2011: a design for living

Our 2011 theme was inspired from a paragraph on page 28 in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, from the chapter “There Is A Solution”:

“We in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works.”

what is this “design for living?”

Here are some comments from A.A. publications…

“Step by step, through the Twelve Steps of AA, I began to learn how to live (a design for living), as I had not learned when I was supposedly growing up.”

From “The Person I Was Meant to Be” by J.D., Cincinnati, Ohio. The A.A. Grapevine, June 1982.

“The A.A. program is a design for living normal, happy lives, and it is necessary that we practice the principles of tolerance, patience, unselfishness, humility, and that we curb our all too human desire to criticize and bear resentment.”

From an Editorial in The A.A. Grapevine, October 1945.

“I try each day to raise my heart and hands in thanks to God for showing me a ‘design for living’ that really works through our beautiful Fellowship. But what, exactly, is this ‘design for living’ that ‘really works’? For me, it is the practice of the Twelve Steps to the best of my ability, the continued awareness of a God who loves me unconditionally, and the hope that, in each new day, there is a purpose for my being. I am truly, truly blessed in the Fellowship.”

From Daily Reflections, August 7th, p. 228.

Nanaimo AA rally fills the house, inspiring hundreds

Reprinted from the January-February 2011 issue of Pass It On, the newsletter of the Mid-Island Intergroup Society.
The tables were set and final preparations underway moments before hundreds of A.A. members arrived for the annual Nanaimo A.A. Rally dinner and speaker on Saturday evening.

Nanaimo’s 43rd annual AA rally, held over the January 28-30 weekend, was an inspiring and uplifting event for hundreds of AA members from the Island and beyond.

Nearly thirty meetings (including speaker meetings) were held throughout the weekend, many of them hosted by local AA groups. Al-Anon participated again this year along with Alateen. Rebecca V from Victoria, a member of Alateen, was one of the opening night speakers Friday evening.

Almost 500 people purchased registrations for the rally and 325 of those attended the Saturday evening dinner as well. The diners were joined after the meal by another 100 people to hear the evening speaker, Deb H from Yucca Valley, California.

The event’s sobriety countdown, held shortly after the Saturday evening dinner, recorded 1,001,134 days of sobriety in the auditorium. Mike, with 46 years, presented Krys, with 26 days, a Big Book filled with comments and signatures from those attending the weekend meetings.

rally theme was about the AA way of life…the ‘design for living’ described in the Big Book

The theme for Nanaimo’s 43rd annual rally was inspired by a paragraph in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, from the chapter “There Is A Solution”:

Left: The rally banner was inspired by the colourful first dust jacket used to cover the Big Book. Right: A picture taken outside the “B.C. Penitentiary” recording the visit of Bill W (fourth from left) to the province in 1953 was among many interesting items displayed by the B.C. Yukon Area 79 archives.

“We in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works.”

There are a range of ways to describe our design for living. Swaben, one of the nine old-timers who spoke at the Celebrating Long-Term Sobriety meeting, said “I hand it over to my Higher Power…practice the 12 steps and 12 traditions…and take some action. I keep it simple.”

Keith said, “Get a sponsor, go to meetings, and read the Big Book…it is a design for living.”

Deb H, the keynote speaker on Saturday evening, shared her experience of coming into AA at age 15 in a town of 5,000 people. She drank for the first time at 9 years of age and went on to “drink the clock around” through school days and nights. She described her early sobriety and growth in the program and said, “I’m the product of group sponsorship.”

For Deb, deeper exploration of her spirituality became a major part of her design for living. “God continued to knock… ‘I want a deeper relationship with you’.” She emphasized the importance of Step Eleven.

The Sunday spiritual speaker, Maureen M from Duncan, described how she “was a huge taker” during her drinking career. In recovery, in her design for living, Maureen declared, “We’ve got to give it away in order to keep it!”

And those who have had the experience of looking back over many years of sobriety—the long-timers—were able to sum up what they had received from our design for living. “I’ve found that freedom that they promised me when I first came around,” Doug said. “It’s been a fabulous life,” Mike said, “But it’s not always been easy.

Simple, not easy. But the ‘design for living’ really works. “Something changed for me in that [AA meeting] room,” Ken said, “It changed my life.”