Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 176 or 25 Weeks

Dear Readers,
Here I am at ANOTHER favorite coffee shop!
I have too many to count! 
When I got here, I saw 4 people I know but haven't seen in a long time! It was a joy to just give them a hug and exchange a few words, and know they are all well!

I had some thoughts about not drinking.
The first is, I am glad I am not drinking today.
That is all I can handle. 
Just today.
I don't have many drinking thoughts anymore, and if I do, I can let them go very quickly.
Funny though, I went to a movie and everyone in the movie was drinking all the time. Drove me nuts!
I wondered why I noticed that. My hubby didn't.
So, drinking is still a little in my mind.
I'm just glad it hasn't taken over!
I need all the brain cells I have left!

A support system is so important for me. I really do need good people in my life.
I am so lucky I have them. To all of you, my friends, family, blogger friends, AA friends, WFS friends, and yoga buddies. 
I thank you.

Today is Day One of my new goal plan!
I have decided to limit my FB checks to 4 times a day.
Sounds like a lot, but that's way less than I was doing!
I might have to get rid of Candy Crush Soda, but NOT YET! 
I am going to try to limit playing that game to 4 times a day, and when I run out of free lives, I quit. (So keep sending me lives!)

HERE'S THE BEST!!
I signed up for a beginner drawing class!!
I'm not a very good drawer, but this is about me finding me.
I can't find me if I don't do anything!

This makes me feel good because I lost the ability to "hear" my guitar and voice when I got my implant. That has been a big part of my depression, as I was writing songs too.

But being creative can take many forms.
Blogging, taking photos when I am walking and sharing on FB, and even yoga, help me feel creative. 

So, I am ready. 
I am ready to keep healing.
I am ready to love my new life.
I am ready to sing a new song.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Habits Part 2!

Dear Readers,
Here I am, at one of my favorite coffee houses.
I love the workers, owner, and manager here!
They are helping me too!
Everyone is helping me!

I just came back from my wonderful therapist.
I told her about latest post and what I wanted to work on.
She had some great ideas, and so I am setting up some NEW goals!
I have to report to her in a month, but I'll be reporting to you each week!

1. Get to 1 AA meeting a week.
2. 3 times a week go to favorite coffee shop! (I can do this!)
3. Go to yoga on the average of 3 times a week, or 12 times a month.
(We put this in because I get mad at myself if I don't get to yoga when I am sick. This way, I can look by month.)
4. 1 time a week, get ready to leave the house in 30 mins. (THIS will be hard, but my hubby would love it!)
5. Reach out to 3 people a week to connect socially. (They might not be able to do anything. I can't control that, but I can reach out!)
6. Spend an hour a week exploring volunteer opportunities. (Even just thinking, looking on-line a little, talking to other people.)
7. Look at limiting FB and game time. (HARD!)
8. Limit TV to 3 to 4 hours a day.

We will look at the sleep thing next time.
I am so hoping spring will help the hibernating I have been doing!

I CAN DO THIS!
Tomorrow will be week one.
I feel much better. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Less Healthy Habits

Dear Readers,
I want to work on changing my less healthy habits to better ones.
Ever since my cochlear implant operation, I have slipped into some habits I'd like to slip out of!
The not so healthy habits I have fallen into are:

1. Sleeping too long - 10 hours a day 
2. Isolation
3. Phone Checking - looking at FB, e-mail, playing games
4. Too much TV - Dr. Phil…really????
5. Eating Crackers all day

Before I beat myself up too much, let's look at my good habits!

1. Yoga classes 3 times a week
2. Walk 3 times a week with hubby
3. Blogging about recovery
4. Not drinking

I was going to several meetings a week, but have gotten into the habit of not going to any, or just random hit and miss.

I googled how to break habits, and of course I already know how to do it.
The hard part is taking action.

Do I try to break all at one time?
A little bit of each at a time?
Take just one?

When I stopped drinking, one thing that helped me was the accountability. I had my sponsor, my meetings, my friends, my family and my blog world to hold me up. (Still do!)

Can I add a piece of accountability to these other habits?
I am going to think about this.
Tomorrow I see my wonderful therapist.
Maybe ALL of YOU can help me!!!
I sure do I need it!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Much Do You Drink?

Dear Readers,
How much do you think you drink compared to other Americans?
This short article and graph I found from the Washington Post are very interesting.
How Much Do You Drink?
When I was drinking, I fell around the 9th percentile drinking anywhere from 12 to 20 drinks a week, often as binge drinking. (Defined as 4 or more drinks for women in 2 hours.) 
I find it fascinating to see how 10% to 20% of the population accounts for majority of alcohol sales.
The author makes a point that the alcohol industry needs alcoholics.
Yikes!
The bad news is, alcohol issues cause all sorts of problems for everyone in the US.
We don't need accidents, deaths, ER visits, family heartache, domestic abuse, sexual abuse,  money lost, and all the other bad things that happens because of alcohol abuse.
(See my post on Binge Drinking)
The book recommended sounds good. It's called, Paying the Tab: The Cost and Benefit of Alcohol Control, by Phillip J. Cook. 

I am happy I am not drinking today.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 172 and Wimpy

Dear Readers,
Another week spent with a cold.
I'm such a wimp. 
I cry and complain to my Loved One, who shows great restraint…for awhile!
"It's just a cold!" he says.
(Even Loved Ones have their limit!)

I am going to physical therapy for my jaw, which got pulled out of place when I had my cochlear implant. It's a pain! (Yes, I tried to make a joke!)
So, I complained to my Loved One about having to do jaw exercises.
He says, "Do you want to get better?"
GRRR!

I get sore from going to 3 yoga classes in a row, sometimes pulling my back when I try even more. I complain to my Loved One. Everyone else can go to 5 classes in a row! He says, "When will you learn. Three classes a week is all you can do."

What I have YET to learn is,
I can NOT complain to my Loved One.

PS- I was trying to be kind of funny here, but I missed the mark. I have to take more time writing my posts! Even my Loved One was wondering why I was posting this! :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From Prickly to Softer

Prickly
 
Soft  -  My hairdresser's dog.
(She gave me the okay to post her photo! LOL)
















Dear Readers,
One thing I have noticed over these last 5 months of working hard on my recovery is that I am getting less reactive, and less easily angered. I seem to take things a little bit softer. 
I like this.
It feels nice.
I have looked at my resentments (in AA) and have let many of them go.
When others pop up, I release them as soon as I can, or try to look at them differently.
When I get angry at someone I have to ask myself, why I am so quick to anger?
What am I worried about?
Sometimes, I want to be right. 
Sometimes, I want to listened to.
Sometimes, I am worried I am being left out, or forgotten, and I can get angry about that.

What helps me is to look at the point of view of the other person.

Maybe they also want to be right. (This would be my Loved One!)
Maybe they don't know I need to be listened to. Have I told them?
Maybe they had no idea they were leaving me out, they are very busy.

Some of my anger stems form being self-centered. The world does not revolve around me as much as I think I'd like being a star! Some of my anger stems from not speaking up for myself in a loving way.
It's too easy to jump on somebody and then learn I had misjudged them.

I am reading the book, Uncovering Happiness, Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, by Elisa Goldstein, PhD. He suggests this bedtime forgiveness review:

As you lie down, look back over you day. If there is anyone who has harmed you - including yourself - knowingly or unknowingly, out of pain, confusion or ignorance, practice saying silently in your mind: "Breathing in, I acknowledge the pain; breathing out, forgiving and releasing this burden from my heart and mind."

I am not getting any younger. If I spend my time being resentful and angry, all I will be is a bitter old lady. Besides, I hate prickly! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Binge Drinking

Dear Readers,
Binge drinking causes many problems in the United States.
I was a binge drinker, especially later in my life. (4 or more drinks for women in 2 hours)
Below, I have copied the CDC fact sheet on binge drinking, and at the end you will find a map showing the deaths from alcohol by state.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.1

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
According to national surveys
  • One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.2
  • While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.2
  • Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes.2
  • Approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.3
  • Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.4
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.2
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.4
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.5
  • More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.5
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including—
  • Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
  • Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Neurological damage
  • Sexual dysfunction, and
  • Poor control of diabetes.
Binge drinking costs everyone.
  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses.6
  • Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink.6
Evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms7-11 include
  • Increasing alcoholic beverage costs and excise taxes.
  • Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcoholic beverages in a given area.
  • Holding alcohol retailers responsible for the harms caused by their underage or intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability).
  • Restricting access to alcohol by maintaining limits on the days and hours of alcohol retail sales.
  • Consistent enforcement of laws against underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving.
  • Maintaining government controls on alcohol sales (avoiding privatization).
  • Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse.

My state is trying to get greater alcohol sales by adding Sunday sales and alcohol in grocery stores. 
Hmmm.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another First

Dear Readers,
I have been sober on a vacation before,
but not "happily" sober. 
This vacation was my first "happy" sober trip!

My dear friend did not drink while I was there, which was very cool! 
However, I was not tempted, didn't feel sorry for myself, and was happy being with my friend, her dog (my God dog), the sunshine and blue skies.

The only very mild urge that ran through my head, was on the airplane home, where they had free drinks for Valentine's Day. I thought through the drink, dismissed it, and had a nice trip home.

Vacations are tricky. Alcohol is everywhere! In the airport, on the plane, at the resort, at dinner, at the pool, and on and on. Sometimes I would drink too much, sometimes not. But I always drank. What's a vacation if you don't drink?

I was just as relaxed on this trip not drinking as I had been on my others.
I was just as happy, in fact happier because I wasn't all hung over.
I laughed just as much, probably more, because alcohol makes me moody.
I went out to eat and enjoyed the view, my friend, and the food!

If I had been drinking, I would have gotten drunk. I would have started drinking in the airport, and would drink more on the plane.  I would have bought several bottles of wine and drank at least one bottle a day. I would have had more wine at dinner, probably at lunch.
I would have probably wrecked my own vacation with my friend, who I don't see very often anymore.

I am so happy I didn't drink.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vacation part 2

Dear Readers,
It is possible to go on a lovely vacation and not drink and have fun!
I'll be home on Sat!
Peace and Hugs,
Wendy

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vacation

Dear Readers,
I am on vacation visiting a friend in Arizona!
It's sunny and 85! 
I'm using my cell phone, so just wanted to tell you all,
I'm good!! It's so good seeing my friend, and getting out of the cold.
I'll write more tomorrow!
Peace and Hugs!
Wendy



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 159

Dear Readers,
A Place of Peace
I realized the other day, when I was at a function where there was water and wine to drink, that I felt normal. I felt at peace. I didn't have any urges. I didn't care what I had to drink. I poured water into a wine glass, but that was only because it was easier to carry.
I put it down and ended up just talking, laughing, and enjoying the get together.

It felt awesome.
There are no words to express the freedom I am feeling.
I am not fighting myself anymore.
I am not romancing the drink.
I am not feeling sorry for myself.

Instead I have joy.
I choose not to drink the first drink.
I choose happiness.
I choose a way of life I was meant to live, fully here.

It took me awhile to get to this mindset, but in any case I like it!
I think I'll keep it for awhile!

Peace and Hugs,
Wendy

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Resiliency Part 2

Dear Readers,
Yesterday I posted some information about resiliency.

Here is different definition from Merriam-Webster:
: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

I am working on building up my own resiliency.
When I told my therapist my life story (poor girl!), she remarked how resilient I was.
That got me to thinking.
I really am! I never thought of myself in that way, but I have bounced back from a lot of difficult situations. 
However, I have to keep working on my thoughts. I make mountains out of molehills, for sure!
From the list of ten I posted yesterday, I picked two I want to continue to grow in.

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
(From: The Road to Resilience by the American Psychological Association)

When I get a cold, or have an operation, or am recovering from an operation, or trying to figure out retirement, I tend to think, "This will NEVER end! I will never be able to go to yoga. I will never be able to figure this out."

Now my Loved One, keeps telling me I see temporary things as "forever" or "always". 
I do. 
This is where I need to talk back to some thoughts and say, "Really?"
My colds do get better. I recover from operations.
Here is a biggie:
I find out something new about life when stop fighting and listen.
I discover another part of myself when I switch my thoughts from Poor Me, I Can't to, 
What Can I Do?

Now, I don't always listen to my Loved One, which irritates him at times, but in this case, I think I will.

To all my friends in recovery, you might be surprised to see how resilient you really are!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Resiliency

Dear Readers,
I thought of this topic as I got through another week of being sick.
Now on the mend, I made it to my yoga practice. YAY!
Life is not all happy. It can't be. We will be faced with loss, sorrow, and sickness.
Certainly if we have been drinking too much, we have caused some pain in our lives.
How do we deal with this?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. 
(From: The Road to Resilience by the American Psychological Association)

What I read on other sober blogs, hear in meetings, and read in books, is about people bouncing back even after really hard experiences.
I find it interesting that much of the work that I, and other people in recovery are doing, is working on how to increase our resiliency

Listed on the site above are 10 ways to help build resiliency. They are:

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
Easy? Not always. In fact, many times no.
Worth it? YES!

To all my fellow people in recovery, I wish you peace.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

GO AWAY Scary Monsters!

Dear Readers,
I REFUSE to get down about having another cold.
I just won't let my thoughts take me to that place!
Whatever place that might be! LOL
I say NO to my depressed, weepy, poor me thoughts.
GO AWAY!

This is one tool that worked for me in talking back to my drinking urges.
So, I am trying to see it it helps when I am feeling down.
I need a bunch of tools for everything! LOL

So when I am sick, and I get sick easily, I need to think of what I CAN do, not what I can't do.
I might not be able to go to yoga for several days, but I CAN walk.
I might not be able to make it to all of my meetings, but I CAN make one.
I still CAN ask a friend to meet for coffee, OR
I CAN go through a drive through coffee shop!
I don't HAVE to put on full makeup to go out. (Although I am scary without it!)

A Few of My Goals:
1. Be kind to myself. Treat myself with gentle hands.
2. Talk back to my depressive thoughts. Don't let them sit there thinking they are right!
3. Help other people, give back, even if it's just a nice thank you to the drive through coffee person.
4. When I am sick, (which happens a lot), do little things. Even making the bed feels good.
5. Never give up. (Unless it's a head stand in yoga!)


To all my fellow travelers on the road of not drinking, I wish you peace today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

5 Months or 152 Days

Dear Readers,
As I write this, it is snowing. I am once again in a coffee shop, eating a chocolate croissant and drinking a chia tea latte. Double yum!
Who knew being sober could taste this good?
Sober Date in Fall

As I think about my 5 months, I keep coming back to gratitude.
Being grateful for all that I have is vital to my continued emotional growth.
I keep coming back to all the people, who by sharing their recovery stories, are helping me. I hope I am helping them as well. We need each other.

In my meeting today, there were many long-time sober people. Some of them talked about not needing to be a "know-it-all" in recovery. They spoke of being a beginner, even with years of sobriety. They don't have all the answers. This makes sense to me. It would be very easy to think I have it "nailed down", and think that my way is the only way to do it. I don't want to slip into that way of thinking.

I believe recovery is a place to grow in all areas of my life, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a place to look beyond just the drinking. Drinking stunted some of my growth. 
People all over the world, and right here in my city, are all giving me inspiration. They are helping me gently push myself to a deeper growth.

When I started this journey, I met a Women For Sobriety woman on-line.
She kept texting me asking me how I was doing, and saying "I believe in you."
Those were some of the most powerful words I had spoken to me.
I kept them close to my heart, and soon I believed it myself.

To all my fellow friends in recovery, I believe in you.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Date Night

Dear Readers,
Friday night, my Loved One and I went out to a jazz club.
We listened to some great live music.
We had a wonderful time. In fact, it was a better time than when I was drinking.
In the past, I would have had some wine before we went out. Then I'd try not to hog the whole bottle of wine while we were eating or listening to music. 
Many times I would be drunk.
I wouldn't be concentrating on the event, or even my Loved One.
The whole night would have been planned around drinking.

Here's the cool thing about this date night.
I didn't want anything to drink.
This was a first for me.

I didn't feel bad, or sorry for myself.
I didn't waste a moment wishing I was a "normie".
In fact, I was quite happy I would wake up sober.
I was happy I wasn't tired and all foggy from drinking.
I truly never thought I could get to this point.

It really is better.
Peace and Hugs to all of my friends in recovery.