Author Archives: Starting Point


UPDATE: Course in Miracles Meeting Wednesday evening @ 6:30 pm: Virtual Zoom Meeting (See Below For Details)

Topic: ACIM* Zoom Meeting

(*A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a recovery group utilizing peer support and a 1976 book containing a curriculum which claims to assist its readers in achieving spiritual transformation.)

Time: Wednesday @ 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)   Every week on Wednesday until ended
Meeting ID: 375 3284 154
Password: Appraiser#1


 

 

 

 

Thought of the Month For June 2020 : “Life is such a beautiful process, let us learn how to trust it.”

By: Vince DiPasquale

As we begin the gateway into the summer months, we are asked to look at the difference between having trust in the process and controlling the process. Life is a journey which we are asked by a Higher Power to go on. Our Higher Power knows that each one of us has been given all that we need for the journey. We also have been given the gift of ‘free will’ which allows us to make choices and to be responsible for our choices. The journey we are told, will not be easy. Each one of us must face this dysfunctional world so that we can learn our lessons. The Higher Power has told us not to be afraid because God and his angels will travel with us. Many of us must choose between the external world and the spiritual one.

The external world is based on the ego (Ease God Out). We can so easily make external things into our gods such as money, greed, and riches. Remember the more toys we possess the more worry and fear of losing them will control our lives. Would you rather leave behind possessions for others, or the gift of your spirit which will live forever? God has created us to be spiritual beings. At times because of hurt, fear, shame and guilt we are stuck in looking at life in negative terms. We are reminded by all the great teachers that everything in life that is worthwhile must be worked for. Struggle is not a negative term; it is the pathway to new discoveries on life‘s journey. For every negative in life there is a positive.

Let’s reflect on different periods of history, from the Roman empire to all the great wars and armies. Imagine all the lives that were lost over the attitude of trying to control external things. Each of the empires in time died or will die because they are based on greed and possession.

We are taught in the recovery program to let go and let God. We are given the beautiful gifts of the 12 steps: powerless, acceptance, openness, willingness to change and grow, gratitude, sharing and service to others. These are all the spiritual gifts. What is our attitude towards life? Are we always trying to figure it out to make sure we are in charge or do we find it more challenging and rewarding to go with the flow? If we are open to God’s will for us, then no matter what happens, we will discover the rewards. God sends us teachers and messengers each day. We are being led. The 12 steps give us the gift of faith. Do your work and try to look at life through the eyes of such great teachers as Saint Francis, Theresa of Avila, Saint Augustine, Thomas Merton, Lao-Tzu, Dr. King and all the other recovery teachers like Bill W, Dr. Bob, Lois and the other founders of AA. They were great prophets who came into this world to carry a message of some simplicity and hope. Each one of us has been asked to be a prophet today. We are asked to look within, to be in touch with all the wonderful gifts we have and to have the courage once we have done our work, to share it in service to others knowing we will receive more gifts in return. Our prayer each day should be that we try to look at life as a simple journey to be enjoyed and to be shared. If we allow ourselves to grow spiritually and look at all the people in life as teachers, we will enjoy the simplicity of each day like a child. Each day when we awake and say a prayer of gratitude and openness, we are asked to look at life through these simple slogans:

One day at a time. We only have one day, and we must live it to the fullest. Remember, yesterday is over, face it, accept it and let it become our teacher. There is no tomorrow because when it comes, it is today.

Easy does it. Take your time, be patient, everything in life that is worthwhile takes time. Growth is a slow process. My dad would say pray for the slow steady rain to nurture the crops. The cloudburst destroys. Patience is a great spiritual gift.

But for the grace of God. Always remember that some of our greatest teachers are those who are worse off than we are. Everything in life can be dealt with if we approach it with a positive attitude.

Keep it simple. The formula for life. Simplicity is the ultimate spiritual word. The simpler our lives, the more serene they are. Life is a simple journey for complicated people. Remember less is more. Do one thing at a time and enjoy the journey of life.

Summer is a time to sit back, go slow and enjoy life. Remember life is to be lived and celebrated. Let’s make time to play, socialize and just enjoy each other. Have a simple, peaceful and restful summer. May God bless all of us on our journey.

A Birthday Thank-You from Vince D.

Hi Family,

It is with much gratitude, humility and love that I say a special thank you for all the expressions of love for my 80th birthday. This was a five day birthday party! Between Zoom parties, Facebook, and some neat surprises from our director, Loretta & staff, it was great! A special thank you also, to my spirit guides; The Holy Spirit, Blessed Mother, Archangel Michael, and St. Anthony for giving me the strength and courage to be of service to others. My heart has been touched by so many!

When I woke up on my birthday, I said, “Have I really been on this earth for 80 years?” Wow, it’s been an adventure, to say the least! I thank God for all the wonderful teachers that have been sent into my life. For each and every person who has touched my life, I am grateful!

With God’s help, I hope I can continue to share my experiences with everyone I meet, one day at a time!

With prayers, gratitude and love,

Vince


Thought of the Month For May 2020 : “The Celebration Of Family”

By Vince DiPasquale

“All growth takes place in a family system.” We are not islands. Each of us is a book in the process of being written. Whenever we come to gather and share our story, we learn and grow from each other. Do not hide your gifts and talents, as they need to be shared in order for them to grow.

Let’s take time during this special month of rebirth to reflect on the many family systems we have all been part of:

  • Birth family: they have given us the gift of life. In some early family systems they may have given us many lessons that we would understand better later. They have taught us the gift of struggle. In growing up, they have even taught us how to deal with different forms of dysfunction. Just like us, they were not perfect. They understood so much from their own history. Take time to research your parents’ history. They taught us the lessons of their own journey. I have so much gratitude today for the lessons my parents taught me. I had to get upset at them, then learn the lessons from them. Today I’m grateful for the small lessons. My Mom gave me my addictive personality, which in turn gave me the gift of recovery today. My Dad taught me many lessons like, ‘Don’t be afraid to fall down because then you will learn how to get up.
  • My Italian family and neighborhood: they gave me a strong sense of belonging. Take time to reflect and embrace your roots. Our history is our greatest teacher. I learned at an early age to be proud of my community. We took care of each other and learned from one another. We hurt, fought, and loved together. We learned that nothing stays the same. We experience growth and loss in community. We learned how to say goodbye so we could say hello.
  • Religious and non-religious systems: As a child I was taught a God of fear and guilt and over the years it has become a great relationship with a God of love. Reflect on your relationship with God. I am often asked, since I was formerly a Catholic priest, if I am still Catholic. My answer is sometimes. Sometimes I’m Catholic, sometimes Buddhist, sometimes Muslim, sometimes Protestant. I can relate to them all. Take what you can use and leave the rest. Everything is always in the process of change and growth. There are no absolutes. Our faith and worship come from a sense of community. The early Christians were a true community. They shared everything and lived a simple life, based on love and sharing. They taught us to respect and honor each other as the Lord teaches ~ whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me. We are equal in the eyes of God. Let’s learn to respect and honor all. The secret to real spiritual growth is to love, honor, respect and care for ourselves and others. ‘Love your neighbors as you love yourself’.

We belong to many communities as we go through life. Today I can relate to many communities. I have the privilege and honor to be a part of my blood family, my married family, my wife, my stepdaughters, my grandchildren, all gifts from God to be loved and respected. I also have a recovery community that has given me the true spirit of spirituality and love. God has given me, through them, the gift of the 12 Steps and Principles of Life. I’m humbled to be able to work in the recovery world.

Today I am also a part of a throwback community, Holiday City, where I live. It’s like living once again in the neighborhoods of South Camden and South Philadelphia. I have such wonderful friends and neighbors and I love going home. It truly takes a community to raise a child. We are all God’s children and still learning and growing. As Yogi Berra said, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.’

We will all one day be reunited with all of life’s communities in the unseen world of God, the ultimate community.

Sending love and prayers to all. May God bless and guide us on our journey today and every day.

Vince D.

Thought of the Month For April 2020 : “The Spirituality of Baseball”

By Vince DiPasquale

The most beautiful definition of spirituality is to awaken and discover the message of life. The Higher Power has created each of us and gives us the gift of life. The purpose of life is to discover who you are in conjunction with God’s creation. One of the greatest gifts I received over the years is the gift of the game of baseball. Over the years, the basics of the game have not changed. Unfortunately, the god of money has tried to steal the real meaning of the game. Yet, that is the journey of life ~ the battle between the God of our understanding and the gods of greed and power. Baseball is a gift that teaches us about life. From its early beginning when we needed to play the game just to relax, to the 1920’s when baseball survived a major scandal (Black Sox), by giving us heroes of many faces from the insanity of Ty Cobbs, to the gentle, humble man, Lou Gehrig.

We have seen all types of people and experienced the human condition in this wonderful sport. We have witnessed life, from the sandlots to Little League to semi-pro and professional, to the softball games played on the asphalt of South Philly to the green country fields of dreams. From stick-ball on a city street to high school and college ball and from broom sticks and cracked bats to aluminum bats and Louisville Sluggers, this game touches us all. In the forties during the war and ever since the Great Depression, baseball goes on. It provided a relief from our stress and depression. It was our way to take a break from our problems and for a few hours we could relax and live our dreams in a game. From the fifties, we have seen the struggle and the breaking down of racial barriers by Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby. Baseball reflects life. From the negro leagues to the big leagues, the sport truly explores the great struggle of life.

From the golden years of baseball to the money years of baseball, the dream of every child is to put on a big-league uniform and play between the chalk lines. Baseball is truly a gift. This dream is possible on any day of the week on baseball fields around the world. In the game, you can be an instant hero and fall flat on your face in the same game. In Field of Dreams, we feel the bond between parent and child. We see “Shoeless” Joe Jackson say that heaven is playing baseball. Lou Gehrig, in a dying tribute said, “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” We all need heroes, and everyone wants to be a hero just for a few moments ~ to be able to make the catch that saves the game ~ to hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth ~ or to feel the sting of defeat in “Casey at the Bat.”

I would like to share the story of a spiritual journey, the journey of a child. A little boy, lonely and sad, created his world. He had a dream. in his loneliness, he created the dream through his baseball cards. His heroes became his friends. He played stick-ball and learned to be creative, like making a baseball out of a golf ball, rubber bands and thick tape. He created a bat from an ax handle. Baseball had already taught him how to deal with life. You see, baseball is like life. It’s played between the lines, there are rules, it’s a game of inches. Even the best of hitters only make a hit 30% of the time. It’s a game of hustle and skill, and, like in life, you need to get dirty. Some days things work and some days things don’t. Things always balance out. On any given day, anything can happen. The game, as Yogi Berra says, “ain’t over until it’s over”.  There’s always a chance. You can make mistakes and still come back. It’s a game that involves patience and endurance. It’s a game that humbles you. You never stop learning.

This little boy grew into a man. He really didn’t know himself. In fact, he hated himself for trying too hard. Then one day he found his inner child. He learned about life on the baseball field. It became his new church with green grass and brown dirt. It was a special place where he could be close to God. Sitting in the dugout and watching the sun come up on Easter Sunday, he could feel God’s presence. In this simple game, he learned about life. He learned how to play, socialize and how to be a little boy again. In life you try hard, you struggle, you succeed and sometimes you fail. It balances out. In the game, like life, there are rules and there are guides that help you through life. Like life, there is a beginning and an end. It is not important whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game that counts.

Things in life always balance out. This little boy found out that life is a gift. Its fragile, and it must always be respected and honored. In life, you get to meet your dream. Your hero is a human being like you. He hurts, he struggles, and he has pain just like you. We are all heroes and fools at one time or another.

Baseball is life. You cry, scream, yell, get frustrated, and sometimes you celebrate. When you wake up in the morning and God yells “Play Ball!”, give it your best shot, learn what you can, and don’t forget to enjoy it. Like life, baseball is a great teacher.

Life is a spiritual journey. You play one day at a time. Each day brings you a new experience. If you truly believe, you will be led.  Remember, the Higher Power is in charge. Enjoy each day. Give it your best. You are a gift created by God. As Ernie Banks said, “Let’s play two!

 

Thoughts From The Language of Letting Go: “Accepting Change” (from Vince D)

I’d like to share some thoughts from my meditation book, “The Language of Letting Go: Accepting Change“:

The winds of change blow through life; sometimes gently, and, at times, like a tropical storm. Gives us a time to adjust to a new way of living, to get our balance, time to catch our breath. Sometimes we resist the change, hoping things will calm down so we can get back to the way things were. Is it possible we are being prepared for a new normal?

Change will sweep through our lives to take us where we are going. We can trust that Our Higher Power has a plan in mind, even when we don’t know where the changes are leading. The winds of change will take us where we need to go.

Today God, help us to let go of our resistance to change. Help us to be open to the process. Help me to believe that the place we will be dropped off, will be better than the place where we where picked up. Help us to surrender, trust and accept even if we don’t understand.

Sending prayers and love to all. May God bless and guide us on our journey today and every day.

Vince D.

 

Consciousness And Conscientiousness (From Tom Augustino To Vince)

Good Morning Vince,

Being quarantined at home has brought up many feelings and thoughts about my life. In the beginning I felt like a caged animal. As you know, I crave direct personal contact with other people. I always would judge other people who were satisfied being alone, as if they must have a defect. Boy was I wrong!!

I have been forced to develop a mindset of being in the present.

Every thought and action I now take, from the moment I wake up till the last thought when I fall asleep is deliberate. I brush my teeth with intention, I shower every part of my body with the only thought of cleaning my body. Planning and preparing meals has become a profound experience. Gathering food, cooking, and even setting our table to sit down with Patti and Giovanni at every meal has brought back a satisfying, and long sought-after family ritual.

Being conscience has been a desire of mine for thirty years. I always thought it was unattainable. Before this Quarantine I lived my life in the past and the future, worrying only about making the next right move, by making those decisions based on my past experiences. Miraculously, that thinking has vanished!!

Each day starts with a brand-new beginning, each night ends with a greater satisfaction. It feels like time has actually slowed down. I’m beginning to appreciate so many little things exactly as they are, with the wonder of a child. I am also accepting and even appreciating the separation from every way of life I’ve developed throughout my entire life. I never thought I had choices. I thought I had to work and make a living, making money, accumulating things, and people along the way.

I never, ever, thought about what I actually wanted out of this life. Only about what I thought I needed to do out of necessity. Now as I sit and live on a new and conscience level of deliberate intentions to every little aspect of my daily life at home with my family, I get a new feeling of total satisfaction at each moment. So, I guess that’s why the time has slowed down enough for me to awaken to this new paradigm.

Thank you, God, the higher power, the Universe, or whatever is in charge of things. I know that life as I’ve known it will never be the same since the 2020 Pandemic. Whatever the outcome, I am grateful for having this opportunity to see my life in a whole new way.

It’s so funny, I first thought I was being put in a prison, now I think I was given a freedom that I could have never attained without the threat of the Coronavirus: CONSCIENTIOUSNESS.

A moment by moment way of life that helps me appreciate life completely on life’s terms, as God has always intended for me. I just had to step out of the way long enough to see it.

My hope is that other people who have been involuntarily placed in a similar position as I have, can take a look at their own existence, and see the beauty in Gods Will, (and I believe that what is now happening is ALL Gods will).

Not to be a smart ass, but felt like people (including me) were all becoming more and more self-centered, believing that we were all separate from each other, so we had to “get what you can, while the getting is good”.

So, my own lesson of the Irony of our current world situation is this: we are actually all one, while we were forced into this temporary exercise of physical separation.

So, for now I’m ending my rambling before I start sounding like a “walking Fortune cookie“.

With love from your forever friend,

Tom A

Meditations with Native American Elders: “The Four Seasons.” (From Vince D.)

I would like to share some thoughts from my meditation book, “Meditations with Native American Elders: The Four Seasons.”

“People think other things are more important than prayer, but they are mistaken.” The Elders tell us that the most important thing we can do each day is to pray. If we face indecision or anxiety take time to pray. If we experience fear, pray. Prayer is the gift God has given us, to help us deal with life. During these times try to be open to the lessons of each day. Try to live one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow, remember to pray each day to be open to God’s will.

Let’s all try to remember the power of positive thinking. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sending prayers & love to all.

Vince D.

“Virtual” \ Online Counseling Sessions With Your Practitioner Are Now Available

As the ongoing Coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, most (if not all) of our practitioners have now embraced “virtual,” web or phone-based practice models.

Please feel free to reach out to your practitioner(s) using the contact info on their practitioner profile found at https://startingpoint.org/practitioners/ or call the Front Desk at 856-854-3155, Ext 0. Our receptionists are currently manning The Starting Point phone system from home.  Messages left will be forwarded to the appropriate practitioner on a daily basis. Vince, and the rest of the staff, are in constant contact with one another.

Rest assured, our primary goal is to be here for our clients and the entire Starting Point family.

Also, if you find yourself in an immediate crisis, another important resource is the Camden County Crisis Hotline at 856-428-4357.

Please take care, stay safe, and stay connected,

Loretta Depka
Executive Director
856-854-3155 Extension 179
ldepka@startingpoint.org

The Starting Point, Inc. of New Jersey
12 Steps to a Brighter Future
www.startingpoint.org
215 Highland Avenue, Suite C
Haddon Township, NJ 08108

NOTE Meeting Update: AL-ANON 6:30 Friday Meeting Now Offers Phone Meeting Option Via Zoom (See Below For Details)

New (Optional) Zoom Meeting Option

Details: Video Via internet link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/637147479

 

Show Me (My Creator) – from Vince D.

I’d like to share some thoughts from my meditation book, Meditations with Native American Elders: the Four Seasons.

The manner in which we walk through life is each person’s responsibility, and we should remember this with each new sunrise. We should carry a vision of God’s will in every area of life. One day at a time, each morning we need to spend time praying to the Creator.

We share in prayer, my Creator, this morning I ask You to show me, in terms I can understand, what you would have me do. Each of us is responsible for  taking the time to do this.It will bring joy and peace of mind to all of us. My Creator, give me the vision each day of what you want me to do. Faith and prayer will help us through this journey.

Sending prayers and love to all.  May God bless and guide us on our journey today and every day.

Vince D.

Have No Fear – From Vince D.

Friends and family,

I’d like to share a prayer by St Francis de Sales. “Have No Fear”.

“Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring. The same loving God who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering, or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Let’s try to give each day to God in prayer and with an attitude of gratitude and humility.

Sending prayers and love to all. May God bless and guide us on our journey today and every day.

Love, Vince D.

Message for today (from Vince D.)

Let’s take time each day to pray for God’s grace and guidance.

Dear God, thank You for the gift of life. We are facing a powerful new reality. Help us as we adjust to a new lifestyle. Give us the gift of patience and love. Help us to be open to the spirit of change. Teach us – with a spirit of gratitude and humility – to be open to the lessons that this crisis will teach us.

Only a spirit of faith and grace are the gifts that will guide us through this trial. Help us to try to live in a spirit of acceptance and sharing our prayers and love to others. Give us strength and hope as we do our best to live each day in prayer, knowing that you are our guide. We ask this in Your Name. Amen.

Sending prayers and love to all.

May God bless and guide us on our journey today and every day.

Vince D

Reflection on Prayer: On Gratitude and Humility …

Would like to share a prayer from my retreat prayer book.

Reflection on Prayer ~ I asked God for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do great things; I was given illness that I might do better things. I asked for riches so that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have people’s praise; I was given weaknesses that I might feel the need for God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayer was answered. I am, among all people, the most richly blessed.

Let’s live this day and every day in a spirit of gratitude and humility.

Sending prayers and love to all

Vince D.

Thoughts For Today (from Vince D.)

Some thoughts from my meditation book, “For Today.”

Thanking God every day is as necessary for me as breathing. Though my concept of God may change, whatever my concept is, I choose to give everything to God; my worries, fears, my family, friends, the state of the nation and the world.

Each day in prayer I do what I can and let God do the rest. We are truly living one day at a time in the spirit of gratitude and humility as we experience our powerlessness. For today, live in the spirit of the 1st step. We need each other.

Sending prayers and love to all. May God bless and guide us on our journey today.

Vince