31 12, 2023



By Christine R.

I love baking cookies. The warm scent of Tollhouse morsels fills the home with tantalizing deliciousness. A pinch of salt is required to bring out the sweetness. Herein lies the parallel for us in recovery. We need the salt of our tears to bring forth the oncoming sweetness of recovery.

For sure I thought I would never laugh again when I got sober. The joy juice of alcohol was missing. The elixir of life had betrayed me. As a long-time friend in the Program, Dr. Gil used to say, “Man takes the drink. Drink takes the drink. Drink takes the man.”  The drink took me and everything else along with it: money, family, friends, home, and work. Alcohol takes the  intangibles too like: self-esteem, courage and, above all in this case, the laughter. 

The litigation office I worked for was combative, demanding, and stressful. No time for tears and certainly no laughter. So I compartmentalized my tears, comforting myself countless times, “You can cry when you get home. You can cry when you get home.”  When I arrived home, I would bundle myself up in my bed and cry a waterfall of tears.

Thankfully, my sponsor revealed crying was both right and healing. “Tears have toxins,” she would say. Day by day, one drop at a time, years of toxicity were released. As I emptied out the vast pool of tears, a new-found solace was discovered. A serene emptiness – a void only God could fill and did fill with the joy of laughter.

In Chapter The Family Afterward, page 133, it says, “We cannot ascribe to the fact that life is a vale of tears, though it was just that for many of us.” (Maybe you are one of the “us?”) Goes on to say, “But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered and have helped others to recover.  We find cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness.”  “We have found a way up and out and wish to share our knowledge of that way with all who can use it”  (12×12 pg. 125)

Who would have thought?

Another friend of mine says, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Time takes time and with that time comes the ability to review my tragedies with a pinch of salt and lots of sugar. The sweetness comes most especially when I share these tragedies with another alcoholic – whether in a meeting at group level or privately, sitting in my office with the anguished newcomer. To laughingly describe looking for the Visine that would “get the yellow out” to hide the fact I had a blown liver, still brings a hearty guffaw for me and the listener.

The laughter of today is not the barroom cackle at someone else’s expense.  More often than not, the laughter is toward ourselves coming from a place deep inside. Tradition Four on page 149 describes Bill as “standing in the ruins of his dream and could laugh at himself — the very acme of humility.” We used to say, “If you are looking for humor, you have only to look in the mirror for endless possibilities.” 

From a Vision For You, pages 160-161, “We succumb to the gay crowd who laughs at their own misfortunes and who understand ours.  Social distinctions, petty rivalries, and jealousies — these are laughed out of countenance.”  If you look for it, laugh, laughing and laughter are referenced at least 15 times in our Big Book and 12 x 12.  

In an interview, Bill described his initial meeting with Dr. Bob, “There we were, one drunk talking to another.  Because I needed to hear the message too.”  

And so it goes. One alcoholic talking with another. Stories upon stories. My sponsor said, “I talked myself sober.”  There is a pinch of truth in that one as well. By being accountable in the truth-telling halls of our Program, the truth becomes the sweet balm of healing and love. 



31 12, 2023

The Pier Was Burning

By John. W


As with those who pursued the monster Frankenstein
             The villagers were after him.
                          All he had touched had turned to trouble
                                     From pub to pub he had crawled
                                                No respite there, only ale and anguish too.

“Before” it had been better
                But before was long ago.
                            The baying of the hounds grew louder
                                       As life chased him down vine covered lanes.
                                                   The nearness of his surroundings pressed upon him

He knew of nowhere to turn
            He could run no more, had not the power to
                        “You need fight no more” he heard from somewhere
                                   With a new found strength
                                                A first step he could suddenly take.

At the pier he arrived and onto the dinghy he stumbled
            The tether loosened, the current not he at the tiller
                      Somehow the lonely night had become day
                               Although no passing time did he perceive
                                            The Pier Was Burning in the distance

“As is my life” he admitted,
           For the first time, to himself or to anyone,
                       In that moment came the surprise . . .
                                    For he wistfully added  “. . . and I know why!”
                                                 It was then he felt the nudge of the shoreline.

This new place he did not know or recognize
         Still, as he stepped upon the shore, he felt “Home”
                     Those he encountered were friendly enough
                                 Even a familiar face or two came forth to greet him.
                                              They said:  “We have been saving a seat for you.”


*   *   *   *   *


31 12, 2023

Understanding Step One

Sometimes We Pick the Fruit Before It’s Ripe


By Rick R.

I wish I could say that everyone who enters the doors of AA has an equal shot at getting sober and staying that way for the rest of their lives. However, depending on the different reasons why each individual decides to give AA a chance, coupled with the degree of desperation causing the person to delve into what the program has to offer, we get a variety of different results. 

When I arrived at my first meeting, I was desperately looking for what I thought was a solution to an impossible situation. I was defeated and absolutely demoralized. Within minutes of being exposed to the sober members of that group, I was convinced I had found the solution to my hopeless condition. The desire to drink was removed from me on the spot and has never returned. That was on October 15, 1969. I wish every new member could have that type of experience.  Yet we know many of us are not that receptive in the beginning. 

Most of the members of that early group were over forty years old and I was only 28. I was the exception at the time. Meetings were much smaller because there were no rehab facilities intervening in the alcoholics’ drinking escapades. They did not start hitting their bottom until their forties or fifties, or it had something to do with midlife crisis, or it was just a coincidence. 

What I do see that is different from my experience is the blurred line when it comes to the first requirement for AA membership: “A desire to stop drinking.” My employer told me I had to stop drinking. When I consider the relief I got from the bottle, I doubt I would have been as receptive to getting sober. If I had, I am sure I would have relapses as much as any of those who, unfortunately, struggle with staying sober. Apparently many of the AA members of today have seen a high percentage of relapses. They attribute that as an abysmal success ratio in AA.  They assume just because they were sent to AA from a rehab facility they should be lumped in with those, like me, who had a desire to stop drinking and came in looking for answers. These relapses are the natural result of when the desire to drink is stronger than the desire to stay sober.

In the Foreword to the Second Edition of the Big Book it says: “Of alcoholics who came to AA, and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way: 25% sobered up after some relapses.”  I often ask the newcomers what caused them to give AA a visit. Most of them say the main reasons were DUI’s, work-related requirements, and spouses’ ultimatums. 

Occasionally someone says, “I just ran out of ideas, and I needed help.” The latter is usually the one in ten who stays sober without relapse. I also believe if you counted only the ones who came in searching for answers, the same ratio as mentioned in the Foreword to the Big Book would still apply. Seventy five percent is not bad. The good news is many of the members who are here as the result of intervention or other motivations often become what they refer to as the “educational variety”, often getting sober years before they would have had they not been intervened upon. 

We treat these brothers and sisters with empathy, compassion and understanding. The awareness in the community has taken away much of the stigma (not all) of being cursed with the disease of alcoholism. Where we had meetings totaling ten or twelve members, we now have twenty to forty members attending. Sometimes the fruit gets picked before it is ripe, but is never discarded.


31 12, 2023

The Principle of Honesty

By Anonymous

I had a drinking problem long before I was ever able to honestly admit that simple fact to myself. So many times, too many to count, I would stare at myself in the mirror, reliving the events of the previous 24 hours and wondering why that face staring back at me had done those things. I mentally could not connect the fact that the face into whose eyes I peered was mine. That face at which I stared, who had driven into oncoming traffic in a blackout or had just been released from incarceration following an alcohol-related traffic stop, was not me, it was just a reflection of that person I did not want to be – but was. I could not be honest with myself about that harsh reality.

Thus, when marital discord – big time – drove me towards a solution rather than a drink one day, the thought of attending a 7:00 AM meeting as suggested by that anonymous voice on that anonymous 24-hour a day hotline, seemed a half-baked idea that was equally only coolly received by me. That the location was on my route to work and barely five minutes from my home was a small consolation. Only illusions of Snoopy as the WWI Flying Ace and his Dawn Patrol comics character succeeded in bolstering my efforts to make that meeting despite its ridiculously early hour.  Since this was the only meeting I attended for the first two months, I did not know that their practice of not reading “How It Works” was unusual. I of course had my own Big Book, to demonstrate to my spouse that I was ‘working the steps’. But having a Big Book and reading it were two very different things. 

The result was that I failed to grasp the Principle of Honesty which was fundamental to the start of my recovery.  While I had been honest about starting to attend daily meetings, an admission needed to stave off (at least for the moment) divorce court, the little asides about having a sponsor, working the steps and not drinking between meetings were all false. I am sure it was no surprise to those who tolerated my occasional complaints during the meetings – I had tried to remain anonymous you see, and this included saying nothing to anyone – that I was not getting the benefit of “How It Works”. For me this time could only be described as my continuing journey through Hell.

Thankfully my miracle, and the hope for those who follow, coincided with my first honest statement about my drinking. At the time I did not know of this “coincidence”, it was only later pointed out to me by someone who heard my story several months after I got sober. She observed that it was immediately after I had, for the first time, honestly told my 7:00 AM group that I was a Newcomer that my fortunes had begun to change for the better. Men in the meeting started to reach out to me to share their experiences and I finally hung around long enough after the meeting to talk to them. They talked to me about the difficulties I was facing as a Newcomer and how best to confront them and stay sober when doing so. I was inspired by one woman’s tale about getting sober only because she wanted her children back in her life, a dream I had. She was able to explain the uphill battle before me and that, even in rejection – which I was to experience like she had – I could stay sober.  One old timer after kind, but daily, quizzes about whether I drank the day before, gave me her 16 year chip so I could “lean” on her sobriety when I needed to. Sadly, cancer took her before she could get 17 years, but I have her chip in my pocket, cuddling mine for the same time, reminding me I am never alone in my daily struggle.

In the 20/20 vision which hindsight provides, it is now easy to see how the Principle of Honesty was the key to my salvation. Without it, my lies to myself about the effects of my drinking and the people it was harming, prevented me from effectively taking my first step in recovery.  Thereafter, the rigorous honesty my sponsor has schooled me in over the years has often been a real challenge. I would not be honest were I to pretend the case to be otherwise. However, with the aid of my Higher Power, I have been developing a better sense of when I should just keep quiet and exercise that restraint of tongue and pen. In such moments, I have found that, at worst, I may be only considered a fool, but when I rashly or imprudently open my mouth, as is my bane, I invariably remove all doubt. As for “How It Works”, I have come to believe it was no “coincidence” that the founders of the program that saved my life mentioned “honesty” three times in the opening salvo – they were just relaying the honest truth of their recovery.


31 12, 2023

Western Roundup LIVING SOBER 2024 LOGO Design Contest Guidelines


We invite AA and Al-Anon group members to submit up to two original, 2-color entries for consideration as the official logo of the 2024 Living Sober conference.

>> The winner will receive FREE registration to the conference <<

Design Guidelines

  1. Design must include, but is not limited to, the following elements:
  2. A butterfly
  3. The words “Living Sober”
  4. The words “San Francisco”
  5. The year “2024”
  6. Be designed for a 2-color color scheme
  7. The words “Living Sober” alone or coupled with other text, should be a separate element that could be removed for more discreet placement on select items.
  8. Original artwork only
  9. Entries must include:
  10. One grayscale version
  11. At least two (but no more than five) color versions, showing how you would implement two colors in your design. Please note that we may change color schemes based on General Planning Committee vote.
  12. Entries from individuals only, no group entries please
  13. Finished artwork only, no rough drafts
  14. Submitted in an associated vector formatted version (EPS, Ai, SVG, etc…)* (*unless you are willing to volunteer with the Art Committee to edit and place your logo on conference materials)

 Submission information and deadlines

  1. Email entries to: [email protected]
  2. Subject line MUST read: 2024 LS Logo
  3. Submissions MUST be received by: JANUARY 11, 2024 (No late work accepted)
  4. Logos will be voted on at the General Planning Committee meeting taking place January 21, 2024, which is to take place at 3:00 PM online, via Zoom. See the WRLS calendar for meeting information.
  5. Logo contest entrants will be notified of the results of the vote after the General Planning meeting by the Art committee.

 If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]


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