DR – August 1, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
August 1, 2021


Daily Reflection

LIVING IT

The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83

When new in the program, I couldn’t comprehend living the spiritual aspect of the program, but now that I’m sober, I can’t comprehend living without it. Spirituality was what I had been seeking. God, as I understand Him, has given me answers to the whys that kept me drinking for twenty years. By living a spiritual life, by asking God for help, I have learned to love, care for and feel compassion for all my fellow men, and to feel joy in a world where, before, I felt only fear.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill’s Story, pg. 12~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

The Alcoholics Anonymous program has borrowed from medicine, psychiatry, and religion. It has taken from these what it wanted and combined them into the program which it considers best suited to the alcoholic mind and which will best help the alcoholic to recover. The results have been very satisfactory. We do not try to improve on the A.A. program. Its value has been proved by the success it has had in helping thousands of alcoholics to recover. It has everything we alcoholics need to arrest our illness. Do I try to follow the A.A. program just as it is?

Meditation for the Day

You should strive for a union between your purposes in life and the purposes of the Divine Principle directing the universe. There is no bond of union on earth to compare with the union between a human soul and God. Priceless beyond all earth’s rewards is that union. In merging your heart and mind with the heart and mind of the Higher Power, a oneness of purpose results, which only those who experience it can even dimly realize. That oneness of purpose puts you in harmony with God and with all others who are trying to do His will.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may become attuned to the will of God. I pray that I may be in harmony with the music of the spheres.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Gratitude

We learn the magical lesson that making the most of what we have turns it into more.

—Codependent No More

Say thank you, until we mean it.

Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude makes things right.

Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with whom we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. if you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Today, I will shine the transforming light of gratitude on all the circumstances of my life.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

The great artist is the simplifier.

—Henri Amiel

Just as an artist creates through simplification, so a man’s recovery process grows and deepens as he simplifies his life. This isn’t easy to do in our fast paced and high-powered world. We have often complicated a problem by our way of thinking. Sometimes we take pride in how complex we can make something seem. We look for hidden meanings when the truth is on the surface. We give long explanations for our actions when none is called for. We suspect a person’s motives when taking him at face value loses nothing. We take on a battle when we could just as well let it pass.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as artists. Yet we are each given a profound, creative opportunity – to fashion a meaningful and worthwhile pattern in our lives. As we seek to do the will of God today, it is as if we are taking a lump of clay and creating an image from it.

As I go about today’s activities, may I find ways to make it a simple and creative expression.


Elder’s Meditation

“Everyone has to find the right path. You can’t see it so it’s hard to find. No one can show you. Each person has to find the path by himself.”

–Charlie Knight, UTE

There are certain times in our lives when a voice whispers to us. The voice doesn’t always talk. Usually we hear it best when we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Inside every person is the knowledge that a Supreme Being exists. Sometimes a restlessness occurs and it makes me feel I need to be doing something or I need to be going somewhere or maybe I start wondering who am I? Often when this happens, I feel lost. Inside of everyone is the natural, built-in desire to be walking the Red Road, or to be seeking a relationship with the Creator. No one can force us to make this journey. We must make this journey because we want to. This journey is not on the outside. The path is inside of ourselves. It is inside that we must begin our search.

Oh Great Spirit, help me this day to look within myself. If trouble arises, let me realize that it’s not what is going on but how I am looking at what is going on. Give me Your power this day to conduct myself according to Your way of life.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Your self-esteem gets a boost today, as do the resources that are available to you. You may realize that you’ve outgrown old power dynamics, as lessons in personal power, healing, and shared resources arise. Speak up for yourself, move from a place of inner strength, and set the boundaries you need with loved ones and friends. Friendships and relationships are highlighted for you now, so you may be surprised by people’s ability to respect the new you.

DR – July 31, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 31, 2021


Daily Reflection

A PRAYER FOR ALL SEASONS

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can, And wisdom to know the difference.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 125

The power of this prayer is overwhelming in that its simple beauty parallels the A.A. Fellowship. There are times when I get stuck while reciting it, but if I examine the section which is troubling me, I find the answer to my problem. The first time this happened I was scared, but now I use it as a valuable tool. By accepting life as it is, I gain serenity. By taking action, I gain courage and I thank God for the ability to distinguish between those situations I can work on, and those I must turn over. All that I have now is a gift from God: my life, my usefulness, my contentment, and this program. The serenity enables me to continue walking forward.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the easier, softer way.


Big Book Quote

“Many doctors and psychiatrists agree with our conclusions. One of these men, staff member of a world-renowned hospital, recently made this statement to some of us: ‘What you say about the general hopelessness of the average alcoholic’s plight is, in my opinion, correct. As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help. Had you offered yourselves as patients at this hospital, I would not have taken you, if I had been able to avoid it. People like you are too heartbreaking. Though not a religious person, I have profound respect for the spiritual approach in such cases as yours. For most cases, there is virtually no other solution.'”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, More About Alcoholism, pg. 43~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

This leaves only one day-today. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burden of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something, which happened yesterday, or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time. Am I living one day at a time?

Meditation for the Day

Give God the gift of a thankful heart. Try to see causes of thankfulness in your everyday life. When life seems hard and troubles crowd, then look for some reasons for thankfulness. There is nearly always something you can be thankful for. The offering of thanksgiving is indeed a sweet incense going up to God throughout a busy day. Seek diligently for something to be glad and thankful about. You will acquire in time the habit of being constantly grateful to God for all His blessings. Each new day some new cause for joy and gratitude will spring to your mind and you will thank God sincerely.

Prayer for the Day

I pray for a truly thankful heart. I pray that I may be constantly reminded of causes for sincere gratitude.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Letting Go of What We Want

For those of us who have survived by controlling and surrendering, letting go may not come easily.

—Beyond Codependency

In recovery, we learn that it is important to identify what we want and need. Where does this concept leave us? With a large but clearly identified package of currently unmet wants and needs. We’ve taken the risk to stop denying and to start accepting what we want and need. The problem is, the want or need hangs there, unmet.

This can be a frustrating, painful, annoying, and sometimes obsession-producing place to be.

After identifying our needs, there is a next step in getting our wants and needs met. This step is one of the spiritual ironies of recovery. The next step is letting go of our wants and needs after we have taken painstaking steps to identify them.

We let them go, we give them up – on a mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical level. Sometimes, this means we need to give up. It is not always easy to get to this place, but this is usually where we need to go.

How often I have denied a want or need, then gone through the steps to identify my needs, only to become annoyed, frustrated, and challenged because I don’t have what I want and don’t know how to get it. If I then embark on a plan to control or influence getting that want or need met, I usually make things worse. Searching, trying to control the process, does not work. I must, I have learned to my dismay, let go.

Sometimes, I even have to go to the point of saying, “I don’t want it. I realize it’s important to me, but I cannot control obtaining that in my life. Now, I don’t care anymore if I have it or not. In fact, I’m going to be absolutely happy without it and without any hope of getting it, because hoping to get it is making me nuts – the more I hope and try to get it, the more frustrated I feel because I’m not getting it.”

I don’t know why the process works this way.

I know only that this is how the process works for me. I have found no way around the concept of letting go.

We often can have what we really want and need, or something better. Letting go is part of what we do to get it.

Today, I will strive to let go of those wants and needs that are causing me frustration. I will enter them on my goal list, then struggle to let go. I will trust God to bring me the desires of my heart, in God’s time and in God’s way.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

Look at the post as a bullet. Once it’s fired it’s finished.

—Catherine Bauby

Today is before us as an unformed experience. Yesterday took its own shape, and whatever it was has now gone. Our only opportunities exist in what we will do this day. Perhaps we can enhance the day by starting with a review of yesterday and then letting go. What were the major events in our experiences yesterday? How do we feel about them? Is something left unfinished in our feelings or actions that we need to complete or repair today? Can we take yesterday’s experience to build a better today?

We have centered ourselves in this day by reviewing where we just came from. We have taken a spot check inventory. Now we can let go of yesterday and move forward in the present. That does not mean we never think about the past again. It means we build on the past by learning from our experiences and letting them shape our activities now. In that way we draw ever closer into accord with the will of our Higher Power.

I will let go of the past by learning from it. I give myself to shaping today.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

You may be doing well financially, but the downside could be that now someone else wants a cut. If you get a request that you aren’t sure about, don’t be afraid to ask a more informed person in your network for advice. Whether or not the original provocation turns out to be better or worse than it sounds, opening a line of conversation with someone you trust about money matters might alert you to something else that is important for you to know.

DR – July 30, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 30, 2021


Daily Reflection

GIVING BACK

. . . he has struck something better than gold. . . .He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 129

My part of the Seventh Tradition means so much more than just giving money to pay for the coffee. It means being accepted for myself by belonging to a group. For the first time I can be responsible, because I have a choice. I can learn the principles of working out problems in my daily life by getting involved in the “business” of A.A. By being self-supporting, I can give back to A.A. what A.A. gave to me! Giving back to A.A. not only ensures my own sobriety, but allows me to buy insurance that A.A. will be here for my grandchildren.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, The Family Afterward, pg. 127~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise, and perhaps its poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn. Do I still worry too much about tomorrow?

Meditation for the Day

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is not seeing, but believing. Down through the ages, there have always been those who obeyed the heavenly vision, not seeing but believing in God. And their faith was rewarded. So shall it be to you. Good things will happen to you. You cannot see God, but you can see the results of faith in human lives, changing them from defeat to victory. God’s grace is available to all who have faith – not seeing, but believing. With faith, life can be victorious and happy.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may have faith enough to believe without seeing. I pray that I may be content with the results of my faith.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Accepting Powerlessness

Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been in an antagonistic relationship with an important emotional part of myself: my feelings. I have consistently tried to ignore, repress, or force my feelings away. I have tried to create unnatural feelings or force away feelings that were present.

I’ve denied I was angry, when in fact I was furious. I have told myself there must be something wrong with me for feeling angry, when anger was a reasonable and logical response to the situation.

I have told myself things didn’t hurt, when they hurt very much. I have told myself stories such as “That person didn’t mean to hurt me.” . . . “He or she doesn’t know any better.” . . . “I need to be more understanding.” The problem was that I had already been too understanding of the other person and not understanding and compassionate enough with myself.

It has not just been the large feelings I have been at war with; I have been battling the whole emotional aspect of myself. I have tried to use spiritual energy, mental energy, and even physical exertion to not feel what I need to feel to be healthy and alive.

I didn’t succeed at my attempts to control emotions. Emotional control has been a survival behavior for me. I can thank that behavior for helping me get through many years and situations where I didn’t have any better options. But I have learned a healthier behavior – accepting my feelings.

We are meant to feel. Part of our dysfunction is trying to deny or change that. Part of our recovery means learning to go with the flow of what we’re feeling and what our feelings are trying to tell us.

We are responsible for our behaviors, but we do not have to control our feelings. We can let them happen. We can learn to embrace, enjoy, and experience – feel – the emotional part of ourselves.

Today, I will stop trying to force and control my emotions. Instead, I will give power and freedom to the emotional part of myself.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

Many could forego heavy meals, a full wardrobe, a fine house, et cetera; it is the ego they cannot forego.

—Mohandas Gandhi

We inevitably confront our ego in this program. We face our macho self, our powerful self, or our always-right self. We have developed many trappings, which give us an identity: our car, our stereo system, our job, our popularity, or our place to sit in church. The more attached we are to these trappings, the tougher it is for us to make progress on this spiritual path.

In stepping across a stream we must leave the side we are on in order to get to the other side. The repeated challenge in our spiritual life is to leave the secure trappings we know and take comfort in the still unknown new self. That is the leap of faith. We take the risk and trust something will be there for us. We have faith that letting go of our immediate attachments will bring us to a better place, that God will be there for us.

I will let go of external images and use my faith to take the leap forward.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Your ability to communicate may be more powerful than usual at this time, but every power has its limits. Even if you are stating your case as well as anyone possibly could, someone significant still may not want to hear you out, thanks to their own shame about a touchy issue. Focus on the people you can influence, even though they might not be able to change anything for you. Your friends may benefit from hearing your story, and you could benefit from being heard.

DR – July 29, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 29, 2021


Daily Reflection

ANONYMOUS GIFTS OF KINDNESS

As active alcoholics we were always looking for a handout in one way or another.

— “THE TWELVE TRADITIONS ILLUSTRATED,” p. 14

The challenge of the Seventh Tradition is a personal challenge, reminding me to share and give of myself. Before sobriety the only thing I ever supported was my habit of drinking. Now my efforts are a smile, a kind word, and kindness.

I saw that I had to start carrying my own weight and to allow my new friends to walk with me because, through the practice of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, I’ve never had it so good.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing all day and almost every night. The remonstrances of my friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill’s Story, pg. 3~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days, which should be kept from fear and apprehension. One of these days is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone beyond recall. Do I still worry about what happened yesterday?

Meditation for the Day

“God will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation He will also find a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” If you have enough faith and trust in God, He will give you all the strength you need to face every temptation and to overcome it. Nothing will prove too hard for you to bear. You can face any situation. “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” You can overcome any temptation with God’s help. So fear nothing.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may face every situation without fear. I pray that nothing will prove too hard for me to bear.
From Twenty-Four Hours a Day © 1975 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Have Some Fun

Have some fun. Loosen up a bit. Enjoy life!

We do not have to be so somber and serious. We do not have to be so reflective, so critical, so bound up within the rigid parameters and ourselves others, and often ourselves, have placed around us.

This is life, not a funeral service. Have some fun with it. Enter into it. Participate. Experiment. Take a risk. Be spontaneous. Do not always be so concerned about doing it right, doing the appropriate thing.

Do not always be so concerned about what others will think or say. What they think and say are their issues not ours. Do not be so afraid of making a mistake. Do not be so fearful and proper. Do not inhibit yourself so much.

God did not intend us to be so inhibited, so restricted, so controlled. These repressive parameters are what other people have imposed on us, what we have allowed to be done to us.

We were created fully human. We were given emotions, desires, hopes, dreams, and feelings. There is an alive, excited, fun loving child in us somewhere! Let it come out! Let it come alive! Let it have some fun – not just for two hours on Saturday evening. Bring it with us. Let it help us enjoy this gift of being alive, being fully human, and being who we are!

So many rules. So much shame we’ve lived with. It simply isn’t necessary. We have been brainwashed. It is time now to free ourselves, let ourselves go, and enter fully human into a full life.

Don’t worry. We will learn our lessons when necessary. We have learned discipline. We will not go awry. What will happen is that we will begin enjoying life. We will begin enjoying and experiencing our whole self. We can trust ourselves. We have boundaries now. We have our program for a foundation. We can afford to experiment and experience. We are in touch with our Higher Power and ourselves. We are being guided, but a frozen, inanimate object cannot be guided. it cannot even be moved.

Have some fun. Loosen up a bit. Break a few rules. God won’t punish us. We do not have to allow people to punish us. And we can stop punishing ourselves. As long as we’re here and alive, let’s begin to live.

Today, I will let myself have some fun with life. I will loosen up a bit, knowing I won’t crack and break. God, help me let go of my need to be so inhibited, proper, and repressed. Help me inject a big dose of life into myself by letting myself be fully alive and human.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.

—Herbert Otto

The rewards of our new life are apparent to us because of how we feel, and apparent to others by what they can see. Many of us had reached our bottom point, and we felt there was no risk in trying a program of recovery. Yet, we still had some distorted security in our harmful ways of relating to others or in our addictions. Letting go was an experiment. This program gives us guidelines for experimenting with our life for growth, and we continue growing everyday. Some of our benefits are increased confidence and self respect, more intimacy with our partner, better friendships, and better physical health. We feel these changes in ourselves, and we see them in the other men and women in this program.

Today, I am grateful for the rewards in my life from this experiment in recovery.


Elder’s Meditation

“A good heart and a good mind – those are what you need to be a chief.”
–Louis Farmer, ONONDAGA
The combination of heart and mind is very powerful. The Medicine Wheel teaches that two worlds exist – the seen and the unseen. The seen world is the physical and the unseen is the spiritual world. Both of the worlds are necessary to discover true reality. The seen world is easiest seen by the male side. The unseen is easiest seen by the female side. The heart is the unseen and the mind is the seen. Blessed is the leader or person who has developed the heart and the mind. Truly, the person is of tremendous value to the Creator and the people.

My Great Spirit, help me this day to develop both my female side and my male side. Let me know all the feelings of each, let me develop and grow my intuition and my mind. Let my development only serve You.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Collaborating to share resources with someone else could ultimately bring stability to your life, but working out the details may be difficult at the moment. You might find yourself easily triggered by some component of the situation that reminds you of a difficult past experience you had with authority. This feeling could be useful information, yet you may need to explore it further. With Mars revving up your communications beginning today, you might come off more aggressive than you intend, so try to think before you speak.

DR – July 28, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 28, 2021


Daily Reflection

THOSE WHO STILL SUFFER

Let us resist the proud assumption that since God has enabled us to do well in one area we are destined to be a channel of saving grace for everybody.

— A.A. COMES OF AGE, p. 232

A.A. groups exist to help alcoholics achieve sobriety. Large or small, firmly established or brand-new, speaker, discussion or study, each group has but one reason for being: to carry the message to the still-suffering alcoholic. The group exists so that the alcoholic can find a new way of life, a life abundant in happiness, joy, and freedom. To recover, most alcoholics need the support of a group of other alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope. Thus my sobriety, and our program’s survival, depend on my determination to put first things first.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

But life among Alcoholics Anonymous is more than attending gatherings and visiting hospitals. Cleaning up old scrapes, helping to settle family differences, explaining the disinherited son to his irate parents, lending money and securing jobs for each other, when justified these are everyday occurrences. No one is too discredited or has sunk too low to be welcomed cordially if he means business.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, A Vision For You, pg. 161~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

To continue the paraphrase of the psalm: “The judgments of the twelve steps are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than whiskey, yea, than much fine whiskey, sweeter also than wine. Moreover, they warn alcoholics and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand our alcoholism? Cleanse us from secret faults, Keep us from presumptuous resentments. Let them not have dominion over us. Then shall we be upright and free of the great transgression.” Am I resolved that liquor will never again have dominion over me?

Meditation for the Day

God can be your shield. Then no problems of the world can harm you. Between you and all scorn and indignity from others is your trust in God, like a shining shield. Nothing can then have the power to spoil your inward peace. With this shield, you can attain this inward peace quickly, in your surroundings as well as in your heart. With this inward peace, you do not need to resent the person who troubles you. Instead, you can overcome the resentment in your own mind, which may have been aroused by that person.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may strive for inward peace. I pray that I may not be seriously upset, no matter what happens around me.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Fear

One day, I decided to try something new. I took my ten-year-old son out on the St. Croix River on a Waverunner. A Waverunner is a small boating vehicle resembling a motorcycle.

We donned life jackets and embarked on an experience that turned out to be both exhilarating and frightening; exhilarating when I let myself enjoy it; frightening when I thought too much about what I was doing and all the terrible things that could happen.

Midway though our ride, my worst fear came true. We took a spill. We were floundering in thirty feet of water. The Waverunner was bobbing on the waves in front of me, like a motorized turtle on it back.

“Don’t panic,” my son said calmly.

“What if we drown?” I objected.

“We can’t,” he said. “We have life jackets on. See! We’re floating.”

“The machine is upside down,” I said. “How are we going to turn it over?”

“Just like the man said,” my son answered. “The arrow points this way.”

With an easy gesture, we turned the machine right side up. “What if we can’t climb back on?” I asked.

“We can,” my son replied. “That’s what Waverunners were made for: climbing on in the water.”

I relaxed and as we drove off, I wondered why I had become so frightened. I thought maybe it’s because I don’t trust my ability to solve problems. Maybe it’s because once I almost drowned when I wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

But you didn’t drown then either; a small voice inside reassured me. You survived.

Don’t panic.

Problems were made to be solved. Life was made to be lived. Although sometimes we may be in over our heads – yes, we may even go under for a few moments and gulp a few mouthfuls of water, we won’t drown. We’re wearing – and always have been wearing – a life jacket. That support jacket is called “God.”

Today, I will remember to take care of myself. When I get in over my head, God is there supporting me – even when my fears try to make me forget.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

I am ill because my mind is in a rut and refuses to leave.

—Karen Giordino

We are vulnerable human beings. We are susceptible to accidents and disease, and we can get bogged down in unhealthy thinking. We aren’t at fault when we catch a cold or get a more serious illness, and accidents can happen to anyone. In the same way our addictions and the addictions of people we are close to are not our fault. We never asked for these afflictions, yet we must deal with them.

Physical and spiritual health can’t be separated. A thriving spiritual life creates an environment for physical healing and strength. In the same way, physical well-being infuses our spirit with hope and joy. Human beings cannot go through life without sometimes being ill in either mind or body. Living by this program helps make us healthier in all ways. When we are bogged down, we can turn to one of the Steps as a means of healing and release.

Today, I will remember that I am a whole man, with body and spirit as one. As I turn to the Steps, my whole being is healed.


Elder’s Meditation

“A good heart and a good mind – those are what you need to be a chief.”

–Louis Farmer, ONONDAGA

The combination of heart and mind is very powerful. The Medicine Wheel teaches that two worlds exist – the seen and the unseen. The seen world is the physical and the unseen is the spiritual world. Both of the worlds are necessary to discover true reality. The seen world is easiest seen by the male side. The unseen is easiest seen by the female side. The heart is the unseen and the mind is the seen. Blessed is the leader or person who has developed the heart and the mind. Truly, the person is of tremendous value to the Creator and the people.

My Great Spirit, help me this day to develop both my female side and my male side. Let me know all the feelings of each, let me develop and grow my intuition and my mind. Let my development only serve You.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

A look at your finances may get you wondering how you can increase them. Your mind might first go to the obvious sources of money, like your career, and maybe adjustments in your favor could be made there. With Jupiter now supporting matters of shared resources for you, though, there may also be other income streams you haven’t thought about in a while that are worth looking into. Any financial arrangement that you have allowed to go on autopilot is a candidate for review.

DR – July 27, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 27, 2021


Daily Reflection

GIVING FREELY

We will make every personal sacrifice necessary to insure the unity of Alcoholics Anonymous. We will do this because we have learned to love God and one another.

— A.A. comes of age, p. 234

To be self-supporting through my own contributions was never a strong characteristic during my days as a practicing alcoholic. The giving of time or money always demanded a price tag.

As a newcomer I was told “we have to give it away in order to keep it.” As I began to adopt the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous in my life, I soon found it was a privilege to give to the Fellowship as an expression of the gratitude I felt in my heart. My love of God and of others became the motivating factor in my life, with no thought of return. I realize now that giving freely is God’s way of expressing Himself through me.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks, drinks which they see others taking with impunity.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, The Doctor’s Opinion, pg. xxviii~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

To paraphrase the psalm: “We alcoholics declare the power of liquor and drunkenness showeth its handiwork. Day unto day uttereth hangovers and night unto night showeth suffering. The law of A.A. is perfect, converting the drunk. The testimony of A.A. is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of A.A. are right, rejoicing the heart. The program of A.A. is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the first drink is clean, enduring forever.” Have I any doubt about the power of liquor?

Meditation for the Day

“Walk humbly with thy Lord.” Walking with God means practicing the presence of God in your daily affairs. It means asking God for strength to face each new day. It means turning to Him often during the day in prayer for yourself and for other people. It means thanking Him at night for the blessings you have received during the day. Nothing can seriously upset you if you are walking with God.” You can believe that He is beside you in spirit, to help you and to guide you on your way.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to walk humbly with God. I pray that I may turn to Him often as to a close friend.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Letting Go

Stop trying so hard to control things. It is not our job to control people, outcomes, circumstances, and life. Maybe in the past we couldn’t trust and let things happen. But we can now. The way life is unfolding is good. Let it unfold.

Stop trying so hard to do better, be better, and be more. Who we are and the way we do things is good enough for today.

Who we were and the way we did things yesterday was good enough for that day.

Ease up on ourselves. Let go. Stop trying so hard.

Today, I will let go. I will stop trying to control everything. I will stop trying to make myself be and do better, and I will let myself be.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

You cannot get it by taking thought;
You cannot seek it by not taking thought.

—Zenrin poem

We are transported into unfamiliar worlds in this program by ideas that sometimes confound our mind. In the spiritual realms we learn things we didn’t learn anywhere else, and gradually they bring us peace. We can decide with our will to follow a spiritual direction, to turn our life and will over to the care of our God. We cannot control what God will do with them. When we learn that part of our problem was trying too hard, being too self sufficient, or being too controlling, our old ways tell us to try hard to control that. But then we are only doing more of the same old thing. We learn that after making our decision, our Higher Power takes over. Now it is possible to be released from our own trying, to move beyond our own efforts by falling into the caring hand of God.

I must give this program first priority in my life, remembering my spiritual progress comes as a gift, not as an achievement.


Elder’s Meditation

“Let us put our minds together as one.” –Irving Powless, Sr., ONONDAGA

If we sat in a circle and put an object in the center of the circle and we all described what we saw, everyone would see different points of view from each other. Some would even see opposites because they would be sitting on opposite sides of the circle. In other words, you don’t have to see what I see for you to be right. In fact, everyone in the circle is right based on their own point of view. If we are willing to listen to everyone’s point of view, then we can get a more accurate description of the object in the center. This is one way to put our minds together. When we get the clarity from each other, we should give thanks and be grateful to each other.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Broadening your horizons, like with a trip or a continuing education class, could be appealing to you now. Better yet, having something exciting to save up for may be the kick you need to get your finances in order. Fortunately, starting today, clever Mercury will boost your ability to think through money matters for the next couple of weeks. Competing with yourself can be a great motivator, so try coming up with several small goals. You can celebrate when you meet each one!

DR – July 26, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 26, 2021


Daily Reflection

THE “WORTH” OF SOBRIETY

Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 160

When I go shopping I look at the prices and if I need what I see, I buy it and pay. Now that I am supposed to be in rehabilitation, I have to straighten out my life. When I go to a meeting, I take a coffee with sugar and milk, sometimes more than one. But at the collection time, I am either too busy to take money out of my purse, or I do not have enough, but I am there because I need this meeting. I heard someone suggest dropping the price of a beer into the basket, and I thought, that’s too much! I almost never give one dollar. Like many others, I rely on the more generous members to finance the Fellowship. I forget that it takes money to rent the meeting room, buy my milk, sugar and cups. I will pay, without hesitation, ninety cents for a cup of coffee at a restaurant after the meeting; I always have money for that. So, how much is my sobriety and my inner peace worth?

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“To sum up about sex: We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, How It Works, pg. 70~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

When we come to the end of our lives on earth, we will take no material thing with us. We will not take one cent in our cold, dead hands. The only things that we may take are the things we have given away. If we have helped others, we may take that with us; if we have given of our time and money for the good of A.A., we may take that with us. Looking back over our lives, what are we proud of? Not what we have gained for ourselves, but what few good deeds we have done. Those are the things that really matter in the long run. What will I take with me when I go?

Meditation for the Day

“Hallowed be Thy Name.” What does that mean to us? Here “name” is used in the sense of “spirit.” The words mean praise to God for His spirit in the world, making us better. We should be especially grateful for God’s spirit, which gives us the strength to overcome all that is base in our lives. His spirit is powerful. It can help us to live a conquering, abundant life. So we praise and thank Him for His spirit in our lives and in the lives of others.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be grateful for God’s spirit in me. I pray that I may try to live in accordance with it.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Owning Our Power

Don’t you see? We do not have to be so victimized by life, by people, by situations, by work, by our friends, by our love relationships, by our family, by our feelings, our thoughts, our circumstances, and ourselves.

We are not victims. We do not have to be victims. That is the whole point!

Yes, admitting and accepting powerlessness is important. But that is the first step, an introduction to this business of recovery. Later, comes owning our power. Changing what we can. This is as important as admitting and accepting powerlessness. And there is so much we can change.

We can own our power, wherever we are, wherever we go, whomever we are with. We do not have to stand there with our hands tied, groveling helplessly, submitting to whatever comes along. There are things we can do. We can speak up. Solve the problem. Use the problem to motivate ourselves to do something good for ourselves.

We can make ourselves feel good. We can walk away. We can come back on our terms. We can stand up for ourselves. We can refuse to let others control and manipulate us.

We can do what we need to do to take care of our selves. That is the beauty, the reward, the crown of victory we are given in this process called recovery. It is what it is all about!

If we can’t do anything about the circumstance, we can change our attitude. We can do the work within: courageously face our issues so we are not victimized. We have been given a miraculous key to life.

We are victims no more unless we want to be.

Freedom and joy are ours for the taking, for the feeling, for the hard work we have done.

Today, I will remind myself as often as necessary that I am not a victim, and I do not need to be victimized by whatever comes my way. I will work hard to remove myself as a victim, whether that means setting and enforcing a boundary, walking away, dealing with my feelings, or giving myself what I need. God, help me let go of my need to feel victimized.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness.
—Erich Fromm

Many of us have felt so insecure, so poor, or so much the underdog that we made a fervent promise to ourselves that we’d come out on top later. We know how weak we felt, and that image continues to be our guiding force long after the weakness was overcome. We may have spiritual problems because we are blind to the reality of our present life. While grasping for more security, more love, more money, or trying to lose more weight or attract more friends, we fail to stop and realize the real rewards we already have today. We are driven by the memory of pain and insecurity, rather than rising above it and relating to the higher principles and people around us. Getting more control or more achievements does not solve our spiritual problems, but by making peace with the fact that life is insecure.

Today, I will let go of my grasping for more. I will let go of it again and again throughout the day so I am not ruled by this weakness.


Elder’s Meditation

“These are our times and our responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes. In order to do this, we must recognize the enemy – the one within us. We must begin with ourselves…”

–Leon Shenandoah, ONONDAGA

The outside is merely a reflection of our insides. My mind is designed to tell me that I’m not crazy for thinking what I am thinking. Even if I have angry thought, my mind is giving me excuses and reasons why it is OK to think what I’m thinking. I need to be knowledgeable about the laws of harmony and balance. I cannot twist the laws to serve me, but I can adjust my life to serve the laws. This is the law – I am here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not here for me to misuse and abuse.

Oh Great Spirit, allow me the insight and knowledge of how to live in harmony and balance with my surroundings. Grant me change from within.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Your philosophical or spiritual understanding of the world is probably emotionally comforting to you. If you want to talk to others about it, communicating kindness will be key to getting a receptive audience for your views. Making the effort to explain out loud the things you take for granted can push you to evaluate whether your beliefs are in line with what you actually value at this moment. If you don’t like the way you sound, your philosophy may be due for a tune-up.

DR – July 25, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 25, 2021


Daily Reflection

THOSE WHO STILL SUFFER

For us, if we neglect those who are still sick, there is unremitting danger to our own lives and sanity.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 151

I know the torment of drinking compulsively to quiet my nerves and my fears. I also know the pain of white-knuckled sobriety. Today, I do not forget the unknown person who suffers quietly, withdrawn and hiding in the desperate relief of drinking. I ask my Higher Power to give me His guidance and the courage to be willing to be His instrument to carry within me compassion and unselfish actions. Let the group continue to give me the strength to do with others what I cannot do alone.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

“Liquor ceased to be a luxury; it became a necessity.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill’s Story, pg. 5~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

We are living on borrowed time. We are living today because of A.A. and the grace of God. And what there is left of our lives we owe to A.A. and to God. We should make the best use we can of our borrowed time and in some small measure pay back for that part of our lives which we wasted before we came into A.A. Our lives from now on are not our own. We hold them in trust for God and A.A. And we must do all we can to forward the great movement that has given us a new lease on life. Am I holding my life in trust for A.A.?

Meditation for the Day

You should hold your life in trust for God. Think deeply on what that means. Is anything too much to expect from such a life? Do you begin to see how dedicated a life in trust for God can be? In such a life miracles can happen. If you are faithful, you can believe that God has many good things in store for you. God can be Lord of your life, controller of your days, of your present and your future. Try to act as God guides and leave all results to Him. Do not hold back, but go all out for God and the better life. Make good your trust.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may hold my life in trust for God. I pray that I may no longer consider my life as all my own.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Keep at It

Keep practicing your recovery behaviors, even when they feel awkward, even when they haven’t quite taken yet, even if you don’t get it yet.

Sometimes it takes years for a recovery concept to move from our mind into our heart and soul. We need to work at recovery behaviors with the diligence, effort, and repeated practice we applied to codependent behaviors. We need to force ourselves to do things even when they don’t feel natural. We need to tell ourselves we care about ourselves and can take care of ourselves even when we don’t believe what we’re saying.

We need to do it, and do it, and do it – day after day, year after year.

It is unreasonable to expect this new way of life to sink in overnight. We may have to “act as if” for months, years, before recovery behaviors become ingrained and natural.

Even after years, we may find ourselves, in times of stress or duress, reverting to old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

We may have layers of feelings we aren’t ready to acknowledge until years into our recovery. That’s okay! When it’s time, we will.

Do not give up! It takes time to get self-love into the core of us. It takes repeated practice. Time and experience. Lessons, lessons, and more lessons.

Then, just when we think we’ve arrived, we find we have more to learn.

That’s the joy of recovery. We get to keep learning and growing all of our life!

Keep on taking care of yourself, no matter what. Keep on plugging away at recovery behaviors, one day at a time. Keep on loving yourself, even when it doesn’t feel natural. Act as if for as long as necessary, even if that time period feels longer than necessary.

One day, it will happen. You will wake up, and find that what you’ve been struggling with and working so hard at and forcing yourself to do, finally feels comfortable. It has hit our soul.

Then, you go on to learn something new and better.

Today, I will plug away at my recovery behaviors, even if they don’t feel natural. I will force myself to go through the motions even if that feels awkward. I will work at loving myself until I really do.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more. And we also once. Never again. But this having been once, although only once, to have been of the earth, seems irrevocable.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

In the hopelessness of addiction and codependency, and as children of addicts, some of us have considered suicide, and some of us have actually tried to kill ourselves. We have maintained the option as an escape in case life got too difficult. Now, in recovery, we have chosen life. We’ve stopped killing ourselves in the slow ways of our old behaviors, yet some of us hold on to our ace in the hole. Either consciously or unconsciously, we haven’t made that unconditional commitment to life.

It may be one firmer step into recovery – a vote for the life we have been given – to say, “I will never choose suicide. Whatever comes my way, it is not an option for me.” When we give up that one final controlling maneuver, we may find ourselves freer to live in this one irretrievable life we’ve been given.

In choosing to be totally on the side of life, I step further into the care of God. Whatever 1 must meet, God is with me.


Elder’s Meditation

“People need to wake up. They can’t hear God’s voice if they’re asleep.”

–Vernon Cooper, LUMBEE

Black Elk, a Sioux, talks about the hoop of many hoops. He says that above the people is a hoop, a conscience, the total belief of the people. If the hoop is sick, meaning dysfunctional, co-dependent, a lot of alcoholism, family abuse, violence, racism and sexual abuse, the people can get used to this and think this is normal. In other words, the people are asleep. If we have left the spiritual way of life, the people are asleep. If we are giving our power to another entity, the people are asleep. In most tribes, there are Coyote Clans. The job of the Coyote Clan people is to wake the people up. They need to become a nuisance and irritate the people. We must return to the spiritual walk.

Oh Great Spirit, keep me awake today. Let me hear the voices of our ancestors…let me hear the voices of the Grandfathers. Because everybody is doing it doesn’t make things right. Let me hear the truth today and become a coyote for the people. Give me the courage to be willing to be different. Let me walk straight on the Red Road.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Someone close could seem to be hiding something from you, and the more you try to get it out of them, the more they resist. This might make you paranoid, but try to view the situation from another perspective — maybe they admire you more than you know and are scheming to impress you in some grandiose way. Appreciating that the other person may not have bad intentions could help you interact with them kindly rather than suspiciously.

DR – July 24, 2021

Daily Recovery Readings
July 24, 2021


Daily Reflection

Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 20

Self-centeredness was my problem. All my life people had been doing things for me and I not only expected it, but I was ungrateful and resentful they didn’t do more. Why should I help others, when they were supposed to help me? If others had troubles, didn’t they deserve them? I was filled with self-pity, anger and resentment. Then I learned that by helping others, with no thought of return, I could overcome this obsession with selfishness, and if I understood humility, I would know peace and serenity. No longer do I need to drink.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Big Book Quote

The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job wife or no wife we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.”

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Working With Others, pg. 98~


24 Hours a Day – The Little Black Book

Thought for the Day

A.A. is like a dike, holding back the ocean of liquor. If we take one glass of liquor, it is like making a small hole in the dike and once such a hole has been made, the whole ocean of alcohol may rush in upon us. By practicing the A.A. principles we keep the dike strong and in repair. We spot any weakness or crack in that dike and make the necessary repairs before any damage is done. Outside the dike is the whole ocean of alcohol, waiting to engulf us again in despair. Am I keeping the dike strong?

Meditation for the Day

Keep as close as you can to the Higher Power. Try to think, act, and live as though you were always in God’s presence. Keeping close to a Power greater than yourself is the solution to most of the earth’s problems. Try to practice the presence of God in the things you think and do. That is the secret of personal power. It is the thing which influences the lives of others for good. Abide in the Lord and rejoice in His love. Keep close to the Divine Spirit in the universe. Keep God close behind your thoughts.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep close to the Mind of God. I pray that I may live with Him in my heart and mind.


The Language of Letting Go – Codependency

Denial

Denial is a powerful tool. Never underestimate its ability to cloud your vision.

Be aware that, for many reasons, we have become experts at using this tool to make reality more tolerable. We have learned well how to stop the pain caused by reality – not by changing our circumstances, but by pretending our circumstances are something other than what they are.

Do not be too hard on yourself. While one part of you was busy creating a fantasy reality, the other part went to work on accepting the truth.

Now, it is time to find courage. Face the truth. Let it sink gently in.

When we can do that, we will be moved forward.

God, give me the courage and strength to see clearly.


Touchstone – Men’s Meditation

Many things are lost for want of asking.

—English proverb

It’s a principle of this program that we grow, in part, by learning to ask for what we need. Perhaps today we are struggling with a problem that could be eased if we talked to another man in the program. We could call him on the phone and just ask him if he has a few minutes to talk. Maybe we’re wondering about a physical pain. Maybe we feel strange about something we said and would like to ask someone’s opinion.

Mistaken notions about masculinity get in the way of recovery when we refuse to ask for help. We think we should know the answers and be self-sufficient. Maybe we feel stupid if we have to ask. Those notions drop by the wayside as we get healthier and learn the rewards of connecting with others to satisfy our mutual needs. No longer does false pride have to keep us isolated and struggling alone.

Today, I will notice what I need and practice asking for help.


Elder’s Meditation

“Life is like a path…and we all have to walk the path… As we walk… we’ll find experiences like little scraps of paper in front of us along the way. We must pick up those pieces of scrap paper and put them in our pocket… Then, one day, we will have enough scraps of papers to put together and see what they say… Read the information and take it to heart.”

–Uncle Frank Davis (quoting his mother), PAWNEE

The Creator designed us to learn by trial and error. The path of life we walk is very wide. Everything on the path is sacred – what we do right is sacred – but our mistakes are also sacred. This is the Creator’s way of teaching spiritual people. To criticize ourselves when we make mistakes is not part of the spiritual path. To criticize mistakes is not the Indian way. To learn from our mistakes is the Indian way. The definition of a spiritual person is someone who makes 30-50 mistakes each day and talks to the Creator after each one to see what to do next time. This is the way of the Warrior.

Today let me see my mistakes as a positive process. Let me learn the aha’s of life… Awaken my awareness so I can see the great learning that You, my Creator, have designed for my life.


Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Your friends could be exciting now, perhaps because they are intentionally making an effort to pull you out of your shell. You might wonder, though, if their drive to liberate you from some perceived repression is more about them than it is about you. You can humor them and go along with it if you want, but if it gets to the point where you need to talk some sense into them, today you are equipped to get your point across powerfully but gently.

Contentment

To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means
you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come.

Tony Gaskings,
Motivational Speaker and Life Coach


Once at an AA meeting I heard someone say, “Roll with the ups and downs of life. If your life was a straight line you would be dead.” While I agree with this, part of me gets edgy when life just goes on in a dull fashion. Addicts like chaos, despite whether they know it or not. But we strive for a serene, peaceful existence in sobriety.

As you’ve noticed I haven’t written here in a while. Part of me says to myself, “Who is going to care?” You’re just a another alcoholic who struggles through life at times. Is there anything new you can bring to the table? No no really, same shit, different day.

Life goes on like a ship passing through the ocean, up and down swells, during its journey to its destination. Everyone has their good days and bad days. But the good days out number the number of bad days. It’s the result of working on all that trauma I suffered in life due to my own making and coming to terms with it all. Yet, no one is perfect. We can all strive for more.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so contempt in my life as I am right now. All I may do is wake up, have my coffee, go to work, grit my teeth all day over stupid things I have no control over all day, come back home, eat dinner, finally lay in bed after a hard days work and repeat the next day.

Socially I have no friends at all anymore. People have all moved on with their lives. At times I get lonely but for the most part, I’m okay with it. I use to think it was me who drove them away. Instead now I realize people are put in our lives for a purpose. When their purpose in our life is complete, they leave. So be it. The eight hours of social interaction I have at work can be enough most of the time; I get tired of listening to how peoples lives suck, rants , raves, complaints about work, etc. It’s just not something I want to bring home with me. I’ve tried to reach out to old friends even just to say ‘hello’ and not received calls back. There was something there at the time we were friends and now that time has passed.

I am content with who I am and where I’m going in life today. There isn’t really a destination but a place of peace and serenity. For the longest time this place seemed far out of reach. All the experiences of my life, all the good times and bad, have brought me to who and where I am today.