“The path to Paradise Begins in Hell”

Dante Alighieri
It’s a Monday morning of a fresh new week and a brand new day and in my back pocket I can feel my 24-hour coin I was gifted through AA on it the inscription reads

“One day at a time”

That really works for me and echoes the wisdom of some favourite words of mine by Ernest Hemingway…

“Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It’s been that way all this year.”

I like the simple truth that bounces off these words & touches me in a place within that knows this to be true. Today I value each day as a gift and I try to DO with my days as best I can. No one day has been more life changing than the day I went to my first AA meeting it turned my whole world on its axis and led me through the Doorway to a whole new perspective about myself and how to LIVE life in a more mature and balanced state moving between Peace and adventure in equal self nourishing measures! This particular day has not started as I planned, as I hurried through the morning tasks of preparing my daughters pack lunch, school run, hanging up some laundry and my cherished time walking the family dog and swinging past the local flower shop to replenish the vase of fresh flowers I like to keep on my kitchen table. Today was the day I was heading back to Yoga after a winter of remittance raring to go and with my good foot striding forth…. I was knocked back to find my chosen venue well and truly closed. “What now?” I thought, feeling a little childish knee jerk bubble to the surface, where I could become all cross and throw a tantrum with the Yoga class swearing not to go back again and that’s that! Instead I check myself and hand the situation to the part of me that understands that this is all just as it’s meant to be. Before I can get caught up in my minds troubles with things not going “my way” I find myself having the thought to go get a notebook from the newsagent. With 2 hours to spare before I go to an AA meeting and no point in going home then back out again I find myself buying a set of 3 cornflower Blue Pocket books and I make the decision to write to YOU!

“There is a solution” alcoholics anonymous p 25

I have been busy asking other people to write their story and put it on the AA web site in the hope that YOU will read them and hear something that encourages you to be inspired into coming along to AA so you can see and hear for yourself that “There is a solution” to your battle with the Bottle and that you no longer have to fight, rather open yourself up to finding freedom friendship and joy among the many more fruits that sobriety brings into your life. Just as those of us who already visit the rooms of AA have discovered. I am quite sure that this unexpected 2 hour slot that has worked its way into my schedule has been orchestrated for me to put my words together too…. so write to you I DO.I have chosen to come into the Secret Garden that lies hidden at the heart of old Amsterdam. We are lucky this year, the weather is good for the last day of March and although its not sunny yet its warm and comfortable to sit down outside. I am sitting on a wooden bench with my back supported against the front wall of the old Begijnhof Church which is fitting as this is the Church that allows us to rent their church hall to use for our AA meetings which run daily here in Amsterdam. I am facing a tree which has a plaque announcing its name “Tilia Vulgaris” & all around the base of the tree are hundreds and thousands of tiny Blue Flowers, blue like “forget me not’s”. I don’t know their name yet and the last flush of Daffodils dance their offering of gold marrying their sway of colour with the gentle spring breeze. Looking beyond the tree I see an old Amsterdam Town house, number 33 all wibbly and wobbly just as such an old house should be in one of its window’s I spot a statue of Mother Mary her head bowed in prayer & although I’m not religious I can appreciate the Peace and Serenity that this scene evokes. A small group of tourists come and go taking pictures against the gardens statues and floral offerings. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude that I can be sat in stillness here, an active participant in this moment feeling a sense of belonging knowing inside myself I am just exactly where I am meant to be. Much of my gratitude for this state of personal peace and a developing sense of self worth goes to the AA program and the people past and present who share their stories in the form of their own daily struggles joys and experiences that help me to gain perspective and understanding on navigating my own life.I will never forget the day I walked up the stairs to the old hall and pushed open the Sage green door that stands without pretension waiting for each of us our own “special moment”. My life had become hard enough as a result of my daily drinking to seek this door out. At the time I did not realize that this doorway did not simply lead to a room full of fellow human beings of all ages and from all walks of life who could help me stop drinking,some of who would become good friends, but even more importantly this was the secret doorway I had silently ached for all my life…a Doorway back home to myself! Today I understand and am understood by the other people who I discovered through this doorway and with their support and wisdom I live my life happily & freely without drinking “one day at a time”. I live the adventure of my life and I choose Peace as a pathway to an ongoing growth in my spiritual maturity. As I grow and honor myself as a Being composed of Mind Body and Spirit, I nourish all these parts of my self today. I DO what I have to DO and I learn to let myself BE and others too as I practice a solid guiding principle of “Live & Let Live” . I put my relationship with A God of my “own understanding” above all else and with this at the heart of my Being. I have planted a Tree of faith with roots that support the trials and challenges of an ordinary life which is now full of joy and promise and something of the extraordinary that I get to experience as I explore more of who I really am. I am learning how to live within this moment enjoying a sense of freedom that was far away from my reach in the days that I was holed up in my prison of daily drinking.

“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the day to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ― Alfred Tennyson

On my way here today I stopped and spent some moments saying hello to a very friendly white street cat that was particularly interested in my bag and my notebooks I’d bought. I realize now the importance of this moment as I cast my eyes across the scene in front of me, which has now been brought to life by the days Sunshine pushing its presence through the morning’s hazy clouds. I see that the hundreds and thousands of tiny blue flowers, which I’m now sure are some form of Bluebell, they are Opening up, sparkling and twinkling in the suns life giving embrace like a thousand tiny stars of hope and I know I am not separate but that I am connected, an intrinsic part of the tapestry of this moment with its scent of paradise reaching me from within, I understand with an intuitive knowingness that one of these little Blue flowers is sparkling it’s hope for YOU! AS you read this perhaps a little Bell has been rung somewhere deep inside your soul and I wish for you that a seed has planted itself within your mind and your heart “A Good Seed ”that can help to guide you away from alcohol and the daily living hell of that… back home to yourself and the beauty, adventure & peace of a life lived without Drink! In my experience Paradise like hell is not somewhere far away to be experienced after death but right here and now a state of consciousness that exists inside ME.

May your day at the Doorway be here..

With Love & compassion AX

“I know you’re tired. But come. This is the way” ― Rumi.