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, June 30, 2007

Easy Does it: Wear life like a loose garment, not a hair shirt!

I LOVE these Malibu ads as they really communicate the 'There are NO big deals' mindset VERY clearly. This one is about trying to get into a club.
Our lives REALLY DO depend on us really learning not to take things too seriously. If you value your life or your sanity I suggest you learn how to practice 'Easy Does It' in ALL your affairs. It is VERY important!
People sometimes overlook the slogans, but they are a VITAL part of the programme.

Easy Does it: Wear life like a loose garment, not a hair shirt!

I LOVE these Malibu ads as they really communicate the 'There are NO big deals' mindset VERY clearly. This one is about trying to park.
Our lives REALLY DO depend on us really learning not to take things too seriously. If you value your life or your sanity I suggest you learn how to practice 'Easy Does It' in ALL your affairs. It is VERY important!
People sometimes overlook the slogans, but they are a VITAL part of the programme.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Stop Fighting!: Variations on the notion of wrestling with pigs

If you know me , you will know one of my favorite old timers sayings is: "Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it." which I have already posted about here.

This comment just seems to say the same thing:
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Friedrich Nietzsche:

Here's another one:
"What you resist, persists".

And of course, last but not least, the AA version:
Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to! p103
(and after completing step 9..)
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. p85

Regarding "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster."

See I think this is saying, by wrestling the demon, you make the demon stronger. To 'win' you have to stop 'resisting' the 'demon', acceptance really, as opposed to judgment and hatred, and pushing away. In the context of shadow work, this is called 'owning' our shadow, or 'integrating' our shadow.

Its not the same as indulgence. Its a delicate point of balance between repression and indulgence. The 'demon; doesn't get to run riot. We just stop hating and disowning it. There's a difference. Basically we are replacing judgment with compassion, and in doing so, create a MUCH more stable and powerful psyche. Whatever, that's just what I think. I generally think that any UN-integrated aspect is a bit like a loose cannon. But there you go. We simply cannot be at 'war' with any aspect, because we split bits of ourselves off if we do that, and those random floating bits of energy are left unaccounted for. Wild things let loose. They are FAR better off under our surveillance. Right id better be off before I go on and ON about this..

Regarding " And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
To me this is describing getting 'lost' in the 'problem'. This is just another word for indulgence. (as in an old post explaining Neither repression nor indulgence. ) Indulgence here means not restricting the expression of the 'shadow'. Sort of giving it free rein, all in the name of avoiding 'repression. That doesnt work i'm afraid. It NEEDS restraint!

A (better than I expected) Wikipedia page that attempts to explain Projection

This wikipedia page on Projection is pretty good.

Here are some bits I liked but I'll TRY !! and explain it in my own word in another post.

Projection (or projection bias) is a defense mechanism in which one attributes to others one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or/and emotions. Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted subconscious impulses/desires without letting the ego recognize them.

Peter Gay describes it as "the operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable—too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous—by attributing them to another."[1]

The concept was anticipated by Friedrich Nietzsche:
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Projection is the opposite defence mechanism to identification. We project our own unpleasant feelings onto someone else and blame them for having thoughts that we really have."

A defense mechanism in which the individual attributes to other people impulses and traits that he himself has but cannot accept. It is especially likely to occur when the person lacks insight into his own impulses and traits."

Attributing one's own undesirable traits to other people or agencies."

The individual perceives in others the motive he denies having himself.

Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest."

People attribute their own undesirable traits onto others.

An individual who possesses malicious characteristics, but who is unwilling to perceive himself as an antagonist, convinces himself that his opponent feels and would act the same way."

A (better than I expected) Wikipedia page that attempts to explain the Shadow

This wikipedia page on the shadow is pretty good. Not great, but its a start.

Here's a bit of what it says:
"It may be (in part) one's link to animal life, which is superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind; afterwards it comes to contain thoughts that are repressed by the conscious mind. According to Jung, the shadow is instinctive and irrational, but is not necessarily evil even when it might appear to be so. It can be both ruthless in conflict and empathetic in friendship. It is important as a source of hunches, for understanding of one's own more inexplicable actions and attitudes (and of others' reactions), and for learning how to accept and integrate the more problematic or troubling aspects of one's personality. (For example, see The Emperor's New Clothes."

The shadow also includes a bit of Psychological projection, but I'll do that in another post.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get with the Shadow or you'll end up a bit too 'tightly wrapped' or ? Oblivious/Careless

In my opinion anyway.
Here's my ! Attempt to explain a thing I REALLY like. I gave up after a while, because it's VERY difficult to explain, but its better than nothing. Its a start.

Here's a bit by Robert Bly about how ?'processing' ones shadow affects ones 'authority'. Or perceived authority. I like this description as it communicates what I 'see' in others. Its a 'thing' I REALLY like to be around in other people.My favorite people have this quality. Anyway I just thought I would TRY !! To explain a bit about it. Not easy!

p54 A little book on the shadow', by Robert Bly.
"If a teacher has worked with his own shadow, she says that students, no matter how young they are, sense it, and discipline in that room will not be difficult, because the students know that the teacher has his crow with him. Other teachers, she says, who have not worked with their shadow, can talk about discipline all day and never get it. I like the idea that the work a person does on his or her shadow results in a condensation, a thickening or a denseing, of the psyche which is immediately apparent, and which results in a feeling of natural authority without the authority being demanded."

I must admit Sydney Poitier springs to mind in the film Dear Sir! But is not the best example. But it give you a clue as to what I think this passage refers to. Monks are 'dense' if that helps. Well the ones I like are anyway.

As far as the shadow goes, 'nice' is no good. There is no ? 'honesty' in 'nice'. A fuller appreciation of the 'depth and weight' of the human psyche, means 'nice' just does not 'fit'. Something a little more dense is requiired. Not wild and abandoned, just ? 'dense'. Dense is more honest. In my opinion. And I like being around dense people. The term I use for when people are NOT like this, is 'Sunny side up'. I actually find it pretty difficult to tolerate the company of people like that for very long. Its almost painful or something. Yeah, so there are some terms I use to describe it:

'Sunny side up'
'Tightly wrapped'
? 'Optimistic' - a more obviously STRAINED form of positive thinking.
There is always something a bit STRAINED about this ? manner. Whatever. I hope you understand what I mean, because I find this pretty hard to describe.
They do not look 'stable'. Not to me anyway.
It always looks like quite a lot of energy is required to maintain that ? Demeanor.
There is an energy of 'enforcement' about them.

This type of person I find DRAINING. Which is a shame, because there are a LOT of people that are like this.

The people I like are:
? 'Dense' (Meaning the way Robert Bly uses the word dense in the passage I mentioned earlier)
No evidence of 'strain'. More like 'loose garment' types.
No evidence of 'sunny side up'
No fear of the dark side of humanity.
Acceptance of the dark side. Peace.
Ability to have fun and enjoy the good things life has to offer.
It look as if there Is more of a 'steady cruise' of energy
There is an energy of 'containment' about them. No 'strained' energy.
They look 'safe'. 'stable'.

Some people are kindof relaxed, but a bit oblivious. People who have integrated their shadow, look ? Powerful and 'knowing'. They have a very ? Silent authority. An unspoken authority. It is felt, more than anything. It doesn't come from being impressed by words.
It is not ? TOO relaxed. Its is NOT casual. It is precise and considered, but not precious. Its like ballet really.
Also it is not ? 'grubby'. I see a lot of acceptance of very negative behavior in meetings. That is NOT an example of shadow work. Instead it is reckless acceptance of damaging and negative thought forms.

Jeez. I KNEW this would be hard to explain. Whatever. Theres an attempt. I see this as pretty important developmental work in ANY spiritual path, so that's why I mention it.
Hey did I tell you I don't do therapy? Just thought I'd chuck that one in, just to mess with your heads! Hahaa. Right I'm off. Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lousy posture? Pretend you're wearing a cloak!

Hey its an NLP trick I heard someplace. Some mind body spirit type thing. Its actually quite fun to do and is a dang site better than staring guiltily at the pavement or avoiding peoples eyes in crowded city centers whilst walking about. Alkies are great 'pavement-starers'. Gawd knows why.

I love those Americas/Britain's Next top model TV shows, because I love seeing people turn from 'caterpillars' into 'butterflies'. Ok, so they are all a bit ! mad, but the transformation is pretty impressive. Gives me hope!
Anyway it takes them AGES to learn how to walk right, (even with PROPER tuition) and trying to walk properly is a REALLY easy way to improve your appearance. I mean, what's the point of having really cool clothes if you slouch or cant stand up straight? Anyway, after watching those contestants really struggle to walk right, I thought it wouldn't do any harm to make more of an effort to have a good posture, and the old 'cloak' trick came to mind. Made me laugh, and I thought I'd share it.
NLP workshops cost a LOT of money you know, so I've saved you a few quid with that little tip!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Attraction not Promotion: Stop trying to talk people into getting well. It just winds them up.

"Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices." xxvi The doctors Opinion. The Big Book
"attraction rather than promotion" In ALL our affairs. PXIX. The Big Book

It's not for people that NEED it, its for people that WANT it.
Carry the message, not the alcoholic.

You cannot power-drive another person into accepting a viewpoint. You cannot insist, persuade, cajole, debate. It just doesn't work. Its only when we stop pressurizing others or trying to control how they see things that they are able to consider what we are telling them with any degree of impartially.

Its not easy to learn. It takes a LOT of self restraint, but it CAN be done. Its all part of learning the TRUE nature of powerlessness.

Having said that, VERY occasionally I will make an exception. There are 2 types that spring to mind. When I think they will drink in a very short time, or if I think the disease might very well kill them at some point in the future. Only then will I consider making an exception. Has to be life or death really. And even then I don't like doing it. But I think that's another post really..

But if they really do want to drink, there is nothing I can do that will make any difference. But I say it anyway. It eases my conscience to know I tried to say SOMETHING, just in case they do die because of alcoholism at a later date.
In a city this size, people die quite a lot from this illness, so if at some point in the future this disease DOES kill them, I like to think that I did as much as I was able to do to help them. That's all. Otherwise my conscience would give me a hard time.

Steps 6 and 7

For me step 6 and 7 are VERY fast. Its step 5 that can take FOREVER. Sometimes. 30 2hour sessions per Sponsee. One appt per week. at the end of that they have NO desire to retain ANY of their defects. They are utterly SICK of them. It was the same for me as I recall. I was SO sick of them by the end of Step 5. I just wanted to see the back of them. they all looked so pointless. they had lost all their allure and any semblance of usefulness. Once you see what a pile of duds they are, they just never look appealing after that.
Doesn't mean I don't get caught up in them from time to time. just means I can see that they are no use to me anymore, even when I do get caught up.
All I did for 6 and 7 was say the Step 7 prayer with my sponsor at the end of step 5.

Australia: Alcoholism accounts for a quarter of deaths in the Northern Territory

From an article in the Guardian on Thursday June 21, 2007.Click here to see the whole article:

Alcohol kills an Aborigine every 38 hours and accounts for a quarter of deaths in the Northern Territory.

"There is a strong association between alcohol abuse, violence and sexual abuse of children."

They are consistently the nation's most disadvantaged group, with far higher rates of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence.

The child abuse report, Little Children Are Sacred, released last week, found drinking was a key contributor to the collapse of Aboriginal culture and neglect of children, and created opportunities for paedophiles.

From another article in the Guardian on Thursday June 21, 2007. Click here to see the whole article:

"It is absolutely clear that unless we take on and overcome the abuse of alcohol and the harm it causes the Aboriginal people, then the Aboriginal people and their cultures are likely to disappear within a generation or so," the inquiry found.

The authors visited 45 Aboriginal communities and found crime had been cut by 70% in areas where pubs had been shut.

"The inquiry believes that extreme alcohol abuse has become normal in the Northern Territory and the devastating effects on children are rapidly increasing.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No such thing as a free lunch

Before I started going to the gym, I really thought that people who were in good shape just had more exercise-type bodies, or higher metabolisms. It NEVER crossed my mind that they just ate a LOT less than I did and really pushed themselves to go to the gym every day.
Well I put some weight on while I was studying, and its only since my exams that I've got back to more of a 'normal' routine. Thank GOD the fat % has dropped. A bit. But my GOD, It makes you realize how much you can let things slide. This time around, I've noticed that some foods are just making me feel ILL, so I've cut them out. Even I am surprised how few foods really 'work'. This is what I have discovered. Here are some things that I CANNOT eat (at the moment anyway) without putting on weight and feeling, fat, bloated, and generally EXHAUSTED.

Honey. And other sugars.
Bread, Wheat.
Potatoes and other high GI veg.
High Gi fruits.
Fruit juice
Processed foods

What I CAN eat:
Raw vegetables
Unroasted nuts. Seeds.
Whole wheat brown rice
Spelt stuff
Cherries. They are low gi. And other low gi fruits.
Quorn occasionally. Yeah I know its processed, but it seems to be agreeing with me at the moment..
Meat VERY occasionally
Soya milk, and other non dairy milks

So there you go. Depressing isn't it?
Yeah on top of that, I have to go to the gym pretty much every day.
No wonder half the country is either becoming obese or in danger of heart disease and diabetes, if this is what I have to do to shift some fat. Oh yeah, and I only really eat once a day. (Admittedly quite a LOT once a day!) Crap isnt it? All those adverts and the stuff they sell you in supermarkets really make you think it is 'ok' to eat all that stuff. Yeah right! Dream on!
Anyway, the GOOD news is that I FINALLY feel a bit like my old self, even though I've still got quite a bit of work to get back to the way I was before I started all that study. But at least I am starting to feel a bit more normal. Thank GOD!
Why are there NO shortcuts or 'easier, softer ways' for ANYTHING in life???
Oh well. Never mind eh.
Yeah I know this is a high class problem, but I'm just a bit shocked at how draconian one has to be to shift a bit of weight and not feel exhausted these days. That's all. Us alkies. We do LOVE a shortcut don't we?

The programme is just common sense really. Nothing fancy.

Sponsees tend to be be very 'impressed' with AA in the beginning. They put people like me on pedestals, and tend to think there is something a bit like the 'holy grail' going on someplace. I should know. I thought the same when I was new. I don't anymore. I TRY (not always successfully I have to say) to NOT put people on pedestals any more. Nowadays I put step 11 (rather than AA) people on pedestals. And that's just as bad, as they are human too. Whatever.

I always say to Sponsees that the programme is little more than common sense, and that they just have a bit of catching up to do in the common sense department. And that when they get to step 9, they will think the AA programme is very 'ordinary'.
They just look at me blankly, like there is some GREAT secret to the whole thing. But they 'get it' later and DO decide the programme is just common sense. Recovery is very 'ordinary' despite the fact that the programme contains very unfathomable mystery ingredients, otherwise known as the higher power and the 'spiritual awakening'.

Its always a HUGE relief, when a Sponsee reaches that point when they take people in AA (including myself) OFF their pedestals, and decide that I am actually just very human, and on my own journey of discovery, Instead of thinking I am somebody that 'knows all the answers'. Phew!
When some one expects you to know the answers all the time, that is a TOTAL drag!

Challenging old ideas brings up a LOT of resistance!

Do you want to be RIGHT or do you want to be HAPPY?

For me, judgments and self-righteous complaints stem from 'old ideas' that need to be revised. I think things should be 'my way'. Which is BS!!! I can feel very compassionate, but as long as I think I am 'right', I don't really move forward. Accepting new ideas is by far the HARDEST thing for me to do. Especially the ones that are outside my comfort zone. I know its all down to fear in the end. But I HAVE to concede to my innermost self that I am WRONG and that I need to look at it a DIFFERENT way, in order to get past my judgments. Its not easy! Perhaps I am doing it all wrong, and that's why I'm not making as much progress in this area as I would like, but the desire to be RIGHT is pretty !!! Stubborn. Well I suppose I'm talking about fairly life long ideas here, so maybe that's why they are a bit stubborn!
Basically, I'm nearly always chipping away at some !!! Stubborn old belief that has outlived its usefulness.
Or perhaps I am just a bit stubborn. Gawd knows. But the desire to be right is VERY prevailing, and gets in the way of seeing reality THE WAY IT IS, instead of THE WAY I WANT IT TO BE.
As you can tell I also suffer from impatience as I would like to have my 'mind makeover' NOW!!! I have NO patience with the 'old' thinking once I have set my mind to something. Ah well. Rome wasn't built in a day..

Shame-free explanations about what EXACTLY is getting in the way

One of the things I have to do a LOT with Sponsees (in the past) is communicate to them IN TERMS THEY CAN UNDERSTAND, what I think is road blocking them, as often they cannot see it. I also am interested to see what they make of these ideas as I have no intention of following them around all the time to observe their behavior, !! so I NEED their feedback on what I think I see is going on with them. Sometimes I am dead right, sometimes I am not, especially if I have not spoken to them for a while, and have no idea what they have been up to,

I had about 40-50 refusals to sponsor me until my former sponsor capitulated, and not ONE of those refusals explained 'properly' why they didn't want to. I was convinced there was something I was doing wrong but I had NO ideas what it was, and they seemed reluctant to guiltlessly explain what the matter was. So if I ever feel I am not able to help someone, I feel I am doing them a HUGE favor if I explain EXACTLY why that is.

I just don't understand why people feel these character impediment are a problem. I see no shame in having them. Its neither here nor there. You just either have them or you don't. So I have shame free conversations with them about what is getting in the way.
I don't see them as either 'good or bad, right or wrong', but I DO know what makes sponsorship easy and what makes it difficult, so that IS easy to communicate. Some Sponsees are easier than others. I will have to do a post on how to be an 'easy' Sponsee..
I clearly was NOT an easy Sponsee when I was new, but I had to figure out what I was doing wrong all by myself, and I would have preferred if someone had told me, as I might have been able to get a sponsor more quickly than I did.

Avoiding Harmful Speech: Keep your mouth shut ! till you cool down

Generally I kind of shut up till I cool down. Works for me!

When you step outside your comfort zone, guess what happens? You get fearful, anxious, uncertain, irritable, fault finding, whatever! The duvet seems very appealing! I don't know about you, but I tend to look for reasons to revert to type rather than embrace a WHOLE NEW way of looking at things. Being outside your comfort zone (within reason) is actually a REALLY GOOD THING, but yeah it feels UNCOMFORTABLE!! Ah well, you can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs as they say..

So anger can be a GOOD sign as it tends to show up when you are venturing outside you comfort zone, but at the same time, anger pretty much ALWAYS tells me I am full of crap, and that I need to KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT till I have cooled down and am able to avoid what the Buddhists call 'harmful speech'.

Basically all words become POISON when I am angry. they are designed to hurt and punish, not heal. So I keep my mouth SHUT generally.
When I've cooled down, THEN I do the ''problem solving' with the situation that 'inflamed' me in the first place. You never really sort things out very well when you are heated, and getting heated is a very natural occurrence when you challenge your old ideas.

It's just the ego, thrashing about. Hold still!! Do not believe 'monkey mind'. It plays tricks on us you see.. Its aim is to keep us enslaved by the Ego (small mind). Basically its full of CRAP most of the time..

Avoiding angry people and Impulse Control

Jeez. I get as FAR away from angry people as I POSSIBLY can. I try to leave the room or area before they finish the FIRST angry sentence. If someone 'lost it' I would simply excuse myself. I CERTAINLY would not hang about or try to reason with them. The only times I seem to get caught out is when I am so shocked by their outburst that my mind goes a bit blank.

I hate to say it, but I find a LOT of AA's behavior pretty disappointing. Obviously there are some REAL kindnesses exchanged within AA. Lots of fellowship, service and all that. But when push comes to shove, and you unwittingly trigger their 'stuff', there can be a real ! lack of impulse control, a real lack of self restraint when it comes to 'reining in' their angry impulses. Some AA's think they are being 'honest' by expressing their anger at a situation. Its a bit f***ed up really. Of course there are the doormat or repressed types too, but they are angry too, just not expressing it openly. If they feel 'safe' enough to vent their reservations with you, it can be pretty unpleasant! I just don't 'buy' that concept of 'honesty'. It's a personal attack. Nothing more.

You know what though? I suffer from the SAME kind of defensive irrationality when exposed to certain triggers. But then I am pretty messed up emotionally, compared to more ? normal types. I can experience overpowering internal upheavals when a fundamental core belief is challenged. The difference between me and AA's who act out when they feel angry, is that I do not TRUST anger. I know it means I am full of s**t and it will keep me blind. Keep me stuck. It is because I WANT to move on that I am willing to NOT give in to it. Besides, I know I will go off course if I allow myself to get dragged along by the current. Its called MORAL RESTRAINT. Its actually VERY important. So much hinges on 'keeping our side of the street clean'. Well I think so.

Denial is just plain weird, and in order to overcome it, we have to not 'give in' to the anger, and let it run riot through the system. Only then do we have a chance to come to our senses and see what an idiot we have been. Once I have cooled down I think my anger was utter madness, embarrassing and pathetic. But that moment comes much sooner rather than later if I REFUSE to act on it. That's my best chance. Anger is like hot metal, not easy to handle! It requires some impulse control!

I suppose I like to think of myself as a 'strong vessel', able to contain pretty powerful emotional states without flinching, so to speak. That's one of the best things step 11 has given me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Check out this new AA Recovery Blog. My kind of guy!

It's a cool long time sober Buddhist AA guy explaining stuff about relationships and it's called Relationships in Recovery
Right up my street! Cool. Isn't the blogsphere GREAT? You get to read what people with (what I consider to be) 'niche' experience and interpretations have to say on things. I'm not kidding. I VERY RARELY meet people with a similar outlook in AA. Ie a little bit 'clinical' in the way they view the 'suffering alcoholic, a chunk of Buddhist experience, so a bit ? 'esoteric' for want of a better word, and PLENTY of time in AA.
So cool! I'm happy. Just my cup of tea. Looks VERY interesting..

Disclaimer: If you know me you will know I am very comfortable with differences of opinion, and have never had a problem with the idea of different viewpoints, so you will know that when I say that I really like the look of something, that doesn't mean I agree with EVERYTHING they say. I see nothing 'disrespectful' about drawing a different conclusion than the other fellow. But that's another post really.

Basically it looks very interesting, so check it out. There's a lot of useful information about relationships, which his GREAT because I have always noticed that there are a always a LOT of people in AA who are NOT in a relationship, and I'm a strong believer in the healing effects of CONSTRUCTIVE relationships, as opposed to abusive / chronically dependent ones!

Juniper cleansing bath: "Cleaning off' negative vibes AFTER the event

Times when you might want to use a Juniper cleansing bath are:

If you have been on the receiving end of sour, angry poisonous words.
If someone yelled at you.
If a boss was aggressive to you at work.
If a driver yelled something very aggressive at you.
If a relative HATES you, and you have to be in a normal sized room with them for 2 hours, even though you do not speak to them.
If poisonous words were directed at you.
If you were stuck in a physiaclly confined space with a disturbed or angry person.
If you just had a row.
If you feel completely DRAINED after having spoken to someone.
If you can tell someone hates you, or really dislikes you, even though they never actually SAY it. You can just 'feel' it.
If you are physically very close to very depressed people, very sick people, work in hospitals where people are dying or critically ill.
If you work in a shelter or something. Or physically close to very mentally disturbed, aggressive, violent and out of control people.
You have been in a very negative building. A place where people have been tortured or what have you. You know. Places where violence has habitually occurred. Prison cells. Gawd knows. I went to a prison museum once without really thinking about it. Never again!
If you have felt threatened by the way someone looks at you.
Bad vibes basically!
I call em 'toxic people and situations'. They are just places where there is a lot of sickness. That's all.

I can't speak for you but I cannot help but be affected by others moods, good and bad, so sometimes I sort of need to 'detox' after exposure to messed up people. of which there are many! I live in a pretty crowded area so cannot really avoid people!

I got this tip from a Patricia Davis Aromatherapy book by the way..
How you do it:
You just put 2 drops of PROPER !!! (meaning high grade from a GOOD supplier like Fragrant Earth online) Juniper essential oil into a bath of CLEAN water. Stick it in while the tap sare running and mix it through. When its full, just soak in the water for 10-20mins or something. that's all. Use the CLEAN water to sort of go through the motions of 'washing' yourself. DO NOT USE SOAP, bath salts or other ? products. Just the clean water with the 2 drops of essential of mixed into the filled tub. Make sure you wash your head properly. It's always a bit difficult to soak ones head properly in the bath! Its just like having a bath really, but without any regular products as such. When you are 'done' have a normal bath after the 20min soak if you feel like it. It doesn't really matter. The 'proper' name for this type of bath is a ''ritual cleansing bath'. Whatever. It doesn't really matter what you call it. Patricia Davis is 'top dog' in the aromatherapy world by the way. She knows what she is talking about. I find the stuff she suggests works. But see for yourself. Don't take my word for it.

It's a GREAT way to ? wash that 'stuff' off. Works for me!
I started doing stuff like this after step 11 as I felt MUCH more sensitive to other people after that. Still do. Some people (admittedly not many) leave me ! wiped out for 24 hours after 4 hours conversation. I'm just exhausted!! Other times if I have been in close proximity to a LOT of very anxious or distressed people, I feel like I need to wash 'something' off me afterwards. Whatever. If you get round to doing a few retreats in step 11 you will know what I mean. At the end of, say a five day retreat, returning home can be quite jangly and unpleasant. Like someone turned the volume up and fast forwarded everything, and filled it with conflict and sourness. It wears off, after you get used to 'normal life' again, but the adjustment is not pleasant!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Simpler!: Ride the Storm. (mp3 sample)

Click here to hear the ? 2min sample.
MUCH better audio quality!

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Today is the longest day of the year. The Summer Solstice. And if you are a 'die-hard New-ager', you hoof off down to Stonehenge to check out the sunrise. Haven't QUITE got round to it myself, as I am FAR too fond of home comforts, but I BET you there is a !! GREAT vibe there.

Here's some nice photos of it that are on the guardian webpage

By the way. If you are ever a bit doubtful as to when these things happen, just check Jonathan Cainers webpage as he always writes something about it. Eclipses, Solstice's.. you name it!

Ride the Storm: Roachford Vs Mync Project

This UTube version is Rochford Vs Carl Kennedy – ‘Ride The Storm’ (White Label). I heard this first on Pete Tong's Friday show on 23 March and LOVED it, but now you can buy the mp3 online. I prefer this version, but its been released as Roachford Vs Mync Project – ‘Ride The Storm’ (Cr2). I think it's REALLY positive. But that's me. It's a very personal taste so you might hate it, and that's ok! You don't have to like it you know! Just thought I'd mention it. The audio on this version is not the best, but I prefer this mix to the Mync Project version, that's all.

Some better quality audio versions are
Roachford Vs Mync Project – ‘Ride The Storm’ (Cr2)Online mp3. Look near the bottom of the webpage for the little headphone icons, and click on them to hear an mp3 sample of the track.
BBC webpage Listen again of Pete Tong's Radio 1 show
6mins and 55 seconds into the show he plays the Mync Project version. They only keep the shows online for one week, so I imagine this will lbe replaced on Friday.
And if If you like that kind of thing..
14min and 45s into the show there is another good track: Too much Information. by ?
17min and 56s into the show: A great new track by Prince (Yeah the 80's one) called "Guitar'.
53mins and 40s into the show: Fedde Le Grand Vs Ida Corr – ‘Let Me Think About It’ (Data)

I always manage to find one decent track someplace on this weekly show. Thank GOD for the Bug Digital Radio, otherwise I would never be able to record the show..

Lyrics: Roachford: Ride the Storm

Hey my soul sister don't you look so sad
It's time to stop thinking about what you ain't got and see the things you have
Now don't you go and throw it all throw it all away
Tomorrow doesn't have to be just another yesterday

Ride the storm, life goes on, Life goes on, ride the storm

'Cos I can't watch you drown away, drown in your own tears
Everybody gets hurt sometimes, and everybody has fears
You say you want to end it all, but don't you get that rad baby
Cause if you want the good things, you got to taste the bad sometimes
That's how it is

Ride the storm, life goes on, Life goes on, ride the storm
'Cos I know that life can get hazy, but don't let this world drive you crazy, hear me baby
So don't let your world turn a permanent shade of blue
You've got to learn to kick the habit baby, before it starts to kick you yes it will
Don't you know you're bold enough and strong enough to fight
Someway somehow you know it's going to be all right
That's how it is

Ride the storm, life goes on, Life goes on, ride the storm

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'Creates an Uncomfortable Contrast'

I find that after a while, me being consistently 'comfortable' can be REALLY disquieting for others to be around, if what they are used to is drama, struggle, emotional overwhelm, ups and downs, and what have you. In terms of the impact it appears to be having on me I mean. I think people tend to assume I have no problems. Either that or they just can't make me out. All I know Is they rarely imagine that I am dealing with difficult things. They assume because I look 'ok' that things in my life must be 'ok'. Not so! Life lessons happen to EVERYBODY. Including me! Bereavement, betrayal, disillusionment, you name it! There is no way you can avoid these things. Its part of learning how to be a human. They happen to !! everybody. Not just the people who have a habit of referring to these events in conversation.

Initially, people are nearly always pleased to see me. But over time it becomes apparent that I'm just not being hijacked by moods, negativity or emotional overwhelm in the way that they unwittingly take for granted, and that can really 'upset the apple cart' in a strange sort of way. It just doesn't 'compute' that I might be having the SAME, if not worse, problems that THEY have, but I am just dealing with it a different way. Especially in AA, as people can tend to make assumptions about how 'honest' I'm being, or whether or not I am in denial. I can just tell that it is difficult for some of them to really understand. Obviously not everybody. Just those that take fairly obvious negativity or negative behaviour for granted as 'part of the furniture.'

Having spent 1-2 years trying to do the steps in another programme and getting progressively more MAD before I got well in AA, I COMPLETELY understand that viewpoint. My Sponsees often say they see the same look of non recognition in some fellow AA's, when they report how they feel or how they are dealing with things. I've had many strange comments over the years, including one woman who thought 'I must not be an alcoholic'. Whatever. I understand how it must look strange to someone who has become accustomed to a different way of dealing with things. I understand that attitude, but I prefer to be around people who think emotional stability is a NORMAL thing, instead of some weird ?! freaky thing. Each to their own, but I prefer to be with people I feel I have more in common with. The term I have heard used to describe this tendency is 'creates an uncomfortable contrast', and so that's how I describe it now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

'Reading the Riot Act': A Step One confrontation technique I use occasionally

Step one is by FAR the most exhausting. For MANY reasons. But invariably, there comes a point of utter exasperation, where I reach my ABSOLUTE LIMITS of patience and tolerance. Normally I will just let it ride. But if I have SERIOUS concerns about the persons imminent (1-3 month) risk of relapse, or I am simply 'not getting through', I will adopt more 'dramatic' verbal approach. Which also happens to be VERY exhausting, for myself.

Its one of my least favorite tactics, as I find it REALLY tiring and mentally draining. But I have found that it seems to 'work' pretty much every time I use it, so I reluctantly implement it when no other method appears to be working. Also when my patience runs out!

What it feels like for me is like I am taming a wild horse or something, or wrestling with an alligator, or trying to catch a greasy pig.
It feels like a 'fight' of some sort. A battle of wills.
It is my belief that I am wrestling their ego to the ground in these verbally and mentally EXHAUSTING and very confrontational exchanges. Actually its not really THEIR ego, it is the ALCOHOLIC ego RUN RIOT that I am addressing, as opposed to THEM personally. I will not stop until I 'win'. And I do not care what I have to say or how I have to say it to 'win'. I often throw their previous behavior in their face, or aspects of their past that they are in denial about. Its pretty dramatic. Afterwards, Sponsees tell me I have been 'brutally honest', but that they REALLY appreciated it, and NEEDED to hear it. But don't get me wrong. Nobody ever WANTS to hear this stuff. I actually find it a bit scary saying it all. Although you wouldn't know that if you heard me in mid-stream! But that's probably because I hate confrontation. I can do it, but I do not like it.

I call it 'Reading the Riot Act'.
Its VERY draining! Its pretty intense and emphatic, A 'no holds barred' full on 'thing' where I tell them (whether they like it or not) what they are doing WRONG. And usually how pissed off I am at trying to deal with it. Its a bit like being a 'hairdryer'. Its weird. Its a technique I have only really used for ? 3-4 years. I am amazed at how well it seems to work when all else fails. Basically its a very FULL ON thing where I take their inventory, and tell them in VERY unflattering and blatant terms where they are horribly wrong. Its VERY ego puncturing. But that's step 1. There is always a very unique kind of silence at the end stage of the exchange. It feels very different than normal silences. Better. Its a good silence. It tells me I am getting through. It reminds me of the 'silent' response of tom cruise in the vanilla sky clip I have posted on my side bar JUST after the guy in the lift tells Tom Cruise that 'It was Sofia who never fully recovered'. Anyway I feel step one is kind of 'on the way' when this point arises. You need to allow the dust to settle and the effect of the words to sink in. but usually you see a much more 'humbled', quieted, person after such an encounter. Provided they were a bit 'gobby' or 'mouthy' beforehand.

Anyway, I had to one of these the other night, and I am STILL mentally burnt out from it. My head literally ? Feels 'burnt out'.
Anyway it seemed to work and I like to think that they have enough information now about where they are going wrong to avoid getting themselves in the same mess they were in when I spoke to them last. I don't like to make any assumptions. And I CERTAINLY do not want them to think that they are in any way safe UNTILL they start implementing some new behaviors, as the LAST thing people need when they are getting it horribly wrong is to be lulled into a false sense of security. But you never know. Perhaps this is the last time I will have to repeat myself so empathically and at such length. I hope so!

Disclaimer: I meet a TON of women who are DOORMATS and go through life being BULLIED and just take that for granted. Also I have seen more than my fair share of browbeating, heavy handed and mean spirited sponsorship, so if you have experienced or are experiencing this type of sponsorship, do NOT see this post as an endorsement of that kind of sponsorship. It is NOT. It took AGES for me to develop the confidence and efficiency to develop this technique. Plus it simply DOES NOT WORK if the person doing it is even in the SLIGHTEST way RESENTFUL or BITTER.
The technical term for the difference in approach is 'clean anger' and 'dirty anger'.

Whatever. Just thought I would share that. I might add, I have not come across another sponsor who uses a similar technique, but I AM hoping that my Sponsees might learn how to do it themselves at some point, as I have found it to be REALLY effective at 'taming' newcomers. If you get step one right, the rest is downhill. Well pretty much anyway. And learning how to 'tame' rebellious Sponsees means that you are able to help a much wider range of personality types, and often more damaged people. Which can only be a good thing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why do some people 'get it' and others don't?

I have never to this day, been able to understand why some people 'get it' and others don't. It seems to bear no relationship to intelligence or social group or 'keeness'. Some are terribly keen but are barking up the wrong tree and go horribly wrong. Its weird. Its a totally random thing. The very finest things in life are never meant to be understood, and I think this random ? receptivity to the AA message is one of those things. The way recovery unravels in different individuals I find completely fascinating and weird. A life form in itself.

Mind you, I think even when one is 'correctly orientated' that the work that is required to live peacefully, and reasonably happily, can be extremely demanding in some ways. So just being 'ready' doesn't make it any easier as such.
Doesn't mean you get any shortcuts though. No easier softer way I'm afraid. You just get to do what the rest of us have been doing, which is some pretty unflattering truth telling about ourselves and our lives. It doesn't sound like much, but its REALLY worth it. And it means you can be there for the NEXT suffering alcoholic that shows up and doesn't know what the ! hell they are doing. And that's the main thing. Funnily enough.

The newcomer is often the last to know he or she is doing well. Newcomers are notoriously c**p at 'seeing' their own progress in the beginning? EVERYONE can see it except them! Its kind of funny really.

Difficult family members? Try treating them like a newcomer

I still have a long way to go with my parents. Generally, I try to do the right thing, but my emotions can still be very uncomfortable and messy about them. I try to heal my emotions by trying to be helpful to them in whatever way I can, which might not be very much.

For me, the attitude that seems to work best is if I think of them as newcomers. as in AA newcomers.
For some reason I don't recall ever thinking of them as 'adults' in the proper sense. Hard to explain, but I saw myself as more 'grown up' than them. Not that they are incompetents. Far from it. Just that I saw them as ? Infants or something.

Whatever. I find that if I think of them as newcomers then I am able to be more compassionate toward them. But I am also more vulnerable (in a good way), than I ever have been before, and so I can experience a lot of powerful emotion about realizations of failed expectations.

The more I experience kindness, love and acceptance in recovery, the more I see the missing bits of the jigsaw, so that's why grieving tends to accompany healing developments in recovery. Of which there are many. I know they regret the past, and try to do better, but I still see them as very limited in their ability to do the right thing, and my emotions are much closer to the surface than they ever were before, so it can feel overwhelming dealing with the consequences of the baggage.

Whatever. It gets better as they say. I like being able to feel stuff, as its so easy to be in denial. Sounds crummy, but for me this is 'getting better'. Its progress for me anyway.

I LOVE the Big Book

I love it when the big book 'speaks' to people. To me it feels like I am in the room with the first 100 members when I read it. It has never just been a 'book' to me. It's a ? gateway to a relationship with the first 100 members. What I mean is it is more like 'people' than a bunch of words. Hard to explain. But I love it whatever 'it' is. I have no reason why I should feel so connected to a bunch of people I have never met in person, but I do. I love the big book. I think its very special.

Each to their own but I wouldn't want to go out with a male version of myself

I have no idea how al anons put up with alcoholics. I would NOT want to go out with a male version of me! I prefer non alcoholics!
Alcoholics are pretty resentful people. HIGHLY reactive! Defensive, persecution complex, inferior, arrogant, un-teachable!!! You name it!
THAT'S why I don't know how non alcoholics put up with them. They must have more patience or something. Or be very attached. I dunno.

Don't believe what the alcoholic projects onto you. They do not see 'you'. They see only their very personal neuroses, projected onto you. Which is a shame. But never mind. Alcoholics are very sick people you know. And its a very serious mental illness. Even the ones who take their recovery VERY seriously, have to occasionally work against OVERWHELMING irrational moods when the appropriate trigger randomly appears!

I am always AMAZED at how patient al anons are. I just don't have those levels of patience and tolerance. There's fault on both sides of course as there always is. But by an large I just think you need the patience of a saint to be involved with an alky. But what do I know? I've only been able to see It from this side of the fence.. I always seem to end up with non alcoholics so that's all I know really..

Boundaries: Avoiding even SLIGHTLY crazy people

I find a LOT of my peace of mind comes from simply avoiding even SLIGHTLY crazy people, unless I HAVE to, or am doing some kind of service.
Mind you, I can experience LOADS of vitriol from disturbed alcoholic I try to help. It happens sometimes. They always come to their senses after a while, but in the interim I am exposed to their toxic energy which is VERY unpleasant.

I am much more protective of my wellbeing the longer I am around. There are actually very few people I really want to be around. Unless coming into contact with another person 'lifts' me, I basically would rather be in my own company. I find a lot of people draining simply because they seem conflicted and restless, even if they say very little to me. I think I have become MUCH more sensitive to other people, so it is useful for me to limit my exposure to people who are more disturbed than myself. 'Stick with the winners' means a pretty small circle of people at the moment. But that's ok. The road gets narrower, as they say..
Each to their own, but that's how I find it at the moment.

Stability and reliability soothe the Hungry Ghost

All I know is that my 'hungry ghost', IS fulfilled by the presence of continuity. A stable loving presence. So for me a relationship is a 'rock' to soothe and 'settle' the hungry ghost. Teachers, Lamas, monks and other very loving people are very helpful to my emotional stability.

But I would not call that dependence. For me it has been about learning to feel safe and trust, despite having a very involuntary, and instinctive survival-based reaction to life. So for me relationships are teachers, and sources of healing because they teach me to trust.

His would not apply if they were mad people. My reactive 'core' is calming down the longer I am around stable influences, regardless of how inept I am in other respects.

A 'Softer' style of recovery in Al Anon

I think Al Anon offers a completely different 'flavor' of recovery. A 'softer' version. and I mean that in a GOOD way. soft as in the opposite of a 'hard heart'. I needed to get to AA to survive. but now my survival is no longer the issue, I can enjoy what al anon offers. when I get round to going! Meaning I'm not very good at showing up!
They are the complete opposite of control freaks. its very refreshing! Well the ones I met were..

To be honest, I don't know enough about al anon to be able to identify what it is I like about it. Its like when you admire a great work of art but you have no real understanding of WHY you like the painting. You just do. There is something very good about al anon, but I have no idea what it is exactly! I'd have to go to more to understand it better!

For me, I see AA as basic training. Survival kit. Al anon is for TRYING to 'smooth off the edges' after the survival aspect is done with. AA is like boot camp. Al anon is a place to learn how to drop the 'survival' act, and learn to yield to life more. It's 'soft' or something. Very female compared to the 'blokey' atmosphere in AA.
I reckon they both have their place. AA is like Yang energy, and al anon is like Yin energy.

Sadness cloaked as anger: Just underneath Anger is sadness and hurt

My invented and totally unproven thought on this are that Al anons like alkies have the 'heart-sadness' but alcoholics are the 'edgier' breed of the two. There's a roughness round the edges. Its resentment really. But anger and sad are two sides of the same coin. Sad is just that little bit more honest than anger. Just underneath the anger there's a pool of tears. Perhaps the alky is the sad person who went blind because they couldn't face the truth, so they experience their sadness more predominantly as bitterness and anger. Sadness cloaked as anger. One extra layer between their emotional lives and reality.

Alkies are more removed from their grief. There's an additional tension in the psyche from the mental separation that that condition creates. The extra division splits them from the inside so that they cant even see their 'separated self' when they REALLY try.
Recovery is about ending the fragmented and separated disowned emotions. Reclaiming them.

A coffee pot and a resentment!: All you need to start your own meeting!

I and some Sponsees took on the service positions of a fairly local meeting as they arose a few years ago, because of similar concerns. Meaning I got a bit !! fed up listening to how grim, humorless, dull !! and downright tempting (in terms of drinking), sobriety was. Basically it was a bit ! grim. Well a bit too grim for MY preferences. (each to their own and all that.) It's nice to be able to go to a meeting that seems to more closely reflects my outlook. Apart from the fact that I don't actually !! identify with a lot of how people feel in recovery that I bump into in meetings, it just seemed like a nice idea, and it just so happened there was a bunch of positions that needed to be filled anyway. So I jus figured, why not? Give it a whirl and see what happens. Its turned out pretty well as it happens. There ARE more positive meetings where I live, but as you can probably telll I have VERY particular tastes. That's all. Plus I don't like having to travel halfway across town if I can help it. Too much effort!

I don't like too controlled or inflexible environments. Its just too simplistic for me. It doesn't embrace uncertainty. But I don't like the ones that seem to be flailing about in various stages of grimness either!! Somewhere in the middle suits me just fine! Not too rigid, not too wooly. Solution orientated, but VERY humane.

Anyway, that's what I did! after a LONG period of thinking 'why is everybody acting so weird and uptight?. Its VERY personal what appeals to different people. The other people at the meeting probably think its the cats whiskers! Each to their own, but if I have the option to seek out more like minded environments, I don't hang around for long if I can help it

So, instead of complaining about going to meetings (for whatever reason) you don't like very much, why not just set up your own. I'm sure you will find some people that want to get involved too, if you look for them.

Boundaries: 'No' is a complete sentence

I love that thing "No is a complete sentence'. Always makes me laugh. sometimes I say no just for fun! heheh.

For me, saying no is often an 'act as if' thing, meaning there's still some sense of obligation lurking. I have guilt but I work HARD at ignoring it. I find once I am free of obligations, it dawns on me what a wise decision it was. I kind of grow into the decision or something.

I prefer to call this tendency 'caving in to peer pressure'. I always ORDER my Sponsees to be their own person if I take them on, as I can't stand working with wimpy compliant people. Apart form anything, it slows down their progress if they do. Therefore creating more work for me! which is never a good thing!

All I know is being an independent thinker and 'your own person' are SO important. Being a martyr doormat is VERY miserable.
I think I still do stuff to get approval or to be 'seen' to be doing good at something. But not a great deal. I think I'm a bit of a black sheep at heart and take a perverse pleasure in doing the opposite of what (I think) people expect me to. Still very reactive I know, but just in a different direction! Taking ones life back is a very worthwhile cause.

The pub with no beer: The meeting after the meeting

The coffee after the meeting is the BEST bit. It really is 'the pub with no beer.' I have always needed to do the meeting after the meeting to get to know people. It VERY difficult to get to know them just from seeing them in meetings. I always prefer ones where they go out after. Its always a bit scary asking does anyone want to go, but its worth it.

I have always chosen a home group where everyone was invited to go for coffee afterwards. I don't like the cliquey ones where its hit and miss as to whether or not you are included. I prefer inclusive to exclusive, so to speak.

"Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it."

My favorite thing for avoiding arguments and pointless debates is:
"Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it." that's what my favorite old timer used to say. Its not easy to sidestep the bait and walk away when the other person wants to have a row, but it CAN be done.

The best way is if you figure out a pre-prepared 'get out clause' BEFORE they 'kick off'. Because its IMPOSSIBLE to think of a good one in the heat of the moment. Prepare beforehand! Then you won't get caught out the next ! time she throws a wobbly!
The aim is react less than before. Progress not perfection. All we are looking for is evidence of progress. Nothing more really.

Differing sponsorship styles: I prefer a confrontational and interventionist style in the main

..on condition that the MOTIVE is correct. I.e: To be HELPFUL, as opposed to DOMINTE, CONTROL, BROWBEAT or PUNISH. If done correctly, it saves me a LOT of time. If NOT done correctly, it creates more problems than it solves, and is pretty much useless. In my opinion anyway.

Be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents' is a good rule.
New people lie a lot. I have been lied to and it does help us to see our gullibility and idealism more clearly. Being taken in does leave on feeling betrayed. And that does not feel nice.

Hmm let me see. I am not a touchy feely nice guy when I deal with very new people. I am pretty tough. But for good reason. I refuse to open up wounds for examination until the 'patient' has the strength to look at them. So my tone alters dependent on their ability. The more 'well' they are the more compassionate the tone gets. Anyway. In the beginning they have virtually no tolerance at all for even the most superficial level of emotional honesty, so I keep it very light. Basically the more 'at risk' they are, the shorter the leash. The more 'tough' I get so to speak.

The upshot I frequently tell new people I think they are full of s**t , because they very often are. Its the truth and they know it so it does no harm. Anyway. If you are the 'kind, helping hand' version of helping, that is less interventionist in style and gives the unscrupulous person more leeway. Makes them a little less accountable.

Basically I let new people get away with very little. I'm not there saying 'there there, never mind, don't you worry' etc. its more along the lines of a series of very explicit instructions one after the other. I know it sounds crap, but you just have to take my word for it. Basically I'm very interventionist, very 'pulling people up on things', very action commands orientated. Its not speculation, not theory, not sympathy. Just a series of suggested actions.

Help is the Sunny side of Control: Are you helping or are you being a Control Freak?

I find people can 'smell a rat' at 100 paces. Meaning they can tell if I'm being a control freak yet trying to sound 'helpful'. Similarly, I can be VERY direct with people but at the same time have ABSOLUTELY no 'controlling interest', and when I do that, people seem very happy and untroubled about what I say. They can just 'sense' that it is my view, and I have no delusions that I believe I can 'make' them do anything. So basically what I'm saying is that I think it all comes down to MOTIVE, as opposed to WHAT you say exactly.

NOT being a control freak is EXTREMELY liberating as it enables MUCH freer expression of ideas. You can be much more guiltless in what you say. It doesn't work ALL the time, but then what does? but most of the time seems to go fine really.

The HARDEST people to help are those closest to you. Thankfully I understand when to not patronize people who know more than me by accidentally suggesting something. Its a very embarrassing social faux pas, to accidentally suggest stuff to people who know better. Very embarrassing! Thankfully they are always very polite and never react when I get it wrong. I wish I was like that. Oh well, you cant have ! Everything.

Integrity: DON'T follow the crowd. 'To thine own self be true'.

Conforming is EASY. It is living with integrity and authenticity that is extraordinarily difficult. So many people are on auto pilot, and don't even stop to ask themselves what they REALLY want. or what they REALLY believe to be true. I find being honest with myself one of the scariest things in the world. the answers I come up with about what is 'true' NEVER seem to gel with social norms. reality is VERY challenging! well that's what I find anyway.

A large part of being true to myself was talking inventory of my pride in the form of "what will people think of (the great) me?" in step 4. I was RIDDLED with it. Making that ego puncturing admission time after !! time, with seemingly endless resentments, made me NEVER want to think like that again. Now I REALLY notice when I find myself thinking that, and I cannot entertain its legitimacy. Step 4 (for me anyway) really 'put the boot in' to my defects of character. Just made it REALLY difficult to take the thinking the defects provoked with ANY seriousness whatsoever. So I think that's helped me disregard what other people think I 'ought' to be doing.

Really, its nobody's business but MINE what I am doing, just like its none of MY business, what everyone ELSE is doing.

Social skills: 'Guilt Manipulation'

I call that 'guilt tripping' thing 'guilt manipulation.' There's a very useful reference to it on page 61 of the book '

Making Friends: A Guide to Getting Along with People' by Andrew Matthews,

..which looks a bit too simple at first sight, but has LOADS of really useful references for basic social skills in it. I recommend some of his books to Sponsees for learning basic ways of relating to other peoples demands, expectations, etc. I see all that stuff as common sense, in that 'normal' (meaning reasonably happy) people do these things anyway, but most people in AA have no idea how to do these things and they need to learn them from scratch. I say 'common' sense, but 'common' sense isn't nearly !! as common as I'd like it to be. I found his books really helpful. They just look a bit naff, that's all.

Anyway, its pretty good going to be able to distance yourself from the 'scene of the crime' (in resentment terms) when provoked If I am feeling heated, I try to get some distance between me and the resentment, otherwise I just cant think things through.

Non duality: Group Soup: the ''fellowship of the spirit"

The ''fellowship of the spirit" is a very real thing. It's not a fairy story. You can just 'feel' it after a while. Its quite distinct really. We sort of get 'embedded' in the collective psyche of the group and other like minded people. Or something. Who knows. But we are all very connected. But for some reason we have a very tangible connection with other members of the fellowship.

I STILL find it weird that I have such a strong sense of 'family' with AA's. in some Buddhist circles they call it 'group soup'. I have distinctly different feelings of connection with different groups of people. I feel connected to monks different than AA's. AA feels the most like 'family', but monks and nuns feel different. More refined and soft. Weird really. Actually mow that I think of it, everyone is different, but there is a strong degree of similarity in the way I can feel about fellowship people. I love the increased sensitivity that being drug and drink free gives us. We can just 'tune into' things more. Which is pretty cool.

The road gets narrower: Choosing emotionally stable friends in later sobriety

The downside of insight and awareness leading to peace of mind is that we become much more attuned to the negativity of others. the mask is lifted so to speak. some people describe it as 'the road gets narrower'. All I know is that it becomes progressively more uncomfortable to be in close proximity to emotional intensity, as I become less and less ? disturbed, for want of a better word. I pretty much have very little alternative but to choose only reasonably serene company. it can seem a bit limiting sometimes, but I don't mind. Of course I make time for people if I think I can be of service in some way, but I limit the time I spend on that too. I couldn't do it all the time. It means I have a very reduced pool of potential friendships to choose from. There are a lot of frustrated and driven people out there. A lot are simply on auto pilot or just keyed up a lot of the time. Generally I try to gravitate as much as poss to the most ? well adjusted in any social group, and I try to spot the slightly crazy ones and give them a wide berth from the off. Much easier!

Don’t just do stuff out of habit or duty

Don't just speak to people out of habit or duty. Make a REAL effort to speak ONLY to people who 'nourish' you. Same goes for activities. Make a REAL effort to only do stuff which 'nourishes' you. Or like an old timer used to say 'Just do what makes you feel COMFORTABLE'
It sounds easy and obvious, but it's actually VERY difficult to practice consistently! It means you have to constantly re evaluate things. And one loses the sense of 'permanence' (which is illusory anyway). So it's quite challenging. To say the least! Refusing to do things out of habit means you question pretty much everything. Its the opposite of a comfortable rut.

Restricted freedoms in early recovery such as 'stay away from relationships for the first year'

This refers to the advice to stay out of relationships, to move or not to move, to take business trips in early recovery etc.

Firstly, the rules are, there are no rules, so ask your if sponsor if you are not sure about something.
Remember initially restrictive practices are NOT done for the sake of them, they are really to try to !! Limit the risk of no-nothing new people from driving themselves into a ditch by mistake. Depending on how competent and proficient you are at practicing the AA suggestions, the more latitude you can be given, and be 'safe'.

It also depends on the 'life chapter' you are in at that time. If (god forbid) something utterly drastic is about to occur then such as open heart surgery or something!! Then a major life change is a BAD idea. Or ? Some other HIGHLY CHARGED event that threatens to ? Drive you mad.

I am no less alcoholic than you are. The only reason people who have been around a while have the 'freedom of the city' and newcomers don't Is because we HAVE ENOUGH SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE of the programme in practice to ensure safety.

So in other words, the more of a 'diligent goody-goody model AA student' you are, the more reliably you can be expected to perform suggested actions well (and therefore be comfortable on an INTERIOR level) and therefore be SAFE in those circumstances.

The more of a C**P AA Student you are, the more doubtful those additional freedoms will be.

That's why everything is on a case by case basis.

Basically, if you are an AA swot! you have a LOT more 'freedom' in EVERY sense. Doesn't mean you have it EASY. Just means YOU CAN COUNT ON YOURSELF TO TO THE RIGHT THING NO MATTER WHAT.

Its like being a little AA Ninja! A little 'any lengths' machine!

There is a DIRECT correlation between adherence to AA suggestions and INNER CALM. That's it! There's no big secret other than that!
Nothing happens by mistake. The people who get well and stay well are the people that are WILLING TO DO WHATEVR IT TAKES to have the best possible recovery. Its more of an attitude than anything else. You may not be required to do anything much, but you just kind of 'know' that at the back of your mind, if push comes to shove, and the s***t hits the fan, that your FIRST port of call will be an AA ? Thing.

Regarding business trips in early recovery: If I was your sponsor I would say yes (IF you wanted to do it) on the condition that you were a bit of an AA 'swot' while you were there. And no I don't mean going to meetings all day. I mean making AA stuff a priority. Which is different. In other words, go but play it safe. Not a short leash, not a very long leash. Somewhere in between!

Go to as many meetings as you can when you are new

It makes early recovery MUCH easier when you MAX OUT on meetings. It really helps a LOT, as the penny drops a bit sooner rather than later. As you can probably tell by now, there is actually rather a LOT of information to process with this thing, and meetings help to teach us, so attending more speeds up our education. When used wisely of course.

Alcoholics hate people to think they have nothing to do, so there is this thing where people want to get back to 'normal living' asap, which is fair enough, but, if used wisely, meetings can be very liberating places. Ample opportunity to help others in greater need than ourselves, frank accounts of the irrationalities of the things we tell ourselves, and every self defeating belief we can think of. Plus endless opportunities to learn tolerance from all the people we can't stand! I call it grass-roots spirituality.

You would learn very similar things in the refined atmospheres of ashrams or high end mediation centers for £150 quid a day, but aa teaches us the same stuff, but in a more 'new York taxi driver' sort of a way. No messing. No navel gazing bullshit. I see it as the same wisdom, but delivered in a different way. But the best part is that the act of participating assists in healing others. And that's priceless. You don't get that in ashrams. As far as I know! I've never actually been to an ashram, as I'm not really into the guru ? thing.

I kind of 'lived' in meetings for ? Years but then my brains were pretty badly fried I think. Anyway, I do not regret that as I formed a unbreakable connection with a 'gang' of AA's that exists to this day, even though we are scattered to the four winds, and have developed very individual ways of practicing our programmes. What I mean is that makes me feel totally 'knitted' into the matrix of AA now, even if I only attend one meeting a month. Or less. Hard to describe, but a substantial connection has been made and it just seems to carry on no matter what.

I'm not saying you should curtail your life to include more meetings, but just that going to more helps. To begin with anyway.

The MIRACULOUS healing effects of TRYING to help newcomers

All I know is that helping newcomers in meetings by taking them for coffee afterwards was what enabled me to do things I had never been able to do before. Like feel marginally comfortable in my own skin!

It gives me the power to make my life work. Or something. I get a 'power' from it. Gawd knows. Impossible to explain. But my life works better when I do service.

I would just scan the room for a newcomer while in the meeting and I would go up to people after and introduce myself and ask them to go for coffee after. I did that every day. After every meeting. I still look out for them when I go. I started doing it in earnest after 3 months of attending meetings. LONG before I thought I had anything of value to share. I wasn't doing it in isolation, but of all the things I did, that gave me the MOST wellbeing, and does to this day. That's why I go on about it I suppose.

IT is THE strongest weapon in my AA artillery. I find one to one works best. 'distance' communication is not as good. Person is better than phone. Phone is better than email.
Anyway. That's what I've learned. I can't speak for others, but I see my Sponsees have MIRACULOUS relief from their demons when they do this too, and the old timers I know who seem to me to have the most ? 'wellness' are the ones who are focused on helping the newcomer get sober and stay sober.

"A newcomer a day, keeps the alcoholism at bay"

"Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."
AA preamble

Faith, religion and Prayer will NOT keep you sober: "Faith without WORKS is dead"

You know it IS our higher power that keeps us sober, (NOT us) but faith without WORKS is dead. So prayer is only half the story. Service for me is what aligns me to my higher power and 'completes the circle' in my relationship with him/her/it/. Bill had a higher power LONG before he met Bob, but he NEEDED to try and help Dr Bob to stay sober.

AA is FULL of people who relapse who have a STRONG belief in a higher power and talk of prayer, religion and what have you, but at the same time do NOT report that they feel " as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected." (in relation to alcohol) (p85)
In fact they often say they feel like drinking, and they relapse, a LOT.

Why is that?

"Faith without works is dead"
p88 of the Big Book

"To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action."
p93 Big Book

(about meetings)
"happy in their release, and constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer"
p158 Big Book

NB: This thing on page 84 and 85 is a "post step nine" promise. So you should be feeling like this if you have completed the first nine steps and are keeping yourself in 'fit spiritual condition'. (p85 Big Book)

I think if it WERE true that all one needed to avoid relapse were to have a belief in god, or a higher power, that there would be a MUCH higher rate long term sobriety. Also it would be unheard of to hear people who pray report that they feel like drinking in meetings. I hear it all the time, so I became aware very quickly that belief in a god or regular prayer WITHOUT "self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action." in the form PRIMARILY of HELPING NEWCOMERS, would be a pretty lousy recovery. So I never opted for that approach.

" Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."
AA preamble

"A newcomer a day, keeps the alcoholism at bay"

Hahaa I just made that up. Its a bit cheesy, but its true!

I do not need to 'be reminded' of the effects of alcoholism in order to want sobriety

"We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN REMOVED. IT DOES NOT EXIST FOR US. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in FIT SPIRITUAL CONDITION."
p85 Big book.

When people in AA meetings nod sagely when a relapser (upon returning to meetings), 'meaningfully' reports how much worse it got whilst they were out, I wonder to myself, "Jeez, when was the last time these people bothered to speak to a newcomer???' ..they should know this stuff like the back of their hand!! They shouldn't need a relapser to come to meetings to 'report back'. (!!)

I suppose I am forced !! to observe the consequences of active alcoholism when I help people through the steps and help newcomers, so I am made aware of stuff like this whether I like it or not. Just never find myself 'forgetting it', or 'needing to be reminded' like I often hear people say in meetings.

I often hear this bandied about in meetings, as a popular idea about an important aid to stay sober. Along the lines of 'this is why I come to meetings," or "I needed to be reminded of how awful drinking is'. Or 'that helped me stay sober'. To me this way of staying sober bears little resemblance to the protection from relapse described on page 84 and 85 of the big book, so it has no relevance to my own sobriety, or my Sponsees, or my old home group for that matter. Basically I do not relate to it at all.

Its like that thing 'who ever heard of a hay fever sufferer with a compulsion to sniff flowers?' to me anyway, what these people are describing is a very weak mental defence, if it needs to be reinforced in this way. It means they clearly do not already feel " as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected." (p85)

Whatever. Its NONE OF MY BUSINESS how others conduct their own recovery, but that does irritate me somewhat. Its a grave misunderstanding of what AA proposes as a way of obtaining a mental defence. Its a LONG way from the 'fit spiritual condition' described in page 85. To my mind anyway.

Yes I KNOW this is a 'popular belief' in AA but I'm aware of that, and that's the main reason I'm drawing attention to (what I see) as inconsistencies between the reasoning inherent in those statements and the mental defence as described in the basic text. Also it bears little resemblance to my experience, but then, so does EVERYTHING I post as one of my polices is that what I share here is based on various 'case histories', including my own.

The PROGRESSIVE nature of the illness. The thumbscrews tighten!

"We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better."
p30 Big book.

NB: Notice is doesn't just say, 'but only when we are drinking'. This applies equally to people who are drinking and to people that are doing a 'dry drunk', or who are suffering from what I call 'untreated alcoholism'.

The thumbscrews tighten! Its as if the higher powers saying "will THIS make you wiling to go to any lengths?" No?..How about THIS? Ready yet?

In the big book it tells us our only two options if we do not treat this thing, are to go mad or die. I understand the 'mental and emotional rock bottom' very well as that's what I felt like at the beginning. Not nice! Why do think I do as AA tells me? Not because I am some sort of goody two shoes. I am backing away from the hell my mind can create without the programme. NO other reason.
Perhaps you have the 'gift of desperation'. If you do, you are VERY lucky. It makes recovery more palatable.

I remember thinking that wanting to die was a bit dodgy! To say the least!! This disease REALLY squirrels around in our brain if we don't practice this programme. Before we know it we are plain crazy.
Ah well. The good news is that it is all VERY treatable, but that in order for the medicine to work, we have to be willing to go to ANY LENGTHS to get well. That means doing stuff we REALLY don't want to do from time to time. The 'half measures' approach doesn't work.

The bottom line is 'keep coming back.'
If you are feeling dodgy, keep coming back.This WILL pass, funny enough.
Remember, its a cinch an inch but its hard by the yard.

Step 5

I do step 5 the same way with Sponsees I did it with my sponsor. 2 hour sessions weekly (sometimes more frequently) until its done. Step 5 is very cool really. Very powerful. A cool old timer called it 'Spiritual surgery'. It is! You are literally 'cutting out' the putrefied 'stinking thinking' that has accumulated over the course of lifetime. If resentment had a physical appearance It would look like like a tumor. Black sticky tar, clinging to our internal energy centers. Whatever. I digress. But basically, step 5, if done well, is VERY cool. If done well, it is a SIGNIFICANT emotional plateau of safety (in comparison to what the person was like before) when finished.

Step 4 and 5 ( for me) are not about 'life stories' as such. I get 'briefed' on the ? overall history in Step 1, so I know most of the 'stuff' LONG before step 5. Step 5 is a place to look at resentments, not personal hstory. That's all.

Did you know step 4 and 5 messes with your head? Well it does. I always suggest that Sponsees just don't try to figure anything out till AFTER step 5. It'll feel better then.

If you are in the middle of step 5, I don't want to say something that increases any sense of uncertainty, as that tends to increase anyway during step 5, so just keep plugging away and soon it will be all over.
It's best to ignore what gremlin-ish ideas it comes up with till the step5 is well and truly DONE.
The uncertainty and discomfort will pass. don't you worry..

Should you stay or go?

I find there are two personality types. The 'freelancers' who can never stay on one place too long, and the 'comfortable rut' types that say FAR too long. we are all different. I'm the 'rut' type. I stay far too long in one 'place'.

Both are wrong if done blindly, and both behaviors have their uses if used wisely, so its not as simple as chucking the idea altogether. Rather harnessing the tendency in a way that serves you rather than enslaves you.

Its wise not to try to make BIG decisions before step 9, and IF you are sticking with the winners, to consult them BEFORE you embark on some ! Drastic course of action. But if they do NOT HAVE 'WHAT YOU WANT', then their advice is highly questionable. In my opinion anyway.

Disclaimer: By the way. If there is physical abuse or sexual abuse, serial infidelity resulting in infection with !! std's or some kind of other cruel, awful treatment. LEAVE!!!! No questions asked!!!

Abusive behavior: Taking the blame is the EASY way out

That's a classic. Taking the blame is the easy way out, as it sidesteps having to face reality and come to terms instead with the grieving process and all those ! unpleasant feelings. Basically its NOT honest, its delusional really.
Its 'standard issue' to adopt this outlook to just about every form of abuse as it enables the sufferer to have a sense of control in a world which they have no control over.
With time, and courage, and the ability to be 'comfortable being uncomfortable', the grieving process can be faced HONESTLY and ELEGANTLY. The required skill is 'patient endurance'.

Isolation and the desire to be alone when things are difficult. Especially when you're new to AA.

I'm an introvert as it happens. I love time alone, but I also have a pretty interventionist sponsorship style and that means that I do not always 'go with the flow'. I will get pretty ! forceful on occasion. (in a nice way) if i think an aspect of the persons behavior is damaging them.

There's no doubt, many newcomers prefer to be alone. If I had a Sponsee like that, I would shelve the 'social' plans, as they would just be too uncomfortable, and substitute with meetings and coffee after as ways to ''be' around people. Oh and talking to newcomers, because it works miracles. But that's another story. Anyway, I would use meetings to talk to people, and coffee, and I would say use the phone at home to MAKE calls to one newcomer a day. The newest one you can find. But that requires a bit of 'briefing', I keep meaning to do a post on it and never get round to it. Basically its a five minute call where you try to be helpful in terms of aa suggestions to someone who knows less than you. I always end up asking what meeting they are going to later and what have you. Nothing much. Just trying to be helpful.
Im inclined t think that you are better off feeling sad in a meeting than feeling sad at home. I used to go to three meetings a day when I was new because I had such 'stinking thinking'.

Ah well. There are many different sponsorship styles and many degrees of willingness and desperation in newcomers and what have you, so each to their own. But I would be pretty loathe to let someone stew on their own with lots of unscheduled time at home.

I had one Sponsee who ! hated going to meetings when she was new. She likes them now, but I was pretty ! Tough with her about getting to them to begin with. She used to be very weepy and emotional, but then he had a very mixed alcohol and drug past. Shes very different now. Newcomers who want to isolate are NOT special and different. They are just one of us mixed up alkies, and free time is not used constructively but used to dwell on sad stuff. Well that's what I think anyway, but I'm not your sponsor, so it doesn't really matter what I think.
Yeah we KNOW it's human nature to isolate, but I think we would rather you were in meetings feeling lousy than at home feeling lousy. Bring the old body and the mind will follow and all that..

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We are never 'cooked'. There is no 'let up' as such.

"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do"
p85 Big Book

If anything, MORE is required of us as our capability increases. Having said that, yes it feels a damm site easier than the first year, but I think we just can't 'get away' with negativity and the defence of 'I didn't know any better' as time goes on. Well it gets harder to underperform. The excuses run out!

I think this thing of 'wanting all the hard work to end' is like the part of us that wanted to blot things out with alcohol and ? drugs, TV whatever. we love the ? work to be over, but life's just not that simple. It really helped me in step 11 to meet really !! awesome people and to find out just how HARD they were working. Every day. made me feel like a bit of a Nancy. I used to think that you could sort of do a phd in spirituality and the tough lessons would be over. well now that I know how !! hard the seriously ! cool people are working. well i find it very humbling. i have NO excuse to take a day 'off'. each to their own. some would say that level of vigilance is not necessary. but i am motivated to TRY to emulate the approach of the people that inspire me, so that's why i prefer to be a little fussy. I just 'want what they have'. that's it really. and not ONE of them is a slouch. so I'm stuck with that approach.
I think it would be very easy to declare oneself 'cooked' and put your feet up for a while, and to be honest I like the less demanding plateaus when they show up, but I think the more work you do, the more is revealed, the more the ego is punctured. I used to think that was a bad thing, but when I met some !! Amazing people in step 11 who made it look consummately beautiful and do-able, I was sold. I don't mind it now really. Now I just don't identify with people who talk or act like they have figured 'it' out. It looks really unattractive and arrogant, and mentally lazy, now that I think of it. Staying 'in the oven' for the rest of ones life CAN be carried off in a VERY elegant manner. It IS possible. Its hard work. But its worth it. It is right to want to safeguard what you have 'built' so far. I think its very healthy to value and appreciate the benefits of recovery when they show up. I don't think its neurotic to fear losing those things. I'm sure you have experienced the ? Inexplicable pull toward negativity when we let up on something, stop making an effort, or indulge some petty small minded bitter aspect of our nature. It all goes to crap!! I know how quickly my thinking or bad mood can screw things up, so I am 'one bitten, twice shy'. I am just not willing to risk screwing it up so much. Yeah I still make stupid mistakes, but I try very hard to keep my head space pretty positive. Bah! I should be in the gym.. Have a great Wednesday!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Finally! A use for Vodka in Recovery. (But ONLY if being around alcohol DOESN'T bother you!!)

Disclaimer: OBVIOUSLY please do NOT do this, if being around alcohol does not feel comfortable or you are a slightly ! over ambitious newcomer, (meaning COMPLETELY in denial,) and keep relapsing despite telling yourself you are 'ok' around alcohol. I only say this as I am not bothered by alcohol and I find a lot of Sponsees are the same, but its a personal thing, so do as you please. To be honest I do find it a bit weird (and funny) that I have a half empty Vodka bottle sitting next to all my cleaning stuff in a kitchen cupboard. Funny really. What would a visiting Sponsee think if they saw it!! Might look a bit suss! Hahaha.

In theory de ionized water or some distilled water might be ok to use instead, but I have tried it before once, admittedly in a much larger spray bottle, and it went a bit ! rank after a while. Don't really know why. But I love the two cleaning ladies on that programme, and have used their suggestions more than once already, so I just assume they know what they are talking about. All I'm saying is that the vodka element is not ESSENTIAL. If you like the idea, but don't fancy using the vodka.

Ok you will need:
Some GOOD Ylang Ylang from somewhere likeFragrant earth. (I would choose the Ylang Ylang extra superior - 10ml (Reference #EO669), but then I am a bit of an essential oil snob!)
Also. You could get some Geranium, Rose - 5ml (Reference #EO27O-5ml) because it is pretty cheap. Not as nice on its own, but can be added to a Ylang Ylang base.
Orange, sweet - 10ml(Reference #EO48O-10ml) is good on its own too but I find it a bit weak.
Sandalwood might be really nice actually, but I haven't tried that one. Lime might work, but I haven't tried it. And orange and clove would probably work well together but I haven't tried that one either. Still doing the flowery ones! There are LOTS of very nice flowery ones but the can be VERY expensive, so better to stick to the cheaper ones.

Then go to Waitrose and pick up the 'low rent' own brand vodka designed for cocktails (because it has less ? Taste apparently) Or so it says on the label!

Then off to superdrug to get yourself one of those empty spray bottles for a pound.
And voila! You have a !!! GORGEOUS room fragrancing kit.

The way this works is: you put ? 6-10 drops of Ylang Ylang in the empty spray bottle. Then you fill the rest up with the vodka. Shake it up a bit. Then use it as a room spray.
I LOVE it. It make the place smell EXACTLY the same as being in a flower shop full of flowers. Each to their own, but I LOVE it.

I saw it on that programme 'How clean is your house' AGES ago, and kept meaning to get round to doing it. Finally did quite recently.

Obviously, if you start thinking of ! DRINKING the vodka, then this is probably not for you! Stick to some lovely ! aerosol instead!

But I just thought that I would share that with you as I was deeply impressed by how good it smelled, and have been handing out little bottles of the stuff to people when I meet them. (Not random alcoholics I might add!) They seem to like it too. The vodka element always elicits a slightly puzzled look as well, which is always a bit of a laugh.

But basically, it IS lovely. Its like the room is filled with flowers. Not at ALL like normal ? Room fragrancers.

Its FAR too nice weather to blog and I'm enjoying my rest from study, so excuse my lack of enthusiasm for posting, but I just thought I would share that recent discovery. I should be in the gym!! I've managed to reinstate the gym routine, but I'm still eating luxuries. Ie crap. Boo hoo! Its back to the raw vegtables I reckon. Its not easy giving up bread! Ah well. Rice and beans might be an adequate substitute for the crack-cocaine-like addiction to bread! Worth a try anyway. See yal! Have a nice Sunday!