who do i have to become?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I must remove exhaustion from the table. At all costs.

I’m feeling about 75% well today, so better than yesterday.  Sickness, exhaustion, and overwhelm = not my finest moments. not the best combination. Mix that with the witching hour (7 pm to 9 pm).  Last night was hard but not impossible. I’m glad I posted.  Glad I put it out there that i was struggling.  As soon as I press “publish” i know that i won’t drink.  I expose the wolf for all the world to see, and then he shuts up. Thankfully.

But i have to accept, also, that this new hobby/passion is kicking my ass.  and I am going to have to make some new rules starting right now.  These things are more important to me than my passions, my work, or money:

  1. No matter how busy I get, I have to get enough sleep.  For me that is a minimum of 8 hours, and best is 9.5 hours. That’s every night. If i am too busy to get enough sleep, then i’m too busy.
  2. No matter how busy i get, I have to be able to run. This is 4-5 times a week. I can only run if i’ve had enough sleep, and if there’s enough time between job 1, job 2 and passion job.
  3. This means that I’m probably going to have to scale back … I know the new passion job is taking wings, and getting ready to explode with popularity (someone featured my new gig on their blog yesterday, god help me).  The big new contract that I spoke about before starts next week (yes, in addition to all this, it’s going to get busier)… While I love this new adventure, I’m not ready for it to take over my life.

If i’m being overworked by my passion, then I need to take a step back.  if it’s not fun, and it starts to feel like work, then I’ve got to be careful. I don’t want to get burnt out on the one thing I really love doing.

I’m nearly 46 years old.  Today is the day that I learn, once and for all, that I need enough sleep. It’s virtually impossible for me to stay sane, productive, running, and sober if i’m exhausted.  I must remove exhaustion from the table.  At all costs.  Even if that means giving things up.  Sleep and running are number one, because they LEAD to the other goals being possible.

If AA rules are don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, tired…then mine are (expressed in the positive, cuz that’s the kind of chick i am):


  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Healthy Food
  • Down-time
  • Rewards (like cake, tea, nail polish, fresh pineapple)

(i’m never lonely, and i’m usually only angry when exhausted, so i can remove those from my personal list)

I refuse to need to relearn these lessons any more.  I’m old enough, i’ve lived long enough, and I know this already.  I know that i need enough sleep.  Stop fucking talking about it, and just do it. From now on.


i’m ‘this’ close

was out for dinner last night, someone finally asked why i wasn’t drinking.  i got to explain the story ‘my-way’ and it wasn’t a big deal. i made myself look disciplined and happy with my decision.

As we got up from dinner (@ 11 pm) i realized that i wasn’t feeling well.  at all.

i headed off walking with the group to the train, but stopped 3/4 of the way there, said i forgot my phone at the restaurant, and went back for a bathroom stop.  Still not feeling great and knew i had to get home.  was too far to walk, a cab would be awkward, a train impossible.  stood around for a bit trying to figure out what was going to happen to me physically.  I walked to the train trying to psych myself up for it.  I got on the train, then got right off again before it left the station. found another bathroom. paid and re-entered, got on the train again, but wasn’t paying attention and went in the wrong direction. got off and changed sides and started again.  finally got home at 12:30 am, spent another while in the bathroom.  didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 am.

Today i am understandably exhausted.  I got up, did almost nothing all morning, went back to bed at noon and slept 2 hrs.  Then i forced myself to get dressed and to go out for supplies as we’re gearing up for another 3-day passion/job thing.  Worked hard late in the afternoon.

Now it’s evening (9:45 pm).  still headachey.  i have eaten today and all seems well enough.  i’m hydrated.  i have an appetite.

i just feel gigantically terrible.

i have the feeling that i used to get, when i would quit drinking for a few days and then started again.  i have a feeling that goes like this:

what’s the point, why bother, i’m not quitting forever so i might as well drink now.  what’s the point in working as hard as this, to feel as crummy as this? it’s all not worth it. i can’t even go to bed because i have so much work to do to get ready for the weekend.  i swear i’m taking some time off after this.  and fuck this, i’m going to drink again on day 90 (in 7 days). i won’t be impulsive about it, i will plan it, but i’m just over this whole thing.

Now thank god i keep a blog because i realize i got to this place before, this exact same place.  it’s when i feel sick and exhausted. i get in this weird loop of surfing the web, feeling like there’s too much information out there and i’ll never catch up, i’ll never figure it out.  whatever it is. who knows what it is.

right now, i am going to eat again, and then go to bed.  i’m going to try very hard to sleep through the night, for at least 8 hrs.  i’m going to try super hard to run tomorrow morning. i’m going to work like a dog for 3 days.  we are going to earn money. it will be worth it.  i’ll get a second wind (later).  i will socialize and love the people i meet. I will drink a lot of water and i will take a bath every day. with bubbles and candles.

i will not drink.

but i am sorely, desperately tempted.  I’m ‘this’ close.

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.

car accident subject line increases readership

duly noted:  my ‘happy’ posts get fewer pageviews than my ranting, on-the-edge-of-the-cliff posts.

Good to know.

So this post will get 3 views then!  it’s positively brimming with ease and flow.  If you’re looking for a car accident, best to leave now. Unless i put something good in the subject line …  Done!

today is day 75 (go, me!).  old drinking buddy from North America is in town for one night (tonight), on his way through to go somewhere else interesting.

i literally sit my husband down and prep him in advance of dinner.  “i don’t want him to make fun of me or give me a hard time for not drinking.” i tell husband, “watch out for me, and if necessary you may have to say something nice to deflect his jabbing/jeering. He’s a hard-core drinker this one.  start at noon, pace yourself, drink all day. He is going to give me a hard time.  I don’t to feel any pressure. Interest is fine, but no pressure.”

we go for dinner (me, husband, buddy).  i order tonic water.  You’re not drinking?


not at all?

I say: I stopped for awhile and realized that i felt better, and didn’t wake up at 3 am anymore.  so i’ve decided to stop for good.

He says: yeah, we’re getting old.  so on the train today they served us this omelet with sausage and orange juice  …

and that was that.

can i say it again?

nobody cares.  at all.  not even a little bit. no one gives a rat’s ass that i’m not drinking.  most people are so fucking self-involved that they could care less about how dynamically evolved i am becoming : ) this is said with sarcasm, of course.  i’m relieved that he didn’t take a jab at me.  i’m super pleased that i had tonic water and tea while he had (alone) a half liter of wine followed by 6 x 1 ounce shots of port.

ok. back to our regularly schedule program already in progress… where i’m doing great, thanks for asking : )

what’s missing?

something’s missing

i’m sitting at my desk. i work on projects. I send out a newsletter to a group of clients who haven’t heard from me in two years… I clean off my desk. I make lunch, make dinner. I am working my way through eating the entire contents of our deep freeze. In January I said that it’s something i should do at least once a year. Now i’m actually doing it.

something’s missing.

i’m running more or less consistently four times a week. I’m getting to bed at a set time and getting enough sleep each and every night. I laugh with my husband, i’m reading good books, and i’m at peace, relaxed, at ease.

it really feels like something is missing.

so this afternoon i tried to put my finger on it.  staring at my computer screen.  nothing. then i closed my eyes. Can i just be still for a second and see what’s missing?

well, the fact that i can be still and listen is the clue.  the thing that’s missing is anxiety.

anxiety. my life-long friend.  a continuous low grade thrum. a physical feeling in the stomach, a tenseness of body, a constricted way of thinking. it’s gone. I just realized today that it’s gone.

I used to come up to tedious tasks and then put them off because “i just can’t handle that right now.”  can’t handle what exactly? getting out the Windex and cleaning the glass desk? really? how much energy does it take to grab a spray bottle and roll of paper towel.

I used to look at my inbox and sigh — so many people to contact, “i just can’t face them now.”

I used to let the phone ring. Clients calling and I’d stare at the call display.  I’d even say out loud: “yeah, i’m not talking to YOU.” even if i didn’t know who it was.

and now i realize that the anxiety is gone.

no wonder i’ve been feeling so good for days, tiring everyone with my endless pink cloud gushing.

I mean REALLY!  Drinking CAUSED the anxiety?  i thought i drank to settle the uneasiness.  this could almost piss me off.

it seems perverse. it doesn’t seem logical.  Let’s try standing up in front of a room full of people who want to be sober, and let’s tell them:  “you think you’re drinking to ease anxiety, but in fact if you give up booze for 70+ days, you might find that your anxiety disappears.  entirely.”  The boozers will smile nervously; they will not believe you.  it’s not-believable.

and yet.  here i am.

feeling un-anxious does occasionally mean that the wolf’s voice speaks up with stupid things like: “i must not have been a very bad boozer, because i’m feeling so great so soon.”  When the truth is that without the poison of alcohol in my system, i actually now get to feel GREAT more often … without feeling pushed-forward, tense, irritable.

And so i don’t drink.  Not today, and not tomorrow.  and probably never again.

I’m living in a ‘room’ now that has been unaccessible to me my entire life.

stop complaining

I am surprisingly good. I still feel as good as i’ve felt in a long time, maybe forever.  Sleeping enough, hydrated enough, running enough.

maybe i’ve got nothing to say. It’s pouring rain today and it’s sunny in my head. I’m clearing things off my desk in an orderly fashion, not rushed, not irritated. Who is this girl?

I had a seriously hilarious exchange with my husband a few days ago. maybe all boys think like this?

me: can you stop doing that?

him: [looks right at me, smiles, and then does it again harder]

me: really? are you 12 years old? right after i ask you to stop irritating me, you do it again? When we eventually end up at a psychologist’s office, i’m going to tell her “I tell him exactly what I want and he just ignores me. I’m very clear. He doesn’t listen.”

him: and the psychologist will say: “he loves you, he’s going to be with you for the rest of your life. He is going to stay with you forever. Time to stop complaining.”

he does know how to make me laugh.

“it is monstrously GOOD!”

yesterday turned out to be (nearly) one of the best days on record. maybe in my whole life.

the things i crave and try to structure so much into being, just fell gently into place yesterday. It was the perfect storm of factors:  enough sleep, good weather, long run, contented relaxation, alone time, a productively engaged husband, a good book, time in the park (with said book) watching kids and fountains, an evening meal made of random leftovers, many responses to a business email indicate lots of interest in my next class, no desire to drink, a hilarious Irish movie (The Guard) that made me cry with laughter.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t just your ordinary garden variety pink cloud.  Yesterday I also found a temporary answer to the vexing problem of european labor restrictions for foreigners…

After sitting in the sunny park for an hour in the afternoon, i was walking home, and a thought just popped into my head. i hadn’t been mulling it over, the idea just arrived fully formed when i was about 5 minutes from the apartment.

I will invoice this new work through my existing North American company, i will bill it as “consulting” or something equally generic, and i will generate legal and legitimate invoices for the new work through my N.A. company.

Rather than trying to avoid a paper trail, or avoiding signing a waiver, or trying to figure out how to do it under the table, i will just bring it all above board in a way that is a bit circuitous but is more ‘allowed’.  it will have some weirdness, like i’ll be paying taxes on this income in N.A., and i’ll be paid in euros and will have to figure out how to get that into my N.A. bank account in dollars without horrific fees every time, but those are technical issues and aren’t psychic issues. (i can probably just keep the checks for several months, then mail them to my bank at home, and ask my bank manager to deposit them for me.  I can probably cash the checks myself here and call it ‘wages’ or ‘rent’ or ‘office supplies’ or ‘staff development’.)

and once i realized that — wake up Belle, duh, you have a company already set up at home — and that i can just run this new work through that same company until i’m allowed to set up a company here (which is in January), then the physical feeling of relief was gigantic.  i really didn’t want to play fast and loose with the system, because i really really really will not accept having to leave here against my will.  some day we may decide we’re ready for a new adventure, but i don’t want to be forced to leave this new idyllic life because i fucked with their system.

And that my friends, may sound long and complicated, but for me it’s easier than just ‘taking my chances’.  I am more conservative here in new country, because i don’t want to go home.  and because of language issues i sometimes don’t really understand all the rules until i’ve broken them.  You have to renew your health care card every year? on the anniversary of when you entered the country? unless your husband lost his work permit after moving here, in which case you have to renew it on the anniversary of when he lost is job? really?

no.  no ranting.  all is well.

and to prove all of this worrying is entirely one-sided, my new employer posted to my new company’s Facebook page this morning about our meeting on Friday …

“While working late Friday night I pulled out your sample again – AMAZING!!! it is monstrously GOOD! thank you so much!”

thus begins monday, it will also be a good day. Day 72!