Peace of Mind Office 1
When I see the word “Peace” my initial gut reaction is the snide, shaming, controlling, sneer that my father had towards the late 60’s hippies and the “Peace Movement”.
Since their highest spiritual aspiration was “Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”, a certain amount of self-laughter and head wagging seems perfectly warranted.
But, let’s get a clean start…
“The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered.”
Okay, but let’s say that you have found strength in AA and then moved on to SAA and then found strength there, and then moved on to FA and found strength there, and then moved on to ACA and found strength there…You start to get the picture.
One day you find yourself reasonably strong in all those areas, still as likely as any other tree in the forest to fall, but reasonably strong…one day, three hours at a time.
If it is true that 98% of the illness is mental obsession and only 2% physical compulsion, then it may be time to look at my mind.
Of all the things my mind can do, being at peace is the most beautiful.
Hence…the Peace of Mind Offices
PoM Office 2
There is a line in DOH, DOJ “What could be more valuable than peace of mind? Truly, no human condition is more desirable.”
In 2011 San Francisco was named the greenest city in America, in 2020, the greenest city in California.
We were the first city to shelter in place in the US.
As business stopped, a rent moratorium was put into effect that will end September 30.
As I inventory what is most likely to impact my peace of mind, it is that we have a recalcitrant landlord who will not cooperate with the State and Federal authorities.
But, peace of mind cannot be dependent on other people’s behavior because that puts them in control of my peace of mind…and Al-anon teaches us that that is not God’ will.
I can only take the next right actions, as I have done today, leave the rest to God and enjoy the day that He has blessed me with.
So Gummy and I went on a walk and he pushed the door lock handle of every single parked car we passed. He tried to open every garage door, “woofed” at every dog, fingered and carried every rock, and at every street corner we had to sit down and feel the serrated surfaces of every handicapped, yellow, rubber, decline-for-wheelchair-access to the street.
Then we watched “Heckle and Jeckle”.
The whole time we were together my mind was peaceful…
“The Child is Father to the Man”
PoM Office 3
All Addictions Anonymous believes that there are three kinds of sex: sick, sane and sacred.
Among their sacred practices are sex between partners without orgasm.
We are warned from Pythagorus, the Greek Oracle of Delphi, Plato, through John Milton, Leo Tolstoy, Issac Newton and Gandhi, right down to Muhammad Ali and that great philosopher Rocky Balboa (in the original Rocky) of the losses experienced from orgasmic sexuality.
PrayCall has been accused, wrongly and inaccurately, for being “anti-sex” because we are pro- “finite periods of chastity”.
But, if what I am interested in is peace of mind, then having a complete, sound mind to work with, seems pretty reasonable…and non-orgasmic sexuality, between partners, as AAA suggests, if nothing but an occasional tool…might be helpful.
PoM Office 4
I sponsored a man in SAA 10 years ago.
He had absolutely no recovery in any other program except SAA, but he said something very interesting: “Nothing severs my connection with my Higher Power quicker…than an energy drink”.
I found alcohol and prescription medications to be pretty full-on body drugs.
Caffeine, for me, though, is more of a mind drug.
Although, physically it shows up as:
Restless leg syndrome
Liquid and solid elimination smelling fetid to high heaven
Splotchy pink and white skin
Deep red, old age marks
Looking old and beat up in the mirror
…it is really my brain that gets derailed.
With caffeine, for me, there is no absolutely no possibility of peace of mind.
My former sponcee was right…
PoM Office 5
One important way for me to get peace of mind is to do my part…so I don’t wait around on God to do some magic show.
The other, is to know when to stop…to know when I am defeated.
PoM Office 6
If peace of mind is what you want…it’s probably not a good idea try to achieve it while changing a 2 year old’s diaper who believes that resisting you is a fight for “Liberty, equality and fraternity.”
PoM Office 7
Probably the best thing I can do for peace of mind is to keep boundaries with others, so that when they say or do something hurtful I don’t get banged up with their crazy.
Probably the second best thing is. announcing my limits…so I don’t banged up with my own crazy.
PoM Office 8
It might be a good idea to reach for peace of mind sooner than later.
The Big Book says addiction leads only to three places: insanity, institutionalization or death.
I have seen 17 people kill themselves in the last 33 years.
Two hangings, one with a shotgun, a wrists slit in a tub, and helium in a bag around the head, but more commonly just pills and alcohol.
PoM Office 9
In the swankiest gym in San Francisco, Equinox Downtown, there are the most luxurious private workout rooms called the Mind/Body Connection rooms.
These people know that there is a connection.
If that is true, now that I am not acting out in any addiction, one of the most obvious things I can do to effect my mind positively is to work out with cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility.
It doesn’t take a $500/month executive club membership to figure that out…
PoM Office 10
One of the things he gives me peace of mind is counting my breaths…While I’m washing my wife’s dirty dishes.
She is teaching herself to cook, and at this stage requires 200 pots and pans for every new recipe she launches into.
…so there is plenty of opportunity for peace of mind
PoM Office 11
The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is actually, since April 15, 1992, been named Sri Chinmoy Falls.
Now, nobody has ever named a waterfall after me…so maybe I should listen to this guy.
He says, “Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible…In the spiritual world, next to meditation is music, the breath of music.”
As I search for my Higher Power, through peace of mind, Sri says that music is second only to meditation.
That makes common sense.
It’s the endless series of words, rattling aimlessly through my head, that causes me to be distracted from my soul.
The tones of music take the place of the words in my head, and my body and mind relax.
If I am not Coltrane, Beethoven or Hendrix does not matter a whit…
I am closer to God, listening to the music I play, if Sri is correct, and he is.
PoM Office 12
Thanks God that I can even think the thought “Peace of mind”.
I came to you for one simple thing…to heal me from being deathly hungover every single day.
And now look what you’ve let me do…
PoM Office 13
An old friend of mine, Ellen Bass, was in the national news today.
She wrote “The Courage to Heal” and, for my money, she’s America’s first female saint.
To my profound amazement, after her work was written about on the cover of Time magazine in 1993, she abruptly stopped her work with women survivors of childhood sexual abuse…and devoted herself to poetry.
Honestly, after The Courage to Heal (one of the seven most influential books of my life, along with the Big Book and the Bible) I was hard pressed to see how she could match that contribution to humanity’s evolution…but she persisted, and now, 28 years later, she is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Go Ellen, go…show ‘em what recovered girls can really do.
PoM Office 14
“All generous spirits are ambitious”
I don’t know if I was generous before I got to AA.
Much more likely that I was a “liar, cheat and a thief”, as they say.
But, I did learn to be generous with my time and whatever wisdom I had learned from other people.
And, it is true…I am ambitious.
I have strived to succeed externally…and found that my ambition needed to be redirected inward.
There, ambition was good. It drove me hard to conquer any and all disease in me.
But, when I turn it outward it destroys my peace of mind with narcissistic comparisons with others.
I turn over my desires around success to You. I will be grateful for what You have made me.
PoM Office 15
A prayer from Steve D. the adult, to Steve the teenager:
You don’t have to do anymore. You can rest.
PoM Office 16
“Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
Alcoholics Anonymous p.23
I thought that the main problem I had was drinking when I came into AA 40 years ago… and my life got immeasurably better when I stopped drinking.
But from another line from our primary text it says that, even before I started drinking, that I had “the warped life of a blameless child”.
How is my life warped?
When I didn’t get what I wanted I felt self-pity or depression, which is anger turned inward.
There is no peace of mind where there is self-pity or depression.
Antidotally, I can choose to be grateful instead of self-pitying and I can choose to be honest about my anger instead of shoving it down inside of me and turning it in on myself.
So, surprisingly, honest anger helps me to step up to peace of mind…when the possibility of depression exists.
And I am grateful for that.
PoM Office 17
Save me from my workaholism.
My wife and I have observed the Sabbath for four years, as the ancient Jews did.
Help us do that again, just for today.
I will as Workaholics Anonymous says: try to have “Unstructured events, without goals”, just for today, three hours at a time.
I feel sure you can run the world today without our help…
PoM Office 18
I had the most beautiful 11th step this morning.
I didn’t say or think words. I only heard melodies I was writing.
For most, these melodies would seem dissonant but, for me, they were delightful.
Thank you HP for expanding my definition of meditation.
PoM Office 19
I am so grateful to be consistently thin.
I just want to spend the whole day rejoicing.
PoM Office 20
The New Math…
If I carry one extra pound of fat on my body, at 2000 steps/mile, for a five mile run, I am leg-lifting an extra 10,000 pounds over the course of the run. And that’s how it currently feels when I run distance…like I am carrying 10,000 pounds.
PoM Office 21
As the COVID 19 pandemic slowly comes to a close I want to keep certain things we have learned from this experience these 17 months:
First, as always, that sobriety and abstinence come first regardless of what is happening in the world.
Secondly, that an emotionally honest community is strong enough to see me through anything.
Thirdly, that it is possible to heal from all addictions.
And, for me personally, I want to keep the precious hours that I spend daily, peacefully communing with my soul through music, as a practice of the 11th step for as long as I live… one day, three hours at a time.
PoM Office 22
“Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries.”
Meditation started out, for me, sitting cross-legged, in a half lotus position in 1972 and just trying to not be distracted by my own thoughts.
Later that year I tried chanting “ Hare Krishna” after reading Gandhi’s favorite book the “Bhagavad Gita”…that repetitive centering prayer kinda pushed my thoughts out of the way.
After reading John Cage’s work I began to listen to my environment as an aural landscape…and that was surprisingly calming, though a little weird.
In 1980 I started going to AA, studying the literature carefully and meditating on the words, which is actually “the precise instructions” on how to meditate in the AA 12x12.
In 1990 my third AA sponsor had me read a book on meditation and was introduced to the Buddhist concept of breath prayer which at the time was of absolutely no interest to me.
But, by 33 years old I had become very interested in my body’s health and I remembered breath prayer and finally it dawned on me that this was a physical way to meditate…and I was in. It’s been my favorite way to meditate for decades now.
But most very recently, I have tried to replace the thoughts in my head…with musical tones that I create.
It has been delightful.
If it is true that “Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries”, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out I could replace my thoughts with tones not made by me, but say Beethoven’s Symphonies, or even Picasso’s paintings, Chihuly’s glass, Dickens novels or Shakespeare’s plays.
“It has no boundaries”, and as an addict…that certainly does appeal to me.
PoM Office 23
“First…Seek the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness“
As I am running as hard as I can and my heart is stretching as hard as it can to be as strong and as healthy as it can, it occurs to me that this just might be God’s righteousness.
Imagine that…what a cool God.
PoM Office 24
Sometimes I just chant the slogan “ Peace of Mind” over and over again…and that slows my locomotive-about-to-fly-off-the-tressel-mind down.
PoM Office 25
After a long day wrangling with finances, but staying balanced with living foods and intense exercise, it was enveloping to let the chromatic tones of my guitar wash over me for an hour and a half.
No more thoughts…just tones.
Lovely, lovely peace…
PoM Office 26
What am I? I am a human.
What does that mean?
It means I have a need for air, water, food, sleep and exercise.
That seems pretty obvious. Excepting exercise, my alcoholic father understood that.
But I have other needs that he, nor virtually anyone else, understood in the 1950’s.
I have a need for safety: physical, emotional and financial safety. The AA 12x12 talks about this need.
Then there is the blockbuster of all needs: the need for love and belonging…the need to be accepted, exactly the way I am.
Every addict in the world, no matter what the addiction, is crying out…no matter how silently…for this need to be met.
Once I feel loved and get a little more functional I need people to esteem me, to value me…and once they do, I start to value myself…and then a certain mature autonomy starts to take place.
Then 12 step teaches not just us effectively, but the world, about two needs:
- the need for prayer…to attain sanity through humility.
- and the need for service…to know freedom and joy.
Now we are healthy, safe, loved, sane, useful, functioning humans.
But there is more on offer.
I have a need for contentment…being satisfied with who I am, what I do and what I have in life.
That is a newly discovered need, but if I can get that need met, I have the spiritual leisure to develop yet another need. The need for beauty…because I have, and everyone else has, an inherent need to be creative.
So, now we are creative and content…but there is one more need I have:
The need for peace of mind…
And that’s what we are slowly and carefully exploring in this book .
PoM Office 27
Sometimes the best thing to do for peace of mind is simply pray the steps:
“I admit that I am powerless over my mind/that my life has become unmanageable.”
“I’ve come to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.“
“I’ve made a decision to turn my life and my will over the care of God, as I understand God.“
PoM Office 28
I will be 67 next month.
Much of what I have feared in my life was aging was not actually aging, but simply self-destructive living.
Since I got sober from alcohol I have been running regularly, 5 miles at a time…I just like the number 5.
I have never timed it, only measured the distance, until 6 months ago.
Honestly, when I saw the numbers, I felt angry and pretty nearly discouraged.
The best medical advice I ever got was “ There’s nothing wrong with you that diet and exercise won’t cure”.
So, today I changed my run to 5K (which is 3.1 miles) and I found…that I am actually running faster than 16-19 year olds.
I feel my need for contentment, self-esteem, joy and peace of mind met.
This plan of recovery really does work.
PoM Office 29
With the exception of counting 75 breaths today, I had no peace of mind.
I was acting like a young Al-anon newlywed, with not one whit of recovery, trying to solve all my problems, in one day.
I can do better than that…
I have done my part (and a platoon of other people’s, probably).
I will surrender the rest to God.
PS: I recovered my peace later that night, through yoga
PoM Office 30
There is a story in the third edition of the Big Book called “The Cost of Sobriety”, where a sailor puts pen to paper to see exactly what his alcoholism has cost him.
I thought of that story tonight when I began writing on the new Peace of Mind book.
Our landlord is demanding $5184 in 45 days or he will evict us, because he refuses to cooperate with the State government.
$5184/45 days = $115.20/per day
Is peace of mind worth $115.20/day?
Sure it is…pay the man, Steve.
PoM Office 31
Step 10 for an hour.
I woke up with a resentment, because I wouldn’t own my part in a hurt last night.
No peace of mind here…
If I am angry with one person, it’s probably them. Two people it might be them.
Three…it’s definitely me.
I made my amends, and it lightened up, but persisted.
As I inventoried, I was angry at myself, because two days ago my body scale started to break, it gave me wrong information, and I made a food plan based on bad numbers.
But, I was angry at myself for that mistake.
I feel foolish and laughing at myself now.
I really love my food plan and my exercise plan.
…and my mind is peaceful again.
Someone gave me poignant and beautiful complement during PrayerCall today.
I have learned to accept compliments at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, so I am thankful.
That being said, I need to distinguish something: I am the hose…not the water.
Five years ago, Ray J. said something out loud that everybody was thinking…but nobody would say:
- God has anointed you to do a work for the sick
- We need to get it all down on a website, or a book, before you die.
That’s why we now have the website ActWithCourage.
Igor Stravinsky, the great Russian classical composer who, arguably, wrote the best piece of classical music in the 20th century, the “Rite of Spring”, said something about humility that I really like:
“I take no pride in my artistic talents; they are God-given and I see absolutely no reason to become puffed up over something that one has received.”
Tell ‘Em Igor.
Sometimes you have to lose something you think is really important…to get peace of mind.
PS: Alona really likes this one
“Four stockbrokers took villa residences in Italy... and 400 nobodies were ruined.”
What does that mean…to be a nobody?
I guess in my life I have met a few people that are considered “somebodies”:
I met these four guys once, at different times, in my life: Muhammad Ali, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Johnny Cash and Lance Armstrong. Muhammad Ali was the most recognized person in the world at the time.
Cy Young Pitcher Barry Zito, Cyber Inventor Charles Brewer, and Congressman Hank Johnson were students of mine…This helped business immensely.
I worked with John Cage. I know the lead singer for Metallica, James Hetfield, very well.And I had a sponcee who was worth 300 million dollars.
As I look at this list, James Hetfield and my sponcee are worth exactly the same amount, but I see James more as a “somebody”…so fame is probably more of a standard of measurement to be a “somebody”.
So what if you are not famous or not rich? Or not beautiful, sexy, funny or smart..and what if you will never be any of those things?
“I am nobody, going nowhere, doing nothing.”
Bruce Hampton, former student, who performed with Hendrix at the Atlanta Pop Festival
What if you are a nobody?
Can I still be healthy, safe, loved accepted and know that I belong, esteemed by others, esteem myself, know humility through prayer, know joy through usefulness in service, be content, be creative, and finally can I know peace of mind?
I am a nobody…and I have those things. These are the God-given, inalienable rights of all God’s children.
I tried to run after re-injuring my hamstring yesterday…made it 1/2 block.
Being in pain, as a good addict, I wanted to get out of it somehow.
When your thigh hurts and you think that coffee will solve the problem…you know you are an addict.
Instead, walked with Gummy and my wife, did yoga and push-ups…and the craving passed.
Now…back to sanity and peace of mind.
I find God these days not through alcohol or sex recovery but rather from food and exercise recovery.
My body scale along with my food scale are kind of like my altars where I sacrifice to my Higher Power daily.
My body scale has been fritzing the last week.
I bought an identical one and sure enough it was reading over a pound off.
I was going crazy trying to guess the right numbers by repeatedly weighing and trying to determine the mean from the wild swings!
I feel some peace of mind around that…
Both my guitars are in the shop this week, so my major source of relaxation is gone.
I actually introduced my wife to movies, but she only likes FBI/CIA action movies where the good guy wins and there is a huge body count…and we have seen all of those twice.
As she said, “Maybe it’s God’s will not to watch movies now”.
It’s good having a smart wife…
“Boundaries are a sign of a healthy mind”
A musician is like a connoisseur of fine foods: he wants to try French cuisine, Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese and Health foods…And enjoy the exquisite array.
A composer is like a man who is in love with a woman. He can see no other woman. No other woman interests him. All he wants to do is to develop that single relationship as deeply and tenderly as he can.
That is what money is for…to get musicians to do what composers hear in their heads.
But, if you do music that is not intended to make money…you better have a real small band.
In response to a question on desire for success:
I found that, for me, being extremely successful, like my friend James Hetfield, was not what God wanted for me. He wasn’t opposed to that, but he was firmly opposed to that…until I put my recovery before my success.
There is a line in the ancient Jewish prophet Nahum...”I am against you" declares the Lord.”
I don’t ever want to be in that position again.
I want recovery first and whatever God allots me after that…I am humbly grateful for.
Did you know that “one adult serving” of Wheatgrass is one ounce
Sunflower sprouts is two ounces
Salmon is three ounces
Steak is three ounces
Popcorn is one ounce
Ice cream is four ounces…like I could eat that!
If just seeing this makes you mad (like it does me) then we both probably are food addicts.
A letter of gratitude:
After twenty rehearsals to get the music right, and four more to present it in a way that people could hear it, I am happier with my music than I have been since the John Cage days, 45 years ago…and, it was built on the premise of no money.
If you listen carefully, there is a touch of your influence there…I am humbly grateful for the time we had together.
In order that I have peace of mind I need to keep my needs clear. I have a need for financial safety (talked about in the 12x12 4th Step) which is met through teaching. I have a need for love and belonging which is met by going to meetings. I have a need for contentment, which is met by conquering all my addictions. And I have a need for creativity that is met through writing and playing music.
But…if I try to get my need for financial safety, love and belonging, and contentment met through music I will feel frustrated and appear crazy, when actually I am doing the right thing…just at the wrong place.
Sorting out needs is kind of complicated and sensitive, but it is essential for me to know peace of mind.
I had a call about religious addiction today.
These are tricky calls because America is still 2/3 Christian and we have the biggest Christian population of any country in the world, so it is really easy to misinterpret talking about religious addiction as “Christian bashing”.
But, and this is true of any religion in any country in the world, using the ecstasy that comes from a “personal relationship” with God to overcome depression, loneliness, neediness, hurt, or sadness is addictive behavior.
If I can’t get sober, the essential question that must be asked is “ Is my view of God more important to me than getting sober?”
If so, then that view of God that I have has to be let go of.
But, if I am religiously addicted, I simply cannot make that rational decision.
These discussions need to be mercifully brief, because the more you talk about this to someone who is religiously addicted (as I certainly was)…the tighter they cling.
My best suggestion is simply what AA told me 40 years ago…just keep coming back.
Religious addiction and artistic preoccupations cross the identical neuropathways of fantasy, according to Patrick Carnes, the founder of sex addiction recovery.
If I am failing at meeting my financial needs, my needs for love and belonging, and my need for contentment because I am demanding that what I do to meet my need for creativity fulfill all four needs…then I am not rational.
I have to admit I am wrong and I have to let go of my beliefs…and start over.
There is tremendous peace in that surrender.
I am so grateful for three gifts that I give myself when I am in conflict with another person:
First, the gift of chastity, which gives me social resilience.
Secondly, the gift of fasting, as it helps keep my mind focused.
Thirdly, the gift of prayer, as it directs my then focused mind to a positive, healthful…and even funny, place.
…and you can’t laugh and be angry at the same time
A letter to the leader of AAA.
On visiting Catholic Monks:
From 1982-2002 I spent several days a week at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Atlanta.
That’s where I got the structure of six times a day for PrayerCall.
Of all the people I have ever met in 66 years, the two that were the best humans I have ever known were Catholic monks.
I knew dozens of other monks. Many were depressed, had food or family of origin problems and were just fleeing life in a monastery.
But, the ones that were motivated by loving God were the most gentle, kind, strong, passionate and funny men I have ever known.
I wasn’t very well then, but they loved me very much…and I will never forget them.
I am grateful for learning to pray at dinner, before going to bed and memorizing the Lord’s Prayer as a child.
The content may not have meant much then, but the structure was helpful, so that when I feel scared…I know what to do.
These are my needs:
After a conversation on the character defect of overreacting:
My mother used every tool she could think of to stop me from becoming a professional musician and to only do it as a hobby.
I felt incredibly hurt and betrayed by her.
But, I overreacted…
From 13 to 17 years old I was a professional musician…I have my very first dollar on the Spring of 1968 hanging on my wall when I was in 8th grade playing in nightclubs till 3:00am to prove it.
But after that the composer in me started to develop, at 17 , I didn’t want to do what was necessary to be a successful commercial musician…I hated it actually.
My mother intensely wanted me to be a lawyer.
My overreaction to that was I never stopped to ask myself, “Are you content, after 17, being a commercial musician?
I never stopped to ask myself, “Do you esteem yourself as a commercial musician?”
I never stopped to ask myself, “ Are you financially safe as a performing musician?”
Instead, believing that I could get my needs for creativity, love and belonging and peace of mind needs met, if I just got good enough, I fought my mother with everything I had.
My mother made a huge, huge mistake… But I overreacted.
Can’t be at peace…when I’m at war with me
In sex addiction recovery there’s Inner Circle, which means things you don’t do, Middle Circle, things you avoid so you don’t get to your Inner Circle, and then there’s Outer Circle…Things that are fun that you get to do because you’re sober.
Probably the biggest advocate of Outer Circle that I know, is our own Jeff D., who leads the 9:00 am.
He is an extreme mountain cyclist… Ask him about it sometime.
My Outer Circle is simply playing the guitar.
When I sit down with my guitar I always feel a wonderful, light feeling. That feeling is hope.
It is the hope that I will get better.
All my pain and problems are gone, I feel hope and…and I am at peace.
I woke up and my mind was “out to get me”.
That just means that everything that I could possibly feel fear and negative about were competing fiercely for dominance.
I just stayed in bed, in a supine position, for 75 minutes and prayed Step Six and Step Seven.
But these steps are not magic. God is not Santa Claus.
What actually happens is God puts me in similar, parallel, or the exact same situations that I am fearful of, and then gives me an opportunity to trust Him…instead of letting my character defects drive me batty.
Bring on the pain, Lord…Because my mind is peaceful now.
Prayer brings me peace…
Postures of Prayer that were useful to me today:
Kneeling with my wife saying the Lord’s Prayer.
While running for five miles reciting, over and over, “ Fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet.”
Standing doing yogic bends and breathing…while waiting in the Apple store to help expedite my wife’s returns.
75 minutes, lying in supine position in bed, and repeating over and over the 6th and 7th step. Nothing pretty…but very effective
In the deepest part of my heart what I believe about money is “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall me added unto you”.
My second wife was a pretty, smart woman who was very good with money.
She asked me one time “How do you go into a doctor’s office and get $600 of medical tests for free…how do you do that?”
I told her “I think that when you really love people, honestly and openly, they want to say thank you…and they give you things”.
Today, an anonymous donor contributed to Alona and my work, substantially and generously.
We were breath taken, and with tears in eyes, grateful.
Alona made me stop, so that we could feel the grace of God…
So I recited an old favorite the Doxology:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above you heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
I want to say something about the phrase “Alona and my’s work”.
I have been serving people for 33 years because my sobriety depended on it.
But, from the first day, four years ago, Alona has been going to every meeting, posting offices, shooting and editing videos, making websites, managing hosting, weekly inventorying finances and leading prayer every day…on top of putting up with me (which alone would gain her sainthood) but also having and raising Gummy, who is hotter than a three dollar pistol.
I can’t tell you how honored I feel to have such a partner.
It’s right out of the Genesis story with the spare rib.
It’s a little risky though…
We have bonded so clearly and firmly that there have been half a dozen times I have wakened in the night, dreaming of another woman, and, completely in her sleep, she will tap me on the shoulder…just to remind me that what I am doing is middle circle behavior.
That’s a little scary, LOL
Every now and then it’s good to talk about sex on a site that is primarily used for sex and food recovery.
It is good not to masturbate or or cheat on my wife, to not “despise or loath sex, nor to use it lightly or selfishly”, as the Big Book states.
One of the gifts of sexual sobriety is a certain degree of sexual competence, and I am grateful and pleased with my ability to be satisfactory within my marriage around physical intimacy.
However, yesterday, I made love like an eighth grader. Felt embarrassed and a little shame.
Made amends to my wife and gave her a rain check for a better outing.
I can do better than that…
I have a huge number of challenges, just within me, to conquer.
When someone else is going through their own challenges, it’s important to recognize that that is not about me.
Otherwise their conflict becomes my conflict, and there is no peace…of any kind.
We recorded six musical videos of the Lighthearted Offices last week and emailed them to 30 people.
The most glowing described it as “Uniquely Amazing”.
That is so fantastic that I’m gonna name the group that…
But, the one I was really waiting for was from a former best friend of mine.
I got him into sex addiction recovery after he got arrested in a sting operation for prostitution and then got him into AA.
We were best friends for 10 years…Then he went back out and never came back, 10 years ago.
It broke my heart.
He was also one of the four best musicians I have ever worked with in my life.
We sent him videos, too.
He said “Thanks Steve. I like the music”.
I have basked in that complement all day.
Feels, just a touch, like wanting my Daddy’s approval…but, I guess I honestly needed some “esteem of others”.
When I was in eighth grade, at 13 years old, my parent’s alcoholism dramatically increased after we moved to the country.
I met a 15 year old boy who had a prayer meeting once a week in his home. It was here I was introduced to the idea of giving God all the glory and never taking any credit.
30 years later, my then oldest and best friend said “You stopped drinking…And you never gave yourself any credit”. He was right.
We are required in AA to “do our part”. We do not expect God to do everything for us.
AA says “God will not set alarm clocks, fry eggs, or cut checks”.
To give God all the credit is not honest or accurate. I have set a lot of alarm clocks, fried a lot of eggs (or at least tofu) and cut a lot of checks.
I am thankful to myself for doing my part in stopping drinking, taking drugs, using tobacco and caffeine.
There is a peace of mind that comes with the self-esteem of “doing my part” that is available in no other way.
I could not have stopped drinking without God’s help, but there is a proportioned relationship here. He’s got all the power…but, I need to acknowledge both parts, in the spirit of honesty.
Our Tenth Tradition states “We have no opinion on outside issues”.
Religion is clearly an “outside issue” for 12 step.
I have three experiences with the God of my religion:
- In the summer before fourth grade in vacation Bible school at Fort Knox Kentucky I experienced a “knowing” and have remained firmly convinced of the god of my religion ever since.
- At 27 years old when I began to recover from addictions I tried to avail myself of the power of the god of my religion…And utterly failed. What I did not understand at the time was that I was religiously addicted, and God was not going to let me use Him as “spiritual booze”.
- Three years ago, in a parking lot in Laos Southeast Asia, I experienced the same “knowing” that I had experienced when I was nine years old, except this time there was a sense of humor. I was concerned about an injury I had sustained when my father broke my back as a child. When I said “Je-sus Christ” for three steps and was silent on the fourth step, as I ran, I had perfect form when I was running…I kind of felt like God was laughing at me, but, just today, I used that technique…and ran 7.5 miles.
Thomas Jefferson said that music was “The Favorite Passion of My Soul".
I achieved near peace for an hour and forty five minutes when I ran today and was repeating a centering prayer the whole time.
But it wasn’t until I let go of the verbal prayer that I could reach my soul and know peace.
Boy, this is a long way from just not taking a drink today…but the SLAA text does say on page 159: “The truth is, we feel we are “on to” something big. We don’t know where it will lead us. We just don’t know what the upper limits of healthy human functioning are. In any event, our hunch is that we are but newcomers to this larger experience of living, this wider arena of life.”
My next to highest need, before peace of mind, is creativity.
As Otto Rank would say Music puts me in a “second super-real world”…exactly like my son when he is playing in his imaginary world.
That’s why we get along so well together…we understand each other.
When I am feeling unsafe, the very last thing I need to be doing is being open to physical intimacy.
That would be a total self-betrayal…
New opening line for my musical act:
Watched a movie about luck and had a dream about Sexaholics Anonymous last night.
They wanted me to be a regional representative for them at an international conference, which I had done for SAA in 2004.
I explained that, like when Food Addicts Anonymous left Overeaters Anonymous, they weren’t angry…they just didn’t need them anymore.
But, when I look back at some of the things I have done, and didn’t get caught…I was very lucky.
As recovery moved from sex addiction to food addiction, it finally dawned on me that the emphasis on chastity might move to fasting…
Duh! It only took 4 years to figure that out.
Last week and this week, when we shot videos my bass player and wife feasted, while I fasted.
I found it I was so much more on my game.
I am feeling pretty peaceful with myself.
Exercise, food, weight, writing, music, fasting and finite chastity are really working for me…three hours at a time.
Ran 9 miles today.
It took 2 1/2 hours…that is grandma time.
But I felt thrilled at the novelty and health of it all.
Thank you God…I know you approve.
Workaholics Anonymous proposes a spiritual aspiration “unstructured events without goals”.
When I worked with John Cage 45 years ago he used to call it “purposeful purposeless”.
I just call it “fun”…it’s briefer.
I was able to reach peace of mind when I ran 9 miles yesterday, at 7.75 miles, when I was chanting “ fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet”.
I was able to reach peace of mind lying in bed this morning chanting “easy does it”.
But, in both cases it wasn’t until I just shut up, and just stopped praying, that I could access my soul.
New slogan: “Shut up…and feel your soul”
My first girlfriend with whom I was sexually active, 50 years ago, sent me a text yesterday and said “It warms my heart that you have found the perfect wife in Alona”.
I replied: I saw movie one time. At the end it said, “This movie is dedicated to my first love…may it finally Rest In Peace”…
We can finally be friends.
I have learned something about the differences between men and women:
A woman will put up with a lot more baloney than a man will in a relationship. But, there’s a certain point, where she reaches her limit and she’s done. She moves on…and never looks back.
We men, stay love addicts our whole lives.
Unless….you have a really super strong program…Thank you God!
A conversation on Food:
“You are growing in your exercise sobriety…
OA and FA don’t address this…but that is a foolish inadequacy, as we know now from the studies on inactivity and it’s relationship to coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
In fairness, in 1960 when OA started no one knew this. In 1998, when FA started, they were beginning to suspect it, but we’re too afraid of exercise bulimia to address it…courageously and moderately.
As my music expands I come into contact with more women.
I guess I hadn’t been really conscious of how few women are in my life recently.
Relationships with women are exactly like relationships with men: Feelings, boundaries, limits and needs.
But, there is one additional element, as a heterosexual man, and that is the potentiality for sex.
I really didn’t have those particular boundaries up as consciously as I would if I knew I were going to be presence of lots of women.
…but I want the music to continue to expand, so I’m willing to take responsibility for those boundaries.
A responsible professional musician will be very sensitive to his audience’s responses to his work to insure an uninterrupted supply of income.
But, I am a workaholic and one of the characteristics of that disease is “turning play into work”.
I need to spend some time each day doing something utterly useless. See https://uselesslybeautifulthings.com/
Gandhi spent one to four hours a day at a spinning wheel every day of his life.
I feel certain it wasn’t because he needed the clothing so badly.
“’A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings!”
Brave New World
In the last 14 years I have upon occasion felt this fear.
But, the truth was, it was not old age, but rather poor food and exercise choices, that once I really put everything I had into “Absolute Purity”…completely disappeared.
But, I must do everything I am truly capable of…
“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
“Promoting our own physical well being is as much a part of recovery as reprogramming our past. We live in our bodies, after all, and the condition of those bodies either limits or expands our capacity for emotional management.”
“Physical training should have as much place as mental training.”
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”
“As with the body, so with the Universe.”
These are from three of the wisest, most loving books I know…and they are all saying the same thing.
I had a dream:
There is a young girl, 13 to 17 years old, dancing on a labyrinth in the Black Forest in Germany.
The Labyrinth is in the shape of a half moon with 12 concentric crescents.
The girl is dressed in a pretty, but modest, flowing dress and is barefoot.
She dances the first dance in the first half circle passionately, freely, expressively.
And then moves to the next half moon circle improvising dance again.
She dances on all 12 crescents, one at a time until she completes her dance.
At the end…she sits down and is dissatisfied.
She thought that, through her beautiful dance through the 12 crescents, she could express herself and find peace of mind…but she could not.
But, in the end, she realized she had to have God’s help.
Dreams are utterly useless without interpretation.
Here is mine: The “soft tissue programs” like Al-Anon and Codependency Anonymous believe that you can’t control addicts but you can control your mind.
My experience is that great strides can be made through using the 12 steps…But ultimately, like the girl in the dream, it requires God’s help to find peace of mind, by finally admitting powerlessness…over my own mind.
Gummy is having a birthday this Wednesday.
We have invited several neighbors.
Four women and two men.
One of the women I invited said “ Well if my boyfriend doesn’t come…you are my date”.
I am utterly powerless over intrigue, intentional or unintentional, and I could feel the energy instantly.
But, like Br’er Fox, I know how to play dumb, when necessary…and just act like I didn’t understand.
I really believe in protecting my marriage, in thought, as well as deed.
For five weeks I have not written any new music because I have been focusing on running for speed, and then for distance.
I broke 10 miles today….only done that once in my life.
My need for self-esteem and my need for contentment felt noticeably met, and expanded into places within me that I have never felt before.
10 miles feels like an excellent limit for me, though, so I wrote for 1 1/2 hours tonight and my need for creativity was met, surprisingly and unexpectedly.
Ellen Bass, in the Courage to Heal, says, “When we are safe and our needs are met, we feel content.”
I like people to think I am deep, meaningful and soulful…
I am thoroughly involved in inventory, prayer and service, every day…so, that is pretty serious stuff.
But, I have got to be honest…the most peace of mind I have felt today was when someone sent a very large check, not as part of the May or November Seventh Tradition drive, but just to say “Thank you” for our work.
One of my needs, as a human-type-person, is the need for financial safety and that was met amply today….and I am humbly grateful.
I suppose it just might be possible to be soulful …and have money, too!
I used to attend Debtors Anonymous with a beautiful Armenian girl.
She said two things that really struck me:
“DA is about self-care”…and “Part of self-care is getting enough sleep”.
Getting enough sleep may not give me peace of mind…but not getting enough sleep sho’ does precludes any possibility of peace of mind.
It says “He MAKES me lie down in green pastures…”
I listened to Beethoven’s last completed work, the 16 minute Grosse Fuge for string quartet this morning.
It is breathtakingly beautiful and fully obsessed.
Genius at that level is completely humbling…and that is good for me.
I feel peaceful…
My wife, Alona, said to me yesterday “This has been the best year of your life”.
She’s right…66 has been my best year.
I have a beautiful, young wife who loves me with all her heart.
My bubbly, boisterous son turns two years old today.
PrayerCall grows in depth, breadth and in numbers daily.
I have stopped all addiction in my life.
Exercise is at an all time high.
And I even get to play weird music a lot.
This is more than this old Southern boy deserves…but, thank you God.
In 1986 The first printing of the SLAA text boldly proclaimed: “…instead of passively turning ourselves over to God as a wholesale protector or a punitive, omnipotent dictator….Perhaps we were supposed to develop our full human capacities.”
Sometimes to achieve peace of mind I must struggle mightily to stop my mind from wandering forcefully.
Over and over again, disciplining myself, to let go of thoughts and focus.
As the long version of the Serenity Prayer says, “accepting hardship as a pathway to peace”.
When you’re tired…and you believe that some nasal analgesic is the solution.
If you have chest pains…and believe sex would solve the problem.
If you can’t sleep….and think that food is the answer.
Like me…you just may be an addict.
The Mayo clinic and the CDC both say that every American needs 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise five times a week, plus twice a week strength exercise.
This is above and beyond the Food Addicts in Anonymous belief in no flour and no sugar.
This is above their weighing and measuring your food.
OA and FA stop the bad stuff…but here is the good stuff:
Gardening, Walking, Running, Swimming, Biking, Playing with your Children.
It is an invitation, because…One view is G.O.D. is Great Out Doors
I heard a guy checking on that the only time he acted out was when he felt bad.
I only act out two times: when I feel bad… And when I feel good.
I act out when I feel bad, because I want to feel better.
I act out when I feel good, because I want to feel even betterer.
Truthfully though, I want to act out, sometimes, when I’m right in between…When I just want to get “out of it”…just a little bit.
I felt that way today…But I stayed with it, and it passed.
I wasn’t very peaceful today.
I felt the joy of service, the calm of prayer, the fun of laughter, the satisfaction of music, the pleasure of family…it was a wonderful day, but I did not stop to meditate or try to find my soul.
I can do that before the day is done.
PS: Finally got it as I counted my breaths and drifted off to sleep.
Today was my son’s second birthday.
None of this would have been possible without AA…
I feel a deep peace from having made the decision to join them.
“He restores my soul”.
This line in this iconic prayer tells me several things:
- I do actually have a soul
- My soul can actually be lost
- With God’s help I can actually find my soul again
If I had to just wildly and randomly guess at what I might need to do so that God might restore my lost soul I’d postulate that I would probably need:
- Pray more than I normally would…so I would remember God
- Not be so selfish, by serving others
But…I’d probably try to lighten up, too.
I mean, have you ever seen a baby laugh…how soulful is that?
Some days I wake up in my character defect of worrying:
Will Gummy accidentally fall out of the third-floor window of our apartment?
Will all the bad sexual things I’ve done in my life catch up with me one day?
Will Keaton ever work with Allen again?
Lord, help me not be Eeyore…
I asked one of the guys to review the new videos on the AWC site.
He said he didn’t like them… because he felt envious.
He said “You’re living the dream I want to live”.
The first thing that I assured him of was that “any success I am having is more God’s success than mine”…That’s what it says in the AA 12 and 12, and I humbly agree.
40 years ago I was a fat drunk, tossing back handfuls of legal prescription medications every day, smoking 40 cigarettes a day and cheating on my wife.
Looking back at it, I had to “Give up the nightmare to get the dream”.
I had a smoking hot girlfriend, who I would regularly convince to leave her boyfriend’s house, after my wife left for work, and come over to my house and have sex with me.
She was so hot I thought it was a dream.
I had a beautiful redheaded, psychic girlfriend for four years. She was the smartest person I ever met after John Cage, but she had borderline personality disorder.
Crazy in the head…Crazy in bed, as the expression goes.
She seemed like a dream, too.
I dated a Japanese nymphomaniac for three years. She was twice the athlete I am. She liked three ways, sex in public places, anonymous sex, voyeurism and exhibitionism.
For a sex addict, she certainly seemed like a dream come true.
On the other extreme: I married a pretty young Jewish woman, who I was with for five years.
We bought an architecturally state of the art, brand new, home and paid 2/3 of it off in two years.
She was a buyer for Neiman Marcus and had exquisite tastes. She dressed like a model and decorated just as well.
But…she warned me about something before we got married. She said “I’m Jewish from the waist down”.
I had absolutely no idea what she meant. It turned out that, for her, that meant that she was sexually anorexic.
At the time…She seemed like a dream, also.
Also, on the other extreme, I dated a five foot one lesbian for eight months. While she was gay, she made an exception for me. It was there that I learned to have sex five hours a day, six days a week and not be orgasmic.
Sexually, in a rather perverse way, it was a dream come true.
Then, I just gave up…and I was chaste for four years.
I gave up my dreams which, as you can see, were all, really, nightmares.
Then, after I totally surrendered the hope of ever having a relationship again, God put a woman in my life to marry and to have children with.
The message, for me, was: “I have to give up my nightmares… If I want the dream”.
To my friend I would ask: Are there any nightmare relationships that you’re holding onto, calling them dreams?
There are those among us at PrayerCall who have 3 to 5 years of sexual sobriety.
There’s one among us who is sober from alcohol and drugs, sex addiction, love addiction, work addiction, food addiction, caffeine addiction and has started on exercise recovery.
There is one among us who is sober from food addiction, adult children of alcoholics issues, alcohol and drugs, caffeine addiction, porn and masturbation is practicing chastity and has started on exercise recovery.
If I were a selfish narcissist, and didn’t care about anybody but myself…I’d still be happy to be here to have my own sobriety.
But, I do care about other people and…
The truth is…PrayerCall works for anybody who’s willing to work hard.
Ran 12 miles today. That is a lifetime high.
I am so grateful to God for giving me the vision to see that, if I stay moderate, that this is His will for me, to be as healthy as I can be, and, that there is more than one way to do that.
I was told today, by my brother’s best friend, that he is now in a wheelchair, as well as dying from emphysema.
That could easily, easily have been me.
God, in his inexplicable mercy, allowed me to get free.
Like Bill Wilson, I just want to sing God’s praises all my life.
The State of California Unemployment Benefits end tomorrow.
It has been a very productive period for me, not having to teach music for 18 months.
I have written four new books: Three Volumes of Strength Offices and the new Peace of Mind Offices.
Also, I have had much joy playing music the last 10 months.
Whatever is next Lord, help me stay abstinent with the food, sexually sober and, of course…no cold Molson’s Ale.
“You anoint my head with oil”
“You have anointed me with the oil of joy”
This second quote is actually a promise that God makes to me…if I love good and hate evil.
I was appalled at, and wanted to change, all the things in me that were selfish and dark: alcoholism, sex addiction and food addiction.
..that’s close enough to hating evil for me.
The food was tapping at my window today, but I prayed it away with Gandhi’s “ Fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction of diet”.
My workaholism starts the moment I become conscious, as I wake up from my sleep.
I move from the free-floating images and thoughts of “free association” of a dream state to …“ I got to!”
I can feel the pressure on both sides of my heart. Kind of like I’m taking my two hands squeezing my heart and pressing it down into the ground.
Immediately, I begin to feel anxiety.
Why do I do this?
My parents were both alcoholics and we’re not able to esteem me.
As a consequence. I “did not have a voice”.
I “was not heard “.
I felt “Like I didn’t count”.
Or, more accurately, “I wasn’t there”.
When I feel anxious…I can feel myself.
So I, unconsciously, create anxiety…so that I know that I’m here.
I feel sad about that.
There is a solution: do nothing, say nothing, think nothing…and then feel.
I did that for 45 minutes this morning in bed… And it felt great.
Anonymity is one of the most fundamental tools in 12 step recovery.
It was originally designed to keep people safe so they could talk openly in meetings.
But, it has tremendous value as a tool for humility.
When you start getting some sobriety time under your belt, it raises your self-esteem greatly. But, it’s easy for that self-esteem to turn into ego.
Then you can start bossing people around with the “selfishness-self-centeredness” doctrine, if people don’t regard your sobriety with the respect you believe you so righteously deserve.
There is nothing godly about that.
It’s important to always remain a newcomer and the best way to do that…is through anonymity so that “ we forever practice a genuine humility”, as the AA 12x12 says.
In FA, one of the tools of recovery is “ Writing “.
“Writing helps us see our situations more clearly and better discern any necessary action.”
“Many of us find that writing a letter to our Higher power gives us greater understanding”.
That really helps, in my experience.
I have to be careful not to let addiction, in any form, slip into my life.
When I do, my addiction says “ Why mess with this? SLRR is what you really like.”
God…keep me simple in my recovery.
I feel content and satisfied with my life tonight.
“I have never been in a situation where money made it worse”…but, "He is richest who is satisfied with the least".
I woke up dreaming about what it was like when I used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day.
It was like I was really there.
The physical self-hurt was painful but what I didn’t remember was how darkly it twisted my mind.
I am trying to do the will of my Higher Power, which, for me, is to do whatever I can to find, as much as is reasonably possible, peace of mind.
I had never thought about how much nicotine effectively distorted my mind.
I am sure that that is true of all my addictions.
I am willing…no glad…to make amends to myself all my life, for the harms I have done myself through my addictions.
My wife thanked me for something, yesterday:
For the opportunity to live a part of her life that she didn’t get to live when she was a child.
She loves to jump rope, look at Asian cartoons, bake, sew, garden, sing and watch social media videos.
I am grateful to support her in loving herself.
I am willing to do the same for myself, as a Ninth Step.
After 54 years teaching guitar, I am guiding myself, as healthily as possible, to play the guitar.
No aspirations to fame and fortune, but simply to meet my second highest human need…the need for creativity.
It’s like two hurt kids living together making a life, loving each other, and loving others.
“Why shouldn’t we start out by forgiving them, one and all?”
AA 12x12 p.78
When my father died he left hundreds of thousands of dollars to his new wife and my brother.
When my mother died she left hundreds of thousands of dollars to my brother.
Both of my parents left $1000 to an old alcoholic African American man named Calton, who helped out around the farm we grew up on.
Both of my parents left me $1000. But the message was very different…
My parents were hard core racists who would never allow African Americans to come into our home…ever.
My $1000 said “You are a (insert derogatory term for African Americans.)
They were very, very angry with me about talking about the physical and sexual abuse that they perpetrated on us as children.
Yesterday, my brother’s best friend informed me that my brother had left all his money to him, that he would not speak to me, yet wanted me to carry his soon-to-be-dead body from Tennessee to Georgia to be buried with my mother and wanted me to pay for it.
Alcoholism destroys any sanity, decency and even common sense in a man or a woman.
But, I have done plenty of stupid and selfish things myself when I was drinking, so, if I want forgiveness:
“Why shouldn’t we start out by forgiving them, one and all?”
Yep…I do feel more peaceful.
When I am in conflict with someone it is important that I own my part.
It is equally as important to be honest with myself when something has nothing to do with me.
Maybe this person is angry with themselves?
I know that when I am angry with myself that my world quickly populates with jerks and fools.
Perhaps this person is just like me?
If I want peace…I have to know when something is not about me.
Labor Day was joyous and fun, full of friends and music, but I didn’t have peace of mind until I washed my wife’s baking dishes and started counting my breaths.
My best sponsor who was a monk with 10 years of chastity, a therapist and a disciplined 12 stepper said once “I do not have the gift of work”.
I am beginning to see the value of manual labor…so that my mind is free to pray.
In response to a question on the difference between Christianity and religious addiction:
I am a firm believer in the living Jesus.
I believe in the resurrection.
If you get time named after you (ie. 2021) you have to have done something pretty special...I mean they didn't name time after me or you.
It doesn't make sense to me if Jesus really beat death, that he would die 30 or 40 years later.
So I believe Jesus is alive…right now. That is, for me.
However, I cannot use the ecstasy that comes from being in the presence of the living God, as a drug to get me high.
Therefore, as an act of humility, and purity, I will continue to seek God through community and service.
I did a half marathon today…13 miles.
Now, I did it “grandma speed“…But it was the longest run I’ve ever done.
I felt very young after. If you are young this won’t make sense. One of my sponcees says “You have to be old to feel young”…I’ll take it.
The last 4 miles I kept chanting something from the long version of the Serenity Prayer “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace”.
As I seek the “Kingdom of God”, one of the many pieces, for me, that seems obvious is physical health.
A good Father would want that for his son…
One of my sponsees wanted to talk about death…
“We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.”
AA12x12 Step 11
“The soul exists, and is distinct from the body.”
Both of these men postulate that there’s some existence after death.
Let’s consider what we know to be objectively true:
When you die your money will go to someone else, as well as your home and all your possessions.
Someone was sift through all sentimental keepsakes and throw everything away that’s not of material value.
The only thing that’s left, objectively… Is the love you have given to others
Your love becomes part of their character, which then helps form other peoples character…on and on forever.
Puts a whole new spin on service, doesn’t it?
We live in a 330 square foot studio in an 24 unit building in the second most densely populated city in the US, after Manhattan.
Gummy began to scream hysterically at 3:45 am.
At that point, it was my neighbors who were interested in peace of mind.
Quick feet and warm milk worked fine.
To a former sponcee with 15 years sex addiction recovery:
I am appreciative of something you said fifteen years ago, that, at the time, I wasn’t able to fully receive and process, and you were the very first guy to say it, “When people ask me are you a friend of Bill W.’s?” I say “No…I am a friend of Steve D.’s”
You were the first guy to see whatever modicum of talent God has given me…and I am grateful to you.
I am grateful to you that I feel bad when I do wrong.
It doesn’t take long to feel like a sick hound dog and know I need to straighten up.
Thanks for the pain…
A new member of PrayerCall asked me if he could get well, if he wasn’t at his bottom, like he was when he first entered recovery, three years ago.
AA has an expression “You can get off the elevator at any floor”.
If I start getting slippery…I try to remember that.
“I am dealing with a sick person who sometimes exhibits symptoms of a disease. I don’t have to take it personally when these symptoms, such as verbal abuse, appear.”
So, if I am shaming, blaming or controlling I am a sick person.
Can you imagine the health that is available when my mind gets well?
A response to an 1100 mile trip to make a Ninth Step amends to a woman who I had hurt 50 years ago.
“Steve, you did me a favor. My mother constantly told me “Boys are only after one thing.” I dated during my senior year of high school, but no one tried anything. In my twisted mental state, I figured that must mean I was nice (they asked me out) but completely unattractive. You ended that misconception for me.”
They don’t all turn out that well.
One woman said “You mother-so and so…you did hurt me!”
I still have to do my part and make amends… Regardless of the reaction.
When I veer around the edges of addiction it clouds my judgment.
And I have to recheck my work when I write…and I feel annoyed with myself.
“Sometimes quickly… Sometimes slowly”
A sponsee was jubilant over the benefits of PrayerCall.
She said “It’s you”.
The sentence kept resonating in my ear.
I believe it’s because God is dwelling within me.
Further, I believe that anyone is capable of it.
As Will Rogers would say “Any five year old can do it…with 20 years of practice”.
In response to the below text from a Sponcee:
“I am an addict, prey to dishonesty, self-aggrandizement, ego and grandiosity”.
My daughter, who I raised myself, when she was seven years old, used to say “There’s my braggy Dad”…
So, she knew self-aggrandizing…up close.
As for grandiosity, every now and then I can find my mind slitheringly wandering from “service others“, to “saving the world”, but that is just unrecovered Al-anonism to keep the attention off working on myself.
As for ego…I compare:
I compare me to Hendrix…and always lose (appropriately)
I compare me to Clapton…and have never understood why I lost
And around dishonesty: Catch me on a bad day and I am a “Liar, cheat and thief” as AA says…when it comes to sex, love, romance and relationship.
I saw Patrick Carnes speak live in a very large, very conservative church in 1991.
When asked “Does recovery ever end?” He said “No…we live in Steps Six and Seven and constantly work on our character defects."
What do I need God for?
For me, because I am powerless over so many things, I need power and guidance throughout each day.
But, their is also a longing in my heart for love:
To quote my favorite Prayer from the Book of Wisdom 7:22-30
“For in her is a spirit, intelligent, holy, unique”
I have a hunger for clarity:
“and pervading all spirits, though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.”
I need strength:
“She is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.”
I long for the divine:
“For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness.”
And I see Her perfection:
“For she is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars. Compared to light, she takes precedence.”
A month ago we took the Gandhi Offices off the Readings Homepage Menu and put them in a more discrete place, because of some social/political flack we were experiencing.
Gandhi made some serious mistakes much later in his life.
I took the time to read every one of them first.
For me, the lessons about chastity and food are impeccable.
But as I read through them, the admonition to “Never eat for pleasure”, stood out.
After meditating on it for a good while I decided to experiment:
I made 4 ounces of organic popcorn with organic virgin olive oil and sea salt for my 2 year old son, me and my wife.
We ate and watched the 1946-1966 cartoon series “ Heckle and Jeckle”.
It was fun.
I will keep a close eye on it…cause Gandhi is usually right.
I had an interesting conversation with the Administrative Director of All Addictions Anonymous today, Matt D.
We talked about what we believe God‘s will was for each of us.
He believes it is God’s will to start a nonprofit in Connecticut from a donation from an 80-year-old woman who has given 275 acres, plus all the equipment, for non-profit use.
I told him I believed it was God’s will for me to write books for 12 steppers and quoted page 167 of the AA 12 and 12:
“Caretakers who swept floors, cooks who fried hamburgers, secretaries in offices, authors writing books- all these we have seen hotly assailed because they were, as their critic’s angrily remarked, “making money out of AA”.
“Ignoring the fact that these labors were not Twelfth Step jobs at all, the critics attacked, as AA professionals, these workers of ours who were often doing thankless tasks that no one else could or would do.”
It was really good to talk to somebody about money, who wasn’t in it for the money, but still had to deal with money…to make God’s will come true.
“Why don’t you choose your own conception of God”
”A man's real teacher is himself.”
“He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths”.
What are these truths?
Service to others
Feelings…To connect with myself, others and God.
Because, “Faith without works…is dead”
I ran another half marathon today.
At 9.25 miles my knees began to hurt.
At 11.5 miles my feet began to hurt, so I started chanting “accepting hardship as a pathway to peace” and alternating that with “Je-sus-Christ”
My Christian friends are often upset with me because I confront religious addiction, but I’ve got to be honest…The Jesus chant made the last mile and a half a lot easier.
My wife has started to pray with me, on our knees, holding hands, in the morning.
I always start off my day praying:
Please…I turn my life and will over to you today…I thank God for my life and my wife (and Gummy).
Then she added the Lord’s Prayer and a prayer I don’t know, but have heard many times:
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.
If I let go of any of my physical sobrieties it doesn’t take long until it hits my Adult Children of Alcoholics sobriety.
Then all the defects of character that God has removed come creeping, or screaming, back:
Demand for approval
Demand for attention
Trying to figure things out and I lose my social resilience, my strength.
And there is no possibility of peace of mind.
Solution: Admit I was wrong, surrender to God and make amends to myself.
I have a friend who is 72.
Life expectancy for 72 year old women in America is 15 years.
According to the most current data, 30 minutes a day five days a week of moderate exercise just might get her to 92.
Run girl, run!
“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace”.
I need to accept the pain of withdrawal.
The feeling of hunger if I want to stay thin.
The feeling of achyness if I want to stay fit.
The struggle of mental discipline if I want peace of mind.
Peace of mind requires a disciplined mental effort, but there is also peace of body.
In two weeks I will be 67 years old.
What I notice is that when I eat foods that are not “living”, I start to have random aches throughout my body and pinpoint headaches. My knees and back start to hurt.
I feel congested and tired. Nothing major, just kind of draggy.
When I don’t exercise vigorously, my heart starts to hurt, and I lose my vigor.
There is no peace in my body.
Then, ibuprofen, aspirin, nasal decongestants start to seem reasonable.
It’s the food…It’s always the food.
If I’m going to have peace of mind I can’t have a cornucopia of unmet needs bubbling up from within me.
It’s hard to have peace of mind when I’m so hungry or thirsty that all I can think about is a medium tenderloin and a bottle of sparkling water.
It’s hard to feel pacific when I am so needy, lonely, hurt or sad that I do desperate things like hook up sites or prostitution…When what I really need is a safe place to talk about how I feel.
It’s hard to feel serene when I don’t have someone to give me positive feedback, so that my need for “esteem of others” is met.
Without that, I become overly self-critical and I am harsh, shaming, and blaming in my self-talk on the one hand, and over-flattering with grandiosity and narcissism on the other.
I need people to help keep me right-sized.
It’s hard to feel placid if my need for contentment is not met.
Without it I am always demanding more of myself, never satisfied with who I am, what I do or what I have.
HP, help me to remember I have real and healthy needs.
From a text from a sponsee: “You are one intuitive and smart mofo”
Guys can be kind of blockheaded.
We require a burning bush, parting of the Red Sea, or bringing the dead back to life for God to get our attention.
The Big Book talks about a more feminine way to notice God.
“We ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought” p.86
But, there is a requirement to reach God this way:
I must surrender anything that blocks my intuition.
It’s a little different for every person. For me, I can’t:
Drink alcohol, take pills, smoke cigarettes or drink coffee.
I also can’t eat flour or sugar…and I can’t masturbate.
But, I like the feminine approach to God.
It’s difficult and painful, but it’s very pure, and reliable…Once I get used to it.
As this site was initially a sex addiction recovery site, we ought to talk about sex every now and then.
Henri de Balzac, the most prolific of French novelists had a beautiful wife that he loved.
Every time he would make love to her he would say, “There goes another novel”…
For the nine months Gummy was gestating, and the first two years he was growing up my wife and I’s physical intimacy was put on the back burner, a bit.
That is appropriate. John Bradshaw said “A healthy home is a child centered home”.
In the last two years I’ve written more books and become a better guitar player than I ever have before.
A month ago I had a conversation with my wife and said I wanted to let go of of some of our ways to be physically intimate.
My wife responded in a generous way
And now I find myself now feeling much more physically affectionate.
…You can just never tell where honesty will lead you.
Exercise recovery is brought about from an unwillingness on the food programs Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous to address the issue of exercise.
This is perfectly understandable, because OA was sued, successfully, when two of its members died and the families were understandably upset.
FA learned this lesson and have been silent on the matter.
There is also a very real fear in FA of “exercise bulimia”.
This is reasonable.
But they both go to the other extreme and say that exercise does not matter…and that is not reasonable.
While 75% of America is fat, there is a growing body of data that indicates that more Americans are dying from inactivity than from obesity.
For several decades the medical community refused to acknowledge that there was longevity associated with exercise.
Doctors would admit that the quality of life was increased with exercise… But not longevity.
This is very similar to the 1960s when doctors were quoted, on television, as saying “Nine out of 10 people prefer Chesterfield cigarettes.”
Personally, I believe it is a fool’s game to try to lose weight through exercise. I have tried it and made an idiot of myself.
If we really do humbly aspire to what the Big Book says to be the “Spearhead of God’s ever advancing creation”, then perhaps now is the time to ask if exercise is part of God’s will.
For me, I remember a line in the big book that says “Any picture of the alcoholic which does not include the physical is incomplete”.
That makes common sense.
Addicts, according to the AA 12 and 12 are either “anxious or depressed”.
For me, after going to meetings and having a good sponsor, I can’t think of anything that calms me down faster, fuller and more completely than exercise.
I divide my exercise into five parts:
Cardiovascular- I run, bike and ,when there’s no Covid, I swim.
Strength-I do 40 push-ups at a time four to ten times a day.
Flexibility-I’ve been doing yoga since 1972
Endurance-When I run, I usually run distance without stopping.
Conformation-That’s simply how your body looks. For the way I want to look, I can’t think of anything more efficacious than push-ups.
Exercise recovery is just like any other recovery.
Start slowly, do just a tiny bit at a time.
Walk 20 minutes. The next day try to run 10 steps in your 20 minute walk. The next day try to run 20 steps.
Do you know how you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time…
“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
I am inexpressible thankful for the simple life you have given us…
Insanity…is “lack of perspective”
I can get so Al-Anon silly sometimes…
I worry about the little things with the same intensity I worry about the big things:
If I worry about who’s hair is in the bathroom shower drain with the same intensity that I worry about my physical health…I am insane.
If I worry about who is supposed to put the new toilet paper roll on the rack with the same intensity that I worry about Gummy falling out of our third-floor apartment…I am insane.
If I worry about getting nonstop flight with the same intensity that I worry about whether we’re going to get evicted…I am insane
Lord, please restore me to sanity when I get like that…
With only 16 days left in the rent moratorium one of my neighbors is frantic about being evicted.
With an 11 year adversarial relationship with my landlord, I was able to be helpful to her in how to protect herself.
But, I can in my ACA and get all Henny Penny, doing “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”.
I feel unnerved and useful, but there is a PrayerCall right around the corner…And I’m sure I will be restored to sanity.
For Patrick: On self-compassion…
The first time I ever heard that alcoholism was a disease, I was 16 years old and heard my girlfriend describing her father.
I didn’t believe her. I really thought she was rationalizing to delude herself about her pain.
When I was 26 and went to my first AA meeting they talked about it as a disease, but I still didn’t believe it for another eight years.
When I got into Sex and Love Addiction Recovery when I was 34, I had been around long enough to hear it…and trust it.
They described it as an “obsession of the mind and allergy of the body”.
Living in Atlanta Georgia in April I fully understood the realities of allergies.
They said when I took alcohol into my system I had a chemical reaction that made me, not only drunk, but insatiably want more.
That made sense to me.
When I applied it to sex addiction, specifically masturbation and affairs, the light went on.
I was not a “Bad man trying to get good. I was a sick man trying to get well”.
When I thought of all the people I had known who were sick with cancer, diabetes, strokes and heart disease I never once got angry with them for having those illnesses. Rather, I felt compassion for them.
Why wouldn’t I do that for me?
(To be read slowly)
…staying in touch with HP when it’s not coming easily?
The first time I ever looked for God I was five years old.
There was an unbelievably loud thunderstorm in my middle class suburban Virginia neighborhood.
I sat in the hallway, as far away from the windows as I could get, with a pencil and a small tablet of paper…and drew a picture of God.
I didn’t think about God much for eight years and then met a boy who was two years older than me and had a weekly prayer group.
He was an evangelical Methodist.
Very conservative theologically, but very on fire with God.
Girls and beer got interesting to me and I drifted away after a couple of years.
At 27 years old I joined AA, after my first tenuous meeting a year before, when I had seen the Third Step on the wall, with the word God in italics, and had walked away.
AA worked fine, but I was having problems with pills, too, and they wouldn’t let me talk about that in AA at the time.
So, I called the minister who had helped us evangelical teenagers when I was 13.
He introduced me to a very enlightened Episcopal priest and I learned a lot about my own misunderstandings of God.
But, I never really fit in with the respectable Christian folks. I was blues guitar player and I liked to use multi-syllabic obscenity.
At 34 years old I hit bottom in my sex and love addiction.
That was so painful that I began to take my recovery seriously and do whatever was necessary to find God.
God, I have found, is kind of like a combination lock.
There are a series of things that will open the lock. No one thing will do.
You know the litany:
Willingness to be abstinent
Reading the literature
Prayer and meditation
I don’t often perceive God as a person, although I have from time to time, and that has been delightful.
But a more reliable source, for me, is the sense of joy, health and freedom I experience, when I do this litany.
It’s like the wind blowing in the trees.
You can’t see the wind, but you know it’s there because the branches are swaying.
God is not the tools, but simply the presence I feel when I work the tools.
If that is true, and I am not feeling God’s presence, then I have to ask myself:
Am I working all the tools…fully?
I am so grateful to be abstinent from food.
I didn’t like it when my stomach pooched out or I had baby minature-ette love handles.
I am really patient with myself when I weigh more than I would like…but I would rather be thin.
HP, help me to remember what I don’t like.
My mind, slowly and disciplinedly, becomes filled with musical tones instead of my own worried thoughts.
I like my mind better now…the same way I like my body better when it is thin and vigorous.
In response to a text from a woman I did a Ninth Step with, three months ago:
A man who has sex with 300 women is not someone who’s enjoying himself…It’s a man who running from something.
When you’re sexually abused as a child you have one of two responses:
You can be so frightened of sex that you become anorexic. That’s what my second wife did.
A more common response is “Bring it on…I’ll show you”. It is bravado. It is a desire never to be hurt that way again. It is a desire for control.
In response to a question into the possibility of being addicted to exercise:
“The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.”
The Mayo Clinic and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) both recommend 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise, five days a week, plus two days of strength exercises…As a minimum for, just average health.
That’s for people in their early 20s to the people in their 90s.
If I’m not doing that minimum, I am in below average health.
Even at “grandmas speed” I can do 3 miles in 30 minutes.
Ask yourself “Am I doing at least the minimum amount of exercise?”
I have to be careful about the people I listen to in recovery.
It’s easy for me to listen to someone that suggests something slothful, or rationalizes addict behavior.
I can get into a seven-year-old-sibling-rivalry mentality. “Well he can do it… Why can’t I?”
I was standing in front of Walgreens with Gummy, waiting on my wife, across the street from Starbucks Reserve, which is a Starbucks designed and decorated it like a sexy, downtown business bar.
A good looking forty year old Italian man, dressed in Armani and Gucci sauntered in to get a Latte.
I honestly felt envious.
He could “handle his high”.
But what I remember from the Big Book was “I am bodily and mentally different from my fellows”
…And I felt peace again.
On going through the motions, not engaging in recovery:
The first eight years of recovery I went to three meetings a week, faithfully.
I read the Big Book, assiduously.
And I didn’t drink…
But I wouldn’t share, I wouldn’t get a sponsor, I wouldn’t call people on the phone, and I couldn’t quite connect with God in any meaningful and lasting way.
I had the structure, but not the content.
It wasn’t till I lost my AA sobriety, eight years into recovery, that I finally did what AA said and “ Put recovery first”.
I had not been willing to “go to any lengths”.
For me, I had be “all in”.
The model I used was the born-again Christians.
Those guys were on fire with God, whether you agreed with them or not.
Using AA’s structure, SLAA’s content and the evangelical’s passion, I was able to get sexually sober and stay that way (Three hours at a time, of course).
Just going through the motions was a lot better for me than what I was doing when I was drinking. It helped train me. It was time well spent.
The time will come when I am ready…
Gummy is a mirror.
It’s funny to watch him doing push-ups, play the stand-up bass, dance and sing.
One of his new phrases is “No, no, no “, while he wags his finger, gently disapproving.
When we take him through our neighborhood in his stroller, he waves at everybody.
He seems naturally attracted and attractive to girls.
I have to be careful what I do.
Cause God has sent me a sponsor…
In polite company it’s wise not to talk about three things: sex, religion and money.
12 step groups come from religion and we try to learn from it.
Act With Courage started out principally as a sex addiction recovery site so we talk about that.
Today, after carefully negotiating relationally sensitive boundaries, I had an adult conversation about money.
I have learned from Debtors Anonymous that “God is in the numbers”.
So, I was completely open with someone, besides my wife, for the first time about financial numbers.
I felt a little scared, but I acted with courage.
So did the person who I was talking with.
At the end of the conversation I felt breathtaken and teary-eyed.
One way to find God, that is reliable… is being honest and open with another human being
If I am brutally honest with myself I have to admit that I have loved Gummy deeply, but I have been more circumspect in fathering him than with my daughter.
Part of the reason is that she was my first child and I didn’t really know what raising a healthy child was like, having no previous models from my childhood….so I put everything I had into it.
Part of it was that it was the 90’s and people were extremely cautious to not inadvertently hurt their children. The gerund “parenting” as an avocation, nearly a profession, came into being at that time.
But, if I am fully honest and open, I was so hurt by my daughter’s permanent boundary she set when I married Alona that I felt, at least dismayed, if not discouraged, by the results of that 30 year labor of love.
Gummy broke through my grief today and fully captured my heart.
I played him the incomparably beautiful and simple melody from Stravinsky’s Finale of the Firebird Suite and he was motionlessly entranced.
He insisted that we listen to it seven times in a row.
“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. To soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak."
Thanks for being patient with me, Gummy.
I wrote prayers, practiced , rehearsed, taught, edited music videos for 42 hours this week…but I did not do one lick of cardiovascular exercise.
My body feels weak and crumbling.
Balance is where sanity is, for me.
I can do better then that.
Believing in God is an act of faith.
Knowing God is a consequence of experience.
The ancient Jews made regular sacrifices to their God.
For some reason that get’s God’s attention.
“Religion without sacrifice means nothing” according to Gandhi.
AA learned this lesson:
The best way to know God is to be absolutely powerless, to ask for His help, and then experience His freedom that comes from the humility of receiving help, through others.
I believe in God no matter what anyone says because on May 4 of 1988 I put a beer to my lips, after not drinking for 30 days, and said the prayer “Please help me not drink this”….and I didn’t.
It is a simple as that…I now know God
It’s available to anyone, who is willing to surrender.
How to write in effective share:
12 Step step recovery sharing has been built on “experience, strength, and hope”.
That’s all you need…no more.
But…if you do want more:
Make sure that it vulnerable, authoritative…and funny
Make it vulnerable…so that you can reach people emotionally.
Quote the Big Book or the 12x12…so that people know what you’re talking about.
And tell a non-shaming, self-deprecatory story about yourself…Because we all need to laugh.
On the need for creativity:
Recreation comes from the Latin word recreare which means “mental and spiritual consolation through play”.
I don’t know about you, but I get tired in the course of a normal day.
I need to “re-create” myself…when I am spent.
I like funny things: books by Fran Lebowitz, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and movies by that moral reprobate, Woody Allen.
Laughing gives me “mental and spiritual consolation.”
But, those things are passive. I am enjoying someone else’s creativity.
But, I also find spiritual consolation in playing the guitar.
As a practicing alcoholic I confused my needs for financial safety, esteem of others and creativity, all of which are essential needs.
When those needs were all balled up, being a very, very successful guitar player seemed only logical to my confused mind.
Now, with the clarity that I have gained from sobriety in a number of areas I have boundaries with my needs.
I get financial needs met in one place and my need for esteem of others met somewhere else.
…and that leaves the guitar playing to meet my need for creativity.
I am not a fully self-actualized person if I haven’t meet this very real need for creativity that God has installed within each of us.
And when I’m too tired to pick up a pick…I just watch Bullets Over Broadway or Stardust Memories…
I will always have pain and problems
Saint Augustine, arguably the second holiest man in history, after Jesus, lay on his deathbed and he could hear out the window the Vandals attacking and tearing his city apart, that he fought for all his life.
I will always have pain and problems.
The question is what will be my attitude about them?
ActWithCourage.com can feel so loving and comprehensive that it would be easy to get grandiose, like AA did in the early days, and begin to think that we can save the world.
But, humility is knowing your limits.
Five years ago our Board of Directors decided that there were two particular types of sex addicts that we were not going to be able to serve: Active child molesters and active bestialists.
It was decided it to refer these people to professionals.
On the other extreme, it was decided that people who are still questioning whether they were alcoholics, or misusing street drugs or prescribed medications, needed to go to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, respectively.
AA and NA are about behavior modification.
Otherwise the feminine nature of what we do can seem superfluous, self-care can be confused as selfishness, high self-esteem can look like vanity or arrogance. Family of origin work can look like “belly button gazing”.
In humility, we are a broad-based, moderate program, but we kind of expect you to have dealt with those things before you get here.
“We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
Big Book p55
I used to write about God the Father, the Creator of all things a lot.
As the Ancient Jews would say I “feared” God, not in the sense of being afraid, but rather being “respectful with a reverential awe.”
But I couldn’t get and stay sober…
Then one of my sponsors told me “God will let you see the people you need to see and hear what you need to hear”.
And God kind of shoved me out in the world to “seek my spiritual fortune”, as the children’s stories say, like a healthy parent would say to his son after he completed college.
And I had to learn something that I had no comprehension of whatsoever…Humility.
In AA they say that “Humility is teachability”, so I had to learn not only to accept help, but to do what people suggested.
No self-respecting addict likes to be told what to do. It’s in our very nature to be rebellious.
So it took a long time. I had to go to a lot of places and lots and lots of people to get the help I needed.
But I learned that I could feel God’s presence if I was honest and open with someone else who is honest and open. I trust that.
Then something very curious happened. In the spring of 1991 I launched into my third celibacy period, and God threw me a curve ball.
Suddenly, there was no one around that could help me. God had decided that I was ready to look within for Him.
Way better men than me have had to do this. Saint Augustine famously said “I looked for you without and could not find you…my God within”.
It was really scary.
But, one day in 1992, someone asked me to start writing literature for 12 step groups.
There was nothing to guide me but my intuition, and it led me.
It would be 26 years before I understood that my intuition was the voice of my soul, that I had been listening to the whole time.
That is why I write. To know my soul.
“We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
Big Book p55
The boys at AA are usually right…
My wife and I have key words when things aren’t going smoothly:
“You are a grouchy-locks”.
“You’re a snappy-locks”.
“You are a nag-a-locks”.
Tonight I texted an amends to one of my sponcees after our phone call:
“I want to make amends to you. I was not as emotionally available as I needed to be.”
That seems more relationally appropriate than saying… “ I am a grouchy-locks”.
“The body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind.”
The Doctor’s Opinion
I ran a half-marathon today.
At 11.5 miles I finally broke through my rambling mind and could feel my soul.
My knees and feet hurt, but that last 1 1/2 miles I felt a deep, deep peace of mind.
If you would have told me 40 years ago, when I joined AA, that I would be doing this special thing for myself at 66, I simply wouldn’t have been able to connect the dots to see where sobriety can lead.
First Tradition states, “Our common welfare should come first”. We all have to do that.
But, God has a different path for everyone.
I read an article in Life Magazine in 1967 in my school library in Nokesville Virginia when I was in 7th grade.
Two kids were sniffing glue, a pastime disaffected, middle-class, suburban teenagers sometimes engaged in back then.
They had gotten high on glue only twice, but the magazine line read “We are addicts”.
Even though I had never had any drugs, alcohol, tobacco or caffeine in my body at the time, I had a violent, visceral reaction to these boys describing themselves as addicts, after only engaging two times.
But, half a century later that’s exactly how I describe myself:
Hi! My name is Steve, and I am addicted to anything that feels good…that I have done twice.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on the crazy thoughts that come into and go out of my head at random.
I only get that opportunity when I am clean from everything addictive.
When I was 15 years old my father was ranting and raving against his favorite group to vent his hate and prejudice towards.
I stood up for the left, and defended this group.
He told me that he paid the bills…and squashed me like a bug out of a Kafka novel.
I felt shamed and irreparably victimized.
Today my wife and I disagreed about finances.
I felt the unexpressed rage from that conversation 52 years ago.
But I remembered something…to pause.
I went for a walk, meditated, and I finally had an insight into something I’ve never understood all my life.
I could finally see why couples fight.
Each of us has dents from our childhood. When these specific dents meet each other…There is conflict.
I stood back and got a little perspective.
Looking at it, as a third-party, I could see both sides.
I went back and we talked. Each of us could see and hear each other and there was peace again.
“I’d prove to the world I was important. The old fierce determination to win came back”.
Big Book, Bill’s story
I worked with a young man for two years who was addicted to porn, when I only understand codependency recovery.
He was handsome, well spoken, hardworking at a demanding mining job in a very difficult part of America.
At the end of two years he had dramatically reduced his masturbation, but was still plagued.
One day he said “I want to be you”.
I felt slightly shocked and little embarrassed, shuffled a bit while I regained my composure and said ”Well, I think you want some of the recovery that other people have shown me how to have.”
He said “No, I want to be you”.
I knew that even in the many years I wanted to be as good a guitarist as Hendrix, that I still wanted to be myself.
But, I tried to see where I had that character defect in myself.
I found that because my father was alcoholic, I had missed a basic love that I needed to be healthy, which left me very needy for love and acceptance.
That would wreck my romantic relationships because that is more responsibility and power than a partner should have.
But, more than that, it drove me to succeed, wildly.
I had seen my codependency with it’s people pleasing, being a door mat and being controlling, but now I could see my outsized need for success as having at least a touch of narcissism.
Codependency is one extreme and narcissism is on the other extreme of a continuum.
I need empathy on the one hand and willingness to take care of myself on the other.
I need to be in the middle…
“I am not an artist.”
Bullets over Broadway
Today my wife, Gummy, my muted trombone player Scott, and I were out at the San Francisco Bay on a day as idyllic as a Monet painting, playing music.
A 21 year old man, with no shirt and a half sarong came sauntering up to us.
I could tell he was a musician by the way he was looking at me and Scott.
Turns out he could play the Peruvian drum, Cajun.
I invited him to sit in with us and we played all afternoon. Alona and Gummy were enthralled.
Afterwards, I could feel a certain excitement in my gut…And I was off and running.
I immediately started making plans for rehearsal to add this guy to our group. I was going to buy a recording microphone, a digital/analog converter, mic stand and cables.
But…I kept remembering that line from Bullets over Broadway, “I am not an artist”.
Music…is for meeting my need for creativity.
When I grieve I am much more loving now.
Gone are the days when I would verbally abuse myself with shame, derision and castigation.
I made a commitment to love myself 33 years ago.
At first I didn’t know what loving someone meant, nor did I know who I was, but I learned, one feeling at a time.
Now when I fail, I tell myself the truth, the new truth. And that is that I love me no matter if I win or lose.
It makes grieving so much easier, when I have a friend.
I have recovered from 22 addictions.
(God, that sounds like a hypochondriacal Woody Allen line.)
Stopping alcohol and pills was really painful physically.
Food slammed me day, after day, after day.
Stopping masturbating took 23 months of hard work, using all the tools, as passionately as I was capable of.
But, love addiction, was, by far, the most painful.
The reason is that, for males, it’s about an incomplete, dysfunctional separation from my mother.
There is a longing, not only pre-verbal, but pre-birth that is involved.
Gandhi says that the temperament and the makeup of the parents, when they are conceiving, is imbued into the child’s neurological makeup.
I feel relatively certain that anyone reading this did not have utterly perfect parents.
That being the case, love addiction recovery is very slow and takes a very long time.
But, it’s worth it.
“I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”
Every one of the neighborhoods in San Francisco has a commercial street.
We were walking down, our street, Chestnut Street, at a crossing, with Gummy in a carriage.
An apoplectic, well/dressed man and his wife, in a fine car, came dangerously close to my family, crowding us.
I pushed Alona and Gummy through the crosswalk, turned and faced the car, him with his 3000 pound car, and me with my defiance.
He backed down. We exchanged one vociferous, vituperative volley and went our separate ways.
A few paces later, I asked Alona if she felt embarrassed and/or scared. She said “Both”.
My job is to take care of my family. Love always protects…
But also, so I don’t take myself too damn seriously, I apologized to Alona and said:
… I dated a girl once, who said to her best girl friend, who was complaining about her male lover, “ If you want to man that acts like a woman…date a lesbian.”
I polished my 10 ounce digital food scale that I carried on the back of a bike through a 1000 mile bike ride, with Alona, in six South East Asian countries.
It’s my altar. It’s where I sacrifice to the Food Boss.
There’s an article on the front page of the San Francisco newspaper today claiming that African-Americans have been discriminated against in the discipline and bondage/Sado-masochism porn market.
“We have no opinions on outside issues” in 12 step. But, it does say in our Lighthearted Offices that “In a society without God…Sex is God”.
Step Eight on using, or at least trying to use people:
I manipulated every powerful person in the music business that I could introduce myself to.
I couldn’t manipulate John Cage. He was too smart for that.
But, I tried to manipulate Pat Martino, the greatest jazz guitar player in the world into playing my music.
I tried to manipulate Shelley Shultz of International Creative Management, my mother’s agent, into representing me.
I tried to manipulate Joe Pass, the greatest bebop guitar player in the world, into letting me get into The Great American Music Hall to see him for free.
I tried to manipulate the Columbia Records executive and producer of John Cage’s 25 Year Retrospective, George Avakian, into representing me.
When I am in my obsession, which is 98% of the illness, I am as slippery as a greased eel, on the Fourth of July, in the noon day sun.
People have said I was crazy since I was five years old…
Let’s say that that is accurate.
If the Second Step is true, and there really is a God, then God says He “could” restore me to sanity (ie. health).
Let’s look at what is clearly insane:
Sanity comes from the Latin word “Sanitas” which means health.
If God is going to restore me sanity, it might be helpful to know what that means, so that I recognize it when it happens, and actively help participate if I can…cause God won’t do for me what I can do for myself.
If I don’t work out, I will manage my anxiousness with food, prescription medications, nicotine and over-the-counter medications to handle my feelings.
Then to counter that, caffeine and speedy OTC meds seem reasonable.
Air, water, food, sleep…and exercise are the most fundamental aspects of health.
I choose to live in San Francisco because the air was so bad in Atlanta where I lived for 25 years and the air is clean , cool and pure here.
I drink only cold distilled water. No other beverages.
I weigh and measure all my food on a digital scale because I can’t be trusted to eat properly.
Each night before I go to bed I set my timer to see that I get 8 hours of sleep….and I journal it every day.
I work out with running, push-ups and yoga regularly.
Salvador Dali used to say, “The difference between me and a crazy man…is that I am not crazy.“
I’d like to take credit for it…but it was God, ever so slowly, God.
I am angry with myself this morning.
In the last three weeks I have done three half marathons.
I have never done that much cardio in my life and I have no experience with this.
What I find is that the recovery time is about three days.
What I did not know is that I fall into inertia on the fourth day. It’s plain sloth, nothing more.
I forgive myself for my ignorance and I ask God to remove my defect of character of sloth.
Besides…it was real fun to run that long.
Distress-anguish, suffering, pain, agony.
Eustress-positive response to stress which is healthy.
Jessie Jackson used to say “It’s my attitude, rather than my aptitude, that determines my altitude.”
“Do you want to do mankind a real service?…Tell funnier jokes”.
‘Round Midnight, as Thelonius Monk would say, I felt an urge to do something addictive.
Nothing specific, anything would do, really.
There was nothing really wrong.
But, I heard the child within me say not to do it…And I didn’t.
I realized later that I was angry with someone.
As I “spot check inventoried” it, I realized I had “put myself in a position to be hurt”.
It was my fault. I decided not to do that again…and the anger subsided.
Once I stop acting out on anything…I am stuck with my mind.
Is it really true I am powerless over my own mind’s thoughts, just as I am powerless over stopping drinking, once I start?
Isn’t free association of thoughts the very modus operandi of creativity?
Or is the inability to control my thoughts the very definition of insanity?
And isn’t that true of everyone on the earth?
Does it logically follow that everyone on earth is insane?
Or is the need for complete control of my thoughts indicative of someone who is fearful and negative?
As usual, but as equal unfamiliarly, I need to be in the middle.
Sometimes, I need the intense mental discipline of a monk and sometimes I need the freedom to follow my intuition, like an artist.
“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
This means that all my problems are caused by me…in my relationships with other people.
Yep, that feels pretty much dead on the money.
“It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.”
“The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the LORD’s”.
Cause “Everybody likes a good barbecue…”
I was asked today to write about money:
“Health and youth, honour and the sacred, savage delicacy of still-young flesh, truth of heart, virginity, modesty, those protective garments of the soul, all are put to the vilest of uses in the blind struggle for survival that must encounter, and submit to, every outrage.
“…for he who is poor has no share of the good things of life. ”
“ there is a kind of contagion, which, like that of poverty, communicates itself to all who approach it.”
History of Tom Jones
“…they had put all their money into it—and they were working people, poor people, whose money was their strength...the thing by which they lived and for lack of which they died.”
I have great empathy for those in poverty because I have lived in a tent, received welfare, and food stamps.
But…on the other hand:
“Let it be said in passing that the hatred of luxury is not a sensible hatred. It implies a hatred of the arts.
Only 38% of Americans attend a religious service each week to find God.
After having spent more than half a century as a performer, what I have noticed is that people come see great artists to experience something greater than themselves, and in that sense, they are experiencing God.
While I am not one of those with monstrous artistic talent that people see greatness in, it is impossible to deny the divine sublimity people experience listening to Beethoven, reading Shakespeare, or looking at Michelangelo’s statues.
So, for the 62% of us they do not find organized religion useful, many of us find spiritual consolation and joy, or “re-creation” in art.
To do that…There must be wealth, and generous wealth, at that.
Me?…I serve others and find God, amply and freely, there.
My very first sponcee in the SLAA program was a gay man.
I asked him once about some strange looks I had received from men from time to time.
He explained that that was called “cruising”, an activity that gay men engaged in while looking for potential sexual partners.
As I was running by the San Francisco Bay today a man in his 20s, with a baseball cap, a Starbucks Grande in one hand and a poodle in the other…did that.
Involuntarily, I spoke out what I was thinking and said “What’s wrong with you…I’m gonna be 67 next Wednesday”.
I support L,G,T,B,Q civil rights…but, I don’t like poodles.
Ten signs that you are a food anorexic:
You’re on an Expresso Diet.
All your jeans contain 4% Lycra.
Your wedding dress is made of white Spandex.
You’ve decided you’re going for the “Latin look” cause your butt’s so big.
You weigh and measure your laxatives.
You don’t put on your deodorant before your weigh.
You think that sex is form of exercise.
You believe that orgasm is a secret form of purging you don’t have to tell your sponsor about.
The spiritual high point of your day is a BM…because it’s the body weight low point of your day.
Your favorite gum is Xylitol.
I was talking to a sponcee about keeping boundaries with men.
First you have to practice in safe, non-sexual relationships with men. You need to learn to say “No”, and make it stick.
If you don’t learn that first, once sex and love start entering the picture, there’s no way you’re gonna be able to say “No”… And you’re stuck with someone who is gonna drag you down.
As I was doing my daily run today, by San Francisco Bay, I heard a man practicing a flugelhorn beside the road.
Being naturally grandiose, as a character defect, I thought about adding him to my band.
I stopped and asked him to play for me.
He played a simple high school march for me, and was not very good.
The music I write, while unpleasant to listen to, it’s very, very difficult to play. He would not be a good fit.
When I start to date I need to ask myself a number of questions about a potential partner:
Are they in touch with their feelings?
Can they set boundaries and have boundaries set with them?
Can they announce their limits?
Are they capable, as adults, meeting their needs fully, without me?
This is real basic stuff before I get to the seemingly pressing questions like:
Is this person as ugly as a mud fence, as big as a house, as old as Methuselah or crazy as a loon?
Otherwise…you end up with a bad fluegelhornist.
The most painful part about recovery it’s not stopping heroin or alcohol.
It’s not stopping smoking or losing weight and keeping it off.
It’s not doing family of origin work and discovering what level you have been harmed as a child.
The hardest part about recovery is that you get closer to people, emotionally and spiritually, than you ever will at a church, or in therapy or, often, even in a marriage, and then one of you stops working as hard as the other, or becomes unwilling…and you have to leave.
It tears the flesh, breaks the heart and sears the soul.
It will bring you to your knees…
But that is exactly where I need to be…on my knees asking for God’s help.
“All members of the family should meet on the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love.”
My wife tolerates a lot with me:
I write and play the most hateful music, run a fan every night, and eat food that she herself grows in our kitchen.
She likes to bake (I can’t eat flour and sugar).
She loves Facebook and YouTube.
She loves the Philippines.
Gummy wants to play his electronic keyboard and listen the Stravinsky’s Firebird all day.
But, we love to serve others, pray, laugh and joke and we both love God, deeply.
We love each other endlessly and are both just entranced with Gummy.
There is just enough difference to be honestly ourselves but enough in common to enjoy our family.
To my brother David,
Step Nine “Made direct amends to those we had harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
After 55 years, you finally talked about your resentment at me for not protecting you when we were raped by the Vint Hill Teen Center Director in 1967.
I regret and deeply grieve that experience.
I also feel compassionate towards two kids who were viciously attacked and, instead of fleeing into the arms of their parents for protection and safety, the main thing that we tried to do was hide it from them.
I was 12 years old and you were 10, but already by then I was what your best friend in AA, Bernard, and I, call “powerless”.
I had been raped by our father on the night he returned from his tour of duty in Korea in 1961.
Our mother pulled out a pistol and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop. But, he didn’t stop and she didn’t shoot.
I was also orally raped later that year by our mother in her bedroom, and twice more in failed penal/vaginal attempts by her, when she was drunk, when we lived in Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1963.
By the time we were raped by the Teen Director, four years later, I couldn’t protect myself, or you.
I am a sex addict and have been since I was five years old, and I have spent the last 40 years of my life undoing my past.
I am sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me most.
“She has all the anguish and anxiety of the artistic personality…without any of the talent.”
My parents decided I didn’t have enough talent to reasonably pursue the life of successful musical artist.
They were right. My real gift is writing spiritual books.
Gummy is interested in electronic keyboards, stand-up bass, guitar, conducting and trombone.
We live in 330 square feet in a 24 unit apartment building.
I feel relatively sure that none of our neighbors would like a two year old trombone player living next door.
Maybe, we can convince him to be a conductor….it’s quieter.
“To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy”.
Big Book p96
At a certain point, if someone will not follow suggestions…you just have to let ‘em go.
“The old man laughed loud and joyously, shook up the details of his anatomy from head to foot, and ended by saying that such a laugh was money in a-man’s pocket, because it cut down the doctor’s bill like everything.”
Just another guy saying another way, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously”.
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day
Further, in a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
Celine Dion (Alona’s favorite singer) collect shoes
Johnny Depp plays with dolls
Warren Buffet plays the ukulele
Susan Sarondon (my favorites actor) plays ping pong
In Workaholics Anonymous we have an expression: Time that you enjoy wasting…is not wasted time.
The word virtue has declined in usage in America 85% since 1800.
Virtue comes from the Latin word Virtus which means manly.
When I am in addiction I feel depressed and afraid.
I feel afraid because I am running from life through addiction.
I feel depression because I am angry with myself for doing this to myself.
On the other hand…I love kicking addictions.
It makes me feel manly.
It makes me feel virtuous .
Eight years, ago in 2013, the United States Postal Service paid a “Futurist” named“ Faith Popcorn” over a half a million to predict the future viability of stamps.
This is a very conservative organization gambling on a very high-profile, high-risk person.
But there was something that she predicted that was much more interesting. She foretold that there be a future for a new group called “brain coaches”.
People that would help you get your brain to work better through a whole host of inter-related activities like : Mentoring, community, exercise, reading, feelings, service…starting to sound familiar?
The Peace of Mind offices are not designed to stop addiction. They are designed to discover what you do after you stop addiction…
When you are just left with a sober brain…that needs to be trained.
My 67th birthday!
I got to spend it with my friends, praying, and my family, traveling.
Throw in two living foods meals, a brief run and a few push-ups…and I feel ‘fat and sassy’.
Thanks to everyone on PrayerCall for making it lovely.
I would like 67-70 to be my best years.
To do that I “accept hardship as a pathway to peace”.
When is a sponsor controlling?
A good sponsor makes suggestions, based on their own experience, that the sponcee will benefit from it, they try it for themselves.
When a sponcee decides not to follow suggestions, and the sponsor tries to argue with the sponcee…he is controlling.
She has all the anguish and anxiety of the artistic personality…without any of the talent.”
My parents decided I didn’t have enough talent to reasonably pursue the life of successful musical artist.
They were right. My real gift is writing spiritual books.
Gummy is interested in electronic keyboards, stand-up bass, guitar, conducting and trombone.
We live in 330 square feet in a 24 unit apartment building.
I feel relatively sure that none of our neighbors would like a two year old trombone player living next door.
Maybe, we can convince him to be a conductor….it’s quieter.
Will Durant wrote the most simple, utilized and successful of the Histories of Western Civilization.
In it he clearly states, using the Greeks and Romans as examples, that when a society stops believing in it’s gods, immorality rises and civil decay begins.
I find it interesting that it doesn’t really matter whether the Greek gods are true and real, or that the Roman gods are true and real.
But, what is fascinating is that there is very clearly a deep psychological need in humans for God.
I like what AA says “Admit God…or be God”
I found a very simple and easy way to know humility.
Stand in front of 350 foot tall, 22 foot wide, 2500 year old tree in a California Redwood Forest.
These trees were here 500 years before Christ, when everyone in the world, except for the Jews, was still pagan.
All my “little plans and designs” seem wildly small in comparison to these stunning beauties.
I feel right sized…and humble.
And when I feel humble I feel surprisingly, free.
I have a mental illness.
It only strikes when I am out of town.
I get an overwhelming desire to call real estate agents and ask for the price of land per acre.
Because, I am sure that wherever we are visiting at that moment… Is better than where we live.
When the 67 year old adult has to not allow something to the 13 year old in me, in order not to have insurrection on my hands…I offer the teenager a deal.
In 1997, I was in love with a brilliant, sexy, beautiful, but very crazy woman.
I told my adolescent that if he let go of her…I would give him anything he wanted.
So, one day I went white water rafting, the next day backpacking, the next hangliding, and finally skydiving.
The teenager chose skydiving and I jumped 175 times.
That’s how I got over that particular great love.
It’s always about the food…
There’s a joke about the two old women on an ocean liner:
“The food here is so bad.”
“Yeah…and the portions are so small.”
We are staying in my third favorite place in America…Humbolt Redwood State Forest
But, as with my second favorite place in America, the Mississippi Delta…the food sucks here.
Alona had to point that out to me… “Go where the good food is.”
I’m teaching Alona to drive.
We start driving winding, curvy, gravel roads in the mountains.
She uttered suddenly: “The good thing about driving here is the curves are so sharp and dangerous…You have to man up and have balls.”
I’m sure they’ll clean up that expression on her tombstone…But, you get the drift.
Sometimes the clearest way to know what God’s will is, is to NOT get what you want.
There was something I wanted, and was using all my social gifts to open up doors to another avenue of service, this time to 500 underserved kids in a poor mountainous region with no musical instruction for the last 2 1/2 years.
I have taught music for over half a century, and while I could not possibly work for the money they were offering, I was exploring at least giving them a free weekend seminar.
But, after three days of laying groundwork, God shut that down very quickly tonight.
I believe, for the next three years, God wants me to write, as much as I possibly can, all that I know about recovery and spirituality, and that music for profit, or even for free, noble benefits, needs to be laid aside.
My wife and I were talking about driving on dirt, back roads at the appropriate 15 miles per hour.
I told her when I was 15 my friend and I would drink beer and race each other on the back dirt roads at 40 miles per hour.
For just a nanosecond, I thought about how fun and pleasant that was.
But, snapping back into reality, I honestly would rather sweat bullets and run hard now in my life than drink beer.
Thank God for sanity.
Six years ago, in 2015, former President Jimmy Carter said something that was very intriguing spirituality, to me: “Justice for women is going to be the highest priority for the rest of my life”.
What if we applied that, not to justice, but to spirituality for women, as one of our quietly understated goals?
Women see sex differently than men. Ask any man who is trying to make progress with a woman in a romantic way if that is true.
Women see money differently. Ask any advertising agency if that is accurate and true, in their approach to marketing.
Then, is it possible that women may see God differently…from their own perspective? Maybe not wildly differently from men, but uniquely differently?
After three days on the road all the living foods harvested from our garden is gone.
Added to that, in our hurry we forgot my digital food scale, so I am “eyeballing“.
You can just imagine how that is going.
I got up at 5:00 am and practiced the 9th step for an hour, just saying “I am sorry, Steve”…and felt better.
David, it was good to hear from you, today.
What I remember, in March 1967, was us moving from our lower middle-class, all-white neighborhood to a 112 acre cattle farm where you could see only one neighbor as far as the eye could see, in any direction.
We shared a tiny bedroom, maybe 12’ x 16’ in the suburbs, but then when we moved, we each had large bedrooms and bathrooms of our own, which required an intercom system to communicate with each other.
That’s where I remember losing touch with you, when I was 12 and you were 10.
But, it was more than physical surroundings.
The reason we all moved to the farm was to ride our horses, but I immediately lost interest in that.
I got interested in guitars and girls and I just lost you in my obsession with music and the pursuit of sex.
I was selfish and self-centered…and I am sorry for that.
My wife asked me why I call my writing “Prayers”?
I mean, it doesn’t often sound much like the Lord’s Prayer or the Serenity Prayer…
In AA they say that “Prayer is talking to God…and meditation is listening to God”.
Also, in the AA 12x12, p.102 , it says: “Prayer is the raising of the heart to God—it includes meditation”.
I just try to listen to God and write down what I hear.
“Petition, praise and pardon” are the three things that constitute the old, traditional definition of prayer.
That’s what I grew up with.
But, if you look at the Psalmist, King David, you find some of the tenderest, most intimate, and passionate writings of all time.
He would writhe in humility and sorrow in his Penitential Psalms.
David would rage and spew hatred on his enemies in the Imprecatory Psalms.
David also wrote “Wisdom Psalms” reflecting the beauty of the Old Testament’s prophets…we do that, but we refer to the Big Book and the 12x12.
There were “Royal Psalms” that dealt with special occasions. We do that: noting births, marriages, and various sobriety birthdays.
There were “Psalms of Lament”, when you’re having a bad day, feel lonely…or just want to slap somebody.
There are “Pilgrimage Psalms” to be read before you start your traveling…Or when you safely arrive there in one piece.
The only thing King David leaves out of his prayers is humor and, for me, I need “not to take myself too damn seriously“.
But, if I could kill a giant at 17, marry 8 wives, have 20 children, be God’s personal warrior, steal Bathsheba and end up with Abishag…I might take things rather more seriously, too.
There was a song, 46 years ago, by the country rock group, The Eagles, called “Lying Eyes”.
I did not have my food scale with me as Alona and I spent four days looking at the Redwood Forest.
I cannot be trusted to eat without a food scale, because I have “Lying Eyes”.
The good news is that I am again reminded of who I have surrendered my life to, why and how.
6 oz organic “living” lentils, 2 oz raw organic cashew butter
8 oz organic tofu, 6 oz organic stone fruit
6 oz organic “living” mung seed spouts, 2 oz raw organic macadamia butter
If you will just weigh and measure your food, not eat flour or sugar, eat no “individual binge foods”, and not eat in between meals, like FA says, you will always know precisely what your relationship with God is.
Just that alone, perfect clarity in knowing God’s will, would be gift enough.
But, if you are willing to let go of meat and dairy, grow as much of your own food as you can in your home and work out vigorously…I will give you anything you want.
You know me. You have seen me complete the only two vows I have ever taken, so you know you can trust me.
Think about it…
Step 10 Daily inventory:
I know I’m getting better.
To fulfill a commitment on an offer I made to my child and adolescent in the previous Office, I purchased an $1100 microphone and a $300 Digital/analog converter to record my music.
It arrived today along side a 10 page hand written letter from my mentally challenged brother.
I choose to read the letter first.
That gives me hope that my “selfishness and self-centeredness” is diminishing, as well as my obsession.
In 1762 The French writer Jean-Jacque Rousseau, the philosophical architect of the French Revolution, in his book “Emile”, presents the concept of “Muscular Christianity”.
He was a devout Christian but he knew something was fundamentally wrong with his religion because no one paid attention to their bodies.
I am a devout 12 stepper, but like my spiritual better, Rousseau, 12 step without paying attention to the body is unthinkable to me.
I mean, how do utilize a racing engine without a chassis and body?
How do you play a symphony without an orchestra?
How do you discover a bacterial illness without a microscope?
You get the picture…
I understand the need to emphasize the spiritual 86 years ago when 12 step began, but to not acknowledge the physical component, now, in a spiritual life, is either ignorance or negligence and I don’t want to be spiritually stupid or sloppy…
…besides, my wife already says I’m retarded.
Forever, in my mind, I have you associated with Michael C., because, the last time I ever saw you, you two were together, trying to get me to come back to the University of Virginia, after I left to seek my fortune in the music world (which I thought was very loving and compassionate).
Michael and I started out as friends, and then he got romantically interested in me and was rather insistent in expressing his amorous desires.
Through simple and direct use of boundaries I was able to keep him at bay.
One night we had been taking drugs all night long and he came over to my apartment and there was the usual awkward forwardness.
I was the only Caucasian living in all African American, 90 unit, subsidized housing project in Charlottesville, Virginia.
After a while he got angry with me fending off his advances and said “You will have problems with money all your life”.
He was right.
But, I joined Debtors Anonymous in 1988 and have not debted since.
I later joined Under-earners Anonymous and have had a “sane, sober and humane living” my whole recovery life.
And now, wonder of wonders, people have recently begun supporting my writing through donations.
I know, now, Micheal was just expressing his teenaged anger through passive aggression…but, in my codependency, I believed him.
It’s nice to be free of that hex…
“I feel like getting plushed to the scuppers.”
The Purple Rose of Cairo
I used to say:
I was wasted.
I was totaled.
I was wrecked.
I was toasted.
Notice how all those sentences begin with Me?
Can art be useful to Recovery?
A musician is someone who buys a $5000 instrument, to drive 500 miles in a $100 car to play a $50 gig.
Mark Twain, in his Autobiography, Vol. III, says “The artist breed…is foggy in matters pecuniary”.
So, we are generally broke as snakes.
Artists also, like alcoholics, are rebellious:
“I am not one of your players of music, stage actors, writers of books, or painters of pictures, who assume a station that the laws of their country don’t recognise.”
The Old Curiosity Shop
Drunks and artists don’t want you telling them what to do…and there is a reason:
According to the Swiss psychotherapist Alice Miller artists are people who, whether they know it or not, have had challenging childhoods and have found a way to treat that wounding by expressing themselves through the arts.
So, when people try to talk us into stopping and getting a job, a haircut, a suit or life insurance, even if we reluctantly agree, all that pain of childhood comes screaming back.
So, drunks and artists stay pretty much alone…and broke.
Part Two…The Amateur versus the Pro
Being an artist has nothing to do with talent or being professional. We can be complete, joyous amateurs:
“Really, Fred, I wish you would leave off playing the flute. A man looks very silly playing the flute.” “And you play so out of tune, a wheezy performance, into which he threw much ambition and an irrepressible hopefulness.”
“I don’t see why a lady should sing. Amateurs make fools of themselves.”
“For every bourgeois in the flush of his youth, were it but for a day, a moment, has believed himself capable of immense passions, of lofty enterprises.”
My teacher, John Cage’s favorite composer was Eric Satie who used to exclaim, “Viva la amateur!”
People don’t think much of musicians:
Q: What do you call a musician without a girlfriend?
Mr. Pecksniff had no objection to music; not the least. He was tolerant of everything. He considered it a vagabond kind of trifling, in general”.
“He was some sort of travelling musician, indolent and feckless”.
Yet, we worship talent:
“Even you can’t understand the wrath of the artist: he is of another caste than you.”
“She has all the anguish and anxiety of the artistic personality…without any of the talent….You worship talent!”
Still, artists want success:
Q: What’s the difference between a musician and a pizza?
A: A pizza can feed a family of four.
“Mirah had risen from her seat and stood looking toward him with her little hands crossed before her, meekly awaiting judgment; then with a sudden unknitting of his brow and with beaming eyes, he stretched out his hand and said abruptly, “Let us shake hands: you are a musician.”
“We are descended from solid, stolid, thick-skulled, unimaginative, unmusical, ungraceful, German stock whose sole virtue is that it can never leave off working.”
Dead Eye Dick
There are 30 million guitar players in America.
There are only 3 new jobs for talented new guitar stars each year.
Those odds are one in 10 million.
The Lotto Jackpot is only one 14 million.
Part Five…Peace of mind
What if you are not a professional, have modest talent, are not famous and receive no money?
“amidst the new abundance of music, and lingering strolls in the sunshine, could hardly be without some intoxicating effect on her…after her years of privation”.
Mill on the Floss
When this strain of music sounded, he softened more and thought that if he could have listened to it years ago he might have cultivated happiness with his own hands”.
The great Jewish psychotherapist and longtime friend of Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, said in his masterpiece “Art and Artists” that artists create a “second super-real world” and that if you fail to create art of some kind, you will become neurotic… Because you are disconnected from your soul.
That is a good reason to pursue art…to connect to your soul.
My taste buds are only a small part of my body.
I will master them…
After struggling through the PoM 213 through 217 offices on “Is Art useful to Recovery.”
I have come out desiring something new, for me.
As a way to meet my need for creativity I desire to create “Amateur art”.
There is no desire for money, fame, or importance…only the desire to create beauty and have fun.
While trying to record some new music today six Blue Angel F18’s, flying at 1200 miles per hour, a mere 250 feet over our heads, were rehearsing for “Fleet Week” here in San Francisco.
God keeps me from taking myself too seriously.
Once I met an acerbic, very talented man, who was in a lot of trouble.
We began to talk and we shared our gifts: Him; his profession. Me; my recovery.
We became best friends for many years.
Then he went back to his old ways and we never saw each other again. It broke my heart.
The hardest part of 12 step is not kicking addictions, it’s getting closer to someone than you are with your own therapist, rabbi, family of origin or even wife, and then someone stops working the program …and you have to walk away to save your own life.
Step 10 inventory:
Four and one half years ago I offered myself a deal: if I would give up eating for pleasure I could do anything I wanted.
I wanted to read books…so I took the deal and I have read over 200 classic novels from Tom Jones and Don Quixote to all of the books by Dickens, Vonnegut, Mark Twain, David Sedaris, James Joyce, Hemingway, and John Steinbeck.
It has been really fun and has given me friendships with some of the great minds of all time including some fabulous women like Toni Morrison, Fran Lebowitz, Gertrude Stein, Jane Austin, George Eliot, Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf and Nora Ephron.
But, as John Coltrane would say, ”It’s time for a change”.
I want to renegotiate my contract with myself:
If I will stay out of the food, and work out vigorously, I offer myself to play and write all the music I want…as long as I don’t get too extreme and out of spiritual balance and become involved with the addiction of “artistic preoccupation”.
Step 12 and 1/2: ”Took the actions of love to improve our relations with others.”
Sexaholics Anonymous “White Book”.
To my brother David,
I was teaching a guitar lesson today and I re-realized something.
The reason I have spent 54 years of my life as a private music teacher is because of my relationship with you.
My relationship with our father was competitive, as you so astutely pointed out.
My relationship with our mother was all glommed up with enmeshment.
My relationship with you, as I saw it as a boy, was that I was a little more experienced and we were both trying to get through a trying experience.
I know you have felt “controlled” as you have said, but also, as when the Teen Director molested us, you were really angry when I wasn’t there.
We were in a ridiculously bad situation, but something good came out of it.
I like the story of Joseph in Genesis 50:20 when he says to his family “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, so that there might come a great healing”.
You helped create my life…just being who you are.
My goals are simple today:
Freedom from food addiction
Service to others through writing
Having fun through creating “Amateur Art”
Spending time with my wife and son
When I was seventeen I bought a copy of the Bhagadva-Gita and tried their “centering prayer” of “Hare Krishna”.
All Addictions Anonymous recommends the centering “Jesus prayer”.
They both work on the same principle.
Essentially, you lasso your wandering mind and force it to focus on one very, very simple repetitive, verbal phrase, adoring your conception of God.
It works pretty good.
But I’m beginning to think that to experience complete peace of mind, requires God’s help, and therefore the admission of powerlessness over my own mind.
Repetitive Prayer will stop you from being crazy…Which I define as random, negative fearful thoughts constantly coalescing into mental and emotional pain.
But just not being crazy…is a long way from peace of mind.
For the 4 1/2 years my wife and I have lived together I’ve stayed out of her food, except for five days in Chiang Mai Thailand when she was very ill and went through withdrawal from flour and sugar.
She wondered, when we first met, if she was gonna have to eat the same horrible tasting health foods that I eat.
I told her that I had good boundaries and I did not need someone else to do what I did, for me to be okay.
So, she went on her way trying out all the foods, from all the cultures, that she had been denied from 10 to 24 years old when she was living with her grandmother.
But yesterday we did something really cool:
I compromised that my greens did not have to be “living”, and that coming from a Safeway produce counter would work just fine. She agreed to create an all green smoothie…And we shared the same food.
It was her idea, not mine…and it was charming…
For 4 1/2 years my wife and I have practiced the old Jewish tradition of Sabbath on Sundays.
Today, I lay in bed for an hour holding my wife and observing my mind.
I noticed two things: there was an endless obsession of things to do and attend to.
All my life I’ve thought of that as “thinking“.
But, the truth is, it is just an endless sequence of mental obsessions.
The other thing that became clear is that each of these mental of obsessions, which I call “thoughts” is accompanied by an attitude, invariably a demanding attitude.
The Sexaholics describe Lust as “a demand for more”.
You could say “Well, that’s just life”.
But that’s not really true.
I spent 20 years of my life going multiple times per week to a Monastery in Atlanta Georgia.
There were many men there who are not obsessed with activity.
Aristotle, in his famous treatise “ On Aesthetics ”, goes on, chapter after chapter, describing moderation in every aspect of life, in excruciating detail.
Then, at the very end, he contradicts everything he has previously said, and states “The life of contemplation is better than any of this”.
Why would that be?
As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
Gandhi said, “Mind is the principal thing”.
If any or all the above is true and I might need God’s help to solve this…A first step might come in very handy.
It is just rationalizing bologna to believe that “If I just had a girlfriend I would not use pornography".
It is equally foolish to believe “If I just had a wife I wouldn’t masturbate”.
The pain of loneliness is not more severe than the pain of conflict in a relationship.
All that being said, it sure is nice, relationally, to not have to look for an appropriate partner.
The time and energy can be spent somewhere else like writing prayers, running, playing guitar, or playing with my son.
I love being married…as long as it is to Alona.
I was asked today about my belief in God.
I believe in God for one reason:
On May 4, 1988, after not drinking for 30 days, I put a bottle of cold beer to my lips, and prayed “ Please, help me not drink this”,…and I stopped.
That is the only reason.
There are a lot of things wrong with the world:
22,000 children die every day from starvation.
25,000,000 people are human trafficked each year
Maybe God can’t or won’t do anything about those things. Perhaps that is beyond his powers…I don’t know.
What I do know is that God can, and will, help heal illness.
Whether it is alcoholism, pornography addiction, food addiction, debting, the victimhood that comes from child trauma, underearning and many other illnesses.
There’s a caveat…I must do my part.
God the Healer is not Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.
God the Healer is more like a spotter at the gym.
If He lets you put on more weights than you can handle, you hurt yourself.
But, if He doesn’t give you enough weight…He makes you weak.
So, I must do my part.
I know these simple beliefs work, because they have worked in 22 areas in my life, in the last 40 years.
Often though, my part seems unreasonable large…and I wish God wasn’t so proud of me.
Often though, things don’t happen when I expect something…and so I want to buy God a watch.
“What I know is that God can, and will, help heal illness.”
There are some holes in this belief about God.
My daughter once asked me “What are you going to say when you meet God?”
I told her I will say “There is only one thing I do not understand. If most of addiction originates in childhood abuse, then why do we have to wait until we are adults to surrender our lives to You to receive the help we need?
I do not understand that…but I have a suspicion.
In 1963, Cecil Williams, an African American Methodist minister, was walking through the Tenderloin, our ghetto in San Francisco.
He saw the desperate poverty, the mental illness, drug addiction, prostitution and robbery and said to God, “Why don’t you do something about this?”
And God said “Why don’t YOU do something about this”?…and he spent the next 58 years doing just that.
In Jewish history there have been two men who were able to get God to change his mind: Moses and Abraham.
What if all the world prayed for something, like “God, please help us protect children”, do you think that God might give us a new deal?
The Christian’s believe that the New Testament is a new covenant, or new deal, with people.
That may or may not be true, but what is interesting is the possibility that God might reshuffle the cards, as he did with Moses and Abraham.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease…
We had a significant and sudden financial loss today, Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day.
The first thing I felt was hurt and frightened.
But, I remembered two things. One quote from Romans “All things work for good for them who love the Lord”.
And secondly a line from the Al-Anon literature: “What if I gave thanks for all the problems I experience.”
One of the things that I have found is that when new things look like painful problems, they often turn out to be, if I continue to do God’s will, better than they were previously.
Then, Gummy needed a bath, and I had to let go of my own self-centeredness.
There’s a difference between selfishness and self-centeredness.
When I’m in pain it’s only sane to be centered around myself.
But, then a two-year-old needs a bath…
I really was annoyed at getting old…until I realized what the alternative was.
I didn’t like :
That I couldn’t see my bank balance without my glasses.
The first time a theater offered me a discount on admission.
That I would forget peoples names.
That night clubs wouldn’t card me.
But, what I found contributed to feeling old, more than anything else, was the stupid food I was eating.
When I was a child, I ate like a child…Cheeseburgers, French Fries, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Bacon, Pork Chops, Candy, Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Chocolate shakes
You can tell you’re getting older when broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts appear in your diet more than once a week.
However, getting old seems to be the best bet to live a long life…so give me Greens.
Lazy - unwillingness to work or use energy.
As a workaholic the first part of that definition doesn’t interest me…but the second part? Hmmm
Where does my energy come from?
Sleep and food, obviously.
But also, ironically and paradoxically, energy comes from exercise.
Well, how am I going to get the energy I need to use energy, so that I am not lazy?
The 12x12 says “All by myself, and in my own light, I become willing”.
It is when I get sick and tired of being sick and tired that I will myself to do something…here, to start exercising.
Of course, if that doesn’t work…I can always ask God to give me a gentle push.
He’s done pretty well for me in the past, after all.
Addicts are extreme…
I asked a man to start exercising by just leaning forward for 30 seconds.
His response was that that was “crazy”, that it was like climbing Mount Everest in your shorts or running through the desert without water.
Now, I don’t know…but, I’m not sure that stretching for 30 seconds is the same as running through the Death Valley without a Perrier.
I could not sleep this morning after the 6:00am PrayerCall.
Finally…I admitted that I was powerless over my own mind.
After I repeated that Step for a short while I moved to “I’ve come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.”
That’s always the most comforting of Steps, for me.
It’s obvious that, if that Step is true, that I might want to let HP help me, so I prayed “I have made a decision to turn my life and will over the care of God as I understand God”.
What is not so obvious (because it’s not in the steps) is now that I’ve surrendered my own addictive mind is I need to take action…
I need, not only to surrender my own selfish will, but to do God’s will.
So, I chose an easy one of God’s Wills….One “Still Dave” likes: Just……………………………………………………..breathe!
I can’t have my need for peace of mind met if my need for contentment is not met.
I can’t be content if my need for love and belonging is not met.
I can’t do any of these things… If I am waiting around for someone to be my friend.
In the first eight years of my recovery I just wanted to not drink.
I didn’t want to sponsor, didn’t want any program buddies, didn’t want to do service.
The next 28 years were about sex addiction recovery…and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to recover.
The last four years of recovery has become more gentle, has switched to food and exercise, and I am now in a place to write about those previous 36 years for others.
And I get a lot out of it, too…
I used to like to smoke $20 Nicaraguan cigars, drink two Starbucks Double Lattes, eat 12 ounces of Filet Mignon and 8 ounces of Gouda cheese.
It was fun while I was doing it…but I didn’t feel so good afterwards.
I have read ten of a Hemingway’s books but there are only two things that I found useful, but one of those things was very useful:
“You can tell what is moral by how you feel afterwards”.
Wow! All the Steps and Commandments condensed into one incredibly simple moral prism…feelings!
What do you do if you are not doing anything addictive or self-destructive?
I want to live a spiritual life and be in God’s presence as often as He will allow that.
The Hindu’s have the oldest known spiritual beliefs in the world.
Their beliefs have two super-simple parts:
- Maintain healthful physical postures so that you don’t run around life like a chicken with your head cut off and…
- To breathe deeply, slowly and sustainedly.
Spiritual comes from the Latin word “Spiritus” which simply means “To Breath”…and it is the most fundamental of all human needs.
So, if I am truly free of all addictions, I might focus on my breathing as a way to be more spiritual and thereby be more ready to perceive God when He comes “Walking through the Garden”.
I am feeling a need for some chastity…not much, just some.
I love the clarity, personal power in relationships, the increased intuition, social resilience and those pesky little visions…
I’ll ask the Prior to read us some Gandhi this week at the 9:00pm…
On Thursdays I get my need for creativity, my second highest need as a regular old human, met by playing weird music, that is very difficult to play.
My friend BB comes over after the noon PrayerCall and we play and record all day long, participate in two PrayerCalls, and then go listen to avant-garde classical music at a friend of mines on his eighth-of-a-million dollar stereo.
I didn’t even know, consciously, that I had a need for creativity until the last couple of years.
It is a need that everyone has to be a complete person…Who knew?
God, knew…that’s Who.
He built us all that way.
It can be anything. Anything that is creative…and not work:
What is your way to be creative?
For David, my brother:
I want to say thank you for two things you did in my life:
When I was attacked physically by our neighborhood friends father, Harry Petit, you instantly jumped on his back and fought him fiercely.
When I produced the only record I ever made, you bought 50 copies.
I felt truly and deeply loved when you did those things.
Thank you, really thank you.
Your brother Steve
Of all the nearly 1000 feelings that are in the human body, the one that I dislike the most is the feeling of paranoia.
I felt that yesterday, when a very sweet, but very disorganized, girl came to rent my garage space.
My landlord and I are intensely antagonistic, and I feared that she might work for him.
But none of that was true.
FEAR = False evidence appearing real
FEAR = Face everything and recover
I was able to stop, get in touch with my terror, and calm myself…because I realized I was in the ACA part of my addiction.
No matter how far down the road you get… You’re only 3 feet from the ditch.
Back up plan:
If I lost my peace of mind, if I lost my creativity, if I lost my contentment.
If I were to lose my abstinence and get fat, and if I were to lose my sobriety and start masturbating…
I would go back to AA and help other alcoholics get well.
“Resentment is the number one offender”.
AA Big Book
What does a resentment look like?
“She’s prettier than me.”
“He’s got more money than me.”
“Her husband is more attentive than mine.”
“His wife is prettier than mine.”
“She is wearing the same dress I am wearing”
“He talked to him before he talked to me.”
This is the stuff that makes us drink? Really?
Step Six…”Were entirely ready to have God remove this defect of character.”
I am very confrontive when someone is in denial about addiction.
This includes religious addiction. But I noticed something today.
I have worked with religiously addicted Hindus, Muslims and Jews, as well as Christians.
While I am rigorous in my denial-busting of all religious addicts, I am less cautious about offending the Christians, than with other religions.
I wondered why that was and I found that it’s because, in America at least, they are by far the biggest religious group, whereas with a minority religious group I might be more careful, if not cautious.
I will still rigorously confront religious addiction…but I will use the same measured, compassionate force with big boys as the little guys.
I have watched over 50 movies of my favorite film director recently.
In one of his films the opening is very provocative. There is no nudity, but it is pretty racy.
I showed it to my wife and asked her what she thought.
She said “I don’t like”.
That is the kiss of death in any discussion we have in our house.
It’s not about right or wrong, good or bad… cause you can’t argue about what someone likes.
I do find it funny now that I can hear my wife and Gummy, in the kitchen, going back and forth:
“I don’t like"
“I don’t like”
The Child is Father to the Man…
I am thankful for not drinking, not masturbating and not being fat.
That would be enough, really, but I also want to throw in here that I really appreciate the opportunity to be chaste for a finite period…as spiritual extra credit.
At the noon Prayercall Meeting today Olafur called the AA 12X12 Step 11 reading.
There’s a beautiful paragraph there that says: “Always remember that meditation is intensely practical. Its first fruit is emotional balance.”
What a wonderful promise and guarantee that is.
Anytime I’m out of balance…I can stop and meditate.
I only had four hours sleep last night, but I had a seven hour musical day. I was so exhausted that I felt crazy.
Fortunately, my musical partner is a big believer in meditation and, in between musical takes, we would stop and meditate for 45 seconds.
And sure enough…The first fruit was emotional balance.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above you Heavenly Host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.