A Wellspring of Hope
From Our Editor
Welcome to the second edition of SERENDIPITY, a Wellspring of Hope, Newsletter of the Recovery Group. What a wonderful way of entering a brand new year, a brand new century, and a brand new millennium, with a powerful new forum for sharing our experience, strength and hope around the world!
This is a really exciting issue. Our beloved founder, Mari, has given us an update of some of the Recovery Group's changes and challenges, and as ever imbues her writing with her own powerful message of recovery. The Recovery Group's new administrator, John, who has taken over that position from Mari, introduces himself and his vision of where the Recovery Group is heading in the next year. Then, in celebration of OA's 40th anniversary, we have reprinted an article from OA's January 2000 edition of LIFELINE, a powerful collection of exerpts from Rozanne's LIFELINE articles over the years tracking the history of OA. We are also blessed to have our trusted servant, Audrey, share with us her ESH and the recovery she has found through the Recovery Group. This month we are featuring the Spanish and Recovery loop, and Cindy, coordinator of that loop, reports on the loop's progress in reaching out to Spanish speaking members. John, one of the loop coordinators for Working the Steps, introduces us to the WTS loop, updates the most recent changes to the loop, and reminds us that WTS is starting over with Step One in January. We've included the First Step Prayer from the literature for those who elect to join that step study, and for those who need a daily reminder of our powerlessness in the face of this disease. Our very own hard working Anne, the Recovery Group's online meetings co-coordinator and co-editor of SERENDIPITY, shares her thoughts with us, provides an update of online meeting activity, and sets out the schedule of online Recovery and AOL meetings for the month of January. And, for the first time, we have included a section for announcements of events of interest to our members.
Giving credit where credit is due, I'd also like you all to know that the wonderful format for the newsletter is due almost entirely to Heather, who has joined us this month and has worked long and hard in working out the kinks and preparing the newsletter for distribution.
In just the one month SERENDIPITY has been in existence, both our content and our subscriptions to the newsletter have at least doubled. In this new year, this new century, this new millennium, it is our most sincere wish that SERENDIPITY continues to expand and grow. But for this to happen, we need your help. There is so much recovery here, and I am asking each of you to share that recovery by volunteering to contribute your ESH to the newsletter. Remember, sharing your recovery is service at its best.
I am so very thankful that our Recovery Group's newsletter has lived up to its name. As Mari told us last month, serendipity is "a phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for ~ things not planned for ~ wonderful things not at all expected." Because of all of you, that's SERENDIPITY!
Love in recovery,
With the holidays still echoing in our hearts, we leap into the new millennium. How can it be that 2000 is actually here? There was a time when I was deep in my disease that I never expected to see my children grown ... much less Y2K. But here we are - all together in this miracle called Recovery. And what a century it will be!
I witnessed so many wonderful things in December for our fellowship. I saw about thirty little loops join us offering their service to compulsive eaters with a second issue. These loops, many of which are manual loops, are in the process of being set up on our website and given automated lists and have become part of the Recovery Special Interest Loops community. And a second happening was on Christmas Day when we had our #Recovery OA Meeting Room open 24 hours straight staffed by volunteers who know what it's like to be alone on Christmas Day .. or to need to talk with another COE on this holiday that takes so much out of us sometimes. New Years will find the #Recovery Room open as well ... another holiday which tests us and makes us aware that our disease is always with us doing push-ups and waiting for us to be vulnerable enough to pounce.
Other important things happened in our fellowship recently. Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. for the first time in history has agreed as a courtesy to list all Online Meetings so when anyone writes to them, they are given the times, dates and places of our #Recovery meetings. A sad event is that the beloved husband of Rozanne, the Founder of Overeaters Anonymous, died. And in a wonderful example of Twelfth Stepping, our statistics on the Recovery Main Page has exceeded 85,000 people. One more thing ... WTS, our Working the Steps loop, had a group conscience in which the majority voted to loosen the reins a bit in that very special loop to accommodate those who wanted more than just a question and answer loop. So now, WTS affirms its original mission purpose of being a loop for COEs who love the steps and want to share their ESH concerning their personal Step program ... but also a Study Loop for those who truly want to thoroughly work the steps each day with a Step Leader and, hopefully, with their sponsor.
Finally, as we approached the end of 1999, I witnessed the outpouring of dozens of volunteers from our fellowship as we prepare to rotate Trusted Servants for the Year 2000 Term of Service. Dedicated Trusted Servants are in the process of learning their new jobs so that loop members will hardly even notice a change and many of our skilled T/S decided to continue doing what they do so well. My job as Administrator of Recovery will be continued by John S. In this month's issue of Serendipity, you will meet John so I will not go into great detail about this remarkable human being ... but pass my responsibilities over to him knowing that he will serve us well. I'm not leaving ... just rotating and will focus on other ways to give service to those who battle the disease we all share day in and day out.
See you next month. I hope your holidays were everything you needed them to be ... and may 2000 bring you the Promises of our program.
Mari has always sought out and included others in the leadership of the loops. Now she has simply shared further. She will remain as list owner, because that is most expedient. And she will be able to participate more in the life of the loops, giving us the benefit of her experience, hope, and strength. This will be a wonderful thing for us all.
I will relieve her of the more mundane aspects of administration, and will try to continue the traditions of the loops as she was always wont to do. Certainly I will rely on Mari's guidance and your help to carry the loops forward into these exciting times of growth.
The purpose of all our loops is recovery. For us. For others who still suffer. We are taking this message of hope into a new place, cyberspace, and we are doing so with obvious success. For this we are grateful. But the main thing remains recovery. I am dedicated to that principle. My own recovery means everything to me. The service I give back will never repay the debt I owe for that one gift. Thank you for allowing me to be here with you.
Love in recovery,
December has been another big month in the #Recovery channel ~ a month when the true meaning of the fellowship has been demonstrated as meeting leaders and treasured volunteers spread Christmas and New Year cheer and certainly proved that together we can do what we could never do alone. What started as an idea from Gramps, became a reality with the #Recovery channel being open and manned all Christmas Day ~ loopies dropped in just to say hi, to share how their Christmas was going, or to reach out and gain support to make it through the day. This proved so successful, that we did it all again for New Years Eve and New Years Day - with the #Recovery channel being manned over the two days. I want to thank everyone who gave their time, love, peace, humour, serenity and service over these days and Gramps for his great idea. #Recovery was a place of recovery and I for one, truly benefited from logging on and I know many others did too ~ I am sure we will now make this a regular #Recovery event for all the major
During December we have seen more meetings added to our schedule ~ the Italian JTR loop joined the meeting ranks with the first Italian OA Topic meeting ~ Sunday 3:30 PM ~ the meeting is led by Loreta and from her reports, have been a wonderful success. The Christian Recovery loop commenced meetings in the #ChristianRecovery channel ~ with scheduled meetings Thursday 4:00 PM led by Stacy, as well as regular prayer meetings.
December has seen a change in Meetings Trusted Servants ~ I would like to thank several of our outgoing Meeting Leaders ~ Kathleen, Cathy and Mike ~ thank you for your dedication to our meetings and your service ~ and welcome Severt, Lynne and Sylvia.
I would like to thank each and every Meeting Trusted Servant who give many hours each week to prepare for and lead online meetings in #Recovery, #SpanishRecovery and #ChristianRecovery ~ we have 40 scheduled meetings, 15 scheduled Recovery Talks as well as many adhoc meetings that happen when two or more people come together in the channel.
Happy New Year to you all!
Love in recovery
Unfortunately, during the first few meetings, we made what I consider the most serious mistake we could have made. We took the Twelve Steps of AA and tried to weaken them and water them down. We were afraid of any mention of God, so we took it out wherever we could. It was to be two years before we realized the gravity of our error and knew that the Steps were effective only as they had been originally conceived and written. - October 1966, pp. 6-7
Well, it is now 18 years since that cold midwinter night, and during the past six months I have had the opportunity to see for myself that the dream is fast becoming a reality....
...I discovered that although all of OA uses the same Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, our methods of interpretation and application, especially of the ''physical" aspects of the program, can be totally different from area to area, even from group to group. Some people proclaim that the entire OA program is a "must" and nothing is "suggested." Others have evolved an elaborate set of ceremonies and rituals to mark periods of abstinence, completion of certain assignments and the like. Still others are engaged in debate to prove that a certain eating plan is better or more effective than any other plan. I shared with my new friends the origins of some of their practices.
How well I remember when, and in what manner, the concept of "abstinence" first came into being. It was 1962, and the idea came from something I had heard at an AA meeting. I suggested that abstinence for us compulsive overeaters might mean three moderate meals a day with nothing in between.
Then, a year later, Irene B....insisted that we should eat no refined carbohydrates and no food with more than ten percent natural carbohydrate. What a ruckus ensued! Irene printed up her own food plan, called the "gold sheet." Later, as the paper colors changed, "gold sheet" became "green sheet." Eventually, when the printer ran out of green paper, we needed some plans in a hurry and told him to use his available gray paper. You guessed it: we called it "gray sheet."...
Everywhere I went, all across the country, today's OA members were eager to hear about the Fellowship's beginnings. Many were astonished to learn the origins of these so-called physical elements of our program. Some people told me that they had felt that these humbly conceived and offered do's and don'ts had come down to present-day OA as though graven on stone, sort of like the Ten Commandments. It seemed incredible to them that the arbitrary decisions made by those early overeaters could have such tremendous and long-term impact.
As in matters dealing with personal honesty, however, I believe that this new understanding of the human fallibility of our dedicated OA servants, past and present, can only encourage greater reliance on the Twelve-Step program of recovery and the Twelve Traditions. This is where the real strength of OA lies, and it is what unites and sustains us through disagreements and trials. - January 1978, pp. 2-4
The word "abstinence" means "staying away from." Thus, to be abstinent in OA means to stay away from compulsive overeating. How to do this? Since we must eat, the most logical method would be to eat only at mealtime: three moderate meals a day, more if health needs require them, and nothing in between....
Many members focused on...methods of eating as the end rather than a means to recovery. Abstinence took on a new meaning, a corruption of the original. Instead of implying "to stay away from," it came to suggest the eating plan itself.
...With this confusion, it's no wonder the word abstinence has caused such an uproar.
An eating plan is a way of structuring food intake; it's not abstinence. Abstinence in OA means simply to stay away from compulsive overeating....
Abstinence is an inside job. Each one of us knows what compulsive overeating is for ourselves. If we're honest, and honestly working the program, we intuitively know how much and when to eat to attain and maintain a normal-size body. In the long run, no one can make those choices for us.
Recovery also comes from within. For us it means, above all, a release from the terrible bondage of compulsive overeating. It's also an attitude change that comes as a result of surrendering to something greater than ourselves. Isn't that what we all yearn for: normal size, moderate eating, joyous living, peaceful acceptance of ourselves, our situations, the people in our lives? As it says in the Big Book, "The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it." - January 1987, pp. 4-6
It was 1979, the springtime of my Grand Adventure. I had been traveling across Europe...going to OA meetings...
Three days after my return home, I delivered a report on the state of OA abroad to the World Service Conference, describing the difficulties encountered by overseas groups. Then, on my small tape player, I played a poignant message from a member in Paris asking for help from America.
The effect on the Conference was electrifying. A delegate in the back of the hall jumped up and declared, "I move to establish a Conference International Committee with Rozanne as chairperson!" The delegates approved unanimously, and for the first time in the history of OA we had a Twelfth-Step structure devoted solely to the needs of members and groups outside the United States and Canada.
In 1982, following two years of earnest efforts to carry the message overseas, the Conference added a ninth region to the existing eight, this one to serve the Fellowship everywhere on Planet Earth outside the U.S. and Canada.
Not long after the formation of the new service entity, the first Region Nine overseas convention was announced for June 1983 in Tel Aviv, Israel. ...My dream of a worldwide OA Fellowship was coming true. Although I had visited groups in most of the fifty states and several other countries, this would be my first experience with a large OA gathering halfway across the globe.
The convention was a smash from beginning to end....
At the closing, all two hundred of us joined hands as the Serenity Prayer was recited in fifteen languages. - January 1984, pp. 4-5
OA cannot be all things to all people. Our first duty as a Fellowship is to ensure our own survival. One of the greatest protections OA has is the Fifth Tradition, which limits us to the specific goal of helping compulsive overeaters. We must avoid the temptation to venture into those realms staked out by eating disorders treatment centers. For their own purposes, many of these facilities lump together all eating disorders; it doesn't mean OA should do the same. It is our responsibility to resist pressures to take on objectives and activities that divert us from our single purpose.
To achieve freedom from compulsive overeating for ourselves and for those who still suffer, through practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an OA group. - January 1986, p. 5
Fame is as inflating to the ego as excess food is to the body. The welfare of Overeaters Anonymous, like that of AA, depends on the individual practice of anonymity. There can be no exceptions.
Why is anonymity so important? The quality of our recovery ultimately depends upon understanding what anonymity means, and how it enables us to change.
To be anonymous in OA means to be one among many, to accept ourselves as being no better or worse than our fellows. This acceptance places us in a state of humility. It makes us teachable.
As compulsive overeaters we spent much of our lives feeling different. Our egos swung from inflation to deflation. Sometimes we felt superior to others, insisting, "My way is the only way." Other times we felt inferior, afraid to take a stand for fear of rejection.
The sense of being "special" or better than others presents clear dangers for the compulsive overeater. Feeling superior is hurtful to us. Yet when faced with what appears to be the opposite, "nothing special," we run from that as well. We are understandably frightened of losing our identity, of becoming just another face in the crowd.
The confusion results from our common belief that we must be all or nothing, no middle ground will do. Yet it is this very middle ground that provides us with a dependable base for a lifetime of recovery from compulsive overeating.
Still you may ask, "What difference does it make if we appear on TV full face and discuss our OA membership, if we just use our first names? What harm could come from using our picture on the jacket of a book we've written describing our experiences as OA members if we've used an assumed name?"
In the current age, Twelve-Step programs are getting vast amounts of media attention. The tendency for some members is to break their anonymity and jump on the media bandwagon, eagerly carrying the "message of recovery" to a now-receptive audience.
But people who publicly identify themselves as OA members are quite naturally seen by the public as spokespersons for our program. And should they relapse, the public's impression of OA would come from their public failures rather than from the private successes in the Fellowship as a whole. For this reason, our guidelines are clear: if we call ourselves OA members in any public medium of communication - no faces, no last names.
As we learned from the early AAs, ego reduction at depth is necessary for recovery. We have come to see that we must submerge our egos and blend with the rest of humanity for our own sake as well as for the good of the group and the preservation of OA as a whole. To our surprise, quieting the ego relieves us of a great deal of pressure, enabling us to relax and live serenely one day at a time.
Continuing to grow in OA, we lose our desire for prestige. We take no credit for our recovery. Rather, we accept responsibility for our actions, looking only at our own faults, taking no one's inventory but our own. As OA enters its fourth decade, members are becoming increasingly aware of our program's spiritual foundation. Anonymity as a spiritual principle is of tremendous value in maintaining abstinence. It fosters humility and thus guards against reemergence of that blind self-will that leads to the compulsion to overeat. This kind of anonymity, our hidden strength, is truly our most precious possession. - January 1990, pp. 4-5
Most important of all, before rushing into each new day, let's center ourselves with the Higher Power of our choice. According to the Third Step, we make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God as we understand God. What a relief! Now we can relax and enjoy life.
In the end, that attitude is what this program is all about. During my initial recovery 31 years ago, two later relapses, and my current recovery in OA, I learned that life doesn't have to be full of tears. I don't have to be a victim of my past. I can take responsibility for my present and approach my future with anticipation and excitement.
...Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Let's take that trip together. The "Road of Happy Destiny" mentioned in the "Big Book" can be trudged, but it can also be walked, skipped and run.
How do you want to live the rest of your life? The choice is yours. - January 1991, pp. 3-4
As we celebrate the magic of our own silver jubilee, I think back to our first little meeting on January 19, 1960. I had rewritten the Twelve Steps, we barred men from the meeting and we had never been to an AA meeting. Yet none of that seemed to make any difference. The time was right, the need was there, and OA took off as if it had a power of its own.
Twenty-five years later...many have come and gone, many left only to return years later and still others have stayed to savor the joy of working the Steps and practicing the principles.
If I could bring time back, would I do it all over again? You bet I would! Where else could I find love, hope and understanding with sisters and brothers all around the world? I have been privileged to watch the birth and development of a truly lifesaving force in this troubled world. It's a gift from our Higher Power to you and me. - January 1985, p. 5
It is up to us to reinvigorate Overeaters Anonymous. Wringing our hands won't help at all. Bingeing because you're afraid OA might disappear doesn't solve anything. Fighting only aggravates the situation. Now is the time for each of us to reach inside our hearts and souls, to stop and ask God for guidance. Give up trying to control everything and everyone. Compromise. Submerge your ego for the good of the group. Let's find new and creative solutions to our Fellowship's problems. The words I said after our first Conference in August 1962 were never more prophetic than they are now....
"We have a long way to go in OA. We have many wonderful precepts of other Fellowships to look back on to help us and to guide us. If we as groups and individuals keep in mind always that there are hundreds of thousands of people around us who are drowning in a well of despair and fright and who don't know where to turn, if we can reach out our hands to help these people, if we can share what we have learned, if we can apply it to all areas of our lives, we will have indeed performed the task for which we have been placed on this earth. There are others waiting to hear the answer. There are many of us here who have applied this program, each in his or her own individual way. Many interpretations, but one common solution. For us, and for all those who are still suffering, may God help us -and them - as we try to help ourselves together." - January 1999, p. 4
As we join hands at the end of each OA meeting, let's cherish our togetherness. In an increasingly volatile world, we are truly the lucky ones. - January 1988, p. 3
At one time I led 10 meetings a week. Some were joking that I was going to need Leaders Anonymous. I only lead 4 meetings a week now. But it was a time in my life that I needed something to do. To not think about what I was facing at home. But what it did for me was help me face what was happening at home. I always work hard on a meeting to bring something to that meeting that will help others. But what has happened is that it has probably helped me more than anybody. For one thing, I had to stay in the literature to lead meetings. Then I was at all those meetings and hearing all those wonderful shares. People struggling like me. People working the steps. People talking about recovery. It all brought about my recovery. I have been abstinent for over a year now and have lost some weight, but most of all I am at peace with myself and others. Sometimes we laugh at the meetings, sometimes we cry, sometimes we are encouraged. But all of that is part of recovery. Last night at a meeting we were talking about the Tools. One lady said I had taught her about love. And I cried. I was so unlovable when I came into these meetings, and now someone tells me I taught her about love. That made me realize that you just don't know what you say and how it will effect someone else. These online meetings have saved my life without a doubt. To be able to go to a meeting just about anytime of the day is wonderful. Now I go to my meetings in town, and do some service with them. I know I need that personal touch with others. But there are many that can't go to meeting because there are none in town or they are not physically able to go. So our wonderful Founder one day had an idea. I think it began small. Now it reaches thousands of people a day. I am grateful I have some small part in that.
Love in recovery,
I'm Cindy, coe. Our Spanish loop is now almost a year old. Our first birthday will be on February 24, and we are going strong. We have had two meetings a week now for over a month, and are thinking of adding a third informal chat session. Some of our members are becoming sponsors for other members, and a group of us are working the steps together in our email loop. We have 46 members now, and have recently added our webpage to a dozen Spanish search engines from Spain to Argentina, so we hope that this will help our membership grow.
Our online meetings are at 10:30am EST on Saturdays and 11:30am EST on Sundays in our new Sanish-language room, #SpanishRecovery. Feel free to join us any time, even if you don't speak much Spanish. We don't mind lurkers, and I can translate for you if you want to share and can only do it in English. More and more of our Spanish members are finding their way into the English Recovery meetings, and you never mind us visiting you, so we certainly won't mind you visiting us. I'm always amazed at how many of you speak a little Spanish, and many of us speak a "little English," or at least understand it.
Soy Cindy, comedora compulsiva. Nuestra lista de email en español va a cumplir un año el 24 de febrero, y todo anda muy bien. Ahora tenemos dos reuniones a la semana por Internet, y pensamos en añadir una tercera sesión de platica informal. Ya algunos miembros están apadrinando a otros miembros por Internet, y algunos entre nosotros estamos trabajando los pasos juntos en la lista de email. Tenemos 46 miembros ahora, y acabamos de añadir nuestro sitio web a una docena de motores buscadores de todos los países hispanos, así que esperamos que pronto nos aumentemos.
Tenemos reuniones por Internet los sábados y los domingos en nuestro nuevo canal de habla hispana, #SpanishRecovery. Las horas para las reuniones son:
7:30 AM Oeste de las EEUU
8:30 AM Oeste de las EEUU
Para más información, escríbeme por email a la dirección email@example.com. Espero ver a muchos en la lista y en las reuniones. ¡Necesitamos el apoyo y la experiencia de todos en esta lucha con nuestra enfermedad!
Con cariño en la recuperación,
Denial has kept me from seeing how
I need to learn and remember that
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