Snow White

It is January 8 and my word of the yes, this, has already served me well.

I find when my thoughts start racing, and I ruminate over what someone said or did, I say this, out loud and it brings me right back to what I am doing. At the very least it helps limit my emotional response to something that isn’t actually happening and is long done.

I am continuing to work from home. I LOVE it. Our initial plan had us returning to the office again later in January. I have returned twice already, in July and again in November. Both were short lived and disruptive changes. I do not do well with change.

I am trying to focus on one week at a time this year, but that return to work thought has been poking at me. Yesterday I heard we would almost definitely be home until spring. Yes, I did a happy dance, and yes, I will be disappointed if this changes, but YAY.

Not having a 100 km round trip drive into work is awesome. I feel like Snow White at home. My budgie, Paul, flies around and sits in my monitor chirping at me. Frank, the rabbit, lays by my feet under my desk. Melvin the hamster is even by me, but he stays in his cage and looks out. He’s old, over 3, and a rescue. I expect he won’t last forever, but he is a cute, tiny white ball. Even the reptiles join in some days, although they live in my daughters room, not my “office” (aka dining room).

This is a safe haven for me currently. It is comfortable and relaxing. Even better, The kids are here, although my sin is returning to in person learning Monday. I don’t love the idea….I know it will result in more covid. He is in grade 12, though, and there needs to be a bit more to his life than watching sports with his mom. I suppose….reluctantly.

For now, this is it. My little oasis. The world outside the window seems very unfamiliar, so I am avoiding it for a while.

Stillness and peace,

Anne

Word of the year 2021. This

For the past seven years I have picked a word of the year to help set my intention. I use the word as a bit of a mantra, to set an intention at yoga and to inspire me. It is actually more that the word picks me, and when I hear it, it just feels right. This year my word is This.

In 2014 I took a yoga teacher training that changed my life. My teacher, Nicki Doane, came from Hawaii to my small city in northern Alberta. I never expected or planned to practice yoga, but, in early sobriety, I joined a studio and felt safe there. I would lie on my mat and think, yes, of course, this. It was like returning home after a long journey. Yoga was waiting for me to remember.

Anyway, I saw the poster with nicki’s picture and it called to me. So I registered for it, even though it was expensive and required 10 days off work over the year. It was the best gift I have ever given myself.

During the training Nicki would often say “If it wasn’t this, it would be something else”. Usually when we were in a difficult pose…so focus on this, because it is here and in front of you. Find the strength and the sweetness. Or, in more direct words, deal with this, or I will find something else, and, who knows, it might be worse. Different isn’t always better.

I think about this a lot. This is acceptance of what is. A willingness to work with what is. Not wishing things were different or making changes to try to get away from reality. Just This.

2021 feels like a year where accepting This, whatever it is, will be vital. There is so much uncertainty around covid, the economy, my own job, one kid graduating from high school, aging parents, etc. I can get caught up in what’s next very quickly. Projecting into the future and worrying crests anxiety.

So, This it is. A touchstone to bring myself back into the present.

So 2021, This is it.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Lucky Number Seven

Today is 7 years since I decided to try a life without alcohol. I never expected it to be for good. I really thought at that time that I just needed a break to get myself under control. After all, I was a smart, educated woman.

I laugh now, but at the time it was not funny. I was scared by my own behaviour. Swearing I wouldn’t drink and then drinking. Trying different drinks, mixed drinks, more exercise, diets, cleanses.trying to be ok with drinking and not so hard on myself.

None of this worked. I was compulsive. If there was alcohol around I wanted it. I snuck drinks. I had started being later and later on mondays because I was always hungover and ill. My body couldn’t handle it at all.

At the same time I was starving myself and exercising excessively. I was fit and looked good…if you didn’t look to close. My hair was falling out a bit and I hadn’t had a period in a couple years.

I was the picture of an anxiety disorder. Brittle, stressed, overcompensating, depressed and often suicidal. I wished many days that I would just not wake up. Life was overwhelming me.

I couldn’t really understand this then. I had a lovely family, a good job, money. I had friends. People though to was ok. Inside I was screaming. I hated myself and couldn’t trust myself and was oh, so disappointed in me.

December 1, 2013 I finally just said enough. Although at the time I wasn’t sure alcohol was the only problem, it was definitely a problem. So I decided that as an early birthday present I would give myself a year of sobriety.

I had done stints of not drinking before, as cleanses, etc. And I had read Allen Carr’s book the easy way to control alcohol and it really spoke to me. Maybe there was an ok life without booze. I don’t really believe it, but I was desperate.

It was both exhilarating and impossible. Giving up the booze meant my anxiety became intense, crippling and unmanageable. I was also quite paranoid and scared.

But I still did it. I called a therapist. She eventually convinced me to see my doctor. I became willing to address my lifelong anxiety and depression. I stared medication. I read quit lit. I started going to yoga.

It seems long ago, but I still remember the distress. I also remember waking up on Monday’s to go to work and feeling proud of myself that I wasn’t hungover. it seems like a small thing, but I had so little self confidence at the time. The lying and denial of alcohol abuse truly had worn me done.

Most of my story from then on appears in this blog. I remember one day walking outside and feeling with perfect, crystals clarity that the world was exactly as it was supposed to be and that I would be ok. For me, that is enlightenment. Those moments.

It took me a while to embrace the idea that I was in recovery. I considered this a habit, a lifestyle change, self medicating. I wondered what that meant. I questioned a lot and read a lot and eventually realized that no matter what I think, my life is so much better without alcohol and that embracing recovery is the same as embracing life. I get to do this every day.

Seven years ago I hoped sobriety would mean that I could be zen all the time, able to manage anything. ha. I have encountered many hardships and joys and I have been knocked off my zen more times than I can say. I hate it, I don’t want it, but I have come to believe that from suffering comes grace. And so when find acceptance in my suffering I am able to grow. Yes, it’s bullshit. It is still true.

Looking ahead I can’t say what will come. I know that sobriety is a vital part of my life and that it is the foundation for my mental and physical health and contentment. I acknowledge this every day, and every day I get the opportunity to find joy. I am happy and I love my sober self. This, more than anything, has been worth it.

Thank you all for sharing the journey with me. This community is powerful.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Anne -happy for today

The last first day

It’s funny, 6 years sober and I still try to hide from emotional events.

Yesterday was my sons last first day of school (first day of grade 12). I almost went to work, even though I have flexibility to work from home. He told me he was ok with that.

At the last minute I stayed home, made him breakfast, took pictures and told him I love him and to enjoy his last first day of school, mask and all. And after he left I cried happy tears that my baby is grown up.

I strive for the middle path, and contentment. But I sometimes need to remember that avoiding the downs also means losing out on the highs.

Stillness and peace

Anne

So much time!

Hello! It has been so long since I am updating my blog and I cannot believe I have been so negligent. When I was last year with Fort McMurray had just experienced the flood. It was a huge blow to the city but things are slowly resuming normal. Many people were impacted. 2020 has been a tough year.

My workplace sent us all home to work from home in mid March. As an engineer my work is easily done at home and I was happily set up here. My kids school and did the same day and they resumed work online.

My workplace began to return to work in early July. There are usually over 8000 people at the plant site. I was very concerned when they first called me about this and told me that my return date was July 27. I stressed about it for a lot of July, but in the end decided I would go and see.

The morning of July 27 I got ready for work and it was just me defined oh my clothes are too small LOL. I still managed to get dressed and went to site. We have mandatory masking whenever outside of our office and there’s sanitizer and cleanliness all around. I have a lovely closed-door office with a beautiful view.

Once I got past the shock of return I quickly realized I missed the routine of getting out of bed and leaving the house. Even a few days in I’ll be on to feel much less distressed about being out. I think this was very healthy for my mental well-being. I also reverted back to my normal generally low carb eating and M able to fit some of my clothes!

A few weeks ago a new, very small yoga studio opened. My old studio is also open but it appears to be full of people and I am not comfortable returning. I went to check out the new studio and it was very lovely. I took another step outside my comfort zone and went to a class. I decided to go to the first class in the morning. There were only four students and it was so lovely.

Past few weeks have me feeling more like a regular person. My hair is no longer gray. I’m leaving the house more. Although I loved working from home and would like to do that more, I am OK with the way things are. I have no interest or prospects in dating LOL. I think I will be happy sleeping alone in my king size bed in definitely.

Kids and I have settled into a nice routine. My son and I love sports and watch them together every night. I cherish this time as he is 17 years old and I know that he won’t be here in definitely. Every night we share a piece of gluten-free cake. No diet is going to take that away! My daughter is out with friends a little in a safe Covid positive sort of way. She seems happy and content. Both wonder what September will bring, but neither are stressed about

As much as I hate the whole covid pandemic and economic downturn, pausing and enjoying a bit slower life it’s good for me. I have a very fortunate that I have a job so I can work from home. Although I am in the oils industry my company is still ok. And I’m in Canada, where cases are being managed.

I see lots of new bloggers. I welcome you here! Sobriety allows me to manage the curveballs life throws my way, and has helped me cultivate enough serenity to go with the flow sometimes. Life can be so good.

Stillness and peace

Anne

2020 Flood

Anyone who has followed me knows I was evacuated with my entire city during 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. It was extremely scary and traumatic, and the city continues to heal from that.

Well. If pandemic wasn’t enough, we are in the middle of a 100 year flood. 15,000 people are currently evacuated from the city centre. Most essential services are located downtown, as this city grew from a trading post along the river.

Fortunately, I live way up a hill and my house is safe. My sister in law (ex? Not sure) who is my good friend, lives downtown. Fortunately she was out of town, or she would most likely have been evacuated in a boat. Her condo building is under water.

The city is devastated and it’s not over. The river is still jammed. The water treatment plan is impacted and we are on a boil water advisory. The hospital has been threatened.

It is truly shocking and scary and I cannot believe that this is how 2020 continues to unfold. In the picture below, the green roof is a grocery store. 4 of the 8 grocery stores for the city are in this area. And the city itself is a 5 hour drive up one highway from the next major centre. This happened over night.

I am inspired by the resiliency of people and the effort the entire city has put forward to help in any and all ways. Sandbagging, donating, volunteering. In the midst of a health crisis true humanity shines through.

If you have a moment, please send me some thoughts of heat. We need the ice to melt so the river can flow!

Stillness and peace

Anne

Hello! a check in from home

Hi all! I can’t believe it has been so long since I wrote. Things seems to be progressing in my life and then I started watching this crazy epidemic in China in January and that became a bit obsessive.

My friends thought I was crazy. I started stockpiling food, meds, etc…not tons, but enough. My kids laughed at me and called me a conspiracy theorist.

Of course, now they all think I’m smart. I wish I wasn’t.

I live in northern Canada. I am currently working from home and am deeply grateful to still have a job. My work is in the oil industry and it is suffering. We are still operating as the world need power and oil.

In the midst of all the uncertainty I have found a lovely refuge. My kids are home with me. They are doing online school, or at least one is. Crow is not overly interested and I am not yet willing to force this. It has been too much change for her and I am just happy she is otherwise thriving. School can wait.

The kids and I have all our basic needs. I pick up groceries once a week and I still get a food delivery box weekly. We have implemented week night dinners at the table with China and candles. It is lovely.

In the evening my son and I watch either the office or a movie. Both of us are lost without sports, so this is our compromise. It’s such a nice time and he is almost 17. I don’t have too many more years of him at home. I am cherishing each moment.

Crow is a night owl. She is often asleep when we are awake, but then she is around when I am working. She is a nice distraction.

Many days I feel scared of the future. what will happen to the economy? Will the pandemic become worse? Is there more to the virus that we don’t know? What about my parents, how are in their 80s? My grandma who is tuning 99 soon?

I have to refocus myself on today quite often. So much uncertainty….and all out of my control. Clearly most things are. I guess I have learned a lot over the years.

I see many memes about people drinking during quarantine. It makes me very thankful that is not me, and sad that that’s such a common coping mechanism. I do eat more than usual, and much of it is out of boredom, but I just can’t quite bring myself to care. I try to make some good choices and drink enough water and enjoy the extras.

I hope you are all well during this scary time. Tell me some new things you are doing that you enjoy!

Stillness and peace

Anne

Explore – Word the Year

For a number of year now I have picked a word of the year. This word becomes my intention at yoga, my touchstone to inspire me. Each word has been exactly perfect in both expected and unexpected ways.

In 2019 I picked the word bloom. It was a good choice for me. In my post I added a picture with a quote – when you feel you’re in a dark place and have been buried , sometimes you’ve just been planted, bloom.

I spent much of my year feeling exactly that way. Things were dark, heavy and much of the time i felt confused, in an unfamiliar place and suffocated. It was difficult to understand what had happened to my life and I could not see the light ahead.

I spent a lot of time hibernating. I was deeply depressed. I stayed home. I did less. I cried a lot. Amazingly, as the year went on, the love and support I received from others slowly worked their magic and I began to find myself again. My energy and clarity returned. Unexpected friends appeared. Life became less confining and I felt like myself again.

As 2019 comes to an end I feel like I have left that dark, underground place behind. I have returned to the light, where bloom finally makes sense. Bloom. I am finally free, bright, alive and willing to be seen. The hope that bloom provided actually kept me going many dark days.

Bloom is the grace that has come from the suffering.

So 2020. I asked myself , what do I need for myself now? Immediately the word explore comes to mind. I want to explore life from my own perspective . I want to explore my body feels in yoga, how my heart feels. I want to explore going places on my own. I want to explore Life with my kids, who are growing into adults so quickly. I want to explore who Anne is.

Earlier this year my therapist asked me what my wants and needs are. I couldn’t answer the question it distressed me that I didn’t even know what I like to do or what I need. I’m 48. Have I really ignored me for that long?

2020 is my year to ask…What do I want to the rest of my life to be?

Explore feels exciting, little scary and motivating. Exactly what I need.

Thank you all for your love and support and wishing you a wonderful 2020.

Stillness and peace

Anne

Please share your word with me. If you have never picked one, consider it. It’s very empowering to know your intention for the year. It’s magical.

What a difference a year makes. My story.

Writing out my story of the past year has helped me put the year into perspective. One never knows how things are going to turn out…

Still here and still sober. Perhaps I’m even blooming finally!

D day was 1 year ago. We were on our way to a weekend in Vegas. Dd turned on her iPad and yikes…all her dads texts, which included sexting with the ow.

She tells him, he tried to convince her not to tell me, it comes out he’s texting a girl from AA (13th stepping). We agree to not discuss until the trip ends. I am livid and devastated. This man has been my best friend for 25 years. We met at university, we work at the same company, we got sober together in 2013. We have a fun life full of travel, concerts and our kids finally are old enough to have fun with us.

The last day of the trip he confesses. He’s been sleeping with this girl for a few months. He doesn’t know why. He loves me and our family. I am his best friend. I tell him we are getting divorced and he moves out as soon as we get home. I immediately go to the bank and split all finance. I am the money manager in the family, and both of us have excellent incomes.

You all know the devastation. I try to comprehend how this person, who claims to love me, could betray me. I consider reconciling….the kids, who know everything (13 &15) demand I divorce him. They are angry and hurt,but they refuse to let me accept this disrespect.

Next it appears he’s texting a young girl, who is my friend, from work every day. I ask, she tells me to fuck off. I get a lawyer. He continues to ask me to give him time, goes to step meetings, therapy. He rarely sees the kids and they pretty much go no contact.

Next comes a stalker girl who shows up at our house. She knows all about us. I file for divorce. He agrees to give me everything, the house, savings, full custody, child support.

Ex decides to run 800 km away to an alternate work location. Doesn’t even tell the kids…and it turns out he moved in with a coworker (his bosses secretary) who, it also turns out, is pregnant. This is about 8 months post d day. I finally have had enough and take a mental health leave from work. Best decision ever. I took time to deeply grieve and in doing so I regained my balance and self esteem.

Today, exactly one year later, we are divorced. Clear eyes show me he was always a selfish asshole, but I was a very good buffer between him and the world. The kids are flourishing. My codependency was deep. I grew up with a narcisstic parent and I had never realized just how much I believed my job was to make sur everyone else was ok…

I am truly settled and happy on my own now. Being financially secure and him conceding everything without a fight has been vital. I love living alone with my kids.

I wouldn’t wish this suffering on anyone. It almost took me down a few times this year…my pain and the pain I feel for my kids has been sharp and deep and overwhelming, but I got through it with support from friends,online, through my blog and by asking for help over and over again.

Some days I am at meh, but I expect it won’t be a full time thing until my kids are grown up as ex’s behaviour still hurts them. They are generally still no contact. They haven’t seen him since he moved in June. And on those days I wish him grave harm.

Chumplady has been the source of my strength and resolve. Knowing others have gone through this horror and have advice on how to manage and proceed has been vital. I thank you all for sharing every single day.

Stillness and peace