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.

i am teetering

I am wobbly. I will  not drink but it has crossed my mind that now would be a good time for a glass of wine.

Friday I had the meeting with those guys about the thing. the meeting itself went very well. they loved me and the samples and were talking future plans even beyond the next three months.  i got a tour, everyone is nice, we reviewed my samples, i said what i can and can’t do, they were thrilled with all of it. i offered to do more than they asked, and they then added some extra stuff to my responsibilities.  i’m girl who likes to be in charge of the bits that will directly affect me.  they were like “cool, take this and this.”

then right at the end, after a pleasant 30-40 minutes, one guy in the meeting says “you’ve got the right paperwork/certification/legal thingy for this, right?”

I say No, I don’t. I had told Woman that when she called me in for the interview.

There’s a tight awkward pause.  i know enough from negotiating experience to know that i’m not supposed to speak then, just wait.  and i waited.

and the guy says “well, our lawyer will give give you something that says that we assume that you’re certified, and that you’ll pay your taxes, etc. and then we sort of leave it up to you.”

i nod. there’s an understanding here.

i leave and walk all the home (45 minutes) feeling like i’ve been kicked in the head.

They seem to be ok with me being the right fit for the job, but i don’t have the right checkmarks in the right boxes.  they have to prove on their side that they’ve tried to check the boxes.  i have to nod and everyone knows what’s going on.  There probably isn’t anyone else in town who can do this for them, who has my particular skill set.  if they don’t go with me, they’ll have to rethink their entire thing, and it starts september 24.

i’m not a big rule-follower, but i’m in a foreign country and this kind of shit makes me nervous, and that nervous feeling makes me want to drink. i know there are lots of countries where people just sort of nod and wink and stuff gets done and nothing is ever really legal.  i guess i’m in one of those places right now.

i said to husband, they probably won’t go through with it.  if i was them, given what they’re asking me to do, they really should have someone who’s certified.

and then about an hour later, friday afternoon, their order came in specifying that they’d like me to begin september 24th and asking for a price breakdown for the first week’s deliverables.

so since yesterday afternoon, i’ve been teetering.  i want the opportunity AND i’m scared of the legal stuff, though i have every confidence that i can do the job safely and without problems for them.

but it would be sort of like hiring a handyman to do your plumbing.  He’s not a plumber, but he knows how to do it.  there are no plumbers available, and in this case, there’s no option of finding a plumber.  The company could redesign the house to bypass the plumbing problem.  Or they can say to the handyman: “we will give you a statement indicating that we assume you’re a certified plumber. and then we leave the rest up to you.”

i’m teetering.  i feel like i should have a drink of wine and think about this.  I feel like i should turn down the opportunity. I feel like i should go for it and after a few weeks it’ll all seem normal and i’ll forget how i feel now.  I should remember that maybe this is me afraid of a super-great opportunity masked as a fear of regulations.  i feel like i should wait to see what their lawyer sends. i can’t get certified in this country for another 2 years, and so there are no easy or simple solutions.  wine seems like an easy and simple solution…

Even my husband said, when i suggested that i feel like wine, he said “the good feeling doesn’t last very long, maybe only about 20 minutes, and then the rest is just pouring more booze in on top.”  that seemed profound.

i’m not drinking, but i’m teetering on this job adventure.  i’m usually very brave in my professional life.  i’m far from home and i’m nervous.  and that makes me want to drink.

i’m curious, part 2

I did this about a month ago but I want to do it again.

I’m really interested and curious in sober blogging and i know that i read and lurked on blogs for quite a while before I quit drinking.  Personally, I was reading while still drinking because I was looking for ideas and motivation and i really wanted PROOF that it would be OK to quit, that i’d survive, that i’d be successful, and that someone else would come up with good ideas when I ran out.

This blogging community really does have all that, and then some.

So here’s what i’m curious about. Can you do me a favor?

  1. Post a comment with your number of days sober.
  2. If you are an anonymous lurker, and you’re sober, you can just put Sober as your name, and then use a fake email as your email address (12345@12345.com) – tell me how many days sober. You can remain anonymous of course.
  3. If you are a lurker, and you aren’t (yet) sober but you’re looking for inspiration, you can put Hoping as your name (or whatever), and use my email as your email address (12345@12345.com). And you can pick a date when you’d like to start your sober journey (i.e. in 5 days, or on october 1st, or whatever). You can remain anonymous, too.

I also sometimes forget how far along in the sober journey some of you are … so this will help me remember and help me celebrate with you.

I know Mrs D is one year sober.  Hooray Hooray for her and her support and her genius!

Really, if you’re an anonymous lurker that’s totally fine! Just chime in with where you are : )

PS/ HERE’S MY GUT REFLEX: I have no proof of this and am only going on a gut feeling here, but if you are a lurker and still drinking, then by posting something anonymously, it’s like raising your hand and saying “ok, yes, i could use some support” and i think that makes a big difference in what happens next for you.  Well, if you don’t believe me, you can try posting something and see what happens : )

PPS/ I hope to hear from “Hoping!!!” who posted last time …

Note to self: Beware! Good feelings ahead!

well that’s interesting. a big giant trigger i haven’t experienced in the past two months, completely unexpected feeling of OH GOD i need a drink to smooth this out, to take the edge off, to remain calm.

and what happened? what was the trigger?

a request to go in and present to a big new (potential) company on Friday morning. oh and can i come with samples? But of course (yeah right, let me check … i have nothing on hand).

This is important to me for several reasons. I have two primary sources of income and i’ve been playing with a third source for about a year.  it’s making about 400 euros a month now, it’s a side-hobby kind of thing, but it’s my real passion in life whereas my two other jobs are very successful and lovely and i have great clients, colleagues, managers, but they’re not why i’m on the planet.

the presentation on friday is for the 3rd passion-side-hobby job. it would seem that they’re not entertaining other vendors; i have been recommended to them from a previous one-time-only client, and they’re pretty sure they want to hire me based on her referral. the Friday meeting appears to be to talk about logistics, what i can do, what i can’t do, what i won’t do, and what i’ll charge, and to show me the space and meet their team.

the urge to drink? as soon as i hung up the phone.  a low thrum of excitement, a thrill even.  Yes, a feeling of hooray! Not panicked or manic or overwhelmed or nervous, just happy and excited for the opportunity

and that, my friends, made me feel like drinking.  Happy and excited = one shot of vodka into my tonic and cranberry.

Instead, I ran some warm water and did the dishes by hand instead of putting them into the dishwasher.  I ate half of a toasted english muffin as a snack. and then i figured i’d come in here and write down the contents of my head …

Note to self: Beware! Good feelings ahead! May inspire alcohol cravings! Take necessary precautions! : )

Light bulb moment: Who knew that i drank to be less excited? i thought I drank when things were shitty.  that’s not even true, i drank no matter what the emotion.  happy, sad, depressed, lonely, angry. Oh, look there’s an emotion, time to drink.  How foolish. instead i will now mellow into this happy and pleased feeling of being chosen and being recognized for my work. Maybe there’s some cake in my future …

Good-bye summer. I’m done with you.

This is going to be controversial. But here goes. I don’t like summer.

It’s true that I love vacations, and i really like living in a temperate climate. I i certainly don’t much care for winter of any kind.  I like 20C/72F with blue skies. I can skip everything else, thanks.

summer is filled with expensive events, sloth, gluttony, and a general lack of structure and routines. and me, I’m a girl with a plan. I don’t like to be tightly belted in (like, for example, i never get up with an alarm clock, year round), but I do like to do the same thing pretty much every day. Summer throws me off.  Because everyone ELSE is off doing random things. and I’d prefer everything stayed the same.

Want to go visit friends? “Sorry we’re away for July.”  Want to get the dishwasher repaired? repair guys aren’t working on Fridays for August.  Want to send a business email and get a response? Fat chance.

I like to work, and i have very cool job(s). But in the summer both of my major sources of income dry up for different reasons, basically because everyone else is on vacation.  I can send out a newsletter to my clients in May and get 100 responses. I can send out something in July and get 10 tiny answers.

Also, in lots of places in Europe, there’s very little going on in August. It’s Superior and Painful Deadsville. Stores closed, favorite cafe closed for 3 weeks, butcher shuts his doors, the limited Sunday shopping halts, the farmers’ markets have very few stalls. There’s no car traffic. The neighbors above and below are away.  It’s quiet.  Too quiet for me.

I’ve experimented with working minimally in August, to try to match the European trend where little gets done, but mostly i struggle the entire month, yearning for things to get back to normal.  In my regular school-year life, i’m creating projects, i’m selling events, and when I send out an email there are actual physical humans on the other end reading them.

Also, this summer, i’ve been … well it’s obvious, isn’t it? … i’ve been working on being sober.  since july 1st.  that’s my entire summer.  and now i’m super very thankful that the ‘working hard at being sober’ part is over.  So thanks summer, see ya later.

Let’s raise a toast to September, the time of cooler temperatures, red leaves (depending on where you live), and NEW notebooks with NEW erasers and NEW pens and NEW shoes, and NEW possibilities and NEW opportunities, and NEW friends, and NEW plans, and NEW projects.

Calculations: Today is my 6 year wedding anniversary : )  Today is Day #67 sober. I have been writing 30 minutes a day since September 1st, and even managed to write 3 of 4 days while on vacation; will make up the missing 30 mins this week. So far my 30-day September writing project is quite easy and fine (go figure!) Compared to quitting drinking, maybe all of the rest of my 30 day projects will seem painless by comparison! Let’s hope.

i like vacations more than real life

If you knew me in real life, you’d know that I say this all the time:

“I like vacations more than real life.”

And maybe everybody says this. But i really mean it.  I’m a goal-directed girl, and i can work really really hard if i know that there’s a reward coming.  vacations are the best reward for me.  four days of beach, movies, french pastries, reading on the beach, listening to podcasts. Even the travel itself is part of the vacation: planes, trains, metros. I just open up my book and read until we get there.

This was my first sober vacation (yes, thank you very much, today is day 66). I did OK 3 out of 4 days, which is pretty good.  I drank lots of tonic water, tons of tea, gallons of bottled water (Badoit with tiny bubbles), and only one day did i want to kill my husband.

We had a movie pass for one full day during the 4 day vacation, and the movie pass gave us unlimited access to see movies back to back. The first one we wanted to see started at 11:30 am. Seems reasonable. Woke up at 10:30 am (gotta love quiet hotels with dark curtains that let you sleep forever). Headed off on foot to the movie part of town. Figured we’d get breakfast on the way.

Now, breakfast in France is tricky business. France is an entire country full of people who don’t eat eggs (or protein) for breakfast. Coffee, pastry and juice — YES. Eggs and home fries and bacon and toast — NO.  Yogurt and fruit and granola — NO.  Tofu scramble? Definitely non.

So let’s take this newly sober girl, who’s used to eating lots of protein, and let’s give her … oh, i don’t know, a regular french breakfast which is straight sugar and adrenaline:  coffee, OJ, croissant, and then white bread with butter and highly processed strawberry jam.

She eats it all, of course, it’s very yummy.  And off she goes to watch the first movie.

Fast forward 2.5 hours, the end of the first movie. Starvation isn’t really the right word. It is more like an all-encompassing feeling, head-to-toe blanket of murderous rage.

I cannot seem to communicate to my husband that i am STARVING and that i have to eat right now.  No i can’t sit on the beach and eat baguette with cheese. I need to eat an entire cow. Are you listening to me? If i don’t eat a whole chicken, head first, in the next three minutes, i’m going to fucking implode.

My husband really cannot figure me out, and so i say something shitty like “why don’t you pretend just for one minute that you love me, you know, like you used to, and just for one minute imagine that what i’m saying is important to you.” He glares, he really has no idea why i’m yelling. And this makes me even more furious so I start shrieking, in a crowd, and yes people actually turn to look at the poor man whose wife is going off on him.  He says “do we have to run?” (i’m walking very very quickly, yelling, not looking back to see if he’s behind me any more). Yes, we have to run, I say, I have to eat something. He says: “fine, you can go alone then.”

which means we’ll get separated in this big crowd.

And I really really don’t care. At all. I keep walking and i don’t look back. I’m as close to drinking as i’ve ever been in 66 days. murderous rage. completely out of proportion to the event, and i know i’m hungry but i can’t seem to control my mouth, or my mood, or my pace of walking, or my yelling.

i arrive in front of a bad hamburger place. Husband is behind me (of course). We eat. I try very lamely to explain. I say “please don’t be a dick.” and he says “please don’t be crazy.” and then i start laughing.  because crazy is exactly what I am.

There was no alcohol involved. I ate some cow and felt better. The burger was terrible but did the job (the French aren’t great on making American-style hamburgers either, but in a pinch they’ll do).

The next day (yesterday) I ate terrible runny eggs for breakfast (runny yolks and runny whites). Husband had to avert his eyes, it’s truly gross. I didn’t care what they looked like, i knew i needed protein. And thus, yesterday, the runny egg day, i had the best day of the entire vacation. Relaxed, happy, even, un-anxious, well rested. We sat on the beach for 3 hours reading. We had tea and quiche for lunch (Look!  More Eggs!).  We bought apples to eat on the trip back.  We got home late last night (11:00 pm) and went out to our favorite corner place for roast chicken.

I have more to say about vacations, about september, about this time of year. but i’ll save it for later.  this is already too long and i want to put in a few more pictures : )

60 days

Who would have thought that I’d arrive here.  60 Days today.

When I quit drinking on July 1st, i knew i wanted to be sober for 30 days, but beyond that I knew very little, and i struggled a lot. I didn’t sneak a drink or relapse, but i definitely struggled a lot with my thinking.  Thankfully that tumbling of ideas and words and anxiety about “not drinking” has stopped, and not a moment too soon.

I have a reward planned for today, i’m going to buy some fancy hand cream that smells like ginger (that when i used a sample, i kept sniffing my hands for hours).

I had planned to blog every day for the first 60 days as a way of holding myself accountable.  Mission accomplished : ) I’ll probably still blog lots, just not daily.  We’re heading on vacation this weekend (finally) and i won’t be writing then.

As well, starting September 1st, i’m adding a new layer to this recovery journey, and i’m tackling a project that has been on my to-do list for 18 months.

I’ve been looking ahead to September and part of me is quite happy to be getting back into my regular routine.  I like autumn, the cooler temperatures, the ‘new beginnings’. The leaves don’t change colors here like they do at home. They just turn brown and fall down all at once in a big wind. Lots are down already. But before I get too day-dreamy about September, first there’s the BEACH vacation, starting on FRIDAY, that’s 2 more sleeps! i do love vacations (when my husband is off work at the same time as me).

In closing, I wanted to share with you some of the best (and worst) search engine terms that have brought people to my blog over the last 6o days.  How fun!

  • does your metabolism change if you stop drinking wine
  • why sabotage a spouse’s sobriety
  • why can’t i sleep well after drinking red wine
  • swarming thoughts of you
  • ode to red wine
  • wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful
  • why are you tired when you stop drinking booze
  • big anuses
  • chinese chocolate swiss roll
  • first day sober from alcohol
  • advil and alcohol
  • 60 days without a drink and i am resentful and want a drink
  • allen carr vs. jason vale
  • sadness
  • belle’s tired of drinking blog

And YES … the answer to the question is YES.  Yes, I will be sober after today. I will continue to not-drink, even if I don’t blog every day. 

Forcing Self Improvement

Tuesday Weigh In: I am down 1.4 pounds since i quit drinking wine. Yes, this is up from the last time I weighed myself. I don’t seem to care very much. Which is probably why the number is not changing even when i claim that i want to lose weight. I clearly want to eat chocolate cream roll MORE than i want to lose weight.  And in these early days of no-booze, I know that sugar is a darn good replacement strategy.  Clearly it’s not a permanent option. i will eventually blimp out and my long-sleeved shirt will become a billowing sail in a strong wind.

Otherwise, all is well. nothing new over here.

except this.

Over at Abstaining in August, there’s a thoughtful post about what else we could do for 30 days, if we were to extend this sobriety thing into other self-help-y topics in our lives.

I commented with a lovely list of things I’d like to try to do for 30 days. Some typical stuff (run more, lose weight, read more) and some minor but important bits (very clean house, empty inbox every day).

So since it’s nearly September 1 and that seems like a good day to start a 30 day trial, this morning I opened up MS Word, turned on the auto number feature, and put in my list of things i’d like to do for 30 days:

  1. run 5 days a week including one long run
  2. lose 1-2 pounds a week
  3. make 30 new recipes in 30 days day
  4. write 30 minutes a day (for work) for 30 days
  5. read an hour a day (or read at least one book per week)
  6. empty inbox every night before bed
  7. run + read in the mornings before checking my email
  8. Set email checking to download new messages every 60 minutes (instead of every 1 minute).

And then I used the magic random number generator to make my selection for me.

It came up with #4.

Now let’s clarify a few things. Firstly, I don’t like this choice. I even considered pressing random again, to see what else it gave me.  Which is kind of silly since i’m the one who put #4 on my list in the first place.

Also, to be super clear here, i’ve been writing on this blog at least 30 minutes a day for almost two months, and i have more than 60 posts, cuz some days i’ve written more than once.  So we can argue that i have the time and the ability. I have a degree in writing.

I’m mad at this random number generator thing, even though i picked the 8 items myself, knowing that each one would improve my life and stretch me in some way.

and before we say “just don’t write,” i should say that I really do have to do it, because i’m behind on a deadline that i’ve already been paid for, and i still cannot seem to make myself do it.

i think the biggest difference between blog writing and professional writing is … audience. I get no feedback when i do the professional writing.  the client hardly ever says anything, ever, though they continue to pay the invoices. The topics i have to write about are self-generated, so i get to pick how interesting they are — and they are interesting in a technical kind of way — but i just hate it.  Really hate it.  Cannot make myself do it. Which is why i put it on the list in the first place.

All the normal resistance voices start up, just like with giving up booze:  “how can i start September 1st? i’m going to be on vacation.  How can I write every day while i’m on vacation?”

Sound familiar?  Not long ago i was thinking “i can’t quit drinking now, i’m going to be on vacation in X days.” Or I can’t quit now because of this wedding coming up, or until I move, or whatever.  There’s always some imaginary better time to do the thing that we’re avoiding.

and if writing every day for 30 days is like early sobriety, then i’ll hate mostly every minute of it in the beginning, and then it’ll get easier. i’ll reward myself, and then i’ll forget the rewards.  I’ll count days, and then i’ll lose track.

Fuck, i can hear myself talking myself into this 30 day trial, even as i’m writing this post.  Which i didn’t want to do.  Honestly i thought i was going to write something about quitting the professional writing gig and just refunding their money.

I wish i had this sober community support for the rest of my life, and i could post my stoopid professional writing and get thoughtful feedback from you-all.

i wish that there were easier ways towards self-improvement that didn’t feel like forcing myself to do something i don’t want to do.

anyone got a genius idea about forcing self-improvement? blech. double blech.