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~ 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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PODCAST – Item #’s P-92 / P-90 – Reaching For Personal Freedom / Best of Public Outreach

Episode 7 of my “CAL Chat” podcast is now available to listen to!  To hear it, please visit the show’s webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com (or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well & you’ll be notified every time a new episode is posted).

p92In part 1 of 5 of Episode 7, Mark shares how he used the workbook “Reaching For Personal Freedom” (item # P-92) in studying the Steps, Traditions, & Concepts horizontally.  He also highlights how a section on page 12 led to a spiritual awakening for him.

Freedom is specifically discussed in part 2 of 5.  He compares this book to other Al-Anon workbooks, explains how it differs, & I reveal a surprise  I’ve created an index for this book!  (It can be downloaded here: Reaching-For-Personal-Freedom_Index-Only.)  Also, find out what patterns I learned about the Legacies from creating an index by downloading this document: Reaching_Index-Words-Repeated.

In part 3 of 5 find out what two words I discovered are inter-related after creating an index for the book.  Mark talks about how he used to be before he came in the program & explores what I call a “big ticket item!”

p-90-newHis favorite piece of literature to use for outreach purposes is the service tool “Best of Public Outreach” (item # P-90) in part 4 of 5.  He shares how public outreach is what first got him into service in Al-Anon & calls out a “Getting Started” part on page 7, as well as pages 12-19 for several lists of outreach ideas.  He also explains how the workbook helped with a big outreach project he was involved with that was done in honor of Al-Anon’s founder, Lois Wilson, & how projects don’t need to be big to be effective.  Lastly, we discuss what it’s like to talk to people that are not familiar with the Al-Anon program.

In part 5 of 5, the conversation continues about Alateen outreach to Alcoholics Anonymous & how service has helped his program.  He shares what moved him emotionally at his first Area Assembly meeting & how it was similar to a Newcomer meeting!  Click this link to find this outreach book online: www.al-anon.org/members/pdf/bestofpublicoutreach.pdf & you can view Al-Anon’s two TV public service announcements here: www.al-anon.org/media-files.  Before wrapping up, Mark explains how being powerless & being hopeless are not the same thing!

**BONUS: If you’d like to follow the “CAL Chat” show on Instagram, visit: www.instagram.com/calchatfan1 or you can search by the username CALChatFan1.  It’s a different way to enjoy Conference Approved Literature.  So, as always, I hope you enjoy & happy reading!


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CAL – Item # P-92 – Reaching For Personal Freedom

p92WHAT I LEARNED: 1. The guest for my next “CAL Chat” podcast episode (#7) chose this workbook, “Reaching for Personal Freedom” (item # P-92), as his favorite literature piece.  I’ll be posting that episode soon at www.calchat.libsyn.com, but wanted to get my review in this blog first  This workbook has the rare distinction of being the only CAL item to come from members sharing via several blogs on the World Service Office websites!  It debuted at the 2013 Al-Anon International Convention in Vancouver, B.C. & has the subtitle: “Living the Legacies.”  What exactly are the Legacies???  1) Recovery through the 12 Steps, 2) Unity through the 12 Traditions, & 3) Service through the 12 Concepts of Service.  To me, the book seems to be more personable than the other CAL books that have questions in them.  It has rather short sharings & the questions are based directly on the individual stories.  The other nice thing is that each individual Step, Tradition, & Concept is pretty short too – about 3-5 pages, which made it easier to read as well.

2. So I read this book twice, once straight through, then a second time slower because I wanted to create an index (because it currently doesn’t have one).  The reason is, I treat this as a regular book that I bring to groups & based on the meeting topic, having an index handy helps me select an applicable reading.  It was also a new way to look at the Legacies – patterns of words came up over & over that I wasn’t expecting!  For instance under Step 5 (“Admitted to God, to ourselves, & another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”), the words that came up 3 times or more were the following:

Admitting, Alcoholism, Behavior, Help, Honesty, Listening, Realize, Trust, & Understand.

The word that appears the most overall in the book is “help.”  But that’s because it was in a lot of the questions.  For example, “How did Tradition One help you to see your role in relationships?”

The word “family” & “relationships” came up a lot though in the Traditions section!  In fact, I’ve included my entire index, as well as a list of the words that appear 3 times or more for each Step, Tradition, & Concept, here: Reaching-For-Personal-Freedom_Index-Only & Reaching_Index-words-Repeated.  Hope you enjoy these documents!

3. Overall, I felt the theme of the book was about change & I can see why every Step, Tradition & Concept that is truly lived, not just studied, results in some kind of change.  But it’s interesting to note that while I was creating the index, that the word “change” came up a lot along with the word “fear” & I think that’s because the two are inter-related.  I don’t think I’ve ever had one without the other!

4. I have 5 favorite lines from this piece:

From page 19: “I limit myself & the world, but God doesn’t.”

From page 32: “God works within us, without us.”

From page 50: “Having a sense of entitlement is not attractive, serene, or spiritual.”

praying-smiley-emoticonFrom page 59: “Over the years, my prayers have changed because my prayers changed me.”

From page 79: “Once I found myself, I belonged wherever I was.”


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PODCAST – Item #’s B-30 / R-18 – Discovering Choices / Parents of Alcoholics

Episode 5 of my “CAL Chat” podcast is now available to listen to!  To hear it, please visit the show’s webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com (or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well & you’ll be notified every time a new episode is posted).

B-30In part 1 of 4 of Episode 5, Theresa focuses on chapters 1 & 9 from one of her favorite books “Discovering Choices” (item # B-30) & shares how, after coming in the Al-Anon program, reading the literature can start the recovery process.  We also talk about the benefits of belonging to a CAL study group, setting different types of boundaries, how we use our nose & knees in recovery, & detaching without using a hatchet!

In part 2 of 4, she highlights chapter 13 & breaks down how service work (& especially the Concepts 4, 5, & 10) helped her grow in all areas of her life.  She explains the benefits of having a Service Sponsor, how we’re never alone, & addresses the fear behind willingness.  The conversation then moves into the importance of failure & discover a new way to look at the cover of the book!

r18Theresa’s favorite piece of literature to use for outreach purposes is the reprint “Parents of Alcoholics” (item # R-18) in part 3 of 4.  It’s only 12 pages, but so powerful!  She shares the moment she hit her “bottom” & what brought her into the Al-Anon program.  We also talk about being able to differentiate between helping versus enabling & what is one thing a parent can definitely do for their alcoholic child.

In part 4 of 4, the conversation continues about other Conference Approved Literature that is available for parents & how CAL is not like other self-help/recovery literature.  Lastly, find out why her favorite outreach piece may not be around much longer!

instagram**BONUS: If you’d like to follow the “CAL Chat” show on Instagram, you can search by the username: CALChatFan1.  It’s a different way to enjoy Conference Approved Literature.  So, as always, I hope you enjoy & happy reading!


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PODCAST – Item #’s P-24/27 / B-16 – Service Manual / Courage To Change

Episode 3 of my “CAL Chat” podcast is now available to listen to!  Once again, I had such a great conversation – this time with my guest, Cindy, about how the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual 2014-2017 (item # P-24/27) has improved her life, that I didn’t want to edit anything out so I had to break it up into 4 parts.  To hear it, please visit the show’s webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com (or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well & you’ll be notified every time a new episode is posted).

In part 1 of 4, we discuss the spiritual principle of anonymity (from pages 91-94), how the manual is not a rule book, that it’s always evolving (much like our own recovery), & what it has in common with a Sponsor.

In part 2 of 4, we explore pages 68-69 about moving forward, what progress realistically looks like, & how disagreement can actually be a good thing!  Pages 229 & 235 are also highlighted from the Concepts Amendments section & how it reminded me of a ring being passed down in a family.  Cindy shares about how this fellowship is an opportunity to belong to something bigger than ourselves & where newcomers & long timers can meet together on pages 26-27.

Part 3 of 4 moves into discussion about how childhood experiences can influence how we see perfection, the Warranties (especially nonresistance from page 224), & punitive actions.  She also relates how Concepts 6 & 7 (from pages 193-194) have applied to her relationship with her children.

Outreach literature is the focus of part 4 of 4 where Cindy describes how she has creatively used the daily reader Courage To Change (item # B-16, B-17 for large print, eB-16 for the electronic version, & eA-16 for the audiobook version).  We eventually move into talking about Alateen literature & how those pieces can flow into Al-Anon & vice-versa because it’s all one program.  Everything is available to be read by anybody!  Lastly, listen to find out what page is possibly read the least in each daily reader!

books

Hope you enjoy listening & happy reading!!  😉

 

 


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CAL – Item # P-24/27 – Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual 2014-2017

P2427WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Originally, I only read the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual on an as-needed basis, but when my next podcast guest said that this  was her favorite book that she wanted to talk about on my “CAL Chat” show, I had to dust off my manual & put on my scuba reading mask to do a deep dive!  (FYI: The podcast episode about this book is now available to listen to.  You can visit the “CAL Chat” webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well.)

 

2. First, let’s look a little bit at its history by talking about its item # P-24/27.  Even though this is a book, it has a “P-” designated pamphlet item number.  That’s because it was originally 4 separate pamphlets:

1) Manual for Al-Anon Family Groups was first published in 1960.  It was then re-titled in 1965 as Al-Anon Family Groups at Work (item # P-24).

–No image available for the original P-24–

2) Digest of Al-Anon & Alateen Policies (item # P-25) which came out in 1975.

3) Al-Anon’s Twelve Concepts of Service (item # P-26) came out in 1970.

4) The World Service Handbook for Al-Anon & Alateen Groups originally began as World Service Conference (WSC) manuals, but first appeared in pamphlet form in 1973 (item # P-27).

Back in the day, you could buy them individually for $1 each or all 4 pamphlets as a set for a reduced cost.  It wasn’t until 1992 that they were combined into one book – with a separate index.  (And from what I can tell, this 1992 book marks the last time in our Conference Approved Literature that the Concepts were written as Roman numerals – so for example, Concept 12 appeared as “Concept XII”.)

1992_Manual

When I went to District Meetings or Area Assemblies, I always felt that others knew some secret – but it’s not that way at all – it’s just usually in the Service Manual.  Listed below is more stuff I just found out about that I didn’t know:

A) There is a section about drugs, narcotics, & prescription medications!  “Occasional discussion of this topic is acceptable at an Al-Anon or Alateen meeting as it may be one of the results of living with alcoholism.” (Page 124)

B) It’s possible that an Alateen member may be elected Delegate!  (Page 141)

C) We have caucuses!??!  (Page 132)

D) Why panel numbers always skip by 3.  “The elections of the three panels are staggered so that a Conference always includes one panel of Delegates with two years’ experience.”  (Page 133)

E) The language stating the corporation’s purpose on Al-Anon’s Certificate of Incorporation is quite a bit different than Al-Anon’s purpose found in Tradition Five.  (Page 138)

F) Paid staff members at the World Service Office (WSO) don’t do Twelfth Step work – per Tradition Eight.  (Page 34)

G) An Information Service Representative (ISR) is different than an Al-Anon Information Service Liaison (AISL).  (Page 39)

H) Al-Anon offers an inmate correspondence service!  (Page 73)

I) A state may only divide once.  (Page 142)  In looking over previous WSC summaries, this decision was made so that one state (or a few states), would not gain more representation/votes than others.

J) Major revisions are coming to the manual!!  “*The entire WSC committee structure is under review.  Text will be updated in the next printing.”  (Page 136)

3. If I had to pick a theme for this book, it would be evolution.  It’s replete with sidebar markings in the margins (that reflect the new revisions added), copious footnotes, & amendments galore.  In fact, this is one book that even though it’s printed only periodically (mine covers 2014-2017), revisions still come in from WSO on the Members’ website (www.al-anon.org/members-site) that are to be printed & inserted into my manual.  It’s a book that I have a responsibility to keep up-to-date because it’s ever changing.  I can’t say that about any other item in our catalog!

4. I was surprised to find that my favorite part is the Concepts Amendments section which begins on page 229.  It shows how the original text used to be in 1969.  They included it in case we ever lose our way & need to find it again.  🙂  Some of the original language is emotionally charged & on page 235, the first 3 paragraphs mention how the old timers were once fearful, but eventually felt more secure about the future of the fellowship.

To me, it’s like a grandmother, let’s call her Lois W., passing down her wedding ring to me & saying “I want you to have this.  It’s very special.  It carries with it all my good intentions.”

And she’s a little fearful of what might happen to it so to make sure I know it’s special, she tells me the history behind it & now it’s not just any ring, because it’s imbued with all this meaning & importance.

This Service Manual is about finding out about this ring!  This fellowship that has been passed onto me & entrusted to me.  And why it’s special & what I can do to look after it for the small amount of time that I have it before I pass it on too.

I found I was personally very moved by this Service Manual on an emotional level more than I thought I would be.

5. I have several favorite lines from this book:

From page 7: “our benefits are measured by our willingness to share them with others.  For we know we can never give as much as we receive.”

From page 89: “’Teaching’ is not compatible with the Al-Anon principle of sharing.”

From page 230: “Change does not necessarily spell progress.”

From page 235: “we found that our fears had been largely groundless.”

From page 238: “Our entire Al-Anon program rests squarely on the principle of mutual trust.  We trust God, we trust Al-Anon, & we trust one another.”

From page 261: “Penny-pinching could affect our services & deprive us of the confidence of our groups.  Such false & unimaginative economy could prove very costly—in spirit, in service, & in money.  Real prudence is neither hoarding nor recklessness.  We may occasionally be compelled to risk temporary deficits

From page 276: “Article 12 of the Conference Charter might be called ‘The Service Bill of Rights,’ because these Warranties, & especially this one, express deep & loving respect for the spiritual liberties of our fellows.  May God grant that we shall never be so unwise as to desire anything less.”

From page 279: “Al-Anon is prepared to give away its knowledge & experience—all except the Al-Anon name itself.”

From page 281: “There is no authority that has to be supported; no prestige, power, or pride that has to be satisfied.  And we have no property or money that is worth quarreling about.”

8_14_10From page 282: “Our freedom to serve is truly the freedom by which we live & have our being.”

From page 289: “no one wished to see a spiritual way of life incorporated.”

**BONUS: Besides this manual, only 2 other pieces of conference approved literature are spiral-bound.  What are they?  (Hint: see item #’s P-91 & P-92!)


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CAL – Item # B-22, B-32, eB-22, eA-22 – How Al-Anon Works

B-22_B-32WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Originally, I was going to read this book as the very last one of this blog since I was making my way up to the top seller & according to WSO, this one is it.  It would be like starting a climb by already being at the top – I would miss the journey!  But now that I’m venturing into doing a CAL podcast, the book my very first guest chose was How Al-Anon Works.  (The podcast is now officially up & running as of today!  For all the meat & potatoes, please visit the show’s webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well.)

CAL Chat Podcast

2. Per page 73 of the 1996 World Service Conference (WSC) Summary (item # P-46), “Al-Anon’s biggest book” (item # B-22) was first made available in hardcover at an International Convention in 1995.  If you happened to buy it at that Convention, you were also given a “commemorative bookplate with ‘friend’ written in 13 languages.”  By the following year there were already plans for revisions but the second printing wasn’t until 2008 & featured a new Concepts chapter, a revised Traditions chapter, & an expanded index.  (By the way, if you’d like an entirely different way to read this book, try reading it by the index keywords!  At the end of this paragraph is a link to an Excel document you can download to use a list of recovery keywords which are already sorted by page number from the preface to page 396.  Enjoy a new reading experience: How Al-Anon Works – List of Index Keyword by Page Number.)

3. The softcover version (item # B-32) was issued on a trial basis in 2011 “with the intent that the membership pay its gratitude forward for the program by giving the softcover version of the book, free of charge, to newcomers” per page 18 of the 2013 WSC Summary (item # P-46).  This third printing included a full description of the “Three C’s” (“Didn’t Cause, Can’t Control, Can’t Cure”) & is found on pages 16-17.  If you have a hardcover book that has the number “11-11” in the bottom left corner of the copyright page, you’ve got the new pages!  My hardcover has “08-10” so it does not include this section, however when comparing this to the updated softcover version, it looks like the World Service Office made a very good effort to fit in the new info (through some tight kerning adjustments) so the pages & the index of the softcover & hardcover still match up. 🙂

FYI: A note about the e-book version (item # eB-22): my e-Reader doesn’t show page numbers, but it still includes the new section under Chapter 4: Understanding Ourselves & Alcoholism.  I haven’t downloaded the audiobook yet (item # eA-22), but I’m assuming it’s there as well.

4. After finishing the book, I can see why this is Al-Anon’s best seller & is one of the few available in almost every format.  (Not sure when a large print version will come out though)  It’s a treasure-trove that has something for everyone.  If you want info about the Legacies (recovery, unity, & service) plus Al-Anon’s history, see Part One which goes up to page 149.  The phrase “Many of us” reoccurs frequently in Part One (78 times to be exact – thanks e-Reader!), which emphasizes the “we” part of the program.  However, if you’re looking for the individual side, proceed directly to Part Two for the personal stories.  The overwhelming theme in this section is about learning.  In fact, the word “learn” is mentioned 205 times in Part Two – which averages almost once per page!  As a final word, be sure to read one of the first: “A Special Word to Anyone Confronted with Violence” which appears after the preface right before Part One.

5. Besides the entire story “Finding Reasons to Live” on page 301, here are some of my other favorite bits:

From page 85: No one ever found serenity through hatred.

From page 108: We are all experts because of our experience & we are all beginners because our lives are in a constant state of growth & change.

From page 284: The beauty of your writing extends beyond the written word.

From page 323: I have had a million dollar experience that I wouldn’t pay a nickel to repeat.

From page 390: I believe that recovery is a process, not an event.  The further I go into recovery, the less I know.

**BONUS: Only 3 personal stories in this book do not include the word “learn” in them.  Which ones are they?   (Hint: the ones that begin on pages 333, 354, & 391.)

 

UPDATE 7/1/16: At this year’s World Service Conference, the decision was approved to re-extend the trial basis of the softcover version for another 3 years!  Yay! 🙂