Check in

Hi friends.

I keep meaning to write and then all that comes out is a sort of sad, slow whine about travelling too much and feeling like an outsider in my home town…

So I keep breathing, and doing, and remembering what I was up to in May before the evacuation. And things slowly start to feel less disjointed.

I am currently in vegas at psycho Las Vegas. Metal. Alice Cooper and blue oyster cult are headliners, but there are lots of randomn bands. Lots of tattoos and black clothes and head bangers. Lol. Craig and I met some others at the pool party last night and shared a cabana. They were varying stages of completely wasted, but we had fun. 

We are here for 6 days. I am embracing it as my rest. I have purged the house and the garage. I have given bags of clothing and household goods away to people who lost everything. I have restarted teaching yoga. I have resumed my life.

I see others around who did not fare well during the evacuation. Drinkers who slide further into problems. Sober friends who relapsed. All trying to find out how to create a new normal. Without destroying themselves with shame and regret.

It is a heart wrenching thing. And it reinforces my belief in sobriety as the best choice for anyone. We all have stress and trauma. It’s hard to know how each of us will deal with it. But sober provides the foundation to keep moving. Or to start rebuilding. Because I today is the perfect day to begin to live again, especially if you have found yourself floundering.

I’m going to get another tattoo! Because…Vegas!

Stillness and Peace

Anne

Making space 

One thing I have always wanted to do since I got sober was to purge the house.

2 kids, disposable income, feeling like an inadequate parent because I drank too much = way too much stuff.

In early sobriety it stressed me out that the house was so cluttered, but every time I tried to start I was overwhelmed. This was a big job. So, instead, I decided to let it go. Messy play took, whatever. Closet crammed full, humph. Nothing for me to change. 

Then last year I read the Kon Mari book and cleaned out my closets. It was a good start. I liked the clothes that were left. It was easier. I probably still kept too much, but it was a start.

Then may came and the fire. Evacuated for almost 3 months with one bag of very randomn clothes (tee shirts, no underwear, etc). I just never expected to walk out the door that day and not return for so long…

While we were away I bought the minimum. 3 sets of yoga clothes. 6 work outfits. Jeans. And we lived in an unfurnished condo with the bare essentials – one pot, frying pan, etc. While there  I cooked a turkey and made homemade soup. I didn’t need a million tools.

So. We came back to the mess. Thankful, and with new eyes. I decided that it was time the playing room be transformed into a yoga room. The kids don’t play any longer, and it was my turn for the space. Plus, there were closets to empty, cupboards to clean, the garage to purge…

At some point i started to see this compulsion to clean was a bit of anxious avoidance. By purging, I didn’t have to leave home….and I could be safe. On Saturday night I had a little breakdown, accused craig of not helping and cried. He told me I was doing too much, and needed to eat. I cried again. Unwilling to let me stomp off in anger, he drove us to the dump with a load to dispose and I saw the reality. The city is different. And I cried more. I saw the real extent of the destruction inthe city. Thousands of homes. Destroyed beyond recognition. It was heartbreaking. And freeing. I know I can’t be home without mourning the loss of what was. Even if what is is good. Change hurts.

I had to continue what I started. I ate and slept and the next day I continued purging, giving anything and everything away that might be used by someone else. We do not need 10 knives, wine glasses or clothes that don’t fit. Even if they are still new with tags. It became a way to help myself and others. 

And now I have my yoga room. It is lovely. I have practiced on my own in the mornings and it is just what is need. A fresh spot to continue the healing. And to celebrate the life I have.

Stillness and peace

Anne

I wish I had a before picture. Imagine this room completely full of toys in boxes and bins.

Going home

I am home. 

I struggled badly last week as we prepared to leave calgary. I had created a nice, familiar bubble there. I had lovely yoga community. I could walk to work. I had met some new friends. I was so enjoying the amenities of living downtown in a big city. I felt safe, and far away from fires and destruction. 

Every time I thought about leaving I cried. Tears that felt like loss, but were really fear of change, and sadness for having to leave some wonderful people. It scared me, I don’t cry a lot, but I reached out for support from my sober warriors and my therapist and I knew I would be ok.it is ok to miss people and places. It is ok to cry. Just keep taking the next step.

As much as I wanted to stay and avoid more change, we needed to go back. The kids desperately missed their friends. Work wanted me back In my usual office. Our house wasempty.

I considered not leaving for another month. But I took a deep breath and looked around and really saw the truth of our situation in calgary – I was living on a mattress in a beautiful condo that isn’t mine. This wasn’t a permanent solution. I hadn’t chosen to move. I had just ended up there.

At the same time, I had created all the supports I need to be secure and happy during a time of real distress and I realized that isn’t because of where I am, it’s because of me. I know what I need.

So we packed up all our stuff and drove half way to Edmonton. Spent a couple days with old friends checking out the science centre, playing Pokemon go (I’m level 13!) and seeing Chris Cornell in concert. It was mellow – he sings his Soundgarden and Audioslave songs, but in a acoustic format with a cello accompanying. It was lovely.

And then on Sunday we drove home. 

There is evidence of the big fire, but, more, there is bright green regrowth. This is the natural life cycle of the boreal forest.

And our house. After the initial shock of its cluttered messiness (all normal) I settled in. I was home. 

My son told me yesterday that Sunday night was the best sleep he had had since we left. My daughter told me she was not leaving her room for a day, she was surrounding herself with her favourite toys, etc. Hearing their happiness to be home filled my heart.

I feel like today is may 4 and the past few months were a dream. It’s odd, but not as disorienting as it sounds. I expect it will take a bit for that to fade.

Since May 3 there have been many times that I railed against the situation and cried why me? Why us? Life was nice before. Why did this have to happen?

There is no why. It just is. And accepting that is part of my liberation from suffering.

Like getting sober, or dealing with depression, or losing a loved one, or a flooded basement, or start bucks getting your order wrong, this was another opportunity to get to know myself better and to grow. 

Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts, prayers and love. Knowing you were with me gave me unending strength.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Too good to continue

Our streak of awesome concerts had to end. Lol

And it ended with a huge groan last night.

We went to see House of Pain. Of the “jump around” fame. They were playing for stampede week at Cowboys bar. Needless to say, outside of live music, neither craig nor I have much reason to go to a bar. Especially a bar during stampede week, where the city dons boots and belt buckles and drinks excessively, perhaps acting a bit like dressing up means they are able to be the asshole they always wish they could be.

Anyway. Doors opened at 7. We got there around 9:30 after doing a bit of gambling. Had a red bull. Waited.

And waited and waited and waited. Surrounded by shooter swilling, drunken pretend Cowboys dancing to hip hop. Perhaps this is one of the levels of hell…

At MIDNIGHT house of pain finally played. They are old, out of shape and seemed drunk- one had a big glass of beer (whiskey)? On stage. The whole time.

We lasted through top of the morning to you and a few other “treats” and hit the road. I only have so much endurance and patience and that was it.

HOP appears to have a complete lack of respect for their fans, who paid to see this disaster.

Fo me, the bar scene is just not it. I’m too old, to sober and much to unimpressed with girls staggering around and guys pushing and shoving.

Hours in that situation were painful. I left and sat outside at one point. I ate a granola bar. I hid in a quiet washroom. ​ 

Today I am taking it easy. Even after 2 1/2 years of sobriety loud, beer fuelled bar crowds are just too tiring and draining.

I never had any urge to drink,but I also felt completely out of my element.

Lesson learned.

Ice Cube and Flo Rida are up next….fingers crossed.

Stillness and peace

Anne 

Blink 182 Twice!

Sober rock saga continues.

Saturday we drove 3 hours to see blink 182. We had VIP tickets and got to meet and talk to the band! They were great…in a, touring is tiring and not glamorous way. It makes me appreciate the show that they put on even more!

Because Saturday was SO AMAZING we decided to see them last night in Calgary. Instead of VIP it was general admission in the beer fuelled Cowboys tent. It is stampede week here. So bans are playing in an enormous tent set up in a parking lot. Think a thousand drunks wearing cowboy boots and spilling beer.

Yes, it was a gong show. Crowd surfing and fights. And I loved every minute of the show! Not for one second did I wish I was one of the drunk girls in line for the port a potties or staggering around! 

Tonight we see House of Pain….

Stillness and peace

Anne

Moderation Mirage?

I read that on Sober Mommy’s blog and it made me think.

I see many blogger out there who are nearing the 100 day mark and are contemplating moderation, or, perhaps, a few drinks on vacation and then back to sobriety.

I have no sage advice. I have not tried moderation or vacation drinking after a stretch of sobriety. I thought about it, probably at the same 3-4 months. 

I wondered at that time if now that I had dealt with my underlying depression, and had become mindful and clearer, and was living purposefully, if I could drink “safely”.

I looked for bloggers with similar stories who shared their experiences, hoping to learn form them. Yet there were none. No bloggers who had found life in sobriety found freedom in moderate drinking. They either returned to the old, complicated, obsessive drinking, or they disappeared…which I assume means the same thing.

So…I weighed my options, which I did back then and continue to do on a regular basis. After all, if 100 days cures alcohol addiction, shouldn’t almost 1000?

So

I can remain sober, free, happy, still dealing with mental health issues, etc, but feeling like I am living a life of purpose and reason. A life that has allowed me to teach yoga and write a book. A life full of ups and downs, traumatic experiences and unexpected events, but that I try to roll with from my solid, sober centre.  A life where I forgo alcohol, never knowing if that is ABSOLUTELY necessary…

Or. I can try drinking. I can have some wine. I can try the new tequila. Maybe it would be ok. Maybe I would be the exception to the rule. But maybe I won’t be, and with this choice I may offer up my happiness, my mental stability, my self worth, my ability to handle change and my stillness and peace. All  for a few hours of uninhibited numbness.

When I weigh the options it is pretty clear which wins. The bookstores are full of books on how to find happiness. I have happiness. I’m not willing to risk it for some rotten grapes.

Choose. But choose wisely. Life is too short to spend it sitting on the couch with a glass in my hand, wondering where I went wrong. I tried that already. It sucked.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Hypnotherapy – a woo woo post

So…I have suffered from anxiety all my life. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until I got sober, but I have been plagued with phobias and panic off an on for as long as I can remember.

In my final drinking days it almost took me down. I was wound up so tight I couldn’t breathe. Any self medicating I was doing with alcohol had stopped working. But I was trapped in the compulsion of alcohol abuse. It was horrible.

Since I got sober I have made many efforts to deal with my chronic anxiety. I take medication. I meditate and practice yoga daily. I fully embrace the yogic path. I follow my gluten free diet as I am celiac. I try to balance stress, obligations and fun. I love my life. I am happy.

But still that heavy ball sat in my abdomen. Its grip was not quite as tight as before, but it was always there, waiting to grow during times of stress, but also if I didn’t eat enough, if I was flustered, if I was embarrassed.

So- I found a dr who uses hypnotherapy to deal with reducing the underlying cause of the anxiety. She take you back to when you first experience anxiety, and attempts to release the underlying beliefs held in the subconscious.

I wasn’t sure how much I believed in this, but I was willing to try.

Using a calm and comfortable relaxation we moved back through my life. Odd memeories of times I felt blamed and full of anxiety. All the way back to being a baby and being Scared to cry for fear of upsetting anyone….

And beyond. To two ancient lives, during which I was trying to help others, trying to change this, and failing.

This intense sense of failure felt like my anxiety. And with her guidance I was able to let it go…to leave it with the past where it belonged. To stop feeling like I had failed. That everything bad that happens is my fault.

It sounds odd. I know. It was unexpected. She did not suggest anything…it just came. And since that day I feel lighter. I feel freer. The ball in my chest is no longer black and sticky.

Whatever happened, it has brought me a sense of peace I have never known. 

I go again on Thursday. It is a Two session therapy. I’m excited!

Ps- when I came to yoga it was like coming home. It was familiar. I know it all in my heart. 

one of the lives I found was in India. Or I think it was. It all makes sense.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Meditation and yoga. A rambling post…

I spent the weekend at a retreat led by the amazing Sarah and Ty Powers. Sarah is one of the founding yin teachers, and both her and her husband are Buddhists, and they merge Buddhist meditation with yoga. They are unbelievably amazing and inspiring and kind.

The retreat had me fly to BC and then drive 2 hours on my own. That alone is big for me. I never used to like driving…but I drove through a fire and my perspective has changed. I can do hard things. THis wasn’t hard.

Anyway. We spent Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday exploring the ideas of chi, cleansing breath, stillness meditation, relaxation and physical practice. I have never spent so much time I’m silent, sitting meditation, and I loved it.

During one of the earlier meditations we were encouraged to ask who was sitting. I allowed the though to come and I freaked out. Inside I found a scared and sad version of me, a me that was tired and scared and really wanted someone to hold me and tell me things are going to be ok. All the thoughts and fears of the past 6 weeks flooded in. Perhaps without my children around I was able to let go of the armour and be frightened.

It really shook me. I cried. It felt very relieving, but dragged down. It was hard.

 We followed the meditation with a physical practice, but I couldn’t get out of the poor me mindset. It was like my whole body was suddenly so heavy and tired. I wanted to go home.

After we were done I found Sarah and Ty and told them how I felt. They were very helpful, and encouraged me to make a plan to see my therapist when I got home, and to make a deal with myself that I would investigate and allow these thoughts their space. But that maybe in the mean time I could reassure my self I would be ok.

Later that day we performed the same meditation. This time I could still feel that sad and scared me, but I wrapped her up in a blanket and told her we would make sure she was cares for, but that we were going to find a way to explore today. I wouldn’t forget her.

It worked. I was able to find myself back in my mindful day. To find some of my inner stillness. And I will see my therapist tomorrow.

These are big things for me. I really struggle with identifying my emotions. It felt like a release. A bit of a letting go. A cracking open of a door I am sacred to look behind.

I didn’t know anyone at the retreat. Of course, everyone I met asked me about the fire, my house, etc. I think part of this experience was just a bit of rebound. At one point I thought, I wish my house had burnt down, then I would be deserving of sympathy.

That’s crazy. I don’t wish that, as many of my dear friends have lost their homes and it is devastating, but I am deserving of kindness and support, like everyone else. Why is it so hard to believe I am worthy of compassion? Or allowed to be weak?

Lots of thoughts this weekend. And I still go back to the realization that sobriety has been the launching pad from where I live. It was the decision to choose life over enduring that has given me the opportunity to find enlightenment. To be able to feel that stillness and know everything is as it should be. Even if it sucks.

As an aside, I though about becoming a Buddhist a lot and this weekend made me think about it again. But it takes a lot of time and work. Instead, I have found my own inner stillness and peace in my own way. I am already free. And yet still human. I guess that’s how it goes!

Stillness and peace

Anne