WHAT I LEARNED: “Recovery may well be the most exciting ride I will ever take in my life.” – June 2nd from the daily reader: Hope For Today (item # B-27). …Keep my hands & feet inside the recovery ride at all times!! ☺
WHAT 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.)
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! 🙂
WHAT I LEARNED: The three words surrounding the Al-Anon triangle are: Recovery, Unity, & Service, but it doesn’t matter what order they are in… as long as I have all three!
WHAT I LEARNED: 1. I didn’t go to a meeting today, but playing this DVD made me feel like I was in one & I kinda think that’s the point. It’s an outreach DVD that brings the sensibility of a meeting to someone that hasn’t been to one. It has 3 sections for: Al-Anon, Alateen, & Professionals. Most groups I sell this DVD to keep one as a Master Copy to lend out to their members & I know of a few parents that give it to their kids to explain where they go every week.
2. My favorite section is the one for Professionals where they describe how a family comes into their office that has been to meetings versus one that hasn’t. It made me think of my own family & how we would have acted had we gone to group therapy… not good!
**BONUS: This DVD originally came out in 2011, but subtitles in Spanish & French weren’t added until May 2013. So if you need a subtitled version, you have to re-buy the DVD!
WHAT I LEARNED: 1. This pamphlet answers the age-old question, “What do principles look like?” The drawings accompany short explanations about the Traditions that originally appeared over the course of 1983 in The Forum magazine.
2. When I think of the Traditions, I usually think “Oh, they’re about unity… they’re for the group, etc…” but what came across to me in this pamphlet is that they’re also for the Newcomer. Not in the sense that a Newcomer needs to start on them right away, but if the group isn’t working them continuously, then it’s the Newcomer that’s affected the most. They are coming to the rooms to get out of a dysfunctional situation, not to walk into a different one. Who would want to come back to that? So Al-Anon keeps the Traditions around, because it’s the Traditions that keep Al-Anon around! It’s like the program’s Möbius strip!
3. The other thing I used to think about the Traditions was that they kept the program from changing. But that’s not the case at all. They’re a guide as the program changes. Al-Anon isn’t done growing yet… & hopefully it never will!
WHAT I LEARNED: 1. This book almost didn’t happen. Originally, it was only supposed to be a revision to The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage (item # B-4), but the revisions were becoming too extensive & the focus on just marital relationships was too narrow. So in 2001, concept approval was given to create this much larger book that includes all kinds of relationships & seven years later it was completed.
2. Of all the different types of relationships covered, this line from page 171 sums up a lot, “It is our attitudes, not our relationships, which can keep us trapped in the past.” However, if I had to pick one recurring theme throughout the book it would be: first work on improving a relationship with a Higher Power & all the rest will follow.
3. I have 2 favorites sections:
1) Pages 141-142 – The river guide’s tips to a first-time kayaker. Words to live by indeed!
Q: What is service?
A: Gratitude in action!
Per Many Voices, One Journey (item # B-31) page 154, Lois presented the Concepts in 1970 as a guide for “those of the future who will manage our services.” So the Concepts are sort of like an insurance policy for our program to run effectively not just today, but all tomorrows as well.
2. Short 2-page explanations are dedicated to each Concept & they’re easy to follow. The pamphlet suggests that as a member, without even knowing it I might already be starting to practice the Concepts through developing trust, respect, & responsibility. (Perhaps that is the “secret” the title refers to?) The 12 Concepts just extends these practices further out – from me, to my group, to the world… & eventually the universe! …Soon the transformation will be complete. Mu hah hah hah hah… (long pause for dramatic effect…) MU’WHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!