Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting Tuned Up

Dear Readers,
I spend a lot of time at the audiologist getting my hearing implant tuned up. 
I have to point to a form and tell her if the sounds I hear are too loud, too soft, or just right.
I am also learning how to filter out sounds that I don't need, in order to hear conversation, such as silverware sounds.

Now that I am further along in my AF days, I can focus on tuning up other parts of me. 
(Trust me there are LOTS of things that need tuning up!)

Drinking just muddled up everything. It slowly took over all parts of me, and I had nothing left to give myself. When I drank, everything became too loud or too soft. I couldn't filter things. I didn't know what to pay attention to. 
Things I thought were so important when I was drinking, turned out not to be.
Things I thought were not important turned out to be very important.
The call of alcohol slowly became the only sound I listened to, and it was a very loud sound.

Meanwhile, my health, my hobbies, and my Loved One all became very soft. I couldn't hear them anymore. I ignored them way too much. 

I am a seeker, a learner. I always have been.
But now when something good calls to me, I will be able to hear it, and it will sound just right!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 146 And Loving Kindness

Dear Readers,
Self-compassion and my happy light got me to yoga today.
I just said, "One step at a time."
All I had to do was turn on the tea kettle. (SHOCK! TEA not coffee!!) LOL
Then I said, "Now, all I have to do is turn on the shower."
No yelling at myself, but a gentle step by step.

I see and read about so many women who are incredibly hard on themselves, (myself included), and then they turn to drinking to help them cope with the stress. (That's what I did.)
They get so angry at how they look, how they perform their jobs, and how they think.
(I'm so stupid. I am so fat, so old. I am a failure at this.)
How on earth can we heal if we hate ourselves so much?

I found a quick read on self-compassion on Psych Central.
The author of these strategies is Kristin Neff, Ph.D.

Strategies for Self-Compassion

Being self-compassionate might seem unnatural at first. These strategies can help. This may be harder for some individuals, Neff said, particularly if you’ve experienced trauma, so it’s important to work with a therapist.
1. Consider how you’d treat someone else. The simplest thing you can do, according to Neff, is to imagine what you’d do if someone you cared about came to you after failing or getting rejected. What would you say to that person? How would you treat them?
2. Watch your language. You may be so used to criticizing yourself that you don’t even realize that you’re doing it. So it helps to pay particular attention to the words you use to speak to yourself. If you wouldn’t say the same statements to someone you care about, then you’re being self-critical, Neff said.
3. Comfort yourself with a physical gesture. Kind physical gestures have an immediate effect on our bodies, activating the soothing parasympathetic system, Neff said. Specifically, physical gestures “get you out of your head and drop you into your body,” she said, which is important since “the head loves to run away with storylines.” For instance, she suggested putting your hands over your heart or simply holding your arm. Any gesture will do.
4. Memorize a set of compassionate phrases. Whenever you find yourself saying, “I’m horrible,” it helps to have a few phrases at the ready. Pick statements that really resonate with you. Combining that with a physical gesture — like hands over your heart — is especially powerful, Neff said. She uses the following phrases:
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment?
May I give myself the compassion I need?
5. Practice guided meditation. Meditation helps to retrain the brain, Neff said. This way, self-compassionate gestures and self-soothing become more natural. Neff includes several self-compassion meditations on her website.

I am really going to work on self-compassion until it too becomes a habit, like not drinking is now a habit. Even in my attempts I will have to be easy on myself, knowing I can't be perfect at this.

To all my friends in recovery, I hope you can give yourself a hug today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Being Gentle With Myself

Dear Readers,
Yesterday I had a wonderful session with my therapist.
Even though I have seen therapists for many years, I am still learning.
I asked her, "Shouldn't I have this all figured out by my age?"  HA! Apparently not!
Without boring you with all the details, the bottom line was self-compassion, with being gentle with myself.
(Lisa, a blogger, has a good definition of self-compassion. See her blog here.)

What is self-compassion to me?
It's about taking care of myself when I need to, as I would take care of someone I loved.
It's about talking kindly to myself.
It's about understanding where I came from, and acknowledging that.
It's about treating myself as nicely as I would treat other people.

There is some research out about self-compassion.
This is from The New York Times:


Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?
That simple question is the basis for a burgeoning new area of psychological research called self-compassion — how kindly people view themselves. People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising.
The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.   (Read the article here.)
Today I practiced gentle self-talk.
I woke up feeling out of sorts, a little tired, blue.
I had planned on going to a meeting, going to yoga, and then the eye doctor.
I started to get mad at myself, knowing I did not feel good enough mentally to get to yoga or a meeting. 
Then I stopped.
I said, "I feel a little bit down. I can take care of myself right now."
Instead of trying to force myself anywhere, I read a book for awhile.
Gentle, gentle, gentle.
When I got up, showered, went to eye doctor, I felt good.

I am an up and down person.
I can be madly flying one day, and quite low the next.
But if I can be very gentle, and love myself with a deep respect, I do believe I will be happier on my down days. 
Today was living proof. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Self-Talk

Dear Readers,
I am working hard on changing my self-talk.
It's amazing how many negative thoughts I think about myself each day.
I make my life so much harder than it needs to be.

Here are some of my negative thoughts:

I'm so tired, I can't do anything.
I'm never going to be able to do this.
I look so old.
This is too hard.
This is too much. 
I'm so depressed.
This will never get better.
I'm so sick. I'll never feel better.
I'm so…..
I can't….

YIKES!

The first step is for me to notice when I start thinking this way.
I know not everything is going to be happy, happy, happy, ALL the time.
However, I can change my self-talk to be a bit more gentle.

I COULD say:

I am a little tired, but I'll be okay.
I can do some of this.
I look okay today.
This is kind of hard, but I'll try.
This is a lot to handle right now, but it will get better.
I am feeling a little bit down, but I know I will feel better after my walk or shower.
I will get better.
This is just for a little while.
I can try.

For all of my life I have been very hard on myself.
I have always pushed myself and beat myself up when I don't get something "perfect".
I am really tired of living this way.
I want to change this story.
I want to treat myself with gentle, loving hands.
How would I treat my friend?
I would tell them to take care of themselves.
To love themselves.

To all of my friends in recovery, treat yourself with tender, loving care today. You are on a wonderful path of healing and joy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Writing My Way To Happiness

Dear Readers,
Blogging has been very enlightening to me. It has helped me clarify my thinking. By writing and re-writing my struggles as well as successes, I am feeling a shift in the way I view things.

Now, I know that writing is powerful. We are often told to journal our thoughts and feelings to help ourselves heal from mental or physical problems.
Today I found a great article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper that speaks to the power of writing.

"Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health."
(You can read the whole article here!)

The researchers found that, "Writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself."

This is true for me. My writing has forced me to look at my negative self-talk, and see how it is stopping me from having a happier life. When I write down my thoughts, I have to ask myself, "Is this really what I want to believe or is there another way of looking at things?"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Freedom and 140 Days

Dear Readers,
On my walk last night, I captured some beautiful sights. 
What I love about walking is the peace I feel when I look for the beauty all around me. 
It's there. Just waiting for me to see.


So often I am rushing, and I look,
but I don't see.
Today, at my meeting, I glimpsed the feeling of freedom
As people talked, I thought how great it was to be free of the chain of drinking.
Drinking made life so complicated.
It was, "Should I have one more?"
"Will my Loved One be mad?"
"How will I get rid of these?"
"Will I get stopped?"
And on and on it went.

How wonderful it is to not have those extra worries.
Life is complicated enough without that extra burden.

I don't think of forever when I think of not drinking,
but this morning I had a thought of happiness not drinking the rest of my life.
I could feel it and picture it.
I could taste the freedom.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Random Thoughts

Dear Everyone Reading my Blog,
Thank you for your support!
It takes a BIG CITY to raise me!! Maybe even a state or two! Well several countries as well!
LOL
The longer I stay sober, I am finding it hard to find a topic to write about.
That makes sense I guess.
I might have to start a new blog, about my other problems! I have lots!!

I watched one of the Real Housewives shows last night. One of the women has a drinking problem. She's been through rehab several times. She had definitely had something to drink, or pills, or something.
It was eerie watching her. She got mean, acting strange, overly animated, so different than her normal self.
It was like watching myself.
I didn't like what the alcohol/drugs did to her or me.
It made an impact on me.

I hope everyone is having a nice day. 
I am learning it doesn't have to be rip-roaring all the time.
Coffee with a friend, making the bed, reading a book, is what makes up life.

Peace and Hugs!

Monday, January 19, 2015

An Ode to Being Sober

Dear Readers,
Thought I'd have a little fun tonight!
(My apologies to Emily Dickinson)

An Ode To Being Sober

Being sober is really great,
No more hangovers
Or tummy aches.

Money saved not buying booze,
Can be used
For high-heeled shoes!

It's sometimes easy, sometimes hard,
But it's always better,
Than crashing a car!

Learning how to deal with life,
Can be kind-of funny, 
Even with strife.

Dancing is a lot more fun,
Not being drunk,
Falling on your bum.

Then there is my own, proud hubby,
Who showers me with lots of
Lovey-dovey. (Wink)

But in the end, being sober means you,
Can cry or be funny, and whichever you choose,
You know that it's real and not the booze.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Inner Strength

Dear Readers,
In my meeting today, there were some hard, sad stories to listen to.
These were people in pain.
And yet, I was reminded of the strength of these same people.
They found the courage to come to a meeting, to go back into treatment, to keep reaching out for help.
They know there is a better way, and even in face of defeat, they try again and again.

Their stories made me listen.
(I didn't talk for once.)
These are good, regular people. People like me. People who have an addiction.
I listened to their pain, and it reminded me that I don't want to go back to that pain.

I also listened to other people who have found joy.
They reminded me of why I want to keep going.

All of their stories reminded me that I have a deep inner strength.
I can use it to get up and face my day, even being sick or tired.
It's one I can use for good.
I can use it to choose kindness and love.
I can call on this strength if I am quiet, listen, and ask for that help and guidance.
Some people would call this God.
Some people would call this self-love.
But whatever you call it, we all have it.

For the first time, I reached out and gave a girl who was in pain my phone number.
It felt good.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 130

Dear Readers,
Today I am 130 days AF, or 18.5 weeks.
(Every .5 counts!)
We had SUN today!
That makes so much difference to me!
Went to yoga, got my hair done, did a little laundry, and even MADE THE BED!
I'm on a roll here!

My Loved One is making dinner, (he always makes dinner), while I am messing around on my computer.
So, all is well.
Warm and happy.
Content.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beauty

Dear Readers,
One of my new sober hobbies is taking photos when I walk.
I love to find new treasures to photograph and post them on FB!
I look for anything that catches my eye, and try to look a little closer.
What can I highlight that makes it come alive, or stand out?
What colors and patterns can I see?
Why does it catch my eye?
How can I frame this in the best light?

As I gain more time not drinking, I need to look at myself a little closer. 
What parts of myself can I highlight?
What colors and patterns do I notice in my thoughts and behaviors?
What parts of me catches other people's eyes?
How can I frame myself in the best light?

To continue to grow in sobriety as well as a person,
I find I must be very observant of my thoughts and behaviors.
If I see patterns of negative ones, I am learning to let them go.
I want to focus on the positive ones. 

There is a beautiful world of nature outside, if we just take a look.
And if we shine the light inside of us, we will see the beauty there, too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Little of This and a Little of That

Dear Readers,
It's SUNNY today!!!
YAY!!!
The temperature is -1 degree with a -18 windchill!
LOL
Here is a picture of one of my coffee shops where I sometimes write my blog.

 
Today I went to one of my recovery meetings. I am lucky to live in a city where you never have to try to stop drinking on your own if you don't want to. I was so glad I went. It was a very positive meeting. People talked about the shift in their lives and thinking due to not drinking and of discovering a more spiritual way to live. Some people believe in God, others not.
But they all believe in mediation or prayer.
And ALL of them are so grateful to be sober.

Now, you can't beat that.

I was I AWE that I could actually hear them talking and reading without having to do tons of lip-reading! My implant is helping in this situation. I kept thinking, it was the first time I heard people read without having to look at the text! I was so happy! 

When I went to my therapist yesterday, we came up with a SMALL list of things for me to do.
I got one done, ordering a wake-up light!
Now I'm on to number two.
The trick is to find and look at the list! HA

PEACE

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Living With Problems

Dear Readers,
I have problems.
Big and little problems, physical and emotional issues.

Each day, I have to face these problems and decide how I will live with them.
Some of them will be with me forever, and others are "fixable".

When I was drinking too much, I was sometimes trying to run away from my problems.
In doing so, my problems became bigger. And then, I added other problems to my list, caused by the drinking. 

The trick is, of course, how does one live with problems without trying to numb them away by drinking?

I think the first thing I need to remember is that problems are a part of life. 
By accepting that problems are part of life, I stop myself from making a problem seem overwhelming. 

Another thing I need to remember, is that problems take time to "fix". Sometimes I try a couple of things and when they don't seem to work, I just stop. 
It does take time and effort to help myself.

Then there is the possibility that the problem cannot be solved to the degree I want, so I must  learn to accept what I can. It might not be the "perfect" fix.
There are a few problems I will just have to live with. 

Maybe one way to look at it is, without the challenge of problems, life would be boring!
(Well, boring is okay too! LOL)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Drunk Driving In the US

Dear Readers,
I am taking a different path today on this post.
I love reading Lucy's blog, "A Hangover Free Life". She posts about the effects of alcohol on public health in the UK.

I have never gotten a DUI, but I have driven drunk. 
According to Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD), most people drive drunk at least 80 times before they are "caught".

We have cut down the rate of drunk driving here, but we have a long way to go.
I found a great site that shows this with graphics, called the "Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility".
These statistics show we have reduced deaths from drunk driving 36% from 1991 to 2013, but everyday, 28 people still die due to drunk driving crashes in the US.

It doesn't take much to be over the legal limit for driving. The limit in my state is .08. 
It only takes 1 or 2 "standard" drinks for a small women to be at or over the limit.
However, restaurants and bars serve way larger glasses of wine than the standard 5 ounces.
On a site called "B.R.A.D", there is a chart showing Blood Alcohol concentration (BAC) and drinks. 

It would mean a huge change in our way of thinking to stop people from driving drunk.
We need to encourage people to have a sober driver or take a cab home. 
We also need to encourage people to see there are other ways to celebrate life without drinking.

I will say this.
I drove drunk many times.
When I was drinking, it was all about the drinking.
I knew I had too much, but I couldn't stop.
This is still painful to think about, but it is something I must face.
NOT to shame myself, but to remember. To learn.
I am ever so grateful I never hurt anyone, never hurt myself, or destroyed property.
Very grateful.

Friday, January 2, 2015

4 Months or 120 Days

Dear Readers,
I read a quote on FB this morning.
It spoke to me loud and clear.
"Nostalgia is a liar."
Yes, it is. 
If I get the longing for the "good old days" when it comes to drinking, and really think through them?
Well, there were only a few years of the "good".

Why is it so hard to divorce oneself from alcohol?
Is that all there is to me? A drink? A bottle of wine?
Am I not a warm, loving person?
Am I not a creative, energy-filled person?
Am I not a lover of life?

I am very ready for a new year. 
I am changing, even if its at a snail's pace! 
I am filled with a sense of growing outward.
I am ready for a shift.

I want to build the kind of memories I can be proud of. Memories filled with joy and peace.
There will be pain in life. I understand that. But now I also understand I can meet it face on, a little bit at a time, without using a drink to cope. That is my wish for everyone who is reading this and trying to stay sober. 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

After the Party

Dear Readers,
I think I was way funnier not drinking last night! LOL
Here's the strange thing. I was slightly anxious about alcohol all day.
Not urges, just anxious.
When my friends arrived, it went away!
It is so interesting to see how my "real" self is emerging.

The funny story of night…we only had enough chili to serve our guests!
We ran out! So my Loved One and I opened a can of Hormel Chili and ate that!
I have NO idea how my chili tasted!

I was thinking of resolutions. The past years I have not made any. This year I have decided to think about a few to write down and read them every day.
I hope by doing that, I guide myself towards those goals.

Back on that list will be my gratitude journal. Each night writing down 5 things I was grateful for, really puts me in better place.
Of course, staying sober will be on that list.
On my list will be more of my creative side needs.

I haven't figured out all of my list yet, so I think I'll put that in another post.

My yoga teacher talked about making a shift, expanding outwards.
I have been thinking about that.
The shift I want is to be in a place of acceptance and growth. 
I think I need both, hand-in-hand.
This is where I am right now.
And, this is where I am going!

My Loved One is vacuuming the after party crumbs.
I am going to yoga.
Then a walk in the woods, a fire, and SHRIMP! 
He's buying us SHRIMP! I LOVE shrimp!
PEACE!