Sunday, June 25, 2017

Yes, Sober Vacations are Fun!

Dear Readers,
I realize, that I am one of the lucky ones, being able to travel for vacations.
For this, I am grateful, because I know there are so many people who cannot do this.

We are back from Montreal and had a beautiful time exploring this city.
I was thinking about why people take vacations.
Mr. UT and I have taken vacations to relax, and also to explore new cities and countries. 
Now, traveling is stressful.

When we take relaxing vacations we go back to places we have been, so the stress is less.
But when we take exploring vacations, I find we grow the most, in terms of learning more about the world around us, as well as learning more about ourselves.

I find that the most meaningful memories are made when we push our boundaries a little bit.
It's the times we look back and say, oh wow, we finally figured out how to look for drug stores in another country. Or when we figure out how to get to an art gallery, walking with only a map, because we have no wifi.
Little things, and yet they show us we can learn.

Who goes on a vacation to drink?

I know when I was drinking, I would start in the airport, then have one on the plane, and one when we got to our hotel, more for dinner, and so on.
I usually did not get drunk on vacations, but I did drink a lot.
I would always have to take naps because I'd be so tired from all the drinking, and then I'd get headaches.

Of course I associated drinking on vacations as a way to relax, have fun, and escape reality.
But after having been on many sober vacations, I have changed my approach to vacationing, and I have learned to broaden my definition of what is relaxing or enjoyable.

I find being active in a city is so much fun. 
We walked miles in Montreal.
It was a treat to rent bikes and ride 30 kilometers, along a canal to see sculptures in a park.
We walked to museums, walked to dinner every night, and saw Cirque du Soleil.
We met a friend and her boyfriend and shared a meal at their house.

This trip was brighter and more colorful than my trips where I was still drinking. There were many tourists from around the world. I was aware of all the different languages and cultures I heard and saw. I engaged people I met, in stores, in restaurants, and the cab drivers, asking about them.

The color and brightness came from flags in the city, the circus, meeting people, the colorful rental bikes, the art work, the animals we met, and food we ate. It came from the horses hoofs on the cobblestone streets, the wind while riding our bikes, the lights at night.

There is so much more than drinking if I just allow myself to see it.
And this trip, definitely was the best sober one yet, perhaps because more time has passed, and I am stronger. Or perhaps because I had so much fun exploring, especially with Mr. UT by my side.

With a Deep Appreciation of All That I Have,
On Day 1,025,

Wendy


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Montreal Vacation

Dear Readers,
We are on vacation this 
week, in Montreal, Canada!

I am sorry I will be unable comment much on your blogs, as I am using our I Pad.
But I will try to read them, and like them, and catch up with comments when we get home.

The coffee here is super yummy!
The people so nice.
Not missing drinking at all.
I'm enjoying sparkling water and tonic water with lime at our dinners and on our roof top terrace. 

I learned a few basic words in French, and this is what I say...

Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français
...which means, I am sorry, I do not speak French!

While I was watching the news, there was a report about the opioid addiction problem
in Canada. The Canadian Health Board approved three safe injection sites in Montreal.
Here is the news article.


Hugs to all of you,
On Day 1,020,

Wendy

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Coolest Thing Ever!

Dear Readers,
Mr. UT and I rarely go out to movies, because I can not hear most of the dialogue.
We watch most movies at home so I have closed caption.
(See this post about my cochlear implant.)
So I was so surprised there is a really cool device that you can get closed caption on movies in theaters!


We saw Wonder Woman, and I was amazed at how much I could now understand by reading. Jokes were the best! I laughed right along with other people!

I am so happy about this!
Not all movies have closed caption, but the major ones all do.

Now, I have to say something about movies.
I used to think of going to movies as a time to drink. Before the movies, at the movies, and after the movies.
In fact, how I could watch a movie and not drink was beyond me.

I am not proud of this fact, but one time I left Mr. UT in the theatre and went to have a drink by myself at a bar. Ugh.

This time we kind of went nuts, and had popcorn, Twizlers, and Peanut M&M's.
It cost us a mint, but how much fun munching and crunching and reading through the movie!!

Every time I post a picture of us smiling, it's a real thing. The smiles are real, the happiness is real. We are in a far better place not drinking. 
In my drinking past, the smiling photos would have a lot of pain about my drinking behind them. 
I want to show everyone that you can be sober, have good times, live life, kiss, and look forward to more!
  
Dinner Outside
With Movies and Junk Food,
On Day 1,012,

Wendy




Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday In The City

Dear Readers,
It's Friday in the great city of Minneapolis!
You can't be bored here, as there is really so much to do!
Of course, I'm not doing it!
It's 11:30 am, and I am still in my pajamas!
In my defense...well, ever mind, I have no defense!

The bed is made, the dishes put away, and I have played my computer games.
Mr. UT is out painting.
I am trying to get the motivation to get into the shower and get myself to yoga.
I can do this!

It's supposed to be very hot and humid this weekend, so hubs and I are planning our movie dates! Alien for sure! I never go to chick flicks, or anything that will make me cry. I don't cry quietly!

One of the things I do at my volunteer position, for the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, is pack kits with Naloxone, the drug that will help people come out of an overdose due to opioids. One of the darling people I volunteer with, was saved by this drug, and is now sober. 

I also met a woman who received training and a kit, and was able to save her high school daughter. I met the daughter as well. These are just two of the many people who would have probably died, without this drug. 

I really love volunteering, as it gets me out of my own head, and at the same time, I feel so happy I can help someone.

That's all I have today!
I am looking forward to a grateful, sober weekend!

With Air Conditioning,
And a Fan,
On Day 1,009,

Wendy

P.S. - We made plans to travel to Montreal, Canada!
I'm so excited! 
It's supposed to be a very cool city to visit.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

1,000 Days!


Dear Readers,

I reached 1,000 Days today!
I can hardly believe it!
I remember when other people reached 1,000 days, and I was in awe of them!
Now I am here, too!

Mr. UT surprised me with a delivery of long stem roses, and a sweet card, that had a special meaning.
When we were dating in high school, he would leave little things in my locker.
One time he left a big purple paper flower, with the note, "To the Flower of My Heart."


I have lost and gained things these past 1,000 days and nights.

I have lost 1,000 days of heartaches, hangovers, and hiding bottles.
I have lost 1,000 nights of drunk driving and hot sweaty sleep.
But most of all, I have lost 1,000 days of self-loathing, guilt and shame.

I have gained 1,000 days of calmness, self-esteem, and kisses from hubs.
I have gained 1,000 days of helping other people in their recovery.
But most of all, I have gained 1,000 days of peace of mind and freedom.

How I got here really was a day at a time. A moment by moment decision that I didn't want the drinking life anymore. It had stopped bringing me fun, and was bringing me far more pain. It wasn't easy, and I so wanted to be able to keep drinking. 
But I just couldn't.
Now I find I don't want to drink anymore!

I debated about buying myself a treat to celebrate, but in the end, I decided I didn't want anything. I am blessed with the love of Mr. UT. I am blessed with all the things I have lost and gained after 1,000 days. That is enough.

With 1,000 Hugs to all of You for Helping Me,
On Day 1,000,
Wendy 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Life Is Not Fair

Dear Readers,
It's finally partly sunny here, after many days of rain.
Or maybe it's partly cloudy.
I never can understand the difference between those two weather phrases.

I think life is like that.
It's part sun and part clouds.
Sometimes it's raining, and sometimes it's not.
Like the weather, it's unpredictable.

I am working hard to challenge myself on my thinking that I am a victim in life.
I am not.
Life is not fair.
It never will be.
That is the truth of the matter, and the only thing I can do is to meet life with a brave heart.

Role models help me do this.
All the sober people on-line, and in real life, are role models for me.
All the women in my family, have all been role models.
People past and present, those who have seen more rain than sun, but continue with faith, are role models.

I recognize that I am far more optimistic, now that I am sober.
When I was younger, I used to be sunny person, but later when my drinking got heavy, I complained a lot more, about my job, my health, other people, everything.

I am slowly working my way back to accepting that I will have problems because that is life.
Everyone has problems, in one way or another.
I am learning I can accept my feelings, that they are normal human emotions, but I don't have to stay in them.
I can think differently, look at things from another point of view, and my feelings change, or become less intense.

Life is constantly changing.
It ebbs and flows, sometimes too fast for me, sometimes too slow.
But I am powerless to stop the change.

I did not choose to have a problem with alcohol.
I know my father didn't either.
But we did.
And it is with a brave heart, and much faith, that I continue staying sober.

With Love,
On Day 994,
Wendy

Friday, May 12, 2017

Self-Growth

I was hungry!


Dear Readers,
I find that using photos helps me write, for some reason.
They are another way I can express what I am trying to say.

Last week, Mr. UT and I went for a walk around one of our favorite parks, where there is a cool restaurant, so we stopped by, and sat outside to have a bite to eat.
I make Mr. UT take photos of us, which he will do, although sometimes reluctantly.

Our feelings and thoughts here were of fun, love and connection. When we go for walks, it gives us time to connect, and talk about life.

Now, we do squabble, but not nearly as often as we did when I was drinking.
And then some of our fights were about my drinking.
I am learning to breathe in and out, which gives me time to pause before I say something to hubs I might regret.
We have been married so long, that we have numbered our disagreements, i.e., how many suitcases I need for a weekend away is fight #10.

I am still learning.
I am learning how to be kinder, to myself and hubs.
I am learning how to listen.
I am learning how to not try to "fix" someone.
I am learning how to motivate myself.
I am learning how to support other people who are working on being sober.
I am learning how to detach with love, from other people and outcomes when needed.
I am learning so much.

I saw this quote on the Women for Sobriety newsletter, that is sent to me each week:

"Be patient with yourself.  Self-growth is tender, it's holy ground.  There is no greater investment"  -Steven Covey


I am still learning how to live sober.
This is something I will always be learning.

With Love,
On Day 981,
Wendy

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Look a Little Closer

Dear Readers,
Flowers are blooming in our favorite park!
Today, at my AA meeting we shared the "miracles" that have happened in our lives since we got sober. People shared powerful stories, heartbreaking drinking and using stories, and now their current miracles.

This reminded me of a post I read today, by Mark Goodson, Miracle of the Mundane.
He gave me pause to look back at where I was and where I am now.

Mark describes his using life and his sober life as a "great divide".
He talks about comparing your greatest fear, happiness, or problem in your two lives.

Where was I when I was drinking?
What were my fears then?
What brought me happiness?

When I was drinking, my life was all about me. It was when could I drink, who could I drink with, how can I hide my bottles, when could I get what I wanted.
My biggest fear was definitely worrying about getting pulled over by the police for drunk driving.

My happiness was when I was drinking.
That's the only thing I though made me happy.

Today, my life is about caring for my darling husband.
It's about caring about my wonderful family.
It's about helping other people in recovery.
It's about taking care of myself by getting exercise, sleep, and eating right.

My biggest fear today, is worried about getting old, as we have no children to help us.
(I did have this same worry when I was drinking, too, but it wasn't an immediate fear.)
However, now I am able to face my fears, and not be so afraid.
I am able to think through the fears, and figure things out.

Now I am happy when I am helping other people, when hubs and I are snuggling, when I am reading blogs, when I am at yoga.
I am happy just walking.
My greatest happiness is when I am with Mr. UT or my family and friends, and we are sharing a special time, or sharing a memory.

I don't consider these miracles, but maybe they are.
Sometimes I can't see all the ways my life has changed, because I am too close to myself.
It takes a look back to be reminded of the wonder of today.

Today I have been sober for 32 months.
After thinking about all the blogs I have read, all the people at my meetings I have heard, after talking with hubs about life, I can say, I am content today.

With Flowers Growing,
On Day 972,
Wendy

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cultivating Joy in Recovery

Dear Readers,
Having Fun and Getting Strong!
I was always too scared to try Yoga Sculpt class, thinking it would be too hard.

Last week, quite impulsively, I decided I would try it, and GUESS WHAT?
It was fun!
In fact, it was so fun I went again, today! I am stronger than I think.

One of the things I have challenged myself to, is finding joy in being sober.
I believe that this is one of the most important things I can do to keep from drinking again.
I will be in danger if I only feel sorry for myself that I can't drink, or thinking I am missing out.

For me, joy and gratitude go hand in hand.
If I am not thankful, it is harder for me to be joyful.
I find that I must cultivate optimism. I don't always have this mind set.
Sometimes I think, "What is life really about...I only have maybe 20 years left to live."
YIKES!
That is scary!
So along with optimism, I try to laugh at myself. 
Maybe I have more like 29 years to live, considering my mom is 92!

Helping other people in recovery is helping me find joy.
I helped a busy mom from my AA group, who had just moved, unpack boxes and fold laundry.
This one little act made a difference in my attitude that day. I was so content.

Acceptance is part of my joy.
When I accept things as they are, I am far more joyful than when I am wishing everything was different, or I was different.

I realize this is a journey. Every time I think I haven't made any progress or that I am stuck, I realize I have made changes. Good changes. 

I found this website that has some good information about finding joy.
I have posted a part of the article below, but the full article is here: Alcohol Rehab

How to Find Joy in Recovery

Establishing a joyful life in recovery usually involves a bit of patience. There will be many moments of joy right from the early days of recovery, but it can take a bit longer before the individual feels more fully happy with their life. The individual is able to find happiness in sobriety by:

1. Having realistic expectations. Expecting too much right away is probably going to lead to disappointment.
2. It is important to keep in mind that joyful living does not mean that people walk around with a constant smile on their face – it just means that for the majority of the time they feel content with their life.
3. In order to create a fulfilling life in recovery the individual will need to put some effort into it. Just giving up their addiction alone is unlikely to be enough.
4. Once people become physically sober they need to begin working on their emotional sobriety. It is this that will lead them to true peace and happiness.
5. Many people find that joining a fellowship can help them establish a more successful sobriety. This way they can benefit from a program and the experience of people who have gone before.
6. Other individuals may find that therapy helps put them on the right path in sobriety.
7. It is highly recommended that people maintain a beginner’s mind in recovery. This means that they do not allow their preconceived beliefs, opinions, and ideas to get in the way of helpful advice.
8. Those people who are most successful in sobriety are willing to take risks and try new things. It is always good to develop the willingness to try new things.
9. Sticking with the winners is very good advice for anyone who hopes to build a strong recovery. Those individuals who have already made their own recovery successful tend to be inspirational and a source of good advice.
10. When people achieve their dreams in recovery it can increase their sense of well-being.
11. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can be wonderful for helping people develop emotional equanimity. The meditator investigates their own inner world and they develop much greater understanding as a result of this.
12. Joyful living is often all about perspective. It means viewing challenges as a chance to grow and failures as a chance to learn.
New Shoes... I Feel Like a
Kid Again!
13. Joy is not to be found in self obsession and selfishness. Sharing and thinking about others is what really leads to happiness.


With A Cup of Coffee,
New Shoes,
And Joy,
On Day 967,

Wendy



Friday, April 14, 2017

Communication by Mr. UT

Communication

Why is it so hard to talk with a loved one about their drinking problem?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy and I talk a lot, about a lot of things.  Truth be told, she does most of the talking, but I do listen, and I’m usually not shy about giving my opinion or view point.  However; I admit that when it came to her drinking problem I was at a loss as to what to say or if I should say anything at all.

We had our share of arguments about her drinking and what it was doing to our lives.  When I found hidden bottles of wine in the house I didn’t know the right way to approach her about it.  Should I yell or should I ignore it?  If I ignored it was I enabling her?  If I yelled was I just driving her away?  It was difficult to sit down and have a conversation without it ending in a fight.  She was in denial and I was frustrated, mad and hurt.  I felt helpless and that was not a feeling I was used to.  Understanding her addiction was difficult.  Why was she putting herself and our future at risk?  Why couldn’t she see what was happening and what it was leading to? Talking about it with her was a struggle for me.  I was always uncertain about what to say or how to say it.  I didn’t want to drive her away but I couldn’t let her ruin her life without a fight.  When she finally stopped drinking I was elated and scared.  I didn’t know how much to praise her about her decision and her progress.  I wanted to show support and offer as much help as she wanted or needed.  But was I doing it too much?  Were my offers of praise helpful or was I just bringing it up too often and reminding her of her past drinking?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy is a very strong woman, despite her occasional doubts.   She is unafraid of introspection and what she might find there.  She has used this introspection to gain understanding and help her continued sobriety.  I on the other hand have a very limited capacity for introspection.  Perhaps it’s a man thing or the way I was raised but I have a simple straight forward view of life and my place in it.  So I am impressed at how much Mrs. Un-Tipsy is willing to continue to look into herself and search for answers and strength.  But was it my lack of introspection that made communication difficult?  In the past, this difference of viewpoints contributed to my hesitation to talk about her addition.  Even today when I read Mrs. Un-Tipsy’s posts I sometimes learn new things about her struggles in the past and in the present.  With each new revelation I have a bit more understanding about the depth of her struggle and her strength.  I’m sometimes brought to the brink of tears reading of the pain she went through. 

Should I tell her again how proud I am of her or is it too much?  That question can only be answered by the person working on their sobriety.  As you struggle with your addiction remember to communicate with your family, friends and other loved ones.  They want to help but sometimes they just don’t know how.  Let them know what they can do to make your struggle a little bit easier.


Mr. Un-Tipsy

PS -  From Wendy: If you want the perceptive of a loved one who lives with someone with an addiction, please read this beautiful blog Real Life 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gifts of Sobriety On 31 Months

New Saw, Happy Guy!
Dear Readers,
Mr. UT has been busy working on a house project. 
I am so grateful to be married to a guy who cooks, cleans, builds, fixes, mows, and makes coffee every morning. 
(He is banned from doing laundry, however!)
Not sure how I got so lucky!

On April 4th, I was 31 months sober.
I continue to be mindful of the gifts that being sober brings.

This is not passive, but an active awareness of all of the good things being sober is bringing to my life.
I have to be open to receiving these gifts, and I have to be active in my self-growth to pass along gifts to others.
These gifts are endless, and they continue to bless me each day.

The gift of being grateful, in all areas of my life, has opened up to me since I have been sober.
I didn't have this gift before, never knew it really existed.
To be able to find a reason to be thankful in almost any situation, is changing my life.
I have the choice of being resentful, or being grateful. 
When I choose resentment, or self-pity I am choosing to be unhappy.
When I choose to be grateful, I am choosing contentment.

The gift of freedom, means I can live my life in an open, loving way.
It means I have peace of mind.
I can open my eyes each morning, and I know I didn't hurt anyone because of my drinking.
It means I no longer hide who I am.
It means I can share myself fully.

I am learning to accept the gift of living life as it is, not as I want it to be.
Drinking made me want everything to be different, and filled me with resentments, anger, and envy.
Acceptance brings me peace.
I can let my life flow and not fight it at every turn. It's exhausting to be fighting life.
I am learning to accept that other people's lives are theirs, not mine to try to control.

Life has problems, and now I have the gift of learning how to work with these problems rather than over-reacting to them, running away from them, or numbing myself.
I still tend to over-react at first, but then quickly settle into an acceptance or problem-solving mode. I am able to help those around me by having this gift. 

I talk a lot about breathing, and I credit my yoga practice for opening this gift to me.
Breathing helps calm me.
I breathe through problems, both mental and physical ones.
When I there is a body part hurting, breathing into that body part relaxes it, and helps it heal.
When I am struggling mentally, if I breathe into the feelings, it relaxes the tight hold that feeling has on me.
Breathing helps me relax into my daily life.
I breathe in love and joy, breath out anger and resentments.

These are only a few of my gifts.
Big gifts, small gifts, are there for me if I choose.
Today I choose them.

With The Gift of Love,
On Day 948,
Wendy

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Isolation, Loneliness, and Sobriety

Dear Readers,
It is now proven that isolation hurts us. It makes us sick, depressed, and in some cases leads to death.
Some people are isolated due to a number of issues, some of which can't be changed, such as health problems or being unable to find transportation to get out and about.

Other people isolate themselves.
There are times I isolate myself, especially when I am sick or depressed.
Which ironically makes me more sick and depressed.

When I was drinking, I sometimes drank with friends. 

Sometimes I would drink alone at a bar, but felt "connected " with the bartender or other drinking strangers. 
But at other times, I would buy a bottle and drink alone at home. 

When I isolate myself now, I feel very lonely. I sometimes feel very lonely in a crowd, too.
Loneliness is a feeling that will wash over me.

Being retired contributes to isolation and my feelings of loneliness. 
I no longer have that built in community with my fellow teachers and students.
Also, I do not live near my family members, so I do not have that loving community.

When I feel lonely in a crowd, it is because I feel left out, or I feel different in some way.
This leads me to isolation as well.
However, I am growing up, and I have been learning how to be an adult living in an adult world.
If I can accept that I am really just fine being Wendy, that I don't have to be the life of the party, (not that I ever was), I am calmer, and can navigate social situations better.

I am working hard to breathe through the loneliness, not just ignore it, or say it's wrong or unimportant.
It's telling me something.
It means I am missing the human connections I need.

I am working hard to find ways to make fun and meaningful connections with people.
Volunteering has helped.
I feel very fulfilled after my time of helping people.
I have also found some lovely souls in the recovery community.

I make "playdates" with other teachers, going for walks or having coffee.
My yoga community helps too. 
I am working on keeping up with my oldest and dearest friends, because I can get lazy at times, and I put off calling them. 

Blogging helps me connect with people. When I read blogs, and leave comments, I know that somewhere out there, other people understand and care.

The most important step I can do to help myself when I feel lonely is to reach out to other people.
It's hard at times, because sometimes it feels as if I am the only one doing the reaching.
My adult self now understands that many people have much more going on in their lives than I do.
There are other people who are thrilled I reached out to them.

For my continued recovery, as well as having a happy life, I must keep reaching out, and keep myself from being isolated.
It helps other people, and it keeps the loneliness away for both of us.
I can't sink into the "poor me" place, as that is a lifeless place to be.

Sobriety is such a gift.
I don't want to waste it, or throw it away by shutting myself away in my house.
Being sober has made me happier, and I want to pass that along to other people, as others before me have passed it along to me.
I want to continue to see the little surprises that are happening along the way, little boxes of joy that open to my delight!

With Loving Thoughts,
On Day 946,
Wendy

PS - This week, I focused on loving my body. 
I had another cold, but I was so kind to my hard-working body.
It fought the cold, and today I was able to go to yoga!
Happy, happy, happy!
I also treated it to a pedicure and now I have lovely blue toenails!