August 30, 2013 12:19 pm Leave your thoughts

[ted id=1715]

Hey everyone…..

I just thought that you should see this. I just saw it and it really spoke to me.

How do you deal with situations that happen to you? How do you react?

Tell me what you think about it.

Conversations With My God

August 29, 2013 8:57 am Leave your thoughts


What does prayer mean to you and what has it meant to you in the past? What do you feel in your heart when you hear the word… “prayer”? Has that feeling always been the same as it is now?

I grew up in a family that had some sprinklings of organized religion in it. We went to church on Sundays and usually I did not like it very much. When I was in middle school we started going to a different church and I got heavily involved in the youth group there. I can remember going to a Christian youth camp and hearing what the group leaders had to say. I think that it might have been my very first “spiritual experience”. Maybe it was because I was young and would believe anything… but really I think that it was more that there was something that was going on with that group. There was some power in it. It was my first experience with something that was greater then myself.

That all ended when I got into high school…. but I always had this feeling inside of me. I just knew that there was something else that I could not explain with my mere words. I had no idea what it was and I really didn’t think that there was a human being out there that could explain or contain this power….. really I didn’t think that a mere mortal could characterize and interpret a God’s will.

I think that for me my problem with religion always boils down to how people interpret it. Thats why I love AA and NA…. because no one has a monopoly on god. Your Higher Power can be whatever you want it to be. Some people already have an idea of what they want their higher power to be… and then some don’t.

My Higher Power is mine and it does not have to be yours.. thats why I titled this entry Conversations with MY God….

When I first started out I think that i was pretty mad at a lot of different things… and my conception of god was one of those things that I was mad at. One of the first men in the program that I met told me that some people would use the group as their higher power, because there was something that was going on in the group.

There was something that was going on in those rooms.. and I knew it and I could not explain it. All that I knew was that there was a group of people who were alcoholics and addicts of the “hopeless, lets leave them for dead” type…. were recovering. There was something about the group that is magical.

It was enough of a start for me….. it opened the door to willingness just the little bit that was needed to let the light shine through.

My concept of a Higher Power has changed and evolved over the years of my sobriety…. But that concept was what got me sober and is keeping me sober. Some might say that’s wrong and it was all me but I couldn’t manage to keep myself sober for more the 5 days. There was something else at work.

My father… Who has 15 years of cleantime said it to me the best….

“Rich, you didn’t do shit”

I know in my heart that it was all the work of my higher power…


Just Plain Miracles

August 23, 2013 11:28 am Leave your thoughts
Congrats to Katie and Larry

Congrats to Katie

I have talked about it before in this blog but one of my favorite things to do in my first couple of years of sobriety was to lead the community group at the Beacon HouseSM on Friday mornings. I didn’t know what effect it was going to have at the time. All that I knew was that I was going to get to be of service.

I can remember my first Friday meeting at the Beacon HouseSM and how nervous I was. I did not know what I was going to do in the meeting. I had no format at all. I was trying to remember what it was like for me when I was first in the House. I tried to remember the things that were inspiring to me when I had the chance to talk to someone from the outside.

I remember the first community meeting that I went to when I came into the House. It is amazing that I even remember it because I can’t remember pretty much anything else about those first couple of weeks….. except that I couldn’t stop shaking. I remember being wrapped in a blanket and not being able to stop crying. The leader of the group was a gentleman named Tam, who was a Scot and he was a drunk.. like me. He talked a little bit about what it was like for him.

He talked about drinking in bars and having a lot of “friends” in the bars. Then when he came to the Beacon HouseSM so many years ago none of those “friends” came to see him or asked about how he was. They were still sitting on the same barstools at the same bars. I remember him saying that when he did see them again that they all thought that he had just gone to the bathroom….

He was the first person that I related to in early recovery. He talked like i did… only with a much heavier accent. He talked about the feelings of despair and despiration that I had felt.

He was also one of the first people that talked to me when I came back into the House after my relapse. He knew, like everyone else, that I would be back.

Tam passed away a couple of years ago… but I will always remember the impact that he had on me during those community meetings. He was the first hope that I had and the first example to me that this was something that was possible.

When I led the community meeting I wanted to bring across that same kind of hope.

I would start the meeting by telling my story… qualifying myself for everyone. I wanted to relate to everyone… let them know that I was there for a reason and that it was helping me just as much as it was helping them. Then we would go around the circle and we would check in. You didn’t have to check in if you didn’t want to… but it always helped.

I would alway start of the shares by letting everyone know that I was not a counselor… just a druggie and a drunk.. like them and that I had been through the House too… usually this would break down the barriers or the pre-concieved judgements that anyone would have.

There were always lots of hugs and questions at the end of our time together. It was always nice to see new faces and new stories coming in.

These days I get to keep in touch with the people that I came in contact with through social media networks like OneHealth and Facebook. I can see them years later with the kids that they had almost lost or with that college degree that they never finished.

It is the most rewarding thing that I have ever gotten the chance to experience. Seeing these people celebrate sobriety birthdays… seeing them getting married….. there is nothing else like it in this world. Seeing vibrant life where there was once near death, hopelessness and anger.

I dedicate this blog entry to the memory of Tam… who helped unlock that well of hope that was always in my heart. To to my friend Katie who is celebrating 2 years of sobriety today. To another friend Larry.. Who is celebrating 30 years of sobriety.. Yes, that’s three-oh. They are both miracles. Just like all the rest of us drug addicts and alcoholics in recovery.

Nonalcoholic beer? What could it hurt?

August 18, 2013 3:10 pm Leave your thoughts

Sometimes I think about the craving that would take place after I would drink. It was something that I loved during that time of my life. It almost made me feel like I had a purpose.

One thing that came up over and over with me in my early sobriety was ingesting non-alcoholic beverages and if it was a relapse. The same thing would go for items that contain small amounts of alcohol like mouth wash or cooking with wine.

Is it ok to have just a little bit of alcohol in your daily life? Can I have a drink that has a very low alcohol? There are some things that I have to examine inside myself when making these choices…

  1. What are my motives?
  2. What will I gain by drinking this?
  3. Why would I want to do this?

These are the things that I have to be thinking about whenever I make a decision that involves something this major in my recovery.

What are the deeper issues that are going on inside of me that are prompting me to make this decision?

I can say for me personally…. That non-alcoholic beer is way too close for comfort. There is no way that I want to even take a chance that I could go back to the way that I was living before this miracle.

One thing that I do know about this disease is that it wants to kill me…. And it will use any means necessary to do that. All it needs is just a little a little crack in the door.. And it has me.

When I relapsed… I can remember thinking that it was only a little alcohol that I was drinking. Just a little bit… That was all. It was the little bit that my disease needed. It almost killed me… Again.

On the other hand…. I do know that this is my experience. Everyone’s experience is different.. Just as different as people’s program. It’s not my place to pass judgement on them. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous thought me that I had an allergy…. I need to treat the allergy. Then I will not experience the phenomenon of craving.

I have a fear that if I ever injested any alcohol… That craving would return. Even if there is a low volume of alcohol in what I am drinking.

It’s a healthy fear.

What is your experience with non-alcoholic beer? Do you think it is right? Or wrong? Or is is none of your damn business?

Ears Open, Mouth Shut

August 11, 2013 3:07 pm Leave your thoughts

Why is it that I think that have the answer almost all of the time?

Sometimes these voices go through my head that tell me that I know what I am doing and I should tell everyone around me about that fact. With over five years of life without mind altering substances in my body I feel that I have graduated to this higher plane of recovery existence.

I have always played sports throughout my life. There were different team sports like baseball, hockey and lacrosse…. And then there were the individual sports like golf, tennis and rock climbing. I spent time coaching others also and there was something that I would always empress on my players. It was something that I was proud that I had… That was the ability to stay teachable.

This was was the ability to stay open to comments and suggestions from others. Usually these were people that had more experience in the ability that I was pro suing. These were the people who had been there before and they were giving that experience to me for little or no cost.

My reaction and attitude to that free advice was just as important as the advice itself. If I was not open to take the feedback it was pretty much worthless…. A complete waste of time for both parties.

Lesson for today…. Sometimes I just need to have my ears open… And my eyes shut. Employ my active listening skills to take in what I can from others…. And not offer the judgement that my brain is telling me to.

What made me think about all of this today you might ask…?

I was reading the “Just for Today” meditation for today… It was all about employing active listening. Check out this excerpt….

“What is active listening for us? In meetings, it means we concentrate on what the speaker is sharing, while the speaker is sharing. We set aside our own thoughts and opinions until the meeting is over. That’s when we sort through what we’ve heard to decide which ideas we want to use and which we want to explore further.”

Sometimes I just need to listen….. And remain teachable.

How do you use you active listening skills? What does being teachable mean to you?

Who Needs Gratitude?

August 7, 2013 10:11 am Leave your thoughts

I do.. that’s who.

For me it is really easy to be grateful when everything is going great in my life. When I am with the person that I love, when I get offered the big promotion, when I feel that I have a direction and purpose in my life….. those times it is really easy to be grateful.

What about when things are not going really well. When life’s color has gotten a little too much on you. This is when plans have fallen through after you made them out to go so perfectly. When the play that you are directing does not go off without a hitch.

I am one of those people who can get overwhelmed sometimes when there are a lot of different things going on at the same time. When a majority of these things are not going my way I get really angry and shake my fists in the air. The gratitude that I one had in my life has left me and I try my hardest to get it back.

There is one method that I have learned that will always get me right back where I need to be. The amazing tool that I have to get back into a place of gratitude is………… a gratitude list!

I make a list of all of the assets that i have in my life. These are going to be physical and spiritual assets that I have gained. Usually at the top of the list is going to be my recovery because without it… there is nothing.

Gratitude lists have been an amazing part of life for the past 5 years…. and they will never leave. I need them to bring me back to where I need to be… in gratitude.

How do you get back into gratitude?

Here is my gratitude list for today…

  1. My recovery
  2. My loving higher power… that always knows what is best for me.. even when i think that i do.
  3. The ability to realize that i am not control of this.
  4. My amazing friends and family at the Beacon HouseSM who have helped give me this amazing second chance at life.
  5. My beautiful partner in life…. who inspires me to be a better human being everyday.
  6. A job that gives me benefits and the chance to work with some amazing people.
  7. The ability to pause.. step back… and think.
  8. The ability to be honest through writing.

We are having a baby!!

August 2, 2013 12:19 pm Leave your thoughts
My brother and I at an Oakland A's game in 2010

My brother and I at an Oakland A’s game in 2010

I can’t wait.. I just wanted all of you to know this amazing news directly from me!!

Ok… I am not having a baby. My brother and his wife are having a baby. I found out a couple of months ago that there are expecting their first child!

Let me give you a little more background on the make up of my family. I have one blood brother and I have been with him my entire life. We grew up together living in the same house.. experiencing things together. I have two step-sisters that we were introduced to when I was about 10 or so. I also have two half-sisters that are a part of my life in different ways over the years.

My brother is blood to me. He is my closest family and our relationship has changed and evolved over the past many years. I have to use the word evolved because that is the best word to describe it.

When we were younger we always had the typical brother relationship… we fought and messed around with each other. We played sports together and were usually on the same team. We played baseball on the same team most of the time. I was usually the catcher and he usually played shortstop. So when I would try to throw runners out attempting to steal I would always throw to him. My throws were usually pretty good but they usually had to be rescued by  my brother’s amazing sweep tag. Just when the runner thought that they were in there safely…. down would come my brother’s glove to crush their spirits.

After high school I left and moved to Northern California and our relationship cooled off. We really did not talk that much because I was wrapped up in my own “City” life and felt that I didn’t have time for anything else. That was the way that I treated a lot of different people during that time.

As my drinking progressed and I moved further and further away from my family I would go months without talking to my brother.

When my brother got married to his high school sweetheart I was there….. but was drunk pretty much the entire time. I had decided that it was a better idea to make friends with the bartenders at the hotel then to get closer to my brother and participate in the festivities.

Then some years past and I went into my downward spiral… and when I went into my coma in December of 2007 by brother was right there. They had told them that there was a chance that I was going to die that night… and they prepared for my death.

Then when I left the Beacon HouseSM a couple of months later for the first time and went right back to San Francisco and bartending I knew that I was disappointing him.. but I had things to do. Really not that much had changed in my mind. I was still in my selfish place.. where all that I cared about was the way that I was perceived.

So when I relapsed about 2 weeks later guess who was the one that was going to come and get me to take me back down to the Beacon HouseSM.. It was my brother and my sister in law. I can remember that car ride going south as one of the hardest 2 hour trips of my life. I had all of my belongings in a couple of black trash bags and I felt like I was in the principals office. I have never felt so much shame in my life. I knew that I had let down the person that was closest to me.

I had done my first step a couple of days earlier.. in front of a bar, drunk, at 6 am…. but if there was a second blatant example of the powerlessness and unmanageability of my life.. it was what my relationship with my brother had become.

Many things have changed and many things have happened since that day. It is more then 5 years later and my relationship with my brother has changed more then I could of ever imagined. I am still not geographically close to him and his wife but I know that my heart is closer then it has ever been in our lives.

When he told me that they were having a baby my world stopped and I could feel my heart explode. These are the promises coming coming true in my life…

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves

My higher power did this… because left to my own devices I could not find my self out of a wet paper bag when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

This past weekend… I also found out that they are having a boy. My heart exploded once again… It would of done that if he said that they were having a girl..

One day I am going to be watching my nephew.. with my brother playing little league. He will probably be playing shortstop…. applying amazing sweep-tags to ill-fated base stealers.

life is pretty amazing.