i’m quiet, but not drinking

I’m quiet, but not drinking.  Just swamped with passion job #3 thingy. Tomorrow is another long day.  The contract that i started last week DID get me to do more work for them this week, and have already asked for something for next week.  So they’re not going away. (PS/ their request for next week is based on a sample that i took into my original meeting with them, that was not part of the work that they asked for.  but once they saw the sample, they’ve changed their business direction slightly to include that aspect of my work. Note to self – think outside the box, give them more than what they ask for. I’ve also been giving them other random samples each week with their new (requested) work, just so that they can see the range of my abilities.  fun fun stuff!)

and in the middle of all of this, yes, I ran today … even though i got up at 7:30 am and have been going non-stop ever since (now it’s 9:39 pm)!  AND i will run tomorrow.  I realize now that not only do i feel much better when i run (duh!), even for 18-20 minutes, but it also gives me the opportunity to fall in love with my town again, each and every morning. Today, outside the fish shop with the big front step, as i ran past at 8:30 am, the smelly fish guy in his rubber apron and knee-high boots was helping granny down the big step: granny, her cane, her wheelie cart.  There was a big line-up waiting to be served, and the fish guy is there helping granny get out onto the sidewalk safely.

Expect more silence from me.  On friday we head out of town for a 4 day weekend. it’s supposed to pour rain. we’re going to some armpit community not far from here, just to be away. i suspect there will be reading and bad TV… there will be vacation sex. there will be bad random food in weird touristy restaurants. there will be a church or two for photographs. my husband will collect rocks and chestnuts.

i’m going to bed

it’s 8:40 pm and i’m heading to bed. it’s the only way i can be sure that i won’t consume wine, so bed it is. i’ve asked my husband 3 or 4 times if we can have wine, and he’s made a joke each time. he made me tea, then tonic and cranberry juice. he made supper. he wrapped me in a blanket. he says shitty-chipper things like “i like it that we’re not drinking now.” Then i’m just silently mad at him that i can’t have wine, cuz now it’s his fault. by asking him for permission, and him saying no, i’ve made it so i can be irritated with him. instead of just announcing that i’m having wine, which he probably wouldn’t counter. what a co-dependent GIRL i am. i’m sure boys don’t do shit like this.

well, this girl is dragging her sorry ass to bed. i had a perfectly lovely busy day, yes i’m tired but not overly so. yes i was hungry but then i ate. it was a nice sunny day.  light reflecting off rooftops. and everywhere i looked, every single fucking person on the planet had a drink in their hand (this was at about 5 pm). there was booze in the grocery store, in the store windows, it was just fucking everywhere.  everyone else is having wine and having a nice lovely time. and i’m not.

and now that i’m 91 days i deserve a prize! A big Wine Prize! (I did order a 90-day present, it’s an electric griddle/frying pan thing.  hardly exciting (to you maybe) but i can’t wait for it to come so i can make homemade English Muffins cuz the ones in foreign-land SUCK rocks…

Did i say bed? i’m going to bed. tomorrow will be fine. thank god i can always go to bed.

to get away from myself.

90 days sober and an eargasm

90 days today. i’ve been planning a reward but haven’t come up with anything suitable yet.

I have a long — “time to make the donuts” — kind of day ahead of me today.

As I celebrate 90 days, i’ll share a few random things:

  • my favorite meal to have at home is roast chicken with carrots, dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce (homemade if possible, depends where you live, can’t get fresh cranberries here). my favorite meal to have out is breakfast. yes, it’s eggs and toast, but in a restaurant it tastes so much better.
  • my favorite dessert is Pie. I know i write a lot about cake, but a really good apple pie can change my day. or homemade cherry pie (none of that canned stuff). or lemon meringue. or coconut cream.
  • ok, something not food related: i had younger sisters growing up, but LOVED playing with my teddy bear. i used to think if i was quiet enough, that i could hear it speaking to me. one year i made my teddy bear a christmas tree out of the branches cut off the bottom of our big tree. i still have that bear, worn and bald, stored in my in-laws’ basement.
  • i can sign in tune and have perfect pitch. i can sing an A, for some reason that sound just lives in my head and i can pull it out at will. i used to tune the instruments in my junior high school band. if i’m watching a street performer and his guitar is wildly out of tune, i scrunch up my face a little.
  • that said, music is the one thing that can consistently and repeatedly give me goosebumps.  listen to this if you dare: http://gawker.com/eargasm/

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ5ZclZTeTU]

  • when i go swimming, i feel like i’m on vacation. even if it’s snowing outside and i had to take the bus to get to the pool. something about swimming is magically relaxing to me. it takes me somewhere else. sort of like a long run, but with less angst …
  • i wrote this in my journal once: If i could paint like Mark Lague, my life would be complete:

Now I live in Europe, i’m super happily married, i have a couple of great jobs,  and I’m a wine-free zone. I don’t need much else : ) Think i’ll celebrate 90 days with a nice thick English-language newspaper imported from somewhere (Guardian UK? NYT?), and then on Sunday, when i’m finally done my work week, i’m going to spend an entire afternoon just reading it …

Hugs, me

i don’t believe in colds

this is as brave as i am.

while i haven’t changed the theme for this blog, I am brave enough to change the fonts.  I really hate small fonts (i’m old! i can’t see!) and much prefer serif fonts. OK, i’m not as brave as BBB but advancing, slowly.  i’m not as patient as RoS (Christy), but i’m learning by example.

As i sit here in my desk chair, cup of coffee consumed, cereal eaten (not the best of breakfasts, but i did have a half an apple alongside) … I am facing a long work day. All three of my jobs are going to require something from me today. i didn’t sleep quite enough (husband awake with a cold, he can sleep again quickly whereas i cannot).

I don’t believe in colds, so i won’t be participating in his event.

my big new contract for my passion/job #3 thingy, i delivered the first part of the work yesterday and went by the space in the afternoon. Upon arriving, i found out that they DID hire someone else in addition to me, so there we both were, side by side, looking at each other … and i’m thinking: “oh, this isn’t an exclusive gig for ME?”

At first i was disappointed, then relieved. This means I won’t have to do all the work myself. this job will not overtake my life. i can share the load with someone else.

And when i came home there were two more requests for work from other smaller clients.  As predicted, once I announced to the rest of my clients that i’d scored this big new gig, they’re all excited now to work with me even more. So even if the big gig eventually phases me out, the side-effects are already being felt among my existing clients.

well, what am i trying to say here? (as Paul would say, i’m “rabbiting” on …)

i’m trying to say that my perceived value has increased simply by announcing the big new job … and i can continue to reap these benefits EVEN if they don’t keep me, even if they eventually phase me out, even if i share the work with someone else, even if i eventually back away from the workload … my other clients are like “oh, do you have room for me this week? can i see you? yes of course 7 pm on Friday is convenient for me”).

So, you see, it’s all good.  Even if they eventually don’t need me anymore.  It’s all good.  This is my (frustrating to some) attitude of the glass is half-full in grand display.

and today, even though i’m a bit tired, and maybe a bit sniffly, and today even though the weather has dramatically changed this week, and it’s dark and stormy… today i will work away on cleaning and puttering and preparing for my appointments.  i will listen to fascinating podcasts, and i will be patient, and in-advance. i will answer outstanding emails and clear off my voice mail.  Today i will run and shower and dry my hair (!).  Today, on not quite enough sleep, i will work hard to have a very good day. Starting with another cup of coffee in my favorite mug.  It’s all good.

people just want oreos

Who would you be if you were already ‘enough’? what would you do if money and talent were not an obstacle?

The big contract for my third job/passion thingy has begun. i worked hard yesterday to be ready and just delivered the first installment this morning. I will go by the space later this afternoon to see how it’s looking, and to be onsite for questions, instruction, and brainstorming. Yes, i did work a long day yesterday, but i also ran, read, and ate relatively healthy food including homemade vegetable soup. in fact, on my tuesday weigh-in, i am down 2.2 lbs from July 1st, so that’s not too shabby. It means that the reliance on cake is waning somewhat. I was also in bed last night by 9:30 pm, asleep by 10 pm. My life is much improved by getting enough sleep. this might be the key to all of life’s problems… at least for me, at least for today.

if i was already enough, i’d (honestly) stop (entirely) one of my three jobs … job #2.  My work there is fragmented, clients never hear from me unless i’m trying to sell them something, and i don’t know what i’m delivering half the time, it’s not a good match of my skills + their needs. it’s like i have to keep convincing them that they need me. instead of finding people who ‘do’ need my services, and selling to them instead.

this is a light bulb moment.

forgive me if i stop here. for a moment.

god, this is why i continue to blog. so that i can explain things TO MYSELF. (It’s great if someone else is aided by my ramblings, but please forgive the gigantic belly-button-gazing-self-centered nature of today’s post.)

here it is:  stop trying to convince the world that they need bandaids for their worms (they don’t, and you’ll spend such a long time trying to convince them that they DO). stop trying to convince the world that they need a new pink handbag (they don’t, and stop buying so much fucking stuff anyway).  stop trying to convince the world that they should pay you to help them get up off the couch (whey they’re ready to get off the couch, they’ll find YOU). stop trying to convince people to buy this broccoli instead of that broccoli (because really, they just want oreos; find a way to sell healthy homemade-with-love oreos and just be done with it).

i would never have figured this out if i wasn’t sober. when drinking, i was on a treadmill of job 1, job 2. i was just getting through the day. now there’s actually time and energy to THINK about things.

now that i’ve mixed metaphors so much that you can’t follow me at all, let me say this:

Dear Belle.  As of today, stop wasting energy trying to sell things to people who don’t want them. Stop trying to convince anyone of anything. If they want oreos instead of carrots, then sell them oreos. And if you find oreos personally repelling, then just look away and do something else.

Business advice often heard:  “Where should you set up a hotdog stand? In front of a bunch of hungry hotdog eaters.” i never really understood this it until today. until right now, this minute. i’ve just delivered a big job to my job #3/passion/thingy and i realize that it’s the easiest work i’ve ever done. there’s a huge market for it and i can barely keep up. {DUH! WAKE UP CHICKY BABY}

Note to self. Try again. Dear Belle. You’re getting distracted. Listen here:

Sell to people who WANT to buy your stuff.  Stop trying to convince anyone of anything.

(the parallels with *real* life, of course, are evident. stop trying to convince people that they need to change, just be you.  be you as much as you can. do your thing with love and care. oh my god i know understand the fucking 1970s touchy-feely-hippie book title: do what you love and the money will follow … oh. my. god.)

Goal #4 is better than 95%…

funny. re-reading notes from january made while reading a self-help book. i made a list of personal development goals:

  1. Thin and lean, strong, bathing suit body
  2. Long hair, well groomed, nails, eyebrows
  3. Ridiculously well read, 52+ books/year
  4. Alcohol free (to 95%),with toasts and treats but no regular consumption
  5. Even mood, good sleep
  6. Clean, tidy, organized, prepared in advance
  7. Run more consistently
  8. Be more patient, willing to go slowly and do the work as well as dream outrageously

I’m always fascinated when i reread my journals. What strikes me about this list is that now that we’re nearing the last 3 months of the year, i can say that other than reading a ton, i do have the rest of it pretty much under control. Oh, well i don’t have #1. But goal #4 is better than 95%. Goal 6 is happening. Number 7 is true. and number 8 is definitely improved.

What i didn’t realize in writing this list back in january, was that the keystone habit that i needed to incorporate — the one thing that i could change that would make everything else easier — was being 100% sober. Had no idea how much easier it would be to achieve everything else i wanted in my life. Also had no idea quite how hard it is would be to quit. Could never, ever have done it alone. Blogging and this community is what made it possible for me.

While I do still toy with the idea of 95% sobriety, with treats and toasts, for the most part i’m too freaked out to lose the other things i’ve gained, and so for now, since i have something that’s working, i don’t want to fuck with it.

It’d be like if you gave up wheat and refined sugar (my next goal?), and you lost 20 pounds (is that me?), and then someone says “don’t you miss cake?” and you say “sure i miss cake, but i like this better.” I feel that way about wine now. maybe i’ll feel like that about cake some day. maybe after 30 days of anything that is life-improving, you’re more likely to say “i like this much better than that old thing.”

The hard part is starting and getting some momentum in your little car.

and now that i’m nearly at 90 days, i’m certainly not the slightest bit interested in starting to count days again from day #1.  and fuck yeah, sure, i’d love some wine. and yes, I’d like a glass of champagne now and then.  But for now, i am continuing to decide that the other gains i have are worth it.  Much more worth it than a glass of wine.

who do i have to become?

i am well.  day 86.  i do feel like i have a reward coming on day 90 but haven’t figure out what it should be yet. maybe a big feed of sushi. i was previously thinking expensive jewellery.  but now that i’m here at day 90, i want my BIG reward to come later… it’s getting easier to move the big reward forward in time. when i’m sober 120 days, 6 months, 12 months …

yesterday afternoon, after another 3-day passion/job thingy, i was sooo tired. and there was an open bottle of champagne in the house from guests. it was 5 pm and i was nearly collapsed with fatigue.  i asked husband if he was going to finish the champagne, and he said no. i said well this would be a good time for me to have some. a normal time. this would be the exact time where champagne would be a normal thing to do. he asked if i wanted tea. he poured the champagne down the drain in the kitchen, with me at his side, and i was saying “maybe you’ll finish it?” he kept pouring.  i love my husband. he is adorable.  he emptied out the champagne and then made me tea.

so yes, had a very busy weekend but with my new rules, i’m doing OK. i was even in bed last night BEFORE 9 pm and then slept 10.5 hours… this week i’m going to get to bed as early as possible every single night, just to ensure a good, smooth, even, enjoyable week.  This is the week that i begin the new contract for my passion/job thingy. well i haven’t heard from them since we ‘agreed’ to the terms by email, so i assume it’s all going ahead starting on wednesday. i have planned a very slack week for the rest of my life, to ensure adequate time, energy and room for this. also, husband is out 3 evenings this week so i’ll have lots of alone time suitable for bubble baths and early-to-bed reading.  i can seriously vegetate.

Who do I have to *become* in order to achieve my life goals?

I need to be someone who gets enough sleep 6 out of 7 nights, who is ‘in-advance’, who is patient, who does today what needs to be done and doesn’t wait for tomorrow. I need to be someone who rewards myself small and big, someone who pats myself on the back for a job well done. And someone who takes enough time off and has enough mid-week mini vacations to make it all worthwhile.

ladies and gentlemen, I have shit I want to DO with this very cool life of mine, and so i need to become the right kind of person. i need to evolve. and for me, the first step in evolution is enough sleep.

I am mad at James Hollis. I’m not going to finish his book.

Day 80.  Which is pretty cool.  no, i’m not specifically ‘counting days’.  i have my date in an excel file and can calculate from there. sometimes i like to know what day i’m on so that i can plan a reward.  like at day 90 i want a present. but other than that, i don’t check anymore.  i think i stopped checking just after day 30 (when my mental math thus required Excel’s help!).

but here’s what i want to say today, and i’ve been avoiding writing this post.

I’m mad at James Hollis’s book “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life.”  and i’m not being facetious, i’m serious. Yes, the book is a bit pompous, and yes the language is a bit circuitous and so i often have to read entire phrases multiple times before i can figure out what the fuck he’s talking about.  In fact, it’s my least-favorite kind of self-help book.  the kind that has a lot of theory, and no where near enough ‘how-to-implement-in-your-life’. there are great ideas, but they sort of go in one ear and out the other.

until i get to the chapter where he talks about magic realism. and here’s where i got mad. and i’ve stopped reading.

i’m going to paraphrase, and badly, but basically he says that everyone gets to a place where they realize that life is full of bad things, that nice vegans get cancer, and that the world is full of randomly shitty things.  and you really only grow up once you accept the world as a chaotic and random disaster, that is full of great and bad at the same time.  You’ll have to confront your ‘magical thinking’ that if you do right, think right, eat right that you’ll be spared the worst of the shit.

well then, mr. hollis, if that’s your definition of the world (and of how to grow up), then i’m not the slightest bit interested in participating.  count me out.

because, you see, i DO engage in magical thinking. I do believe that things happen for a reason. i do believe that if i can visualize it, then i can make it happen.  i do believe that (for now) i’m continuously constructing a life where more bad things will not keep happening to me.

in reading this book, i realize that i’ve been living with my current attitudes since my early 20s.  Right after i escape my disastrous childhood, i thought:  whatever happens to me now, compared to that, will be like heaven. it’ll be joyous.

for example, i was single for a long long time in my adult life, and/or could only manage to date/attract idiots.  and yet i always held out the hope that if i got married, it would be worth the wait, and that i deserved to be happy, and that i’d have the kind of marriage that other people envied. because that was the deal. i’d earned that.

i’d already had enough grief and pain in my life, in the early part of my life, so the later parts are going to make up for that.

i’m one of these magically thinking weirdos, who does believe that thoughts and feelings can – to a very very large extent – determine what happens in my life.  that i’m the one driving the car.  that I get to decide how happy I am. That i get to decide what adventures I have.  that there are speed bumps to be navigated, but they’re trivial and learning experiences, and nothing is random anyway.

here’s a snapshot of me that i don’t show the outside world: 

I grew up poor: no-telephone, no-car poor.  this poverty did not lead me to believe that wealth was “for other people and wouldn’t happen for me”; instead i realized that if i wanted wealth in my life i’d have to go out and make some myself.

I grew up in a dark, wet apartment.. i witnessed some jesus-bad violence. and i’ve known real, terrifying fear.

so yes, once i got out of there, since my early 20s, i’ve felt like something good was going to happen for me.  to compensate, perhaps. or that the shitty earlier life was going to drive me to create other goodness (in my life and in the lives of others). I own a company or two (one of which is ‘helping’ others), i have the ability to create work when i want to so i can control my own income. i have an amazing husband (got married at age 39).

I don’t have kids, but i also feel that this was part of the trade-off that i made with the universe back when i was 12.  the trade-off that said, i’ll have all the shitty scary stuff early in life, and the rest of my life would be at my direction, my creating, and therefore by contrast would have to be better, amazing, rich, abundant.

I don’t resent that i don’t have kids, i’m quite at peace with it.  to have been pregnant at age 12 would have been a disaster.  the universe spared me from that.  in return, i’m not pregnant for the rest of my life. and I say “that’s a great trade, universe, thanks soooo much, it’s the best possible outcome.” seriously.

Hollis says that we falsely believe that if we follow certain rules, we’ll be spared the worst of what life has to offer: “Yet sooner or later life brings each of us not only disappointment, but something worse, a deep disillusionment regarding the ‘contract’ that we tacitly presumed and served to the best of our ability … the friendship we counted on, the protection we assumed would be there perpetually, the comfort that someone would pick us up and make it all right when we fell …” (p. 84).

fuck that, i say.

yes, OK, perhaps i’m living in an imaginary fantasy land. i’m happily married, healthy, middle-class. i live in europe. i speak a couple of languages. i’m childless but i consider that to be a lucky turn of fate, not a curse. i’m happy beyond … i’m lucky beyond … and i’m even sober.  i’ve done all of this myself, made me into the person i am.  and yes, now i do fucking expect great things to continue for me… If I continue to work for them, if I continue to dream things up, if I continue to allow them.

I’m clearly more of a Law of Attraction girl than a Jungian one.

in conclusion. i’m mad that someone writes that there are always more bad things coming.  i disagree that this is necessarily true.  and if the only way to grow up is to accept that there’s no contract with the universe, then i respectfully disagree.

i feel like i’ve made my deal with the universe a long time ago.  and so far we’re both living up to our sides of the agreement.

Here’s what i really believe, from a different James:  “The outer conditions of a person’s life will always reflect their inner beliefs.” ~ James Allen

PS/ i’m really not going to finish reading this book, and will happily mail it to anyone who wants to read it next.

afraid of regret

i feel like i’ve said everything there is to say. i feel like i’m writing and have no audience, no voice, am not entertaining even to myself. I’m still exhausted from my third-passion-job, three-day adventure even though i slept 12 hrs last night. i get a break now and only have regular work tomorrow.  that’s a break.  Monday.  yes, i’m really tired. exhausted. is it worth it, this passion thing? maybe if anything interrupts my ability to sleep or run it should automatically be outlawed. nice black-and-white thinking.  well, on those terms, affecting sleep/running, then i would have to outlaw wine, too. instead i think a glass of wine would be prefect right now. i haven’t done my 30 minutes of writing for the last 3 days. and i’m off the running. i’m also mostly off showering.  i’ve just been working.  the third-passion-job is on my mind even when i close my eyes to sleep.  and it’s literally under my fingernails. it’s the wrong time of the month. it’s 8:29 pm. i’m on one computer in one room, husband on another in another. there must be more to life than this. i’d like an injection of good sleep, good energy, good run, and a clean house, and a clean slate, a burst of fresh air, some wind in my sails.

instead, it’s 8:30 pm. i’m going to have a cup of mint tea in the bathtub.  yes, i’ll fill the tub with water first, before i get in. i won’t just sit in an empty tub with a cup of tea.  i’ll get into the tub now before i decide to open the wine.  well, ok, not really. but some days it seems like an idea worthy of giving it a solid 6/10.  today, as an idea, it’s a 3/10.  sounds like it could be nice but i know i’m not going to do it.  and do you know what keeps me from drinking? not what you might think. not all the glorious pink cloud moments, not worrying about having to tell you-all.  no, what keeps me from drinking is that i’m afraid i’ll regret it.  and since i’m a pretty decisive and solid person in my regularly scheduled life, i don’t regret much. i’m lucky. i have very few regrets in life. and now i’m afraid of having regret take the form of a glass of wine.  and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s keeping me going.  at least tonight.

the upside, and the other upside

in the last two days, my third job (the passion-hobby-thingy) has been really super busy. happy clients very pleased with me.  and i love doing the work, so it’s win-win. also extra money which is bonus, and more repeat clients, which is also great.

but it’s also super hard work. my regular day job uses my brain and my big mouth, whereas this hobby is like a ‘trade’, it’s physical work. i have to go out and buy supplies, i have to source vendors, i have to do work with my hands. make stuff.  it’s a completely different kind of labor and it uses different muscles — literally and figuratively.

the upside, a tired body is easy to fix … hot bath, go to bed.

the upside, working with my hands means my brain is free for listening to podcasts (my favorites still are This American Life (NPR) and Q (CBC)).

the upside, i’m learning new skills, actually creating things.

the downside, physical labor is hard work, no two ways about it. i have to remember to take a break and stand, sit, walk around, stretch, put my feet up, shake it out. or i get cramped and nearly fall over.

the downside, some nights i really really need to sleep right now because of an early a.m. deadline, and that means early to bed on friday nights. like yesterday, after a 14 hour day, i was in bed by 9:30 pm to try to be ready for my long day today. today went well. i’m exhausted, all work delivered on time, everyone is happy. and i’m beyond tired.

the downside, being ‘beyond tired’ is on the short list of things to avoid … it makes champagne look like a reasonable thing that reasonable people would do in this exact same situation.  of course, i’m not reasonable. so we won’t even go there. i’m drinking tonic and lemon instead.

the biggest upside, though, is that when this hobby/passion started to really take off and be successful back in March, i had to quit drinking for 5 days straight to make it through a big client job (cuz this is all in addition to my regular job).  i knew then that to deliver the kind of physical work required, i would not be able to drink at all. i remember i had one all-night shift, and celebrated by having a bath in the morning with a cup of tea before crawling into bed at 9 am.

now i realize that this passion — the physical work it requires, the sacrifices in time — it is what led me to KNOW that i had to quit drinking (eventually) for good.  There just wasn’t room in my life for passion and booze.  i knew that booze had to go, even then, even back in March (4 months before i actually quit). there was never any question about not pursuing the passion once it got hold of me.

and now, today, i’m tired, happy, making money, taking good care of others, my husband and myself. and i’m sober.