Wednesday, May 15, 2024


 I recently read an article/poem about how the discomfort I may be feeling (or have felt in the past) is related to growth, to becoming, to moving to the next phase of my development. In reading the piece, I felt an exhale, a settling in to what is. 

I'm not feeling any particular pull or yearning, though as I've written, am very aware of turning 70 - very aware that 70 is not the new 40, no matter how good I feel; very aware that the end is way closer than the beginning; very aware that every day truly is a gift. Grade school/ high school pals and I are planning a group birthday dance party and lawn games at the park this summer, the park where many of us drank away our high school weekends. It should be a hoot, with me in charge of the playlist - old R&B from the 60's and 70's, disco, some new stuff - and another in charge of lawn bowling, etc (what she is calling the Honored Citizens Games or PE in the Park). We may get 10 people or 50 - in any event, it will be fun.

And, it is fun watching my cohort celebrate their birthdays throughout the year, whether with a big trip or a quiet evening with family. I'm into milestones, and 70 feels like a big deal. Yeah, just another day, but for those of us who didn't think we'd make 30, it is a big deal.

The month of May corresponds with Step 5, the sharing of our inventory with another human being and whatever notion of a higher power we have. For me, that is related to being completely honest with my innermost self, not hiding behind this justification or that rationalization. And then talking with a trusted other, whether that is a sponsor or a friend. And then, seeking to change, or amend, whatever behavior or attitude that is causing me or others discomfort or pain. Without the Steps 6/7 intent to change, the inventory process is simply an exercise of "woe is me," self-flagellation. Being human is not a character defect (from Alanon Courage to Change) but when the same thing comes up on inventory after inventory I have to ask myself, does this trait really stand in the way of my usefulness, and if so, what am I going to do about it? If not, then put down the rock. I don't get points for beating myself up, no matter how familiar that may feel. 

On our walk Sunday morning, my spouse and I stopped in at an estate sale, one of those "everything must go" affairs in a house that a neighbor said had been in the people's family for several generations. He also noted that the most recent inhabitants were hoarders, which was evident by the sheer mass of items for sale. It made me a little sad, like when over the winter, I passed a house with a big dumpster out front, next to tables set up with canned goods and clothing, office supplies and knick knacks (according to the fellow in charge, he'd just bought the place from a widower who either didn't want to, or wasn't capable of dealing with a full house). I look around our home, our comfortable and homey abode, and think about the fallout if, heaven forbid, something happened to both of us at the same time. My brother would likely be of the dumpster variety, but what a burden to place on anyone. I am nowhere near a minimalist, but I feel closer and closer to Swedish death cleaning. Use it or lose it? I'm not ready to chuck everything, but when I walk into a room or open a closet with a groan, I can take it as a sign. 

So, sliding up to age 70, aware of the transition to "old age," (I could pretend in my 60's, but not really anymore), use it or lose it, or at least organize the closet, and see how I can utilize the Steps to walk through uncharted territory.  One day at a time, the clock marches on and on until it doesn't.

Where are you in either sobriety or belly-button age? How do you mark your birthdays or anniversaries these days? Are you in acquiring or releasing mode, whether that's related to possessions, relationships, tasks, or states of mind? How has Step 5 come in to play this month?\

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Ready for an inventory or small group discussion? Check out my workbook "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" with 78 pages of topics, member's views, and processing questions.  Available in PDF format ($12.95) for those of you outside the US (or who prefer that format) or hardcopy ($19.95 mailed to you). Email me at with questions.  You can order from the WEB VERSION of this page, payment link on top right. Note that the workbook is also available at Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th 

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