New Year, New Resolutions

So, I love New Year resolutions. It is probably for the same reason I can really enjoy a good self-help book. I love the idea of flipping a switch somewhere in my mind, and suddenly making a change that greatly improves my life. Of course, it doesn’t really work this way. While the final decision to change can be made in an instant, the follow-through takes real work and a serious commitment. I usually start to talk myself out of it after a few days or weeks and settle back into my old, comfortable ways.

With alcohol, though, it has been different. I started with 30 days, with the goal of seeing what 100 days of sobriety would be like. I started this blog, and reached out to others trying the same thing. I joined this wonderful, supportive community to keep myself accountable. And, even though I decided to experiment with drinking a few times during the past year, I had fundamentally changed the way I see alcohol. I preferred not drinking, and for the first time, I didn’t just start drinking again daily. Why this time? I really think it was abstaining for a long enough period of time to know that I liked sobriety better and to see how slippery the slope was. Now, I am at 146 days without booze, and I can see the benefits of not drinking even more clearly. The longer I go, the more I see.

I’ve tried a few times since then to tackle the other things in my life that I feel are standing in the way of truly improving my health, but I haven’t been as successful. I think the key may be, like with alcohol, choosing a specific period of time to “experiment” with something that is long enough to feel a change but not so long that you give up. I know that I’m not going to just up and change forever my bad habits. I’m not trying to never fall down. I just want to be able to get back up again.

In November, I made it most of the month doing yoga every day. I only stopped because I injured myself. The 20 days or so I did in a row were good, but not enough, to make me keep going. In January, I’m committing to a whole 30 days of yoga, with an eye toward 100 days. Just like with alcohol. Earlier today, I was reading this post by my friend JS at Life Sipping Away: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/107557978/posts/3103365261, and I was happy to see that she will also be doing 30 days of yoga in January. Maybe others will join us!

I am also going to do two more things in January: I am going to cut the added sugar out of my diet and tackle one item a day on my “to do” list. I recently made a very long list of things I want or need to take care of. It feels very daunting, but I think if I just commit to one thing per day, I can do it. The sugar thing is just because I need a break from sugar. There’s been way too much of it recently. You can probably relate. 🙂

So, that’s it. My list of resolutions. Not for the year, but for January. Yoga every day, no added sugar, and cross one item off my list every day.

Wishing you all much love and a very happy new year!

xoxo

Leafy

Cozy Sober Christmas

Surprisingly, this has been one of the best Christmases ever. It has been only the three of us, but it has been really fantastic. We have just been hanging out, no agenda, playing video games, reading, doing activity books. No pressure to do anything in particular. It’s raining outside, I have a pork roast in the oven, potatoes roasting in the fat, some creamed spinach with homemade fried onions on top waiting to go in, and a chocolate peppermint cake for after. Bliss. No booze required.

We were spared the decision of whether to have Christmas with the neighbors after my friend’s trip to see her mother in another city. Unfortunately, my neighbor had something risky COVID-wise happen on the way home, and it was obvious that we shouldn’t hang out with them until they quarantine and/or get a negative test. Hopefully all will be fine. As long as they don’t get sick, it’s only a little time apart in the grand scheme of things. Things are getting more and more scary every day where I live so we aren’t going to take any chances.

Wishing you all calm, peaceful, and safe holidays. With much love.

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf

The Bubble

WARNING! RANT AHEAD!

Where I live, we are officially in lockdown again – no outings unless it is for an essential errand like the grocery store, no gatherings with anyone outside of your household, and no unessential travel. Anyone coming into our county has to strictly quarantine in their house or hotel for 10 days – no trips to the grocery store, even. This sucks, but it is for an excellent reason. For the first time during the pandemic, our hospitals are on the very precipice of being overrun by the coronavirus. We have very few ICU beds left, and the doctors and nurses are exhausted. Because I live with a chronic cancerous condition, I am glad that our region is taking the risks so seriously. I really don’t want to land in the ICU at this moment, especially since a vaccine will likely be available to me sometime in the next few months.

Despite our region’s early compliance with coronavirus restrictions, many now seem to just not care as much. I guess we are all tired of it, but now is not the time to let down our guard! Of the 6 people on my team at work, 4 of them are traveling to another region during the holiday, a region that has itself banned all incoming vacationing because so many people are flooding the area from outside. And a 5th said she was going to go after hearing about the other 4’s plans. Is it any wonder that our curve is still rising, no sign of flattening in sight, given that people are so fucking selfish that they think only of their own short-term happiness? Everyone thinks they are being safe enough, but clearly, many are not nearly as safe as they think.

At least, I work remotely and will not interact with my team in person until a vaccine is available. What does one do, though, when someone in your household bubble doesn’t seem to give a shit about following the guidelines strictly? We are two families that live in one house and have been functioning as one household during this whole pandemic. This has saved our sanity and allowed our children to have, at least, each other to play with. They have asthma, and one is a cancer survivor, so they feel at risk, too. We have agreed-upon rules of conduct, but one of the four adults just isn’t as careful as the rest of us, especially since the general population seems to have thrown in the towel. And, now, she decided – against the wishes of all of the rest of us – to drive to another city to see her mother before Christmas. Now, I know that her mother is also extremely careful as well, but I just don’t really feel comfortable with that. And, now I am in the position of having to decide if we are going to all still have Christmas together when she returns, or if we are going to have to quarantine them, including my daughter’s only playmate. And my friend’s response, when I told her how I feel, was that “she really wanted us to all have Christmas together, but if we can’t, we can’t.” My feelings are really hurt, but I suppose it is even harder for her wife (who also was ignored when she said she didn’t feel comfortable with the trip).

Aaarrgh! Well, at least I have a clear head and can think about the situation without the scary funhouse mirror perspective of alcohol. That’s the rational side of me. The other side wants to say “fuck it” and use this as an excuse to drink and not worry about it for a while. But I won’t. I have enough time invested, now, to know that the rational side is the one to listen to.

OK. Rant over. If you made it this far, thanks for listening.

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf

Mommy Doesn’t Need a Cocktail

I had a really rough last month. I was completely underwater with a work project, and I think I went at least three weeks with only one day off. It was hideous, but it is done now. I’m so relieved, and I can now take it a little easy going into the holidays.

I’m still sober, but I will tell you that I was pretty tempted to have a fishbowl-sized glass of wine after I finished my project. I didn’t do it, but, wow, was I was tempted! For like 5 minutes. The thing is that, generally, I am really not thinking much about drinking these days. Just a little bit, here and there. It is pretty comfortable for me right now, and I’m eyeing that one-year goal. So, even though I was all of a sudden feeling tempted, it wasn’t that hard to say “no.” And, of course, I’m glad I did. I may someday decide to experiment with booze again, or I may not. But right now, sobriety feels good, and I’m going with it. And, at 128 days, this is the longest I have ever gone without a drink as an adult outside of pregnancy.

One of the nicest things about not drinking is how I know I can be there for my daughter if she needs me. Another blogger posted the other day on this topic, and it made me start thinking about my own mom. My mom was a big wine drinker who considers herself an alcoholic and got sober (with AA) when I was around my daughter’s age. Like me, she wasn’t a black-out drunk, and she always went to work and paid the bills on time. And, she was actually always there for me when I needed her. BUT there were some choices she made (mostly around relationships) that weren’t great for me. And I ended up choosing to live with my dad and my stepmom after one particularly unstable year.

I think she controlled her drinking around me most of the time because I don’t have many memories of her drunk, but there is one incident that I remember from my early childhood where she was enraged and ended up spanking me, the only time she ever did. She must have been drunk that night. It is the only thing that makes sense to me to explain why she behaved that way that night. This incident was completely out of character for her, and obviously it made a big impression on me since I remember it all of these years later.

I have never hit my daughter in anger, but there were many nights when I was very drunk in front of her. She was always fed, always in bed on time, always read to, but I can’t help but think that she must have, on some deep level, known that I wasn’t 100% capable of taking care of her during those times. I feel a lot of regret about that. Obviously, I’m glad I’m not doing that any more. Even more than that, though, sobriety leads to being fully present with her much more often. Which is amazing.

I’m really looking forward to my sober Christmas this year, with a cozy mug of something yummy, snuggly in pajamas, and lots of love.

With much love and support to all of you!

xoxo

Ms. New Leaf (AKA Leafy)

Day 100 (Again)

I don’t have a lot of time today, so this will be quick. I did, however, want to celebrate making it to day 100 in this second adventure in sobriety. I’m feeling really good about it. This time was much easier than the first time, although there were some challenging days for sure. But fewer and farther between. I think it may be because it has been nearly a year now that I have been focusing on not drinking. Even during those roughly 150 days in between when I did decide to drink sometimes, I still didn’t go back to daily drinking (even though I still drank too much on most of the days when I did drink). And I think that helped make it easier for me this time around. I know some people don’t have this experience. And the conventional wisdom is that we are back to square one when we “fall off the wagon.” Personally, I felt like I still had some sobriety momentum going and that I had learned some things the first go around. In any event, I’m happy to be sober. It’s working for me. And I’m going to keep going this time.

❤️ & 🤗

Leafy

Sugar Hangover Today

I can’t seem to get it together to post more than every couple of weeks these days. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by work and life lately, and that always makes it harder. I’m struggling through a massive sugar hangover today so this will be a short post.

I ate a ridiculous amount of Halloween candy last night, and I ALSO made a pumpkin pie (from a real pumpkin!) for the first time with real cream from the good dairy, whipped to pillowy goodness. It was delicious, but today, I feel like dog doo. When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted and my head ached like I had one too many glasses of wine last night. Ugh.

But tomorrow is a new day! And I’ve spent today trying to catch up on what all of my beautiful WordPress friends are up to. I will try to post more frequently (and with more substance) in the coming weeks. Now, though, I think I need to go eat my weight in kale and broccoli. 🙂

Sending love!

xoxo

Leafy

(Day 86 today!)

I’ve Been in the House Too Long (Again)

It’s been 71 days since I last drank wine now, and things are going well on that front. I have been in the house too long again, though. First, it was the return of the wildfire smoke for a few days, then work, then some stuff that meant taking medication that made me sleep all day, then more work, and I’m getting out for a long walk in nature this morning no matter what! It’s going to be great. I’m drinking coffee now, planing it out in my head. 😊

Oh, and we have a visit scheduled today to see my mom in person for the first time since March! We had one scheduled about a month ago, and then they canceled it because a staff member tested positive and closed down the visits. But we are back on now!

There have been a few nights where I’ve really wanted to escape my feelings with booze, but I resisted. And I’m glad I did.

I’m going to go get more coffee now, roust the family up, and go climb a tall, tall hill to a beautiful spot overlooking the city. Should be lovely!

Much love and support to all of you today!

xoxo

Leafy

Day 55 and Other Updates

Well, it has now been 55 days since the last time I decided to drink wine, and I’m feeling pretty good. The goal of quitting for an entire year is sounding better and better these days.

I have had more energy and motivation in the last couple of weeks than I’ve had in many months now. Last weekend, we started a pledge to go for a short hike every Saturday and Sunday morning (air quality permitting) and then do some cleaning and organizing projects that we have been putting off. I had been feeling especially trapped and stressed out since the wildfire smoke descended on our area. Then, after we made the decision to continue with remote school for our daughter until at least the winter break, I was really feeling crappy (our school gave us a choice to return in person, but I’m just too worried about the virus still to do that). I had one night where I was very seriously considering getting a bottle of wine, but somehow, I got through it. So, we made an effort to do some positive things to counteract those feelings, and it really made a difference. We were able to do short nature hikes both Saturday and Sunday, and I hope we can do it again this weekend. We will see. There are new wildfires burning now bringing more smoke. 😦

I’ve also started losing weight again after a long plateau at the same weight. I’m not really focused on losing weight right now, but I have been overweight for years so it is pretty exciting that the changes I am making in other areas seem to be slowly making a change in that, too. I’m exercising a tiny bit more, yes, and eating less sugar these days, but I’m pretty sure the weight loss is mostly due to not putting a bottle of wine in my belly nearly every day. Since November (when I seriously started to try not drinking, although I’ve had a few jumps of the wagon since then), I’ve lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-18 pounds without dieting or counting calories. I still have another 10 pounds to go until I am back in the “normal” rather than “overweight” category on the BMI chart, but it is serious progress!

I’m also feeling significantly less achy in my joints. This could be due to correcting my vitamin D deficiency (I think my hair has stopped falling out – hooray!), doing a little bit of yoga here and there, losing weight, or something else, but whatever it is, I’m grateful!

Things aren’t all rosy, of course, but I’m choosing to focus on these things today.

Much love and support to all of you!

xoxo

Leafy (AKA Ms. New Leaf)

I did it!

So, I did it! I celebrated my 50th birthday sober. We rented a fantastic older house in Carmel, California, full of nooks and hidden rooms and right across the street from the most lovely beach. Yes, the smoke from the fires was bad, but it was still beautiful there. We spent lots of time playing in the waves with the kids (mine and my neighbors’) or snuggled in the house, and it was great.

My neighbor didn’t complain even once about not drinking on the trip. We just had a fun, sober time together.

That’s my big news. Just a quick post today. Sending much love!

xoxo

Leafy

Red Sky in the Morning …

I woke up this morning to a reddish/orange hellscape of a sky. Right now, it is 8:13 in the morning, and I am sitting here in my unusually darkened room looking out at a thick blanket of orange clouds outside my window. We have had red sunrises for many days recently, but this orange sky is new.

It is the fires, of course, burning all over my state and, now, neighboring states. Apparently, smoke particles in the air can make the sky appear reddish or orange. The air quality isn’t even that terrible right now, but it really looks like the end of the world out there.

Except for the smoky air, we are OK in my city. It is unlikely that wildfires will burn my house down. My parents, however, live in the woods in a neighboring state, and they are not so lucky. They are sitting in a hotel with their two cats right now, waiting to hear if their house is still standing. Crazy stuff.

Anyway … I have been insanely busy with work lately so I haven’t been able to get on WordPress as much as I would like. I have to get back to it as I have a project due (end of the world or not!) today, but I wanted to hop on and say that I’m still sober. I told my friend that I am really NOT drinking on my birthday weekend. She did her complaining, disappointed thing, but I think she heard me. Regardless, I am resolved. So, I will enter my 50s with a clear head, looking positively toward the future, and sober. Hopefully, fire will not upend our beach getaway plans.

Sending much love and support to all of you.

xoxo

Leafy