~ My journey & joy through CAL & AFG adventures ~

Leave a comment

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!


Hope you enjoy listening & happy reading!!  😉




Leave a comment

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”.)


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!)


CAL – Item # B-8 – Al-Anon’s 12 Steps & 12 Traditions – Original

B-8 OriginalWHAT I LEARNED: 1. If you’re following along with each post chronologically, then you’ve come to this entry to find out what is different in this original (now discontinued) version from 1981 compared to the revised 2005 version.  If the program hasn’t changed, why did the book change & what am I missing that was included in the original?  Here’s a brief breakdown:

A) Overall, the original book is less cohesive & less streamlined (aka: “more words”).  Here are 2 examples:

“By working Step 10, we…” used to be: “The basic message of Step 10 added up to just this, we…”;

“Al-Anon’s primary purpose is…” was originally written by a member as: “Al-Anon’s reason for existence is…”

B) The personal stories are different for Steps 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, & Tradition 6.  In my opinion, (with the exception of Step 11), the switched-out ones in the revised version have more value-added substance!)

C) The original book included references to AA, faith-based terms (such as “Buddhist” & “Golden Rule”), as well as other pieces of literature (some of which have been discontinued).

D) Slogans were not capitalized.

E) Being gender-neutral was not a concern.  (Interestingly enough, in one essay, “God as we understood him” now shows up in the revised book as “God of our understanding.”)

F) After the 12 Concepts, the General Warranties of the Conference are not listed at all.  Couldn’t find out why they were left out, but it seems to be standard practice now to have the Warranties in all the books.

vil2_rejoice2. My favorite line comes from the Step 11 story on page 72: “There is not one moment when you are not using, or experiencing, in some way, one of God’s miracles, only ‘miracle’ isn’t the word, because what I am thinking of is not the exceptional, unusual, or rare phenomena, but the ordinary experiences we have all the time.”


Leave a comment

CAL – Item # B-30 – Discovering Choices

B-30WHAT 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!

Shout Out2) Pages 268-270 – Two different members share how they personally apply the Steps, Traditions, Concepts, & even Warranties to their relationships.  It’s not often the Warranties get a shout out!

Leave a comment

CAL – Item # M-7 – Al-Anon Basic Program Wallet Card

M-7WHAT I LEARNED:  This wallet card has been around for many moons & it can’t get more basic than this.  It’s got a preamble, all the Steps, Traditions, Concepts, & Warranties you could want, with a little bit of Serenity Prayer mixed in there as well.  Typically it’s the Newcomer groups that buy these cards from me, but I’m sure now that I’ve blogged about it & it’s on my brain, I’ll start seeing them everywhere!  That’s a funny effect that I never expected when I started this “reading” journey   😉

Leave a comment

CAL – Item # P-32 – This is Al-Anon

P-32 At a recent Gratitude Dinner, the emcee quickly came up to me & asked for something that she could have at the podium that included the Serenity Prayer, Steps, Traditions, Concepts, Warranties & AFG Declaration.  I said I had just the perfect thing!  Rather than give her a book, I gave her this pamphlet.  And because it also has the AFG Welcome, Ideas for Newcomers, a Guide for Living, Slogans, & Closing, whenever I attend a meeting & the group doesn’t have access to their binder to open the meeting, this pamphlet comes to the rescue!

WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Re-reading the Welcome in this pamphlet made me realize that AFG’s 12 Steps are “adapted” from AA.  For the longest time in meetings, I always thought I heard the word as “adopted.”

2. I’m counting this pamphlet as the last item of the general Newcomer Packet – although I didn’t see it at first.  It was only when I turned the Packet over & read the very back that I saw this was the only pamphlet referenced on it, so therefore I’m truly finished reading the entire Packet – literally front to back!  Ha ha. 😛  Onto the other newcomer packets…  Stay tuned!