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~ My journey & joy through CAL & AFG adventures ~


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PODCAST – Item #’s B-22 / M-12 – How Al-Anon Works / Just For Today Bookmark

Episode 10 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, iHeartRADIO, & now the apps: Stitcher as well as TuneIn — you’ll be notified every time a new episode is posted).

Wendy shares, in part 1 of 4, about using the slogans from Chapter 9 of “How Al-Anon Works” (item # B-22 for hardcover, B-32 for softcover) as stepping stones to serenity & how serenity can eventually become a guiding force in our lives for making decisions.  We also look closer at “Let it Begin With Me” as not just something that we say at the end of an Al-Anon meeting or having to do with outreach.

In part 2 of 4, we focus on “Let Go & Let God” (especially the importance of faith in the 2nd half) & how a specific physical token can be used as a reminder to put this slogan into action!  I give recommendations on other CAL pieces to reference for a deeper dive into the slogans & lastly, find out why I consider slogans are similar to prismatic jewels.

The bookmark, “Just For Today” (M-12), is Wendy’s favorite piece of outreach literature in part 3 of 4.  We talk about the current conversation at Al-Anon’s headquarters, the World Service Office (WSO), regarding the recommendation to remove the PRAYER FOR TODAY section.  Using pages 57 – 60 of the “2016 World Service Conference Summary” (P-46), we explore the CAL process to remove, edit, or replace the prayer.  Wendy shares about the interaction between the Literature Committee & the World Service Conference (WSC) & how it’s important to not be afraid to have uncomfortable discussions that affect literature decisions.

In the last part (#4), Wendy shares what she is hoping for with a new change for the upcoming “2017 World Service Conference Summary” (P-46) due in August & what sets this item apart from the rest of the literature in the CAL Catalog (S-15).  She also reveals a unique location to leave the “Just For Today” bookmark that is too high of a risky spot for me.  Discover what is on the second “Just For Today” bookmark (M-13) & what one word on the wallet card version (M-11) is hidden in our literature!

**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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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 # B-11 – As We Understood…

B-11WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Based on its size, this book looks like it might be a daily reader, but it’s not designed that way.  The purpose of the book was to share members’ sense of the spiritual (not religious) nature of the program.  It doesn’t focus on any one particular Step & I’m glad for that.  I can’t remember now what book I read it in, but someone once asked Lois W. which Step was the spiritual one & she replied back that they all were!

2. The book expresses various understandings of a Higher Power & goes much deeper into different types of spiritual awakenings than Having Had a Spiritual Awakening (item # B-25) which came out 13 years later.  There’s also a definite pace set that starts off slow with chapters that explore concepts such as “Fellowship” & “Moving Toward a Spiritual Awakening,” eventually ramping up toward the finish line with “Practicing the Spiritual Life.”  (Or maybe that’s just my perception of it because I seemed to not be able to put the book down as I got closer to the end!)

3. My favorite line is from page 77: “I feel that my Higher Power isn’t one particular route in my life.  To me, He is the whole road map.”  And I love the reinterpretation of the Serenity Prayer near the top of page 213!

**BONUS: Per Many Voices, One Journey (item # B-31) page 246, this was the first book to include the slogan “Keep Coming Back” even though it had already been said in the fellowship for many years!


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CAL – Item # S-19 – Detachment

S-19WHAT I LEARNED:  This leaflet started out in a WSO newsletter for professionals to educate them on how Al-Anon uses the word “detachment” but this outreach piece soon became a runaway hit with members for their own personal recovery.  At a meeting last year, I heard this leaflet read aloud & the first 4 paragraphs sounded almost like a prayer.  I have not been able to read it any other way since.


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CAL – Item # M-18 – Alateen Program Wallet Card

M-18WHAT I LEARNED:  Somehow, when I was reviewing the Alateen Newcomer Packet (item # K-18), I must not have seen this small wallet card.  But since I’m now going through the literature chronologically it came up in 1978’s Conference Summary.  Sure it has the Alateen Preamble, 12 Steps, Alateen Traditions, & Serenity Prayer, but the little secret with this wallet card is that even though it came out in 1978, Alateen’s 12 Traditions weren’t officially ratified by the World Service Office until 2009!  See page 368 in Many Voices, One Journey (item # B-31) to find out why


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CAL – Item # M-11 – Just For Today (Alateen Wallet Card)

M-11WHAT I LEARNED:  This wallet card came out 15 years after Alateen was started – when they hit the 1,000 groups milestone.  It’s similar to the Alateen Just for Today bookmark (item # M-13), with the exception of one word at the end of the “Thank You God” prayer: Amen.  I rarely ever hear this word in meetings & it struck me that I don’t think I’ve ever come across “amen” in any of our other literature.  But after closer inspection I now see it in all our books – hidden in the word “amends.”

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