Monday, 29 June 2015

Somewhere in a Parallel Universe.....

Somewhere in a parallel universe, deep within the bowels of Corporate America, Mr. A.S. Hole has settled into his comfortable leather chair, and is ready for his assistant Nigel to brief him on new investment opportunities. Mr. Hole is anxious to expand his portfolio, and realize his lifetime ambition to be wealthier and more obnoxious than Donald Trump.

“Well Nigel m’boy, what do we have this week?” (Mr Hole often affects a “Winston Churchill” British accent)

“Mr Hole, I’ve got you a winner this week….it’s going to be BIG!”

“Get on with it then….”

With a flourish, Nigel turns on the overhead projector (no Steve Jobs or Bill Gates in this parallel universe)

“I give you………ALCOHOL!!”

Mr Hole looks at Nigel expectantly.

“Alcohol is a colourless liquid, that is made from rotting fruit that will REVOLUTIONIZE the WHOLE WORLD!!”

“Good God, boy – rotting fruit?? Didn’t I tell you never to bring me these half baked ideas again? I thought we were done with this after the debacle with the dried leaf sticks…”

“Sir, sir, this is different…..let me explain….”

Mr Hole waves his hand…”Get on with it….”

“Alcohol has many wonderful properties. Mixed with sweet flavouring, a person drinks it, and is almost instantly transported into a euphoric world, where troubles melt away like lemon drops, rainbows appear, and bluebirds sing…….(starts to hum)…..and people become happier, more confident, more loving, and much better dancers”


“Yes sir…’s a beautiful thing……..”

“And will people pay for it?”

“Yes Sir… that’s the best part, once they’ve had Alcohol just one time, they want it again and again…..
Mr Hole sits up in his chair…..” What’s the marketing plan on this one Nigel?”

“Well Sir, after the success with Botox last year, we decided to roll it out in Palm Springs….”

“Hmmph, good idea. I don’t like the name ‘Alcohol”, can we come up with anything better than that?”

“That’s the beauty of it Sir, we can brand it to suit any demographic”

“Excellent, do we have any celebrity endorsements?”

“Dean Martin is all over it Sir”.

Mr Hole sits back in his chair thinking.

“You know Nigel, this sounds promising and everything, but for a really good investment, I like to target the masses…rich people are extremely important, but to really hit it big, I need to get a foothold in that other market…you know, the others……the…

“Poor people, Sir?” said Nigel helpfully….

“Yes, yes…..those people……”

“Well Sir, that’s the beauty of this liquid, it’s just a matter of marketing….for the rich people, we package it in elegant bottles, with expensive looking labels……for the poor people, well, it can go in tins……or even cardboard boxes…..AND, the message is slightly different…….”

Nigel changes the slide on the Overhead projector to reveal a slogan….

“Alcohol….Takes the Edge off Your Miserable Life”

“I like it, I like it……..any downside??”

“Well Sir, it can make you feel a bit sick and give you a headache, so we’ve had a bit of a backlash from the Lobbyists………and, sometimes Sir…….


“Sometimes it can kill you……apparently it is a poison…..but overall I think the benefits outweigh a few deaths……

Mr Hole wags his finger at Nigel…

“Listen here m’boy, you know I won’t support anything that can do harm, REGARDLESS of all the money I could make….so we must listen to the Lobbyists, they keep this Corporate world honest and transparent, they are the backbone of our democracy!!”

A short silence followed by raucous laughter.

“Oh, Mr Hole” said Nigel wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, “you got me there!”

“Ha, ha, yes, this Alcohol thingy is going to make me a rich man! So no Lobbyist will ever stand in my way….why, it’s more likely that we will have….have a….

“Woman President Sir?”


“Never joke about that, m’boy”.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Day 50 It takes a Drunk to know a Drunk

There has only been one person in my life that has called me a drunk.

This was last year, many months before I put down my wine glass for good, but my first reaction was not of denial or outrage but "takes one to know one...."

The lady (I'll call her L) who shone a spotlight into my darkness, was (is) not a friend. We were thrown together by the enduring friendship of our husbands.

During our first meeting, we established a mutual loathing, and ironically, a mutual comradery.

The unspoken comradery existed because of our shared love of alcohol, and also because we provided each other with a useful metric for our drinking habit..

"God, at least I don't drink as much as L...... " , I have been known to utter (both internally and externally, to focus attention away from me)

I am sure that L used me in the same way.

My husband and his friend were seemingly oblivious to the tension between L and I, until we finally had an argument that culminated in angry words fueled by alcohol, and the ensuing name calling.
My husband and his friend put it down to 'girl drama" and ignored it, they took to meeting for lunch occasionally, and the boozy dinner foursomes stopped.

Being called a drunk was one of many incidents that would finally form the tipping point for me.

Looking back, I remember one afternoon when L and I were together waiting for our husbands to arrive back from fishing.
She had just arrived back from a trip to visit her family, and mentioned that one of her cousins had stopped drinking.
"I was looking forward to sharing a bottle of wine with her" said L "but it turns out she's an alcoholic, and doesn't touch it any more"
She went on to say...."You know what, I sometimes wonder if I am......"

It would have been so easy for me to say " You know what? Me too, maybe we should do something about it....". But I didn't.

It was convenient for me to have someone who was far worse than me....

I recalled this conversation when the other day my husband mentioned casually that he had met up with his friend for lunch.

"L had a bit of a meltdown" he said. " She got herself into a rage and drove her truck through the gates in the front yard"
'Luckily (friend) managed to stop her before she drove into town....she was very drunk"

A year ago I would have feigned alarm and sympathy, while internally ticking off another box on the list "Reasons Why L is a Worse Drunk than Me"

Now I just wish that I had responded when she was so obviously reaching out for help. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Day 49 . Is Sober the New Gluten-Free?

Anyone remember that marvelous scene in "Shirley Valentine", where she shrieks out the window, "I'm going to have sex for breakfast, sex for lunch and sex for's the BLOODY F - PLAN DIET!!"

I've just finished reading the awesome Sober Mummy's blog post today "Stop Drinking, Lose Weight?" and for some reason it reminded me of Shirley Valentine, and how she goes off to find herself, her lost youth and lost opportunities....I feel like I'm on a Shirley Valentine journey right now, only I didn't have to go to  Greek Island (sounds lovely though), I just had to put down the bottle...

Anyhoo, getting back to the vague point of today's ramblings, I had a bizarre conversation with one of my sister-in-laws yesterday ( I have mentioned her briefly before, but to catch you up in two words "complete bitch")

SIL " Glass of wine Jackie?"
ME " No thanks, water will be fine, it's so hot"
SIL 'Oh the wine's chilled"
ME "Actually I've given up drinking"
SIL "Really?"
ME "Yes"
SIL "I've given up wheat"
ME "Really?"
SIL "Yes. I think I'm gluten -intolerant"
ME "Oh dear"
SIL " Yes. No bread for me"
ME " That must be challenging, no pasta or muffins or anything then. A complete lifestyle change"
SIL. "Oh, I've only given up bread. it's just the wheat that I can't take"

Short Silence.

ME " Well that's too bad"
SIL "Yes it's hard"

Short Silence

SIL " Are you Wine- Intolerant?"
Me " Yes, I guess I am"

SIL " Would you like a beer ? I'm having one...."

Have a great weekend everyone.xx

Friday, 26 June 2015

Day 48 - A Creative Whizz? Me?

I do not have a creative bone in my body.

That has been my stance for the whole of my life.

I was not good at Art in school, or domestic science (but seriously, who IS good at this and who cares?), or woodwork (co-ed school), metal work (really? welding?) and Horticulture was a fancy word for chain gangs of truants clearing the wasteland behind the bike sheds.

I was, however, good at English Lit and I announced to my parents that I loved writing and was going to be a journalist ( I secretly wanted to be a novelist, but journalist sounded like something I could get paid for, and therefore my middle class parents would approve).

I won't bore you with descriptions of the raised voices and slamming doors, but my first job was with Lloyds Bank, and when that totally sucked the soul out of me, I became an accountant, and it was the day that creativity finally died. For me.

So I told myself that I was "analytical" rather than "creative" and I have avoided all contact with creative activities and fluffy, airhead creative types until now.

I find myself married in to a family of artists - how the hell did that happen? (misrepresentation - that's how!).

And one of these creative types was looking at my serious analytical online business and remarked that I might get a few more clients if my advertising was a bit more "colourful". Whaaatt?

The only colour decision that I have concerned myself with  recently is... "red or white wine?' so this was a completely alien concept, but I did concede that my website, my facebook page and just about everything with my business was drab and uninspiring.

So, I did something that was unthinkable about 50 days ago - I set out to learn something new.

I signed on to a free live webinar, hosted by a lovely lady in the UK who runs The Business Beautician , and got out of bed at 5.00am in the morning to attend.

What a revelation! Firstly that I can actually get out of bed at 5.00am in the morning (impossible in the non sober days), and secondly..... I learned LOTS and LOTS - how to design my own stuff, how to brighten up E-books, make eye catching advertisments...

I spent the whole of yesterday completely absorbed - it's been so long since I was so engrossed in a project that I totally forgot the time.

I posted (nervously) a couple of my creations in my online business group. "Wow", posted one lovely lady "You are a creative whiz!"

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Day 46 - The Worse News Possible

Day 46. I got frantic text from my stepson to tell us that his very best friend, Josh, has passed away.
Josh was 35 years old. He and Jason were as close as brothers.
They were the last rebels in their crowd. Both bachelors, they lived life without commitments, cares, worries or constraints
When they got together, they lived at full throttle - both thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies - there was no extreme sport that was out of their radar - they really did live as though they were invincible.

Over the last year, I watched Jason slow down a bit. He stopped drinking as much, and never one for many recreational drugs, he stopped dabbling with magic mushrooms and weed.

He and Josh traveled together last winter. Jason is a commercial fisherman, so he works only six months of the year and Josh is (was) a helicopter pilot, working with a fire fighting unit in BC.

They went to South America - Nicaragua, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica - for about three months.
Jason lives to travel. He is a savvy, seasoned traveler, he wants to experience local people, customs, food - and he makes friends easily. Like his Dad, he has an engaging smile, and has this ability to stretch over to another table in a restaurant, interrupt the conversation, and by the end of the evening, have made new friends, and plans for the next day.
But, he never takes risks. The same man who will base jump from Half Dome Mountain in Yosemite, does not walk down dark alleys, frequent the shady part of town, or dress in flashy clothes. I have never worried about Jason while he has been on excursions.

This time was different. It was the first time that Jason and Josh had traveled for any length of time. They had planned this trip for their whole adult life, and finally the plans became reality.

Within a week Jason was texting and facebooking us. Josh had gone on a wild bender - in Nicaragua. He had been lured out of a bar by a prostitute, had been drinking and doing lines of coke, and was missing by the time that Jason got to the bar.

After 24 hours he turned up. The girl (and accomplice) had knocked him out, stolen his hotel key and ransacked the hotel room - all his credit cards had gone, passport, everything.

Jason was both relieved to see Josh alive, and furious with him for being so stupid. They carried on their trip, in the hope that Josh had learned his lesson, but sadly not. After another two weeks of full on drinking, drug taking and partying with prostitutes (Josh), Jason finally lost his temper when Josh was drunk and obnoxious to a waiter in a restaurant.

Jason took off for a month on his own. At the end of the trip, he met up with Josh again, and they patched up their differences, but it was never the same.

Jason didn't want the wild life any more. He didn't (doesn't) want to get an office job, and have two weeks by the seaside as his annual holiday, but he has started to value his life. His risks are a little more calculated, he acknowledges his own mortality.
Today he is broken hearted. And there are no words that I or anyone can say that will comfort him.

He asked me to find photos of Josh to send to the family for the memorial service on Saturday. Jason is flying home to attend.

There are many pictures of Jason and Josh, but this one stands out.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day 45

Day 45! I missed a couple of days posting this blog, and I really missed it!
It seems that I have to remind myself that this is really happening, I am going to be a NON- DRINKER forever!! And Ever.
At some point, I will stop counting days. I will stop hesitating to think what I should say when someone offers me a glass of fact, someday, nobody will offer, because I am a NON-DRINKER!!

When I was very young, I got married to my best friend. We never should have got married, we should have remained best friends. However, everyone in our crowd was getting married - so hey! Why not?
We planned the big day - although my mother said occasionally, "what's wrong? It feels like I am dragging you up the aisle!!" (Red Flag, don't you think?)
I joked with my Dad in the car going to the Church - "If it all goes wrong, can I come home" (self fulfilling prophecy maybe?)
And when I finally walked up the aisle, although I was extremely happy and excited for my new future, in the back of my mind came the nagging thought "is this really forever?"

Less than two years later, we separated, and finally divorced. It was as as amicable as these situations can be. I wasn't ready for FOREVER, and as it turns out, neither was he.

Three years ago, on 7th July I married again. There was no white dress, no church, just us, close family and a group of friends by a lake, with a barbeque and a Justice of the Peace.

There wasn't the euphoria and excitement of the first wedding, just a calm, peaceful feeling that this was (is) forever, and that it is the best decision I have ever made in my life.

Like Sobriety. It's not a starter marriage. It's forever. And it's beautiful.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Day 42 - I'm a Carrot Person.

No, I'm not orange.
I love rewards. I am motivated by the carrot, not the stick.
In school, I loved gold stars, A pluses, the "well done"'s. And as I got older, I still craved approval.
I did almost everything, in the hope that someone would say 'Good job, Jackie!"
When it dawned on me that we don't get accolades for normal things like holding down a job, paying bills on time, and keeping the car serviced and clean, I began to make grandiose plans in the hope that one day, I would get thunderous applause for my achievements.
Now, I know that there is nothing wrong with Big Dreams, but mine were all for the wrong reasons.
Consequently, I became a Really Good Starter.....but I rarely followed through on any project.
I think, looking back, that I used wine firstly as a "reward" and then to take the edges off my disappointment in myself.
And so began a vicious circle, I was drinking because I wasn't doing anything I was proud of, and no-one else was proud of me either, and because I was drinking, I was less likely to do anything to raise my self esteem....and so on...
I am slowly learning the lesson that self esteem and pride comes from within, not externally. I know the theory, it's getting to grips with the practical part that's taking the time.
I am looking at parts of my business, and trying to sort out the bits that make my heart sing, and the parts that I am doing for other people's approval.
I am starting projects in the home, because they bring me peace, or a sense of accomplishment - like my garden.
I am cleaning the house, and de-cluttering because it helps me to feel orderly, not because I am wanting my husband to compliment me.
I'm not drinking wine because of the way it makes me feel to be sober - proud of myself, and calm.
And yet....when I do get a pat on the does feel nice.....I opened the fridge last night and found an unexpected reward inside....... "you've worked really hard on the garden, and the business, and it's Friday! - my husband said.
The funny thing? It's a carrot cake.

Friday, 19 June 2015

We all want to be "The Good Wife"

I've started bingeing. No, not alcohol - Netflix. If you don't have Netflix in the UK, it's internet based streaming TV, and I bet you have it, but it's called something different.
Anyway, I love it, because you can watch season after season of your favourite TV show -WITHOUT COMMERCIALS!!
First, we watched the whole series of "Nip and Tuck", which I had completely missed when it was first on TV, then we watched "House of Cards" - the USA version, then the WHOLE of "West Wing".
I'm not blogging about this because I want to demonstrate my addictive personality - we already know all about that (the wine thing), but firstly to remind myself to go back and re-watch some episodes as I was still drinking when we first got Netflix, and they are hazy at best, but secondly because since being sober, I have fixated on all the drinking that goes on in fictional TV.
Now clearly the depiction of drinking in Mad Men is integral to the plot, but it is the "normalizing" of women drinking that I have sound fascinating.
I started to watch "The Good Wife". For those of you who may not have watched it, very basically it is the story of a wife whose adulterous husband is also the State's Attorney who ends up caught in a sex scandal and ends up in jail. She (Good Wife) stands by him, and takes up her long abandoned career as a lawyer to make ends meet. And each season watches the high and lows of this career.
Now I avoided this drama series because I didn't buy the premise that a smart women lawyer would stand by her sleazy man (inexplicably her husband ends up as State Governor), but given that I haven't yet found another Mad Men series, I tried it.
And here's the thing. The lead character is (as I've said), a strong, independent, smart lawyer (with the aforementioned blind spot). And in almost every episode, she drinks wine alone.
She doesn't get home from a hard day at the office, and put on the kettle, she always pours a large glass of red wine. And then another. Completely. Normal.
When did it get normal? We've had this debate in sober cyberspace about drinking alone, and how it should be something that is "crossing the line"....but here it is, on mainstream TV for all to see....drinking alone is not only NORMAL - the smart, independent, lawyer ladies DO IT ALL THE TIME!!
I'm not whining and blaming the "bad TV people who are being paid off by the alcohol industry" - but now I've typed that, it seems feasible - but didn't we go through all of this with smoking?
Am I turning into a paranoid bore?
It just seems sometimes that the odds are stacked against us.
It isn't that I believe that women see this TV show, and then think " Oooh, I want to be a Good Wife, I'll break out a good bottle of red", it's the casual visual image of women drinking when they feel like it. At the bar to celebrate winning a case. At lunchtime, with a colleague. In the evening, while preparing dinner, after dinner while working on the laptop. With no consequences. No hangover depicted, no running around after sleeping through the alarm, no throwing yesterdays clothes in the dryer to get the wrinkles out because you couldn't be bothered to do laundry, no puffy eyes, no difficulty concentrating during the first meeting of the morning, no eating an Egg McMuffin to get rid of the queasy feeling in your stomach, no guzzling water/coffee/water....and so on, and so on...
As you can tell, I did get pissed (angry, UK friends, not actually "pissed").
Just give us a break. Would it really hurt to have a strong female character who doesn't drink? And is still cool? And strong, sexy and independent? Apart from "Wonder Woman"?
Anyway, I think I'll just start watching "Orange is the New Black". There can't be anything shocking or controversial in a comedy show, can there?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Day 40.....Duelling Witches.

It had to happen. Day 40 and the witch was back.
A stressful evening. We invited a business associate over with his wife (they are also friends) to discuss how our business is going, and what the future holds. It started off well, but we ran into some areas of disagreement.
I found myself eyeing up the bottle of red wine that they had bought with them. I was sipping on a glass of soda water.
As we got further into the debate, I tuned out a little......and
"go on, just one glass, there's only one bottle, so it's not as if you will be drinking much"

I watched as my friend helped herself to another glass and....(shrieking now)

"be quick, be quick....or she'll finish it!!!"

Oh boy, I'm not in Kansas anymore. I had another soda water.

They finally left. There was a third of the bottle left. My husband watched me as I poured it down the sink.

"There", said the Good Witch.....
"It was in you all the time"


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Day 39 - Big Thoughts from The Big Mind

I've been thinking Big Thoughts lately (maybe I have too much time on my hands). I've been contemplating The Universe. Before I gave up the vino, my thoughts on The Universe would have gone like this...." The Universe? Lovely. Could you pass the wine please?"
These days I am giving The Universe far more attention.
I've been noticing, now that I am out of my wine-fog, that plenty of people seem to be nattering about the Law of Attraction.
Now apparently (forgive me if this is not news to you), in the Universe is swirling lots of good thoughts and feelings and awesome stuff, AND if you concentrate really hard, you get the good stuff.
It's called Manifesting, and it happens whether or not you intend it to......
Therefore if you give out negative vibes, you get negative stuff back.
But what happens if you give out foggy, confused, drunk vibes?
I can see the Universe rolling his/her eyes.."not her again, with her drunken manifesting...doesn't make any sense, just send her another bottle, and hope she passes out"
Buddhists have a similar belief (and apologies if this is inaccurate or too simplistic), that all thoughts and concepts and human potential is all stored in the Big Mind (aka Universe).....and all we do is receive thoughts, and if we are paying attention , we sift through all the transmitted thoughts and chose the good stuff and reject the bad.
Now how does this apply to us? I have a Theory.
Alcohol, along with other narcotics that dull and confuse our senses, inhibits our ability to sift through all the transmitted thoughts and stuff, and therefore, only the bad stuff, like thoughts of negative self worth, and self loathing get through - all the thoughts that no-one else wants. The bargain basement of thoughts, if you will. In addition, we transmit back to the Universe, all our negative bullshit, so he/she/it, keeps sending us more.
Once we are clear-headed - we start to receive the odd positive thought. The Universe thinks - "well, well...that actually made some sense....let's send her some good stuff and see what happens..."
Then it snowballs, and before you know it, you're manifesting a holiday in Hawaii.
(Ok, the Theory needs some work, but even Einstein had to start somewhere, and all he came up with, is an equation ....jeez).

P.S I am posting this about half an hour after my original post. Apparently my Theory already exists. My apologies for unintended plagarism. Sorry.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Day 38

In the sober blog sphere at the moment is plenty of discussion about ways to banish the Wine Witch when she comes calling - usually when we are feeling "normal' with our sobriety. A really great way is load up our ammo with new sober memories, experiences, self confidences, and accomplishments.
(see sober mummy's Ammunition)

I found this great image that I am using on my facebook page, and my desk top, to remind me that this is the way I feel every night I am sober.

Onwards to Day 40! yay!!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Day 36 - Running Like Forrest Gump. Well, not quite..

I took up running. Again. First of all, I am using the loosest definition of running, which translates into a cross between a shuffle and a Michael Jackson moon walk.
Still, I have accomplished getting out of the door two mornings in a row now. And I fully intend to keep doing this, even though it hurts a lot, but it's nice when I stop.
I used to run quite a bit, I have even completed marathons. When I tell people that now, they look at my overweight, saggy, middle -aged body, and nod kindly, the same way you would nod at a crazy person to keep them calm.
I took up running, because my then -partner was an avid runner, and as he so eloquently put it, I was "the fattest girl he had ever been out with".
Instead of calling him an a-hole (although I made up for that fifteen years later), I dedicated myself to training schedules and carb-loading. And I completed the London Marathon. Twice. (The first time I was overtaken by a man dressed in a duck costume, around mile 23, so of course I had to do it again).
When this relationship broke up, I continued completing marathons - marathon wine drinking sessions. And now my body, which did tone up while running, is paying the price.
I don't miss the never-ending training sessions, and the unkind remarks about my "curves" need to train harder, your arse is getting bigger.....but I do miss feeling fit and healthy.
So, there are no marathons in my future, but hopefully I can make it round my small circuit without embarrassing myself. This morning, even though my lungs were on fire, I kept shuffling because there were a group of people on the trail in front of me. They must have heard my wheezing, because one kind lady said....oh move over and let the through".

Have a great week. xx

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Day 35 - Where has the Time Gone?

Day 35, and I see that I missed a couple of days blogging. But that's because I have been really busy. And better than that...really productive!
After a colossal business failure about eight years ago, which followed on the heels of a divorce, and a toxic rebound relationship, I vowed never again to 1. have a "bricks and mortar" business and 2. never EVER have another business partner.
I started freelancing, and gradually built up a group of nice clients who needed short term contracts to help out with business projects - as one client called me, I was the "Mary Poppins" of business administration - fly in with my black umbrella and a few spoonfuls of sugar and supercalafragli ......oh you get the idea (the British accent helped immensely, I sound trustworthy. Or Royal).
Well, my wine drinking increased in direct proportion to the increase in my disposable income, and very soon, the pesky clients were getting in the way of my inner Wine Bitch.
So gradually, I stopped taking on projects, convincing myself that the future was (is) online and I can build a great business, just sitting in my PJs, and dispensing business wisdom in cyberspace. The Wine Bitch was having none of that.
Firstly, she decreed, productive work should only start after moping around in the morning for about three hours, attempting to quell the acid in my stomach and the jack hammer in my brain. THEN, after faffing on social media for an hour or so - convincing myself that I was "marketing" and researching", I should probably watch the lunchtime news "to catch up on current events". As if somehow, the global terrorism threat had a bearing on my fledgling  "almost business"
And a glass of white wine would quell my nerves about the axis of evil, I would maybe nap for a hour and then rush to my office to look productive, as it neared time for my husband to get home....and then ...Yay!! Wine o'clock!!
You can guess how business has been.....
One day, after getting irrationally grumpy with my husband for inquiring how the business was going..."it takes time you know!....I came across a post on a business facebook page of a business lady I very much admire. She was on holiday, and she posted that she was off to relax by the pool.
"Have a lovely glass of wine and relax" I posted.
"Oh, I don't drink" she posted back.
It was probably a throwaway comment for her. But not for me. It really hit a nerve.
It was then that I began to really examine my habits, and the causal effect on my poor shriveled little business.
It was some while afterwards that I actually gave up for good, but if you read my goals for 2015 - first time I have ever written them down - you will see top of the list is "Stop Drinking".
I am not sure if I will achieve all five goals I set myself for this year, these are the other four - Clear Debt, Earn $100,000, Publish a Book, Launch Online Business, but I know I will have achieved the top one. And because of this, the other four are far more likely.

If you are just starting out on this sober lifestyle - I really recommend writing down goals you would like to achieve with your new sober lifestyle. And refer to them often.

Have a great weekend xx

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Day 32 - Missing Mad Men

No idea what happened to Day 31 (also my first month sober anniversary!), but all the energy I have had over the last weeks ebbed away, and I ended up napping the afternoon away.. but I was woken by a phone call from my brother -in-law, who was thanking me for introducing him to the fabulous drama series "Mad Men".
For those of you who have never watched it, very simplistically, it documents the rise and fall of the advertising industry from 1960 to the 1970's, through the eyes of the very handsome and enigmatic protagonist, Don Draper.
There are many layers to this well written drama, and each character is built beautifully, as they react to changes in their personal lives during the backdrop of America in that most tumultuous time ....(wow I sound like a reviewer). And I have been especially riveted to the fantastic fashions...oh I wish (for once) that I had been born a couple of decades earlier!
What is relevant to my newly sober firstly the reminder that smoking was seen as completely harmless and "cool" (although we see the start of the struggle of the tobacco industry, reacting against the first health findings from brave researchers), which seems to echo the social acceptance of the alcohol industry now, and secondly, seeing executives pour themselves a large scotch or any time during the day!!
Alcoholism is viewed as a character flaw. During one scene, an account executive is so drunk that he pees his pants....and is sent home in disgrace. The disgust of his colleagues is evident - the poor man "can't hold his drink".
Towards the end of the series, we see a large alcohol company discuss an advertising campaign for a "light" beer. Throughout each episode, we are given an insight to how advertising campaigns work to pull us in - not selling the actual product - but selling how the product makes us feel .......
Here we are, nearly half a century later, and we don't seem to have moved on at all.
Alcoholism or alcohol dependency is still seen as an personal failing, and the alcohol industry, partnered with the advertising industry (with a whole unregulated social media platform) is selling us on how hip and cool we'll be if we drink this beverage, or how sophisticated we must be if we drink this wine......
We are still Mad Men and Women......just without the fabulous wardrobe.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Day 30

Yesterday's family event was a success!
Most importantly, the newly weds had fun, and enjoyed all the well deserved attention and good wishes.
Everyone loved the barbequed ribs (husband's specialty), and I got quite a few compliments for the rest of the spread. Which was nice.
Only a couple of mentions about alcohol....."Where's the wine?" (from a relative who shall remain unidentified, and who was well aware of the BYOB stipulation)
"Oh, we have sparkling water or soft drinks in the cooler" - totally avoiding the question.
Our family events have always included my husband's ex-wife and his ex-in-laws. It has always made life easier for my stepsons, and besides, I get on well with my husband's ex -wife and her family. Their divorce was thirty years ago, so any drama is well in the past.
Except for people who seemed bound and determined to "stir the shitpot"
And, I guess that I have been so absorbed in my wine glass at these events, that I never noticed until yesterday.
At first I thought I was being a little paranoid, and then as the afternoon went on, I really did pick up on some snide comments directed firstly at my husband's ex and then at myself (from the same wine seeking person)
Had I been drinking (and paying attention), my reaction may have ruined a perfectly good afternoon.
As it was, the sober me just cracked a joke, and linked arms with Ex-Wife and showed her round my garden.
My husband looked relieved and gave me a big kiss. Ex -wife whispered to me 'she always was a bitch" and we both laughed.
At the end of the evening, my stepson gave me a big hug.
"Thanks for everything. And I'm so proud of you"
I'm not sure if he meant for the new sober me, or for being respectful of his mum, but I teared up anyway.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Day 29 - Family Gathering

It's a glorious sunny Sunday morning, and I was up early (hangover free, of course), and I watered my garden, coffee in hand.
Today we have a casual gathering at our home to celebrate my stepson's marriage. We have invited ALL the family, despite long running family feuds between various factions.
Before, this would have caused me some stress, which I would naturally try to medicate with wine. Today, I don't care. The day is about the happy couple, and if people can't put aside their petty grievances, then they can leave.
ALSO - for the first time ever, I am not providing alcohol.
We have a vast array of delicious food, barbeque ribs, fresh salmon, and all kinds of salads, which I have prepared (hangover free, yay) .
People have asked what they should bring - and instead of requesting that they contribute to the food, I have said 'please bring whatever you would like to drink".

Now, this will cause consternation for a couple of individuals. Due to my previous drinking addiction, I always provided vast quantities of wine, mainly to encourage drinking to cover up my habit. However, it has not gone unnoticed (especially by my husband) that this "generosity" has been taken advantage of in the past.

So today is the start of a new tradition. I did feel a little mean at first....then I looked at my grocery bill (sans alcohol), and that cheered me up immensely.

Of course, I may have to explain why our house is dry (apart from my husband's really good whiskey, which was also raided in the past, so it's now hidden), and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

This morning, I am just loving the fact that it's before nine am, I have enjoyed the morning, prepared food, gardened, and drank coffee, written this blog....all clear headed and cheery!

Enjoy your day xx

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Day 28 Easing Into Summer

Day 28. I can hardly believe that it was four weeks ago that I had my last glass of wine.
Here on Vancouver Island, summer has arrived. Sitting on my porch, this sunny Saturday, I can hear the rumble of a hay baler from the farm next door, and I can see small gaggles of teenagers heading to the river with their swimming gear.
My vegetable garden has sprung into action, and I actually picked my first strawberry this morning.
Everything is the same this year, and everything is different.
Over the last four weeks, not only have I been AF, we (husband and I) have been making an effort to be healthier.
Since I put my fears into words, my husband came clean about his fears too. He has battled with his weight for years. I haven't helped - excessive drinking has lead to poor dietary choices, as well as the thousands of empty calories consumed in liquid form.
So we have tried something that I have always regarded as slightly ridiculous, and only for the "health nuts' among us - juicing.
Yes, we have consumed green juice, squished out from half a ton of kale. Ok, that's an exaggeration.
Actually, we have juiced our way through almost ten times the amount of veg and fruit that we usually consume. We have substituted two meals a day with fresh juice, and eat a healthy meal with a mountain of salad for the third.
The result? Well I have lost 12 pounds in the last four weeks (some of it undoubtedly due to being AF) and my husband has lost 17 pounds.
Now, as well as my obsession with sober blogs, sober memoirs and documentaries about alcohol, my husband is now just as obsessive about food...."Did you see how much sugar is in this?"....waving a jar of peanut butter furiously at me...."Are they TRYING to kill us? " (Loud voice in supermarket)....."Don't eat that cereal !".......(To his bewildered grandson)....."You'll end up diabetic!" This summer we might just be the most boring couple alive!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Day 26

Day 26 and my first sober celebration. My stepson arrived to stay with us, bringing his new bride. They live in the Yukon, and had their marriage ceremony with just my stepson's two children present. With our huge blended family, and living so far away, they made a wise decision.
When they arrived, of course a bottle of chilled champagne was ready, and we toasted the happy couple - except mine was sparkling water.
I did feel a pang - which went away, when my new daughter-in-law said " You look so great and so healthy!"
We have a large barbeque arranged for Sunday. It will be Day 29, and I remember the last large family gathering we had on May 9th - Mother's Day. It was Day 1, and I had an absolute humdinger of a hangover.
I am looking forward to hosting this Sunday, with a clear head and a happy smile.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Day 25 - The "Cause" of Alcoholism

Day 25, and sad news this morning of the passing of Charles Kennedy (see Mummy was a Secret Drinker), his death not yet officially attributed to his long battle with alcoholism.
On this side of the pond, the major news story is the much awaited report from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, that was formed to examine the very dark subject of Residential Schools. For those of you not in Canada, First Nations families were ripped apart by the Canadian Government, who decreed that native children should be sent away to residential schools, in order to educate them to be 'civilized"
If you are thinking that this must have happened in the 1800's, you would be mistaken, the last residential school closed down in 1996.
The abuse that these children suffered is incomprehensible to any decent human being. The ripple effect on families and communities cannot begin to be evaluated.
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee have made a fine start in the healing process that will no doubt take many generations before closure on this painful period of history.
Why am I blogging about this? Firstly, because I am married to a full status native (as defined under the Indian Act), and his father (my late father in law) was an alcoholic.

Alcoholism in Canada is generally perceived as a "First Nation's Issue".

1. Statistics show that a large percentage (not sure of the exact figures) of native communities suffer from alcoholism - far greater than any other section of the population

2. Its a widely held belief that much of this alcohol abuse is "caused" by the terrible trauma that First Nations people have suffered over the last centuries.

Now, I am not diminishing in ANY WAY the trauma and suffering that native people have endured (I have seen first hand, the family dysfunction that it caused), my objection is the premise that  alcoholism has been directly "caused" by this situation.

I don't doubt for a second that many people drink to numb traumatic memories, to forget pain and suffering - hell, who wouldn't?

But don't you think we're letting Alcohol and the Alcohol Industry off the hook? Sure, horrible events may lead to the first drink and then the second.....but a lifetime of drinking surely has to be attributed to the addictive properties of Alcohol?

My point is that if collectively we assume that Alcoholism is primarily an issue for one community, or directly caused by traumatic events, how do we account for US?  Yes - 'us" the white, middle-class, high functioning individuals who had great childhoods, fantastic careers, homes and families?
What "trauma" lead us to drink our first drink? And why did we carry on?

Yes - that's correct - ALCOHOL is ADDICTIVE!

So today, I hope that the Truth and Reconciliation Committee recognize that many First Nations people need help with TWO issues - firstly the counselling and ongoing healing process for the tragedies they endured at the hands of the white government and community, and secondly - the addiction and health problems caused by alcohol.

I also hope that open discussion of Charles Kennedy's alcoholism will show that even talented, famous, wealthy, privileged people can fall victim to alcohol's clutches.

And us? Well, I hope that we can eventually be less embarrassed about our addiction, stop navel gazing for deep seated flaws in our character, and accept that the only cause of alcoholism is Alcohol.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Day 23 Life Without Drama

I've noticed that there is a lot less "drama" in my life at the moment. By "drama" I mean those day to day little incidents that get blown out of proportion, gossiped about, stressed about, and involve hours of "putting the world to rights" or boozy tantrums. And that was just me.
Is there any less stress in my life? Absolutely not. We are still struggling with our businesses, we still have people in our lives that are unsupportive, there are still family situations that need to be resolved.
The difference is that I am dealing with the stuff that I can resolve, and avoiding the stuff that it not mine to resolve. I am not giving my drunken opinion, I am not phoning random people to complain, in short....I have stopped being a "total pain in the rear end Drama Queen".
A few years ago, after a difficult relationship break - up, and the start of another tumultuous relationship that turned decidedly toxic (all which coincided with the start of really heavy wine drinking), I met a lady who latched on to me like a barnacle.
She was married (albeit unhappily), and a set of family circumstances that sounded to me like a particularly bad episode of 'Dallas". Every day would bring a new 'crisis".
We became drinking buddies.
It was the first time I had a glimpse into my future.
Every day the phone would ring in the morning..."Could you take my daughter to school? I don't feel well"...."Come over for lunch"......."I'm coming over, I have wine...."....." I've had a terrible day (sob)...just come and bring wine..."
I couldn't get rid of her.
Finally, circumstances changed, I moved out of the area, my phone number changed....and although I felt badly at the time, we just lost touch, and I have never made the effort to rekindle that "friendship".
Today, as I look back, I suspect that I was the self absorbed, selfish barnacle that people were hoping to scrape off.
Looking forward, I hope to be a better friend.