Thursday, August 21, 2014

Give it away...give it away now

 A little Red Hot Chili Peppers reference for you!!

So, if you're in a recovery program of any kind you are familiar with the phrase

"You've got to give it away to keep it".
Which means, once you've been given the gift of recovery, you need to share your
experience, strength, and hope with others that are in need.
Not just out of a moral obligation, but also it's how you continue to be in recovery.
Just like a true "Diet" is a lifestyle change, not just eating differently for 30 days to lose
a few pounds and then back to the binge, so is the recovery process.
It is a spiritual awakening, a psychic change that continues onward and upward.
You don't just get clean and then go home and say thanks, you have to keep going
and working and stay on the path that becomes more narrow with each new turn.
That is just the way it is.

Service work is something we can all relate to, recovery based or not.

When we help our communities by giving of our time and our service,
we are not only helping the community at hand, we are truly helping ourselves.
No one can deny the great feeling of humility and gratitude we receive when
helping others.  It is almost a selfish endeavor. It feels good inside and out.
It almost always helps us more than it helps the recipients.
We walk away feeling thankful and humble, we appreciate what we have and where
we are in our lives today.
So why don't we do it more?  Why do we not take part in this pleasure more often?
Just like most things spiritual, I put them off until they are really needed.
I know praying and meditating feels good and is so good for me and my peace of mind,
yet I don't do it as often as I should and a lot of times wait until I have some drama
and then I hit my knees begging for help.
Had I been "Prayed Up", this drama might not hurt at all........truly humorous.

In recovery, service work is a must. Working with others is necessary.

We have to give back, again not under obligation, but because our lives depend on it.
Mostly out of true selfishness, I need to work with others to be reminded of who I am.
When I hear the horror stories of those just coming off the streets, it reminds me of the horror
story of my life when I got here.  I was not doing good at all, life sucked and it hurt real bad.
But 10 and a half years later, my life is pretty awesome. I have everything I ever dreamed of and I
am so far from the drugs and the alcohol, it's easy to forget the bad times.
But the bad times got me here. The shit life I was leading of pain and suffering is the direct
result that got me in recovery. Being an addict is the reason I have a successful life today.
I know that is hard to comprehend, but if I was not an addict, I would have never worked those
beautiful steps and received the greatest gift of all, awareness.
With that awareness, I have been able to seek my dreams and have them come true before my very eyes.  That awareness of a spiritual world, applying spiritual principles, has helped me to achieve
everything I have today. I am thankful for being an addict and an alcoholic.
But I can lose it all if I allow my obsessive, compulsive, self-centered, egotistical mind to
take over yet again. It happens all the time. I am not immune.
I must be reminded that all I have is a daily reprieve, just for today.
One day at a time, one step at a time......
I have the disease of addiction and it centers in my mind.
So as much as I would like a big pat on the back for helping others and doing service work,
it's not necessary. I am truly helping myself.
I'd love to think that I am saving lives when I work with others, but the only life I am really
saving is my own.
And if you read this blog and think "Wow, Mike Zito is a great guy who writes this blog to help
others!"  Thats just really not true :)
I write this blog to help myself. I need to hear what I am saying the most.
It's like repeating lines to a movie I am - I am memorizing my lines for life.

I need to be constantly reminded on a daily basis who I am and whats wrong with me.

If I stopped reading my literature, going to my meetings and working with others,
I would soon forget who I am and my crazy mind would start to tell me that maybe
it's ok to start doing the things I used to do.
So, day in and day out I do the work and walk the walk, thats who I am and thats what I do.
Like it or not, I am addict.

Like my sponsor always says - "Thats just the way it is, so suck it up."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



I learned this definition of this word from reading a simple jazz guitar book years ago.....  "Approach".
It mentioned to consider your approach when getting ready to take your guitar solo.

Thats all it said, but it stuck with me.  It has been something I have really tried to implement
into my musical life but as most things with music, so it is with life.
I look at any situation and consider the best approach, or at least I try.
If my wife or band mate or child is struggling with something and they are making a fuss
about it, I want to rush in and tell them they are wrong for feeling that way,
they need to look at it like this and they should get over it.
I may even be correct in my assumption, but the approach is SO wrong.
What I am actually saying to the other person is that they shouldn't be allowed to be a human being.
They should be super-human.
Everyone should be allowed to be frustrated, upset, crabby, etc.
I also don't have to get involved at all, I can just stay out of it and continue on my merry way.
That is usually the best approach.

Rather than telling my wife she is wrong for feeling that way,
I don't say anything and I listen to her. When she's done talking and looks at me
my first words are "You have every right to feel that way." or "I would feel the same way."
This will allow her to feel that I am on her team, I feel for her.
If she asks me what I would do.....then I might offer her my thoughts, but only then.
Obviously, this works on every human I come in contact with.

I have found that the best approach always is to consider the other person I am dealing with
and how I might feel if I were in their shoes.
When I talk to my band mates, I try and get their perspective on things, instead of just telling
them this is how it's gonna go down.  It might still go down the way I intended, but by
including them in the process, they feel "a part" and not "apart".
They are much more likely to believe in me and my idea when I include them.
The same goes for any situation where I am leading or trying to get a particular result.

Musically, approach is everything.  If I just barge into the musical situation, loud and proud
and inconsiderate, I am not really making music.
First of all, there is a song. The song has qualities and a certain feel and dynamic.
I need to listen to the song and try and interpret these qualities the best I can.
Do I need to play hard? soft? distorted? clean? loud? quiet? - less notes, more notes.....etc.
What are the other musicians playing? Maybe I should try and coordinate with them.
This is just the beginning.  Then their are very musical elements, like melody, harmony, rhythm.
All require the correct approach if I am going to rise to the occasion.

Spirituality has everything to do with my approach to anything in life.
I read the book "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie years ago.
It is a very simple book on approach.  A "How to" on being a leader and getting people
to join you in your endeavors.  Many people would think by the title or the content that this
is a book on manipulation, but it is actually a very spiritual book.
In the book Carnegie states many times that if your purpose is whats best for the whole
and you include people in the process, you are being a true leader.
Approach is a spiritual principle.
When we take time to consider the others around us and how they might feel, I am being spiritual.
Rather than rushing in to push everyone around, I walk in slowly and ask everyone what they
are considering, then offer my idea with them in mind. I am also open minded to the fact that maybe
someone else might have a better idea than mine.  My ideas are not the only ideas and not always the best ideas.  That is humility.

Just like I try and consider my approach when I play guitar or sing to make the best music
possible, I try and consider my approach to every relationship and social interaction I have as well.
In the end, I am looking for the path of least resistance. I want harmony and content.
I have found that in life and music, it is better to be flexible and understanding, than to be stiff and unsympathetic.