Saturday, 3 October 2015

How DOES she do it?

I read the book 'I don't know how she does it' by Allison Pearson several years ago. It was almost mandatory reading for my peer group in our have-baby-and-return-to-work-as-if-nothing-has-changed years. We hoped to find out the secret to having it all; gliding through life like a swan while paddling like a duck underneath the surface.

There was no secret to be found in the book. It merely confirmed what we thought; multi-tasking, cutting corners, delegating and being forever frazzled were to be offset by a well deserved glass of chardonnay at wine o'clock.

Excellent. I was definitely 'normal' and coping the same way as everyone else. Nonetheless, I was disappointed to find there was no magic way to suddenly have it all and manage it all. Until now.

Recently I've had a lot going on. I've reassessed my work life balance and reduced the time I spend in my day job to set up a new business where I will work for myself. It's busy, exciting and a very steep learning curve as my business and marketing strategy is all about trial and error.

So last week I met a friend in the pub for a catch up and filled her in on my new venture. Mid sentence she interrupted me.

'Do you ever sleep?'

I stopped, puzzled, not quite seeing the relevance of this question until she continued:

 'How can you possibly do all those things at once?'
because I don't drink
'Whatever you've got, I need to get some too'
Wrong. What you need is what I've NOT got.  

I've not got a large glass of wine in front of me.

So now I do know 'how she can do it'. She needs to realise that wine robs you of time, energy and motivation and makes life more difficult. The solution is not more wine, it is no wine. And by taking that brave step she will release the handbrake and allow life to flow without hindrance.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Still Here and it's all Good

I’ve neglected this poor little blog of late, and that is both good and bad.
Good because I’ve been busy: busy at work, busy with new projects and busy socially. It’s good and bad that I’m thinking about alcohol a lot less and being sober is not quite fading into my background but is no longer right up there making itself known at every opportunity.

I’ve had a couple of memorable nights out of late- memorable in all the right ways. How nice it is to be assured of that. One was a work related, but casual, dinner. I hadn’t been out for a while and I was really looking forward to it for once. A mixture of the good company, the anticipation and the vibe saw me laughing more than I’ve ever laughed before I swear. And I wasn’t the only one; it was one of those nights where we all let loose and everything seemed hilarious. One of those where you had to be there too; the stories tending to fall flat when repeated.

For various reasons a couple of reliable drinking mates of old were on soft drinks all night. (One was an imminent father and the other had a hectic day to follow.) I noted this and thought how disappointed I would have been a couple of years ago if I’d turned up ready for a big session to find they were on the fresh orange and soda. How sad is that?

The other memorable night was with two friends at a spa. (Yes I’ve been busy relaxing and having me time too.) After dinner we had one of those deep and meaningful, truly honest conversations where each reveals something new, to the others’ surprise. A night of revelations, not of the scandalous nature but of becoming closer; knowing and understanding more about one another. Truly precious, a little emotional and very sincere. No flamboyant declarations of ‘true everlasting love’ and ‘being best friends forever’. There was no headache the next day, nor regret, nor embarrassment. Just a feeling of calm and reassurance that we all have a place in the others’ lives and that it is highly valued.

I’m not sure I’m making much sense but basically, being sober is great. Life is not the same as before, when I was drinking. Thankfully it has taken a much better route. Life feels real and I feel like I’m truly in it. 

Thank you to everyone who has been emailing me recently sharing their stories and have kindly left glorious reviews of my books on Amazon. Very much appreciated. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Cross Over Addiction?

I read today that obese people show 'lighting up' in their brains in the same areas as occurs with nicotine, alcohol, cocaine in fact any (other) addictive substance. 

Food is an addiction for the obese and for this they have my sympathy. 

Since stopping drinking I've continued to struggle with my eating. I literally find it hard to stop once I've started and battle continually to keep my weight acceptable.  

A large part of the problem with eating is that, as with drinking, it is an enjoyable thing to do. A hobby really, usually unrelated to hunger (or thirst). It follows that to successfully give it up, one must find something to do in that time, in that place. An alternative hobby. 

And I managed to do that with drink. My pass times changed and the way I spend my leisure time changed and I've all but forgotten about it. 

Food too, is in every area of my life. Constantly. So presumably to beat it I need to replace the role it plays. And that, I'm afraid, is a work still very much in progress. 

For now I'm on those early days where I keep trying, failing, and trying again over and over again. 

Hopefully I'll become so fed up I will succeed one day. The problem is compounded by being unable to give up food completely and forever. How can I succeed then if food is a true addiction for those so afflicted?

Words of wisdom welcomed. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

...And Relax

Our kids have gone back to school this week and my free time has returned to being my free time! After the 7 week summer holiday, which admittedly passed in a flash, I feel I can again concentrate and focus, my brain no longer resembling a pot of overcooked spaghetti.

Two things have struck me this week, both relating to gradual changes that it's easy to miss until they are brought sharply to your attention.

Firstly we had a 'family celebration' dinner last night after a minor reward I received at work this week. When deciding what to do I thought about what I really wanted to do. I wanted a family meal with cake to follow and to not have to do much in the way of preparation or clearing up. I thought about going to a local restaurant but the 'kid-friendly' noise put me off that option.

Instead I bought everyone's favourite meal from M&S that could be bunged in the oven in the plastic containers (no washing up, see?). My daughter spent ages making my favourite cake for me (carrot cake, double layered, mmmm) and cut it into a 'groovy' shape. (Bear in mind she's 10 and I could see the anticipation etched on her face wondering if I would like it.)

She went into 'mum' mode: cleared away the plates and dished out the cake forks (my 1st sober-versary present to myself) and asked if I would like a cup of tea too. I had a flash back to a previous similar event where I had bought several small bottles of wine for my celebration and in between courses asked her to get me another from the fridge. Small bottles confused everyone, including me, and I could have a 'bottle worth' of wine without having a bottle of wine. Funny how 175mls is so much harder to compare to a 750ml bottle than 250 mls is.

It struck me only then, as we ate dessert, that I had considered and planned my celebration without a thought to alcohol. That makes me feel I've come a long way, particularly as I then felt so glad I wasn't asking for more wine, glad I was not getting boozy, sleepy, overfull and drunk because what kind of a celebration would that make?

Secondly this week I was exchanging emails with a reader of this blog who has achieved 100 days sobriety. A fabulous achievement. The reader reminded me of myself asking when will things improve? When will I stop missing booze? When will I truly believe life is better without?

When will it stop being so hard?

I could only answer from my own thoughts and experience but those questions brought me down to earth with a bump. I had forgotten all those worries and difficulties of the middle term and the immense out-pouring of emotions and feelings that accompany them. They were brought to me in an instant and I totally understood the reader's state of mind.

It was a good experience for both of us I believe. I could show and tell that it does go away and we become more comfortable with sobriety as our default state. I was made to remember how far I'd come to reach my current stage of taking sobriety very much for granted and forgetting the struggles I too had to get here.

Sharing, sharing. Works for everyone. Keep it coming.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Fame at Last?

I'm resisting the urge to say I am featured in the centrefold of a magazine this month lest I give the wrong idea- but that is the truth of the matter! 
It's not a glossy magazine though- it's 'Writing Magazine' September 2015 which you can look at here:

And see the article all about me which looks like this ( note the staples...)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Reflection Time

I found a travel notebook in which I had recorded my thoughts and feelings when I first gave up drinking alcohol. It was quite revealing, even to me, even considering I only wrote it 2 1/2 years ago. How things have changed. I include it here to serve as a reminder to us all about how difficult the early days were and to reassure newbies that they are not alone with their jumbled thoughts.

It's day 5 and I have a dilemma. It's 4pm and I'm in an outdoor bar alone. It is the 3rd day of our holiday in this all inclusive, idyllic setting and my resolve is wavering. As I drink my tea and eat both the danish pastries I chose, I'm contemplating the night ahead and my options.

We're meeting for drinks in the hotel lobby at 6pm before our reservation at the a la carte restaurant at 7pm. There will opportunity, if not expectation, that booze will be had and I agree that everything is in place for an evening where copious drink flows continually. What better way to get it started than right now with a couple before I go to shower and change? After all, this is exactly the type of nights I usually arrange and that's exactly what I would do as they begin.

I want to, yet I don't. These two feelings are not compatible. No compromise is possible. Either I do or I don't and if I do, I have to live with my feelings about that decision tomorrow. It's hard.

l continue the debate, awaiting some magical solution to appear that will suddenly make it alright for me to drink tonight and start stopping again tomorrow. I consider drinking for the remainder of the holiday and to start stopping again once back home. I worry whether that would be easier or harder  than it is proving right now. I wonder why I feel as if I'm 'wasting' my holiday by not drinking alcohol?

Before I reach any decision I note time has moved on. My 'me-time' is nearly over and I'm expected by my family back at the hotel room shortly. My indecision and passivity has made the decision for me. I won't drink tonight because it's true; I usually always do that exact same thing. This means there will be many other opportunities in my life for me to pick up drinking again, if that's what I decide. I'll stay sober tonight, just tonight and if it is truly awful I can always drink tomorrow night if I still want to. Plus, I've wasted this opportunity to start early and maximise the amount I can drink. It will be at least another half to three-quarters of an hour before we are at the bar and get served. The drinks are small too, I've noticed. Overall, I'll be as well not bothering.

I make this deal with myself hoping that tomorrow morning will be the same as today: where I'll wake up full of the joys of being hangover free, having scored a mental victory, and that I will remember the feeling again when wine o'clock returns again.

Disappointed by, yet resigned to my plan, I go and get changed for dinner.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Words may be required

Subsequent to my last post depicting pints of beer for €1 (around $1.40 I believe, thanks UTT), I found an establishment offering said pint for only 70 cents!

I can't help but wonder if the price of alcohol really makes a difference to whether you drink it and how much of it you drink, or if it merely makes you choose to drink in one venue over another?

The stakes are somewhat magnified with this strategy in the UK where the majority of the cost is the tax applied to alcohol and debate continues about minimum pricing for alcohol (currently rejected).

With any addiction, increasing the price alone will not deter problematic drinkers. Those who do not have a problem will cut back if they cannot afford it without any qualms. Those who cannot do this must find the extra cash required to maintain their addiction. At one extreme this may involve burglary and theft as is seen with opioid addiction. Long before that though, choices have to be made to prioritise aohol expenditure on alcohol and these induce an opportunity cost: that which you do not buy because you spent the money on something else instead. This may be food or luxuries such as holidays or clothes, or shoes for our children. These are potential sources of harm; malnutrition and neglect.

Although I was shocked at the low price of beer, enticing people to drink more and making it easy for them to do so, perhaps it is the correct thing to do? Make it easier for people to get the vice they need and minimise the collateral damage?
Or would this speed up dependency and bring these habits to breaking point sooner? Would this be a good thing or a bad thing?

As ever it seems there are more questions than answers and it can easily feel as if going round in circles.
The best solution, as ever, is to leave it alone, and refuse to give it brain space. IMO.

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