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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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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! 🙂

 


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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!)


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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 # AV-16 / AV-19 – Alateen Tells It Like It Is / Walk This Path of Hope

AV-16 AlateenWHAT I LEARNED: 1. Alateen Tells It Like It Is came out in 1987 & according to past Conference Summaries, it’s a 16-minute video illustrated by a teenager that provides a glimpse into the lives of Alateen members.  It deals with denial, anonymity, detachment, acceptance, & love.  Walk This Path of Hope was produced in 1989 featuring Al-Anon & Alateen members sharing their experiences of meetings in institutions such as hospitals & prisons.  It was considered an “audiovisual tool to help increase Institutions service work.”

2. Both outreach videos were discontinued in 1999 & I have not been able to find them online.  I’m still on the hunt but am looking for help!  If you have any info, please feel free to leave me a reply or comment!


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CAL – Item # AV-10 – Al-Anon Speaks For Itself

Speaks For ItselfWHAT I LEARNED:  1. In 1986, Al-Anon’s first outreach film helped carry the message to teachers, the clergy, the media, social workers, counselors, & other professionals.  The 15-minute program was broken into 5 sections: 1) The Way It Was, 2) Going to a Meeting, 3) Getting Better, 4) Getting To Know the Program & 5) Getting on With Life.  It was discontinued in 1999 because “it was generally agreed that the video was too long in this era of information.”  However, WSO posted it to YouTube in 2007 but I could only find it from Nassau County’s AIS website: Al-Anon Speaks For Itself

2. My favorite line: “Al-Anon is a very simple program for very complicated people.”

vil_koala**BONUS: Per the 1996 Conference Summary, what country was approached by Blockbuster Video to put the Al-Anon Speaks for Itself video in their stores?  (Hint: Think koala bears & “G’day mate!”)