A well traveled journey

We lived to tell another day after our incredible 7000 kilometre journey from South Western Ontario to our home in San José Del Cabo, which began on 29 October and ended on 7 November. We traveled through Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California before crossing the border at Tecate into Mexico. Thankfully, it was all without drama and mostly uneventful, save for one small crack in our windshield just before Yuma AZ. We also took the opportunity to stop along the way to knock off a few items on the old bucket list.

We spent a couple of days in Flagstaff AZ, and made the trek to the Grand Canyon. I was in no way prepared for what would greet us once we arrived. I cannot possibly begin to put into words what I saw and experienced as we walked, hiked and wandered our way around. I was awe struck and it served as an enormous reminder that we are mere specks on this amazing planet we inhabit.

One thing which I did find interesting were the number of folks who were walking about with their face in their phones and not paying any mind to their surroundings. Case in point this lovely gal laying about enjoying the day, if you weren’t looking for her you wouldn’t have seen her and certainly not with your head down focused on your phone. Taking pictures and videos is one thing but carrying on a conversation for all to hear is another… Baby rant over.

In a way I was exactly the same whilst my face was buried in a bottle. My focus was at times singular in thinking what would I drink next and when. It saddens me to this day, but I am so grateful that I ended that love affair, as it was most definitely one sided, and my only reward in the end was heartbreak.

1 December 2018 will come and go without much fanfare as I celebrate 28 months of sobriety and because it is my journey, I do keep it close to the vest, even though I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Today I will do my Spanish lesson and I’m getting quite proficient – muchas gracias, email my mother, and do my 22 pushups, all while soaking up the warmth and sunshine that the Baja offers. Amongst other things, I will read fabulous blogs written by fabulous people about their trials, tribulations and successes, I take strength from them and perhaps offer a word of thanks or encouragement. But of one thing you can be certain, I will be sober.

Until next month, and one more sober day, be well and be you.

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It’s all about control

It would appear that I am still very much protective of my 26 months of sobriety. Although, there are now many days where the thought of alcohol never even enters into my daily routine – whatever that looks like lately because there isn’t any structure to my days of late! The other day my beautiful neighbour was making a caesar for another friend and offered one to both Hubster and I. He of course graciously accepted whereas I sassily informed her that I didn’t drink, and without even batting an enhanced lash she replied that she knew that and would happily make me one without alcohol. Problem solved right? Not so fast, again I thanked her (yes, graciously this time) but declined the offer, stating I was happy with my never ending steaming mug of green tea. Could she be trusted to remember which drink would be mine of the four she was making? Would her mind wander at that all important crux of the moment where vodka would just happen into my glass? Oh, how my warped mind works some days… I knew without a doubt she would make me a more than delicious caesar sans alcohol but I just couldn’t give up the control of not watching every step throughout the drink making process. When we are out, no matter how tempting it would be, I never dream of ordering a virgin whatever for the simple fear that it would not in fact be virgin. For me I stick to the trusted basics of soda water with line or iced tea.

Early in my sobriety, we were out to celebrate my step daughter’s 30th birthday at a popular pub in town. We all ordered our preferred beverage of choice, a soda water with lime for me; to which, the young server asked if I’d love a shot of vodka or tequila in it. I get that’s how bars make money, and once I picked up my jaw from the floor, I pointedly asked if I had in fact stuttered with respect to my order, the young fella slunk away, sadly he caught me on a bad day, regardless, my behaviour was completely uncalled for. By nature, I am not rude nor flippant to wait staff merely doing their job, politely I might add.

I am much more in control and comfortable if you will with my sobriety as long as I keep said control firmly within my grasp. It was sort of the same while still wearing the uniform and serving our great country, I wanted control and things done my way ALL THE TIME! I was after all, the boss, at least for the most part. Until one day, thankfully early in my long and storied career, the proverbial light bulb came on and I realized well if that isn’t just stupid! Especially seeing how I had the privilege of working with and for some of the best and brightest that the Royal Canadian Air Force had to offer. Giving a little sure has heck gave me a whole lot more in return. However, when it comes to alcohol and my sobriety I am not willing to give up the control and as I’ve said since day one of my journey, I own my sobriety and it will be my choice alone and a cold day in hell should I ever choose to give it up. I hold the power today, and (choose your own deity) willing, I will hold the power tomorrow. Until then, here’s to one more sober day!

Be well and be you xo.

We pulled it off

August was a tough month with so many moving parts, it made my head spin – literally, I ended up with a nasty bout of vertigo. Thankfully, I appear to have returned to some semblance of normal.

Our home in Nova Scotia finally sold. It had been on the market since April, and by NS standards it sold quickly. Crazy as we are, hubster and I accepted a two week (yep 14 days) closing. We flew back from Ontario as originally planned and hit the ground running. Between the power of social media, our local thrift shop, yard sales and thankfully only one trip to the dump, we sold, purged and downsized our lives to fit into one 20ft cube van. Of course it wasn’t nearly that simple, nothing ever is.

We arrived in Nova Scotia in June 2009 courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Force when I was posted to 14 Wing Greenwood. My time in Greenwood would turnout to be my shortest posting lasting only two years and twenty days. As I moved up the proverbial ladder of success, hubster stayed and manned the home front for a property we both loved, and for which, I will always be grateful for his love and support to go off and achieve my career goals and aspirations.

Through some very strong ties, and great friendships, we were able to acquire all the necessary supplies to get us all packed. This also included the use of a friend’s much needed truck as my little car (Fiat 500) just wouldn’t cut it, and it also decided that it was a good time to have a seized brake calliper. At one point, it looked as though we’d have to leave the car at the dealership and fly back at a later date to pick it up. Thankfully, the parts arrived in time and we were able to complete the move as planned.

After some tearful goodbyes, we pulled out of our driveway on Tuesday 21 August. After approximately 1837km of uneventful driving we pulled up to our storage container in Wallacetown Ontario in the afternoon of Thursday 23 August, and started unloading. By the time our nephew arrived from work we were 3/4 done, so he and hubster made short work of unloading and organizing the rest of it.

We will spend the rest of the summer and into the fall at our little lake side (Lake Huron) retreat. From there is will be off to Mexico for our first full winter as snowbirds.

Throughout the month I managed to keep my sanity and sense of humour, save for one horrific melt down. despite all of the chaos and moving pieces my thoughts were never distracted by the pull of alcohol and on 1 September 2018 I quietly marked 25 months of sobriety.

Here’s to one more sober day, be well and be you 💜

It all began with 22 push ups

July of 2016 I had been retired for a year after having served my country with honour and distinction for nearly 32 years as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, but I wasn’t living the retirement dream, in fact, far from it. The only thing that got me excited was anytime after noon when in my mind it was deemed acceptable to crack open a bottle of whatever would start to make me feel better about myself and all the doubts that I had brewing in my little mind.

It was during this time that I had been tagged by a former colleague, friend and mentor to participate in the 22 push up challenge. https://woundedwarriors.ca/ways-to-give/22-push-ups-22-days-challenge/Wounded Warriors.

This challenge saved me, or at the very least helped me begin to see a little more clearly in which direction I was traveling. Saved me from myself and my whirling pit of self pity and helped to put the final nail in my drinking coffin. I have done a minimum of 22 push ups every day since that fateful day, that’s roughly 16,368 push ups to date, but who’s counting. As silly as it may seem, doing 22 push ups each day helps me focus, as an added bonus they also help in keeping my arms and back toned. Focus on taking each day as it comes, to not get too far ahead of myself. I can’t change yesterday and there is no advantage to worrying about tomorrow, as much as we plan and prepare no one knows what may come to pass. I don’t totally wing it, as I’m a wee bit OCD. I do have an idea of what I’ll cook for dinner, a plan to do laundry, housework, etc… but there remains much more flexibility in my day and my life since I’m no longer tied to the bottle. I’ve yet to thank Major General Christian Drouin for throwing down the gauntlet, but I will when I can find the words that won’t seem too sappy.

Hubster and I have a lot of moving parts at the moment with many proverbial balls in the air. We’ve just sold our home in Nova Scotia so that we can move back to Ontario and we have 14 days in which to do it – yikes! Likely we will put our belongings into storage as we are heading to our home in Mexico for the winter, and quite frankly it will be nice to not have to worry about making arrangements to have the driveway ploughed and the house looked after, etc… (hope that doesn’t come off as whining or complaining). In the spring we can return to our little slice of heaven on Lake Huron as we happily house hunt in a hot market where everything goes over asking and with no conditions. Just a wee rant!

1 August 2018 marks two years of sobriety, and as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. The first pic was taken approximately three weeks before I finally figured out enough was enough. The second picture was taken this morning and if I can see the difference I am certain others can too! I’m grateful as always to have traveled my path and even more grateful today that my path is now a sober one!

I’m off to do 22, perhaps challenge yourself today too!

Until next month and one more sober day.

Be well and be you.

Why are women making headlines?

A quick internet search produced these top headlines which, had all been published within the last couple of days, and quite frankly I find alarming but in some regard not at all surprising.

“More Canadian women are drinking to the point where they end up in hospital, or even die from it, according to new statistics…”

“New numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information say the rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations are rising at a faster rate for women than men in Canada.”

“Canadian Women Are Drinking More Than Ever…”

So for me the question is why? Why are women drinking so much that headlines as above are becoming increasingly common?

Do we drink because we’re worried, or anxious? Do we drink to calm ourselves, to fit in, to stay up, or to sleep? Alcohol is a marvelous thing when we think its working: it will do anything we want it to. And when alcohol no longer does what we want it to, then what?

We live in a society where alcohol is glamorized in glossy magazines, on TV, the internet. Anywhere you turn there are sure to be some gorgeous airbrushed folks, dressed to the nines, in the perfect setting, holding a glass filled with a cool refreshing beverage, laughing, smiling and seemingly without a care in the world. I can guarantee that this is so far from reality it’s not even funny, and that you`ll never see the likes of me at not quite five feet tall on the chubby side of fabulous in any of these advertisements, because that doesn’t sell, period!

alcohol

Many women and men for that matter are afraid to discuss their drinking habits with their health care providers. I feared being judged and/or worse, lectured to! I was to the point that I wouldn’t even skim through the health news should I happen upon yet another article warning of the fundamental dangers of consuming more than the recommended guidelines for safe drinking. Although I clearly understood how much I was harming myself by my excessive drinking, I wasn’t in a place where I was ready, willing, or able to start to deal with what was happening in my own life. In many cases, alcohol is not the root cause of the problem but a by-product if you will, that has manifested beyond that of our control. If you are honest with yourself and you do overindulge on a more than regular basis, reach out, get yourself some help, life is just too dam short to spend one more day miserable, hung-over and feeling helpless, it just doesn’t have to be that way.

Today, 4 June 2018 (it’s my birthday), I celebrate 20,455 days of life and living, of which the last 673 have been sober, and for today, I am enough, and for that I am thankful.

Until next month and one more sober day, and perhaps a wee piece of birthday cake, be well and be you.

Mothers

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and it takes all kinds of women, in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life to raise and care for a child regardless of whether or not the child was born of her own body.

I do not know the whereabouts of my biological mother or if she is even still of this earth, I do however, have a step mother. My step mom Ruth – whom I refer to as mom because she is, came into my life when I needed her most. I was half way to hell in a hand basket and she stepped in and said NOT ON MY WATCH, or words to that effect. To this day I don’t have enough gratitude in my being to properly thank her for all she gave me, and it had nothing to do with money! I too am a step mother and it’s a role I take very seriously and have since the day B and I were introduced some 14 years ago. She seemed so mature even back then, but to say I’m proud of the young woman she has become would be an understatement.

On 18 April 2018, the phone call we had long anticipated with dread came. The beautiful mother of my step daughter had finally succumbed to cancer after a decade plus battle with the insidious disease. L was only 54, far too young, and she leaves behind her daughter, partner, parents, brother, not to mention other extended family, cherished life long friends and business associates. It was clearly evident how well loved and liked L was by all the outpouring of emotions at her celebration of life. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry that day – I broke that promise.

A few years back we were all one big happy normal family, attending our niece’s wedding and L and I were enjoying a glass of wine, red of course (I got sober about three weeks later) and she thanked me for everything that I do for B, I was overwhelmed by the sentiment and sincerity with which she spoke and to this day it makes me cry (good tears) just thinking about that conversation.

To me, my role of step mom is now even more important, certainly not to take the place of L, because I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but to ensure that B knows that I will always answer her calls, her texts, no matter the time of day, and as I’ve told her repeatedly, I will ALWAYS have her back and be ready with an honest and truthful response to whatever she may ask, regardless of the fact she may not like the answer. She’s a beautiful young woman making her way in this world now without her closest ally and best friend, I just want her to know she’ll never be alone as her mother’s presence will always be with her and she will be forever loved.

So to all of you fearless women, who love, cherish, nurture, coach, mentor, lead, heal and discipline, and do it all without fanfare or limelight, thank you.

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” – Maya Angelou

Until next month and one more sober day.

Be well and be you!

April Fools and 20 Months

It’s been a good month but a tough month. A new to us home, in a new country (Mexico), a new language; a death in my family (RIP Uncle Bob), as well as some other unfortunate family drama unfolding, but it’s also been a month of learning.

Thanks to my year long French course years ago courtesy of the military, my foray into learning and speaking Spanish has gone relatively well, and I am relying on Google Translate less and less. It’s been a whole lot of fun interacting with folks from all walks of life and trust me when I say I’ll talk to anyone in their native tongue given the chance. I’m sure the ladies at the panadería in La Comer run when they see me coming.

But this month brought along another challenge I’d never have thought I would face, certainly not at 55 years of age. I was challenged, coerced and near bullied about my chosen path of sobriety, at least that’s how it felt to me at the time, and sadly I know about bullying. It was all a bit surreal when it unfolded over what I thought was going to be a pleasant lunch. Needless to say when my polite rejection of instance that I have just one didn’t work, the individual in question tried to up their game insofar as to let me know I would be a much more relaxed and fun person if I did drink, are you kidding me! I not so politely replied that what they thought of me was none of my concern and it never would be. My life, my rules, because if I thought I could have ‘just one’ I would, but I know just one would be followed by another and another until the bottle was empty and we’d be on to the next.

At the end of the day the only person I must face and account for is myself, and I can’t imagine not having a voice to be heard and be in the position to speak up for myself without having to explain in any detail that which is none of your damn business in the first place.

Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements; ‘Under any circumstance simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret’.

Until next month, and one more sober day.

Be well and be you!