portrait of the inner landscape. Of the private thoughts people think nobody else knows about. In the course of various Step 11 experiences I have been lucky enough to be around people who made me feel completely transparent because they had such a high level of insight. At first I found it very embarrassing. It feels as though one has no mental or emotional privacy. These people gave me the impression that they can see right through me. So there was no point in trying to disguise anything I was thinking or feeling. (Whether they could or couldn't was by the by, the effect it had on me was what got my attention.)
This is part of the reason I recommend going on step 11 retreats so highly. Because it exposes you to people with a sufficiently high level of insight to completely see through your BS. And like I say, it first it seems uncomfortable, then very !!!! humbling. I suppose I really like it now. I prefer having no place to hide. But it's a very !! good way to get in touch with your humility. :)

I am much more aware of my petty internal responses to things than I was before. I didn't used to notice it nearly so much, but being around people who saw through my ? BS made me notice lots of slightly dodgy thoughts rumbling around in the background that I hadn't picked up on before. Plus lots of crazy rationalizations that I didn't even notice I had. Oh well. The unflattering thoughts don't go away, but I feel significantly more reconciled with my humanity. I feel very lucky to have had this experience.
It taught me a huge respect for logical questioning of what I am thinking. In the past I used to think that I needed to "understand". Now I just think I have to NOTICE things instead of letting them pass me by. I find that when I try to 'understand' things, my mind is invariably drawn towards the things I WANT to think about, (ie ego-massaging BS) as opposed to the things I SHOULD be looking at. (ie ego-puncturing observations)

The process started in AA. And continues because people always reflect something back to me that I hadn't seen before or hadn't noticed. Always some sort of new ? 'wake up call'. So I always end up coming face-to-face with something that reflected back that I wasn't expecting. It just seems to be more and more ego-puncturing experiences. Brings me face to face with the inner surges of the 'fight-to-the-death' ego. It would be so !!! lovely to have no ego. It encourages me to see some people manage to have made quite a bit of headway in that direction. Thank god it is not a lost cause :)
I find egolessness an incredibly beautiful characteristic in a person. I hope to be able to emulate some of the egoless people I have been lucky enough to meet sometime. There would be no 'self-will' left to break. Nothing between me and the ability to harmonize with others.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

14 years Sober. Relapse. Dead within a week.

Went to a meeting where a local guy shared that someone he knew from way back, (and had always spoken to fairly regularly), relapsed after 14 years and was dead within a week.
I didn't get the chance to find out if it's somebody I know, but I suspect it isn't, but you never know. It was a very sobering indictment of the importance of remaining vigilant / fit spiritual condition, and continuing to be willing to go to any lengths in order to face up to one's weaknesses and destructive habitual tendencies on a daily basis. It was very sad.
Another lady in the meeting discovered she had a serious cancer diagnosis in the previous week, which brings up to 3 the number of people who I have recently run into, who are undergoing tests of some sort for various cancer scares.
Nobody said life ever stopped happening when you get sober. It absolutely doesn't. None of us know what is round the corner.

I was very moved by the opportunity to be in the presence of people with real problems, and it felt precious having the opportunity to sit in a room with people who feel they have the permission to talk about these things freely, and share their burden.
I feel sorry for people who say they don't want to go to AA meetings anymore. I love going to them, and I love the opportunities for service that they provide. Each meeting shows me something about myself and about my attitudes to my fellow man, and allows me to stop and consider how I am responding to people places and things, and that insight is invaluable. I love being part of the tide of humanity.
It doesn't matter how long I've been around. I'm always touched and moved by being part of a group of alcoholics doing their lousy best to get well.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Online Privacy: I don't recommend Facebook to anyone. Delete as much as possible.

Having heard about some recent development in Google indexing, I decided to e-mail some people who I thought might have their online privacy compromised by their activity on Facebook. I had a look at the laughably titled "privacy policy" and the equally disturbing "statements of rights and responsibilities". I was so disturbed by the information I collected that I immediately e-mailed quite a few people who I thought might want to delete as much written or posted data from Facebook as possible.

The reason I thought I would mention this here, was because us alcoholics have the 'gift of the gab' as we like to say in Ireland. The upshot is that due to the years of talking very ! frankly in AA meetings, means we've become very verbally expressive and we are excellent communicators. This is ! fantastic when it comes to certain professions such as becoming a salesperson or becoming a competent board member who can express themselves well in group situations. But this has a down side in relation to things like Facebook. In my opinion anyway. This verbal dexterity can !! absolutely backfire on AA members if they are not careful. As while the rest of the population keeps schtum and says virtually nothing, apart from the occasional ? dodgy photo that gets posted after a drunken party, AAs are FAR more likely to say just about ? whatever they are thinking.
Also if there are any who have decided not to be anonymous AA members on facebook, the new indexing may have blown their anonymity permanently if they (even once) referred to their AA membership on a FB 'page' using their real name.

None of this would matter if the privacy rights of Facebook users were better. Unfortunately in my opinion they are ! DIRE.
A development in February 2010 exposed every written word on anything other than a persons "wall" to Google indexing. This appears to have been done without notifying Facebook users, as I can see no reference to this in the recent amendments to the privacy policy which attracted a lot of press attention due to the potential abuses of privacy rights.
The upshot is that unless you really !!! really want to leave a permanent Google trail linked to your name of everything you've ever posted on Facebook, do one of two things. Either confine what you write exclusively to people's walls, as opposed to pages.
Or else delete as much material linked to your name as possible and use Facebook in its most minimal sense.

Re PAGES. This is any group or fan page or ? anything other than a 'Wall'
If by ? any chance you have written anything on a FB page on Facebook, Delete it. As soon as possible. Why? Because all this material is being archived (as we speak) on Google next to your name and you will not be able to delete it at a later point. Meaning a Google search will reveal this material next to your name eventually. The sooner you delete this material the better. The process has been underway since February 2010 so the process is not yet complete. There is still time to delete comments before they are cached permanently.
Unless you are certain that the person's Wall you are writing on has VERY restrictive privacy settings, do not write anything on it. Email them instead. Same reason as above.
Re Writers who use Facebook
There are serious IP issues regarding anything you write as effectively you lose your intellectual property rights as soon as you say anything on Facebook. Although ownership doesn't pass to FB, Facebook acquires a licence to use the information whenever they like, which amounts to the same thing. So if you're planning on writing a novel or poetry or ?anything, be aware that you are granting a licence to Facebook any time you write that material on Facebook.
Photographs on Facebook
Precisely the same rules apply to photographs and pictures or videos. Any material you upload to Facebook, automatically grants Facebook permission in the form of an unlimited licence to use that material.
In an ideal world, the best thing would be to delete your FB account altogether.

So I hope perhaps I've given you an idea of why I don't recommend Facebook to !!! anyone, and I suggest that anybody who has a Facebook account, delete as !!! much material as they !!! possibly can. The priority regarding deletion is any written material on pages, and 'walls' without restrictive privacy settings. Because these are the pages that are now indexed by Google as of 25th February 2010. Now that I've looked at the terms and conditions, I find Facebook very sinister and unpleasant. I cannot recommend strongly enough, that the less written, picture, or any other interaction with the FB institution the better.
Perhaps privacy is a lost cause, but I really dislike infringements into privacy, so I have a ! very strong personal dislike for surreptitious invasions into personal material by institutions. The same google indexing concerns extend to twitter, myspace etc, but I thought I would mention FB first as it gets by FAR the most use. So apply the same reasoning to other online activity where your identity is revealed.

Generally speaking. I would say ALWAYS opt out of online databases OF ANY KIND, such as the heavily criticized UK healthcare database they are trying to set up for Londoners at present, and re social networking, delete as MUCH as possible. Ideally delete the social networking account altogether. Same goes for invitations to participate in DNA databases. Or any optional database really.
Oh yes, For the attention of those in the Greater London area ONLY. You have until 11th June to submit an Opt Out form to your GP in order to NOT have all your personal information including mobile phone number, address etc left on a laughably insecure UK government database called the SUMMARY CARE RECORD. If any of you are lucky enough to know anyone who works in computer security, ask them what they think. I have yet to meet one who is comfortable with this kind of online security. But each to their own. Thats just what I've discovered by asking around, and doing a little research. Whatever.

Right!! I should be !!! studying so, much as I would like to blather on about Facebook, and other dodgy databases I really should start organising my day.
I hope you managed not to eat your body weight in chocolate over Easter. Not an easy task! I am considering whether to go for a much longer than average run in order to mitigate the damage incurred by overzealous cake consumption over Easter :) I need a cup of tea first though :) I hope you have a !!!! lovely Easter Monday :)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The hardest question is "What is the most helpful thing to do?"

"Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough" p97 AA Big Book
"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful." p102 AA Big Book
"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our CONSTANT thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." p20 AA Big Book
“How can I best serve Thee-Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us CONSTANTLY"
'p85 AA Big Book

For a long time I have thought that the question "what is the MOST helpful thing to do?" Is THE most difficult question to answer. For me it is the most challenging question. It demands the highest levels of intelligence. It involves looking at the obvious and the intangible. And I don't think it can ever be fully understood. I just do my lousy best knowing that I will never see the whole picture. If I waited until I KNEW what was the 'right' thing to say to a newcomer, before I tried to help, I would STILL be waiting :) But having said that I paid VERY close attention to the way in which members of my home group (with a high long-term success rate of sponsee recovery) spoke to newcomers and sponsees. So I WAS doing my utmost to learn from the example of others.

MOST helpful as opposed to just 'helpful':
"sometimes the good is the enemy of the best" Tradition Two
"maximum helpfulness" p102 AA Big Book

Part of the reason I think we learn so much, and benefit so much from trying to help others via Step 12 is that we are confronted with this question every day if we are TRYing to 'give it away to keep it', or practice these principles in all our affairs. (Step 12 Big Book )
I agonise over this question. That doesn't mean I over-think the question. That means I am very concerned about how I answer that question.
Anyway I just thought I would mention that.
I believe step 12 offers us the steepest learning curve imaginable because it exposes us to this question constantly.
I also think I have benefited HUGELY from Step 12, and I believe it has healed me in all sorts of ways and provided me with great blessings. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is suffering.

My favourite old-timer used to quote "the greatest good for the greatest number." And I think he appeared to me to be living his life based on this principle.
The reason I drew the conclusion was because he was able to help a LOT of people because he chose to develop a way of carrying the message that was VERY efficient. The brevity and conciseness off his choice of words meant that he was able to help more people than less. And to this day I regularly meet people who might not be sober were not for his intervention, either directly, or as a result of the help offered by his sponsees or sponsees of his sponsees. So my limited understanding of what he contributed was that he was one of those members who "rendered prodigies of service." (From Step 12 in the 12x12).
Obviously that's just my perception and I could be wrong, but that's how it looked to me. And I find his example very helpful to this day when considering how to try (!) to be of maximum helpfulness to others.

I have a mini retreat to attend which involves a very early start tomorrow, so my brain will be getting both a workout and simultaneously a rest from it's perpetual restlessness which can only be a good thing :) Hope you all have a restful and peaceful Easter Sunday :)