A Wellspring of Hope
From Our Editor
Welcome to the February 2000 edition of Serendipity! The message from our trusted servants in this month's edition is the phenomenal growth of the Recovery Group and the corresponding need for more members to perform service to the group. Our founder, Mari, pays special tribute to one trusted servant, Gary, a/k/a Niteowl, who gives countless hours to the Recovery Group website. John, Administrator of the Recovery Group, adds his plea to members to volunteer for the many trusted servant positions available right now. And Anne, Meetings CoCoordinator and CoEditor of Serendipity, emphasizes the need for more meeting leaders to cover the burgeoning meetings schedule. One of the primary tenets of the anonymous programs is that we cannot maintain our recovery unless we give it away. One way of doing this is through service to the group. I encourage everyone to consider giving a couple of hours a week to this worthy venture.
We have also included loop profiles of Italian Journey to Recovery and Big Book and Recovery in this edition. Loreta, coordinator for Italian Journey to Recovery, writes about the progress made with Italian Journey to Recovery and the initial success of the Italian language meetings. And Maureen, coordinator of Big Book and Recovery, tells us about the mission of the loop and invites all of us to join in the study of the Big Book, which is the foundation of our program. In a new feature this month, two of our members share their ESH with us. Jenna, a member of JTR, and Frank, a member of Spanish and Recovery, both eloquently trace their very different journeys to recovery through Overeaters Anonymous. Literature for this month is the Second Step Prayer and an article called "Sanity Exchange," which is reprinted from the August 1998 Lifeline of OA. The newsletter concludes with a list of the weekly Recovery Group meetings, announcements, OA information, and contact list.
As Mari notes in her article, February is a month in which we honor love. Serendipity has experienced love in the growing number of articles you are contributing. I thank you for your wonderful support, and assure you that all of the articles will be used in this or upcoming editions. I also encourage all of you to give your love to the Recovery Group, and to your own recovery, by volunteering for a trusted servant position. You won't regret it!
Love in recovery,
February is the month of love. And my words to you this month are about a special kind of love. The kind of love Trusted Servants give to people from around the world whom they've never met. And about the love these people give back in return. I want to tell you about one of our Trusted Servants ... one who epitomizes the word, Servant. And who was born to be called Trusted.
There came a time when I became overwhelmed with all there was to do in maintaining the Recovery Group. When God planted the seed in my heart that He wanted a place for people all over the world to gather and work the steps and help each other recover, He never told me He was going to include a website in that project. I embraced what was offered to me far more as a gift than a job. I could type, I had learned how to do a few things on a computer, I had empathy for other people who suffered as I had suffered and I deeply loved OA, the Steps, the Big Book, the Traditions and everything that made my recovery program work. But a website???
I began the site with Journey to Recovery and each time we started a new loop that meant a new page or two on the site. I didn't know a website from the front page of a newspaper and never questioned how one got from here to there ... but if we had loops and studies then I guess God meant for us to find people who needed us and short of publishing books and staying on the telephone all day, a website seemed the best way to do that.
And so we did. And the loops grew in number and so did the members. The studies had to be put up each month and the loops grew more intricate and the pages grew. And grew and grew. I Peter Principled out. I had learned more than I ever dreamed I could possibly learn about something technical and I knew that hiring someone was out because we don't use money in our group. We use us. I prayed, I read, I tried to learn ... I became overwhelmed.
One morning after spending half the night trying to figure out how to center a rose and how to make letters stay in the middle of the page instead of flying off to the left, I ended up in tears. Dedicated loop members who understood the technical aspects of web work had come and gone and while they were here we worked hard. But it was on again and off again and websites and loops don't function just when someone happens to be here. Websites don't tell thousands of visitors that "we're down for the day, folks, because Mari doesn't know how to get a rose centered" ... they show that rose laying on its side down at the bottom of a page with the copyright sign instead of perkily introducing the page in the middle of the top.
The post simply said HELP!!!!!! It went to the loops and along with it went the kind of prayers one gets down on her knees for. And very soon after my plea for help hit the loops, I began my routine afternoon of reading the mail and saw a familiar owl. It looked sort of like this . . .
The writer asked if we needed help. Do you know HTML? Yes. Do you know how to get writing from my computer and put it so that people all over the world can read it? Yes. Do you know what to do if a rose ends up sideways at the bottom of a page next to the copyright when it's supposed to be in the middle of the top? Yes. You're hired!!! The hours are long, the work is insane, the loops are growing faster than I can count them but the pay is extraordinary ~ our currency is miracles. "I'll take it," he said.
And so he did. His name is Gary, aka The NiteOwl, and he is one of God's greatest gifts to the Recovery Group. Gary puts up with more day in and day out than any man I have ever met and somehow someway knows what I want and transforms plain ordinary English words into < > and gibberish and // # HTML words and suddenly I get an e-mail with his famous one word "done" and I go to the page and there it is . . . what I could only envision in my mind right there for tens of thousands of people to see.
Gary is an OA member from Florida. He earns his living producing websites for people but is also a consummate photographer and musician. He has a beautiful family and why he does what he does and gives so much of himself to us, I will never know ... but this small tribute can't begin to say what this dedicated Trusted Servant has meant to me and to our group. The thousands of letters that flow back and forth between Gary's computer and mine have produced the 150 page website known simply as Recovery. I know of no other Trusted Servant who has given the time, the dedication, the dependability and the love that this man has.
And in this month dedicated to love ... and on the pages called Serendipity which have just about driven him to the point of insanity this week ... I wish to express the gratitude ... the love ... and the admiration we all feel to one very special loopie named Gary ... aka, The NiteOwl.
I subscribe to 57 of our loops at the present moment. Most of these are in digest, and I do not read all of them every day, but I read here and there, to see how things are. The healthiest loops by and large have active trusted servants. This is not true in every case, some very dedicated souls labor against heavy odds, but it is largely true. Some loops are in need of more trusted servants, and overall, we have fewer Trusted Servants than there are positions. Often, a trusted servant with insufficient help becomes discouraged, and some fall behind, and some even resign, burned out.
We have meetings coordinators, who struggle constantly to find meeting leaders. We need more trusted servants on the loops. This says to me that we need to hear from you the loop members. Jane Borthwick in a poem written in 1859 says: "No arm so weak but may do service here." If you have five or ten minutes a day that you can give in service on a loop, or an hour during the week to a meeting, please let me know. I will find you a place.
Service is certainly good program. The greatest service, it is said, is our own abstinence. After that, helping others. Your Recovery Group needs you, and we have no draft. Please write to me at email@example.com and make my day.
Love in service,
January 2000 has been a booming month for the Recovery Group Online Meetings with record numbers of people joining us in the #Recovery channel to share their experience, strength and hope and to enjoy the fellowship of the program. In January, for the first time ever, we have seen up to 38 people regularly attending our 9.30 PM meetings which is definitely the most popular meeting on our meeting schedule. We hope that the increasing numbers is not just due to loopies making New Years resolutions and that these bumper crowds will continue!
January also saw many of the Specialty and Little Loops join The Recovery Group and we have welcomed many of these loopies to our online meetings. I would personally like to welcome all the Specialty and Little Loops to come and join us in #Recovery to experience the power of our online meetings and to join us in a Recovery Talk session where the true meaning of the fellowship is experienced.
With record numbers attending online meetings, we are always in need of additional meeting leaders and substitute meeting leaders to ensure that the meetings go ahead as planned - if you regularly attend online meetings, if you are a member of one of the Recovery Group loops and you wish to provide service by leading meetings, please contact us at RecoveryMeetings@yahoo.com.
See you in the meetings!
Love in recovery
I'm Loreta, coordinator of Italian JTR, the Journey to Recovery loop in Italian.
It seems only yesterday that, while surfing the net, I came across these loops and entered the world of OA. There were no face-to-face OA meetings in Fermo, the small medieval town in Italy where I live, so for quite a while the only contact I had with OA was through the loops and the OA literature.
Then, one day, while reading the loop post, I found out that the Italian National OA Convention was to be held in a town that I could get to by train and off I went. During the convention, a speaker asked if there were people who knew something about the Internet and, if so, could they stay behind to be part of a new committee which would examine how the Internet could help compulsive overeaters.
I put up my hand and found myself with about 5 other people whom I had never met before. It was the first time I was with other compulsive overeaters and I felt very shy. They all had a lot of experience in OA while I knew so little. When I told them about our Recovery loops, they were all astonished. Of course, there was the language problem but thank goodness problems don't exist for our wonderful trusted servants and our founder Mari!
Little by little, the Italian JTR loop was born. It's been over a year now and it's exciting to see that on my last check, there were 62 members. This is even more exciting if we consider that here in Italy, not so many people have computers as compared to the States. And up until now, no one has ever signed off, and that's another marvelous result. The members are using the loop more and more as an instrument for their recovery. In the beginning they were a bit shy but now things are going really well. More and more people are sharing. Often a topic comes up in a share and then others share on it too, so that it becomes a sort of thread for discussion, and this helps everybody.
Another important step was taken just before Christmas when we started our first on line meeting in Italian. I had great fun teaching our Italian loop members how to get to and use a chat line. Remember, none of them had ever used one before! But when we were finally there together on that first Sunday evening (our meeting is on Sunday 3.30pm Eastern Time), everything went smoothly.
The only problem with our meetings is that most of the loop members have a computer only in the office, not at home. So we ended up last Sunday with 2 of the people in the meeting having 1 other loop member each at their houses. In this way, we managed to get more people to the meeting although they do not have a computer. How's that for problem solving?!!!
We are already discussing starting another meeting and also we will be organising our web page in the near future. We think this is an excellent result for computer illiterate compulsive overeaters, don't you?
The mission of the Big Book and Recovery Loop is:
1. To read the Big Book section by section, through the eyes of a COE. For instance, the word alcoholic will be changed to the words Compulsive Overeater ... the word alcohol to food.
2. To gain from the experience, strength, and hope (ESH) of the AA founders...ESH that is used today, in our existing fellowships.
3. To explore the evolution of the Big Book's spiritual foundation that was developed and used by the founders..... and by people in recovery today.
4. To learn the answers to questions such as what are spiritual tools; how does this apply to my addiction; how do I work these Big Book ideas into my recovery journey.
This month has been an active one on the Big Book and Recovery loop. Thumper has done a wonderful job posting daily quotes and questions for the loop.
It is not too late to sign up and experience the BB&R's ESH. Visit our website at http://recovery.hiwaay.net/special/bbrecovery.html or signup at ONElist - http://www.onelist.com/community/BigBookAndRecovery.
I sit here on the morning of my 51st belly button birthday and think how grateful I am for Overeaters Anonymous and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions and the tools and the folks in program, etc. Without this program, I know that I would be dead.
HP and this program gave me a new life -- a life better than ever. I came into this program (for real) in February of 1991. At that time, I was in the process of gaining weight that I had lost in Weight Watchers. Although WW had given me a great gift in teaching me how to eat and deal with my physical problem of compulsive overeating, my emotional and spiritual recovery was zilch. I was trying very hard in WW. Giving back my stars on my ribbon, trying to embarrass myself into being "good." And of course it wasn't working.
So a friend invited me to an OA meeting. She never showed, but someone else (now a VERY dear friend) who was a newcomer oozed me in the door and I have been going back now for nearly 9 years.
Not abstinent all of that time. When first getting started, I had major problems with the spiritual part of the program. Didn't believe in God. Actually scoffed (internally) at others who did. Well, after 3 months of following a food plan (a diet because I couldn't work the steps past Step 1 because I kept running into the God thing), something so horrible happened in my life that I had no alternative but to turn to God. Then I could turn my will and my life over to God and I was abstinent for 5 1/2 years. With a weight release of over 200 pounds. The gifts I received were enormous. I was off my blood pressure medicine. I could walk and breath at the same time. I looked great for my age. I loved folks and was willing to receive love. I had discovered acceptance.
Then came the relapse. I am still trying to figure out why those 180+ pounds came back so quickly (1 year of relapse). I have identified many reasons, primary being, I think, loss of faith. I don't think I ever went back to totally BP (before program) feelings in any area of recovery, but the avalanche had started and death was fast approaching. I was in Hell!
In the area of physical recovery, the outside evidence of abstinence was totally lacking. Back up to a size 3 or 4X depending. But I was doing 3 meals with no sugar and no alcohol and no breaded fried food. Just too much food -- and a paucity of exercise because of health reasons that just compounded exponentially as I gained weight.
In the area of spiritual recovery, I still believed in God, but had no faith as far as my personal life went. I had great fear in the "Thy will, not mine" philosophy. Something traumatic happened and continued to happen with my job and I guess I held HP responsible. Everyone kept saying, "This too shall pass," but I placed no credence in that statement. I did, however, believe in God, just not that he would play an active part in my life.
Emotionally, the fear started creeping back into my life. And that tainted everything else.
The fire was dead in my eyes. The program was almost dead in my life.
However, I never stopped going to meetings and that, perhaps, was my saving grace. I went to meetings. That got progressively hard as my weight climbed and that weight aggravated and caused disabilities. I thank God for the folks in Beaumont who offered me rides and called me while I was dying.
Without them, I might have given up. They wouldn't let me. And I didn't. I wanted my miracle back. And then it came. I consider that I came back from relapse on December 18, 1997. How and why is another story. Suffice it to say that I had to take the first 3 steps over again -- with VIGOR!
Since that time, I have released 157 of my relapse pounds. And God is once again at my side. I have absolute acceptance of the fact that I would be dead, not celebrating this birthday, if it weren't for God and this program. To them, I give thanks.
Today, I am especially grateful for the following gifts:
Basically, what it all boils down to is "I am grateful to be alive. I am alive because of OA."
For today, I have a program and that program is endowing me with gifts. I humbly accept them.
Love and hugs,
I was living in the North Georgia mountains at the time. My nearest neighbors were about a mile away. I didn't see them very often and when I did I wouldn't speak to them. I lived in a camper that fit on the back of a pickup truck. I had it sitting on blocks so I wouldn't fall through the floor.
I was living like a hermit. I had cut myself off from all human contact that wasn't absolutely necessary. No contact with my family, no friends, nothing. I realize now that I had gone up there to die. Either drink myself to death or eat myself to death, whichever came first! I didn't really care.
I went down to Atlanta only to work to get the money to support my simple life style. I would earn a few hundred dollars and then retreat once more to the mountains. I was usually able to last five or six months before I had to once more visit civilization. Some life style, right?
It was my custom to stay as drunk as I could for as long as I could. When I got so physically sick that I had to sober up, then I would eat vast amounts of food, much more than I ordinarily ate.
I had chickens that I kept around the place. My usual breakfast consisted of a dozen eggs, a pound of sausage, five or six pieces of toast with butter and jelly, and lots and lots of coffee! That isn't counting all the food I ate during the morning until lunch. Lunch consisted of four or five sandwiches, a large bag or two of Doritos or Fritos, a couple of cans of soda pop, and whatever else there was that was sweet. I snacked all afternoon and for dinner it wasn't unusual for me to have a cut up chicken, or half a dozen pork chops, or a couple of steaks, some potatoes, and some kind of vegetable for dinner. I snacked through the night until I fell asleep, then at sun up I would start all over again.
I raised a lot of my own vegetables, and traded for a lot of the meat with people who had weekend cottages around where I lived. I would check their places if they brought me a bunch of frozen steaks or pork chops. It worked out for both of us.
I had a family who wouldn't have anything to do with me. I was a very angry and violent man. I would get into fights with people and hurt them. Sometimes I wound up in jail. I felt ashamed of my conduct and would swear to do better. Preachers would come to see me and pray for and with me. I would be good for a while then I would hear the siren song in my head once more, and off I'd go again. Or I would be so ashamed that I had to drink to drown out the guilt and shame. After a time I found that if I ate enough I could drown out those voices for a while. Between the eating and the drinking I had no time for my wife and my three daughters. My wife put up with it for as long as she could (26 years), and then she left.
Of course it was all God's fault! I never could tell you exactly why, but it was!
One morning I was throwing up, on my knees leaning against a pine tree. The thought came to me that I was almost dead. Did I want to finish myself off or did I want to live?
I had a choice to make. I chose life. I went to the nearest phone and called AA. I went to the meetings for a while and then got a sponsor.
After I sobered up, the eating became even worse. I was finally alone with nothing but food. I think food has always been the first addiction in my life. Alcohol just got me in more trouble! I was still in very bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually when I got here.
One day I was complaining about being so fat that my sponsor lost his temper. He told me to do something about it or shut up! I told him about the diets that I had tried and failed at. He told me to forget the blasted diets. I needed to go to that bunch of people who used the steps to lose weight. I asked him what the name of it was. "I don't know, AA For Fat People I guess." He was talking of course about OA. That's how I got into the program. I really was looking for "AA For Fat People"!!
After 12 years in the wrong program, I can honestly say that it was the right one for me. I have lost over 200 lbs in those years. I no longer am feeling as useless as I did before, and I have found a HP that has given me a way of life I never knew existed. I've heard it said that abstinence is a gift. I agree with that but must add, for this particular OA, I've had to work bloody hard to get it and to keep it! Folks, it did not come easy!
so I may come to believe in
a Power greater than myself.
I pray for humility and the continued
In exchange for taking that first compulsive bite, I agree to take a chance that I will:
I call this my "Free to Choose" list. It works like nothing else ever has.
- G.H., Loomis, California USA, Lifeline, August 1998, reprinted and modified from Lifeline, December 1986
All AOL meetings held in Stepping Stones on AOL
Come join us as we celebrate
For information, contact Susan at
All AOL meetings held in Stepping Stones on AOL
Come join us as we celebrate
For information, contact Susan at