Hope

Thank you to all those you supported me with kind words. It means a lot. I’m coming out of my funk. It has been almost a month since I last posted anything. I see hope. I feel joy again.

I asked for books to read but it turned out I couldn’t read. I would get to the introduction and just not get any further. Yes, I am one of those people who read an introduction. I gave up and went visual and stuck to film, dramas, YouTube and documentaries. Swedish and Polish detective dramas were a hit. I discovered The Last Kingdom. Loved it. Highly recommend. I watched a lot of video. Wild bears in hammocks even. And I slept a lot. I do not exaggerate when I mean a lot. I didn’t worry when I slept. If I got up at seven in the evening that was acceptable too. Anything was acceptable. I am back to reading again. I have the joy of reading back again. Hallelujah.

I couldn’t write either. My morning three pages became three lines to none at all. I didn’t despair. I accepted that it wasn’t to be. Instead I went visual. I was writing five dreams daily. Not dreams as in while sleeping but dreams for the future. I couldn’t write as I mentioned. Writing down dreams was out of the question. Instead I continued with the dreams with five pictures daily of something to dream about. I started off with a photo of a woman climbing a wall. Rock climbing indoors. Literally climbing walls. Another was a cup of tea. Masala chai. A boat. A pool. A book. A woman reading. And so on. I wrote a few words of encouragement to myself and dated it. Five pictures a day. I started on 1 May 2020 and have managed to continue on up till today. I cut and pasted pictures from the internet and placed it on a page in a file. I saved a new page each day and kept adding another page and then another. Copying and pasting new pictures each day. It is enjoyable to look at. Visually beautiful and inspiring. I will continue with it.

Dreams are what they are. They are big and small. Nothing is too big or too small. Some are based in reality some seem impossible. Nothing can stop you from dreaming. They are yours to indulge in. Dreams come and go. Some remain steadfast. Others go poof and disappear as quickly as they arrived. What are yours?

Walking four times last week helped immeasurably. Not being able to get out of bed to going for a walk. From night to day. The power of movement is not to be taken lightly. All I can do now is to continue. One foot in front of the other. Fresh air. Sunshine. And repeat.

I lay in the park on the grass on a slight incline. Staring up at the sun with my eyes closed, worshiping that big ball of light. It felt good. It felt warm. The underside of my forearms hadn’t seen sunlight in forever. They soaked up Vitamin D hungrily. It was a small moment of joy. We have had a drought for months so the grass is dry and surprisingly still green. It is a wonderful sight looking out over wide open spaces of green grass and trees and big blue skies. I appreciate my local park. I am grateful.

Sober as a single blade of green grass.

Coming up for air

Still here. Still sober. Haven’t had much to say. So much is happening in the world with regards to COVID-19 and I’m staying home, staying safe.

Haven’t been reading blogs. Apologies. Hoping that everyone is safe and well. For all the essential people and businesses that are keeping the world functioning as best you can, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I have moments of anxiousness. Followed of feelings of gratefulness. To have a roof over my head, no shortage of food, self isolating with someone I love, cats to cuddle with, plenty to occupy myself with till the end of time. Retired. Plenty of firewood to get us through the coming winter, power, internet, water, views of trees. Rubbish services are still running. And time. Learning to use time more wisely in among long stretches of sleeping, cooking, Netflix and YouTube.

I enjoy my own company and could happily spend everyday at home. I prefer to deal with people via email or text. Online shopping for groceries has been a great experience. However when I went out today to check out the supermarket situation I felt such elation to be outside. I felt like I had been holding my breath for weeks. Elation, tears of relief and a little less anxiety. In all honesty we were running the car around the block to keep the battery alive. It was just a car ride but so much more. I waved and smiled to a complete stranger and was greeted in return. A pleasant exchange. I will make the most of the garden, take the time to get outside in the fresh air and make a better effort to keep my fruit and vegetables healthy and edible. I have started coriander, ginger, turmeric and garlic inside.

Sanity toolkit for me consists of computer adventure games, sketching, writing, and organising the house. Currently in the kitchen. Part way through. Got side tracked and did the entrance way instead. Feel myself easily distracted, thoughts scattered. Listening to Billie Ellish while cleaning has been good. Taking time out to have a really good cup of tea or coffee in a chosen cup. A moment to saver the taste, notice the shape of the handle and how it allows me to hold the cup. Take in the colour of the tea, the smell. A moment of serenity. I seem to have collected demitasse cups. I have choices. I have a Turkish tea set too. I can travel the world with a cup of tea. Opting for tea these days because I made some wonderful cafe de olla, Mexican spiced coffee, and wow, fantastic but strong, made me wired till the wee hours. Love the flavour. Look it up if it peaks your interest. Used jaggery for the sweeter instead of panela.

Arts Live
Heard today that PBS is or is going to shoe online for free Broadway show of the past. And National Theatre is going to show on YouTube from 2 April.

Online education is coming cheaper or free
https://www.edx.org/
https://www.udemy.com/
https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
http://www.openuniversity.edu/
https://www.coursera.org/

Learn a language
https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/9-places-to-learn-a-new-language-online-for-fre.html

Reading
Despite the libraries being closed I can still access ebooks.
https://www.gutenberg.org/

Be well. Be distracted if that is the best way to get through this. Safety first.

Wash your hands. And put cream on afterwards. My hands feel raw from all this washing. I was even washing fruit in soapy water today. No complaining here.

COVID-19: Day 6 of Level 4 Lockdown here in New Zealand.
(Level 4 is the highest level.)
(Self Isolation – Essential services – Financial Support –
Be Kind – Wash Your Hands – Stay Home)

Inner Strength

Finding this inner strength that I have isn’t easy. I have thrown rocks in my own path, stacked it at the back of a storage shed behind the towering boxes, I have left it alone amongst the cobwebs and dust. I did it to myself. I buried it instead of using it.

One year sober. Who would have thought it? I wasn’t certain I would get this far. I added one day to the next and here we are with days sewn into weeks, patched into months and I’ve gone and made an annual quilt of hand stitched threads of soberness.

It feels good. This strength that I have found is saying I can handle it. Whatever it may be I can handle it.

I’m re-reading Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. It’s a different read than when I read it years ago. That’s a good thing. I’m learning something new about myself.

Being curious, reading, seeking and trying are traits that never get old. It makes me a perpetual student. I won’t stop.

Today my plan for the afternoon is reading on the couch with the Christmas tree lights on and the doors wide open. I’m resting my ankle again but wiggling my toes. It’s a sunny day. The cicadas are singing. It’s a good day.

Sober as. A piece of string.

Library book obsession and a confession

I am a library book hoarder. By hoarder I mean I see a book that I’d like to read and go straight to the library website and see if they have it and then request it. Hence to me having 15 books out at the same time. Yes even I can see that that is too many. Some are fiction some are non-fiction. No matter which way I look at it – It’s too many to focus on each book and give them the attention they deserve.

Case in point I have to return the Brené Brown book, Rising Strong today or pay a fine. It cannot be renewed. I’ve tried already. I am three quarters of the way through and I haven’t given it the full attention that it deserves. It wasn’t because it is a terrible book. It is a fantastic book. I have been hovering over other books and in the end distracted by all.

I have already started a book list, a written one, that I do by hand in a notebook. I started this last month, plus I have the Library page (check it out there some gems there) on this blog. In the future if I find a book to add to the list, I will do that and NOT request it immediately. I have put a freeze on some of my books on request. I am learning to pace myself with books.

We have a lot of books at home and I love looking at them. We sleep in a library. One entire wall, is covered in books in a custom build bookcase that I built. It is so tall that we need a ladder to reach the top. We have a book ladder. I had always wanted one. It doesn’t slide, there are no wheels, but it is solid wood and it looks the part. Ready for book retrieval once I get my clothes off it. It doubles as a clothes hanger. Multi-purposing is a good thing, right?

I will not be giving up books entirely. Never. I love to be surrounded my them. I just plan to reduce the number of library books I get out at the same time.

I have a confession to make. I found a library book that had fallen down behind a wooden box. I swore to the librarian that I had returned it months ago. She believed me. I believed me. Beside the book was the soda stream empty canister in its box that I had been looking for for months. I must have emptied out the car twice to no avail. We went out and bought two more canisters. Now we have three spares. Today I will humbly return the book that fell behind the box.

One book at a time.

I need reading in my life. Reading comforts me. It takes me to new and old places. It makes me think, laugh, and cry. It teaches me, it cocoons me in good times and bad, in dark thoughts and sad thoughts. Books are meant to be read. That said words are meant to be written, to be spoken or to be sung. If we are alone who can we share our words and thoughts with? Sharing out thoughts brings togetherness and understanding. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Share your thoughts. I’m listening.

Day 51

Being sober is the easy part. The decision to become sober was difficult. Finding what to do next and how to do it is the struggle. More the “how” really.

I am sober but the habits that surrounded the alcohol are still with me. Tidying and cleaning, basically housework in general is not something I excel at. Our home looks lived in. It is not a show home. It has books and comfortable couches and day beds. It has things scattered on the floor. It is not ready for visitors or guests. That’s okay for now.

I used to strive for perfection. Then I realised that it was ridiculous. I still try but not to the extent I used to do. I overdo things and need a gentle nudge to stop trying to do everything at once. I am finding more peace with dropping perfection, guilt, paranoia and regret. These things I dropped before becoming sober. Anxiety is still with me but in a much weaker form. Depression is with me too but I recognise it, accept it and have learnt to live with it better. Fear is still with me. Fear is holding me back. I know this. I recognise this. I aim to challenge myself and make the fear smaller or contained. First though comes care. I need better care before I can face fear.

The past two years I chose to face things. Facing something is scary. It is easier to postpone, to look elsewhere. It is difficult to face something but once faced it removes a brick in the wall that surrounds yourself. It allows you to find lightness, makes it easier to breathe.

Facing something allows you to move on.

Insomnia is taking a hint and edging towards her packed bags at the door. I am managing to get to sleep by about 2am. Huge improvements for me. I took a bath with Epsom salts, 2 cups worth and soaked while reading a book with tea and a nice candle. It was relaxing. I had forgotten the magnesium in Epsom salts. Magnesium sulphate, of course. One source of increasing my magnesium.

Accidentally kicked my Epsom salts glass jar in the bathroom a few weeks ago. Sober. Glass and salt everywhere. Yikes. That stopped my habit dead. I want a replacement jar for it but something unbreakable. Zip lock bag will have to suffice for now. The jar was in the corner out of the way I thought but my foot found it regardless. Clumsiness is still with me.

I made it to the gym once this week. I did mini habits twice. I am eating better. I am enjoying homemade toasted muesli and adding more fruit and vegetables to my life. My weight is going down. The scales are showing me numbers that I haven’t seen in months. A healthier me is beginning to show.

Reading is my rock. Non fiction, fiction, doesn’t really matter. My list of books to read is getting longer and my tangents are dividing as I explore further. Learning and leisure is for everyone.

Progress made. Half way through this week I got lost but I found my way back again. Onwards.

Sunny Summer Afternoon

The box of gourmet chocolates is now open on the coffee table in front of me. Several are missing. They were opened too early. They were supposed to be for Christmas. It’s too late now. They had been in the fridge cooling off. Now they’re too hard. They aren’t melting in my mouth like they’re supposed to. I have tried one of each variety just to make sure. Now I’m very sure.

Humidity is low, sunshine hours long, hardly a cloud in the sky today. A blissful day of song birds and cats lazing about. At last I have a regular supply of delicious pomegranate tea. I will stock up and hoard them next time I go shopping.

Lunch and dinner were rolled into one today. Steak and roast vegetables. The garlic bulb was suitably mushy and smeared over everything. Kumara (sweet potatoes), carrots, broccoli and asparagus. Al fresco under reed shade. A gentle breeze and good conversation. Sparkling water not wine. Today is an upbeat day.

Weeding and watering the garden will be a good evening task for later. Passionfruit, grapes, olives, strawberries, rhubarb and blueberries. Limes will be next year. Fingers crossed. Patience. My spinach from last year is acting crazy and has gone to seed. I have yet to pull it out and start again. Perpetual? Not.Time to tidy the next part of the garden.

Off now to make to most of the weather. A nap in the middle of reading on the lawn.
Enjoy today.

Today’s Sober Treats: Pomegranate tea, chocolates and Reading

The Village Effect: How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter by Susan Pinker

Apres exercise

Walked my two kilometers today with the aid of an audio book. I could have walked further as the book was good. Decided instead to not overdo it and stopped. This tendency to do too much is why I am writing his blog in the first place. It is better to exercise moderately five times a week rather than all out twice a week. Moderation.

Insomnia is becoming less and less. Managed to get to sleep after a restless hour or so. Time is estimated as I now refuse to clock watch at night. I think it makes it worse. I no longer lie in bed wide awake, I have an exhausted feel, a sleepy feeling instead. That however doesn’t naturally allow me to fall asleep easily. I am being patient with this. I can see improvement. I just want insomnia to no longer be a topic of discussion. I want it to be a thing of the past. Done.

My winter pyjama bottoms are super soft and I love them to bits. I almost threw them out last week. Why? They are covered with images of half filled champagne glasses and I wanted to rid myself of all thing alcohol and my pyjamas were in my line of sight. They survived. I realised that I was being a bit extreme and that it would have been a waste to throw them out.

So far so good. I don’t want to drink anything. But the space the drinking has left behind is huge. I have so much I want to do. I have much to achieve. The drinking has postponed so much of my life.
I’ll get round to it!
Tomorrow!
I’m not in the mood!
I don’t feel like it!
Sure! (then instantly forgets what was agreed upon)

Setting up good habits will make life easily when days are not going so smoothly. Exercise is put in place. I just need to do it. Aiming at four times a week to feel a success. Morning Pages are ideally ever day not necessarily in the morning but anytime really. I have missed a day here and there. Getting the internet out of the bedroom is taking some getting used to. Better luck tonight. Sober treats is a lovely idea and yesterday I bought some pomegranate tea to have when the mood appears. I’m reading more and that is always a good thing. Reading is so much more enjoyable, an active activity. I mean compared to watching Netflix, a passive activity. Reading stimulates the mind and if I get around to reading all the books that I want to read I might have to live past one hundred.

Today’s Sober Treats: Chamomile tea and Reading

The Village Effect: How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter by Susan Pinker


Rainy Sunday afternoon

Went to the supermarket today. Avoided the alcohol aisle. Walked down the confectionery aisle and picked out some chocolate for myself. DH went nuts with chocolate buying. He knows that I no longer steal from his stash of goodies so he feels that he can buy what he likes now.

Alcoholic me would have devoured his chocolate in the wee hours with no regard for the  consequences the following morning. Sorry doesn’t cut it really. I am strong enough to resist the urge to binge on sweet stuff because I am not drinking.

It feels good to be trusted around chocolate again. I’m 50 not 5. Such a silly thing but a big step for me.

I feel good for the money I’m saving by not drinking alcohol. I don’t watch TV so I don’t get bombarded with commercials for various brands and labels so that is a positive thing. I have removed myself from wine clubs. I was a member of two. I no longer take calls from them so I cannot be tempted to buy a case.

I haven’t removed the spirits from the drinks cupboard. I plan to move them to the garage so that they are further from line of sight and of mind. Being a lazy drinker I would not bother to go to the garage to grab a drink, I would rather go without. But best to move them sooner than later.

Insomnia is still with me at Day 16 but I can manage to get to sleep now, which is good progress. Will try to get to bed earlier and read a book before nodding off. Trying to have an internet free bedroom. Phone and computer charging elsewhere. Working on that. Haven’t been successful yet but trying. Habits are so hard to break.

Focusing on self care at the moment. I realise that Sober Day 16 is such a new experience that I should take everything slowly. If all goes well it will be for the rest of my sober life. I have been dry for spurts of months and weeks in the past but never with the sober forever in mind. I was having a break. It was always swayed into going back to the wine or the vodka or the beer. I feel that this time I have the right mindset. I know that I am going sober for me. I know that only I can make that decision.

Once this insomnia is kicked I feel that I can start to get back to being creative. Regardless I am back to exercising next week, walking, weights and Pokemon Go. I mowed the lawns last week. Weeding to do next. I am being kind to myself and if I don’t get it done today it will be tomorrow. And if it isn’t done then it isn’t a big deal. It is not the end of the world. Priority is being sober.

Today’s Sober Treats: Chocolate and Reading

Whittaker’s Hawke’s Bay Braeburn Apple with Vanilla 100g

The Village Effect: How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter by Susan Pinker


Mrs D is Going Without

Mrs D is Going Without by Lotta Dann

I have taken Lotta Dann’s advice and gone to the library to get books on getting/being sober. I picked up a bundle today and I am already halfway through Mrs D is Going Without. At the rate I’m going I’ll have it finished tonight.

To read a book that speaks to you is quite a Godsend. Every person’s reason to give up alcohol is different. Every person’s triggers are different. Every person’s symptoms are different. Depending on which questionnaire you fill out you can either breathe a sigh and think falsely that you aren’t an alcoholic. The stages of alcoholism are different depending on which website you look. Every country has there own relationship with alcohol. Some are closer than others.

Some people drink from the morning, others from 5pm. For me it was 6pm. Some days dry some days not. Life used to revolve around alcohol. From trips overseas, to a theatre visit to a night at home al fresco in the garden. Oysters? Why not. A nice glass of Chablis to go with that. When in Spain do as Spanish do. A brunch sandwich? Yes. Why not. A glass of red to go with that? What an excellent idea. Intermission. A wine? Or an ice cream? Why not both?

I have no regrets of what, where and how and with whom I have consumed alcohol. To regret would be redundant. I do enjoy wine. I can’t say did yet because it is still too soon.  I have a sneaking feeling that my idea to go back to wine will be a disaster of an idea. The concept of moderation is not why I am here today writing about quitting alcohol. I go to this point by over indulging, drinking to excess. Because I couldn’t drink in moderation. I haven’t woken up to the idea that moderation is not me. All in or not at all. I will learn eventually. For now though I concentrate on not drinking and trying to sleep. This insomnia is being to become stale. I am well and truly over it.  I accept insomnia as a side effect of giving up alcohol. i bear it stoically. This is all self inflicted. There is no one else to blame except myself. But even with that said I do not blame myself. It is what it is.

Back to my book….Thanks Mrs D.

Kindness

I am who I am.
I love who I am today.
I love me as I am.

Did I expect to feel fantastic right away? Admittedly, yes.
It didn’t happen. NO.
Should I be surprised? No.
It took years of habit to drink alcohol and use it as a crutch to feel relaxed and good in my own skin. So really I have ripped off a plaster and the wound is exposed. It doesn’t heal right away. It needs fresh air, tenderness and time. Time…

When a physical wound is treated there are possible trips to the doctor, stitches if necessary. Cautions of what not to do. Treatment of the area. Rest and recovery. It’s a universal procedure. Seek treatment if you cannot heal yourself. But with mental health it is not treated as the same thing. There is a disconnect between the physical and the mental within our bodies. Or at least in the West. There is so much not understood and with this comes taboo and stigma and fear of the unknown.

Talking about yourself to strangers in a group setting brings up anxiety of group work from my school days. Did I like talking out in class. No. Did it make me feel comfortable? No. Were we encouraged to voice our opinions? No. Public speaking is not a quality my society excels. We tend to not blow our own horns. We are humble and meek. Or we used to be. The influx of American reality shows has sparked a demand for “me me me” and instant gratification for a few moments in the limelight. This is not reality though.

The thought of going to an AA meeting does not match me or my personalty. I cannot do it. The thought of going to a therapist does not match me or my personalty. I don’t believe in spending hundreds of dollars on my feelings, talking about me to a stranger is nonsense. Most of the therapists go into study to understand themselves better. Good for them. But for someone to heal or improve doesn’t that make the therapist redundant? If the therapist is not needed anymore then their income from that patient stops, so how does the relationship end? It’s unhealthy. Sure there must be some morally ethical therapists out there. And there must be some good ones out there too. After all this is just one opinion.

Reading and writing are my therapy: my path to understanding myself better and developing a better version of myself. Rest and relaxation. Kindness to oneself is key.