I don’t usually win things …

Hey guys. This post is an entry to a contest that a Twitter friend is having. She is one of 50 bloggers who has been given a ridiculous amount of HP computer stuff away. Everyone gets to run their own contest as they see fit. She wants us all to write blog posts about how we are ‘impacting others’ lives.” I’ll link this post back to her and we’ll see what happens. Oh, and I also have to tell what I’m going to do with the stuff.

She said that she wrote something along these lines about a refrigerator and that it doesn’t have to be all complicated and whatnot (God knows I love to complicate things). So. Impacting others’ lives. Let’s go.

Nearly all of my blog readers know that I’m in recovery from alcoholism. So, it’s not a surprise that the way I most directly and successfully impact people’s lives is all related and thanks to the 12-step program I participate in (and that participates in me). When I arrived at my sobriety date, I was beaten and broken. I had lost all my closest friends, I was at the start of a nervous breakdown, I couldn’t hold a job and I was about to be evicted from my apartment. Things were as bleak as they had ever been.

I was soon to be enveloped by the love and kindness of strangers; people who had gone before me to recover from a hopeless state of mind and body. People who knew the only way they could stay spiritually fit was to give what so freely had been given to them. I watched them carefully and took their suggestions. I learned to do what I said I would do and be where I said I would be. I learned to show up on time and early, if I could. I saw how important it was to be of service to other people, whether it was setting up chairs, talking to someone newer than myself, or helping put on a statewide conference. I was loved back to health and implored by my new friends to do the same for others.

Actions speak louder than words, so as I progressed through the steps and participated in the program, people around me started to see a change in my behavior. My parents started to trust that when I said I’d come and visit them, I would. My sister very slowly started to understand that I was no longer out to fight her, tooth and nail, about every little thing. My niece and nephew saw that I was interested in their lives and wanted to be the best aunt I could be. This was the start of healing relationships that had been long damaged, mostly by selfish disregard and neglect.

Although I impact my family’s lives and have made a big difference in the way we treat each other, I have more of an impact on people in the everyday settings of meetings and fellowship. One of the biggest ways I think I impact lives is by taking the ideas of hospitality and cheer that I learned from my family and integrating those into my recovery life. I love to have parties and invite the recovery community over to my house – open to all. I know these sorts of events were absolutely essential to my early recovery, and I want others to know they are welcomed and encouraged to have a social life again. That we aren’t meant to live this life in ‘a vale of tears,’ according to some literature we read. I show up to regular meetings and try to be an example. In how to serve, how to show up and how to be accountable to my fellows. Most importantly, I hope that I am able to treat people kindly and give them the hope that I have found by staying sober. I hope they can see the light that has returned to my eyes and know they can have the same result if they take a few simple actions.

I rarely acknowledge these things, because I know this is all a gift of grace given to me by a higher power. I don’t like to dwell on things I do or have done because I am just following the footsteps of those who have come before me. But I have seen fellow travelers transform and grow out of their former shadows and become radiant examples themselves. I can only pray that in some small way, through some small action, I have helped to encourage the spark in their souls. I know that this is only my being a vessel for the blessings I have received and I am forever grateful to have been put in a position to help. What’s wonderful is that this is all much bigger than me and it is just a part in a chain whose ripple effect is truly unknowable in its good.

What to do with the items if I win? This is a no-brainer for me. I already thought about who would get the prize the moment I saw this contest. Firstly, my parents are interested in buying a laptop and I’ve been trying to help them procure one for months. If I could give them one, it would end the search and allow them to get on with getting the Internet hooked up. I could teach my father, who has recently retired and has not used a computer since very pre-Internet, how it all works so he can get to the business of listing a bunch of stuff on ebay and learning more about the world, which is currently at his fingertips.

On the family tip, I would give my sister (who is a single mom) and my niece and nephew some of the equipment as well. Their computer is old and rickety and could use an upgrade.

Lastly, I am a member of a non-profit group that is endeavoring to bring Low Power FM (LPFM) radio to Chicago. We have just started a build out so we can start with an online station while we wait for Congress to pass a bill allowing us to apply for a LPFM license. It’s called the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) and I believe in it with all of my heart. It will allow people to get back in control of radio again and to make it local and accessible to the people it is meant to serve. We’re in need of some computers as well, so I would donate whatever made sense to them.

So, that’s me. I hope I receive this prize, because I know it will make a difference in the lives of the people and projects I love.

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