Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mrs D Is Going Within

I am happy to report that my year of exercise is starting off well! I am back at the gym 2-3 times a week and although I wouldn't call myself a super gym-bunny I am there and I am doing it, and it is having a big impact on my mental health (and hopefully soon my body!).

I wrote a post this week at Living Sober called 'Things I work on in recovery' which was a good basic outline of all the elements I am focusing on in my sober lifestyle right now. Living Sober is where I do most of my blogging nowadays on sobriety. I post twice a week there, and often draw from updates the members are writing as inspiration for a post.

It's such a rich and warm online space I really do recommend you go hang out there if you want to feel part of a cool sober club and get support with kicking booze to the curb. You can read the Mrs D's Blog page as a non-member (and that is where I am posting twice weekly) or if you register to join (it's free and you can be anonymous!) you get access to the 'Members Feed' which is where people are taking to each other in real-time about their sober trials and triumphs.  

Me, well true to my last post here I am starting to look at mindfulness and meditation in more depth, and have started blogging about it to help keep myself focussed and keep track of all the research I am doing in this area. I have to say it is bloody good to have a push of energy in a new direction - and I'm really excited about what might emerge for me. I've called the blog 'Mrs D Is Going Within' so check it out if you think that sounds at all interesting.

And now I must go to school and help out with gymnastics for an hour or so!

Love, Mrs D xxx

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Monkeys ….

So I've actually been kinda grumpy and wound up lately, and feeling hassled about the world and my life, and moaning to friends about how much parenting I do and how intense it is and how the summer holidays were incredibly long and how this school year began but only for two days and then stopped and then we had a long weekend and how Mr D went away for 5 days for work ….

And I've been thinking that I need to get into some meditating or some such to calm my brain down and just chill the fuck out so I can feel happy and peaceful again (if I ever did? I'm sure I do a lot…) and I followed lots of lovely advice from blog readers and downloaded Headspace again and started their 10-day free trial and listened to Day 1 and the nice English man guiding me through a meditation but that was 3 days ago and I still haven't done Day 2 ….

And I found the Oprah and Deepak meditation site and registered via email for something-I'm-not-sure-what, it was all rather confusing, nothing is free but then sometimes they offer stuff free? Maybe I'll get another email when it's ready? There was a free sample on the App but it was also confusing, just an Indian man (Deepak?) saying 'I will embrace all the beauty around' (or something) about five times and then just some music which was nice but reminded me of beauty therapist music - whales and chimes and all floaty sounds… could only listen for five minutes because in the background was the sound of a man playing a video game on YouTube which my 8-year-old was listening to really loudly.

And still I'm kind of grumpy and dissatisfied and I keep thinking 'what the hell is wrong with your life you crazy woman your problems are so very 'first world problems' get over yourself' and I try to cheer up but the kids are still very full on and I get very crampy with a bad period (sorry TMI) and I start to think it is maybe just the hormones that is making me grumpy.

Then last night some girlfriends come over and we talk about menopause and how that's the next thing for us to have to get ready for. And I tell them I'm crampy and grumpy and they tell me I've been through a lot lately and we all share about our lives and it's wonderful and female and restorative but still I think 'first world problems get over yourself you've got nothing at all to worry about'.

And then I get up in the night and pull a muscle or something in my hip so now my entire back right side lower back is sore and it keeps me awake and I'm worrying about getting old (and now I'm typing worrying that I am sounding very intense and wound up). And then at breakfast Mr D says he'll take all the boys to school and I'm thinking that I should go to the gym because that's what I do now, but then my hip is hurting and suddenly they've all left the house and I'm still in my pajamas so I get back into bed.

And then I remember someone on my last post mentioned Tara Brach's guided meditation podcasts and I think 'of course!' because I love Tara Brach - she is my guru but I only listen to her hour long talks, not her 20-minute guided meditations (of course because sitting in the quiet isn't something I do, the talks are active listening and that's why I like them).. so I pull a Tara guided meditation up on my iPad and start listening.

And I breath like she tells me to, I don't chant 'om' like she tells me to but I hear all the people on the recording with her chanting 'om' and that is lovely but then I start thinking about them and wondering about their lives and then I hear the recycling truck pouring bottles in around the neighborhood and I realise we forgot to put our rubbish out last night and then I start planning a trip to the dump this weekend, then I listen to Tara and try to quiet my mind but then I start planning some work stuff and it goes like this until I say out loud 'sorry Tara' and turn the meditation off with 4 mins and 58 seconds still to go.

And then I pick up my book because I'm still thinking this being in bed thing is a good thing, and I resume reading 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert and she is writing about trying to learn how to meditate while at an Ashram in India and she writes about her monkey brain and her fighting against her thoughts and ego and busy busy brain and the awful time she has every time she has to meditate and the fighting that goes on in her head and then suddenly she writes about an intense moment that occurs for her when all the chattering, negative thoughts in her mind scatter and a regal silence follows: "An intense, vibrating, awed silence."

And then I remember someone on our site saying they experience moments of pure joy when meditating.

And then I think this is what I am going to work on.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Friday, February 6, 2015

Things I deal with….

Boredom: I have strange patches of boredom where I feel 'itchy' and a bit directionless. Just odd moments in the day which I scramble to fill. I used to say that I drank because I was bored… but I don't think this 'boredom' I experience is actually boredom. I think it's a restlessness or 'hole' inside me that I need to fill spiritually. I tend to work towards filling it nowadays with work on the computer or watching TV. I would like to become more peaceful inside and be able to fill it with quiet contemplation or gardening or book reading or just sitting. OMG - meditation?! Have never quite managed that one. Would really appreciate suggestions if anyone has any good apps or programs they follow or books they've read that started them on meditation.

Anger: I am definitely more angry now that I am sober. Mostly it comes out when I am parenting, which isn't nice but kids are like divining rods - if there's anger to be found they'll find it. My anger when it does come is swift and furious and very focused on what the thing is I'm angry about. Then it passes. So it's not confusing for anyone (myself included). I don't hold grudges or stay moody for hours on end, and we always end the day lovingly. I'd like to control my anger flashes, but they don't involve violence, only occasionally the odd swearword! I'll keep working on this one.

Sadness: This sucks. Grief especially sucks. I just feel the sadness and figure there's not much to be done about it except acknowledge it and honor it and tell myself I can't get through life not being sad, especially if I love lots of people. If it's really lingering I work to input positive thoughts and that works well. I have my gratitude bowl that I put a wee note into when I feel like it - that's really nice.

Joy & Contentment: I am really aware of these things when they come and I appreciate them 100% and embrace them fully! I love when I get hit with happy endorphins or have a moment when I realise I feel really calm and happy. I treasure these moments and store them up, because I know the other things will come up and take centre stage (see above). Music gives me much pleasure, as does cooking and homemaking. Being with my family when we are just being a crazy bunch of personalities experiencing life together.

Pride: I live with an ever-present low-grade pride in myself for what I have done in getting sober. It's not a big-headedness. I don't think I'm better or more special than any other sober person (or any other person who isn't sober for that matter!) but in terms of my relationship with myself I am proud of what I have achieved. I'm also regularly incredibly proud and heart-warmed by other people who are working hard on themselves and getting sober - people on our website or who comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via email (I am so lucky that I get to interact with lots of people via various forums). I think any person who works hard to get sober and heal themselves emotionally is brave and amazing.

Brave and amazing, brave and amazing, brave and amazing, brave and amazing. If you are working hard to get booze out of your life and heal yourself emotionally, then you are brave and amazing.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Exercise.. and a concert...

As I sit here typing I can feel so many muscles in my body aching and it feels GREAT!!!!! 2015 is going to be the year of fitness for me. I have really let my muscles go in the last 8 months.

Basically when my book came out and everything went nuts for me in June, I also cancelled my gym membership because my youngest started morning kindy and I didn't need their playroom any more while I exercised - it's complicated but basically the gym I was at was quite far away but I went there because of their playroom - once he was at morning kindy he didn't need the playroom and I didn't want to drive all the way in… and I was really busy as well you know….

I don't know why I'm typing out this long explanation (justification) as to why I cancelled my gym membership last year….

Enough excuses Mrs D - bottom line is I quit the gym, got busy with fantastically exciting sobriety stuff (like launching a new community website dedicated to helping people get sober that has 1570 registered members in only 6 months!!) and slowly the months went by and I started gaining weight which is a bummer but not the worst problem.

The worst problem is that I feel physically weak. I don't feel 'in' my body. I don't feel fit.

Exercise and me aren't best buddies. I've never particularly liked it. I've never gotten a huge endorphin rush from a great work out. I don't enjoy sweating or feeling uncomfortable while pushing my body to do things.

But if I have exercise in my life I feel better overall. I feel functional, healthy, motivated, proud. At 43 I know this. I've had enough phases of no-exercise… and enough phases of exercise… to know which is preferable. So I semi-begrudgingly move now to always implement regular exercise.

Lately I've been trying yoga on the living room floor via the TV (managed 4 sessions), the 'Map-My-Walk' app on my phone (managed 2 walks around my neighborhood) and swimming lengths in the local pool (only thought about that one, never made it to actually do it). So the gym it is. It works for me. I book it into my week (Mon and Wed morning after school drop-off definitely, Thurs as well if it's a good week) and that is enough. I feel good again! I get stronger. I feel better. I feel 'functional' because this is what we humans need to do - use our bodies. And ….. I suppose…. there must be some happy exercise endorphins cruising around inside as well.

Went to a concert on Saturday night. Had SUCH A GREAT TIME!!!!!! Concerts are the ultimate sensory experience for the sober person. I cried happy tears during a few songs, did loads of chair dancing - waving my arms around and singing at the top of my lungs (along with thousands of others at the venue), laughed and felt so happy. The lighting was amazing, the musicians were incredibly talented and the entire environment was a buzzing delight. I didn't need to go to the loo five million times. I wasn't thinking about buying more wine throughout. I wasn't slightly removed from the sensation because of alcohol affecting my brain. I was clear, present, connected and so so happy.

A sober life isn't all peaches and rainbows.. no way. Low times come, they come often and I deal with them. But the highs - like going to a rocking good concert - feel so much better. And with exercise in the mix, I am giving myself a very good shot at more positive feelings as well.

It works if you work at it. Does that slogan apply to recovery, or life in general? I'm going to use it in a general life sense. I'm working at it, and that feels good.

Love, Mrs D xxx