The first thing they say is “what can i get you to drink?”

I’m pleased to say that 5 more bracelets were put in to the mail on Tuesday …

And i already have 5 submissions for the bubble photo.

This bit of genius came in from Shel (day 74):

I have to say that I feel a little worried/guilty that staying sober feels so normal THIS TIME.  I have been uncomfortable on a few occasions mainly either worrying before the event or being at an event when everyone starts the stupid drunk conversations … GEEZE and to think that used to be me.

I am so happy to be truly living each day and truly present for the special people in my life.  I do occasionally have the “maybe I could resume social drinking one day” thoughts and I laugh out loud and say “what’s the point”.  If you think about it, what exactly IS the point??

I see how people get together and the first thing that is said when you walk through the door is “what can I get you to drink?” Why not “I am so happy to see you, how is everything, lets sit down and chat for a few minutes.” Now that is really connecting.

Then as the night goes on and the drinks go in the conversations become even more detached and superficial.  I was honestly sitting at the last party and everyone was talking about the dog hair that ISN’T in their house because of obsessive cleaning….WHAT?  This conversation held 3 other drinkers captive with head shaking, cheers, and oh yes me too’s….argh.

OK, getting off my soapbox now…I am not dropping my guard and getting cocky cuz I know what happens then, Wolfie sneaks up behind you and practically pours the drink down your throat before you know what has happened … my shield is staying in place and ready to protect my sobriety.

Talk to ya later. ~ Shel

Team 100 update: 107 members, welcome to Casse’s Mom (day 9).  Happy days to: Carrie (95), Simpson Sister (55), Victoria (14), Sunny Sue (100), PP (10), Mary (20), Jackie (50), and Lex (10).

Sober Girls’ Photography Project: Assignment #2

Holy site traffic, batman! Yesterday’s Sober Morning Photo post already has 1,500+ views! And the pictures, they’re just lovely, oui? This whole project is way more fun than i ever imagined. And yes, ready for round 2?

Learn more about the idea of having a sober hobby here. See the results from Assignment #1 here.

I’m thinking that there might be a few other sober chicks out there looking for a new hobby, or are trying to find a way to revive an old hobby.  So if you want to join Christina and me, and take a few pictures, i think we could have some fun!  This is open for anybody, you don’t have to be a fancy ass photographer. No inner critic allowed. Are you ready?

Assignment #2 Bubbles
Your photo can be bubbles in any form — food, people, puddles, bath. And let’s say, for the sake of clarification, no beer or alcohol!

  • DEADLINE: Saturday, June 15 @ 12 noon Eastern.
  • The format is open: black and white, filters, cropping, all OK.  You can use your camera phone or a nice camera.
  • The photo must be original, and taken AFTER the assignment is received (like, no going through past pictures taken, it has to be new).
  • If you suck at photo adjustments or cropping, send it anyway with a note that you’d like me to adjust.
  • Send as LARGE a file size as you can manage (up to 12MB per image).  Don’t reduce for size.  the bigger the better.
  • Um, you have to be sober …
  • One entry per person per assignment (think of the size of my inbox!)

NOTE:  I’ve given this assignment a short deadline on purpose.  If you’re anything like me (and you are, right?) you will want to be perfectionist about this.  You’ll have an idea in your head of the of the Perfect Bubble Picture and you’ll wait to try to stage that image.  Don’t 🙂  Find some bubbles, take the picture.  It’ll turn out better than you think it will. This is a fun project, you remember fun right? I learned all about fun by doing this with Christina. And right on this Bubbles assignment, I got ‘stuck’ in my head trying to get a perfect picture… then i remember it was supposed to be fun …

Here is Christina’s photo to get you started:

christina Bulles C.

Team 100 Update:  106 members, welcome to Pip (day 5), Overndout (3), SugarRush3 (4), and Carol (2). Happy days to Lilly (40), Anne (31), Julie (208), Lauren (80), Sunny Sue (99), Roxanne (50), KT (45), Debbie (30), Lurker B (8), LilyUK (40), Paula (15), JG (40), Colleen (41), Nancy (10), Helene, Leah & Elle (31), Rebecca (81), Julz & Quill (15), Meka (7), and me day 347.

Photos: Sober Morning

Assignment #1 Sober Morning

OK, it’s time for the big reveal of the Sober Girls’ Photography Project. What a lot of fun!

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures, this post is now closed to new submissions.

BUT if you want to join in for the next assignment, Christina and I are working on some new ideas … assignment #2 coming up …

This post is now closed to new submissions.

“it’s like erasing the loneliness and anxiety”

News from Team 100:

Sara (day 22 now):

I am so amazed by this.  This is so weird. Weird to be on day 19 — sober. I have not been sober for 19 days in a row for the last 8 years. 8 years! Imagine that. That person I see in the mirror has been drinking more or less every night for 8 years. It’s hard to face.  When I was headed this way I would never had thought I’d be this person who drank every night out of loneliness and to be able to fall asleep. Later for anxiety and to get some sleep — what a joke it is to think alcohol makes you sleep better! I had maybe a few bad nights in the first few days but sleeping like a baby these days …

It’s like erasing the loneliness and anxiety; the crap and the bullshit you tell yourself — when you stop drinking. Just stop drinking and slowly your eyes open and your mind awakens. It’s amazing. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

I’m glad I’m headed in the other direction again; where my mind can exist without the blurred reality and disappeared evenings. So tired. But so glad.  Thanks again, Belle for the 100 days.

Chelsie (day 35):

You know, I just realized today how many more little moments I am having — you know those times where all of a sudden every one of your senses is on fire and you’re so IN THE MOMENT, and PRESENT and as this comes to light you’re trying your best to hang on to that feeling. That feeling of complete self-awareness, acceptance, openness. In moments like that I am reinforced with the notion that the entire world is mine to explore and experience. That I am in charge of creating my own life — and how amazing and wonderful of an opportunity is that ?

On one hand it makes me sad knowing how many of those moments I’ve missed out on, but on the other I think I value them much more now. Moments like that keep me sober. They make me excited for my life.

OK, I know it’s not always sunshine and roses. If you’re having a crummy hungover Sunday morning, then reading this kind of post probably smells a lot like bullshit to you. Or not. Maybe it smells like “what are those sober girls doing, and can I get me some of that?”

a bullshit-free Saturday

Something tremendously bizarre is happening with me in Month #11. I honestly didn’t figure there was much ‘big growth’ left to do and yet here we are … evolving nearly daily. It’s the weirdest fucking thing. I’m dropping old shit left and right. But not just dropping it… i’m dropping it with ease. The “will I or won’t I” has temporarily stopped. There is just WILL. And it’s WILL without clenching. If that makes any sense. Who the fuck am I? I’m sooo not used to this person!

I think my gloating/smug/superior button is also broken, as of very recently.  As a life-long bragger, I just don’t feel comfortable now drawing attention to myself at the expense of someone else.  We were out for dinner with a group and three separate times this girl, R., said to me:  “take the credit already!” I just sort of shrugged.  It was silly stuff like R. said “you ordered the best desserts!” And I answered “the waitress said there were two kinds of dessert pudding and suggested we try both.”  R. says: “just take the credit already!” And — apparently — I can’t.  Where the hell did THAT come from? My sisters won’t recognize me! I’m 11ish months sober.  maybe this is a normal progression. god knows what happens at 13 or 14 months … holy evolution batman!

I can tell you it was not a conscious decision. I didn’t wake up this week and say “let’s try to work on the gloating, OK?” Though i have thought that, a billion times, over the course of my lifetime.

This week, though, it seems to have just (at least temporarily) stopped.  On its own.  Like, who does that?

Those with lots more sobriety than i have can probably relate to this, in a “pat-me-on-the-head, isn’t she cute” kind of fashion. “yes, belle, stop drinking and slowly ALL of the other bullshit in your life stops. Bullshit around you, AND bullshit spewing from your mouth.”

here’s to a bullshit-free Saturday. no gloating, no bragging, no smug self-satisfaction. Just a good old-fashioned Saturday. Coffee, reading, groceries, spend some time outdoors, some bad TV. Unclenched.

{who KNEW!}

~

Here’s a Quill-Quotable (she’s on day 11): “The way you and other Team 100 members talk about sobriety (like a comfy lavender hug, like a clear horizon with a cold fresh scent) make me want to keep plugging away and see if I can get the same thing.”

Team 100 update:  102 members, welcome to Meka (3). Happy days to Suzanne (14), Mel (20), Jackie (45), Em (7), Laura (28), Sunny Sue (95), Erica (130), Simpson Sister (50), and Carrie (90).

i’m broken now in the ‘sober’ position.

As this month putters along, I am surprised to find myself nearly one year sober. I can assure you, this was completely not my intention. “Really, officer, I tripped and fell and got sober. Not my fault.”

i really am a weird poster child almost advertising sobriety: “You’ll Like It. You’ll Feel Better.”  The biggest and best truth, though, is how much better I really do feel. Like, A LOT. Yes, there are days (and even that’s an exaggeration, it’s more like hours or even parts-of-hours) when i feel gigantically shitty and my habitual “let’s throw wine at this problem” kind thinking comes up. I still don’t drink. It’s like i’m broken now in the ‘sober’ position. I can’t drink now. I just couldn’t do it. Even in my dreams, i’m always telling people “i don’t drink.”  I could not start again at day 1. I will not feel that kind of regret, i just will not. I can’t. Every day forward is a day moving away from ‘there’ and moving towards the ‘new me’ over here. And i like it here.

Malia says it well:

“I feel like I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the mad, crazy cravings to begin. However it’s still very quiet. I’m past the pink cloud stage definitely. The desire to drink (and drink and drink), is gone. I even went to a family party yesterday without my supportive husband, and it was, easy. Enjoyable even. My family is supportive in the way that they still ask if i want any wine, but accept the no, and don’t ask again … The only difference I notice these days is that its earlier than it used to be where I get to the point of OK kids, time to go!

“I think maybe I just needed to get some sober days in front of me to clear my head of all the “noise” drinking was causing? Of course, this also brings up the question as to whether or not I was as bad as I thought, was (am) I a real alcoholic? Could I possibly…..someday….? However I have no time for that nonsense. I still need to get through these 100 days, then perhaps another 100, then probably the rest of 2013 and heck lets throw in 2014 while I’m at it. Then I can reassess!” (She’s now on day 48).

Photography update, received 5 photos already for Sober Morning. Holy Lots of Fun Batman.

Team 100 Update: 101 members, welcome to Designer-Rachel, CB and Ingrid (all on day 3). Celebrations for: Amy (6 months today!), Lilly (35), Jen (131), SoberInMtl & Victoria (7), Lynda and Mr. Lynda (81), Lawyer Anne (60), Lauren (75), Brandy (31), Mr. Belle (51), Anathu (20), Roxanne (45), Debra (131), KT (40), Paula (10), Mary (14), Erika (33), Cam (30), Sara (20), Julz & Quill (10), Camla & Tiffany (7). And DDG is on day 81.

Just to note, when someone stops emailing or goes ‘missing’, I still hold your spot for you. Your name stays on the chart and when you’re ready, you can just email and give your new day 1 and we keep rolling. If you reached out asking to do the challenge, then I save your spot. That means that Emily is #16 and JMM is #62.

Sober Girls’ Photography Project

So one of the things that drinking does, is it sucks up our time. Every night beginning at 6 pm (or earlier!), after the first glass of booze, we descend into a pit of un-productivity! That dinner i was going to make turned into potatoes and nothing else. The plans i had to clean the bedroom closet turned into 3 hours of watching A&E’s Intervention.  Drinking squeezes out other activities. There just isn’t time. or energy. or brain space.

And so once we get sober, there’s this vast time called ‘evening’ that we have to fill. And some weird things have been known to happen.  Like going for groceries after dinner. Like going to dinner and then going to a late movie. Just as recently as last Friday, my husband and I left to go and walk to dinner at 10 pm, not getting home till after midnight… just out walking around the city, enjoying the (finally) beautiful weather. I can assure you there’d have been NO walking to dinner at 10 pm if i was drinking…

One of the other things that can happen to ‘fill time’ is that our passions and hobbies come back.  Used to be a writer, a dancer, a runner. Used to make jewelry, write romance novels. Always wanted to learn Spanish, walk a marathon, get tenure.

And then there’s Christina. I asked her what her hobbies and passion were that she could resume now that she’s sober.

Here’s what our emails looked like over a couple of days:

Christina: I wish I had a hobby, something I was passionate about…

Me: OK, let’s get you a hobby then. want to do some homework about this?  I’ll do it with you at the same time 🙂

Christina (the next day): Still Sober and thinking of my homework, hobbies. Will come up with a list of things i like to do.

Me: How are you doing on the idea of hobbies? shall we brainstorm… I’ll do this too. when you were 9-10-11-12 years old, what kinds of things did you do for fun …  I used to play songs and then try to play them on the guitar or make my sisters sing them (thinking we’d be a band someday). I also always had a pen and paper with me, was a regular Harriet the Spy. I loved puzzles, and bought crossword puzzle books all the time (funny now I like jigsaw puzzles and suduko, so that hasn’t gone away) … I’m a half-decent photographer who doesn’t take my camera out often enough (it feels like it’s too heavy/too much work/too much something. probably just inner critic again saying the pictures will be shit).  OK, for me it’s puzzles.  no inner critic can come out when you’re making a jigsaw puzzle.  think I’ll start one tonight.  well that helped me! your turn 🙂 [and i did start a puzzle that night and it is very soothing…]

Christina: Thanks for the brainstorm. I love to do million things. Taking pictures, two years ago bought myself a nice Canon DS500 reflex I carry it all the time when travelling. I always dreamt of playing guitar, just one tune, but I never find the time to really take a course. I would love to be able to “pimp” old furniture, there again never tried … Belle thank you for everything you are doing. I never felt so much strength to stay away from booze. I have tried everything before AA, doctors but in vain. This challenge and the sober blogging is the best thing that never happened to me.

Me (the next morning): are you ready for some photography homework? sort of like building up to having a hobby?

Christina:   I am READY:-)

And then I sent Christina a little photography assignment, and I told her that I’d do it too.

Then something amazing happened!  Not only did Christina do her assignment right away, she started to gush enthusiasm. Then the next day she sent me another photo…

and the Sober Photography Project was born!

I’m thinking that there might be a few other sober folks out there who are looking for a new hobby, or are trying to find a way to revive an old hobby.  So if you want to join Christina and me, and take a few pictures, i think we could have some fun!  This is open for anybody, you don’t have to be a fancy ass photographer. No inner critic allowed. Are you ready?

Assignment #1 Sober Mornings
Your photo can be anything that deals with the early part of the day, sunrises, work commutes, breakfast, etc. My morning usually includes running, coffee, and emails … What does your morning consist of?

  • DEADLINE: Tuesday, June 11 @ 12 noon Eastern.
  • The format is open: black and white, filters, cropping, all OK.  You can use your camera phone or a nice camera.
  • The photo must be original, and taken AFTER the assignment is received (like, no going through past pictures taken, it has to be new).
  • If you suck at photo adjustments or cropping, send it anyway with a note that you’d like me to adjust.
  • Send as LARGE a file size as you can manage (up to 12MB per image).  Don’t reduce for size.  the bigger the better.
  • Um, you have to be sober …
  • One entry per person per assignment (think of the size of my inbox!)

I will post all of the entries I get in about a week. Then if you like, we can do another assignment.

What do you think?  Here are two ideas on Sober Mornings to get you started:

Christina's view on the way to work
Christina’s view on the way to work
Belle's morning
Belle’s morning

“My feelings this afternoon are like a yowling cat …”

ack, the days of early sobriety, when your mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.  with permission, here’s part of an email from Quillian (when she was on day 2):

My brain simultaneously wants me to know that:

  • I don’t have a REAL problem with alcohol like the people I hear from in meetings or read about on blogs, so it’s only worthwhile when they struggle, not when I struggle
  • I have a huge problem with alcohol because I should be incredibly ashamed of the shit I’ve done while drunk, it was awful, like seriously I should just sit here and feel like dying of regret for the rest of the day and/or until I actually die. Of regret.
  • So I really, really need to stop drinking.
  • But I don’t have a REAL problem so it’s not like sobriety is anything to be proud of.

And then I say, Wow, thanks, brain, you’re a real help. Did it ever occur to you that I drink so I don’t have to listen to you?

And then my brain replies, Are you trying to start something? And a chorus of voices in the background is all, Ooooooh, girrrrrrrl, and Oh no she diiiiiiidn’t

And then I wonder if I have actually finally snapped and gone completely around the bend, mental-health wise. And everybody in my skull kind of gets quiet like kids who have noticed their mom is in a mood and don’t want to attract any wrathful attention. The voices went away! I must be fine. Totally sane.

Then I pretend to work for a little while and try not to notice how unproductive I am being, because heaven knows my brain will have opinions about THAT too …

But anyway.

Still sober today. WHETHER OR NOT THAT IS LAUDABLE. I guess I can figure that one out later? And for now just BE it, regardless of merit.

Gah. I swear. My feelings this afternoon are like a yowling cat hanging around a front door. DO YOU WANT TO BE INSIDE OR OUTSIDE? PICK ONE. I don’t knoooooooooow, whine whine whine.

Thanks for letting me ramble more. ~ Quillian

And just so you know, she’s on day 8 today 🙂 Go, Quill, Go!

Team 100 update: 3 members have rejoined the challenge after a period of ‘research’ — welcome back to TMcA (4), PP (2), Moonbeam (3), and SoberInMtl (5).

Just to note, when someone stops emailing or goes ‘missing’, I still hold your spot for you. Your name stays on the chart and when you’re ready, you can just email and give your new day 1 and we keep rolling. If you reached out asking to do the challenge, then I save your spot. That means that Lurker Mum can come back any time and resume her spot #32 (i’m teasing you specifically cuz i know you’re right here with us…).

Celebrations for: MG who is not telling me (yet!) what day she’s on but she’s doing well, Sunflower (75), Ellen (50), Lane (60), Sober Kat (240), Christina (60), Marie (45), Laura (25), Erin (45), Diane (60), Carolyn (10), Cam (28), Gindy (60).

And hugs to Lurker B and Helene for bravery.

“my true self is showing up”

When Erica got to 100 days sober, I asked her to write about how she was feeling. Here’s what she wrote:

Erica: Well, it’s been a week since you asked me to write about how I feel after 100 days. I’ve put it off because, well … it’s really hard to say how I feel. I had a really long ‘pink cloud’, a good 60 days’ worth.  Where I felt amazing. Super happy, set the world on fire kind of energy, cried at the birth of spring, etc. Now I’ve kinda come back to earth to join all the ‘normal’ people.

Here’s a couple of things I now know:

I’m not awesome. I blamed alcohol for all the things I felt I should be doing.  Volunteering at the animal shelter more then once in a blue moon, writing thank you cards, being the friend that just listens instead of waiting to jump in with my perspective, set things on fire in the bedroom, do a weekly deep hair condition/face mask, clean my house…. Still don’t do any of that.

I will never be “that mom.” You know-the one that makes the awesome designer cupcakes for the class, etsy level kids crafts/projects, SAHM who drops the kids at preschool with complete hair/makeup/super cute outfit (all the while holding a 2mo/old), has kids that never hit, curse, or have a big brown blob on the front of their pants.  I would settle to be the mom that remembers to bring an extra diaper.

Not going to look like a supermodel. I knew that at a young age. Really has nothing to do with alcohol. But you just never know! At 40, I have now accepted it.

But the little things. The little things that you sometimes don’t notice ’til you’re in bed going over your day.  Like enjoying my day. My whole day.  Even the bad parts.  Because I’m there for it, my true self is showing up. The person that is showing up everyday is happy, feels healthy, has good (better) breath, less critical of herself & others, has more patience, can wear clothes that she hadn’t been able to fit in, is interested in everything around her, & has a big ol’ “what the hell is wrong with her” belly laugh for all amusements.  And I really like that person.~ Erica

And hooray for Erica, she’s on day 126 today 🙂

Team 100:  98 members, welcome to Tiffany (4).  Happy days to: Amy 180, KC (45), TMcA has rejoined the challenge (yippee!) and is on day 3, J (200), Sober Journalist (60), Brandy (28) and this is a super big deal so let’s all have a big shout-out for her, Kirst (40) her wolf is a hyena which i think is hilarious, Paula, Julz, Quillian, Dana & Sam (7), Chelsie, Erika, & Anna (30), Suzanne (10). And me (339).

monday

Happy to be mailing out the first 5 bracelets today 🙂 super powers are on the way!

I got a great email from Colleen in my inbox on the weekend:

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could live out two lives — sort of like the in the Christmas Carol?  So we could see our life with alcohol, and the one where we chose sobriety?  How interesting would it be if we could see how our lives would be played out with each scenario.  What would we lose, gain?

I play this game in my head it scares me…because I know that alcohol would take everything away — my family, friends, health, finances, looks,  I am so glad I am not on that path and am choosing sobriety — the upward path.  But I know that the downward path of self-inflicted path of misery, pain and suffering is waiting for me — hiding and ready to pounce on me at places like backyard bbq, birthday parties and other seemingly innocuous places. I am grateful that I am on the path of sobriety and I don’t want to ever give up this freedom.

Had a nice time at my friend’s party … I didn’t have the desire to drink at all and this is SUCH a blessing.  I have made it this far before, but always white knuckling it — feeling deprived that everyone could drink and I couldn’t.  It is different this time.  I feel like I am the lucky one

Team 100 update: 97 members, welcome to Gindy (58), Lex (3), Camla (3).  Happy days to: Suzanne (9), Sara (16), Rebecca (72), Mel (15), Carolyn (8), Leah (22), Jackie (40), Elle & Helene (22), Mary (10), Colleen (32), JG (31), Lurker B (7), Debbie (21), Sunny Sue (90), Lilly (31), Thirteenpointone (365!).