Alcohol-Free May!

May-Day138

May is a great month for change and renewal. It’s named after the ancient goddess Maia, who is associated with flourishing spring, fertility, and playfulness. In that creative spirit, throw off the habits of winter and wake up to spring!

If you’ve been struggling to go alcohol-free for some period of time, why not choose May? I’ve been AF for a couple of years, but I have some major habits I need to vacate in May, and I will use this time for my own mental spring-cleaning.

So … for every day in the month of May, I’m going to post one motivating blog that deals with self-love, self-empowerment, and the creative mind. The posts will also deal with how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world.

This will be a spiritual blog, but not in the religious sense. I follow A Course in Miracles, which is exactly what it says … it’s a course and not a religion, although it deals with spiritual themes and the nature of perception. And though I use the words God or Spirit, you can just as easily substitute Higher Power, Buddha, Yahweh, Allah, All That Is, The Universe, or any other term you’d like.

What I’ve found in my long search for sobriety is that the power to choose begins in the mind, and that it’s possible to use your thoughts to change not only your behavior, but your entire outlook on life. This power is available to every one of us, and in it lies the power to change the world.

Stay tuned!

Next Blog: Where I get my inspiration.

 

“The Good Ole’ Days”

shawna wine

A friend just sent me a photo from the good ole’ days.

I can see that my eyes are puffy and my skin is dehydrated, because I’m way too young here to have so many laugh lines. (Well, there is that whole sun exposure thing. Have I ever mentioned that I lived in St. Thomas for a year?)

Those days weren’t that great.

But right now, I’m getting ready to go hiking through my favorite mountain top. Later on, I’ll get some work done, go have an incredibly healthy dinner, and then call some people I love.

These are the good ole’ days.

💕

 

Two Years Tomorrow, Ya’ll!

7395076284feca262ba087f9b2c4cde9

And they said I’d never make it!

This song is for every one that wondered if I had it in me. For everyone who looked at me and thought, “Wow, what a waste.”

It’s for every heart I broke along the way. Please forgive me. I know you do. 💕

Because today, I swear I can feel the sparks shooting off me! This girl is on fire! And I KNOW that any of us who made it out alive are here to hand that key to someone else. I’ve been given a whole lot of keys, and I’m so happy that I get to return the favor.

I’m on a soul vacation today. Come on in! The water’s fine.

Drops of Jupiter

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s time to change, hey, hey
Since the return of her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey
Hey, hey
But tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me, did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?
Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey, yeah
Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane, told a story about a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land
But tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there
Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you’re wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance
Five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me
But tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?
And tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
And tell me, did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself
Na-na, na-na, na-na
Na-na, na-na, na-na
And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
And did you fall from a shooting star, fall from a shooting star?
And are you lonely looking for yourself out there?

Tomorrow I’m Going to Get My Sh*t Together

procrastination-01-620x330

I was just sitting around this morning, procrastinating, when an article on procrastination showed up in my inbox. Wow! First off, I got to meet Mo Issa, who describes himself as spiritually human. I want to be this guy when I grow up. He’s amazing!

Second, his article really hit home. And I’m talking about procrastinating with your life’s work, not about doing the laundry. Here’s a quote:

“In the English dictionary, procrastination is defined as the act of delaying or postponing a task. Put another way, it’s self-sabotage. We place obstacles in our path to avoid the work at hand.”

I did this for years and years through drinking. Your entire life can be put on hold if you’re living buzzed. I could make great plans while drinking. I could even start big projects. I just couldn’t see them through.

This article is well worth the read:

Procrastination is Real, But We Have 3 Ways to Fight It.

A Drinking Story

saltrivertubing05_1500-58f562d15f9b581d59f61d38

What’s Your Story?

Mine runs something like this: I had a great childhood, though I grew into an anxious adolescent. By high school, I was pretty much OK. Going to college, however — that place of higher learning — changed that.

I hadn’t experienced much of the drinking culture in my small hometown. Instead, I jogged and played tennis and painted and went to movies. I was shocked at first, and then gradually drawn in to the almost nightly ritual of going out. The habit of drinking instead of doing other things was formed here, as was the feeling of being truly lost. The two went together, although I couldn’t see it at the time.

If life can be described as navigating a river, then I started to hit the occasional rapid. Sometimes it was exhilarating — flailing about in the raft, trying to get myself back into the flow of the river, and sometimes it was scary, not knowing what might happen next. Sometimes, without warning, I was thrown from the raft completely. Then life became more like survival.

Still, for most of the journey, I traveled with everyone else on the river, especially with other fun people with floating coolers. You can go a lot of places with these people. You can tie your raft to theirs. You can ride the rapids together. You can befriend them, marry them, and have children together. Then you won’t feel so alone — so afraid when the next rapid hits.

So the end of the story goes like this: I went in way over my head eventually, and began to experience some near-drownings. But as is the nature of addiction, I was less afraid of the dark swirling water when I had alcohol flowing through my veins. Soon, I had to drink during the calm parts of the river, just to anesthetize myself from the stress of being out of control. I was no longer sure where I was headed. Part of me didn’t care.

But as luck would have it, I began to link the rough waters and terror and loss of control with the alcohol itself, and not the river. I began to see what a mind-game the whole thing was — drinking to prevent or survive the effects of drinking. I recognized this, and could talk a good game about why I needed to quit. But I didn’t quit for long.

After decades of living like this, slowly making my way downstream, I could see the foreshadowing of how one might die while drinking on the river. It would happen sooner or later, either by declining health or by being flung one last time into the cold, rushing water. And on some deep level — one that barely registered in my wine-addled brain — I knew the choice of how the story ended was mine.

A Mindful Relapse

cosmopolitan-cocktail

In February of 2016, after a promising 8-day start on my new blog and new sobriety, I decided to drink. (Or relapse, as they say. But is it really a relapse when it happens every other day?)

Anyway, I had been doing these mindfulness meditations, where you observe your own thoughts, and I had a brilliant idea. I would relapse, but I would do it MINDFULLY. I would turn this relapse into a learning experience. This thought gave me permission to drink (or course). But it also gave me a sense of purpose: I saw myself as a sort of spy, going under cover in the murky world of addiction for the betterment of mankind.

But also, I really did want to witness the mind-boggling process that had knocked me off my feet over and over again, despite my pledges and promises and resolutions. How did this one slippery little decision keep sneaking past me? Because once I made the decision to drink, nothing could stop me.

Here’s what I learned:

The decision to drink always begins with a thought. And it will seem like an innocent one.

The day of my relapse, as I was sitting at home, minding my own business, this thought came to me: My husband doesn’t seem like he’s having much fun lately. He’s been a little stressed out.

And that was it. That was the first thought. And that thought led me to thinking about how I could help him. I would call him to meet for lunch, just like in the old days. He’d be so happy!

The first thought is often disguised as you helping someone you love. Because you’re a good person and you want to help people. (How cunning is that!)

So I call my husband and arrange to meet him in an hour. I have not yet thought about drinking. But I begin to romanticize the setting. This little lunch outing will be fun! Just like when we were dating. It will lift his spirits.

And that was the second thought. My second thought romanticized the past. Because I begin to savor the idea of a lazy Saturday afternoon … the cozy booth lit with candles … the happy server bringing us drinks.

Drinks … how did that thought sneak in?

As I look at the scene in my mind, there’s a frosted glass. And just the sight of that glass has me imagining the icy taste of that drink.

And just like that, the decision is made in an instant so quick that I hardly notice it. I can’t pinpoint it. I’m not even sure I made it all. But someone did, because now the idea that I will drink is a given.

I don’t question this decision. (We don’t want affairs of the heart exposed to scrutiny.) In fact, the decision takes me out of the present moment. I have already projected myself into the future, where that drink is waiting for me. It’s only in the present moment that  the decision can still be undone. But I am no longer there. This is the opposite of mindfullness.

I am already tasting that sweet elixir, feeling the cold of that frosted glass against my lips. In my mind, that golden liquid is seeping into my veins, easing my worries, joining me in the intimate bonds forged by drink.

I am already gone.

I notice the momentary tug of my conscience. You were doing so well! You don’t have to do this. You know it’s not going to end well. But I rationalize the decision to drink by promising future sobriety. I begin to bargain: True — I was doing well, but I can start back tomorrow. February 1st. It has a nice ring to it … a dry February!

I don’t really believe this, but it’s too late now. The drinking voice and I are co-conspirators. I banish all thoughts about stopping, because the decision has been made, and I don’t want to question it too closely because I want that drink badly.

And I don’t want to see that the decision is a betrayal. Deep down, I know it is. But like any under-handed deal, it has to stay behind closed doors. Money has changed hands, and I’ve been bought and sold, though I’m not even in the restaurant yet. A deal has been struck, but I’m almost unaware of it. In that instant, I collude with the drinking voice to cover it up.

At the 3 am witching hour, I’m sick and hung-over and filled with regret. Enter shame. Only then do I acknowledge that I’ve made another deal with the devil himself.

The Good News:

Isolating that first thought was the beginning of taking its power away. I learned to isolate the first thought, and then the next, and then watch them fall like dominoes. That day, it occurred to me that if I watch for the first thought, and question it, and then unmask it, I might finally learn to think for myself.