Category Archives: Service

Being of Service with a Stranger

An interesting turn of events occured this morning. I was on my way to work after seeing my neurologist in Union Square. She prescribed me yet another new migraine medication to try since not one of the three I’ve tried so far have worked. Feeling defeated, I waited for the NQR (“the yellow line” as I like to call it). A woman looking very out of sorts comes up to ask me for subway directions. She was sweating and said she could barely think in this humidity. Ah, yes, a tourist. People who don’t live in NYC have no idea how hot it gets in the summer, especially in the underground tunnels that house the MTA.

I politely gave her directions and she was very grateful. I put my earphones back in and got on the train. Then we got stuck at 34th street due to train traffic and I got off to change trains so I didn’t have to wait any longer. The same woman got off and asked me if the train I was heading to would also take her to the right place. “Yes,” I said – “Just come with me, I’ll show you where to go.” And so we chatted for a bit on the train. She’s from San Francisco and has not spent much time in NYC. I love it here, so I’m happy to brag about it despite the oven it morphs into during the summertime.

We got off the train together and I told her I would walk her towards Rockefeller Center – her destination. We passed by my old office with its flashing video streams and I pointed to it saying I used to work there. It turns out she used to work for a different branch of same company! Weird! We continued to chat and I learned she was here to job hunt and was late to a networking meeting. She was so nice and overly grateful for my help. To me, it just seemed normal to help someone out like that. It is basic instinct for me to help out people in AA because help was so freely given to me when I was a newcomer. We keep what we have by giving it away. So why not help out a lost stranger? Finally we reached the corner where we would part and she asked me if I wanted to exchange information. I was kind of surprised by the question, but figured why not? I handed her my card and told her to email me whenever – and good luck on her job hunt.

After having a disappointing neurology appointment filled with no answers and a new prescriptionyet again, I wasn’t expecting anything good to happen for the rest of the day. And then – HP puts someone in front of me who needed my help. Helping people makes me feel better. It makes me think about something other than my own problems for 5 ,10, 20 minutes, an hour. That stranger changed my perspective this morning. My life could be worse. I could be in a strange city, lost, sick with heat-stroke and swimming in the uncertainty of looking for a job. Luckily I’m just battling daily headaches and on my way to my air conditioned office.

Thanks HP, for giving me the opportunity to be of service today.

Have you ever gone out of your way to help a stranger?

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Filed under Headache, Service

Bits and Pieces

Hi friends! Hope you all had a great weekend! If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out Alicia’s awesome guest post from Friday (below)!

My weekend was pretty good and my head semi-cooperated. Friday night Caron and I had our typical girls night at the movies – we saw Bad Teacher with JT and Cameron Diaz. It was…funny but not as good as expected. Also, Justin Timberlake is a horrible actor. Sigh. On Saturday I hosted a luncheon for some summer camp alumni friends of mine, went into the office for a few hours and then spent the rest of the evening with Leo. On Sunday Leo and I brought some of his guy friends out to Connecticut to play tennis and hang out by the pool. It was fun, but next time I’m definitely bringing some GIRLS with us! Also – if you missed the season premiere of True Blood last night, please watch – so glad it’s back!

Non-alcoholic Vampire Beverage

Other than that things are business as usual with me. Tonight is the last night I will chair at the Clubhouse for probably the next year while I serve as Treasurer. And in honor of my last night charing, Porsche is speaking for me! I am so grateful for having the chance of doing service for the past year but in all honesty I will not miss my last-minute speaker searchs. It will be a great adventure to serve as Treasurer for the next year – service helps me stay sober.

Still looking for some more fun guest posters! I would love for SATC to be a forum for anyone who has changed their lives and has something to say about it. Hopefully this summer will be filled with lots of fun, sober and headache-less summer activities for me to post about too. Additionally, I may start posting excerpts from my writing during high school and college when I was in over my head with depression and active addiction. I used to think my best writing came out when I was miserable…I’m not sure that’s true but some of it is heartbreaking to read now.

How was your weekend?

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Filed under Beverages, Fun, Recovery, Service

Peaceful Friday

Finally have a moment to breathe a little bit. This week has been so busy. Headaches have been on and off but I’m a little more at peace with the fact that all I can do is take care of myself and if that doesn’t solve the headaches, that’s OK. I don’t have control over my body the way I used to think I did. This is just part of HP’s plan for me I suppose. All I can do is weather the storm and try to stay positive when the lightening strikes.

It helps a lot that I have a sponsor who meets with me weekly! Last night we read through chapter three together and went over my first step assignment. Next up: step two! I’m really enjoying my time together with ASL. It is really nice to be accountable to someone every single day. Sometimes I feel like a newcomer with all my assignments, but it keeps me plugged into my recovery every day, multiple times a day. We could have talked forever last night over delicious coconut water. I am very grateful to be working the steps regularly again! To have someone to speak to about my dreams and fears, to hear the solution in her responses.

It’s been raining most of the week here in Manhattan. Let’s hope this weekend gets nicer. Caron, her Hubs and I are going to see Bad Teacher tonight in Times Square – I hope it rocks.

My guest posters are working on their pieces, so look out for them later today and next week! Thank for everyone for your offers of service!

How has your week been?

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Guest Posters Wanted!

Hi everyone!

My posting has been pretty intermittant the past few weeks and I apologize for that. Work has certainly started to get in the way of my blog and I still can’t seem to get rid of these headaches which basically dictate my mental state every day. Needless to say, I think it’s time to ask for some help!

My friend V gave me a suggestion last week and I’m taking it!! I’ve decided that over the next few weeks I would love to have guest-posters write for SATC. You don’t have to have a blog to guest-post. You don’t even need to be in recovery! My only ask is that you are someone who is working to change your life somehow – in ways big or small – and want to share about it in this forum. You can be anonymous or you can promote yourself and your blog.

If you’d like to guest post – please send me an email at soberandthecity@gmail.com with the subject “Guest Post” (so I don’t overlook it!) and let me know what day you’d like to post over the next two weeks and generally what you’d like to write about and we will coordinate from there. Pictures are welcome too!

Want to write for me??

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Lazy Weekend + Random Items

Happy Monday friends! I saw Super 8 with Caron on Friday – it was great! Definitely a scary modern day twist on E.T. and… The Sandlot? It was scarier than I thought it would be though. The child actors were pretty phenomenal, so they will be on my watch list for the next 5-10 years.

Leo picked me up early Saturday morning and we ventured to Connecticut to watch a college golf tournament. It was really fun, despite the dreary weather. We found some future PGA stars to follow as well. When we returned to the city we proceeded to stay inside my apartment from about 3pm Saturday to 5:40pm Sunday. HAHA! Clarissa is a lazypants. I’m pretty sure we ordered three meals in a row too. For anyone who doesn’t live in a major metropolitan area, you don’t know the wonder that is SeamlessWeb.com. You get to order food to be delivered without ever having to pick up the phone. Leo and I are big fans. I think we could have used a bit more exercise but we watched a lot of sports and movies, slept well and played with Crazy and The Dark One. After months and months of studying it was nice for us both to have almost a whole weekend of doing absolutely nothing and loving it.

Crazy was happy to be lazy with us

Sunday afternoon officially ended my study-free week and I had a call with a consultant about how to prepare for my exam retake. For anyone who is new I took a graduate school entrance exam last week and did really well, but I am taking it a second time to see if I can get a smidge higher because I’m just so close it would be silly not to. Most people take the test at least twice anyway.

Finally at 5:40pm it was time for us to leave Casa de Clarissa. I had an appointment with my Sunday my ASL (“Awesome Sponsor Lady”) in Central Park to read Chapter 2 of the Big Book. Leo begrudgingly left with me since it meant he would miss the last 20 minutes of the golf on TV. It felt great to finally be outside again! ASL and I sat for about an hour in the park reading Chapter 2. We had to move spots after the first few pages in order to avoid two teenage disasters using language that’s probably illegal in 12 states.  You kiss your mother with that mouth? Yeesh! We also determined that I am not consistently performing my sponsee responsibilities on weekends. Did you know being in recovery is a 7-day a week job? Apparently my brain thinks it starts on Monday and ends on Friday, oops! Time to put more reminders on my phone!

After our time together, I went to Whole Foods to pick up some more raw treats. I’ve been bad about eating 80% raw lately with my headaches continuing despite my diet, but I know it’s better for my digestion to eat this way so I picked up some treats to get myself re-excited about eating raw. Emmy’s Chai Macaroons are my favorite! I also got a new kind of Raw Ice Cream: Mint Chip and some Blueberry Granola by Two Moms in the Raw. I had a bowl of the mint chip during Game of Thrones last night:

Tonight is the business meeting for my AA clubhouse and I am the new Treasurer. That means that I get to count all the seventh tradition money we bring in and deposit in at the bank, pay the rent and other various expenses. I’ve never counted so many one dollar bills before in my life. I think the lady at the bank might have thought I was a stripper or a drug dealer…but standing there in my business suit today I proudly explained that I am a treasurer for a club. Riiiight. I felt a sense of accomplishment when the fancy money-counting machine reported that I had counted all the bills correctly!

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Filed under Food, Fun, Kitties, Recovery, Service, Studying

Sober Blogger of the Month Award!

I did well on my exam on Saturday! I was just short of my goal score, so I will study for one more month and give it another shot in July. Luckily I think my score is good enough for the school I would like to go to. WOO! I have fun stories from my sober adventures over the weekend but the pictures are an important part, so I’ll wait til tomorrow when I remember my camera cord. My brain is a bit fried these days!!

In some new pretty fantastical news…I got an email on Saturday that I have been awarded Blogger of the Month award (June) by SoberSites! This is my first blogger award, so needless to say I am pretty excited. Last week I talked about how I measure my self worth. While this award is very much appreciated and totally unexpected, I would write for SATC regardless of the recognition! The biggest rewards I get for writing this sober blog are the comments and emails I get from readers. This blog started out as a vessel for my own thoughts and sober journey but I never imagined how much I could help others by sharing my life this way. Thanks everyone for being a part of SATC!

What other blog awards are out there?

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A New Meeting, A New Feeling

I was adventurous last night. I’ve been stuck in a rut of only going to 1-2 meetings a week lately and mainly I just stick to the Clubhouse or Maiden Voyage. It’s not great for me to go to that few meetings. I may have 3.8 years sober but I’ll never be cured. Going to a meeting is like taking medicine for my disease…you can’t just take it whenever you feel like it and expect to feel good all the time. It’s optimal to go daily, but when that is too much, go more days than you don’t go. ASL and I agreed that I should be going to 4 meetings a week. That seems like a lot to me, but I went to a meeting every day during my first year. Why should this year be any different?

So yesterday I decided I would go to a new meeting and found one on the Upper West Side that was only 2 stops away from my apartment on the subway and started at 8:15pm! Perfect. I would have enough time to get there after physical therapy and enough time to study before bed. To my surprise, it was a small meeting -maybe 10 people max? I like the intimate meetings – not many distractions. In addition, it was a Living Sober meeting which is when everyone takes turn reading paragraphs in one of the chapters in the book: Living Sober. Last night’s topic was the Seventh Step “We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” I’ve never read Living Sober, so it felt refreshing to hear something new.

I felt like a newcomer. I didn’t know anyone in the room and I’d never heard the literature before, but I felt totally comfortable being there. I even shared. I have never gotten close to the seventh step, even in NA. But I do know what it’s like to feel humbled. It was also nice to go to a meeting where I didn’t know anyone. Because then I get to sit peacefully and focus on my recovery rather than wondering what my friends are thinking or if we’re going to get coffee after the meeting or what movie we’re going to this weekend. I haven’t been “alone” with my recovery in a meeting in a long time. I didn’t know anything about the people who shared until they shared. I didn’t have any sort of outside information about what is going on in their lives like I do with my friends. It was nice, my brain got to rest.

Going to a meeting outside of a service position or social agenda is exactly what I needed. It’s always nice to go to meetings where I know everyone, but it becomes repetitive and I hear the same people share about the same things week in and week out. New meetings present me with new people, new ideas, new lives. I am glad that I went. And then I went home, called my sponsor, talked to my brother on the phone, watched 16 & Pregnant and went to bed. I feel good this morning. My headache from yesterday is gone. Sometimes we all just need something different.

What makes you feel rejuvenated?

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Steps to Sobriety

Last night I met up with ASL or (My nickname for: my new Awesome Sponsor Lady) on the Upper East Side to read the Big Book. We met at this huge Starbucks. I’m not sure why ‘Bucks are bigger on the East Side, but hopefully without offending the West Side (the love of my life) I will say: I liked it.

Unfortunately all the seating was taken so we were forced to go outside. Luckily there was a nice area with benches across the street, so we sat outside for an hour and a half and read The Doctor’s Opinion and Chapter 1: Bill’s Story. It’s funny that I am reading these things for the first time…and to think of all those years of me whining and saying “I don’t like the AA literature, so I’ll stick with NA thank you very much” without even reading AA literature! Stubborn right? It turns out I just wasn’t ready to hear it. Today I am ready. Today when the text goes on and on about the effects of alcohol and getting “wet brain” etc, I can understand it. I can identify even though I never got the shakes from alcohol. I think my mind automatically replaces the words alcohol with drugs and alcoholism with addiction. Alcohol is a drug, by the way, so I’m being inclusive when I say drugs. To me, today, the words are synonymous and that is A-OK.

I even got my first First Step assignment! I am so grateful to meet with ASL every week now, it’s a nice routine I’m starting to get that hang of. And even though I feel like I have a million things on my plate right now in addition to all my healthcare appointments, it is good to have sponsor assignments everyday to remind me to put my recovery first.

In other random-SATC news…the new Death Cab for Cutie album is available for free streaming on NPR! I’ve already fallen in love with a number of the songs, it is more upbeat than their last album, Narrow Stairs, and I read in an article that it is likely due to the fact that since Narrow Stairs, the lead singer got married and got SOBER! Ben Gibbard said in a SPIN article, “Quitting had been such a positive change in my life. Nothing was going to make me want to go back to that. But I want to qualify that. I’m not, like, walking around with a chip in my pocket. I don’t have a sponsor. I don’t go to AA. It’s not like that.”

So, it looks like dear old Ben didn’t get sober in AA but I’m still psyched that he’s sober!

What step are you on today?

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Big Book Beginnings

Last night I went over to my NEW sponsor’s apartment to start working on steps! We also went over a bunch of guidelines and expectations for our sponsor-sponsee relationship. I will: call her every day, call one person with more sobertime and one person with less sobertime every day, email her 10 things I’m grateful for, meet regularly to read through the Big Book and do steps together, and read two spiritual passages from the Big Book each day. Sounds like a lot! But I know it will be good for me, since I have been pretty distant with my active “work” in the program beyond my service positions and fellowshipping with my friends in the program.

We read through the forwards of the Fourth Edition and ended right before the Doctor’s Opinion. It was nice to sit on the couch together and take turns reading pages – talking in between about what resonates with each of us. There is a part in the foreward from 1979 or something that says 50% of people who come to AA and really try get 100% sober and never look back. My sponsor told me she was told that today, the statistic is more like 15%. Pretty slim odds for folks like us right? But more than 15% actually get sober, just means that a lot relapse on their way to getting 100% sober eventually. I relapsed after 99 days and it took me some dabbling here and there to get 100% sober. I’m not even sure you would call my experience a relapse – maybe I should just say it took me 5 months after coming to the program to finally get sober? Who knows. Whatever you call it, I learned from that experience and it showed me that I definitely have the disease of addiction.

I feel silly having almost 4 years clean/sober and just reading the AA Big Book for the first time. I was working a different program with different literature before, so instead of being late to stepwork, I’m just starting something new. I want to clarify the reasons behind my transition over to AA. NA saved my life. I got clean and stayed clean when I was ready to go to any lengths in NA. I learned a lot from my three NA sponsors and from doing steps 1,2, and 3 multiple times. But something shifted in my recovery which is hard to explain. I felt a strong connection with a group of women in AA and my apprehensions about AA (focused on alcohol) started to slip away. I felt “a part of”, I felt loved, I felt cared for in my new circle of friends. I had NA friends in New York, but it was different than my NA friends from my college town. The relationships in NYC never felt as intimate to me, I felt left out sometimes, I felt different. I still got good recovery and was able to do service and help others, but in the end I didn’t see my life revolving around New York NA. Today my life revolves around my relationships in AA. Everyone has a home, sometimes it just takes work to find it. I know if I continued my journey in NA in New York I would stay clean, but I’m not sure if my heart would be in it as much as it was in college.

I want to be where the solution is. There is a solution in New York NA, you just have to look for it a bit harder sometimes. I wanted to be in a place where people are getting better, one day at a time. And maybe I just didn’t have the willingness to keep looking for it in the meetings I was attending. In the end, there is no right or wrong way to recover. It’s up to you. You have a choice. I know from the experience of others that I can work through my experience with drugs the same way in AA as I could in NA. I have the disease of addiction and that is all –encompassing.

If anything, having the experience of both fellowships will help me to help newcomers even more. It is very hard to find a newcomer in AA who never did drugs…and sometimes when I meet someone at an AA meeting and I hear bits of their story, I bring them to an NA meeting to see which resonates with them more. I would have never gone to an AA meeting at 21. If you told me I was an alcoholic I would have told you to go eff yourself. But something about being an addict…I just accepted that. Years later, I understand that the disease is the same, the principles of the program are the same, and the meetings are the same. I can say I’m an alcoholic and not cringe…to me it is the same as being an addict.

I am grateful that I have a strong, loving woman to take me through the AA steps.

Where has your journey taken you?

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Service Keeps Me Sober

It’s a dreary Tuesday here in New York City, kids. I left my apartment prepared with my Hunter Boots and ‘Brella though, thank goodness. Despite the weather Tuesdays are beoming my favorite day of the week! Why? Because Acupuncture is on Tuesday nights! Hopefully it will help get rid of this raging headache I have.

On to the main topic of today: I have a new service position! I am the treasurer for the clubhouse meeting I chair at. I will not chair for the next year, but rather take on treasury duties. For those of you who don’t know, AA works like any other organization except no one is “in charge.” People take on service positions that reflect certain responsibilities to the group. At the clubhouse, we have a Secretary, Literature Chair, Overall Chair, Treasurer and every night of the week we have two co-chairs to run the meetings. So although the Overall Chair of the 10:30 clubhouse meeting runs the business meetings we have each week, she is not “the boss.” Her service position helps keep all of the group members on track to keep the meeting running and carry the message to the newcomers. It’s pretty cool actually that no one is in charge as addicts/alcoholics tend to rebell against authority….surprising, I know.

As the Treasurer I am responsible for collecting all the 7th Tradition money, paying the rent for the space we use, and paying for any group expenses (including flowers and cupcakes for our Anniversary meeting). It’s a perfect role for me since I work with money for a living. For the “normies” out there the 7th Tradition states that “we are to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” That means that we pass a basket at a certain point in the meeting for people to put in a dollar or two to help pay for our expenses. We don’t want any money from anyone who is not in AA, so that we don’t end up straying from our primary purpose which is to help the alcoholic who still suffers. NA works the exact same way. I would imagine most 12 step programs do. We don’t accept government money, or corporite donations, or anything. We are fully self supporting. Which basically means that the service we offer to the newcomer is FREE!! Think about all that money you spend on therapy when you could get better in a 12 step program for FREE! When I was a newcomer, I just put in the basket whatever change I had and if I didn’t have any money, no one minded. I was always told “We need you more than we need your money.”

And the money we collect mainly goes to rent (it’s steep in this city!). We also buy literature as a group and offer it to the newcomer for free and old timers pay whatever it costs. For instance, I bought my very first AA Big Book last night for $8 at the clubhouse. That book was originally bought with the groups money and I am repaying them. It’s an easier way to get literature compared to going to a recovery bookstore or amazon.com! We also host an Annversary meeting on the last day of every month and we buy small cupcakes and flowers for the celebrants – usually about $30 or less each month. If we have left over money we donate it to NY Intergroup – which is the larger organization that helps to keep all the NYC meetings in tact.

Being of service to others is an important part of staying sober and helping others to stay sober. Most of us in active addiction/alcoholism were incredibly selfish people and we only cared about ourselves. To do service in AA or NA is to take the opposite action. Whether it be making coffee or supplying a meeting with cookies, chairing a meeting, accepting when a chairperson asks you to speak, answering a 12 step call or simply showing up and talking to a daycounter. We are here to serve others and in turn we  slowly grow into better people. Being of service also helps you to get out of your own head. When a newcomer calls me or asks me if I would get coffee with her, I always accept. Not only does it make me feel good to help someone else, it allows me an hour where I don’t have to think about the million things going on in my own life.

I have gotten many emails from people struggling with sobriety who have stumbled across my blog and thank me for being of service with my words. I never imagined when I started SATC that I would be able to help so many people so far away. It is such a blessing to be sober today and to give away what I have been given.

What service positions do you have today?

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