100 days

100 days yesterday. bought myself a new pottery teacup as my reward.  i’m just back from a wonderful 4-day vacation, warm temperatures, lots of lounging, walking, eating good food. and upon arriving home, my 90 day reward (a big electric griddle) had arrived in the mail, so now there may be homemade english muffins in my future.

on my vacation, no cravings to drink. no thoughts whatsoever.  thankfully, it looks like a quiet week work-wise, which would be a blessing since the day before we left for vacation i think i worked 16 hrs … and the first day of vacation required a 3-hr nap to reset : )

get to the point, belle!

All is well now. i have laundry to do (who cares). i have a desk full of paperwork (yippee). and i really need to go to the big store and get big groceries (blech).  all is well. wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than here …

a good day

Here’s how I know today is a good day:

  • enough sleep (woke before the alarm)
  • weather is sunny and warm
  • i literally forced myself to go for a run, like bending your fingernails backwards FORCED — and thankfully felt great afterwards
  • had a shower in the dark (i really love this!)
  • one perfect steaming cup of coffee. OK, let’s get this recorded. I am addicted to caffeine.  That day without tea/coffee was shitty-ola.  This day, by comparison, with coffee: it’s like the light is a bit brighter, the air a bit sweeter, the room a bit cozier. It’s like the imaginary hit from booze that never really happens. Yes, that buzz really is in coffee! One cup of coffee per day. Makes all the difference.
  • the discovery that it’s probably tonic water irritating my heart thing, since the timing is nearly perfect with increased tonic water consumption and rise in symptoms. and it’s much easier to give up tonic water than coffee/tea! Amen!
  • four new requests from clients for my passion job #3 thingy, and then we’re away for another long weekend.
  • i love vacations. I need more of them. I say this all the time. One long weekend a month! October’s is coming in 4 days!

And i went to the get supplies this morning, and went to a store far away that i’ve been putting off for (i don’t know) 5 weeks.  then, just like that, it’s done and i can cross it off my list.  All is well in this part of my world.

And I do adore the fact that — after my near-miss drinking feelings on Saturday — once i got through it and went to bed, it’s like it never happened and the days after are ‘normal’.   Once i’ve kicked the wolf in the face, and once i go to bed, the next day it’s like it never happened and i’m back in my sober car again just tooling along, busy, happy, productive. And now that i have my tea back, all is well.  What a stupid idea giving up caffeine.  What was i thinking…

i’m going to bed

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

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

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

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

to get away from myself.

90 days sober and an eargasm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs, me

Goal #4 is better than 95%…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who do i have to become?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I 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):

YOU MUST GET ENOUGH …

  • 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.