April 22, 2013

Setbacks Happen, Even When Leading a Meeting

I've stressed my right arm this past week. My arm tried  to get my full attention Sunday last. It made me suspect I might not want to "soldier on" in making a Skype meeting happen. It actually moved me to ask for help in conducting the meeting.  

Anyway. I wanted to be able bodied AND as competent as the usual meeting host of this Sunday Skype group.  Oh, and function like an adroit extrovert as well. Yeah, right. 

However, in doing my best to set up the meeting (by inviting everyone who had their green light on), I overworked my trapezius and arm muscles, so that I had nothing more to give of myself physically to the meeting. 

My ace in the hole, was that I would get help in leading the meeting. Knowing that, helped me soldier on and show up to host the meeting.

I was relying on that special someone who knows how to lead a meeting matter-of-factly. Only, we didn't get that person called in, because another eager person took the helm, and it was 20 minutes into the conversation before I realized I'd needed to question my assumptions about that.

And,  I'd discovered I had downloaded the documents into the wrong Skype conversation and would have to redo this task, while leading the meeting (because no one was willing to volunteer and speak us through the preamble)!  Multi-tasking in cyberspace, is not conducive for me to keep my cool, especially when my body is saying, "I can't do this, without a set back."

Meanwhile no one was able to volunteer to do the things my arm was telling me I ought not to be doing. 

Well, in my need to serve, I misused my right arm, in a pique of emotional frustration, at a time when my body was most taxed by the high pollen counts of our Southeast temperate forests. Dunno about you all, but when I get frustrated, I tend to get tight in my arm and shoulders just out of habit. So there it was. Perfect storm.  Only good thing, was I think I spared letting my frustrations out on anyone. In the end, I was able to laugh at myself. 

But I could not laugh at my setback.  

Oddly enough, I am a person who often wings meetings, because I have done them face-to-face often enough. It was my slavish devotion to following established rules set by this group, that kept me from simply pulling out my guidelines from my face-to-face meeting in order to lead. It is not THAT big of deal to vary the meeting preamble, yet in this case, I felt like I would be a failure and incompetent if I colored outside the established lines!

My body's response is sure is a reality check for that kind of thinking. Wow.

The call to be myself,  lies hidden in just such kinds of pain and setbacks.

I realize, I needed to check in with my Higher Power, in order to serve the EA community in a way that was respectful of my limitations.  I did not need to  try to be super-competent in the same way as the meeting's usual fearless leader.  I suspect I needed to return to the God-ground beneath my feet; the notes I had at hand from my own meeting, that I had created from a group conscience in my previous face-to-face meeting. 

Parsons reminds me that my very being "grows out of God, and [my] best work will never be mine alone. When I try to work alone, a blessed setback comes along to remind [me]  to look again for the real place from which my [service] flows."  

It really is OK to fail and not be like our program founders. We do not have to be McDonald's, consistent and always the same, We can improvise, even in program. Sometimes it gives permission to others to try out something new themselves.

I know guidelines are always subject to change. 

Common sense can be my first priority, and remind me it is OK to use my own unique common sense. Truths of the program are so universal, that I think I can trust myself by now, to put them in my own words.

When I could not get my arm around cutting and pasting the Step Four readings for that month, I could have (just for that day) had a meeting guided by a hard copy of one of our pieces of literature. 

A worse-case scenerio is that a meeting leader tells the group what meeting it is, that it meets for an hour and that we follow the Twelve Steps and Traditions. It can be fine to read just the Steps and Traditions and explain that our group allows each person to speak without comment, and that we avoid cross talk so each person has a chance to share without anyone giving advice or getting distracted from their own issues. 

We can each wing a meeting, if necessary, so that it actually happens!  I'd rather have a meeting be authentic, with a person adapting what they know, than having a leader communicate that  leading meeting requires suffering.... 

I had my priorities skewed, through no one's fault but my own. The paradox, is that I learned something: it is OK for me to be authentic and trust my own voice to carry the meeting.


Powerless sometimes over my lack of perspective.  Where is Humor Power when I need it?
With Humor Power, I am at my most willing... to depend on God, and admit my limitations.

In the love, trust and autonomy of my own person,


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post and timely for me to read because of a similar situation happening in a face to face meeting this week. The chair wasn't well prepared and rambled on about an outside issue (not alcoholism) relative to one of her daughters. A long time Al-Anon friend had a lot of difficulty with how the meeting was going and chose not to share or hug anyone afterwards as she usually does. Sometimes meetings just don't go well. It isn't the end of the world. I realize that just being human and having those defects that we have can sabotage things if we let it.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~