934. Spring is coming!

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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

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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

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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]

832. Excavations

Hello out there! We are back in lockdown in France and UK. But the world does seem a more hopeful place …. with Biden coming in – sorry about if you disagree politically with me – and with the potential vaccine … I feel an extra spring in my step.

I have been watching an Egyptian archaeology thing on Netflix with my son, and it has made me think.

When we take the time to quietly dig down into ourselves – daily preferably – but any time will do… To dig down into ourselves with the intention of honestly examining what is down there, then we will be able to sift out what is shit and useless and look at what is true treasure.

I could do this when I was drinking, sure. But I did not do anything with consistency.

Now I can daily do a dust down, and a dig around and an honest appraisal of what made me glad or what dragged me down. I can hand things over mentally to the place where things I do not need can go. I can accept the things that make me who I am and decide what to concentrate on keeping or what to let go of.

I can do this in a consistent enough manner to keep me calm and measured. To allow me to respond and not to react to every little thing that I see as ”blocking” my way.

Consistency means turning up every day with an open mind and heart, ready to sift and notice. This is such a gift.

Hope you are all well.

Bye xxx

813. Pink fluffy landmarks

I have definitely done pink fluffy clouds before…. And they deserve another mention. They are not a totally every day occurrence. They are more like a general air about the place. I have slowly but surely…. over the 813 booze free days that I have lived…..installed some points into my life. In French the word is repères – if I am not mistaken with the accents… this means landmarks or points along a way to show the way. I have been thinking about these repères a lot. The word landmarks does not quite cover it for me… but my thoughts were along the lines of this.

When we have the head space and inner calm that comes from longer term sobriety we can really put down points in our hours, days and thus lives upon which we can build. They give our lives a shape and a structure. One of these landmark repère things is my morning routine. I have built this in slowly and it is now fairly established. Up early (because I can) have my meditation/silence… write my journal or morning pages (thanks Julia Cameron from Artists Way) and once that is done I put my gorgeous coffee on the stove and it takes about 10 minutes to brew, during which time I do my little made up by me yoga stretches.

This is such a good set up for my day. It is a point around which I can work. It clears my head, does some inner housekeeping if you like, and then I am stretched (tick trying to look after body after 50 especially because I have largely ignored that for a most of my adult life) I then enter the day feeling really good.

I am sure that having a ”practice” of sorts makes for the pink fluffy clouds that I feel around me most of the time. I promise to say (and usually do) when this is not the case. But there is a groundedness and peace that comes from starting my day like this.

If want to think more about making landmarks or repères around which we build to give our lives shape. I want to live a shaped life that is deliberate. I spent so many years winging it (though to be fair I still wing certain things) and just kind of hanging in there. Now I feel that I am more in charge. Not in control you understand… an impossible thing… but just taking charge and responsibility.

There we are those are my thoughts for today. Thanks to the new subscribers… And hi to you all

Love me.

791. Stationary bike vs free bike

Hello all! I am 9 days away from 800 days. I am so grateful. I was thinking the other day that while I was drinking life was not a huge train wreck 100% of the time. It was a good life and I did get some stuff done and achieved and so on… but I always had this feeling I was pedalling away at 90 miles/hour getting nowhere very fast. Always playing catch up… always just behind this self-imposed drag curve.

Not drinking is like this. I am on a big white bike with a comfy saddle. I have a basket on the front, and I have great gears. There is a little set of bike balls hanging off the back to signal my presence in the dark. The tyres are pumped, the bike is clean and I am sailing along on my trusty steed.

It is that different.

I can get up early EVERY SINGLE day. I feel literally energetic EVERY SINGLE day. I am getting so much done, I am generally very reliable. I have money in my pocket (and a tiger in my tank) and I’m king of the road again!

Try it.

777. Seems like a jackpot

I am feeling the fallout around me from booze. Friends, strangers, family ….having the life doused out of them because of booze. it’s insane grip is very hard to shake off. Stealing the best from the people in its thrall. Just do it with all the support you can lay your hands on. Let go for a short committed time.