2nd Quarter 2017 – Vol. 2
OA Holiday Marathons
8:00 am EST (-4:00 GMT) until midnight
Phone Bridge 712-432-5200; Pin 4285115#
April 10: Passover Begins Releasing the Chains of Addiction
April 16: Easter-Rebirth in Recovery
April 18: Passover Ends-Free to Be Me
May 14: Mother’s Day-Thanking God for the Gift of Life
May 26: Ramadan Begins-Remaining Steadfast in Our Faith
May 29: Memorial Day-Respecting the Courage & Commitment of Our Freedom
June 18: Father’s Day-Remembering Fathers Everywhere
July 4: Independence Day, Freedom is A State of Mind
THE OA RESPONSIBILITY PLEDGE:
“ALWAYS TO EXTEND THE HAND AND HEART OF OA
TO ALL THOSE WHO SHARE MY COMPULSION;
FOR THIS, I AM RESPONSIBLE.”
Virtual Services Website
Overeaters Anonymous Website
My Service as a VST…
When I first came into Overeaters Anonymous, I had no idea or desire to do service. I wanted the magic diet and planned to skedaddle as soon as possible. But putting down the food, picking up the steps and finding a Higher Power changed me. I began to see service as a way to channel the energy and enthusiasm for carrying the message OA taught me, a way to repay the service others gave me, and a necessity to staying abstinent.
My recent service as the Virtual Services Trustee (VST) has taught me:
- about balance between service to others and self-care,
- about the importance of what is good for OA as a whole instead of what I prefer personally,
- about accepting help and direction and not taking it as criticism,
- about just how much there is to know and how little I do know,
- about grounding my ideas in OA literature and guidelines and not flying by the seat of my pants,
- about the importance of the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of OA service to the wellbeing of OA,
- about the importance of rotation of service to keep OA fresh, vibrant and responsive to the needs of its members,
- and most importantly about the value of diversity and listening with an open mind and heart to all points of view; especially when they are different than my own.
This service has shown me the love virtual meeting members have for Overeaters Anonymous and their passion for carrying the message. I have been amazed by the level of service virtual members give to their home meetings and their willingness to help each other. The virtual Fellowship is the real deal. Members on phone meetings, WhatsApp meetings, online meetings, and loop meetings get to know and support one another just the same as in face-to-face meetings. It is a privilege to have gotten to know many of these pioneers.
Working with the other 16 Trustees has helped me grow emotionally and spiritually and built many friendships that will last a lifetime. Their love, support and dedication to what is best for OA as a whole has helped me grow into a person I like.
One of my absolute favorite things about attending Board of Trustee meetings is being part of the daily early morning OA meetings. Just imagine being in an OA meeting where all the members are abstinent and many have decades of recovery and wisdom to share… awesome!
Many thanks to you all for allowing me to serve as your Virtual Services Trustee for five years; I hope to see many of you as I continue on my recovery path discovering what my Higher Power has planned for the next phase of my life.
In service to OA,
Stephanie D., VST
The Tool That Keeps Me Coming Back
Service is one of the OA tools, but it is also the backbone of our program. If nobody did any service, we wouldn’t have any meetings, any literature, any conventions or other events. Simply put, our program is run on a lot of volunteer labor of various types and most of our income is from donations. If you make outreach phone calls you are doing service. If you set up chairs at a face to face meeting, you are doing service. Whether or not you have a formal title, anything you do to help other OA people is service. I love doing service because it reinforces my connection to the program and helps me feel that I am a part of it. This is especially true in the virtual world where I may not see other people in person.
Defining service positions at a face to face meeting is easy. You have meeting leader, treasurer, secretary, literature person, designated downloader, intergroup rep, maybe a speaker bookie. Some meetings invite a guest speaker and have that person lead the meeting. At some locations, you may need a person to keep the key to the building or the room where you meet.
In the virtual world of phone meetings, the service positions are a bit different. You will have a group secretary (somebody to contact WSO with updates), a moderator, a speaker bookie or leader-getter. Some have a webmaster or a phone list keeper. You will notice I didn’t list treasurer. Most phone meetings don’t have a treasurer because they don’t need one. In the early days of phone meetings, the phone conference service wasn’t free. Instead, someone on the meeting would pay the phone service a certain amount per month to reserve and access the phone meeting line, this was usually done by charging a credit card. The meeting treasurer would then request reimbursement from the meeting by way of a few lines in the meeting format reminding people to mail in 7th tradition donations. If there was extra beyond that cost, it could go as a donation to World Service. I was a phone meeting treasurer at one point and it was not an easy job! Since the contributions came by mail there was always a question if we would have enough each month.
Today, there is another use for credit cards (or debit cards) on phone meetings and it is called ARC, automatic recurring contributions. Since phone meetings don’t collect 7th tradition the way a face to face meeting does by passing a basket, it is up to each of us as individuals to contribute on behalf of our meetings. It is a form of service that anyone can do and by doing it automatically on a recurring basis (monthly is typical), we save ourselves a stamp and remembering to write a check for something we don’t get a bill for. It is also a wonderful way to give back to the program that supports our recovery. If you go online to www.oa.org and look under contributions, you will find the link for ARC. You can choose the amount you want to give (just as you would by putting cash in a basket) and the date you want it to start, there is a dropdown to choose the 1st or 15th of the month, fill out the form, and you are all set. If you need to change the amount, the date, or the card you are using, you can do that too. Try it and you will find that it is an easy way to do service and support the OA program.
Jean B., Mass Bay Intergroup, USA and several phone meetings
About Virtual Meetings in Brazil
Virtual meetings in Brazil began in 2005 with online meetings without voices. In the beginning we had only two meetings each week and in that room only 20 people could attend, the 21st needed to be outside the meeting waiting for someone to exit or have the connection broken.
I arrived in these online meetings in 2010 and this was our reality, many times I was outside the room waiting for the opportunity to attend these meetings. That year was the beginning of using a different program that people could listen to each other’s voices and share the microphone! Wow! And everyone could join our meetings, and we began to have our voice meetings on the internet! We could listen when someone was crying in front of that virtual room.
In this moment I arrived in OA, and when I made my first share was a dream and I cried with emotion. Many feelings and gratitude was in my tears.
After some months I was giving service in our online committee in Brazil when we realized that was the moment to have only meetings in a voice chat where everyone could attend the meetings, and we could do our 12th Step the best we could.
Other online groups began and nowadays we have 22 meetings in this voice chat all week in the morning, afternoon and night! All people who need virtual meetings can attend using this program that is very popular here in Brazil.
Our meetings happen for one to 1:30 hours. This is the place where are my home meetings. I can know people and their feelings by listening to their shares. In these meetings I can share my miracle that happened in a night of 2010 when I became abstinent in a virtual meeting. Many times in these meetings I hear a share that saves my day, because I am powerless and I need these meetings, where I don’t look into people’s eyes, but I can feel their soul and hearts. I feel that when we pray we are giving hands and with gratitude I remember: I don’t need to be alone.
2017 World Service Business Conference
Above is the logo for the 2017 World Service Business Conference, which embodies the theme “Growing OA Unity Worldwide.” Conference workshops and other events will “plant seeds” by inspiring Conference delegates to use strategies and tools to grow OA unity and take these learnings back to their home service bodies.
The third set of Conference e-documents, including completed applications from eligible trustee nominees, agenda questionnaire results, and OA literature manuscripts up for vote, was posted to the WSBC Web page on Friday, March 17.
The Tool of the Telephone
“My musing was interrupted by the telephone. The cheery voice of an old school friend asked if he might come over. He was sober.”
—Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill’s Story, page 8
This is the first mention of using the Tool of the Telephone in the big book, and there are others later in the book. While AA does not have official tools like us, they certainly used them! A man newly sober used the phone to call Bill W. and he carried the message of recovery to him. Bill is remembered as the first AA member, but really, Ebie carried the message to him, creating the theory that one alcoholic helping another is the keystone of our recovery!
I always welcome the opportunity to share how using the phone is instrumental to my recovery. I love talking to other OA members, especially my sponsor and sponsees, and cannot say how much that helps me to stay abstinent. I can be rather isolated when we get on the road, and depend on the phone to stay in touch with other compulsive eaters like myself. And it is way more versatile today, with the added features of phone meetings and texting.
Just yesterday I talked to five people and texted with ten. Actually that was a light day! I love having the ability to connect like that. My first sponsor told me to call three people a day and to also call her and report my food. I still do that! Well, I actually text my sponsor every day with my tenth step, use a phone app to track my food which my sponsor has access to, and I love taking sponsees through the steps on the phone. One is just starting, is in the midst of Step Two. Another is beginning to study the Traditions.
I share this because working with sponsees on the phone with their steps and traditions helps me too! I am cemented in my recovery when I share with another compulsive eater. The phone broke the awful isolation that permeated my life. At first it was awkward, but eventually it became second nature to me and I love using that tool.
I also do a weekly conference call with my sponsees and a few OA friends. We took a year or so to go all the way through the Steps and I thought the Traditions would be a quick study, but we actually spent over a year with them; nearly fourteen months. They really help us to see our part in any group. Most think they’re for the business of OA and that would be right, but when applied to any group we’re in (family, marriage, job, community, etc.), it becomes easier.
I often think that recovery is getting newcomers to take action that they think won’t work. One girl I sponsor is having a rough time, and shies away from talking on the phone. I never would have believed that talking to someone on the phone would be the thing that catapulted me into that fourth dimension of existence. Calling someone else when I’m hurting not only helps me, but oftentimes it also helps them too. I can tell someone this, but it must be experienced in order to understand. I am always helped when I get a call and just listen, offer suggestions, or share my own experience. This is a wonderful gift I’m giving myself!
Love, Gerri H.
Pick up the phone instead of the fork
The Tradition Waltz
Traditions 1, 2 and 3 are essential to the survival of OA as a whole, of the meetings and for personal recovery in OA.
Tradition 1: Unity. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on OA Unity. I was shocked at first that my personal recovery depends on OA unity. Now it makes perfect sense. If OA is not unified in its focus on our primary purpose of recovery from the devastating disease of compulsive eating, then how can individual members recover? If OA isn’t there, I won’t remain in recovery on my own. I need the fellowship. I need meetings. I need support of my sponsors and HP. Yes there are many ways of working the program, and our membership is diverse in culture, sexual orientation, manifestations of the disease, age, etc. There is room for all of us. One shoe doesn’t fit all except that we have a common solution, The 12 Steps of OA. It is great that we have structured and flexible ways of working the program. Let’s embrace each other and not make other ways wrong. We need each other. Let’s practice the principle of Unity; unity not conformity, not uniformity.
This is especially true for Virtual meetings; a wonderful resource for recovery. If the meetings focus on the solution, everyone wins.
For my marriage to last I need to work on my own recovery in order to be present for the relationship. And we need mutual support. We don’t have to agree on everything but do need to respect each other and the marriage.
Tradition 2: Trust. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants.
No one member is in charge and dictates to the rest of us. We all have a say and need to contribute by being of service. This is true of virtual meetings as well as face to face. There are service positions to be filled. If we are unhappy with something about the meeting we can express our concerns at a group conscience meeting. If the decision doesn’t go our way we have choices but first and foremost is acceptance. I remember being very upset with a decision my intergroup made. I thought it was wrong and not serving the newcomer. It turns out the decision was a good one for everyone. This experience has served me well as I participated in committees and boards at all levels. I can do the footwork and leave the results to our higher power as expressed in our group conscience. This applies to decisions in my marriage as well: We discuss things, make decisions, and I have learned to trust his intuition as well as mine! Thank you is helpful. He thanked me for taking care of computer problems while he played golf! When’s the last time you thanked someone doing service for your virtual meeting or service board?
Tradition 3: Identity. The only requirement for OA memberships is a desire to stop eating compulsively—my favorite tradition. I have the desire to stop eating compulsively but that doesn’t say I have to have stopped! No matter how I am, or am not, working the program I am welcome, whether or NOT I am abstinent, at a healthy weight, in despair, on time, have recovery to share, working the steps, upholding the traditions, using the tools, or doing service and keeping my commitments. I need to accept others as members under the same conditions! How important do you think this tradition is to Virtual Meetings?
Continued on page 7…
On a personal note, I apply this tradition to my marriage by defining the only requirement as a desire to stay in the marriage. We identify as a couple and look for common ground. Before OA I ate over every conflict. Since I worked the steps our life together is much easier. I make amends for mistakes instead of eating over them. My expectations of my husband have become much more reasonable.
I called this article a waltz because these three traditions (unity, trust and identity) are essential to the health of meetings, service boards, and personal relationships. Enjoy the dance!
Meg H., California, USA
Taking Action from a Virtual Perspective: Steps Four, Five, and Six
When we do the first 3 steps, we are dealing with beliefs, not actions. Step 4 is a very different matter. Taking a moral inventory of ourselves means we have to write stuff down. Whether we answer the questions in the OA 12 &12 or use the Big Book, or find some other method, taking a hard look at ourselves is not easy to do. We are told if we do this it will help us to recover, but for some, listing all of those faults, fears, and fantasies is depressing. Getting a hug from a program friend can help, but what if all of your friends are online or on the phone? Hopefully your program friends will tell you, like mine told me, that lots of people have written a 4th step and survived the process. By writing things down we are getting them out of our own heads and they are not so fearsome on paper or screen. So what do we do when we’ve finished writing it all down?
We go on to step 5. First it mentions giving it to God which we can do by prayer on our own time and method of our choice, then reread it to ourselves to make sure we understand our part in our problems. Then we have to give it away to another person. The other person can be a sponsor, another experienced program person, or someone not in the program like a religious or therapeutic counselor. The sooner we do this, the better. Is it easier to do step 5 in person or over the phone? I have tried it both ways at different times and it is hard to do. In person, talking about potentially embarrassing issues face to face with another person can be emotional for us and we don’t know if the person will think less of us. Over the phone, we can’t see the other person so we can’t tell what they are thinking (as addicts we naturally think of ourselves). Either way we do it, we get it done and over with, and feel lighter afterwards.
Step 6, ready to have God remove all these defects of character. All of them? Now? Our inventory showed us were we wrong and we could see ourselves making the same mistakes over and over again in anger or fear or frustration. If we remove those problems, what is left? Ideally, it is the core of a good person. But our habits, good and bad, are wired deeply into our systems and sometimes we just go on automatic pilot and they pop up again. So did God miss something or did we? Maybe we let something hang on because it was familiar or felt good to us. We are not perfect, not now, not ever. As members of virtual meetings, we can talk to others about our progress, we can try to do better, we can help others along the way, but we don’t hold the defect eraser, our Higher Power does. And for that, we need to go to step 7. It is possible to work the steps virtually because the program works if you work it.
Facebook 101: Like, It’s Totally Awesome
As you may have heard, Delegates at WSBC 2016 voted to amend OA’s Statement on Public Media, opening the door for the Fellowship’s participation and presence on social media. In August 2016, Overeaters Anonymous Young Peoples’ Committee is among the first of the 12-step fellowships in the world to have Facebook pages. Why Facebook? First, we need to combat existing false information, and secondly because we are called to carry the message. This is an exciting time. So…like, what does this mean?
Like. It’s a word that’s been overused for quite some time now—from the Valley Girl abuse of the word, to what ‘like’ means in the realm of social media. First and foremost, membership in Overeaters Anonymous is neither assumed nor implied by liking a page, but it does show an appreciation for the qualities and characteristics of the organization. For instance, I can like the American Cancer Society page, but I’ve never had cancer. Depending on personal privacy settings, people may be able to see the things you have liked, but if someone were to inquire about OA, you might say, “I have a friend who’s been helped” or after consulting your HP, you might even decide to share your story and carry the message. This is a good thing.
Feed. Your ‘feed’ is what you see when you log onto Facebook. The people, places and things you have liked and interacted with in your Facebook journey determine what you see on your feed, but others do not see this. Your feed is all your own, created by algorithms and other computer program-y stuff. If you like a page, when the page posts new information, it will show up in your feed. Again, others do not see this—unless they are looking over your shoulder.
Timeline. Your ‘timeline’ is a completely different thing. It is what people see when they click on your name in Facebook land; showing the things you have posted and shared, as well as the things others have shared with you. As with any conversation, it is your decision as to what you choose to say, meaning how you guard your anonymity and share your recovery is your choice. And again, what the viewer sees is completely determined by your privacy settings.
Anonymity. Overeaters Anonymous, the organization, is not anonymous, but its members are. Overeaters Anonymous is not a secret and neither is our message. This is the place where there seems to be the most fear, but just as in face-to-face conversations, each person protects their anonymity in the ways they feel are best. Let us not forget that fear is a character defect, and as we grow in our program and the program continues to grow, we must seek to educate and inform, rather than hide. In order to respect and protect others’ anonymity, we should not ‘share a link’ or ‘tag’ another person from any OA page or website.
If you choose to like the page, you can unlike it at any time. There is no indelible record to follow you the rest of your days. The result will be that the page’s posts will no longer show up in your feed. We completely respect your choice to interact with our page in the manner that is best for you. Be not afraid!
Come visit Overeaters Anonymous YP. This public information page has helpful links for all, and ‘like’ us if you like.
Dawn K., Central Florida Intergroup, USA
More Likes = More Awareness
OA’s Statement on Social Media Policy, approved by the delegates of the 2016 World Service Business Conference, opened the door for OA groups, intergroups, and service bodies to provide public information via social media. By liking our page at facebook.com/OvereatersAnonymousOfficial, you can raise our page’s profile and extend the hand and heart of OA to still-suffering compulsive overeaters searching for a solution.
Read Lifeline on your computer, tablet, or mobile device at oalifeline.org. A US$23 annual subscription gives you access to every Lifeline story published since January 2016, plus all new stories as they appear in upcoming print issues of Lifeline. Click the orange “Translate” button to read real stories of recovery in the language of your choice.
Why form a Virtual Service Board?
- Virtual Service Boards allow virtual groups to have a voice and a vote in what happens to OA as a whole by attending the World Service Business Conference (WSBC)
- Send motions to WSBC
- Set up website presence ·Member phone list
- Moderator training
- Communication – Keep WSO current about meetings and act as liaison to WSO
- Let people know your meeting exists with bulletin boards / community calendars / newspapers
- Sponsor and arrange workshops, marathons, and other special events
- Deal with common problems
- Help to create and support a newsletter
- Allow the Fellowship as a whole to see that members of virtual meetings have strong recovery and are a part of Overeaters Anonymous
Want to share your ‘virtual stories’ of experience, strength and hope in OA Virtual News? Or do you need to advertise Virtual Events? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org