Back To Basics

Photo by Ekaterina Astakhova on

I’ve been in recovery for a good number of years, twelve to be exact. I know I have grown and changed in that time. I am not the same person that started the journey, thank heaven. And I am very grateful for how far I have come. I had tried everything I could think of before I started a twelve-step program, except start one. That was until I couldn’t come up with any more of the options that I thought ‘might’ work for me, but hadn’t. I certainly didn’t want things to stay the same as they were, and I knew I couldn’t stop on my own. So I gave it a go.

One of the first surprises after my first meeting was getting an invitation to return; I wasn’t getting many invitations at the time. And I realized that I had a lot of misconceptions about the program that I could put aside. I’m grateful that I was still open minded enough to listen. I soon started to try the suggestions I heard from other members and the literature. To my great surprise, they worked! It didn’t take long for me to understand I had finally found my ‘tribe’.

In the ensuing years I have been privileged to work with a lot of other folks in the program as well as participate in the day to day running of our local group, serving on the group executive for much of my time. I have learned a lot about myself, my relationship to others and to a Higher Power. However, as with many things, I began to tire a bit of the program. About a year ago I stepped back from the group work and took a deserved and probably needed break. I still kept up with meetings and the daily stuff like reading and meditation to maintain my sobriety, but I was sort of coasting along, enjoying life.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on

Then I heard someone at a meeting a couple of months back say, “If you’re coasting, you’re going down hill.”

And, I had to ask myself the question. Am I really coasting? Am ‘I’ going down hill?

The honest answer was a resounding “Yes!”

In sobriety I am granted a daily reprieve by my Higher Power, based upon my spiritual condition. And I believe that it’s not enough to just maintain the status quo, I have to work to make sure that apathy and self-satisfaction don’t take hold. Addiction is the disease that tries to tell you that you don’t have a disease. We have a saying that while you’re in a meeting, your disease is in the parking lot doing push-ups. I have to keep myself strong too. I know from working the program over the years that it has a great deal of depth and here I was just sort of swimming on the surface and not exploring its breadth and wealth.


I set my alarm clock a half an hour earlier again and started doing an early morning meditation followed by some journal writing.

Photo by Alena Darmel on

Since I’m not in the same country as my sponsor right now, I figured I could use a fellow up here that I could do some more work with. I talked with a good friend who’s known me as long as I’ve been in the program and asked him to suggest someone for me. He matched me up with a great guy who is full of enthusiasm and is willing to share some time with me in discovering more about our program and how we can not just ‘do’ the steps, but ‘live’ them each and every day of our lives.

I am so enjoying the process. We’re doing a ‘back to basics’ kind of approach, focusing on the literature of our program from the beginning. This young man’s insight is amazing. I am seeing things in a fresh new light that make me feel like a newcomer again where everything is about to be discovered. His work with me is a tribute as well to the great sponsorship that he has received and his application of what he has learned in his own life. We have had many great discussions in the last month and I look forward to many more.

This also means that I need let go of my old ideas about who I am, how I am and where I am going in life. Sometimes that’s tough to do, but I do it anyway. I trust the process because I know from my own experience as well as that of others that this is a time of growth. How can I become the best version of me if I don’t let go of the old version?

You can teach an old dog new tricks, as long as the old dog is willing to leave behind what he thinks he knows and listen.


I am listening, and learning. And for that, I am very grateful.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Season of Change

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 1:1

My mother gave me the example each spring of this time of change by embarking on ‘spring cleaning’. After the long Ontario winter with all the windows sealed and doors barely cracked, the house was opened again to the spring breezes. Wall were washed, curtains and drapes laundered, floor received a deep scrubbing, carpets were cleaned and usually one room got new a wallpaper treatment. My father got out the tractor, cultivator and drill to prepare and sow the fields. And the cows literally jumped for joy after being let out onto a field after being cooped up in the barn for the cold winter months.

I have always loved the springtime. It’s a time of new birth, growth. Living close to the equator, there’s really only the dry and the rainy seasons. And right now we are transitioning into the rainy season. For me it is just like spring.  When the rains return after months of none it is as magical as spring. There are new sprouts on trees, a greening of the fields and the earth soaks in life-giving moisture to sprout the dried seeds of the jungle. Rebirth and new life abound.  It’s a time of changes and a time for change.

As I work through my recovery program, now is a good time for doing a thorough recap of my program and where I’m at in it. I may not do a Step Four inventory as meticulously as I did the first one, but once a year it’s not a bad idea to take the time to step back and see how I am living my life in recovery. Am I satisfied with certain aspects of my life? Are there areas where I need to do more work? What’s my relationship like with my Higher Power and with others? Where do I need to trim, plant and grow in my life of recovery? Is it time to do a review of all the steps with my sponsor?

Recovery isn’t something I get once and then I’ve got it. I have to tend to it and foster it to keep it alive and growing. A stagnant recovery is like a stagnant pond: eventually it won’t be as fresh and if left alone too long, things will start to smell. Fresh running water is the solution. And for me a renewed look at the state of my recovery is in order. I’m fortunate that the change of seasons, my birthday and my recovery anniversary all fall within this month. Each of these remind me that time moves on and I must flow along with it.

Now is the season to do the spring cleaning. Now is the time to prepare and sow. I cannot take my recovery for granted; it doesn’t work that way. It must be constantly renewed, tended and nurtured if I am to reap its promises. My recommitment keeps it fresh and keeps my spirit vigorous. I am grateful.