1007. My cup of tea

I seriously do not know how to upload a picture. The whole thing has changed with regard to blogging and I am a luddite or cannot be bothered to go with the tutorial etc etc. So here is a massive picture of a cup of tea!

I am currently on day 1007 without boooooze. So nice and calm today. I have rethought this blog and want (have mentioned this before) to steer it into the area of what is filling the space that booze took up. On that note I am thinking I will give a “podcast of the week” suggestion… and just generally speak about what is ticking my box, floating my boat, etc. What is bringing me life….

So Podcast of the Week is this one from the Happiness Lab

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vaGFwcGluZXNzbGFi?sa=X&ved=0CAMQ4aUDahcKEwjIoYut8K_wAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ

Totally incredible and life altering – that is not too big a claim… it is called “D for distracted” … it is giant. Let me know your thoughts in a message 😉

The other thing that I am thinking of a bit is abstinence… not only from things like booze or sex… but other things… here is what I read this week….

We humans now live lives as if there are no legitimate limits. While we bow temporarily to practical limitations, limits are to be assaulted through the powers of intelligence and technology until they yield to human ingenuity and control. The appetites are give free reign. It is considered a God-given right to use every resource and creature on earth for personal enjoyment or gain. The goal of human life is to acquire more, to experience more, to stimulate every sense to capacity and beyond……...perhaps we see then, how the critical the dynamic of accepting those limits that are life-restoring is. Our culture would seduce us into believing that we can have it all, do it all and (even more preposterous!) that we deserve it all. Yet in refusing to accept limits on our consumption or our activity, we perpetuate a death dealing dynamic in the world

The above quote is from a book called Soul Feast by Marjorie J Thompson.

I have found that in accepting the life-affirming limit on my alcohol consumption I have opened up a space inside myself which has room for so many things. In the past I had little energy or time to go deeper into books, poetry, study, relationships, gardening and so on. I was paddling like a duck under water trying to keep up with how I felt I should be. It was enormously draining. The hangover, drink cycle, while not a constant feature of my days, was bad enough to really block my long-term serenity.

This book advocates fasting from food for spiritual purposes. Now whilst that does not appeal to everyone, it is a feature of every major religion and philosophy. The lack of distraction of food and its preparation frees you up to realise that your life is drawn from more than just physical nourishment. There is an element of spiritual nourishment without we would starve internally..

Perhaps the lack of spiritual nourishment is responsible for so much of the pain humans face. The lack of love and meaning.. … the feeling of disconnect with others and ourselves.

Lots to read. Lots to think about. Let me know your thoughts 😉

Barbs x

990. Wisdom for future

This is simple and true. Everything we do cannot be done with our future self in mind. Because that is tiring and unrealistic. But imagine we did just some of the things for the me of tomorrow?

Since I read this the other day I have been taking a couple of extra seconds to put the room I just leave a little more to ”rights” than it was when I entered it. It could be that no I will not have that cake right now. or have half the size slice that I wanted to actually have. It could be finish an essay tonight and you will love your weekend more.

Even and most importantly, it can be just do not have a boozy drink right now. Have it tomorrow, in an hour, in two hours, etc. but always just a little while in the future so that right NOW you are not drinking. Obviously if you don’t have a drinking issue this is not for you.. but most of us drink more than we would like to – or drank more than we liked to…

I am 10 days off the magic 1000 days no drunkenness…. It does not get old. I love it more and more.

I have some friends at the beginning of the journey who are battling the cravings and giving in. And that is where they are at, but let me encourage you that the cravings pass and the new normal comes and it is beautiful.

Happy weekend.

972. Anchored.

It occurred to me this morning that I am all at sea if I miss my habitual morning routines (the subject of another time)…. not as in shower etc but as in practices that help me to be anchored.

Through my various practices I am ”chained” to something solid and this helps me to be calm. (Much like the Ever Given – solidly grounded!!)

Being grounded, for a human at least, is something important. So it got me thinking. Is this chained-ness, tethered-ness, anchored-ness FREEDOM or is it IMPRISONMENT? Chains imply prison. But if we think about it carefully… if we are not anchored or joined solidly to something we can feel very tossed about and uncertain. Being chained in some respects is very liberating. How about that for a Tuesday paradox?

At first with my non-boozing, I was literally tethered to Belle. I had to email everyday, I had to be accountable, I read, I listened, I concentrated and I kept well anchored to her wisdom. I still do these things, but to a lesser extent. That ”chained-ness” to Belle has brought me great liberty.

I am free from the real chains of doing what I like when I feel like it. Because if it were up to me…. and me alone…. Lord knows where the boundaries would be!!!

963. Our depths

I start with a quote from Belle (www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com)

isn’t regular alcohol consumption supposed to be ‘good’ for you?


from The Solstice Guy (day 255): 

“My biggest worry about being long term sober: is it healthy? I know this sounds crazy, but there have been many studies that say that alcohol in moderation is a good thing—especially for the heart. What if, years down the road, my doctor says, ‘It might have been better for you had you drank alcohol in moderation. Your cholesterol is high and alcohol would have helped maintain that.’ I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. But you DID ask what’s my biggest worry, and that’s my biggest worry!”


me: I hate these kinds of studies because I feel like they leave out important things. They are looking at alcohol as a plus/minus—what are the benefits with or without. But they don’t look at what comes with alcohol.
     If there was a mythical one glass of wine, then what comes with that? While it might improve heart health, with that glass of wine would come the following: skipping your after dinner work out, eating more generously, extra empty calories for no reason, and the likelihood of more alcohol later.
     If you remove the alcohol, and you lose some tiny heart benefit, there are easier ways to improve your health with no downsides. Like exercise, and a reduced cholesterol diet.
     So what I’m saying is that you can’t look at alcohol as one thing. It’s a whole murky package of things that don’t quite add up.
     I hear that cod liver oil is good for digestion, too.
     I hear that toothpaste gives you cancer.
     I hear that over-drinking for you and me is a bad idea, because it affects every other fucking part of our life—not just our heart. It affects our souls.

What Belle says to end the conversation really struck me. It affects our souls. I felt this all the time. Alcohol starts jolly, starts fun, starts warm, starts me ”fitting in”, starts relaxing, starts hilarious.

It carries on touchy, oversensitive, know-it-all, dogmatic, weird, detached, rude, punchy, easily offended. I know this from first hand experience. It does something deep inside us, to our souls.

And let us not even go there with the morning after, when the soul is so rusted up and ill-at-ease that bedtime is the only possibility that looks vaguely hopeful.

Regular over-drinking RUSTS our souls. Well it RUSTED mine.

I can see the character change on a deeper level in those I know and love. It little switch flicks in their personality. They become more sentimental, very easily offended, more ”something” I cannot put my finger on. And yet all the time more difficult to talk to rationally. I will not engage. I cannot. There is an irrational person who thinks for that moment that they are the sanest more rational person on the planet. So I just do not engage – if possible.

I am relieved to have realised that. Relieved I say? Well that is a gigantic understatement!! Perhaps it does not rust everyone’s soul. But there sure seem to be a heck of a lot of people whose souls it does.

I do not, ever, judge an over drinker. It took years of courage, years of trying to manage before I could begin to broach stopping for good. I know how hard it is to definitely close the curtain on it.

And that is what it is. When someone says ”is this for good?” Why do we take it to mean forever?!! I have just noticed that. But in my case it is for absolute best. Not just for good, but for fabulous.

Yes, I am out of the circle slightly. Yes, people are suspicious of me. Yes, people think I judge them. But really…. I could not go back. I have literally been freed.

934. Spring is coming!

Photo by Harry Cooke on Pexels.com

What is making me tick today!? So many things, but particularly that a hint of spring is in the air. I am deeply longing for grass under my feet and the pushing up of small green shoots from the ground. It has been a long winter (it is probably the same as ever but seems longer)… The snow is dirty and icy and full of grit and the edges of the road are ugly.

But the ugly roads always take us somewhere and I would like to relate a small tale of a friend, let us call her Gill. She has just had a birthday and may recognise herself if she is reading my blog…. Gill had a year under her belt….sober and loving it. She is part of a little sober group that we have – some of the most precious adorable people on the planet – and she had been ”absent” in the chat for a while. She told us the other day that she had been hiding her drinking for a little while as she thought she was fine and. had in ”under control” and then it slipped out of her control and she wrote us a poem and asked if she could ”confess”. We adore her, nothing she could do could make any of us judge her or turn our backs on her. Her ugly road led to somewhere beautiful, because it opened up an honest conversation in our group as to how it seems to some (also lingering on the fringes) that most of us have it all together. Most of us are loving our sobriety and the gifts it brings… this needs of course to be celebrated. It is the most celebratory fact in the world, the joy of a newly sober person…. But even though we love our sobriety, that is not the whole picture.

We too have ugly roads and difficulties that we are picking our ways over and through and around if possible. There are things in each of our lives which we wish were different, things that are hard, and times when we fail and berate ourselves. But.

The big but (not my big butt).

Any of those things done with a hangover, a feeling of shame, a feeling of guilt and self-loathing, a lack of energy and all the other stuff that comes with over-drinking… ANY OF THOSE things is made triple quadruple more difficult to face.

So I am thankful today that I am sober. I am not perfect, my life has lots of room for improvement believe me. But I tackle these things knowing spring is coming, knowing I have an unquenchable zest for new and interesting things, and an energy to pursue them, which I would NOT HAVE if I was drinking.

So, you fringe dwellers, email me anytime, dive in deep and courageously to being booze free. You only have to not drink right NOW. That is all.

Love me xxxx

921. Just a quick check in

Photo by Spencer Davis on Pexels.com

I like this picture because it speaks to me about what we feel unconsciously is right and what is not!

I am popping in with a quote from Belle (my heroine) and it is a good reminder to myself.

The last question E-Z poses really bears some thinking about. Who is alcohol really good for? And the answer to that remains for the individual to think about. But for me, the idea of being without it was unthinkable. I could not picture myself at a gathering without drinking. I eventually tried (obviously) and now I can safely say…. I don’t become a person I like more when I drink. I become annoying (to myself) and the guilt thing E-Z speaks about above. That just comes over me in spades.

“reckless. unconscious. unproductive. easily agitated”  From E-Z (day 10) :

“Hey Belle, Really enjoyed the audio lesson i listened to today. Your voice is really comforting and relatable, which is really nice considering quitting drinking is usually a touchy matter! Anyways, I realized that I don’t like the person I am when I drink. I’m reckless, unconscious, unproductive, and easily agitated. I’ll also ramble on until the cows come home if you let me. The thing I think I hate most, though, is the guilty feeling that creeps into the backdrop whenever alcohol is in one’s system. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit. So, I think the version of the story I’ll tell people is that I am making my health more of a priority in my life, and right now that doesn’t involve alcohol. 
After a while if they ask if I’m still not drinking I’ll just say alcohol was never really for me. Because, really, who is it for?
Best, E-Z “

Perhaps it is not like this for everyone, but is certainly is for me. I would 95% of the time have an argument with my husband when clearing up after a dinner party. And now we never have one (unless he is really boozy touchy and grumpy – which is very very rare)…

Life is better with none. As unbelievable as this may seem, it is rainbow coloured incredible and thousands of times more enjoyable.

Happy Sunday.

917. What is energising me right now.

Basically it is really dull, wet, grey, cold, slushy shitty weather here at the moment. We all have a light inside us which can grow small and which can flicker and falter. If there is ever a time of year for this to happen it is now. One of the most challenging times in my life was the January/February before I stopped drinking. My little light was very dim. It was flickering and sometimes I felt it had gone out. Fortunately, things are so much better and my light is energised and fuel fed.

So what makes us flourish and what makes us falter? I guess it will be different for each of us (of course)… but here are a few things which are fuelling my inner flame right now.

Dal. Yes for me, so much energy and happiness is around food. I am a big foodie. I read recipe books for fun. I follow blogs, I experiment in the kitchen and in general, after my family, dog and faith, food is the most important element that keeps me grounded and energised. So why dal? The dal I am loving is made from red lentils. We just need a base of onions, garlic and ginger, sautéed in oil, with a big dash of curry powder and a small dash of hot chilli powder if you are so inclined…. the I add a pile of red lentils, a tin of coconut milk and a tin expensive chopped tomatoes* and a tin of vegetable stock. And leave it. The red lentils will fuse into everything and make a ”mixture”.

You can add any vegetable or meat you like and cook the mixture till what you have added has cooked and eat. The icing on the cake would be a big bunch of fresh coriander chopped up. So why I love it. It is vegan (if you don’t add meat). And while I am not vegan (or even vegetarian) … I get a smidgen of goodness flowing through my body when I eat something which has not harmed an animal. It is good for one, it is simple food, you do not have to be especially rich to make it. Though coconut milk and expensive tomatoes are in there, they are the only things which may cost a bit more, and I am certain you can do without the expensive tomatoes.

*I say expensive tomatoes because the difference is real. Buy the best ones you can afford. That is all.

This meal brightens up any lunchtime. Eat before bed at. your peril, washing machine stomach can ensue.

So it is dal and ……

The podcast where Brené Brown interviews Dolly Parton. Oh my word, if you even for a minute think it may be naff, you are in for such a great surprise. If you listen, please let me know what you think.

That is it for now. I want to be a little more regular here. I would love to have a hi from you if you are out there reading this. If you are struggling not to drink. If you are finding the grey days too much… let me know.

Bye xxx

Let us begin

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here we are on the verge. At the doorway of a new year. It is the time that we can wipe the slate clean, turn our backs on the grubbiness of the past. Sweep down our floors, throw away the old wrapping paper, last of the cake, turkey carcass and face the New Beginning with hope. We need these new beginning hope signals. We need the ‘stepping-through-a door-into-a-new-reality” feeling that New Year gives.

But I have a secret. This is available to us at any time. We can, every moment of every day quietly rummage through the rubbish, keep the carcass for stock, fold up the wrapping paper to reuse (put it carefully in the wrapping paper and accoutrements box) and throw out what is not useful, and go into the next part of THE DAY with the same newness and swept down-ness that we feel at the beginning of a year. We can close the door on what did not serve us, be it an attitude, an action or a thought….

We can take stock, eat the cake and wash the dish. Put it away and clear the decks…. at any moment we choose. And indeed for a sane life perhaps we should do this. I am resolving to put a marker in the day. Not at the beginning, for I have my things I do then, but DURING the day. I can start again then. I can use what has hurt me, what has annoyed me, what has bored me, as fuel to do it differently that very same day. I can go through the door to the next part of the day.

All this required deliberate living. I am not good at deliberate living. I am the type to let life happen to me. That is my natural bent… but I also have something in me that has started awakening to the fact that we build our lives ourselves. It is empowering to know we have the tools and possibility to create and structure (to a certain extent only – we are not in complete control luckily and sadly) a life that is good for us.

You can live more deliberately when you are not hungover. When you LIKE yourself. When you have energy.

Make it the year that you build the way you need to… hour by hour….

Love to you all.

872. Seasonal Merriment

Tra la la

Here we are again at the end of the year! I love this time of year, because basically I am a hedonist and love the excuse to eat any kind of food at any time, because its Christmas. And I also love this time of year because it is an excuse to wind down, get cosy, put fairy lights up, bake and make nice smells in the kitchen and review the year. So food is very important to me! And it used to be that drink was too! I used to spend the end of the year exhausting myself with constant drinking occasions. There was one every night as friends tried to get their invites for Christmas drinks in. I can still do those (well… the lockdown shitty thing is trying to intervene of course) and do them without the exhaustion that comes from filling my body up with too much booze and then getting up the next day, jumping on the Christmas treadmill and doing it all again the next night. Holy shite it was exhausting.

And we need to not be exhausted. We more than ever, need to be full and energetic. We need to be full of hope and light, because if we are full of hope and light we can give some of the stuff away. There is enough negativity and shit to sink 10 ships, and we are not going to be part of that.

Christmas is about being reminded. Reminded that the universe turns on love. Love is synonymous with energy, inclusivity, generosity, expanding and giving, laughter, relaxation, peace, simplicity… we need these things and now we need them desperately.

So enjoy this time of year if you can. Eat, give away food, cook, and be merry. Because a hungover hedonist cannot have enough to give any away. So be full this Christmas, find out what makes your tank of light and energy full and DO IT.

Merry merry

836. Wisdom from Belle

As some of you know I became a non-boozer thanks to Belle – tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com and I think her wisdom sees me and will see me through many years. I am thus adding a little excerpt of things for all stages – thanks to her. Sorry to those who get her emails already and this is a repeat…

Road to Soberville (day 663): “… a conversation I had with my dad the other evening that made me realize how far I’ve come. he was bemoaning an upcoming dry wedding — really at a loss for how the heck he’ll get through it without booze. I was that person, 100%. I told my dad that while I know he wouldn’t believe me, alcohol actually detracts from the fun. This discovery still blows my mind! There I was, all of those years drinking to enhance the fun. Now I know I was only enhancing the rate at which I was fading into twilight. All I have to do now is see a friend on their third drink and observe how their spark dims–the twinkle in their eye evaporates. that was me, too. and now? now I sparkle at all times, unless I’m tired and cranky and then I go to bed early and try for a better day the next day 🙂 or I eat some cookies 🙂 but I never fade to twilight. I stay here.” [update: she’s on day 1463 today!]

~

Auntie Briggy: “Hi Belle – I didn’t make it through the weekend and have to leave for a week of drinking in beautiful [northeast united states]. I am spiritually trying to understand why I keep sabotaging what I want with [that man i’m not dating], and booze. I think I have a spiritual deficit. I’ll be back in touch when I can believe in a real day 1.”

me: it’s not a character flow to be addicted to an addictive substance. there isn’t self-sabotage. there is addiction. it is helped with support external to you, medication, meetings, accountability. it’s not you doing this to you. this is booze doing this to you. I’m here. hugs

~

Lottie (day 35): “I love that you have strong boundaries around your weekends, holidays and creative time, Belle (sincerely, not sarcasm in case that comes across wrong in writing). I love people with good boundaries because (a) I don’t have to dance around them trying to figure out if I am pissing them off or not because I know they will be honest about what they want/need, not expect me to guess. And (b) people who HAVE good boundaries tend also RESPECT other people’s boundaries. I never learned that I was allowed to have boundaries. My kids are definitely learning it. Addicts, I think, tend to be very bad at boundaries, [we] don’t have them and [we tend not to] respect them. Low self respect. Anyway just my thoughts going wild on a Sunday.” [update: she’s on day 41 today]