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 routing?

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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Merry B Sober FOUR months

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I can’t believe the calendar has flown by another month.

As I write, I am trying not to feel extreme guilt for not being active in this blog community.  You all gave me so much support and a feeling of “belonging” for my first 60+ days… now as I move toward this new “norm” in my life…I can’t help but feel torn between staying connected to this blog, and just simply living …sober.

It hasn’t been a “bite your nails” type of month.  I am still secure in my “never again” evolution.  I certainly have had adventures that in my Past Habit Haze would have fully justified thousands of cocktails.

My 15 Year Old Freshman asked to be homeschooled.  We are on Week 4.  It has been a challenge to balance “his idea” of school, with my Masters in Education degree.  I always considered myself a maverick-outside the box type of educator…but this has been a stretch in my belief and values.  As a Life Long Learner I can only say..Bring it ON! {No way in hell I could have considered this path if I had not already been almost 100 days sober}

My 16 Year Old Sophomore is learning to drive.  That could drive anyone to drink (he really is actually a very good driver!)

My 18 Year Old Senior competed in a 70.3 race.  We made a weekend of it, there were cocktails, but I was so glad I could be PRESENT the night before when she needed me (which was erratic).  The old me, would have been buzzed and celebratory, and not 100% there for her.  I’m excited that I will be PRESENT for all the lead up to her leaving for college.  Being in the party rollercoaster does not make for “stable emotional responses.”

My Husband is stressed out!  (He hasn’t caught on to the wonderful world of long term sobriety.  He lasts about 2 days…Monday and Tuesday…then by Wednesday…he has night cap.)  I’m better able to not get frustrated when he is losing his noodle.

I’m in the last ten weeks of my own educational journey in Nutrition Coaching.  I feel I am at least walking the talk of a path to better health.

Jotting this all down for myself… time is flying.  (That is not to say that some days are not extremely long…and as I prepare to attend a wedding for my goddaughter this weekend – her mom is one of my long standing multi-decade party pals…I’m using all the tools in my toolbox!!!)

For any readers, know that I think of all of you often and wish you peace in your journey.

Merry

 

Merry B Sober THREE Months

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I don’t even know how many days…over 90.  I simply decided on December 6, 2017 to stop drinking on December 7, 2017.  I went through the fear of asking myself if this was going to be forever…but having been sober for 25 months a few years ago…it only took a few weeks of sobriety to know that this was a FOREVER decision for my life. I just feel to amazing to ever go back to THAT again.

I am feeling the FREEDOM that Annie Grace mentions her book: The Naked Mind: Chapter 13: The Mystery of Spontaneous Sobriety.

Not only are people who simply quit, without programs or outside help, more successful in maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol, they appear to be more at peace with and happier about their decision.  A significant portion of their time and energy is not dedicated to maintaining success.  (p. 131)

For me, I’m doing okay on my own.  I’ve found resources such as Vale and Grace’s books which have helped me to develop a better mindset and clear out some unconscious clutter about the role alcohol played in my life.  Fear was replaced with logic and common sense for me.

And the freedom!  Woohoo.  As Grace states,

Instead of sobriety becoming a daily focus with meetings, readings, and devotionals, it fades into the background allowing them to be truly free. (p. 131)

This wasn’t easy.  I put in some effort the first 60-75 days.  I blogged everyday.  I read a ton of sobriety websites and books.  I participated online with all of you readers and even started a social media presence for Merry B Sober.

But then I started to just live my life….and the hyper focus of checking on all my supports started to fade away as I shifted to focusing back on myself and my family’s needs.  (It also helped that I took my “merrybsober” gmail account off my regularly checked email feed).  I’m blending my first 90 days of tools into a lifestyle that I can live forever.

It feels really good!

I feel peaceful.

I feel free.

Book Notes: This Naked Mind by Annie Grace (Preface – Chapter 14)

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

PREFACE:

  • …realized that alcohol was only dulling my senses and keeping me trapped rather than adding to my life. (p.16)
  • …getting rid of alcohol is the easy part. The hardest part is going against groupthink…(p.16)

INTRODUCTION

  • “What if, by reversing years of unconscious conditioning, you could return to the perspective of a non-drinker?” (pg. 18 – first line of the introduction to the book!)
  • “I will show you how altering your drinking habits will not cause pain, but instead allow you to enjoy your life more than you ever thought possible.” (p.21)

1: THIS NAKED MIND: HOW AND WHY IT WORKS

  • “We’ve been conditioned to believe we enjoying drinking.  We think it enhances our social life and relieves boredom and stress”. (p. 23)
  • “Reality is uncertain and uncertainty causes fear.  We try to protect ourselves from this fear by staying inside our bubble of belief until something happens that we cannot ignore.  At that point we are forced to confront reality.” (p. 31)
  • Alcohol is addictive….Your physical response when you drink is to want more.”(p.33)

2:  THE DRINKER OR THE DRINK? PART 1: THE DRINKER

  • The Blame Game 1.0: Me…  “when we discover we are unable to control alcohol, we blame ourselves.” (p. 39)
  • The Blame Game 2.0: AA and Alcohol Allergy Theory…“The Alcoholic themselves confirm they are ‘different’ from the normal population.  So millions of ‘regular’ drinkers go through their drinking lives with no fear that they might become alcoholics.” (p. 46)
  • The Blame Game 3.0: Alcohol Genes… “not that everyone who sips alcohol is addicted, but that everyone who drinks alcohol has a chance of becoming addicted” (p. 48)
  • The End of the Blame Game: “…entertain the idea that you might not be fully in control of your drinking…when exactly did we lose control?” (p. 48)

3: THE DRINKER OF THE DRINK? PART 2: THE DRINK

  • “The Nectar of Death…Pitcher Plant [metaphor]” (p.49)
  • “…you eventually find you are drinking more than you ever set out to.” (p. 50)
  • “…like the bee in the pitcher plant, the more we struggle, the more stuck we become.” (p. 53)
  • “Losing control is different from realizing you  have lost control.” (p. 53)
  • “You can find freedom and it may be one of the most joyful experiences of your life.” (p. 55)

4: LIMINAL POINT: IS DRINKING A HABIT

  • “It is fear that keeps us drinking, and the alcohol itself creates the fear. We fear that we will never be happy…and that stopping will mean we feel unhappy – that we are missing out.” (p. 59)

5: YOU: SIMPLY NAKED

  • “Drinking is like removing the red indicator light on your immune system. ” (p. 65)
  • “We need to see that we are strong, whole, and complete.” (p. 67)

6: LIMINAL POINT: ARE WE REALLY DRINKING FOR THE TASTE?

  • “It’s remarkable how, given enough time, senses grow immune to the most unpleasant things”. (p. 71)
  • “Herd mentality makes it easier to believe or do something…” (. 72)
  • “Dehydration from drinking can actually shrink your brain and its ability to function.” (p. 73)
  • “It’s not drinking alone…that bothers us.  It’s drinking by ourselves in the company of people who are not drinking that makes us question our choice.” (p.73)

7: YOU: POLLUTED

  • “Abstinence can help reverse the negative effects…And over several months to a year structural brain changes have been shown to self-correct.” (p.82)
  • “…binge drinking raises your likelihood of having a stroke by 39%” (p. 83)
  • “…alcoholism reduces life expectancy by 10-12 years.” (p. 86)
  • “According to the most up-to-date research….there is no risk-free level of alcohol consumption.” (p. 86)

8: LIMINAL POINT: IS ALCOHOL LIQUID COURAGE?

  • “I now realize alcohol actually chipped away my confidence” (p.88)
  • “Alcohol numbs your senses and prevents you from feeling natural fear…”…”if you’ve numbed feelings of fear you cannot be courageous”. (p.88)
  • “Think about an athlete or a soldier…by removing natural apprehension, they rob themselves of important skills” (p. 89)
  • “While illegal drugs kill 327 people per week, and prescription drugs kill 442 per week, alcohol kills 1,692 people per week” (p.90)
  • “Alcohol just makes you less aware of your instincts.  In this instance alcohol makes you stupid rather than brave.” (p.91)
  • “It’s harder to go against the grain, skipping the drink and showing your children a different way, than it is to be swept along in our drinking culture.  That is courage. (p.92)

9: OH S#*%! WE’RE STUCK

  • “Marketers actually create need by speaking to your vulnerabilities”. (p. 98)
  • “Alcohol commercials promise friendship, acceptance, gratification, happiness, and youth” (p.99)
  • How to Sell Poison…”and the side effects that are never disclosed are many” (p.100)
  • “Why do we see cocaine and alcohol so differently, especially when, in the United States, alcohol kills 241 people per day and cocaine kills only fifteen per day?  Who do we glamorize the benefits of drinking?” (p. 105)
  • “Drinking has been so ingrained in our culture and upbringing that we’ve practically been trained both consciously and unconsciously to ry alcohol.” (p. 106)

10: LIMINAL POINT: DRINKING HELPS ME LOOSEN UP AND HAVE BETTER SEX

  • “When we take time to get to know someone, asking questions instead of speaking to fill the silence, the result is amazing.  It’s a gift to learn from other people.  Asking questions, listening, and learning, these things make YOU a more interesting person.” (p. 110)
  • “Losing inhibitions is dangerous in sexual interactions”.  …”when you are drunk, what seemed like a terrible idea suddenly makes sense.”  “The majority of drunk drivers don’t mean to drive drunk, but when drinking they can no longer judge how drunk they are.” (p. 110)
  • “The problem with alcohol is that once you start drinking you can’t judge the point where a little is good and a lot becomes a disaster.” (p. 111)

11: A QUEST FOR SOBRIETY

  • “When quitting is hard, it reinforces our belief that alcohol holds a great deal of power over us.” (p. 113)
  • “In fact, rats only voluntarily drink alcohol after they have been force-fed it and developed a physical addiction.” (p. 114)…. “So we work hard to develop a taste.” (p. 115)
  • “We never make a conscious decision to drink as much as we now do.  It just happens…Consuming this much was never a conscious decision.” (p. 115)
  • Key Reading: Pages 116-119
  • “Alcohol is physically addictive, and physical dependence on alcohol can occur in anyone” (p. 119) 
  • “When you stop drinking by sheer willpower, you start to see the benefits…the reasons you quit begin to fade…Humans have selective memory…You forget your misery, and the reasons you quit no long seem important…You heal, and in healing the reasons to avoid drinking lose their immediacy…You find excuses for just one, and suddenly you are back i the mental misery of alcohol addiction.”  (p. 121)
  • “When you completely change your mental (conscious or unconscious) perspective on alcohol, you begin to see the truth about drinking. When this happens, no willpower is required, and it becomes a joy not to drink.” (p. 121)

12:  LIMINAL POINT: I DRINK TO RELIEVE STRESS AND ANXIETY

  • “Glass by glass I poured stress into my life, all the while deluding myself into believing alcohol helped me relax.” 
  • “It’s not the pace that is the problem; the problem is poisoning my body and mind so that I am physically unable to keep up with the life i want to live.” (p. 124)
  • “If you are truly happy and relaxed, you have no need or desire to change your state of mind.” (p. 126)
  • …”Alcohol slows down your brain function…You literally think more slowly…Drinking creates a compulsive need for alcohol, but you don’t actually receive any enjoyment from it.” (p. 127)

13: THE MYSTERY OF SPONTANEOUS SOBRIETY

  • “And the secret to spontaneous sobriety has everything to do with reconciling the internal conflict caused by your desire to quit drinking and your fear of missing out.” (p. 130)
  • “Instead of sobriety becoming a daily focus with meetings, readings, and devotionals, it fades into the background, allowing them to be truly free. (p. 131)
  • “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the physical consumption that destroys our lives but the internal conflict and our determination to fix it while retaining an unconscious belief that the drug is somehow vital to our lifestyle.” (p. 135)
  • “Conflict causes pain, which explains why we are, by nature, adverse to conflict.  …I lost trust in myself”… “I didn’t know who I was; I lost myself….there are few benefits to drinking.” (p. 137)

14: LIMINAL POINT: I ENJOY DRINKING IT MAKES ME HAPPY

  • “That initial tipsy feeling passes, it won’t come back in quite the same way, no matter how much you drink.” (p. 141)
  • “Wouldn’t it make sense that if a little alcohol made us a little happy, a lot of alcohol would make us a lot of happy?” (p. 142)
  • “There are a million reasons why I am happier now…I feel comfortable and confident in my own skin” (p. 143)
  • “If you believe you can’t party or hang out with friends without a drink, you won’t be able to.  Drinking has frayed your nerves, and you are less prepared to deal with the reason you began to drink to begin with.” (p. 144)
  • “If you feel you need alcohol to make you happy, relax you, or help you enjoy your evening, you are already in trouble.” (p. 145)

 

What if…? asks Annie Grace

what-if
michelewoodward.com

I started “my” February book. This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life by Annie Grace   (Book Notes in draft stage)

I am going to declare myself Annie’s number one fan…at least on February 13, 2017. I am gobbling up everything I can find about the background of this book.  It is fantastic!

I spent today listening to an amazing recording on Home Podcast – Episode 26: Annie Grace.  During the episode there is a brief mention of ….

RETURNING TO A STATE OF NON-DRINKER

After the podcast, I googled annie grace returning to a state of non-drinker and clicked open a great review of the book which reminded me that the first line of  Annie’s Introduction is:

What if, by reversing years of unconscious conditioning, you could return to the perspective of a non-drinker? (Grace, p18)

This all really got me thinking back to when I started drinking and what are things I remember in youth that did not have any alcohol involved?  Did I do anything in high school, college, or early adulthood that didn’t have liquor as part of the event? Was every developmental landmark of early adulthood pickled with juice??? (Folding laundry provides a lot of think time and I was at least pleased I could come up with some alcohol-free moments)

Since my brain usually does such an amazing job of remembering every embarrassing, humiliating, shameful, drunken mishap (that wasn’t wiped out in a blackout haze) – I’m going to remind myself of some more positive highlights before age 20.

{Why that age? I think that is really when the wheels started coming off the WAGON….Really says the 53 old mother of three to herself…Honestly…it was probably senior year of high school at age 17 that control was slipping…It has taken 35 years to figure this out}  Merry reflects on all of this with kindness and compassion to herself!

Good Sober Stuff

  • Swimming in the ocean for hours on end with feelings of relaxation and exhilaration
  • Competing in various athletic events and embracing the butterflies and nervous energy
  • High School dances AND proms (not all of them…but some of them sober from start to finish)
  • Summer Camp and all the adrenaline firsts of riding a motorcycle, repelling backward off a mountain edge, jet skiing, running a horse across a field
  • Sorority Rush (it was the Frat parties that “conditioned” my tolerance levels)
  • Bonding with Roommates (we weren’t always partying)
  • Work (it wasn’t until post college that drinking became a networking requirement)
  • Arts, Music, Crafts, Sewing…being creative
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Dating, First Kisses, Break Ups and Heartache (then there were the drunk episodes in this topic…Sober = No Regrets vs. Drunk = Many Regrets)
  • Movies – Double Features
  • Miniature Golf, Bowling, Go-Cart Racing, Chinese Fire Drills, Driving around Town
  • Slumber parties, High School Sports Games (at least until Senior Year of HS)

As I look back at this list, it is full of emotion.  The type of feelings that I used to use alcohol to dim and numb and squash.  Friendships were fierce and intense in junior high and early high school.  The horizon for independence and freedom was in sight…exciting, yet scary.

Was I bored? Scared? I truly don’t think I knew what was sneaking up on me...(but wondering all of those things is for another day.)

For now…

I’m actually experiencing a feeling of giddiness as I realize I can get back to having

….a perspective of a non-drinker!  

Thanks Annie!

 

 

 

Snow Moon

sturgeon-moon

I’ve been in the technology trenches today.  And since I can’t leave my computer “cave” to get some sunlight (it’s dark out already)…I will have to settle for full moon glow.  Plus tonight is that part of that special weekend with a lunar eclipse and comet.  Check it out at Space.com

But before I pop out for a late night star gazing…a few reflections:

For the past few months (um…maybe years) I have been a social media lurker.  I’d go on…then off…I think it was a self-esteem issue for me.  I got stuck in the NOT ENOUGH abyss.  And then there was our election…

A couple weeks ago, I shifted how I was going to use my personal social media.  Then today, I decided that Merry B Sober needed to become part of it all.

This post will be my experiment to see if it is all connected.  Wish me luck…I’m feeling like an astronaut… 3….2….1…..  Blast off.

Merry B Sober FACEBOOK PAGE

Merry B Sober PROFILE PAGE

@merryBsober TWITTER

Merry B Sober INSTAGRAM