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.

Inspiration

I believe that inspiration can be found in the most obscure of places, provided that you are in fact aware of your surroundings.

As a thrift store maven, I am always in the hunt for something fun or funky and even something practical. Like the beautiful Jill-E designer Canon camera bag I scored for $1.50. And yes, it fits our Canon perfectly.

As I was out and about yesterday running errands, etc… I stopped at my favourite thrift shop – Blessings in Zurich ON, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood please stop by, they do great work for their community. I found a book that I knew hubster would be interested in reading and a beautiful gift for my bestie’s birthday. For myself, I found a golf skort by Liz Golf, and I also found this little gem, Daily Reflections from AA.

I don’t belong to AA as it’s not my thing, although it’s an outstanding program that helps millions. Prior to his passing in 2014 my dad was sober 54 years with the help of AA. When I opened the book, the inscription was from 18 years ago written in July of 2000 and it was booked marked with a red ribbon for 5 July (a Thursday no less), the date on which I found this treasure and it speaks to hearing about the weak-willed alcoholic, but that I am the strongest-willed person on earth. And I thought to myself, this is indeed a sign, as am the strongest-willed. I don’t believe in coincidence, so I shelled out the .25 cents because I am worth it and then some.

Regardless of the path chosen, my hope is that Carol, and many others are still being healed at Thursday wing night or tea on Saturdays or quietly in your own humble abodes, and that inspiration no matter where it may come from helps to make you a believer to be strong-willed and stay the course because you’re worth it.

Here’s to one more sober day. Be well and be you.

What inspires you in your journey?

It’s a day for celebration!

1 July is the birth of our great nation – happy 151st birthday Canada. Here’s to a day of parades, concerts, picnics and fireworks at dusk. As a country Canada has contributed many significant inventions the world over. Not the least of which are insulin (1922), the Canadarm (1981), hockey, lacrosse and of course poutine and Namaimo bars.

It is also the birthday of my long suffering hubster, happy 58th sweetheart, fingers crossed for a hole in one today as you make your way around the links, during what is expected to be a 40C day.

As a nation, we Canadians enjoy our drink, and I suspect that there will be a cool refreshing beverage or two consumed by many today. According to Health Canada 80% of Canadians consumed alcohol last year, and nearly 3.1 million of those 80% drank to excess. That’s not a statistic that I can say I was proud to be a part of. But because I was, I am no longer ambivalent to nor judge those that do struggle. I believe in the saying ‘ Never look down on somebody unless you’re helping them up’. An ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on or a helping hand up, there is always something I can offer, and I always will when and wherever I can. The struggle is real, and as I’ve said before and those before me have said, you don’t have to go it alone. If you no longer want to be a statistic, reach out, ask for help, it’s not likely to be an easy process, however, you won’t regret it.

On this beauty sweltering day I sit here enjoying my new found treat in the form of a Blossoming Rose Tea latte, I am thankful for the great country (with all her faults) I live in and 23 months of sobriety.

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

How are you spending this Canada Day?

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!

What took so long

I always have a small note book with me so that I can doodle, or jot down my ramblings when the mood strikes. If I don’t do it while I’m thinking about it I’ll get sidetracked by a butterfly and just like that, the thought will be gone.

Flipping through the book that I currently have with me I ran across one of my journal entries: “Yesterday was the first time ever I admitted to someone about my drinking. I hope I can come to terms with how it is I need to live my life and that’s basically alcohol free. A bad thing… I don’t think so”.

The precipice for the entry was the end of a marriage three years earlier and a military posting after 12 years on the west coast of Canada. There’s more to the story but you get the idea. What’s surprising is that I wrote that on 18 November 2003. So how is it that it took me 13 more years of drinking to finally see the light. During those 13 years there had been small periods of self imposed moderation and abstinence as I was always attempting to be a “normal” drinker, understandably, one drink and another one were never enough. I remember clearly the disappointment, and self loathing yet there was always one more bottle of wine to be had. Fast forward to today and being honest about it, I don’t wonder if I was hoping that someone would do the work for me, insofar as to confront me about my dirty little secret, then I could feel relieved, shame and a host of other emotions I probably wasn’t ready to confront and get on with it. All neatly cut and dried, however, that was not the case and it wasn’t until my drinking reality was nowhere near matching my retirement reality in July of 2016 that I finally figured out what I’d written 13 years earlier; living alcohol free would indeed not be a bad thing.

Regardless of the road I’ve traveled and endured to get to this point, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My path to healing began when I could look back and be able to make peace and let go of that which no longer served me. Although there are times when I think about all of that wasted time and energy hoping for a different outcome, and I shake my head. I don’t need to be right all the time or win every battle, I just need to remain true to myself and the path I’ve chosen.

On this 577th day of sobriety, my hubster and I are scratching a big one off our bucket list as we take possession of our home in Mexico and happily say adiós to Canadian winters. I’m not entirely certain this would have all come to fruition as it has if I was still journaling about wishing to be free of the burden of alcohol as opposed to living that reality.

Until next month and one more sober day, be well!

18 months sober and I haven’t looked back – Much!

The reason for the odd glance in the rear view mirror is due to the fact that I am surrounded by alcohol EVERY SINGLE DAY! Most days are never an issue but there have been a couple of days in my journey that I got a little freaked out and wondered “will this be the day it all comes crashing down?” Thankfully, it has never crashed down around me and I trust it never will because I own my sobriety and take full responsibility for my thoughts and my actions on a daily basis.

Although the waters have been relatively calm over these past 18 months, I have found that self-care is even more important than it was before sobriety; and more importantly it is not selfish, it is paramount. I believe that it is the difference between success and failure. Failure in that you can’t realize your goals or reach your full potential on whatever path you’ve set out for yourself, instead you accept what is and there is the potential to fall back into old traps.

I love to cook, create and craft and I have both a well stocked pantry and craft room so there is never an excuse when the mood strikes, and it strikes often. But, equally important are my daily workouts (albeit I don’t work up near the sweat I used to) and reading. I am a voracious reader, always have been and I trust I always will be. I currently have over 900 books on my Kobo reader, of which, almost all (98%) were free. I am perfectly happy to sit and sip a lovely homemade Earl Grey Latte and read, even if it is only a few minutes. I read every day, it allows me to let go of whatever is occupying space in my mind and just be. In case you’re curious, my reading list is as eclectic as I am and I read or at least peruse just about anything from murder mysteries to a good romance novel with just enough sex and drama to keep it interesting. Usually it’s books on spirituality and world religion that occupy the most of my reading time. Both subjects fascinate me and there are no end to either subject or accompanying opinions.

Self care has always been important and for me it is now an integral part of my sober journey and maintaining my overall well being. Please, make some time for you, even if it’s only a few minutes carved out of your day or an hour long soak in the tub, you’re worth it!

“You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try to make everyone happy. For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.” – Unknown