the classic Eagle's tune from the 70's takes me
back to my youthful ways and carefree days.
the ups and downs, searching for romance
and an identity; the selfish wants, inability
to appreciate what i had, all there in the
lyrics of a song...
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses,
You've been out ridin fences for so long now,
Oh and you're a hard one, but I know that you've got your reasons,
The things that are pleasin' you can hurt you somehow.
Don't you draw the Queen of Diamonds boy, she'll beat you if she's able.
You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.
Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table,
But you only want the ones you can't get.
Desperado, you ain't gettin no younger,
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin you home,
And freedom, oh freedom, well that's just some people talkin.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.
Don't your feet get cold in the wintertime,
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine,
It's hard to tell the nighttime from the day.
And you're losin all your highs and lows,
Ain't it funny how the feelin goes away?
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses,
Come down from your fences- open the gates.
It may be rainin, but there's a rainbow above you.
You'd better let somebody love you,
LET SOMEBODY LOVE YOU.
You'd better let somebody love you,
before it's too late.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Posted by Fireman John at 11:34 AM
Friday, November 28, 2008
- Never, if possible, lie down at night without being able to say: I have made one human being, at least, a little wiser, a little happier, or a little better this day.
- - Charles Kingsley
- The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.
- - Jack Kornfield
- Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.
- - Anne Lamott
- By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn.
- - Latin proverb
- A small trouble is like a pebble. Hold it too close to your eye and it fills the whole world and puts everything out of focus. Hold it at a proper distance and it can be examined and properly classified. Throw it at your feet and it can be seen in its true setting, just one more tiny bump on the pathway of life.
- - Celia Luce
- Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.
- - Maxwell Maltz
- There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life - happiness, freedom and peace of mind - are always attained by giving them to someone else.
- - Peyton Conway March
- Trust that still, small voice that says, "This might work and I'll try it."
- - Diane Mariechild
- One can go back toward safety or forward toward growth.
- - Abraham Maslow
- There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother to look.
- - Henri Matisse
- Love may be what keeps the world spinning 'round, but friendship is what keeps us from throwing ourselves off it.
- - David R. Mead
- A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.
- - Bernard Meltzer
- We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.
- - Thomas Merton
- It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.
- - Molière
- Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
- - Alfred A. Montapert
- With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.
- - Keshavan Nair
- Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.
- - Jawaharial Nehru
- What's going on in the inside shows on the outside.
- - Earl Nightingale
- We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
- - Anais Nin
- There is a divinity that shapes our ends -- but we can help by listening for Its voice.
- - Kathleen Norris
Posted by Fireman John at 11:28 AM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
wishing all my readers and their families
and friends a healthy, safe and
don't blame the tryptophan in the
turkey for that sleepy feeling after
dinner; it is more likely from the
mashed potatoes, stuffing, butter
we will be having most of our sober
crew for dinner in addition to deb's
daughter, son-in-law and 2 sons.
my dad is going to my nephew's
because it is a much shorter drive.
i have much to give thanks for;
another year sober,
8 folks in recovery with us,
deb & the girls,
knowing my dad & son are safe
Posted by Fireman John at 5:59 PM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
ah yes, the holiday trilogy of terror approaches;
and new year's.
let those who can, drink and be merry.
for us who cannot, think of the bright side.
less empty calories, being present, remembering
the entire holiday and waking refreshed the
sure it's normal to reminisce about a fine wine,
cordial or mixed drink, but also remember the
ultimate outcome is different than it was in
social drinking days.
as a former daily drinker, holidays are not a
time of added temptation.
the only requirement for me to drink in
the past, was a pulse!
thankfully, the envy i used to feel, when
watching folks imbibe, has turned to curious
observation; i actually enjoy watching the
various stages of the drinking process.
more often than not, i am grateful it's
not me, slurring, shouting or napping
during the course of the festivities.
Posted by Fireman John at 3:22 PM
Monday, November 24, 2008
lessons from chiropractic experience...
in my competitive volleyball days,
i would visit the body twister for
whether it was neck, back or knee,
the treatment was always the same.
while the spinal manipulation always
provided instant relief; it was always
the long term solution offered by
the doctor, was to return continually
what i needed were specific rehab
exercises to correct any muscle imbalances
i may have had, as opposed to just
going back with the same problem each
this is similar to how i view recovery.
upon entering aa, i was told the answer
lied in coming to meetings for the
remainder of my life, or be in pain.
sounded very similar to chiropractic!
why couldn't i apply the same principles
of correcting imbalances that i used
to solve my joint injuries?
five years ago, i began to implement
those ideas and practices.
i came into aa to get sober;
i didn't get sober just to go to aa.
today, i realize my recovery is
dependent upon balancing many
areas of my life.
spirituality, meetings, sponsors or
rehabs, never kept me away from
a drink for very long.
until i took responsibility, stopped
blaming "the disease", others, or
genetics, the relapse pattern remained
it was my choice to drink;
it's me who chooses not to, today.
if i continue to address any mental,
emotional and spiritual issues faced,
i have the chance to progress in my
journey out of the woods of addiction.
i must remain responsible, accountable
Posted by Fireman John at 7:21 AM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
just found this poem i wrote in 2000,
while in treatment at high watch farm.
i had befriended a young woman who
was anguished over the possibility of
harm done to her unborn child,
due to previous drug abuse.
from january 31st, 2000;
lord, in your infinite wisdom,
why in this difficult time in my life,
do you challenge me so?
in your divine plan,
my life has a purpose;
and on this journey i willingly go.
i pray not only for myself,
but for the precious life
that grows inside me.
i humbly thank you for sparing
the innocent one;
who will walk together
with i and thee.
Posted by Fireman John at 7:29 AM
Friday, November 21, 2008
it can start with a coffee commitment,
ride to a meeting or taking a phone call.
the simple act of shifting focus off of self,
controls ego and instills a sense of pride
and genuine humility.
you may ask,"but i only have 60 days,
who can i help?
remember. there is always someone coming
into recovery after you.
your place in the journey may be inspiring
to someone fresh out of rehab,
or attending their first meeting.
i firmly believe we are all teachers;
yet we remain students also.
we can lead by example and also
follow those who inspire through
word and deed.
the rewards of service are twofold;
by helping others, we carry the message
of hope and reinforce our own resolve
on the path of progressive wellness
Posted by Fireman John at 8:25 AM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
just realizing the difference today
concerning the old adage;
"when life gives you lemons..."
in the past it was "just add vodka"!
sure it was the perfect antidote to
shyness, insecurity and fear.
a good buzz made me tougher, boisterous
and totally uninhibited.
sounds pretty enticing right?
well, it was for a long time;
but it slowly morphed into something
ugly, empty and compulsive.
i've accepted my shyness, embraced
having a conscience and enjoy being
friendly rather than confronting.
today when life gives me lemons,
i accept graciously and
add them to green tea.
Posted by Fireman John at 3:42 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
at a loss for words;
damn i hate addiction...
the nearly constant temptation,
forgetting the misery so easily,
watching others enjoy social use,
opening a positive drug screen from
from one of our residents,
reading of alcohol related accidents,
observing the dismal long-term recovery rates.
hate to be such a downer, but the realities
of substance abuse can discourage me at times.
i do what i can, on a daily basis, to address
the situations encountered.
if i can perform a service to help someone
continue on the path of progressive wellness,
it allows me to increase their odds and ultimately
Posted by Fireman John at 4:24 PM
Monday, November 17, 2008
from medical news today;
Although "denial" is often considered to be a form of deception, emerging research suggests that it may be due to a specific brain dysfunction similar to that observed in other neuropsychiatric illnesses.
Brookhaven's Goldstein explains the idea of impaired insight and how it might relate to drug addiction: "Patients suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia often have compromised awareness of their own symptoms and the severity of their disorder. This compromise can exacerbate symptoms and reduce responsiveness to or compliance with treatment," she said. This "insight deficit" appears to originate from impairments in many of the same brain regions that underlie addiction symptoms - such as continued drug use despite catastrophic consequences, even when the drug is no longer pleasurable.
finally some concise answers about the mechanism of denial.
this research gives good insight into the addict's desire to use,
despite any consequences. often described as insanity, it is
now being viewed as a specific brain anomaly. this is a relief
to me as an explanation for the fearless attitude i displayed
when justifying my continued use.
perhaps this discovery will assist therapists in treating that
all too common symptom of denial.
Posted by Fireman John at 2:04 PM
Sunday, November 16, 2008
if everything is going so well;
why do i feel so flat?
maybe it's time to launch a new career.
it would be nice to be creative and do projects,
but i made a living breaking down doors and
tearing apart ceilings and walls...not very creative.
time to look for some meaningful employment.
been trying to establish an online business,
but it's hard to find a niche.
or search for an angel investor willing to
back my dream of an affordable treatment facility.
oh well, if anyone knows any wealthy folks
interested in investing in a worthwhile community
service, send them my way!
Posted by Fireman John at 2:17 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.
A sorrow shared is half a sorrow, a joy shared is twice a joy.
Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out.
Patience is genius.
~ Comte de Buffon
Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit.
~ R.E. Shay
One day in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.
If you want something you've never had before, you've got to do something you've never done before.
~ Drina Reed
Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections.
Follow the three "R"s:
Respect for self
Respect for others
Responsibility for all your actions.
Posted by Fireman John at 7:34 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The TWEAK Test
1. How many drinks does it take to make you feel high?
2. Have close friends or relatives worried or complained about your drinking in the past year?
3. Do you sometimes take a drink in the morning when you first get up?
4. Has a friend or family member ever told you about things you said or did while you were drinking that you could not remember?
5. Do you sometimes feel the need to cut down on your drinking?
Scoring the TWEAK Test
The maximum score on the test is seven points, with the first two
questions counting for two points each and the last three one point
each. Note about question 1: If a woman responds that it takes three or
more drinks to feel high, she scores two points. If she responds "less
than three," she scores zero on the question.
A total score of two or more on the test is an indication of harmful drinking and further evaluation is indicated.
Some may substitute the following for question 1: "How many drinks can
you hold?" If a woman responds that she can hold more than five drinks
(meaning she can drink more than five without passing out), she scores
two points; she scores zero if she reports less than five.
as with the 20 questions on the back of the aa booklet,
when i said yes to 17 out 20, there was no doubt about my dependence.
sometimes it takes some simple, basic questions in black and white,
to realize that fateful condition;
what used to turn us on, turned on us.
Posted by Fireman John at 11:48 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
at today's noon meeting, the topic was relapse
as it affects the group.
certainly many of us have slipped along the way.
there are many excuses to pick up, but
rarely any good reasons.
whether it's poor me, unaccountability or
inability to resist temptation, doesn't
the bottom line is the conscious choice of
the drink over continued sobriety.
it's not mysterious, cunning or baffling!
our primitive mid-brain knows and craves
intoxication; be it for pain relief or euphoria,
it cares nothing about consequences.
the difference between acting on the impulse
or resisting is dependent upon our physical,
emotional and spiritual conditions.
in previous posts i compared it to a scale.
the more involved in examining and
improving my life, the better equipped
i am to handle the unexpected.
in past attempts, i reached a point where
it seemed i had "gotten it".
that was a dangerous stage; it led to
complacency, cockiness and a feeling
of being "cured".
that was the catalyst which started the
thought process of the most famous
mantra of the "got-it" stage...
"i can control it now"!
trust me, i tried and failed many times.
would i like to drink safely again?
i abandoned that quest 5 years ago, thankfully.
so until the experts can devise a way to do so;
i will continue to do what has worked till now.
show up, own up, and grow up!
Posted by Fireman John at 2:26 PM
Monday, November 10, 2008
the best way to get a grip is to let go.
in recovery, it can be initially difficult
to let go of old ideas, habits and selfish wants.
the party lifestyle usually has a strong hold
on our emotions and thought processes.
it's like losing a best friend; my experience
sent me through the entire grieving process,
as though i had lost a family member.
there was anger, bargaining, denial, depression
and ultimately acceptance.
another phase of letting go is ego deflation,
assisted by lessening the notion of self-reliance.
gaining the perspective that i was not the
center of the universe, led the way to a belief
in a higher power.
giving up the reins and relinquishing control
was quite a relief.
loosening my grip on those around me and
practicing live and let live, was empowering.
today the only thing i hang onto with both
hands, is my seat in the rooms.
i paid the price of admission many times over;
and no one is prying me loose today.
Posted by Fireman John at 10:01 AM
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Posted by Fireman John at 3:56 PM
Friday, November 7, 2008
I had to ask the question, what will the drink do for me?
Initially, there's that warm sensation, release
from inhibition and amorous glow.
Next comes the feelings of power, control and invincibility.
sounds enticing right?
sure it is to any alcoholic, but it's short lived.
In a few weeks the lure of the buzz becomes a persistent urge,
then an unrelenting obsession.
The former chatty humor turns to angry rants.
social drinking quickly morphs into isolated binges.
yes, it's exactly the same as I remembered.
There came a point in my journey, that i began
to weigh the pros and cons of that first drink.
Thinking past the initial buzz, to the irresistible
urge and eventually the merciless obsession
There was no shadow of doubt or mystery about
the consequences of drink number one.
It has been proven countless times.
I had to consider what would happen
if I resisted that urge?
so far my life has been stable, contented and productive.
It was certainly worth continuing on that same
path no matter how boring or routine it seemed.
Sure I still missed the excitement of the high,
but refused to block out the end result; despair
remorse and guilt.
Bottom line is I know the end result of picking
up that first drink.
What I don't know are the rewards that continued
sobriety will bring; but the possibilities are endless
and worth waiting for.
Posted by Fireman John at 12:02 PM
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Going back to the always posed question,
when entering rehab;
"what's going to be different this time?
it was frustrating to have to answer,
"I don't know, but I'm back!
I was unable to achieve that release from
compulsion that I heard others express.
The scale seen evenly balanced between
drinking or not.
It didn't matter if I attended meetings,
talked to my sponsor, and prayed,
that urge still persisted.
Part of the picture was knowing in the
back of my mind I could always "recharge at rehab"
It was a " what the hell" attitude.
No fear of consequences; legal, moral, financial or healthwise.
Still, I wanted that freedom from obsession
that some folks seemed to have.
In time I noticed small decreases in that
persistent urge to drink.
Certainly nothing like what I heard in the rooms.
People expressing this miraculous lifting
of the obsession to drink.
It wasn't happening for me.
Undaunted, I was determined to keep the scale
balanced and resist the urge to test the waters.
tipping the scale toward continued sobriety.
Posted by Fireman John at 10:09 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
the drinking cycle;
utilize any means; rehab, willpower, therapy, meetings, prayer or medication.
replace the thought of a drink with any diversion available.
the notion of moderation;
it is nearly impossible for an alky or addict to do so.
association with drinking or using buddies(friends will understand)
the attitude that you will never have "fun" again
physical health- better nutrition, deeper sleep, more energy
mental acuity - decision making, responsibility, accountability, memory
spirituality - a conscience, belief in a deeper power, release from fear and
Posted by Fireman John at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
- We look at some people as if they were special, gifted, divine. Nobody is special and gifted and divine. No more than you are, no more than I am. The only difference, the very only one, is that they have begun to understand what they really are and have begun to practice it.
- - Richard Bach
the many times i viewed someone as remarkable or special;
looking back at that habit of putting a person "on a pedestal".
having spent so much time and energy masking my true self,
and trying to be tougher, cooler or more amorous, i had no
clue who or what i was anymore.
gradually the hero worship lessened, and i began to
appreciate the qualities of others, without envy.
having witnessed friends panic when a sponsor
relapsed, taught me some valuable lessons.
no one is immune;
accept your shortcomings,
embrace your strengths,
find your own path,
remain responsible and accountable and available.
Posted by Fireman John at 10:39 AM
Monday, November 3, 2008
quite the reputation monday has;
the carpenters had a hit song about it,
"rainy days and mondays".
for many it's the start of the work week.
fresh off of a weekend of freedom from
alarm clocks, rush hour, cranky bosses
and job stress.
onward toward the middle of the work
week, affectionately labeled "hump day".
i've been spared the "monday blues",
thanks to the 3 day, 3 off, 3 night, 3 off
schedule we used on the fire dept.
of course there were trade-offs;
working weekends and holidays.
all things considered, i truly enjoyed
the flexibility of the 3 on 3 off.
until i find another part time job,
it's going to be just 7 off!
more time to keep an eye on the recovering sober house crew.
Posted by Fireman John at 8:56 AM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
the important elements of progressive wellness;
can someone stay away from a drink or drug
without utilizing these elements? yes.
i see folks 10, 15 or 20 years away from their last use;
yet remain irresponsible, dishonest, angry or envious.
are they sober? technically yes.
if they attend meetings, these people are spared
the "dry drunk" label
have they made the behavior changes necessary to
complement their abstinence? certainly not.
the above list contains what it takes to separate
the "slogan-slingers", from those who actually
strive to improve their lives by action, rather
than simply quoting big book phrases.
in time i have developed a keen "bullshit-meter",
with which i can identify someone who is genuinely
recovering, and not merely reciting.
sure, this method can be labeled, "taking someone's inventory";
but i learned from a wise man in the rooms; that's what i'm
supposed to do!
how can i strive to learn something, from someone with nothing.
he encouraged me to observe what folks did, and not just
what they said.
anyone who maintains the traits listed is living a truly recovered life.
Posted by Fireman John at 12:00 PM