Milestone – 3 years 

Just writing that seems outrageous. 3 years? 3 years since I finally decided enough was enough? 

I never expected that on December 1, 2013. I just knew I neede a change and that all my other attempts to fix myself -extreme diets, excessive exercise plans, rules and lists and criticism and repercussions-had stoped working. I was so lost and lonely and sad…and very very scared of myself as my behaviour around alcohol had become sneaky and compulsive.

Deciding to give myself a year of sobriety for my birthday (which is December 8) seemed like a last ditch plan. Could I make a promise to myself and keep it? It seemed unlikely, as I had been lying to myself for a while. And that lying was crushing my soul.

But I did. I heard the inner voice that begged me to take care of myself. And so, unlike all the other times I proclaimed I would cut back and drink less, I asked for help.

I called a therapist. I cleaned out all the booze from the house. I told people, out loud, of my plan for zero drinking for a year. Not andrink here and there. Not drinks on my birthday the next week. Zero. Many laughed. Others thought I was just being extreme. Maybe that helped make it real for me. 

I have a journal from that month. I wavered between elation, seeing the freedom of sobriety almost immediately, and hysteria. My anxiety peaked. My depression, that I had never acknowledged, crept in deeeper and deeper.

But the promise to myself became a touch point. I didn’t think I could survive breaking it. And so I did whatever it took.

Yoga saved me. I found a way to make peace with my body and my mind. I began to understand myself more.this is a daily practice for me. A life. 

And my family. My awesome husband who also decided to quit drinking. My children who loved me.

The past 3 years have been the best of my life. Not the easiest…there have been deaths and losses and massive evacuations that have shaken me to my roots, but some of the most beautiful. I have found my husband to be my best friend…I never expected that. And I love him more every day. Even better, I like him more every day.

I have found faith and love and trust in myself. I have stillness and peace.

Tommy Rosen has a prayer that ends with thank you for the joys and challenges for my life.

I am truly thankful. For myself, my family, for all of you who walk this path of freedom with me. 

Stillness and peace,

Anne

The truth hurts

The other day my husband (also sober…we both are approaching our 3 year anniversary) commented we get so much more done on the weekends, and he no longer has to hold things together,  now that I am not passed out on the couch all day Sunday…

Ouch. 

After my initial ruffled feathers (after all, I had to do it all just as often when he was drinking) I relaxed and agreed.

If you had asked me in those days I would have defended my drinking to the ends of the earth. Everyone else drank…I has a highly paid preofessional job, I was fit, I exercised, our house was clean, I was a volunteer. I drank expensive wine…Yes, from the outside I looked ok.

But…was that true? I had started coming in to work late on Mondays…or calling in sick. The kids often survived on take out Pizza. I was fit, but I felt terrible and was forever covering bloodshot eyes and circles. I was unhappy and I hated myself. I felt weak and betrayed every time I drank more than I wanted to…which was most weekends.

No…I wasn’t fine. And my facade wasn’t nearly as good as I might have imagined.

The last year or so I drank I knew it was a problem. I could not stop once I started. I couldn’t keep to any of my moderation attempts. I even started missing workouts, or going so hungover I’m lucky I don’t injure myself.

I asked him why he didn’t say anything then. He laughed…knowing he was deep into his own problems…and told me I just would have gotten mad or upset.

And there’s the risk. Point out the denial, the problems, the slipping at regular life, and risk upsetting a person who is probably a bit irrational and compulsive. How might attach back.

When we ask our friends and families if we have a problem they often answer with what they think we want to hear. Or what they want to hear for themselves. Because I know I had many heavy drinking friends…and if I needed to quit, so might they!

Instead…get quiet and ask yourself. Ask yourself what you think…I know that little voice inside was begging for me to stop drinking…to stop my self destructive behaviour…to just give myself a break. I was so very tired.

I’m still shocked I listened. But as the booze cleared and my mind grew sharper, that voice celebrated. All those mean, self limiting, self depreciating, self loathing thoughts became a little cheering section. And as time has gone on it has grown into a deep love and faith in myself. I trust myself. 

Forget what other people think…what do you think? Are you living today? Because there is a deep Well of freedom, joy and peace and more fun and possibility available in sobriety than I can even begin to describe.

Do it. For you.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Open mind…so many options!

Hello!

I  are all well and finding your way through the fall. I had high hopes September would bring a sense on routine and normalacy to what has been a very disruptive year. But, alas, it just brought more things to do.

I used to think I likes rules and routine. That they gave me a sense of control. But I no longer try to control the universe, so while routine is ok, I actually miss the ease of summer. No lunches to make, no kids to wake up. Flip flops…

I’m going with the flow. It’s all ok.

After struggling with my back for a while, and doing much less to accomodate, I went to see an osteopath. Osteopaths look at the internal organs and their alignment and make subtle shifts to get things back to where they should be.

Oh my god! It has been amazing. My left leg is tingly and stronger. My back is straighter. My entire body seems to be coming to life. 

I’m still treating my back kindly. Pain is an excellent teacher and I see that more focused and controlled movements in yoga actually help me get into the meditative state I so love. Relying on the strength of my legs and shoulders instead of my lower back.

Every time I write about these alternate treatments I get a jolt of realization that this is growth. I am much more open minded than I used to be. Over the past 3 years I have found yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, energy work, reiki, osteopathy. All have been interesting. And generally helpful.

Letting go of past biases. Trying new things. Embracing opportunities. Like teaching yoga or writing my book…it’s something to try. I don’t have time to be bored, although I do make a significant effort to find time to be still and quiet every day.

Life is beautiful. (Oh, and I went to see Sixx:am and that song was awesome)! Keep moving forward!

Stillness and peace

Anne

Life continues…

Hi all!

I hope everyone is doing well!

 I have settled into the back to school routine. The kids have their stuff. They are doing very well.

I have moved office locations, sadly, and instead of being in the city I am a half hour drive north at the plant site. I used to work out here, but I had been in town for over 13 years. The one plus is craig also works out here “at site” and so we drive together. There is a bus, but it picks us up at 6:20 and that’s just too early for me. 

I’ve injured my back. Badly. I actually really hurt it over the summer, but Physio seemed to be helping. Then last week I went to a different yoga class and twisted in a strange way and BANG. intense pain. Stars pain. Pain that follows me through the day. Standing up, carrying things. 

Since then I have been trying to accomodate it, but have been doing a poor job. I taught yoga Friday, Monday and Tuesday. During each class I found myself in a position where I could not move without great pain. Mainly because I insisted on demonstrating a posture that put pressure on my lower back. Poses I can normally hold easily. Ego.

And, in my stubbornness and refusal to accept I am injured, I went to a nice class I like last night. And suffered through it. I tried to modify poses slightly, but I quickly was in constant and severe pain.

I recognized my ego. It is really hard to modify when you”know” you can do something. Especially when that something is something you love to do. I love sun salutations, triangle, shoulder stands. It always feels like a celebration of life to me.

It is hard to do less. 

At some point in the class I realized I’m grasping. I’m worrying about what others think if I don’t do the full pose. I’m not listening to my body. I’m not embodying my belief that it’s not about the pose, but the intention. That Maybe I still do want yoga to change my body, as well as to change my mind…so many thoughts! I almost packed up and left. 

Instead I stopped. I laid on my back while the class continues. And it was REALLY HARD to stay there. I kept noticing my want to get up and try again. And I just kept telling myself there is honestly nothing to do. This is yoga. Honouring my body. Accepting things as they are. Breathing. Releasing. One pose is not better than another. Savasana is not less than trikonasna. They are all yoga.

By the time the class come into savasana I had found my stillness. She ends the class with mint oil and it was absolutely lovely. 

Perhaps this is my path right now. I may go to class and spend the entire time laying in savasana. Giving myself the stillness and peace I so love. Finding acceptance of what is.

There are lessons everywhere.

Stillness and peace

Anne

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