Today, I spent time with a group of spiritual friends. We did vision boards out of pictures/words/phrases we found in random magazines. A vision board is a picture of what you want to focus on or bring into your life. I usually set my objectives by writing them down. A vision board is just a physical reminder of what I am focusing on this coming year. I learned long ago that swearing off or on things and having resolutions never worked for me. And, being the perfectionist, single minded, and stubborn alcoholic that I am, I would make one slip up and then completely trash it all; since I could not do it just one day or one hour. I am pretty sure most alcoholics can relate to that! So, setting up objectives and focusing on those things that I want to draw into my life seems less threatening and more attractive. After all, AA is a program of freedom and choice. It is about abundance, not deprivation.
So, set your intentions. What is it that you wish to draw into your life? What do you want to add to life to make it sweeter and worth staying sober for? I like to divide my life into 5 parts: emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and social. Find 1-2 things in each category that will enhance your life. These objectives need to be doable, measurable, and something I can report to my sponsor. I like to review every now and then to see how I am doing. If I have not acted on something, then I can see how I can make that more of a priority going forward. Set your objectives. Set your priorities. And, enjoy the process. The old saying “ask not; want not/” It applies to this perfectly. I do believe the universe wants what is best for us. It is our responsibility to identify what it is we want out of life, and then do the next best thing toward those goals.
What would a healthy person do? ~ Anon
Each year, for the last umpteen years, I have done this thing that truly has made a difference. I will share it with you. Take what you like and remember the rest. The problem with making New Year’s resolutions is that as addicted folks, we alcoholics tend to see things as all of nothing and as black or white. We have trouble finding the middle ground. So, when we swear off something and go cold turkey, and then we slip; we tend to see it as a total failure and a reflection on a whole year. We take it as an indication of how awful we are. In researching this and in my own spiritual journey, I came across some literature and heard a few speakers who offered this tactic:
Create objectives in the areas of your life that are lacking. I use: spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and financial (hey, I have a lot to work on!) Under each category, I set intentions to work toward. For instance, under financial, I set an amount to keep in a slush/emergency fund. Under social: I set an intention to go out socially once per week (did I say I am a loner? I am). I create this list not so much to push myself to reform over night or to beat myself up if I fall short. I set intentions, to make incremental changes that can be recorded, counted, and reported to my sponsor. This is a checks and balances system that helps me focus on what is important in my life, moves me forward toward a more peaceful existence, and holds me alone as accountable for my own happiness and security. If we want peace and happiness, we are responsible for affording that to ourselves and others around us. Enjoy the process.
We are human beings, not human doings. ~ Anon
As humans, we have limits. There is just so much we can do and nothing more. We know that to be true when we hit that wall of fatigue and exhaustion. Those of us in service to AA recognize the need to stay in our own lane, do that which we can do and no more, and to share the load when it comes to AA service projects. Most healthy meetings know and practice the wisdom of sharing service responsibilities. Yes, chairs and literature need to be set out. Yes, someone needs to lead, make coffee, get supplies/medallions, represent the group at the intergroup level, be the contact/secretary/treasurer, etc.
How long should we do service work? According to tradition #8, it is customary that most group level jobs are for one year only. This keeps the work from becoming one person’s burden. It also helps the group stay strong, as new people will have a chance to do service, and there will be fresh eyes/minds that may bring new life into the situation. There is plenty to do. Invite new people into service work. Invite them to join you at intergroup meetings, and take them to retreats and workshops. The more they become involved in AA and have things to keep them responsible to their recovery community, the less time they will have to fight this dis-ease. Nice plan, right?
When we first get dried out, we will experience dreams where we are drinking or feeling extremely blasted beyond control. This is normal. I used to have dreams that I was being forced to drink that which I did not want. I know! Even in my dreams, I wasn’t responsible, and I was the victim! I am sure you can relate! I consider these dreams freebies: all the memories and thrills; but none of the guilt, shame, or remorse. So, relax. It is just your subconscious in overtime.
Sometimes, we can learn from these dreams as well. They can be wake up calls to get more active in AA, to do more service work, or perhaps let up on caffeinated beverages by noon, so that we can sleep better at night. I have also been able to recall things for my 4th and 5th step inventory that in real time and when wide awake, I could not recall. That was due to black out drinking. The brain has a funny way to tease things out, that we would rather not remember having done. So, be kind and gentle with yourself. Enjoy the freebie, but try to learn from what is revealed.