Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Featured Post: The Step of the Month
Step 12 – this is how we live
Before I got to AA I wanted to stop having all the bumps and bruises life was dealing me. Alcohol was the cause of most of them but it was also what I was trying to use as the solution. By the time I hit bottom (with fresh stitches in my head) I figured I needed to stop drinking even if I didn’t want to. Soon after I got to AA, I heard the tradition that says the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. I wasn’t at all sure I qualified. I didn’t really want to stop drinking – I just wanted to get rid of the pain. I did one thing right; I came in with some willingness and a commitment to be honest.
I soon got a sponsor and started working the steps. I had some problems accepting that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I had even more trouble deciding to turn my will and life over to this power – my faith was new and weak. It was easier for me to think of the first three steps as 1) I can’t; 2) God can; 3) I think I’ll let him.
That lead to what my sponsor called the action steps. I attended a fourth step seminar, did my fifth step with my sponsor, read and prayed and asked my Higher Power to take away my shortcomings, made an eighth step list and commenced to make some amends. I was now ready for “the maintenance steps.”
Taking regular tenth step inventory and eleventh step prayer and meditation made sense to me and I worked at incorporating them into my routine. They weren’t like the other steps where I could say I was “done” but I guess that’s why they’re called maintenance. Now it was time to address the twelfth and final step. Although by this time I had heard it a thousand times, I looked at it again and read it slowly and carefully. “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” My first reaction was one of surprise. I had never considered the impact of realizing that a spiritual awakening was the result of the steps. The result I had wanted was freedom from drinking and the consequences it was causing me. I’ve heard that the original phrasing said we had a “spiritual experience” and that after much debate the writers decided that sounded like a “white light” revelation like Bill had had and changed it to “spiritual awakening.” The Spiritual Experience Appendix at the back of the big book says that most of us have a spiritual transformation that develops “slowly over a period of time.” That was certainly my case. When I thought about it, I was happy to say that I had indeed had such a change in my spiritual presence and that it affected every phase of my life.
Trying to help other alcoholics was something I was actively doing – I had a couple of sponsees already and followed my sponsor’s example of reaching out to new-comers at meetings. To “practice these principles” still seems like I’m asking for perfection until I remember that we seek “progress, not perfection” and I can see where I am still making progress.
So this is the step where I see the result of working the first 11 steps, results I wouldn’t have imagined or ever thought to ask for, and the script I must follow to continue this “happy, joyous and free” existence I’ve achieved. It really is simple, so long as I stay out of the way and take the guidance offered me by the program, the steps and especially my Higher Power. So to me, the first 3 steps are about deciding to change – committing to getting better. The next 5 are actually making me better, getting some recovery. The final 3, especially step 12, are about how I live my life now that I’ve achieved recovery.
-Mike N, Sunday Speaker Meeting
RBA Board of Trustees Minutes
Monday, November 9th, 2020
Meeting Opened at 7:00pm
Opened with the serenity prayer. Our mission is to manage the property, finances and 501C3 for the RBA.
1. Members Present:
Jim L., Isaac S., Kate M., Lori W., Norton L., Jim B., Joe R., Roger B., Bill M., Rik L., Jeff S., Dana Jo F.
Also present: Jerry Z., , Will S., Curt T.
2. Building & Maintenance Report (Jerry Z.):
Jerry purchased ice melt and sand for the coming months. The defective coffee machine was exchanged by the coffee company – no charge. Jerry needs to fix a water valve connecting to the coffee machine. Sandbags were placed in the parking lot to block flooding near the back door. Jerry has noticed spots on the carpet around the club, so this should be cleaned soon. Jerry intends to fix the room divider in the back-meeting area.
3. Financial Report:
Curt T. distributed the October financial report. Pledges increased from September as expected. A motion to approve the financials was seconded and approved.
4. Old Business:
The landscaping project for the front lot and the LED lighting project were not completed and must be discussed in the spring of 2021. Jim L. has spoken with the asphalt vendor and is hoping to have the area by the back door fixed before Thanksgiving. The vendor estimated $1,000 for this repair which Jim intends to discuss further. Kate M. read the September board meeting minutes and a motion to approve them was seconded and approved. Lori volunteered to create a contact list for the new board members.
5. New Business:
Officers were nominated, seconded and elected to the board as follows:
President - Norton L.
Vice President - Roger B.
Treasurer - Jeff S.
Secretary - Joe R.
The board discussed safety concerns to guard against the spread of COVID at RBA. Jeff S. volunteered to create new signage to be placed throughout the club to ensure expectations are clear. Trusted Servants and board members will be asked to discuss the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and disinfecting surfaces during meetings. Dana Jo proposed the purchase of notebooks for each Squad to log weekly attendees for purposes of contact tracing. A motion to approve this initiative was seconded and approved. Dana Jo volunteered to purchase the notebooks.
Norton L. has asked the board to consider the appearance of the signage and other items around the club. The board has been asked to replace tattered signs and take steps to ensure all new postings are neat and orderly.
Jeff S. and Roger B. from the Saturday night meeting asked for approval to fund and plan the annual Children’s Christmas Party. The plan is to have a drive-through event to ensure the safety of the attendees while keeping this tradition in place. $800 was requested, a motion to approve was seconded, and the funds were approved. Additional funds for the party will be collected during meetings. This event is scheduled for December 12th.
Dana Jo F. discussed the sale held at RBA during October. Proceeds from this will be submitted to the club for the November financials. Dana Jo also discussed the Annual White Elephant Christmas Party, and a decision was made to forgo this event until next year. The board decided to offer regular meetings on Christmas and New Year’s Eve and day, but the club will not stay open all night on either holiday as done in previous years.
Dana Jo is arranging for a regular meeting to be held at 6:00pm on Saturdays to ensure RBA has at least two meetings available per night. The requirement for six pledging members was waived for the time being.
Curt T. has decided to step down as Bookkeeper. The board motioned, seconded and approved Will S. to take over this position. Curt will work with Jeff and Will during November to transition these responsibilities.
Norton asked the board to focus on paying off the balance of the parking lot project before the end of pledge year 2021. Beginning in January the board will talk with members about private donations to meet this goal.
Motion to close the meeting was seconded and approved. The meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer.
-Joe R, Secretary - Board of Trustees
ALANO SOCIETY OF RICHFIELD-BLOOMINGTON (RBA)
Building Use During COVID-19 - Updated 11/28/2020
Because of a recent positive Covid-19 outbreak in our building, we need to comply with more stringent guidelines.
Squad Leaders are responsible for enforcement. If we do not comply, we may not be allowed to keep our building open for these 12-step meetings.
FACE COVERINGS are required to be worn by all –
NOSE and MOUTH must be covered, even when speaking.
Practice 6 feet social distancing. No physical interactions such as hugging, handshakes, etc. Chairs will be set up at an appropriate distance from each other and should not be moved. If too many people wish to attend, your group may have to split into 2 rooms. Small rooms should now have only 7-8 people to maintain appropriate separation.
NO FOOD or BEVERAGE! Do NOT make coffee! Don’t bring food. NO donuts to share – NO pizza-meetings! We cannot be taking our face coverings off to eat and drink. It’s only 1 hour…
Hand sanitizer is provided in each meeting area.
Ask for Volunteers to help sanitize the tables/common areas when your meeting concludes.
The building will open one half hour prior to any meeting(s) and will stay open one half hour after the meeting(s). The RBA building is not a good place to “hang out.”
The coronavirus and Covid-19 are at an all-time high in our country, with deaths in the US surpassing a quarter-million. Hospitals are approaching 100% capacity, and much of their staff is quarantined or recovering from Covid-19 being spread through the community. On Thursday night the Governor of MN set forth additional guidelines to help us all stay safe & reduce the number of active cases in our state.
They’d really just like everybody to stay home for a while, but that doesn’t work for people in a 12-step recovery program. AA and places of Worship have been granted an exception; we’re allowed to meet, but we need to follow certain guidelines. No one wants to see us locked down, and compliance is our ticket to staying open.
TO ALL SQUAD LEADERS:
#1 Set your room before guests arrive. Only 4 chairs/table (not 6.) Stack the unused chairs. This is for social distancing. Small rooms too.
#2 Small rooms are limited to 10-12 people, 25-30 in the big room, prioritizing the 6’ social distancing guidelines. Same type of thing in the soft chairs.
#3 Face coverings are required per MN State Law. Protect others and yourself. Grabbing a cup of coffee is NOT an excuse to unmask for the entire hour. And cover your nose, too!
#4 Have everyone “sign in” to your meeting with a first name and phone number. This is for contact tracing in case there’s a problem. Notebooks are in the squad mailboxes for this purpose. Squad leaders: Put your name & number first, so guests know whom to contact.
#5 As you begin, get 2 volunteers to disinfect (spray) the tables after your meeting, leaving them clean for the next group.
If everyone observes these rules we’ll be able to keep RBA open as usual. We need to remain open to serve those seeking help!
With everyone’s cooperation, we’ll get through this – THANKS!
-Norton L, President - Board of Trustees
12th Step Prayer
Children's Christmas Party
Hi Everyone! RBA has decided to carry on the tradition of the Children's Christmas party this year. We have changed the format of the event to ensure the safety of our families and members. Feel free to sign up any child between the ages of birth and 15 on the white board at the club, then drive through the RBA parking lot on December 12th between 1:00pm and 4:00pm. Santa's helpers will then give your child their present and you can be on your way. If you'd like to volunteer to help, we will be shopping for the presents on December 9th; we will meet at the club at 6:00pm and carpool to the store. We plan to wrap the gifts on December 11th at 7:00pm and could use some help with that also. Lastly, we encourage donations for this event between now and the party. Hope to see you there!
Special thanks to the Saturday night Squad 5A meeting for organizing this event!
The AA Experience
What Brings Me to AA?
When looking back for a reason, thing, or person as to what got me into AA, I don’t have an exact answer. What I do remember was how I was feeling. At the time I felt a list of emotions: depressed, anxious, fearful, angry, and regretful. To sum these emotions into one thing, it would be total misery. I remember doubting if AA was even a right choice for me, or if it was possible for a person in their 20’s to fit in with what I had perceived to be old men. Through this misery and denial, I found myself in a hard place. I was desperate to try anything to bring sanity and serenity back into my life.
So, what did bring me into AA? For me it is not a question of what, but a question of why. The truth was that by deciding to attend AA, I had a reason that was already written in the first step of the program. Before I even walked through the door I knew I had a problem, but I hadn’t admitted it yet. What brought me to AA wasn’t important, because the why is most important. Why I went and still participate in AA is that I’m powerless to Alcohol and my life is unmanageable when I drink.
Everyday I admit that I’m Alcoholic, and submit to that fact. Through this I’m able to focus on the relationships that I had once fractured. Although sobriety doesn’t make me perfect and immune to life, I’m able to progress towards my ambitions and goals with peace. I no longer isolate myself in a dark corner of shame, but instead go about my life with acceptance and a relationship with God as I see him. I can use this admittance as a tool. A tool to bring me serenity. I still don’t have an exact answer as to what got me into AA, and it’s easiest for me to just be grateful that I made it. Why I went and still go is that I’m powerless to Alcohol. By accepting that I’m able to live the life that my higher power has in store for me.
-Joe R (The younger one), Squad 5C
Tradition of the Month
Tradition 12: " Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities."
I feel it only appropriate to speak to what this tradition means to me, and what it has done for me.
What a relief to come to a room absent judgment when I needed help. We were all there for one common goal, to stop drinking or using drugs. I believe we were a group that normally would not mix, people who would normally not be friends or listen to each other. In the rooms I found a home that actually benefited me more than my therapy did. My therapist may listen to my problems, but in AA I found a group of people who fully understood where I was coming from and I'd been there themselves.
In alcoholics anonymous there's a level playing field, we're all equal no one member is above anyone else. From the banker to the butcher we come to meetings all with the same goal to help the alcoholic who is still suffering. In the anonymity the program is based on attraction not promotion. I know for me seeing another alcoholic recover was exactly what I wanted, I wanted a way out. Alcoholics anonymous give me a safe place free of judgment, where I can bring my problems and others might bring the solution. Now with some sobriety under my belt I try to bring solutions to the meetings and not problems, but AA is there for anything I need to discuss, and the anonymity gives me the space to be able to do so.
I believe whether it's a story in the big book, or listening to a speaker meeting the anonymity gives clearance to the person to speak freely, share honestly, and contribute to 12-step work. The Twelve and Twelve states "we are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that alcoholics anonymous can ever have."
Last we're all in this together, I've heard it said passengers saved from a sinking ship, and that's exactly how I feel. I was saved, and were it not for the anonymity I may not have shared so freely, and received openly the gift that is sobriety.
-Will S, Squad 5C
12th Step Insights
12th Step Reflection
Early in recovery I would look up at the 12th Step written on the wall in our club and think about how great it will be to someday complete this. I thought my work would be done then, and I would graduate from our program of AA cured of my alcoholism. Over time I learned the 12th Step was the beginning of a spiritual way of living. This step helps me see beyond myself and apply the teachings of AA in my daily life. It also reminds me the best things in life are those we share with others. The 12th Step mentions three ideas; a spiritual awakening, carrying the message to other alcoholics, and practicing the principles of AA in all our affairs. I have found these ideas to be as important in my daily life as eating food and drinking water.
Before finding AA I believed I could find comfort by eating food, drinking alcohol, ingesting drugs, buying new things, improving my physical appearance, or taking expensive trips. Each of these solutions ended in misery and emptiness. Alcoholics Anonymous taught me my mind would never produce a sustainable solution for my problems. If I wanted to be happy, joyous and free then I needed to trust a power greater than myself and leave my heart open to guidance from my God. This was difficult at first. I was accustomed to the immediate relief I gained from alcohol and drugs, so I was not impressed with the spiritual solution discussed in our literature. In time I learned that faith can be achieved through action, so I worked the steps to the best of my ability. I cleared away the wreckage of my past which strengthened my connection to my higher power. I learned I was never going to be perfect, but I must be committed to growing along spiritual lines.
I continued to build my relationship with my higher power. Each day I took time to reflect on my relations with others to ensure I was acting according to God’s will. When I acted selfishly, dishonestly, or in anger I promptly admitted I was wrong. I also reflected on situations when I felt happy, joyous and free, and came to understand that empathy and kindness brought about this change in me. I meditated regularly which helped me live in the present moment and find serenity. I prayed each day for the knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out. This prayer began to feel like I was sending positive energy into the universe, and I could feel this energy return to me when confronted with new and exciting experiences. Taking these steps has brought about a transformation in me. I now see the world from a new perspective. I can see and feel a connection between myself and everything around me.
The spiritual awakening I’ve had as the result of these steps has helped me realize what is most important in my life. Above all I value living in the present, complete honesty, and unconditional love. Living in the present is a way of being completely open to God’s love and guidance without letting past fears or future anxieties affect my being. Honesty is of absolute importance because It’s a way of being a conduit for God’s love and guidance. Lastly, unconditional love is the essence of my higher power and the spirit that connects me to everything. I once believed there was no God, I now believe God is everything. The message I carry to alcoholics is no matter what they’ve done in the past or how low they feel, they deserve to feel love. We all must be rigorously honest with ourselves, our friends and our higher power if we want to feel this. If at any moment we feel alone or disturbed, we must be open to God’s will and reestablish a connection.
Carrying this message to other alcoholics is the most pleasurable part of my day. I find daily meetings very rewarding because I witness the transformation that takes place in people. Many of us enter the program feeling so alone and helpless. We bring with us years of mistrust and resentment. Seems too good to be true when we find a room full of people who accept us for who we are regardless of our circumstances. Maybe we look around the room for some indication of who is most important, but we soon learn everyone is equal regardless of sobriety length or knowledge of our literature. Some of us wonder what we need to say to sound like experts, but we soon find the most important part of sharing is honesty. Many of us tried to explain our illness to our wives and family members, but none of them could understand the way fellow alcoholics seem to. People are always happy to see us even if we have never met. We learn to listen without judgement and share without fear. So many of us had forsaken our old friends for isolation, and we find new friends in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sponsorship has been so important to my recovery. Listening with empathy and gaining the trust of another person is so rewarding for me. I believe my job as a sponsor is to be a guide for our program. I enjoy hearing sponsees share their thoughts on each step and encourage them to do so without fear of being judged. I also enjoy sharing about my program, which teaches me new things about myself. I believe sponsorship is so important because having conversations about the program in an intimate setting enables us to discuss what we wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in our groups. We often feel obligated to share our experience, strength and hope in meetings, but we are encouraged to bring up our struggles with our sponsors. Through sponsorship I’ve learned we all join AA for the same reason, but we all have our own paths in recovery. Different paths make this program interesting.
Carrying the message of AA to other alcoholics means more to me than sponsoring and sharing my recovery journey. I have learned to see a broader view of our program in recent years. Behind the scenes of our meetings I have found many people who organize the groups, plan fellowship events, and maintain the buildings we meet in. This requires a special kind of dedication because it is a true test of an alcoholic’s willingness to maintain serenity. Making difficult decisions and seeking compromise is something AAs must work diligently to achieve. The administrative aspects of our program often draw scrutiny and criticism, so taking on these responsibilities is a true test of courage and acceptance. I have found this service work has brought me much closer to my higher power. Challenging myself gives me opportunities to learn and grow stronger in recovery.
The last part of the 12th Step encourages us to practice the principles of AA in all our affairs. Throughout my recovery I’ve grown to understand the love and acceptance I feel in AA meetings can be found in other areas of my life. Showing kindness to my friends and family no longer feels like I’m exposing my weaknesses. Encouraging these people to be honest helps me understand how I can better support them. I’ve learned the importance of looking beyond my own needs in my daily work and have found the mission of helping my coworkers reach their goals to be immensely rewarding. I have found a path to a meaningful life and enjoy sharing this with everyone. I have come to believe I have nothing to fear because I will never be alone again if I maintain conscious contact with my God. My God connects me to the world and everyone in it.
-Joe R, Squad 5C
12th Step Reflection
Well I'm currently working on sponsoring others I can only speak to what the 12 step is done for me. In the darkest of times I had someone there for me, who helped me go through the steps. I fully believe had I not had a sponsor someone paying it forward, I would have drank. What was shown to me is a new way to live, living the principles and all my affairs and ultimately being a better person. I found ways to handle my problems that no longer involve drinking. Where I used to reach for a bottle, now I reach out and call my sponsor or one of the many friends I've made in AA. It is my belief that when you reach out and do 12-step work you're saving someone else's life. You're throwing them a life preserver when otherwise they would drown.
I've come to find I have more in common with my AA fellows then I would have ever known. Well my spiritual Awakening did come it came in steps gradually rather than all at once. I can only hope that I'm able to give this back to someone else, to pay it forward and save another. I am forever grateful of my sponsor for them doing their 12-step work, so that I might be saved. It's a very selfless act the effects of which spread into eternity.
My higher power has been with me every step of the way, right there alongside my higher power is my sponsor. I believe my higher power works through my sponsor and our conversations. I've heard it said you need to trust in the process, and I would say you've got to trust your sponsor as well.
At meetings are now volunteer to take on sponsees so that I can give back what was freely given to me through the AA program. I've had a great example from my sponsor, and I have literature to help me walk someone else through the steps. I hope someone reading this might consider sponsoring someone else, and giving back what they've been freely given from the program. You never know when you might save someone else's life because for me to drink again is to die. Well I haven't drank in for almost seven years I know my addiction has been doing push-ups in the background waiting for me to slip. We are all always the same distance from the ditch no matter how much sobriety we have.
-Will S, Squad 5C
AA Speaker- Jennifer H
Recent and Upcoming Sobriety Anniversaries
Please join us in congratulating the following people on their sobriety milestones!
Barb (11/16/85) celebrated 35 years in November!!!
Shannon H (8/19/20) celebrated 90 days in November!!!
Pat B (9/1/20) celebrated 90 days in November!!!
Kory S (11/27/17) celebrated three years in November!!!
Mike N (11/11/07) celebrated 13 years in November!!!
Pete A (11/11/19) celebrated one year in November!!!
A reminder that our fiscal year started Oct. 1. All members are asked to fill out new pledge cards for 2021, which helps in planning our finances for the coming year. While the only requirement to attend is a desire to stop drinking, it does take money to keep the building clean and in good repair. Donations came up a little short last year, and the coronavirus shutdown hurt us significantly. Our goal is to finish this year in the black, and your help would be greatly appreciated!
Don’t forget the Children’s Christmas Party! The team is planning a drive-thru event this year, so everyone can stay safe while we keep the tradition alive. Pass a second basket if you’d like to help!
-Norton L, President - Board of Trustees
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