Gratitude “Project”

(Post Started on May 15)…

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I’m taking the advise of someone wise and attempting to disrupt my “funk” with daily gratitude.

I already sort of blew it yesterday…I gave it some thought…but didn’t get it written down. So I’m going to commit in this manner…starting a blog post.

I HAVE GRATITUDE FOR….

May 15

  1. Healthy Husband, Healthy Teenagers… no one is sick or injured today.
  2. Financial Security – to be able to fly to see my parents if I need or want to…put gas in my car…buy groceries… I have more than I need…and I am thankful for the opportunity to be calm and NOT anxious… that is HUGE…and I need to acknowledge it.
  3. Siblings that support me and listen and encourage and laugh and fill me up…and keep me humble and down to earth.
  4. Sober Mindset.  A switch flipped for me a little over 5 months ago.  I simply DESIRE to be the BEST ME….and that can’t happen with ANY ethanol in my system.
  5. Electricity.  Today is laundry day and I don’t have to go to the river and beat my clothes with a rock.  (I’m not reaching…I’m just going to try and dig deeper into the next 27 days in the future)

May 16

  1. A beautiful home that keeps out the wind and cold and keeps me warm and protected.
  2. Natural Gas so that I can easily cook…and dry our laundry…and heat the home.
  3. My collection of cooking tools.
  4. UPS, FEDEX and any other forms of couriers who are able to deliver all kinds of communication and goods.  (Today is was a Blue Apron order-just as I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner)
  5. Free Press in the USA – So that I can receive information from many different sources.

May 17

  1. My senses.  I have healthy eyes, ears, smell, touch.
  2. Literacy.  I love to learn, and read, and listen to others insight.
  3. My computer.  It keeps me connected and informed.
  4. The access to a functional medicine doctor – to remind me that what I eat is the key to everything.
  5. The finances to fund my own personal health and wellness.

May 18

  1. Support from specialists to take care of my home.
  2. Access to quality healthcare.
  3. Healthy Grocery Stores, close to my home, to support high quality LIVE food.
  4. Educational Opportunities.
  5. Time

May 19

  1.  Natural Healers
  2. Mother’s Day gift (amazing massage)
  3. Sunshine
  4. Clean Drinking Water
  5. Hot Shower/Bath

May 20

{insert cricket chirps}

So now I struggle.

I’m feeling “over privileged”…and “indulged”…and BRAGGY (is that a word).  Well it’s a ridiculous sort of word to attempt to explain that my life is full of modern conveniences and I have really nothing to complain about… (is that the point of this exercise?)

I have access to things that can be taken for granted.  Is this the lesson? 🙂

Rather than find another reason to beat myself about something…which would lead into FUNKsville……Rather than feel guilty (I can seriously turn anything into a guilt fest  WTF)

….I will give myself a pat in the back for trying to find time each day to be grateful.

…I will remember that there were times I had “very little”… especially self esteem.

At age 53, I’ve worked my butt off and supported a husband who works his ASS off so that I can have “unlimited hot water” in my shower.  But hell, I am going to be exceptionally grateful that I invested in a tankless hot water heater rather than drink hundreds of …thousands of ….dollars of wine and vodka.

So…this will be my last blog post about the project…but I’m definitely creating a habit to:

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Photo credit hunt led to this great article on Real Thanks

 

Jet Setting to CONNECT

Like many, I’ve been in a funk.  So I decided to use all my frequent flyer points and leave on Sunday morning (before my teens even get up)…to visit my mom…and then fly back.  Be a Jet Setter on Mother’s Day.  Make a memory.

Why?

Because I feel like I need connection?  YES YES YES…

But…was it also…

I wanted to do something grand and memorable and feel like I have a big wonderful life like all the Social Media Posters out there?  YEP… I shared my plan with others, by text, as I waited for my Uber…and yes, I shared a picture on Facebook today.

AND IT FELT GOOD (not the social media-ing) But being HOME… more than anything to spend if only a few hours with my mom…and surprise her…and the look on her face…and the feel of her hug…and the comfort and familiarity…. the important stuff.  The gratitude of family and 2 healthy (Mom more than Dad) 70ish parents… and the reality that waiting for next year…could be a mistake.  The planning was exciting… the surprise even better.

But about the funk leading up to the fun…

I know much of it is my streak of competitive jealous envy…or is it fear… fear that my kids don’t have the same drive as their peers…or aren’t getting invites from “those” kids… and I don’t even think they care… it just seems to eat at me at times… it’s embarrassing to admit…i’m not even sure I’m articulating it well…

But…

It leads to me feeling like a “bad” mom…like I haven’t done enough… and that by CHOOSING to do less and allow my kids to figure it out on their own…I have done them some sort of disservice.  That leads to lots of self talk…and lack of confidence.

I HATE that VOICE in my head.

I’m trying to remember I don’t have to believe everything SHE/it says.

Social Media just makes it look like everyone else is having this grand amazing family relationship memory moments.  It’s connection that creates DIS-connection for me.

And so…this Ick Factor Muck tells me I need a SHIFT.

A Disruption. (more on that later…but I think I’ve been introduced to something empowering!)

I’ve got to get out of this comparison thing I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.  I’m excited and curious to hear and “eavesdrop” on social media about the lives of my high school and college friends… but I need to stop being so GREEN-eyed MONSTER about it…i don’t necessarily want what they have… it’s uglier…it’s like I’m dissatisfied with what I have…

AND THAT IS ON ME.

I’ve got to flip it.

So…I’m going to do two action steps for the next 28 days:

Write down 5 things I am grateful for ….post each and everyday.

Greet my family as they come in from work and school with love and/or enthusiasm…or at the very least interest.  I’ve got to cultivate the family love.  It’s not magic.  It’s work.

So I’m back down to earth.  The jet has landed.

Here we go…I’m grateful for….

  1. Healthy Husband, Healthy Teenagers… no one is sick or injured today.
  2. Financial Security – to be able to fly to see my parents if I need or want to…put gas in my car…buy groceries… I have more than I need…and I am thankful for the opportunity to be calm and not anxious… that is HUGE…and I need to acknowledge it.
  3. Siblings that support me and listen and encourage and laugh and fill me up…and keep me humble and down to earth.
  4. Sober Mindset.  A switch flipped for me a little over 5 months ago.  I simply DESIRE to be the BEST ME….and that can’t happen with ANY ethanol in my system.
  5. Electricity.  Today is laundry day and I don’t have to go to the river and beat my clothes with a rock.  (I’m not reaching…I’m just going to try and dig deeper into the next 27 days in the future)

BONUS…the ability to type and share…and know one of you is reading this and nodding your head … and that gives me connection.

 

Merry B Sober 5 MONTHS

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So… I woke up yesterday and looked at my phone and wondered “What’s going on today?”  It was May 7th ….and I kept thinking I was forgetting to do something…an appointment.  This seemed unlikely since it was Sunday… I couldn’t really think of it being anyone’s birthday…

Then it hit me…the 7th is my “SOBER date”.

I would have loved a celebratory drink on a few occasions this month…

  • Sending the daughter off to Senior Prom
  • Toasting the Freshman’s Sport Championship Win
  • Meeting the new neighbors who moved in across the street this weekend
  • Cinco de Mayo (in the Southwest)

But… I accepted my new norm.  I wasn’t sad or pissed or angry… I don’t think???

I was a bit cranky yesterday afternoon. But I think it was less about NOT TAKING CARE OF MYSELF (ate ice cream for dinner the night before…only fruit before a 2 hour workout… then I was overly hungry…and sort of ate a non-meal out of the fridge… )  I think my blood sugar whacked out.

Has anyone else found that if you don’t eat vegetables at least 1-2 times a day…things start to turn into a shit show funk?  or too much sugar?

So…I seem to be in a better frame of mind to acknowledge sobriety today.

As I enter MAYhem (as I like to call this month of 3 teens and end of school year activities and summer camp/activity deposits due…blah blah blah)… I am going to acknowledge that village activities can make it all seem crazy.

BUT

I am in control of my decisions.  I am happier with the toxins removed.  I will remember and enjoy all the celebrations to come up these next few weeks.  No making deals to only have 2…and then forgetting parts of celebrations.  Wondering if I said too much, or was my loud laugh viewed as being drunk rather than gleeful.

Fun Reflection: My childhood friend’s daughter is getting married.  At her beautiful shower last month, I reached out to touch a baby’s toes and broke my wine glass of sparkling water.  To pass it off, I announced “Well now it’s a party-a glass is broken”

….and my best friend added “And there’s no alcohol in it”.  She knows I’ve chosen not to drink any longer…and I’m actually reflecting appreciation that she closed down any ideas of other guests that it was because I had had too much to drink.

It is nice feeling to know that I don’t ever have to ask myself, if it was because I had had too much drink…when life’s accidents happen.

I am Merry

Book Notes: This Naked Mind by Annie Grace (Chapter 15-Pay It Forward)

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace

Chapters 1-14 (from a former post)

15: DEFINING ADDICTION – PART 1:

  • “Basically, it’s having two competing priorities, wanting to do more and less of something a the same time”. (p. 147)
  • “Learning happens in the same part of the brain as addiction.” (p. 147)
  • “The addict is conditioned to believe that the substance will provide enjoyment or relief, that it will help them enjoy life more or ease their stress.” (p. 148
  • Page 149 Key Messages
  • “We are happier when we take a drink, not because drinking makes us happy, but because the drink relieves the withdrawal that drinking caused” (p. 149)
  • “We don’t realize that our chronic exhaustion is related to continuously poisoning our bodies.” (p. 152)
  • “Drinking felt like tunnel vision.  I was no longer aware of all my surroundings but only what was right in front of me, and even that took more effort and concentration than I had energy for.” (p. 155)

16: LIMINAL POINT: IS ALCOHOL VITAL TO SOCIAL LIFE?

“Dear Alcohol, we had a deal where you would make me funnier, smarter, and a better dancer…I saw the video…we need to talk.” – Anon

  • “Hari believes the antidote to addiction is actually companionship.” (p. 160)
  • “When you stop believing you need to drink to have fun, you won’t need to.  You’ll realize that alcohol can actually hinder your fun.” (p. 163)
  • “Alcohol, by deadening your natural senses, including apprehension- removes the filters between your brain and your mouth.” (p. 164)

17: DEFINING ADDICTION: PART 2

  • “Addicts crave drugs because they are deceived into thinking that drugs will enhance their lives.  Once you see the drug for what it is, the cause of your misery and cravings that give you nothing in return, the desire for the drug dies.” (p. 165)
  • “According to Polk, the drinker’s body becomes used to the presence of alcohol in such a way that eventually the chronic drinker will need alcohol just to feel normal.” (p. 166)
  • “But because alcohol is addictive, consuming it changes the way your brain works, meaning that no matter how slow you descend, everyone is moving in the same direction – down.” (p. 167)
  • “This is the key to all drug addiction – the drug creates the low and then deceives its victims into believing that, by ending the low, it is providing a high.” (p. 168)
  • “Dopamine plays a central role in addiction and is commonly known as the addiction molecule.” (p. 168)
  • “Unfortunately, when addictive drugs chemically release dopamine in the brain, you are LEARNING addiction.” (p. 169)
  • Page 170 KEY Reading
  • “When you stop drinking, your brain will stop compensating and repair itself.  You can again find pleasure in simply living – as you could before you ever started drinking.” (p. 172)

18: LIMINAL POINT: IT’S CULTURAL.  I NEED TO DRINK TO FIT IN

“Those Who Defend Alcohol the Loudest Are Often the Most Worried About how Much They Drink” (p. 174)

  • “Alcohol addiction is so insidious, because of how well we hide it, even from ourselves.” (p. 174)
  • “I now realize I can simply say NO.” (p. 175)
  • “Be conscious of the fact that a change for you will mean a change for them. Be aware and treat them, whether they continue to drink or not, with respect. …Honest and compassionate communication is key.” (p. 176)
  • “It’s a process” (p. 177)
  • “…The bottom line: Not drinking is sexy!” (p. 178)
  • “These are some phrases that worked for me:
  1. ‘I realized I’m happier when I don’t drink.’

  2. ‘I’m on a health kick and giving up booze is part of it.’

  3. ‘I decided drinking was no longer doing me any favors, so I quit.’

  4. and, ‘I feel better when I don’t drink.’ (p. 179)

19: THE DESCENT: WHY SOME DESCEND FASTER THAN OTHERS

  • “The nebulous idea of an addictive personality allows us to protect our precious alcohol.  We focus on the addictive personality, which makes alcohol dangerous for them but not for us.  We protect the alcohol and blame the individual.” (p. 182)
  • NO ONE IS IMMUNE TO ADDICTION (p. 184)
  • “There is no inexplicable defect in our personalities, no elusive flaw in our bodies. Alcohol is simply a highly addictive drug.” (p. 185)
  • “Anyone who feels fear at the thought of never drinking again is already emotionally dependent”. (p. 187)
  • “In this case, through knowledge and education you achieve freedom.” (p. 188)

20: LIVING A NAKED LIFE IN OUR SOCIETY

  • “You may find once-desirable activities to be nothing more than a waste of time.  Some people may have only been fun because alcohol slowed down your brain enough to make them so.” (p. 189)
  • “Actually being around drinkers is one of the best reminders of your freedom.” (p. 192)
  • “When I tell people that alcohol is a known carcinogen, a fact that was scientifically proven in 1988, they are surprised.” (p. 193)
  • “I made a conscious decision to see the amber liquid for what is was: a substance that would destroy my brain and body.  A drink that would render me tired, insensible, and hung over.” (p. 194)
  • IS MODERATION AN OPTION? (p. 194)
  • “To review, addictive drugs, from nicotine to heroin, release artificially high levels of dopamine in the brain…We know that alcohol artificially stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. We also know that to maintain homeostasis, and protect itself, the brain turns down the pleasure received from alcohol over time.  This is tolerance.” (p. 195)
  • “Basically, dopamine’s role in learning is to ensure that pleasure can be found again.” (p. 196)
  • “Once you have broken the cycle, your cravings will go away…Even though the dopamine hypersensitivity to alcohol will exist, it will remain dormant as long as you introduce no alcohol into your body.” (p. 197)
  • THE STRESS OF DECISION MAKING (p. 198)*
  • “Drinking does not make dull people fun.  Alcohol makes smart and engaging people dumb and boring.  Its very nature slows your brain function and dulls your wit and senses.” (p. 204)

21: THIS NAKED MIND

  • “The most destructive part of this [alcohol]…is how it steals our ability to respect and care for ourselves.  Without self-respect, everything else falls apart.” (p. 207)
  • …”continue to embrace alcohol as the ‘elixir of life’. Our generation perpetuates this…Our children see alcohol as vital to life’s enjoyment….It is our responsibility to change this and expose alcohol.” (p. 207)
  • “We’ve put tobacco in it’s place.  Why can’t we do the same for alcohol?” (p. 208)
  • “Nothing worth doing is completely easy.” (p. 210)
  • “As Carr says, once you see the truth about drinking, the fear of never being able to drink again is replaced by the excitement of never having to drink again.  The experience is euphoric.  You see your entire life, long and healthy, stretch out before you.  You are proud. You have done something amazing.  You are excited to enjoy this remarkable life and all of the many wonderful human experiences it holds.” (p. 210-11)
  • “Imagine you arrive at an open house”… POWERFUL ANALOGY …MUST READ… p. 211…and just because you don’t find the house alarming yet…doesn’t mean they are any less stuck or that the cookies are less poisonous.  The reality is terrifying whether they understand it or not.” (p. 211-212)
  • “I didn’t mean to slip from ‘enjoying’ a glass of wine with dinner to ‘enjoying’ a bottle.  Alcohol builds a tolerance, an immunity, which is simply our body trying to protect us from the poison we are consuming. We are compelled to drink more and more.  When did I decide to drink more? I didn’t.”  (p. 213)
  • “You need to remember this: Alcohol physically alters your brain to remove your ability to enjoy normal things.” (p. 217)
  • “It’s incredible to live a life where you don’t need to hide anything, where you can be honest with yourself.” (p. 219)
  • “It takes a lot of courage to be different, to go against the majority….There is true pleasure in leaving shame and misery behind…I find joy in the challenges before me – breaking the sober stigma and helping…all who choose to live free from the groupthink of alcohol…by choosing a different path.” (p. 219)

22: THE SECRET TO HAPPILY AND EASILY DRINKING LESS

  • “The problem with alcohol is that the brain doesn’t simply forget it.  Dopamine is the learning molecule, and your brain has learned to crave alcohol.” (p. 221)
  • “Once a firm commitment is made, you face no decision.” …  “It frees you from the the hundreds of decisions you would have to make if you decided to take it one drink at a time.” (p. 222)
  • “If you want your mind to be free, and you want complete control back, remember that moderation is not control or freedom.” (p. 224)
  • “Take a stand for yourself, realizing you want nothing to do with the groupthink of alcohol.  Be brave and be different.” (p. 229)
  • “Drinkers are very curious when someone suddenly stops drinking….Ironically you are the one who no longer drinks, but you are supposed to be the one with a drinking problem.  They are still drinking while asking if I have a drinking problem.”  (p. 236)
  • “Be prepared for mixed reactions.  Its OK.  You didn’t do this for anyone else; you did it for you.” (p. 236)

23: THE JOURNEY: “RELAPSE”

  • “The truth is that each battle makes us stronger as long as we remain committed to a better tomorrow.  We must fight this battle with compassion and forgiveness…We must remember: Losing a battle does not mean that we have lost the war.” (p. 240)
  • “Alcohol does not define you.  It does not give you worth.  It is not who you are.  It will not fix your problems, solve your loneliness, or provide any of the answers you seek.” (p. 242)
  • “This is a journey, not a destination.  It is a road that no one can walk but you.  These are choices that no one can make but you.  But know that by committing to a different future, no matter how many battle you have ahead of you, the war has already been won.”  (p. 242)

24: PAY IT FORWARD

  • “We must love ourselves first, take care of ourselves, change our habits and behaviors, and then we can change the world.” (p. 243)
  • “The world needs you to be your best.” (p. 245)

DEAR READER, (from Annie Grace)

  • SHARE YOUR STORY
  • “No matter your story, someone will be touched and inspired by what you have to say.  Your story will provide hope; it may change someone’s life.  (p. 246)

…and now it seems…

I don’t know what to call this feeling.  (So this probably will be some sort of rambling hot mess of words to come….)

Maybe it’s the time of year.  THE SEASON of COMPARISON.  I hate this internal “competitive conflicted crappy” funk that sits in my gut (and monkey brain) as I see and hear of ALL the stuff that is being boasted in the village – Proms, High School Honors, All-Star Awards, Social Whirlwinds…

Is it my own FOMO?  (Fear of Missing Out)…and fear that my kids are Missing Out?

Should I have been “Pushing” my kids harder… demanding better grades… not allowing them to find their own way?  I don’t think so…

But then the “Season of Comparison” creeps in and makes me second guess myself.  (It doesn’t help that my husband is also, by nature, competitive and mentioning comparisons).

My inner core tells me that “Living Through My Kids”…is Wrong Wrong Wrong.

It’s tricky to manuever parenting teens.  As there birthday pushed them into the teen years, I sort of back off…adopted a Duct Tape Parenting approach.

But is allowing them to sleep in…to refill their cup on the weekends and through the summer…bad? Would they be accomplishing more if I dictated a routine?

I struggle with all of this….  (and more… I can’t quite articulate today)

Which makes me want to numb myself.

A good buzz temporarily makes all the uncertainty go away… (but I know it will be back with shame, regret, and self loathing)

Drinking at these celebrations and parties…could numb the comparing…but again…not a good ending.

I’m feeling bored and boring.

It’s time for change? Or is It?

I’m feeling lonely and disconnected (and fearful I’m modeling anti-social behaviors for my kids)…

And then I’m annoyed that I’d just be making changes to be a better role model…I don’t want to fake what adulting is…

I never wanted to miss a thing when I was their age?  They seem content to sleep…and eat…or not eat… or hydrate (which makes my Mom instant flare up)

So this is where I am…

And I’m not even sure I understand where the hell this is?

But I knew I needed to be here…in this place… writing…

…and that is a good thing…a better place to be…than “sipping” toward a place of negativity-with temporary numbness-THAT is stepping backward.

With that said…better to be stuck … and you know what, that can be my optimistic outlook for all of this.  I’m not where I was less than 6 months ago…

Happy May Day to all.  (Anyone remember weaving ribbon through strawberry baskets…and leaving flowers on neighbors doorsteps)

Awww…that’s it… I’m going to go buy some flowers.

It’s a day to BLOOM….(or at least remind myself that I’m working on it…)

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