Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter JANUARY 2006

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons:

Happy New Year, everyone. Peace and prosperity in abundance. I wish you all the best for 2006. What a year 2005 was for us, a year of challenge and change, which, if I may say so, we handled with equanimity and grace. So many people pitched in.
I want to thank all of you for your support, and your vote of confidence. It's been a real morale booster.

Next month, February, believe it or not, we will be celebrating 20 years of serving the San Francisco recovery community. It never ceases to amaze me how many people know about us. We certainly have a reputation and a following worldwide. The only piece of bad news in all of this is we lost our neighbors next door at the Thai Restaurant. Whoever bought that building did not renew their lease. They were such great neighbors and beautiful people to boot. Gentle, humble, always happy, and great Thai food. We will definitely miss them.

Money and Happiness

Scott Fitzgerald said, "The rich are different than the rest of us". Hemingway responded by saying "because they have more money than we do". But, what is the relationship between money and happiness? What does it mean to be happy, period? Dictionary definitions of happiness include words like joyous, blessed, blissful, gratified, convivial, ecstatic, to mention but a few, but how can we define a word loaded with so much subjective and emotional connotation? "True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy cause" Helen Keller (1880-1968). Nowadays, we tend to equate happiness with money or the lack of it. In a recent article, I read, "Why money doesn't necessarily bring happiness." It said, "Increases in wealth can lead to unrealistic expectations of contentment, which when subsequently unfulfilled, cause disappointment." Current thinking on this topic however, suggests that money does not have a strong relationship to happiness. According the renowned British Economist Richard Layard, author of Happiness: Lessons From a New Science, humans cling to the notion that the two are linked, with a result, Layard said in an interview, that "people tend to expect more from money than it can give." A quotation in Layard's book is attributed to Woody Allen " Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Amen to that.

Many studies have shown that people have an exaggerated forecast of the benefits of having more money. Apparently, as soon as our material position improves, we display a remarkable tendency to adapt. The thrill is gone, as they say. Our happiness does go up for a while, and then it returns to the base level. If you think that sounds like a recipe for that chronic, not quite satisfied feeling, then you would be right. People tend to crave more money and more things to restore that peak of good feeling, only to adapt to those pleasures and seek the next high, an addictive phenomenon that economist have labeled the "hedonistic treadmill."

So, the quest for a financially fulfilling new year, at least in conventional terms, might not add to your store of joy. There is something about the pursuit of money itself that seems to put happiness just out of reach. In fact, studies have shown that whatever people earn, they tend to estimate that the real amount they need to live is still higher. We end up comparing our financial status with that of those around us, and if ours is lower, suddenly whatever we have is no longer enough.

Layard posits that there may be an evolutionary mechanism "that drives people to ever higher goals", but he questions the usefulness of this onward-upward urge in modern times, when outright survival does not depend so much on acquisitive Type A behavior. "I think it's a relatively new situation for human beings to be in" he said. How can we raise our quality of life, when increasing our material possessions is no longer the most important factor in raising quality of life?

It is not to say that acquiring the iPod, Porsche, or that Treo you always wanted would not enhance your lifestyle. But, what Layard and many other researchers are finding is that it pays to think like a shrewd investor and realize that most material investments have a greater yield in the short term. For more steady dividends, emotionally and financially, you may want to rebalance your portfolio to include stocks that often outperform expectations.

It is a little strange to think of relationships, health, community, or meaningful work - all of which have been shown to increase happiness substantially - in financial terms. But, what if you did? Would investing more of your resources in quality of life increase overall joie de vivre? I wish you a very happy New Year figuring it out (The Taipei Times, 2006).

Legends in the Fall

Dear Friends and Family
On August 18, Mike and friends acknowledged my 90th birthday with an "open house" event. The kind words, humor, and caring messages gave me a marvelous day for which I thank you. September 1 marked my 55th anniversary in a 12-step program. The program has worked for me and for that I'm grateful. Good friends from several states took the time - and effort - to visit Mike and me on these occasions. We are most appreciative. I'm also fortunate with all the phone calls letters and emails that arrive daily throughout the year.
A point of interest: Helen Setter, a resident of my nursing home, turned 112 years old last month. A website that keeps track of "certified" super centenarians lists Helen as the 22nd oldest person in the world. As youngsters, her nephew Dick Fischer and I would stop by Helen's home on our way to grade school for her delicious milk and cookies. After this treat, Helen would usually remark, her voice quavering, and her hand over her heart, "Boys, I may not see you tomorrow... I'm feeling quite poorly." So much for gerontological projections!
As for me, I continue in fairly good health- "You grow up and then you grow old" - I try to concentrate on the first part.
I wish you each and all a joyous Christmas and a serene New Year.
Wade,Valentine, Nebraska.

For our Constant Flow of Newcomers

Welcome to the Marina Dock and a clean and sober way of living. In the beginning, everything can be confusing and chaotic, just remember it will change over time, as more will be revealed. If you still have a car and a driver's license, but you are worried about parking? Don't. There is a parking lot right behind our building. Go to Webster Street between Greenwich and Lombard Street and turn into the alleyway that says "Parking" and it is halfway down that street named "Moulton" behind the Post Office. It is a public parking lot, costs about $2.00 an hour and it's open late into the night 1:00 am, later at the weekends.

If you don't have a job and you are broke, that's good. You can attend meetings all day and ask questions from our eclectic group of long-term sober members. If you need a Big Book and other recovery literature, ask the person at the desk for directions on how to get a book on credit.

If you have an overwhelming sense of demoralization and impending doom, and the future looks bleak, that's also a good sign. It means you are reachable and teachable and you are in the right place.

If you think the girl sitting across the room from you is cute, and maybe she could help with your pain and abandonment issues? Yes, she is cute, and no, she is not the solution. Read the section in the 12 x12 where it talks about "Boy Meets Girl on AA Campus and Love Follows" (Step 12).

Don't isolate by working all the time or staying at home, trying to solve your problems. We call this "living in your head." Remember, we live our lives one day at a time. Try not to think about tomorrow or yesterday, one of our slogans being "yesterday is history tomorrow is a mystery" Living sober is ultimately about gratitude and humility. We must cultivate that attitude of gratitude and walk humbly under the grace of God.

Happy New Year to all our members and patrons. If you can help us out, we would be more than grateful. If you are reaching out, we are even more grateful.

The solution is love,

"Irish Tony"


Congrats to your success this year with the building. You were a safe haven for me two years ago when I was just 60 days sober on a business trip. Coming to a few meetings at the Dock made it much easier for me to put one foot in front of the other and participate rather than isolate in my hotel room.

H.C.Toledo, Ohio

Dear Marina Dock,

Or as I got to know you: Dry Dock. I came to San Francisco 5 years ago and didn't know another adult in the city. I had two daughters living 1 hour away who weren't too keen on seeing their "drunk" mother - too many bad memories and broken promises. My oldest son never gave up-and if it hadn't been for you and him I don't think I would be alive today.

The wonderful warm atmosphere of the Marina Dock and all the wonderful friends I've met here helped me in countless ways on my road to recovery from alcoholism.




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