"Every year, I look forward to The Other Bar's annual Newport Retreat. As I ease into the humdrum of winter, it is a welcome time of fellowship and spiritual reflection. Oregon's beautiful coastline provides a breathtaking natural backdrop to the important work of shared recovery that is the retreat's primary purpose. The format is simple and time-tested: a featured speaker shares his or her experience, strength, and hope, as well as their perspective on the Twelve Steps. The days also include shared meals and ample leisure time, and are book ended by traditional AA meetings. For me, the fellowship is paramount. Every year, I meet new professionals in recovery, re-connect with acquaintances made at previous retreats, and deepen bonds with close friends. It is a weekend filled with profound honesty and deep human connection. If you're reading this, I hope to see you there."
"Menucha Retreats have been part of my recovery from the early 1990's, for me, when Ray O'K at Don M's invitation made regular pilgrimages to be with us. Ray's emphasis on the twelve steps and the way he shared his experience, strength and hope was inspirational. Legal presenters in recovery from all over the country have continued this tradition and been excellent over the years; the setting in the Columbia Gorge is superb; the home-cooked meals are usually wonderful; friends from Canada and other parts of our country have become regular participants; and the chance to socialize with others in the profession in recovery in informal conversation, hikes, music and leisure is always an extra attraction with the free time built in to the schedule. The chance to be with other attorneys in recovery that influenced me, but who I do not otherwise see regularly, is enjoyable and gives me the opportunities to help pay back the debt to those who took time to pass recovery to me and for me to do the same with others--it doesn't get much better than that!"
"I was introduced to The Other Bar when a counselor at the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program invited me to attend their annual fall retreat in Newport, Oregon, in 2015. At the time, I was newly sober, struggling with what felt like paralyzing fear of an uncertain future, and more or less unemployable. I was desperate to quell the wreckage resulting from years of uncontrolled drinking, but saw little prospect of a happy or meaningful future. That rainy weekend at the coast marked a turning point in my life. I was introduced to a group of lawyers who had walked through despair and powerlessness like I had, and emerged to find community, personal integrity, and professional success. These were men and women who set about their lives with a dignity and grace that was unknown to me at the time. I was taken with their kindness and warmth, and the way they oriented their lives with an eye always toward service to their community. In short, I saw people I wanted to know, and a way of living I wanted to emulate.
As I became more involved in the fellowship of legal professionals in recovery, the dark fog in which I was mired began to lift, revealing a precarious path forward. I had a law degree, but little real world experience. The Board of Bar Examiners had wisely deferred its decision regarding my license to practice until I was able to show longer term sobriety and moral fitness. The Other Bar was there to guide and support me at every step. In addition to the spiritual bonds I've shared with members of The Other Bar, and the experience, strength, and hope that has flowed from them, the organization has also provided me with invaluable practical help. A number of lawyers have reached out to me offering their counsel about the early stages of a legal career. Seasoned practitioners have invited me to watch them work.
A letter was written to the Board of Examiners in support of my admission. One evening, before a vestibule meeting, an experienced and highly respected Portland lawyer casually asked me if I was doing any legal work? When I responded that I was then making sandwiches for a living, he invited me to his office, explaining he might have a few tasks for me. I continue to work for that attorney to this day, and the experience I've gained is frankly of immeasurable value to me. These were not merits earned, but gifts freely given by members of The Other Bar. The Other Bar has helped me to dramatically shift my perspective about addiction, life, and the legal profession. It illuminated a path that was once little more than an unrealistic abstraction.
I don't know what the future holds for me, but as I move forward, sharing the fellowship of The Other Bar is an ever present priority for me. I've come to regard as an important tmism in my life these words of the founder of The Other Bar: "It is my opinion that the sober lawyer in Alcoholic's Anonymous has a higher calling of responsibility. To be involved in saving just one life in your professional lifetime should be at the forefront of your minds and hearts everyday. I know there is a place for you, there is a time for each of you and you will be given the needed Power for this your loving responsibility."
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