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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 # P-90 – The Best of Public Outreach

p-90-previousWHAT I LEARNED: 1. The guest for my next “CAL Chat” podcast episode (#7) chose this booklet, “The Best of Public Outreach” (item # P-90), as his favorite outreach piece.  I’ll be posting that episode soon at www.calchat.libsyn.com, but wanted to get my review in this blog first.  This hardcopy booklet was originally printed in 2000 & it came in a folder with pockets.  It was subtitled: “A ‘How to Workbook’ for Public Outreach Service Activities” & was a huge success.  So much so that, per page 72 of the 2000 World Service Conference Summary (item # P-46), it made 3 other outreach kits obsolete: Interim PI, Institutions, & CPC kits (item #’s K-3, K-S, K-15) so the World Service Office discontinued them.  Then, in 2012, the booklet became available on-line only.  It can be found at the Members’ website: www.al-anon.org/members/pdf/bestofpublicoutreach.pdf.  It still says it was last updated in March of 2012, but certain parts of it have actually been updated very recently such as the new 2017 “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism” outreach magazine (on page 18) & the road sign posters available with different backgrounds (on page 26).

p-90-new2. I’m glad they updated the booklet!  The newer version seems more comprehensive, less gender-specific, & references current media avenues.  For instance, there is less emphasis on mailing items, using the phone book & fax machines, plus it doesn’t mention leaving literature in “canteens” or suggest outreach meetings that sound more like Tupperware parties with the recommendation to plan ahead & make “arrangements for a babysitter” (page 10).  (I guess that’s good for a glimpse of how Al-Anon used to be.)  I also learned that because the “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism” outreach magazines didn’t start up until 2007, copies of The Forum magazine were given out instead!

3. I’m familiar with Al-Anon as a fellowship, but this service tool talks about Al-Anon as a resource.  It stresses the importance of outreach projects mainly to professionals to improve Al-Anon’s name recognition & credibility, but it also has plenty of ideas for simpler outreach ideas to non-professionals.  One idea I liked, that was a small thing, is from page 19: “March 4th – ‘Leave Al-Anon literature’ on Lois W.’s birthday.”  I’ve already marked it on my calendar to make sure I do some type of outreach on that particular day.  Because doing public outreach service doesn’t have to be a big undertaking it’s just planting a seed.

4. And almost last, but not least, it talked about the public service announcements that are available to watch on the main Al-Anon site.  They’re at: www.al-anon.org/media-files.  There are 2 versions for TV, each 30 seconds long & they were interesting to see!

5. I have 3 favorite lines from this piece:

working-on-a-computer-smiley-emoticonFrom page 4: “It is Al-Anon/Alateen policy to interpret Tradition Eleven to include the Internet, as well as all forms of evolving public media.”

From page 9 (of the hardcopy booklet from 2000): “First make it fun & they will come!”

From page 39: “Remember to communicate with the various service levels about successes—and even ‘flops’.”


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CAL – Item # R-18 – Parents of Alcoholics

r18WHAT I LEARNED: 1. The item # for this short 12-page piece begins with an “R” because this is a reprint of various articles from The Forum magazine.  It came out in 2012 & reprints are typically only printed for a 2-year period.  However, demand for this piece must be high because it’s now 4 years later & it is still available for $1, but there’s a good chance that this will be discontinued in 2017 or 2018.  The World Service Office is currently putting together a brand new pamphlet with the working title “Parents & Grandparents of Problem Drinkers.”  It’s for a wider audience & I imagine once that new pamphlet comes out, it will replace this temporary R-18 reprint.  So stock up now if you like this item!

2. The main thing I got from this piece is the importance of, & difficulty with, letting someone you love hit their bottom.  And it’s different for everyone.  I would say to myself, “Surely being homeless & living in a drain, or being arrested & sitting in jail is his bottom.”  But what I thought (& desperately wanted to believe), was different than what reality actually was.  The only thing I really knew was when I had hit my bottom.  When my desire to go to an Al-Anon meeting changed from casual to urgent.  That’s the only true “hitting bottom” I can be sure of.

3. If you’re searching for more Conference Approved Literature that applies specifically to parents, see my previous entry on the pamphlet: To Parents of Alcoholics (item # P-16) or the entire Parents Newcomer Packet (item # K-24).

4. I have 2 favorite lines from this reprint:

From page 3: “If I give one hand to my Higher Power & the other to someone in need, I will keep my hands out of other people’s business & I will be okay.”

super-mom-smiley-emoticonFrom page 8: “I listened to one woman say that after many years in Al-Anon & many open AA meetings, she had never heard a speaker say, “I was saved by my momma.”

**BONUS: Stay tuned to the next “CAL Chat” podcast Episode #5 where this piece is discussed even further & how the featured guest uses it for outreach purposes!


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CAL – Item # P-24 – Al-Anon & Alateen Groups at Work 2014-2017

p-24WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Recently on this blog, I did an in-depth review of the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual 2014-2017 (item # P-24/27).  If you read that review, then this entry will seem pretty similar for Al-Anon & Alateen Groups at Work 2014-2017 (item # P-24).  I used to think this item was a digest (or summary) of each of the 4 sections in the Service Manual, but that’s not the case.  This entire short booklet is word-for-word, exactly the same as only the first section (pages 7 thru 74) in the larger Service Manual.  At the current cost of $1.00, it’s a very inexpensive way to get the most crucial info out to each group or Group Representative plus it’s lighter to carry around than the Service Manual (which is pushing 300 pages)!

2. This booklet originally started out as a pamphlet in 1960 entitled Manual for Al-Anon Family Groups.  It was then re-titled in 1965 as Al-Anon Family Groups at Work.  It went through many revisions & kept being expanded but what I find most interesting (after researching the World Service Conference summaries) is that even though Alateen was started in 1957 (before the first Manual pamphlet was even published), the word “Alateen” does not appear in the pamphlet’s title until 1973!

3. What is covered in this booklet are primarily the basics that deal with the group level, i.e. how to start a group, what type of groups there are, what service positions are available within a group, etc  It doesn’t get into higher level District, Area, or World Service stuff until the last ten pages.  That’s why this is a perfect tool for everyone to have!  Plus, it has a meeting format outline in it, so whenever I have to chair a meeting & don’t have access to any of the group’s literature or meeting binder, this booklet has everything I need to open & close the meeting it makes me sound like I know what I’m doing!  Ha ha!  😛

4. I have 4 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 23: “In Al-Anon we find a Power greater than ourselves which can direct our lives into quiet, useful channels.”

From page 24: “Our program is based on suggestion, interchange of experience, & rotation of leadership.”

happy-friends-smiley-emoticonFrom page 69: “Each member puts forth his or her ideas, willing to sacrifice them, believing that the best outcome will come from the discussion.”

**BONUS: This is one of the few pieces of literature that mentions the “Three Obstacles To Success in Al-Anon.”  Which pamphlet also mentions them?  (Hint: see item # P-4!)

 


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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! 🙂