April 9, 2014 Just for Today

Two days, two posts. Wow. A cup of morning joe, some musings and writing.

Today I am delving into a bit of “this may be a glimpse of things to come.” I have to drive a little over an hour to visit the school I will be teaching a class at this coming fall. My wife teaches there and I will be filling in for her as she will be a bit busy come September….giving birth and taking care of our new baby. I don’t anticipate this will lead to a permanent job for me at this school. Still, it is not a bad idea for me to get some much needed practical experience teaching a course. Provided that I might pursue a teaching position somewhere, someday.

I enjoy teaching a lot. At least in certain situations. Helping others and walking someone through the steps. Awesome. One-on-one or in small groups teaching folks about biology (my specialty), Great. Getting locked into a job that includes teaching. Well, I am not as sure. But that has as much to do with my fears, quirks and insecurities – not so much that I don’t think I would not like doing this. Part of how I talk myself out/down from going after a full time teaching gig is to tell myself I would not like certain parts. I essentially sell myself on saying those are deal breakers. Yet I waver as to whether my head is giving me self-justification for not making a commitment to trying to pursue teaching or if my concerns are legitimate.

Worry, fear insecurity. Hmmmm. Seems I need to pray about this one. Give it up, let it be and allow the big guy to take care of it all.

AA Blogger

April 8 2014 Just for Today

Good Morning.

Just having my morning cup of coffee. Waking up to great God and the new day. So nice to be clean and sober. Spring is finally arriving here in the Northeastern United States. The warm weather can bring such a sense of renewed hope. A fresh start.

I have apparently began to fret a bit about my impending work contract coming to an end towards the end of this year. Strange dreams that I can, eventually, tie back to some part of my brain that is mulling over this work stuff. Yet it is interesting to step back from that and examine all this with the a perspective that I have been taught in AA. Kind of like the New Pair of Glasses idea that Chuck C. talks about…..so this spring I am looking out over the six month horizon at my 5 year stint of my current (nice, wonderful!)  job coming to a close. Things will change and there are many parts of my brain that does not like such changes. On some level I can worry, which can grow into fear. About money, security, health insurance, the discomfort of getting out of my routine and familiar surroundings,….etc.

On the other hand, I can pray and imagine that there is a grand new adventure just up ahead. It will be more exciting and full of joy than I could ever envision. Other changes are on the horizon too. Come Sept 20th or so, my wife and I will have another son. That will obviously be another big change for me and everyone in our house. My current contract coming to a close also means that I am going to be moving on to something different and, if my experience shows can teach me anything, that there is something even better for me just up ahead. So there is a part of me that can feel like a kid in Disneyland. What’s next? I am not sure but it will probably be fun and good.

Thinking about spring, and season where renewed warmth, growth and beauty begin to unfold, I can play a mind game and think that next spring will be one where my life is much, much different. And my brain wants, in so many ways, to tell me to be scared. At least this morning I can say to my head – shut up! I know better. Instead I can believe that whatever that unknown is all about, that not so far ahead place in my life journey, it holds new and unexpected joys. I have nothing to worry about.

All the best,

AA Blogger


Happily Busy

A post that I wrote over a year ago, and that ended up in my files, but for some reason I did not post when I wrote it!

Over the past few months I have visited Trinidad, Montana, North Carolina and New Jersey. Family, work and in one case just taking a few days off. Part of my alcoholism seems to be this dual sense concerning most of things I do in life. I like to travel and I like to stay home. Funny how my brain and emotions work. Anyway I do seem to manage to get to go to a new cool place about once a year and somewhere really cool every few years.

Trinidad was a neat place to be but unusual in a lot of ways. One of the strange things was my inability to decide if the place was safe or not. I spent some of my time attending a conference at a University there. It was fortified with lots of fencing and security personnel. The locals too were willing to point out that I should be careful when I was out and about. I was not able to get far beyond my work meetings, a few organized road trips and field work (I am a biologist so fortunately my work is often pretty cool too). Taxi was my main mode of transportation but Trinidad is a laid back place. This means for a taxi ride, if you make plans to have a cab pick you up they might be there within a half hour of the time you set. A few people staying at the same place as me we also attending the conference so it was convenient for us to go back and forth to the University together. One trip back, we did not get in a cab until 1 1/2 hours after our scheduled pick-up time!

The place I stayed at was on a mountainside and there was a winding road up to and past my accommodations. This was also the route to a trailhead into some mountain rainforest where I spent some time doing some work.  There were numerous old buildings along the road, with most of them originally associated with an old monastery. One of these buildings had a sign indicating that said it was a treatment center. Yet there was only ever a person or two that I saw around the place. It seemed more deserted than anything. A few days before I left someone was out by the gate to this place and I asked if there were any meetings there. Turns out the place was closed down. There were not many meetings listed on the AA schedule I was able to pull up from a local AA website. So with the uncertainty of the taxi service, there not being many meeting and most of them being scattered around and my work schedule it was just not in the cards for me to go to a meeting while I was there.

Have a Little Faith

I am reading what has, so far, been a great book (Have a Little Faith: A True Story). The story is about one man’s journey exploring his ambivalence towards God and any kind of spiritual life. I came across this great passage about the secret to happiness. Paraphrasing from the book: Be satisfied and grateful for what you have, for love and for what God has given you. Pretty darn good advice that goes along nicely with so many things I have been taught and shown in AA, and in living a sober life.

One of the interesting things going on with my reading this book is my sense that I need to read more inspirational works as a part of my general reading. Sure I read the handful of things that I have been reading for years (Big Book, 12 X 12, etc.) but I also need to read other things as well. Throw new stuff not only into the mix but outside of my normal reading practices that are a part of my habitats (or sometimes my lack thereof!).

Be well. And Sober.

Gratitude and Death

My father passed away this summer. Dealing with such loss is a roller coaster of emotions. Even so I have been sober more than half my life now and so this is not something that makes me think of drinking. In fact the turmoil and upheaval that someone close dying brings to me brings a large dose of gratitude that I am sober. Grieving is necessary because loss is a part of a normal, healthy life. People come and go and I usually have little say over when. By being sober I can feel and deal with loss.

When I was drinking suffering a loss was similar to some other negative experiences I went through. Dealing with humiliation and shame, usually after doing something bad while drunk, was of the same ilk. The emotional upset was akin to a dull reverberation that sounded inside of me for long periods of time. I would do my best to not let thoughts, memories, regrets and emotions about these things surface to see the light of day. That would just be too much. Instead they festered and were never really dealt with. Fortunately these experiences were not regular occurrences but it did seem bad things were happening to or around me at a steadily increasing rate as I progressed along the downward path of my alcoholic decline.

The other prism of this-sober-life/that-drunken-life that has come up for me when someone close dies is how I can now handle all the social stuff that revolves around these events. Part of this for my Dad was being at the hospital and having to ask the right questions in order to know what was happening. Making decisions, phone calls, talking to other love ones to ask what they need or want, and on and on. I even find comfort and know it helps my grieving process, and my own healing, to do things like being there (and in this case being involved) for the wake and funeral. Like hearing those funny stories about my Dad that people remembered.

Going to a funeral when I was drinking was something I avoided at all costs. I felt terror at having to be around anything like that. What is one supposed to do, or say or act like? I thought I should know and that someone would figure out I did not! Instead I have learned that one should just be there. To try to help others and to ask others for help if I need it. What I do now is to try to be kind and thoughtful and this helps me to say what ever is appropriate – or to not say anything at all.

It is so very strange that my Dad is gone. He definitely haunts me, showing up in my thoughts at so many junctures in my day. Thinking about calling him, but he is not there to call. Remembering conversations on the phone with him from the bus stop as a I stand there now. Playing with my son and remembering my Dad’s last lucid words to me were to ask about his grandson. His absence does seem unreal. As if it cannot be really be true.

Happy Holidays

Things are great this holiday season. Last Christmas I was ill, in bed, and missed the festivities at my sister-in-laws. This year I was up, able and in attendance.

My son is now almost two and it was a joy to see him enjoying Christmas day. Don’t think he know what was going on, in terms of this day being any different from any other, but it was still lots of fun. Sometimes I watch how he is so in the moment and think that is just what I need. This is after all a big part of the point of what AA teaches me. The difference with my son and myself is that it is not so cool to be ready to cry at a moments notice when I feel things are not exactly the way I want! Even so, while I am not quite that emphatic in my reactions I have to admit that on a bad day feel and can sometimes act like a little kid when I don’t get my way. On a good day I can readily realize things are not the way I want, look up, and think to myself “whatever you want.” I do have enough experience with introspection to know that getting or not getting my way is not such a big deal. Just as long as  I am on the spiritual is what matters more than my getting my way.

I am still working plenty this week, despite the holiday. I enjoy working during this time of year because it is much easier to get things done. Less people in work, less traffic to and from work, etc. I feel like I can focus more sharply on what I am working on.

Today I am grateful for being sober, for living in a house free and clear, for having a beautiful wife and son, for being able to go to the store and buy what I think my family and I need.

Life is so rich and I am in the middle of a full, fantastic life!


Ok is Great


It has been a good last week or so. Last Friday I met with my boss and learned that my position will be extended for another year. This is not a big surprise but it is a relief. Just that fact that I had to find out if all was well for keeping my term position for another year was enough to occasion some fear. Not freaking out, bugged eyed fear but certainly a tinge of doubt. That being behind me is a relief.

Another thing that has been resolved is some health stuff. Mainly I had to go to three different doctors for three different problems. All of these things were necessary things to get checked and I had been procrastinating in setting all this in motion. Talking with my wife and my sponsor about this over the last month or so really helped. I made my appointments, took the tests I was told to take and now can move forward. No real surprises, other than my one new ailment is less troublesome than I thought. No knee surgery, just some physical therapy. Funny that I have this pattern of behavior all my life – if I do A it may lead to B, and I don’t want B so I avoid A. Doing A, eventually, leads to C and I learn that B was just not part of the picture. Then realizing I should have just done A a lot sooner. At least being sober has improved my angst about many things and my stalling, which of course is all about fear and doubt, is nothing like it used to be. The old me was paralyzed, in some ways steered around by, and just plain had a life rife with a constantly juggling agenda of keeping myself busy in order to avoid other things.

Now I have to follow up with what comes next from my health assessments. Physical therapy, a possible outpatient half day run through the hospital, and who knows what else. I do at least feel willing to move forward.

Another good thing that has happened over the course of the last week has been some better stick-to-itness on my part. I need to work hard at adhering to what my brain wants to believe is a strange schedule. Get up at 4 during the week, try to catch the 4:48 bus, and stay at work until around 3 PM. Then time to get home as the wife and I are trying to get a little better dinner routing down. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am also slating to be morning meeting days. So I get up from my desk at work at 7:15 on those days, walk the ten minutes to the serious and great mens’ meeting, then walk back to work. I stuck to my schedule pretty well last week and am doing the same this week. One of the big reasons I want to do this is because the whole framework works for me, and my family, on many levels. Yet neither my wife nor I are inclined or really get pushed to adhere to a schedule. I really do not have to be in work at any time, and most days it does not even matter if I showed up in my office or not. Getting the work done is important, not my being there per say. Even so, it is difficult for me to work at home these days because it is too tempting to start doing things that have nothing to do with work if I am home. It is also way better for me to get out of the house in the morning before anyone else is even thinking of stirring.

None of this is anything spectacular but it is all, collectively, really nice. I feel like I am on a bit of a roll. Steady and even, nicely serene and overall feeling pretty good. I will be sure not to get used to it…….since things are sure to get even better.

Stay sober and be well,

AA Blogger