2 Oars of Recovery

There are two oars of recovery:

The 12 Steps of AA and the fellowship of AA. ~ Anon

Recovery in AA can be likened to being in a life raft. Someone from the bigger ship of AA threw us a life boat. We chose to climb in and not drown. That was the first of many choices that we have in recovery. We were each equipped with two oars for safe sailing. One oar is the 12 Steps of AA. The other is the AA fellowship. Again, we are given the choices of using one or the other oar to navigate the rough waters of life, to use both of them, or to not use either one. It is a choice. We were all born of free will.

I will give you a clue: the folks who choose to not use either oar will drift around and never really ever reach a safe shore. The people who choose to just use the steps, but ignore the help and fellowship of AA will just go around in circles when they try to paddle at all. The same fate befalls those who only want to use the fellowship to keep them afloat. The acronym N.U.T.S applies to them = Not Using The Steps. Nothing looks sillier or sadder than someone who chooses to ignore the wisdom of millions recovering AA’s when it comes to staying sober. Those who succeed in sailing to safer shores and who can enjoy a lifetime of freedom and joy are those who use both oars of recovery. It is your choice. Just get in the boat and keep rowing.

Just Go Garden

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go out side, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens , nature, and God.

~ Anne Frank

When I was a kid, I found my mom out in the garden just hoeing away in a great flurry. She had been out there for hours and it was time to fix dinner. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “free therapy!”. I instinctively understood why, as I was a fellow member of a very violent household. That stuck with my all these years. She new intuitively that she was powerless in the marriage and in my dad’s disease.  She had what her parents had told her “made her bed”. But, she knew how to survive the onslaught. She knew how to thrive regardless.

One gift this program gave me (and there have been many) is that for ten years (until Alzheimers took her mind), we had become friends. She taught me all she knew of gardening and thriving regardless of circumstances. She taught me that nature provides, the universe is bigger than anything we humans can come up with, and that to be in harmony with nature and the universe, is the one way to inner peace. She has been gone 3 years now. This summer I am building a garden path of stepping stones and yellow and purple blooming ground cover with a wall of lilies, irises and hostas on either side of it in her memory. She would have appreciated the sentiment far greater than any material thing I could ever buy for her. Seek peace, pick up the tools of recovery  and dig in.


We are in a time when we are all challenged to either speak up for those who are oppressed, or to shut up and let others be who they are going to be. The 12th step program teaches me to be patient and merciful especially when others are struggling with this disease. I still, after all these years, struggle with letting go and allowing people to find their own path VS standing up for what is right and just. If I had all the answers, perhaps I would write a book.

I do believe when others are being abused or harmed, then it is my responsibility to say no, speak up in their defense, and in some way lessen the damages to others. To stand by and no do anything is being complicit in the harm. The promises say that we will be able to deal with difficult situations more easily. I find that if I hand it over, wait 24 hours and talk to my sponsor, somehow, the right words and actions are revealed to me. The answers come more easily. That gives me hope. How do you deal with the pain of others?

Today’s Tidbit

I have been wrestling emotionally over things I have no control of, but again, I want control. I am sure some of you can relate. I was reminded after having allowed myself some unfettered “justifiable anger” that some people (including me) cannot afford the dubious luxury of anger and resentment.

So, in consultation with my sponsor and after many signs from HP, I am on a new and better path. Being of service takes me out of self and into recovery. There are other tools as well: telephone, writing, prayer/meditation, sponsorship, sobriety, meetings, etc. But, in my life and in my experience, service is the key ingredient. “Always to extend the hand of recovery, for this I am responsible”. Feel free to comment and let me know how this works for you. Jo