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image credit… alex ibsen
i arrived in philadelphia this afternoon with no real objectives other than to get outta dodge and attend the philadelphia roundup this weekend.  additionally i am touching  base with a dear friend who relocated here in october, it is remarkable to witness the resilience in someone who continues to pursue something he loves with someone he loves. it definitely gives me hope. 
one thing of which i am acutely aware is the fear i have of people and new situations. i don’t remember being like this before, but i probably self-medicated through it and paid little mind. (double entendre :). i have developed fear and avoidance when faced with strangers. it makes some sense, as i work as a counselor and have that platform to meet clients with. i am confident and sure-footed most of the time. i also work with personal chefs at small dinner parties at private homes and have the run of the kitchens and dining rooms when i am there. 
but here, in philadelphia, without a “job”, i find myself flailing and sputtering. it is awkward, clumsy, and uncomfortable. and i need to lean into the awkwardness somehow. 
this city holds history and it is a wonder to walk about. its majesty and grandeur are visible and present in a way that is also understated. there are old buildings that have been refurbed everywhere, and there are restoration projects all over the downtown area. there are plenty of buildings in decay as well.  as i was shooting the above photograph yesterday, some woman came up to me and asked “are you going to fix it”?  i laughed.
no- i had no intention of fixing this building. 
but it also reminded me that not too long ago, i was very much like this abandoned decaying structure. i was just there and not even remotely aware that i was in disrepair and needed fixing. but that has changed. 
philadelphia won’t fix me. but it is presenting me with a new perspective on where i am and where i am going. the concept of roundups is, i believe, to support lgbt persons in recovery to normalize their experiences and feelings. the very concept intimates that our culture has specific needs and commonalities. as i move forward in my program, i understand that i continue to have work to do. 
thank you universe for reminding me that even though i have some time, i am not finished.

brotherly love

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Reaching Out
I made it into this Program because someone else worked their Twelfth Step on me. Someone passed it on to me. Someone was out there after they got clean and sober, caring about others. I need to never, ever forget that. Had they simply gone on with their lives and forgotten about people like me who were still out there using and suffering, I wouldn’t be here today. My gratitude begins with that fact. It is with that gratitude in mind that I reach out to others, especially the newcomers. I need to have them in my life. That is where my spirituality begins.
For me, spirituality comes from caring about others. I have found that the more I focus on improving the quality of the lives of others, the less I am into myself and my will. I feel a freedom and peace from within. The gifts I am beginning to receive in my life are greater than I could have ever imagined.
Something else I have done is that I have forgiven myself. I have forgiven myself for being an addict. I have forgiven myself for all the damage I did to my life, to my physical health, and to my career and finances. But most of all, I have forgiven myself for all of the horrible, negative and unloving things I have felt about myself. It was not until I offered and accepted my own forgiveness, that I was truly able to grow in my sobriety.. 
From CA’s Faith, Hope, and Courage

i thought about the quote about forgiveness today. i met a young man who has been spinning out of control with meth and other things for a few years now. he appeared after he found out that he had tested negative for hiv yet again. he truly seemed disappointed- almost hurt- that he had not made the club. he was telling his story around several guys who are hiv positive and i think it really had them scratching their heads. i have learned that the concept of bug-chaser, or trying to get the virus is very real. and i would venture to say that much of it is in direct response to how these men feel about themselves. often it stems around their sexual preferences and the self judgement and societal judgement. men have enmeshed connection to their sexual prowess with their self worth. we often feel validation through sexual activity. so when we seek validation, but it is cancelled out by our judgement of the activity, it creates inner turmoil. confusion, drama, and self punishment. needless to say it was a rich afternoon. 
all in all though, it was a day of starts and stops. i guess they are all that way, but today did seem clunkier than usual somehow. i do believe that things are moving and that feels good. i haven’t heard about my house loan, which is odd, but surrender is the sane choice here. i booked my flight to philadelphia in december for the roundup. my good friend alex moved there about a month ago and won 2 free registrations for the conference, so it gives me a reason to get outa town. i can certainly use some time away. i have been doing day or weekend jaunts in my lovely home state, but i haven’t gotten on a plane in about a year, so it certainly is time. i have never been to philly either, so i am getting a bit stoked.
i could really do with an infusion of my own recovery, and so this will allow me the chance to not be a caregiver for few days. i’m not complaining here. i am just saying. i’m ready to experience a little different kind of brotherly love.
i heard this song on groove salad on somafm. i find it tickling and wonderful. i will be looking further into shantel.