Monday, September 26, 2011


This is not a blog for selling, for promoting. Yet, I know those of you who have read Slender Steps of Sanity - Twelve Step Notes of Hope will want to know I have another book, in which the primary author is Barbara B. Rollins, with me, OAStepper. The book first arrived in the publisher's office last Wednesday, and already sales are brisk. But that's not the purpose of this blog, as I said. The publisher is Eagle Wings Press (imprint of Silver Boomer Books) and you can get it at bookstores and online.

I want to talk about the title, though, and what it means to me in my recovery. The phrase is from the book of Hebrews, where chapter twelve, verse one reads (with verses two and three):
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV, ©2011 by Biblica)
"A great cloud of witnesses" – how expressive is that! The Contemporary English Version of the Bible uses the term "crowd of witnesses," as does the Good News Translation, but they are paraphrases. The idea of a cloud of witnesses certainly carries more of a zing, gets attention better. (However, the word crowd does carry the message of the passage.) Commentaries declare the meaning to be as in the Greek races with masses of people participating, then those who have finished stand on the sidelines and cheer on the others, helping them to finish. That, to me, is the epitome of Overeaters Anonymous. We've run a solo race for so long, and we couldn't do it, limped along struggled, gave up. But with the program, suddenly we're not alone and people care about us! Not only do the seasoned members, but newcomers walking in the door catch the spirit and cheer us on as well. So that part of the title represents the fellowship in Overeaters Anonymous. The subtitle, though, is necessary as well: Two Big Books and Us. Recovery is not just about the group. If it were, those other organizations we tried first would have been just fine. No, it's a spiritual program of twelve simple (but not easy) Steps. The two big books, of course, are the Bible, which for me is the message of my Higher Power, God, and the Big Book,  Alcoholics Anonymous. You don't have to read the book (though to be honest, I think you should) but do get the grace and power inherent in the title of the book.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Ninth Tradition

9.   OA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. (O.A. Tradition 9)
My list said I should post here today. Uninspired, I decided to pick up OA literature and find a subject. Choosing the OA 12 and 12 (aka The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous) I chose the 9th tradition in honor of the 9th month, not knowing what it was. I got there, and as always, the 9th tradition makes me smile. That's because I've observed something of OA past the group level. While groups do tend not to be organized, the service bodies can get funny. To be truthful, they feel vastly OVER organized to me since I don't like formal meetings.

Actually, my list of things to do today included more than posting to It also speaks of getting someone to tape an event about seven months off, to email a number of leaders in OA on the Intergroup level, and to prepare for our local Intergroup meeting I'll need to miss next weekend. It's also got contacting another service body in another fellowship, trying to communicate with them about some tapes I made a year and a half ago that we'd like to make more public. I'm trying to organize me, which is tough and needs to be done lots more than organizing OA beyond the local group level.

Hum. Listen to what I said. That's the message for this post, what I need to hear. I hope you do understand I use my writing about recovery most of the time to talk to myself. My thoughts flitter away, totally unorganized, so if I'm going to know what my thoughts are about any subject, I have to write. (And since I can't ready my handwriting and actually write much better typing than by hand, it's always on a computer.)

Traditions are not just about how to run the business of OA. They also have a personal dynamic. To quote a Narcotics Anonymous service body:
The 12 Traditions describe the external environment (the surroundings of, and influences on, a particular item) that is required for a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting, Group, and Service Structure to exist. The Traditions do not describe a process of recovery. The process of recovery is outlined in the 12 Steps. The 12 Traditions describe the primary purpose, collective need, requirements for membership and service, priorities, and restrictions necessary for the process of the 12 Steps to occur in an NA Meeting, within the NA Group, or any services performed by Service Boards and Committees that are formed by the Groups. While the 12 Traditions are commonly regarded as the rules and regulations of NA, they are actually a set of Spiritual Principals that create the perfect environment for the spiritual process of the 12 Steps to be shared between Addicts, Groups, and the Fellowship as a whole. This same set of Spiritual Principals can also be adapted and used to create a healthy environment within our families, workplace, and in the community.
"They are actually a set of Spiritual Principals that create the perfect environment for the spiritual process of the 12 Steps to be shared...[and] can also be adapted and used to create a healthy environment within our families, workplace, and in the community." Yes. Living the traditions in relationships with others makes good sense. But my issues at this point are more about dealing with myself. I certainly have other groups, but it's just me I need to see to today. I'll see other people at a meeting this afternoon, but up until that point I have no planned interaction with any other person. And most of that time I'll be physically alone. After the meeting, I'll go home and be physically alone again. At this point I need to apply the program not to my groups but to me, myself and I – the only group I'm normally with right now.

There was an OA retreat for the Silicon Valley group on living the traditions, and they get closer to what I'm trying to ferret out for me today. They suggest the principle for the 9th tradition as it applies to me is responsible organization, not formally organized. Yes. That's what I need right now. I've told you of my list of things to do today - going back to an iProcrastinate app I hadn't used for a while. And certainly it's a tool, but my goal for the day can't be checking off everything on that app. It has to be living a meaningful life, being in turn with what God wants me to be doing today, and DOING that.

Okay. I've got other things I need to address today. And now I'll address them because they're the next right thing to do, not that they need to be checked off the calendar on the app. Thanks, God, for leading me here. What can I do for you next?