broken mirror, bent golf club, two bullet holes [Julie-Joy’s Dad Part 1]

from me:

i received a long email from Julie-Joy’s Dad about his new sober life. it’s so fascinating that i want to share it all with you, but it’s long (i said that already) and so i’m going to split it into parts. Here’s Part 1:

===

[May 2016]
email from Julie-Joy’s Dad (day 822): “Hi Belle, I wanted some insight with my drinking problem, which I thought really wasn’t that bad. So I sent my “girls” (girls includes my wife) an email and asked them to tell me about the before and after. I was surprised. Actually I was a little shocked! You will like the response from my wife. Enjoy.  This is my original email:  I need your help! I like to read the blogs of “Belle’s” website and I find them encouraging and in some cases sad. I am looking at my own journey and how content and happy I am right now and I would like to add a perspective to the blog (or whatever) from my family. Could you write a paragraph or two about the DAD (& husband) before the 100 day sober challenge, and the DAD after taking the challenge? Thanks and I love you. DAD (and your Mom’s hubby).”

1. Response From My Wife

I really think you were on a course of self-destruction that was going to end tragically … There were a couple of times that I was probably more frightened, and mad, than I’d ever been in my life. There was one night that I was so concerned about you that I left work in the middle of the night to come home and check on you. I had talked with you on the phone and you weren’t making much sense. By the time I got home you were in bed asleep.

There was also an instance with a patient in the ER one night that I thought to myself, “this could be Jeff.” He had a seizure related to alcohol withdrawal. He was right around the same age as you and a daily drinker. Not a homeless alcoholic guy off the streets, just your average every-day worker, wife at bedside. He was obviously altered, couldn’t talk or make any sense, going to be admitted to ICU (withdrawal can kill), didn’t know if he was going to make it and if he did, what would his quality of life be like. That really frightened me. I remember talking to you about it and you blew it off. At least that was my perception.

Then Julie-Joy came along with an initial 30 day sober challenge, I thought to myself “he’ll do it for Julie, she always had a way with her dad.”

Let me back up a bit and give you my example of “frightening moments”: broken mirror (floor length), bent golf club, and also two bullet holes in our house and you not remembering what happened! My heart is racing right now just recounting this…

There was also the way you tried to hide how much you were drinking. I felt God was whispering in my ear: “look here, look there,” and sure enough there’d be a bottle. … Belle entered our lives through Julie. I cannot begin to thank you enough for your gift of reaching people, Belle. It was the absolute perfect time. Jeff took on the challenge in the typical fashion “all-in”! He did 30 days, and then 60 days, and then 100 days. He is now at 822 days and counting. He is amazing and a joy to be around. He’s “fired-up” on a daily basis, and is hard to keep up with. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m much younger than him, six years? A bit of a private joke 🙂 I’m so thankful he’s alive (I don’t think he would’ve at the rate he was going). I get to enjoy his company for the rest of our years together (38 years and counting).

I love you Jeff and I love that you took on this challenge with gust! You have been a huge inspiration not only to me, but your daughters and those around you, and those you don’t even know you. I’ve shared with friends, patients and acquaintances about the change in you, the website, and the person that Belle is and has been to our family. Thank you Belle for bringing this inspiration to us. Thank you for your own 30, 60, 100+ day challenge and inspiring others to “stop thinking about drinking.” You have a gift, thanks for sharing with others and this family in particular. You’re a life saver.

[end part 1]

never mind. look away. eyes on your own paper.

from me:

this sober girl got up at 6:15 and wrote some on the new sober fiction writing project. it’s day 6 of 100 days in a row. remember when i said it was 100 days until christmas? yeah, that.

there are so many ways that writing is like being sober.

you show up and you don’t know what to expect. you’ve heard other people’s stories but you don’t know if they will apply to you. you are sure you’re a special snowflake and that “what works for others won’t work for you.” You get advice from people who don’t get it. You get cheerleading in unusual places.

In my case, i writing to be so close to early sobriety that some days, it’s all i can do to just keep going. i’m on day 6. don’t want to break the streak. don’t want to have to start over.

if you’re like me, you do better with accountability and support. and when i say “if you’re like me” and you think you aren’t, you probably are. You do better with support. You do better when someone you respect, who loves you, who has your best interests at heart says something encouraging. Imagine the storybook version of a grandmother. that kind of support. (if you have a grandmother like mine, whenever i’d complain about a perceived slight or a sister squabble, she’d say “Never Mind,” as if to say: look away. eyes on your own paper. keep your eyes on the road. don’t let your sober car run out of gas.)

and like writing, it’s not enough to feel like you have the ABILITY to do it, you also need the right combination of motivation and spark and timing and momentum. And when you get momentum? well i’m not dumb, i know that momentum is hard to get, and even 6 days is hard to get, so i’m keeping going.

i also set up some external accountability by posting the book, in order, a bit at a time, as it’s written. It’s officially called ‘serializing’ your book, when you print it bit by bit. And if the experiment of posting day by day continues to work well, i’ll share it here too. for now i’m being a bit careful of who/how i share (sounds like sobriety?).

mood-wise i’m doing ok this week. I mean, i’m as sloth-y as ever. I’d LIKE to: clean the house, run a 10K, get my eyebrows done, empty the freezer, read a book about Hope, make 4 new recipes, and go to IKEA.

instead of that list of things i’d LIKE to do, instead i’m doing this: emailing sober penpals, hosting a class about worth (which is turning out to be super fascinating, as we discuss in more depth how the “THING is not in the THING”), writing every day, and going to physio twice a week for a sore shoulder (just tendonitis, nothing exciting). that’s it. i’m not cooking meals, i’m not running much (more walking), i’m not making new recipes. in fact, if you must know, i had canned beans for lunch today (3:02 pm) for the first time in 8 years and they were delish. that’s it.

and like when we make any large changes (writing fiction – which really is just like being sober – it’s creating a new something where there was nothing before), i’m being kind to myself to remember that 6 days is a big deal. that writing daily and doing the rest of my life is enough for now. and any ideas of nice eyebrows will have to wait. the freezer will wait. the new recipes can wait. IKEA will still be there on the weekend.

striving for underwhelm so that the magnitude of what i’m doing doesn’t make my head fly off.

and to finish off, i had some fun making up a mock cover for the new fiction book. this is not real. this is me playing 🙂

 

Audio: Snake or Starfish

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #212 sent to sober podcast members.

Are you a snake or a starfish? A snake presents only part of their story. You might talk about your husband, but not about over-drinking. You maybe tell your doctor about menopause and not the two bottles of wine.

Whereas really, you’re a starfish. There are multiple things happening. and if you don’t present all of them, then the person listening can’t always help you as well as they could.

To get you started, you can listen to this clip from the beginning of the audio, and then you can add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Fill in the blanks: I told ______ about _____ but i never mentioned _______ or _________.

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #212

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)


(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

cold, rainy, and the soup apparently will not cook itself.

from me:

this sober girl slept in this morning, it’s cold and rainy. I had a large pot of decaf. I am wearing orange Ernie socks, plaid pyjama bottoms, a Roots t-shirt, a zip up jacket. It’s colder than it should be.

I open my inbox and it looks like this: celebration of 100 days, relapse on day 49, reset after 3 years of drinking, frustration with repeated resets. (at this point i pause and finds an audio to send to the frustrated girl, an audio recorded for a different frustrated girl, but applies to this one, too, so resending.)

there are sweet and kind emails in response to yesterday’s micro-email (“yes, i feel like that too”) and there are questioning emails (“did you write that nice thing about yourself and pass it off as having been written by a penpal”) and other questioning emails (“i question your qualifications to teach a ‘worth’ class”).

I edit a podcast interview recorded a month ago, and then email the interviewee (again) to ask if she’d like me to NOT share the recording. i’ve offered before, i offer again. for reasons.

my husband comes home for lunch at noon (it’s 1:20 pm now). i suggest not terribly kindly that he shift his work project from one thing to another, and he declines, and then i feel trapped and i stop talking.

i have a new catering order for later this week which is exciting, although the one where i made the 10 cheesecakes was cancelled. so i have food in my freezer (that’ll teach me to do too much in advance!).

so really, it’s a regular day.

up and down moments. problem solving, linking, writing. working on the fiction project (can you tell how well it’s going? i’m here doing this instead).

i have someone who signed up for the jumpstart class but hasn’t downloaded the audios yet, and is having trouble getting going. i have someone who is celebrating day 156 and has been lurking the whole time.

i have 10 small cheesecakes in the freezer. no that’s true. there are 9. but i wrote 10 before and so i’m continuing with that.

and just like anyone else in the universe, i have emails that lift and some that flatten. i have moments of “oh brother” and moments of perfect alignment.

but really. i’m a girl in her pyjamas (now it’s 1:28 pm). i haven’t had lunch. my husband thinks i’m a turd (to be fair, i didn’t warm him up to my ideas, i just blurted them and he declined), and i fear that i am not going outside today because it is 16C (61F) and pouring rain.

i could make soup with the nice italian pasta that M. brought me when she went home to see her parents, but that seems unlikely. uncooked pasta from ‘rome’ is the same as any other kind of uncooked pasta. it’s the kind that isn’t in my soup. it’s not exotic. it’s uncooked pasta. that is not feeding me at this exact second.

ok fine. i’ll make the fucking soup. fine. FINE.

things i learned yesterday: not everyone loves me every day of the week. no shit. and yes, i am OK with that. i am initially flattened and then i reinflate. i think the reinflating part is the key. and how long it is between flat and reinflated. yesterday I learned that making cheesecake in advance is probably not a good idea unless you want to eat them all. I learned that my idea of writing fiction is VASTLY different from the actual writing of it.

do not say “tomorrow will be a better day.”

instead, you can say: “i have shit days too. one shit day. who cares. make the most of it. order a burger from the food delivery and be done with it. go back to bed.” or you can say “the fiction is probably better than you think it is.” or you can say “i’m one of the lurkers who never speaks up but here’s what i think…”

 

Audio: Behind the Scenes with the BBC

Below i’ve uploaded a clip from Sober Podcast #216 that will go out to sober podcast members.

This is a special behind-the-scenes audio recorded February 2017. I was contacted by Hannah Smith, freelance journalist with the BBC and she wanted some background information before I did some live, on-air interviews for the BBC in May.

She also asks me about being the poster-child for sobriety, and my answer may surprise you.

To get you started, you can listen to this clip from the beginning of the audio, and then you can add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Do you think that sobriety has an ‘image problem’? Tell me your thoughts.

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #216

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)


(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

regular. normal. predictable. 

omm256.monday.regular.normal.predictable

I have a new Monday update message ready for you. This is omm256. This message summarizes what’s coming up this week including the photography project.

To hear this Monday message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

 

 

 

 

links mentioned in the audio:

and in case you hate listening to audios, here’s the transcript:

This is a slightly longer One Minute Message because it’s Monday and I want to give you a little overview of what this week might look like.

I have been away for the weekend and so I am coming back to a full Inbox of which I have done about 2/3rds today. So, if you’re waiting on an email from me, you may have already heard from me today, you may hear from me tomorrow. We did have crappy weather, thank you for asking. It rained all one day and then the second day it was grey but didn’t pour rain so we could do a lot of walking and not that you care, but thank you for your well wishes.

We did also spend a fair amount of time, as I’m sure you did, following what was happening with the hurricane in Florida. I’ve been getting email updates from my pen pals yesterday and today, letting me know that they’re safe. And so, if you fall into that category, you can also send me an email and let me know that you are well and that your parents got moved and that your dog got moved and that all of the other variables that needed to happen did happen.

If you’re also like me, you probably reached a point where you couldn’t watch the coverage anymore because it was making you feel wound up or that there was a sense of something catastrophic that then, thankfully, eased up in terms of the predictions and then there was this gigantic sigh of relief I’m sure for everybody, not just for me following this.

But, we’ll use this as a preface then to say that this week you will be extra specially kind to yourself because these sorts of things going on in the world, whether you live in Florida or not, there are things that are stressful and have every potential capacity to wind you up. You will watch how much TV you watch. You will read rather than watch videos because they’ll wind you up more. You will turn off the television. You will turn away from things that make you feel wacky. And you will drop your shoulders and breathe a bit and relax a bit and remember to be kinder to yourself, no matter where you are in the world, no matter what’s happening around you. (You could listen to this message any day and it would be the same thing. I might say it every Monday. Should I say it? Every Monday, I’ll turn on the microphone and I’ll say, ‘Please be nice to you today. OK. Goodbye.’)

Coming up this week, there will be 2 new One Minutes Messages in addition to this one, so a total of 3 out of 5 days. There will be at least one new email every day, sometimes two. The new class that I am starting for people who are 200+ days sober about worth has started its registration today. The class begins next Monday. Topics include: different ways that we determine worth, messages that we get from family, how do we construct our own ideas of worth and going forward how do we protect our ideas, how do we make these ideas concrete in our own heads. So, if you’re interested in that, you go to: http://www.soberlinks.me/worth and you can have a look at that for anybody who is 200 days or more.

Otherwise, this week is a relatively regular week I think. You’ll notice that everything that I do seems relatively predictable. Maybe that’s a good thing. I mean launching a new class is not really predictable, but One Minute Messages, you’ll hear my voice as many times as you want to this week. I’ll be sending out 2 podcasts as well to podcast members. So if you want to hear longer things, you want to hear my voice more often, you can do that.

You can read the blog. That’s always free. You can read it online. Oh, and I put up a link to a new photography project, which is a free, fun thing that we do where everybody sends in a photo on a certain theme and then we just post them. It’s not a contest. A contest would imply that there’s a winner. It’s a project. It’s an opportunity to look at our world differently with new eyes. I think I posted it on Friday of last week. You have a 10 day deadline to submit your photo. Anybody can submit a photo. You don’t have to be photographer. You don’t have to be especially talented. It’s more just a … it’s more just a project. It’s not, like I said, it’s not a competition and if you procrastinate too long and you think, ‘oh, I  need to wait for the perfect timing’, it won’t happen. So just look at the assignment and go do it and then you’re done. And you’ll see that it’s funner than you think it is. Especially if you don’t fret too much about it.

OK, well that’s it. Anything else you’d like? Any suggestions for what you might like this week? I think the first 3 suggestions I get, I will seriously consider. Send me an email. Talk to you soon. OK, good byyyyeeeee!  Happy Monday

Audio: Sprinkler

This is a clip from Sober Podcast Episode #211 that i sent to sober podcast members.

~~

“Feeling very grateful I listened to this podcast this evening. I’m permanently soaking wet cos of all the bloody sprinklers I walk into. I think I shall wear my raincoat always around my children :-)” ~ Hidcote
~~

In this podcast i talk about how to avoid dealing with someone (or some situation) that is making you feel nutty, and I frame it in terms of thinking about a sprinkler. To avoid getting wet, you do both of these things: you walk around the sprinkler, AND you put on a raincoat. We tend to get stuck staring at the shitty boss, the irritating husband, the bratty child (the sprinkler) – and we wonder “why are they doing this TO ME.”

That’s what boozers do. We look around, find existing problems, and drink AT them. “Fuck you, I’ll show, I’ll drink at you.” Especially in the first 200 days.

so here’s an audio on how to identify (and avoid) the sprinklers in your life.

You can listen to a 2-minute clip from this podcast and add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments. You should leave one. Do it today 🙂

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Sometime in the last 48 hrs, something like this happened to you. did you walk into the sprinkler, walk around it, or put on a raincoat?

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #211

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)


(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

monday update: from your point of view

Here’s the link to today’s Monday Update message. This is omm253. This message summarizes what’s coming up this week, and i wanted to share an idea with you about Point of View: “what does it MEAN when they say this or that…”

To hear this Monday message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

 

 

links mentioned in the audio (in order):

and in case you hate listening to audios, here’s the transcript:

 

(I took the liberty of adding a ‘u’ to Labour Day Weekend.  Is that Canadian?  Did I get it right?  Do I get a cookie? J)

Good Morning. I had an idea to do these Monday morning updates, sort of to set the pace and tone for the week, but also to let you know what happened last week and what’s happening this week. Last week on Friday, I opened a new session of the Sober Jumpstart Class with 25 new spots and I think as of today, Monday morning, there are 9 left (or 8). So if you are interested in doing that, you might want to leap on it now.

The other thing I announced last week was a new class/workshop for anybody who is more than 200 days sober. We’re calling it Sober Seniors, but really it’s more like Sober Champion or Sober Veteran or Sober something. I want you to know also that, this week — and this doesn’t happen all the time, but it definitely happened this week, especially with the message that I sent this Monday, where I said: here’s the thing for people who are new and here’s the thing for people who are 200+ days. Guess what happens? — And the reason I’m sharing this with you is so that you can see the parallel with your life. Guess what happens when you share that you’re going to do this and this? The people who are on Day 1 say “there was too much about the 200 day people.” And the people who are on 200 days say “there’s not enough for me these days, there should be more for senior people.”

Both of those opinions are true. I’m sharing this with you not because you should feel sorry for me, because I don’t feel sorry for me. Because I already know something that I want you to know which is: both of those opinions are true from the point of view of the person speaking. So there’s really no argument, there’s no: ‘No, no you’re wrong’. There’s no: ‘Let me explain’. We try to explain things to people that are TRUE from their point of view.

So you might be one of the people who emailed me and said, “Gee I wish there was more stuff for beginners”. And I’m like, everything’s for beginners. And then you might be someone who says, “I wish there was more stuff for people who are further along”. And I say, all of the early stuff is also applicable to you, just change some of the words. I set myself up that I will be a lighthouse and I will say and do the same thing all the time and that will either appeal to you or it won’t. I’m sharing this with you, not because I think it’s a really interesting story, but because I think it’s a model of something that is happening to you right now in your own life, which is where you feel like (please, I don’t feel like this) — where you feel like, “no matter what I do, somebody’s going to complain.” I don’t feel like that because I actually know what the perspective is. I know that I do the next right thing as far as I can see and that will either resonate with people or it won’t. But from my point of view, this is the right thing to do going forward, which is to have things for both ends of the sober continuum.

In your life, there are some things that you decide to do where some people are supportive and some people aren’t. Some people get it and some people don’t. Perhaps I’m modelling this for you. (You’ll remember that modelling has 2 L’s the same way that travelling last week had 2 L’s. This is Canadian spelling, I’m slowly going to inform you, word by word.) I’m modelling the fact that it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it makes me feel happy because it means that if you’re on Day 1 it’s like: ‘there’s too much about the old people’. And I’m like, OK you know, they’re really getting value out of the stuff I provide especially when it’s tailored right to them. And then if somebody says the same thing: ‘why isn’t there anything more for those…it seems like all you do is for beginning people, don’t you have anything for me’. And I’m thinking, OK what they’re saying is, I don’t want to go away, I want to stay here, can you entice me to stay. Can you provide some content that could be useful for me.

Can you hear the message that is behind the thing that the person is saying? Because our gut reflex is to be defensive to the words. You can’t be defensive to somebody’s words unless you know what the emotion driving it is. What’s behind it? Why are they saying those words? To respond to the words is to misunderstand completely what’s happening. Because there’s always a thing behind the words. Why would they say that? What would they have to be feeling to say that? So, let me tell you about this week. And if you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea, I’m OK with both of them. That’s what I mean when I say I’m okay with you not agreeing with me. I’m okay with it because I know that from your point of view, everything, of course, makes 100% total sense to you from your point of view. Of course it does. As it does from mine.

Here’s my week coming up: I have been working this past weekend which I don’t normally do. I’m not usually online on the weekends, but I have been. Because if you signed up for the Sober Jumpstart Class on Friday, it would be rude if you’re first interaction with me was then an out of the office for a long weekend, 3 days because it’s Labour Day Weekend. So I decided I would work through the weened and that I would take this coming weekend off. So I share that with you in advance so that you know that Friday, Saturday, Sunday I’ll be off line this coming weekend as opposed to having taken Labour Day weekend off. We’re going to the beach, and you will cross your fingers that we get like, I don’t know, one sunny day out of those 3 days because it seems to have turned to be September weather here abruptly. I’m not thrilled with it. Like I have to wear socks again which I’m against. I’m against socks all the time. I’m one of those ‘wear your tags inside out, don’t like stuff to scratch me’…I don’t like socks either.

Also coming up this week, there will be, in addition to this, 2 other One Minute Messages for a total of 3. I will, not everyday, but in some of the days where I don’t put up a new one, I will put up an archived one. Like you might have noticed on the weekend there was one for Julie from the cruse director at The Love Boat. She made a guest appearance/reappearance.

I sent out a new podcast to podcast subscribers about compliance on the weekend, that was on Saturday, and a new one will go out Tuesday or Wednesday, but I am definitely doing 2 new podcasts a week now for people who have the membership for…to get the new podcasts every week as they’re released. It is cheaper to do the membership than it is to buy them individually. But of course you may still choose to pick and choose. You can do that. I did get an email though from somebody who said: “I used to pick and choose the audios until I realized there was something in every audio and that I couldn’t base it on the title,” so I’ll just (it sounds so self-serving) I’ll just share that with you in case that’s helpful.

I will also share with you a little story from my weekend which will be illustrative and will sound like sobriety. Are you ready? I did a month without television, for the month of August. It’s something that I do each year. I don’t suggest this. I’m not recommending this. I’m not saying this is good for early sobriety. I’m simply telling you something that I did. Like quitting drinking, the period of time was short, and so it meant that I watched for the end of it the whole time. Which is why I actually think it’s easier to quit drinking for longer than it is to quit for shorter and there is a One Minute Message about this called Long Haul. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. But I quit for a month which meant that probably only 3 times or 4 times in the month did I really think, “Fuck I really wish I could just like, zone out and watch a show.” It’s not that I don’t have other ways to zone out, I do. I was just doing an exclusion with the television thing. And then, when it got to the end of the month, of course I got to make a decision about whether or not I continued. I thought, “well I only said I was doing it for a month so.” I still haven’t watched television, yet. So now it’s what day (I don’t even know what the day is) the 4th? But what I did do was I played a video game which was part of the thing that I gave up. I gave up TV and video games for a month.

What I did do on Saturday – this is going to sound familiar – is I said to myself, I’ll just play one game. I’ll just play 2 games. (I’ll just have one drink.) I’ll just do a little bit. I’ve had some time off, I’m sure now I won’t get sucked right back into it.

I loaded the game on my phone, snuggled into bed and thought, “oh this is the thing I’ve been looking for all month. This is the thing I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been yearning for something. So I snuggled into bed on Saturday and I got my phone and I turned on the game and 4½ hours went by. It went from light to dark. I didn’t eat. It’s not even that I really felt like playing the game. It’s that once I started to play the game, I didn’t feel like stopping. It’s not that I was particularly excited to be playing the game. It’s that once I began, I was disinclined to stop. So at the end of that experiment, I uninstalled it from my phone.

I’m sharing it with you as a way of accountability to say the following: the thing that is setting off that part of my brain doesn’t go away by me not doing it for a month. The only way to get that to stop… like I said it came up 3 times in the month where I really thought – yeah, yeah, yeah I want this … if I quit for longer, that 3 times would become 2 and then it would become 1 and then it would stop. I know this is the same for quitting drinking. I share this as a story because if you are near Day 1, you can see directly how this applies to being sober. But if you’re on Day 200, you can see directly how this applies to quitting smoking. You think about it a lot at the beginning and then less and less and then it stops. If we quit for a day, then we’re just waiting to drink again. It’s easier to quit for longer. I suggest quitting for longer only if what you’ve been trying has been working and you’d like to try a new strategy and so, it’s sometimes easier to say 100 days than a week. It’s easier to say a year than 100 days. Because then your brain goes, “OK, well I’m just not going to think about it then, I’m not going to negotiate.” The answer is no. The answer is just no, I’m not going to keep revisiting it going, how about now, what about now, can I do it now. No.”

OK, well this is long for a Monday update, so stuff coming up:

  • 2 x podcasts a week
  • 3 x One Minute Messages this week
  • Daily emails, sometimes twice a day. Definitely one a day, sometimes two
  • I’m doing coaching calls this week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • I’ll be away Friday, Saturday, Sunday offline. Not travelling with my laptop. I’ll have my phone for emergencies but I’m offline. And I will be at the beach. Theoretically, not sitting under an umbrella. Well, if it’s umbrella, it better be a sun umbrella.

That’s all I have to say. Happy Monday. Talk to you soon. OK Good Byyyyyeeee.

“I have asked for help and you have given it”

email from mygi (day 1): 

“Hey Belle, just finished listening to Lesson #1 of the Jumpstart class, and I’m in floods of tears because it’s real now and I’m not lurking any more and I’m real. I thought I was broken but maybe I’m not? Sobbing with reality and relief that I don’t have to fight any more.

My longest time sober was about 10 years ago. I’ve always feared quitting outright because I hated that time, it was boring and difficult and I thought that was difficult because I was sober. So I tried moderation, lots of different kinds of moderation, none of which have worked …

What’s different this time that gives me hope is that I’m not going to change anything in my life apart from this one thing. Everything is ok, I’m in an ok place. And I have support, I have asked for help and you have given it. Maybe it will happen to me this time, because I can see the future in you and your sober penpal gang and it doesn’t look so different from who I am now.

I can’t tell you how many times I gave that three year old a doughnut since I returned to day one. Sooooo many doughnuts, soooooo many tantrums. Day one is today again, and it’s shit. I don’t want to be here any more.

And I laugh/sobbed so hard at the corn on the cob thing. Yes, that’s it entirely. I can’t MAKE myself be like that about booze. You’re like that or you’re not. But I’m getting into scary never territory again so I’m going to return to the fact that I’m not drinking now. Not today.

Thank you Belle :-)”

[update: she’s on day 396 today, just celebrated one year sober]

if you don’t start, you’re not travelling

This is one minute message 251. In bed this morning, scratchy throat, very tired, I thought, ok, i’ll record a one minute message for today. and this is it.

To hear this message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

If you don’t start, you’re not travelling. and there’s something very special and exciting about being underway. even if it takes a while. even if the changes are small. even if.

 

QUESTION: If we had to make a bumper stick out of one phrase in this podcast, what would it be? I’ll pick the 11th new comment, and you’ll get an audio bonus gift. New comments are held in moderation, so you won’t know who’s number 11. so submit one now.

11TH COMMENT (that actually chose a phrase from the audio):
Flyaway: “When shit doesn’t work, change something”

links:

and in case you hate listening to audios, here’s the transcript:

Yesterday somebody sent me an email and they said: “I’m always looking through your sober messages for little nuggets on how you problem solve things in regular life.” And I’m like, what? How I do what? I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it, so it means when I’m narrating my life, I’m saying things that are interesting — which of course is always shocking. Because you know how on the inside of your head, stuff just occurs, right? You’ve got a voice in your head, it says things. Some of it we listen to, some of it we don’t. I have a voice in my head that tells me if this doesn’t work then try something else.

It has been very shocking to me in the process of doing the sober work to find that there are people out there who don’t have that same voice that says, “if you can’t find a solution doing it this way, do something else.” And so I started to research it. Because it turns out it’s a thing. It’s sort of like having brown hair or a cleft chin; just don’t have any sense of “what, you don’t hear this?” You know what it’s like over-drinking, you’re like, “what you mean, you don’t hear the voice that says drink now? Fuck, I thought everybody heard it. I thought everybody drank like me.” And then somebody points out some part of your personality and it’s kind of humbling and strange at the same time, because it forces me then to think about how I think, which of course is just exhausting.

I’m actually recording this from bed. It is 9:30 am. I have been awake for 2 hours. I have done nothing. I had a very busy catering day yesterday and today I’m having a coma. Although at least my coma has been coherent, upright, well no, prone, not upright. I’m in bed with my decaf coffee. I know, you want to hear a story about why I drink decaf. You can listen to a podcast about orchids. Because if I have caffeine, the top of my head comes off. And maybe that’s one of those lessons that when shit doesn’t work, you change something. Always trying to tweak and find a better solution, find a better way. How do you get from point A to point B?

The point of this video…video ha ha ha ha…the point of this audio today is to say … yeah I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I’m now trying to tie it all up in a small thing when really I have a lot more to say so now I can’t … that was me just self-editing to decide whether or not I was going to talk for longer or for less. I think I’ll do less … Yeah, I’m still trying to find the way to wind it up in a tight little bundle. You know with something cute and pithy and I’m not coming up with it.

If what you’re trying isn’t working, you try something else. And if that doesn’t seem evident, then you follow somebody else’s lead who has done that exact thing. Because I think this is a skill you can learn obviously or I wouldn’t talk about it everyday. I think it’s entirely possible to learn what other people do and then do it. Not just like learn how somebody runs a marathon and then you do it, but learn how to speak a language, you learn it from somebody else and you can pick up ways of thinking from other people. Like if you go to law school, you learn how to form a certain kind of argument and you learn how to write a certain kind of document. You can learn how to think a certain way.

So is it possible to change your thinking about this idea of I don’t know what to do next? I think, I think, I think there is. People say “oh it’s creativity,” but for me it’s not creativity, it’s desperation. It’s absolute, abject despair. Like, “I don’t want this thing, I want something else. I don’t want this thing, whatever it is, whatever’s happening in my life, whatever it is, I don’t want this debt, I don’t want this unhappiness in my marriage, I don’t want this child with really difficult behaviour, I don’t want this drinking thing to be robbing me of all of my energy.”

I’m only now coming to the realization after 5 years of doing this, when somebody else points it out to me, because I’m a slow learner, that there are two kinds of people in a situation like all the ones that I just described. There’s a person who can look at a situation and say, “OK I don’t like this. I wonder what I can do to change it, even marginally, even incrementally, even slowly. How can I be moving in the direction of changing it.” Or the other point of view is: “well this fucking sucks, this sucks, this fucking sucks, fuck, fuck, this fucking sucks, fuck this sucks, oh my god this sucks.”

Of course, there’s something very noble and proud about saying “this fucking sucks” because you get to stand there and say, “Look my life fucking sucks.” And people go: “oh yeah yeah, you’re right, if fucking sucks.” Nobody ever says to you, “Um what are you doing incrementally, day by day, 1% a day to improve this situation? What are you doing? Like, are you doing one day at a time sober so that at the end of the year, you have 365? And are you incrementally making some other kind of change to evolve in some other kind of way or are you standing around a) waiting to feel like it or b) waiting for some kind of large motivations so that you can change everything all at once because that really never works.”

We lack patience. No shit. But if you were to look ahead and say, “I want this thing in my life,” how do you even head off in that direction?

Because you know what, you’re travelling on a road anyway. You get up every day, you do your day, you make decisions every day about what’s going to happen today. And to some extent, you’re affecting what’s going to happen tomorrow by what you do today. If you’re going to have to get up and live your day every day anyway, what could you be incrementally doing to move some thing in a new direction. I don’t mean moving 10 things at once. And I don’t mean moving one thing ginormously. Because when you’re first sober, just being sober is the goal and that is your change per day to get a new result. But if you’re 200+ days sober, then what are you doing incrementally to build on your sober foundation and create something else.

There’s something that you can have, do, or be when you’re sober that you can’t do as a drinker. But it is very, very, very easy to stand still and say: “fuck, fuck, fuck this fucking shit.” First of all, it eliminates responsibility. It’s you saying “this happens to me.” Instead of you saying “I’m going to do 1% a day to make this different or better or go in a different direction.”

Like, your relationship has some kind of crap in it, so what are you doing 1% a day to move that in a better direction? What are you doing in terms of kindness every day to try to move that in a better direction? What are you doing in terms of, I don’t know, forgiveness or gratitude or making a lunch for somebody or back massages … what do people do for other people? Are you making the bed? Are you doing some of her chores that you always ask her to do or are you just doing some of them? Or are you walking around with a score card keeping score that she didn’t do this, so you’re not going to do that because she didn’t do this? That’s not 1% moving in a better direction.

You write a book a page a day, and you could be sober in a year a day at a time. You can make large, large changes in your life, slowly. But if you’re drinking, you’ve heard me say this before, if you’re drinking, you nail your foot to the floor in a room where you don’t want to be.

So what are you changing?

If the results you’re getting are not working, what are you changing every day, every day, what are you adjusting and changing and improving so that you move in a better direction? “Well, I’m too depressed because I’m too fat and I can’t go out.” Well what are you doing 1% a day. Can you walk from here to the end of the street and then back. And then tomorrow, walk, another block. And your answer then is: “well that will take too long, I need to feel better now.”

And I’m saying: there’s something really special in the process of being on the road to the improvement. Because then you’re underway. You’re taking action. You are deciding what happens next. That’s different than sitting on the couch saying, “this is all happening to me.” What are you doing, small, incrementally, tiny to improve whatever it is? What are you doing?

There’s my One Minute Message and it’s only, you know, ten minutes and thirty seconds. If I’m going to do a daily One Minute Message they really need to be short and sweet. Can I do this in a short and sweet version? OK, here’s the One Minute Message of this message:

If you feel trapped and stuck
One thing you can do to make some improvement
Is to slowly go in the direction where you want to go
And try little things to adjust and move
And move forward
And move forward.

Because there’s something magical about moving forward
Even if it’s not very fast.

And to be obsessed with some magic right day
Or some magic right feeling
Or to be obsessed with I need to make a dramatic change
So I can’t make small change because it won’t add up fast enough.
What I say to that is, you get up and you live your day every day anyway.
You might as well be making tiny, incremental changes so that you’re going somewhere.

I think this is called living with intention. What do I know?  I don’t listen to enough Louise Hay, is that her name? Hay House. So for today, I want you to look around and figure out what is the 1% you can do on that. You can clean one drawer. I know it’s not the whole house, but you can do a drawer. And you can make your wife’s lunch. I know it doesn’t solve all of the marriage problems, but you can make her lunch. And you can do that stack of filing that’s sitting beside your co-worker’s desk. And I know it doesn’t solve all of your animosity and your difficult relationship with her, but it’s a start. It’s a piece. Because you know what, if you don’t start, you’re not travelling.

I deteriorated out of a One Minute Message …

If you don’t start, if you don’t start, you’re not travelling. And if you’re not travelling, you’re not going to the new thing that you want to go to. If you don’t start, you’re not travelling. And I must tell you that ‘travelling’ needs to be spelled with 2 L’s, that’s how Canadians spell it. Sorry, I insist. If you don’t start, you’re not travelling, 2 L’s. I don’t really know why I felt the need to say that, except that I want you to see it in your head the way I see it in my head. How’s that for a One Minute Message. My god. OK. Alright fine. OK good byyyeee!