~ My journey & joy through CAL & AFG adventures ~

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CAL – Item # M-57 – My Journey in Service

WHAT I LEARNED: 1. While perusing through some Al-Anon service tools in the Area Archives, I came across “My Journey in Service” (item # M-57).  At roughly 60 pages, the booklet is designed as a journal so it has lots of lined paper & blank spaces for writing, plus it includes a CAL service-oriented quote on each page!  It originally came out in 1998 & is now discontinued because it was just an item sold “while supplies last.”  As far as its intent, per page 52 of the 1999 World Service Conference Summary, “It is a tool to familiarize the membership with powerful quotes contained in our literature.”   I personally don’t do journaling as part of my program study but I do fill out workbooks, so I think that’s similar – which reminded me of this profound quote from page 7 of “Reaching For Personal Freedom” (P-92): “As we write our answers & participate in this process, we become co-authors of the workbook.  As we proceed, this workbook becomes a record of our personal path to recovery, while it also connects us to a fellowship-wide process that we have in common with other Al-Anon members around the world.”

2. I have 6 favorite lines from this book (sorry, the pages aren’t numbered in the journal):

  • “I know I am in Al-Anon for my own recovery, & by volunteering to serve on the necessary committees, I translate phrases such as, “Let It Begin With Me” into action.” – From page 124 of “Al-Anon’s 12 Steps & 12 Traditions” (B-8) – the original version from 1981.
  • “Our responsibilities & opportunities for service extend far into the future.” – From page 195 of “Lois Remembers” (B-7).
  • “Service work heals the emptiness within me by replacing my dark obsession for another with my own loving light.” – From page 308 of “How Al-Anon Works” (B-22).
  • “To find the courage to speak up when needed, the maturity to keep silent when I feel like attacking & the ability truly to listen to the other person’s point of view all bring about the harmony & spiritual growth offered in Concept Four.” – From page 274 of “Paths To Recovery” (B-24).
  • “I’ve come to think of myself not as a person with limited professional expertise, but as a person with many unclassified but useful abilities.” – From page 49 of “When I Got Busy, I Got Better” (P-78).
  • “Thus, whenever we truly give of ourselves, almost magically we find that there is more of our selves to give.” – From page 101 of “How Al-Anon Works” (B-22).

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CAL – Item # B-9A – Forum Favorites, Vol. 1

B-2WHAT I LEARNED: 1. As an Area Archivist once said, “I love my position because I get to time travel.”  I too feel I get to step into the ‘Wayback Machine’ whenever I read discontinued Al-Anon literature.  When this Forum Favorites book was first published in 1970 it was a hefty hard cover book & the title was almost going to be “The Best of Margaret” – since Margaret D., The Forum magazine’s longest-running editor, is the sole author of the book.  But, in keeping with our Traditions, the official title became: Al-Anon’s Favorite Forum Editorials (item # B-2) as shown in the image to the right.

B-9A2. The book that I’m reading from is the soft cover version when the hard cover book was split into Volumes 1 & 2 in 1982 (see my previous entry on Vol. 2).  Volume 1 (item # B-9a) covers June of 1954 to June of 1966 & seems heavier with biblical quotes as well as references to war & H-bombs than compared to Volume 2.  But it also chronicles a time when Al-Anon was more of a movement & the growing pains that go along with that!  For instance, Margaret talks about the second World Service Conference in 1962 & receiving so many letters to Headquarters after Ann Landers mentioned Al-Anon in her advice column, that the work of answering the letters had to be split up among the volunteers because it was too much for one person.  FYI: per Many Voices, One Journey (item # B-31) page 115: “In all, 6,500 people wrote in…  Previously, the largest response… was an influx of 700 letters.”  Yet Margaret continued to wonder about the one who is “still keeping the article, trying to gather courage to write.” -Vol. 1, page 94.

3. Even though the program was growing by leaps & bounds, the issues she wrote about in the early years are still relatable today: struggling groups, dealing with crosstalk, meetings being dominated by one person, how to welcome Newcomers, difficulty in finding speakers, etc  There’s even a reference to the “Three Deadly Enemies” (from the pamphlet Alcoholism, The Family Disease (item # P-4)).  In 1956, the “enemies” were: Discussion of religion, Gossip, & Dictatorship.  They’re now known as the “Three Obstacles to Success in Al-Anon” & other than switching “Dictatorship” to the word “Dominance,” not much has changed since then.  As the saying goes, “What was old is new again!”

4. I have several favorite quotes from Volume 1:

From page 28: “The French have a saying that to understand all is to forgive all.”

From page 29: “What is life but a choice of values?  We never lose anything by leaving it behind – we take it along in another form.”

From page 94: “The only way to Push is with Prayer.”  animated-praying-smiley-image-0008

From page 96: “our literature is full of golden nuggets.  But gold is where you find it.  To find it, you have to look.”

From page 99: “I learned to walk early but it took me more than 3 years to learn the First Step

From page: 115: “Be generous with your past – someone needs it more than you!”

From page: 120: “We don’t develop character licking marshmallows.”

Paraphrased from page 130: Each one of us is 3 persons: who we were, who we are, & who we’d like to be.

From page 132: “when you start looking for God, you have already found Him.”

**BONUS: Between both Volumes 1 & 2, there are 10 total December articles that mention Christmas.  Nowadays, it’s rare to find any sharings about holidays, but of all 5 daily readers, can you guess which 1 does?  (Hint: see item # B-27!)


CAL – Item # B-9C – Forum Favorites, Vol. 3

Vol 3 B-9CWHAT I LEARNED: 1. After I became the North Florida Area Literature Coordinator in 2015, I was “bequeathed” a lot of CAL & some were discontinued pieces.  Whoo-hoo!  So I’m slowly making my way through them & decided to start by reading the entire Forum Favorites series from most recent to oldest.  (See my previous entry for Volume 4.)  This Volume 3 (item # B-9C) came out in 1991 & includes editorials (or “inspirational articles” as Lois Wilson called them) published between 1974 & 1984.

2. Because all the articles were selected by 3 past editors of The Forum magazine during that time, it reads quite a bit more formal than Volume 4 – which featured submissions by individual members of their all-time favorites.  Plus, Volume 3 doesn’t have any cute hand-drawn pictures in it which I just assumed it would since Volume 4 did, but I digress…  If you are able to borrow a copy of this discontinued book through your local District LDC or Archives chairperson, it is worth seeking out.  Even though the dates of the articles are becoming older every year, they do not feel dated.  It seems the editors had the foresight to know what would be timeless & that alone was worthy of being considered a “favorite.”

3. I had many favorite quotes from this book, but these are my top 4:

From page 42: “The constant practice of Al-Anon principles enables us to hear brilliant insights in the words of the uneducated, to find love in criticism, to be helped by those we’re helping & taught by those we’re teaching.  We can learn to see beauty in the most dismal surroundings, in the wrinkles on an aged face, in the mold on an old brick.  A positive attitude is a great blessing.”

extreme6From pages 82-83: “A Tibetan writer, Djwhal Kahul, has said that everything is spiritual which tends toward understanding, toward kindness, toward that which is productive of beauty & leads man on to a fuller expression of his divine potential.  Each advance we make in personal insight & awareness of others is spiritual growth.  We can leave the thickets of distrust & discouragement & climb up where we have new worlds at our feet & far horizons before us.”

From page 106: “Detachment is not the absence of love, but the absence of anxiety in love.”

From page 140: “I must stop pushing the river & just let it flow.”


CAL – Item # P-86 – A Guide to Alateen Sponsorship–An Unforgettable Adventure

P-86WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Here’s another instance of me sitting down to read a piece of literature & thinking “I won’t relate to anything in it” & then finding it so interesting!  Topics are covered that I never even considered, such as: how to handle members with ADD, intrusive parents, reporting abuse, kids liking the group sponsor more than their own parent, how an Alateen group can still be self-supporting if the school won’t accept donated money, kids attending Alateen in secret, having an Alateen institutions group, kids afraid of becoming an alcoholic themselves because it’s in their family, & most mind-blowing of all parents removing a kid from Alateen as a way to punish or “ground” them!

2. The overall theme of the booklet is that even though Alateen has its own unique characteristics it is still fundamentally Al-Anon, & that being an Alateen sponsor is Twelfth Step work because the message is being carried forward!

3. In 1993, when this piece was given conceptual approval, it was simply called the Alateen Sponsorship “How To” booklet.  But it turned out to be so comprehensive that when it was published in 1996, three other pieces were discontinued: “Operation Alateen” (item # P-30), “Alateen, Sponsor to Sponsor” (# P-51), & the Guideline “What’s Expected of an Alateen Sponsor” (# G-17).  Alateen e-ManualEventually this booklet met its own demise in 2005 (in fact, I’ll be returning this to our District archives chairperson so she can add it back to her lending library for others to check-out).  It was replaced by a service tool, which I’m thinking is the new “Alateen Service e-Manual” (but I haven’t read that yet to compare & contrast).  😉

4. I have 2 favorite quotes from this book:

From pages 127128: “Examples of things we are powerless over:
1. Alcohol
2. The weather
3. Other people
4. The color of our hair, eyes, and skin
5. When we get sick, or the time of death
6. To whom we are born
7. Our dreams
8. Ocean waves
9. How much we grow
10. Which way the clouds go
11. Loose teeth”

And from page 41: “The problems shared are more likely to be related to school than to home.  It’s amazing how few problems there are in the summer!”

choir**BONUS: When this booklet was originally introduced to the delegates at the World Service Conference, the Alateen Committee serenaded them with their own version of the song “Unforgettable!”

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CAL – Item # G-30 – Area Archives

G-30WHAT I LEARNED:  Much like a library’s collection, archives grow continuously & are typically limited by physical space.  This Guideline focuses on the preservation of Al-Anon’s local history, but only from a standpoint of keeping paper items & audio tapes which means we are relying on the Area Archivist (or a designated committee) to determine what to keep & what to eventually throw out (ala Tradition #9).  Well, I don’t like any history being lost (perhaps that’s my own personal issues with letting go), so I would have much rather seen this Guideline put some emphasis on digitizing & improved access/openess of our shared past within the fellowship.   Just saying

**BONUS: WSO Archives’ motto: “Look to the Past to Protect the Future” surrounding the image of Stepping Stones appears on this Guideline & only 1 other piece of literature…  (Hint: see AR-2!)

**DOUBLE BONUS: An electronic version of this guideline can now be downloaded directly from the District 6 website by clicking this link: District 6 Website

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CAL – Item # B-9D – Forum Favorites, Vol. 4

B-9DWHAT I LEARNED: 1. To see the early beginnings of this multi-volume book, we have to go back to an AA event, specifically the International Convention in 1970 where it made its debut as a hardcover book: Al-Anon’s Favorite Forum Editorials (item # B-2).  (Side note: Al-Anon didn’t start having its own International Conventions until 15 years later!)  Margaret D. spent 20 years editing 229 Forum magazine issues & this was a collection of her best editorials.  In 1982, the book was re-titled, printed as a softcover, & split into Volumes 1 & 2 (item #’s B-9A & B-9B respectively).  Volume 3 (item # B-9C) came out in 1991 & included editorials from the past 4 editors.  For Volume 4, which came out in 1993, members submitted so many of their favorite articles that the editorial committee only considered pieces that were published between 1954 & 1979.  The reason I bring all this history up is because there originally were plans for a Volume 5 that was going to be based on sharings from 1979 through the present, but WSC denied this motion in 1994 & all 4 volumes were eventually discontinued in 2000.  I had such fun reading this book that I think now, in 2014, it’s high time to see Volumes 5 & 6!

2. This book was so refreshing like having a cool sorbet after so many meals of meat & potatoes.  At 144 pages total, it quickly covers main principles of the program as well as new ways to look at the Steps & Traditions.  My favorite article is “The Prince Frog” that begins on page 37 & tells how warts can come & go whether we’re still living in a swamp or not. 🙂

3. Even though this book is no longer in print, I’ll be donating it to our District archives chairperson so she can add it to her lending library for others to check-out & enjoy a literary palate cleanser!

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CAL – Item # P-8 – Homeward Bound

P-8 bookletWHAT I LEARNED: 1. This 48-page booklet was around only from 1993 to 2005 & was designed for newcomers that were introduced to Al-Anon through various treatment facilities.  Member sharings answer 10 frequently asked “What now?” questions about sobriety & making the transition to a 12-Step recovery program.  I’m glad Alateen sharings are also included & I’ll be donating this to our District archives chairperson so she can add it to her lending library for others to check-out. 

2. Even though this booklet is no longer in print, it was responsible for producing 6 institutional outreach pamphlets in 1995 that targeted 4 primary audiences: hospital/treatment centers (item #P-81); correctional facilities (P-83 & P-84); mental health centers (P-79 & P-80); & shelters/crisis centers (P-82).

3. My favorite line is on page 31: “I did everything for my ex-husband except breathe for him.”

P-8 pamphlet**BONUS: This booklet originally began as a 12-page pamphlet in 1962 & on page 12 is the only time I’ve seen a reference to a “Divine Power” rather than Higher Power.