Sunday, March 28, 2010

The "One Thing" Rule

I'm a songwriter. Over the years I had aquired a lot of books that are supposed to tell me how to become a "successful" writer. By "successful" I know they mean..... makin' MONEY with your music!.... I was looking over the list of book authors one day and suddenly realized that most of them had names that I never see on the Billboard Top 100 Chart listed as writers on any of the songs. Well.... duh.... I guess if I never write a hit song at least I can write a BOOK about how to write hit songs. I'll title it "How To (Not)...the "not" being in really, really, really.... small print....Write A Hit Song!....
Anyway.... one thing I DID get from one of the books with this advice: "You should do "one thing" every day towards making yourself a better (read..."successful").. songwriter. That "one thing" doesn't have to be anything really big. The author (who actually HAD a couple of fairly sizeable hit songs)... said it could be something as simple as.... write down a song title,... buy a little tape recorder to record your ideas on,... change your guitar strings,... write or call a music publisher and try to start making a connection, a book on "How To Become A HIT Songwriter!"..... etc.. I thought it was pretty good advice, actually, good advice no matter what your particular hobby or aspiration might be.
Well... I then got to thinking about how that was good advice simply for living. In an earlier blog I wrote called, "Barn Building" (you can go back and read it if you like),... I said how I wanted to make this a year of trying to make a difference in other folks lives, trying to be more positive and more helpful and less negative and complaining. Some days I'm fairly successful. Other days.... well, ....let's not go there right now......
So, this book got me to thinking that I should try to do "one thing" every day to make myself a better human being. And, it doesn't have to be something "really big". I could start out simply by carrying a 300 pound woman down a thousand foot ladder to rescue her from a raging, burning building.... (o.k. maybe that's not a good example)....
I COULD start by simply doing things like: holding the door open for someone at the supermarket.... calling a friend to check on him/her to see how they're doing..... writing a thank you note to someone.... telling the waitress at the I-Hop that she's doing a great job and leaving a nice my wife a hug, just for putting up with me... (that will really freak her out)....
The "one thing" doesn't have to be earth-shattering... but added up, over time, I think it could be at least, in some small way, world-changing for ME. I'm sure as you're reading this you can think of lots of "little things" you can do today at home or at work or at the local market to make someone else's life a little brighter. I'm at least willing to give it a try. Some days I know I'll fail.. but some days I know I will make a difference. And,... some day.. I WILL write a HIT song! ( I say this because my publisher reads my blogs..... Hi Patricia!)..... And today I just want to say "one thing"... thanks for being my publisher and....friend.....I appreciate all you do! (Now, get out there and pitch, pitch, pitch....)...... I hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love Those Tests!

The folks at my church asked me if I would talk to the "young'uns" about drug use and addiction. So, I decided that a good way to go about stirring up some discussion would be to put together this short (but sweet) true and false test. I thought it might be interesting if I were to put it up as one of my blogs (that, and the fact that I'm running out of wonderful, clever things to say.....:-)

So.... here ya' go... take the quiz, and, if you get a bad score I will write all over it with RED (politically incorrect) indelible marker!.... the answers are at the end... don't look and cheat or God will strike you down on the spot. (He does things like that for ... cheating, lying, stealing, watching any t.v. program that features Rosie O'Donnell , listening to Lady Gaga's music,...and basically admiring anything done by Paris Hilton)......

True OR False

1. The use of alcohol has been around for thousands of years.

2. ALL drugs affect the brain

3. Alcohol isn't really considered a "drug"

4. Smoking cigarettes is a way of introducing a drug into the brain

5. Some drugs make a person feel more "stimulated"

6. Some drugs depress the central nervous system

7. Of all the mind-altering substances available, alcohol has caused the most damage to societies.

8. Alcoholism is recognized as a "disease" by the American Medical Association

9. Some people can use a particular drug their entire life and never become addicted.

10. Coca Cola contains a drug

11. Coca Cola was named after the drug cocaine.

12. A person can drink so much alcohol at one time that it can cause death

13. Over a hundred-million Americans drank alcohol last month

14. Around 40% of fatal traffic accidents involve drugs and alcohol.

15. My job as a drug and alcohol counselor is to try to get a drug addict or alcoholic to use drugs responsibly.

16. There is no "cure" for alcoholism

17. ALL drugs either inhibit or enhance chemicals that are already present in the human body.

18. According to Al Gore, all addictions are caused by Global Warming (o.k. this is a trick question).... you should probably go with "True".....

Answers: 1.T 2. T. 3.F 4.T 5.T 6.T 7.T 8.T 9.T 10.T 11.T 12.T 13.T 14.T 15.F

16.T 17.T 18.?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The 12 Steps of A.A.

After posting about a dozen blogs on a website called, "12 Steps And A Winding Road", it occurred to me that there were a lot of readers who were not familiar with the 12-Step Program. Some might wonder... "Why would someone subject themselves to following a path like this?"

When someone comes into a 12-Step Program it is most often a "last resort" to try and get past an addiction of some kind....alcohol, drugs (although alcohol IS a drug), sexual compusions, gambling, eating disorders, internet addiction, etc.... More often than not, the decision is surrender to a Spiritual program or suffer further loss, even perhaps death. The 12-Step program was developed by the founders of A.A. and is based on some basic Christian principles.

I thought, as I continue to blog about addiction and various life issues that it would be good to lay out exactly what the 12 steps are. For some of you it will be "old hat", and for some it will be the first time you've seen them......Try to imagine, if you will, how they might apply to your own life, whether you're in a recovery program or not.

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (insert your own addiction/struggle)...and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (as we understood Him).

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (as we understand Him), praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.

12. Having had a Spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to alcoholics (as originally written), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Recently I had the privilege of being in a group of men who shared their struggles in recovery from various addictions, hurts and hangups in their lives. One of the men made a profound statment during the meeting: "If I tell you the whole truth about who I am, and you reject me, then I am totally lost...because that's all I've got."
That's all I've got......
This is the human condition summed up succinctly by one who knows that he/she is broken... knows that he/she doesn't meet the "qualifications" to receive love or compassion from others. Another way of describing how we feel about our broken-ness is "self-hatred". We hate it that we are the person that we are, and the way we feel about ouselves is easily transferred to those around us... meaning: If that's the way we see ourselves, then that is how the rest of the world must obviously see unworthy of acceptance, let alone... "unconditonal love".
That's what feeds the cycle of addiciton. I feel guilty... therefore I drink/drug/(insert your own hangup)... this makes me feel more guilty, therefore I drink/drug...and this makes me feel guilty....etc. It most often becomes an endless cycle... the mode of living, a way of coping... a way of not feeling.
Sharon Hersh talks about this in her book, "The Last Addiction", and she says that "healing takes place only in community". The Last Addiction is, in fact, addiction to "self". She says that we end up trying to fix ourselves "with" our broken selves. What she is saying is that it is not possible to do so. Only when we reveal ourselves for the broken persons(s) that we are, in the safety of "community, is there the possibility of getting out of ourselves and into a life of transparency, healing,.. wholeness.
This is why A.A. has been the most successful of any program to redeem alcoholics. There is "community"... a common bond of broken-ness that is shared...experience, strength and hope.
Alcoholics Anonymous was started by two people.. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. Two people.... TWO people!... I wanted to emphasize this fact. It only took two people who shared a common struggle with alcohol to experience strength and hope. When Bill Wilson first approached Dr. Bob, the good doctor told him flat-out... "If you are here to help me, then I must tell you, can't. I've tried everything. I can't get sober. I am dying from alcoholism".
Then, Bill Wilson said, (I paraphrase)... I'm not here to help you... I'm here to help ME. I just need someone to talk to. I'm also an alcoholic. I just need someone who understands me." The two men unded up talking for hours on end. They shared their "experience", their "feelings about themselves".... and, in doing so, they found the strength and hope, and ability, to not drink.... that day...
And the next day.... And the next day..... And the next day.... One day at a time.
And the two became three. And the three became four... and today there are chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous all around the world. Men and women who have found one another in the common bond of human struggle...who have compassion for one another....who have love for one another, not "in spite of" who they are, but "because' of who they are.
The cry of the human heart. "Please accept me for who I am... the way I am. If you can't..then I am alone. I am completely lost.... because...that's all I've got."
The guys in that room the other night knew. The "wounded healers". They knew they were accepted. They knew they were loved... not in spite of their broken-ness, but "because" of it.
We all were. It was liberating...healing.. it was....grace.