One year later

Today is the anniversary of the wildfire that devastated my community of Fort McMurray. All 80 plus thousand of us evacuated out on the one road – heading north or south through flames.

It is an odd thing to be part of a mass trauma. Everyone around you has experienced the same thing…to different degrees. And each of them reacts differently. The city feels prickly. People are short tempered and self focused. Comparison becomes a source of guilt. It’s hard to even express that.

The city itself has been left with a hum of discontent. We all experienced amazing generosity from across the globe and even that was hard to accept – to go from completely self sufficient to scared, lost and possessionless is very scary. And during the first days the not knowing if our house had burnt down, if I still had a job to go back to, if everyone was ok, was heartbreaking. 

We are fortunate. We did not lose our house. Our employer supported us fully. Kind people made our stay in Calgary easier.

But the scars from the days of fear remain. I still get upset looking at pictures. I still remember being on the highway with my daughter and not being able to connect with, or find, my husband and son in another vehicle. With fire burning along the road. That distress clings to my throats even as I type.

 I know many people who relapsed during this time. The loss of the familiar leads to unexpected behaviour. Craig and I both found support when needed to protect ourselves. Self care must continue no matter what. This was absolutely a time where doing less helped.

I didn’t want to return here last summer. First we didn’t want to leave…then I didn’t want to go back. The mind is complicated!

I continue to consider moving away. Every day I drive by vast stretches of burnt forest. It surrounds us. It used to be lush and green. I am afraid it won’t be this year. And it has become a constant reminder of what was…

My other side feels like moving is running away, although as time goes buy this belief is less and less true.  I have spent a year returning to my life and what I have found is that the old life is gone and a new, different life exists. If I choose to move it is because I know even another different life can be created wherever we go. Not because of the fire…just because home is where you make it.

I hope that one day I will look back at this as just another experience of our life. But today I am still stuck in the emotional upheaval.

I will take time to hug my family tight today. Please do the same. And remember…there is no experience so bad that you can’t make worse by drinking.

Thank you all for you support. I appreciate it. Especially jean from Unpickled, who is my close friend, and who interviewed me about the evacuation on the bubble hour. It helped me last summer. 

Stillness and peace,



Life goes on

Hi all,

If you gave up alcohol for lent I truly hope you have noticed the vast improvement a booze free life brings and have decided to continue on sober and free!

My life continues in a normal way. Kids at school, traveling for concerts (we saw Weezer a few weeks ago). Planning for the rest of the year. Work, teaching yoga, family. Normal stuff.

Along the way I gave up my volunteer yoga teaching at the local recovery centre. I had been teaching alternating Saturdays for a couple of years. It is small, a 16 bed facility, and provincially funded. They get people from all walks of life.

Over the years the class had its ups and downs. It is mandatory for the clients, who are all there at varying times of a 28 day stay. I didn’t expect them all to participate, but at a minimum to relax on a mat and nap if desired. As long as they weren’t disruptive. I generally kept the class pretty much a stretching exercise, with some breathing and moving to just get the group back into the body and perhaps to slow down. And a guided meditation, which was always very well received.

In the past few months the groups had been less receptive. There was a fight between 2 clients one week and I had to insist the facility staff stay in the room (they used to come and go). And in the weeks following there was always someone voicing their unhappiness at being made to come in the room. Of course, then there were great weeks where people participated and the time went by quickly.

Teaching to a non responsive group has been a huge learning. I know it is not about me. I know these people are in early sobriety, they are scared and angry and prickly. I am not trying to change the world, but to offer them an hour of respite. I know all this, but I still fall back into self doubt…thinking I am not doing a good job, nervous, generally dreading going to the recovery centre at all.

A few weeks ago I went to teach. I didnt want to. The group had been really aggressive the week before, and my anxiety was very high. I knew I should stay home, but I hated to disappoint the staff.

When I got there we had moved to a different, smaller room. There was general grumbling about that and as we settled in one of the guys stood up and declared it all bullshit that he had to attend. He was very angry and aggressive.

At that point I realized this was no longer a good situation, for me or for anyone else. I gathered my things, and wished everyone a good day  left. The nurse came and talked to me, apoplgizing, but I realized this was exactly what I needed. A break from the constant discord. I was shaking and almost ill

I was pretty distraught after. I felt I had failed, that a “regular” person could handle the conflict, that I was weak. I cried and cried.

Eventually The sadness passed and I and realized none of that is true.  I had stood up for myself and declared a boundary that I needed. I put my own mental and emotional wellbeing first. 

Afterwards the centre staff called and told me they would change how things are organized, but I have decided I will take a break from that for the rest of this year. Maybe someone else will take over and she or he might be the perfect person for the role.

For me, it pushed the boundary between wanting to help and trying to fix. 

When I ask myself what feels right for me today, I know I have chose the right thing for me. 

And life goes on.

Stillness and peace,


Omg I’m getting old & I Prevail

So…I have a stress fracture in my foot. I am not a runner. I practice a lot of yoga..vigorous and still. And I spend a good amount of time standing at concerts. Lol

Somehow these things, combines with some thinner bones from celiac disease and maybe years of strparving and drinking, have resulted in a fractured fifth metatarsal so I am currently galumphing along in an air boot. It’s very stylist. Lol. I am not happy to have to limit my activity. I’m trying to not freak out…

Anyway, on the weekend hubby and I headed south to see I Prevail. I tried to back out…claiming injury…but Craig didn’t want to go without his favourite sidekick (I have to say that was a definitely plus in all this. It’s nice to know he likes being with me as much as I like being with him).

So we went to Edmonton to see I Prevail. 

It turned out they were playing in a bar. We usually see bands at bigger venues and for some reason thought this was a university hall. Nope…nightclub that hosts bands. It was interesting. I not big on bars. I don’t really love sitting beside the bottles of open liquor. I don’t want to drink them, but still…they seem looming when there.

The show was 16+ and the drinking seemsed fairly controlled. And wow, the crowd was young. I’m guessing the average age was in the lower 20s….I never usually feel old at 45, but in a nightclub, wearing a walking boot. Sober. I did.

Of course, the band was excellent. And once they play I don’t really care about the rest. I enjoy the live music and the clear love for performing that the bad had.

One of the band members spoke of a friend who had recently committed suicide. He told of his own struggles with depression. He encouraged anyone and everyone in the audience to recognize their innate worth, to know that they belong, and to ask for help if you find yourself struggling. I wish I could figure out how to link their song Alone….

It was a great message. One I try to both share myself, and follow. When a metalcore band can speak up during a set with a message like that, I know things are only getting better.

So remember…you are worthy. You deserve to be happy. Others want the best for you too.

Stillness and peace


Unexpected memories…Garth Brooks

I went to see Garth Brooks on Sunday. I know…not my usual scene!

But we are in Edmonton to see Billy Talent tonight and Garth is here playing 9 sold out shows. So I decided to get with the program and go.

25 years ago I loved Garth Brooks. My then boyfriend like country music and we frequented country bars. Garth Brooks was popular.

Years have passed and Garth has been in retirement for most of them. THe last I remember he had become unglued and remade himself as pop singer Chris Gaines before retiring to stay home with his kids. After that I never followed country much. I was at university and then Craig and I met and moved to fort mc.

So Sunday was a real shocker. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen. I knew almost all the songs. All the word. So many memories. I cried. More than once.

His singing is just so heartfelt and beautiful. His enthusiasm was unparalleled. I have seen many excellent bands this year, and enjoyed them, but this was a a tribute to fans from across the years. He played all his old hits. Who doesn’t like The Dance? Unanswered Prayers? Friends in low places? I didn’t sit the entire time!

The show was amazing. And for the encore he comes out alone, guitar in hand, and plays all the songs requested on signs. By himself. His ability to remember the lyrics to all these songs on a moments notice was shocking.

I’m so glad I went. It filled my heart.

Stillness and peace


Step one…admitting we are powerless over alcohol

I never planned to go to AA. I wasn’t that bad (ha ha…silly me). I really felt I just needed to get myself under control. To find the right combination of rules and restrictions to ensure I could drink enough to get buzzed, but not pass out on the couch. And perhaps to make it through a Sunday afternoon without drinking.

When I started this that is exactly what I did do. I decided zero alcohol for a year. A gift for myself. A non negotiable break.

For me, that was enough to get things going…it somehow got me through the hysteria, anxiety and then sever depression that followed in the first months of sobriety. That,and the immediate recognition that somehow life without alcohol was better,even if it felt scary and hard.

Eventually I started looking around for support. I was lonely and sad. I was still afraid to admit I had had a real drinking problem…after all, I had a professional job, a lovely home and family, a life that looked ok from the outside. 

Jean from Unpickled gave me some good words of advice. Be open minded. Try different things. Stop trying to solve the problem with the same thinking that created it.

So, I tried AA. Going to a meeting is a intensely scary and exhilarating experience. Everyone should try it! Don’t worry. No one will make you do or say anything!

And there I heard my own story told back to me from people I never expected. Stories of drinking compulsively. Of loneliness. And of dispair. Followed by a brilliant realization that there is another way to live, and that it is not only not bad, but full of joy and happiness and comfort and contentment. Honesty and personal responsibility.

The most powerful idea I have learned at AA is step one. Admitting I am powerless over alcohol, and that my life had become unmanageable.

I “do” this step every day. I know that the only way to take back my power is to not add alcohol. So I don’t. And life remains very manageable.

I spent many days reading about habits, diets, metabolism, changing behaviour, etc. In the end, I just had to let go of the clearly mistaken belief I had that alcohol added anything to my life. Or to anyone’s life, for that matter.

I still have the same job, family and life I had before. But Now I am able to see past my own self focus. A drinkers eyes are always turned on themselves. It is selfish and self destructive .

Sober eyes see the world. And the unending beauty and potential available.

If you are struggling, take the risk and go to a meeting. You never have to go back, but perhaps you will hear something that will change you thoughts.

Stillness and peace .


Excellent advice for anyone on the sober journey…

Hurrah for coffee has written a great post full of truth. Please check out her blog!



What my lapses and relapses have tought me.This is a post for myself to refer back to if I EVER feel like drinking again. If this helps anyone else that is awesome too. I had 5 years sobriety in my 20’s but was white knuckling it alone. Then in my 30s 2and half years then another year and half. Then a couple […]

alcohol, coping, Recovery, alcoholic

Happy New Year

Happy new year to all those on this sober journey with me.

If you are new, and seeking, you can do this. It is not only worth it, it is amazing. The potential that come with giving up alcohol is unbelievable. And I know you don’t believe me…but read my blog, or others. It’s true!

For those who have been around a while, thank you. This community is a special and powerful force.

2016 was a really chaotic year for us, but we ended it wiser, full of gratitude for the love and support shown our community in our time of need and comfortable in our own home. Gifts.

It was also a year of huge opportunity. We travelled to over twenty concerts. Everything from slayer to Jennifer Lopez, Chris Cornell to disturbed. Each and every one was an experience amplified by the fact I was clear headed and engaged.

Every day we get a chance to begin again. Take this opportunity to make your life beautiful.

stillness and peace


Anne’s word for 2017- santosha

 I have written about this before, but for anyone new…

I came across the word of the year in early 2014. I liked the idea. A word to use as an intention, a though to remind me of my desires and hopes for the year. A word to help me stay on my path. A word to inspire myself.
I had decided to quit drinking for a year on December 1, 2013. By early 2014 I was in awe that life was already better without alcohol, but I was also anxious, clinically depressed and generally in the midst of a breakdown (or spiritual awakening, as Brene Brown would put it).

My therapist continually drew me back to the idea of unconditional self acceptance. A concept I didn’t really believe possible for me, as I could only see all my deficiencies and was unwilling to accept them in any way.

 And there is was. My word for 2014 would be ACCAPTANCE. I used it at yoga as my intention. I used it when I was mad at how life was. I used it when things didn’t go my way.

By the end of 2014 acceptance felt familiar. 

In 2015 i chose LOVE. I believe love is the root of everything. That we all need more love, not less, especially when we are angry, hurting, failing. And so I tried to respond to life with love. I was kinder and gentler to myself. 

I though love might continue and be my word every year, but when 2016 came around it was clear that my word would be FAITH. Faith in myself. Faith that I was ok, that I was a capable, competent and worthy person. Faith that I was on the right path.

Faith took me far in 2016. When we had to flee our home and drive through a fire (literally…I drove my van down a road burning on both sides). I had faith that I could handle the situation. And When I needed help doing that I asked for it. By allowing others to help hold me up when I was falling apart I realized that I truly do have faith in me. That I trust myself.   Staggering.

So. 2017. Starting my 4th sober year, I have chosen SANTOSHA or contentment. It is one of the niyamas, one of the 8 Limbs of ashtanga yoga. For me, it is being satisfied with what is…not rallying for or against what isn’t. It’s that deep feeling that everything is ok, that things are exactly as they are supposed to be. The fresh tattoo is on my right wrist, and is santosha in Sanskrit. I almost had it done earlier this year, but I decided to wait until we were in vegas this past weekend. Perfect timing.

Lao Tzu provides a perfect description of santosha for me.

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu

And, because I was getting tattooed anyway, I added a bit of colour….(tattoo done by Lacie at Hart and Huntington Vegas).

I hope I have motivated you to choose your own word of the year. Blog about it or comment!

Stillness and peace