Saturday, 25 February 2017

LOSS

It is a time of much turmoil for some in my world. Last night a lovely old friend had one of his fabulous House Parties that he's been putting on for about 25 years. He is a much respected musician here in Christchurch and he played and sang last night with some excellent and well renowned guys on piano, keyboards, horns and guitar. They came along as a tribute to play one last time with our friend Steve, who's cancer has ravaged his body with a fierce vengance, even after the most valiant fight, with many organic juices daily, seaweed extracts, THC extracts, cancer retreats and everything he could throw at it. Mainly a very brave, positive and heroic attitude, and a profound trust that he would beat it. In November another friend had a massive party in honour of Steve, out in the country in his purpose build "70's night club" where they re-formed three seventies Christchurch bands, including Steve's band Sentry, almost completely with it's original members. It was an amazing, memorable and beautiful night, as was last night. Although his voice was a bit ragged and scratchy, that just added another dimension and Steve's performance was outstanding. It was quieter, and deep and soulful, and had a realness and rawness to it that could only possibly have come from the dreadful news he has had earlier this week. From the knowledge that although he will play his guitar again, this was likely to be the last time he will do it for all of us, his friends and his beautiful and brave family, who still have so much to face. It was a poignant and beautiful evening and it was a priviledge to be there. It is humbling to witness the raw pain and the strength, simultaneously, of his wonderful wife and daughter, and of Steve himself. 

I am so glad I started going to his garden parties again when I first gave up alcohol. Daytime music events close to home, where I at least knew some people, seemed like just the ticket for me when newly single and also learning to socialise sober. As a result, it has rekindled a 45 year friendship with Steve, and allowed me to get to know his gorgeous wife Marion, and see and get to know more of his family and friends, making new friends in the process.

A few short years ago my brother had almost the exact same cancer diagnosed and experienced a ghastly year of extreme surgeries and some horrific chemo treatment. Miraculously he has survived it, and for this we are all overwhelmingly grateful.
In the recent Port Hills bush fires, just ten days ago, he and his family watched their beautiful home of 30 years burn to the ground at 7.30 in the morning, after being kept safe all night by over a hundred firemen fighting the blaze. How strange life is, that so much can be dished out so unevenly. That one family should bear such fear of loss of life, and hideous illness, survive it, only to have to suffer such a terrible shock and loss. I wonder if perhaps the very fact of what they went through just a couple of years ago, makes them the people who are strong enough to face this next big massive inconvenience and sadness. Their loss is enormous, they got almost nothing out, yet they know first hand that their loss could have been far greater. They are strong and stoic, all of them, even the grown up children, who have only known this one home for their whole lives. It really is an enormous blow and loss for them all.

The loss of alcohol from one's life is such a small thing when compared to real loss.
There are always gains to be had from loss. With alcohol it's a no-brainer. The gains so far outweigh the loss, I don't even need to go on about that, as I've done so many times in my previous blogs. I am grateful to be a person with the clarity of mind at all times to be able to communicate clearly and to give support if I can to those I love, and who are hurting.

Somewhere, and some how, there is always an opportunity in the crisis. Often it is just bringing people closer together. Sometimes it is more than that, and paths can change, a deeper purpose can emerge, and lives can be enriched by the very loss they are suffering. 

May my friends and my family navigate their sad and difficult paths with continued strength and bravery, and with the knowledge that they are loved, admired for their courage, and deeply respected.





Saturday, 11 February 2017

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS

This weekend I've remembered the importance of self nurture and giving myself treats. In general in my life I am pretty good at it and always have been, I don't deprive myself of much. However, with so much on my plate for the last long while, I tend to forget to do the little things I love, like watching a movie on a Sunday afternoon, or driving somewhere beautiful and reading a book there. Or going shopping just for the sake of it. I think I've felt, and rightly so I guess, that in building my home I am giving myself the biggest treat possible so I should not indulge myself with the small stuff. Wrong! It isn't working! Yesterday I did something about it. I bought a lovely causal linen shirt on a half price sale that I will get heaps of wear out of, and I discovered Little Island Creamery chocolate and coconut ice-cream. It has sugar and fat and carbs and all the bad stuff but is dairy free, and it is to die for, it is beautiful and amazing and the best taste bud sensation I've had in ages. It is very hard to write about it without rushing to the freezer.

I think treats for us sober warriors are under-rated and easy to forget about in the busy hustle of daily life. After all, we used to think we deserved hours of downtime to indulge in expensive alcohol on an almost daily basis. Every day that we don't drink we are saving a significant amount of money, and even though that is not what this is all about, it does mean that we can afford to, and should, indulge ourselves in many little things which keep us feeling cared for and happy. 

I have felt unable to express myself for a while, so that's why this is just a simple wee blog about nothing much at all. And now, on this lazy Sunday afternoon, I shall choose myself a good movie, hopefully a courtroom crime drama, and perhaps have some chocolate coconut ice-cream while watching it. It's the little things. They matter.

Friday, 6 January 2017

ALONE IS OKAY, JUST DIFFERENT

It’s now two and half years since I kicked the booze to the curb, and one year and three months since the ciggies went by the wayside too.
On reflection, it is interesting how much I have learned in this time, and even more interesting how much there still seems to be to learn.
It reminds me of what my Mother used to say to me after one of my endless questions when I was little. “Darling, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.

The 2016 year was quite a tough one in many ways, as far as life lessons go. I’ve struggled quite a bit with feelings of hurt, and abandonment by my friends. This is because they are not much in my day to day or week to week life any more, and don’t really keep in touch much at all unless there is something big to tell me or invite me to. I have even lost one lifetime friendship, dumped as it were, after a two week road trip together…..a bit strained and tense at times, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved with communication and forgiveness. I will never fully understand it, I trusted our friendship, and especially the longevity of it. At first it made me feel worthless, thrown out with the dishwater. Now I have come to terms with it. I do not need this friendship, if it is so willingly let go…..after 48 years…..bizarre!  This friendship does not support me at all. I think perhaps she preferred me pissed! I have tried to communicate. I can do no more. Life is long. It is sad, but not all friendships need to last forever.

I have learned to “hold my friends lightly”, which at first seemed abhorrent to me when suggested, as I think of myself as a fiercely loyal friend, but after some thought I realised this was exactly what I needed to learn. I need to let go of my need for their presence, which gives validation of our friendship. I need to let go of my need of them full-stop really, and to trust that deep down all is well. Love them, don’t need them. It is, after all, me that has changed, not them. They don’t know quite what to do with me anymore, and that is okay. They are still there. They are still my friends. They probably even admire and respect me for the changes I have made. They are just doing what they are doing, and social drinking takes up a lot of time, and then there’s work and families, and life. I just don’t fit so easily into their picture anymore, because much of the time spent was on the downtime, which involved relaxing, which involved drinking. The fact that I don’t drink alcohol and they do doesn’t bother me at all. I am still me, I can still have a laugh and enjoy their company, but it doesn’t occur to people to include me most of the time, and that’s okay.
I needed to learn to have confidence in who I am, and I am learning that. You change your life in this way, you need to change who you hang out with, to a degree. I am slowly forming new friendships and resurrecting some old ones too, where there’s already a long affinity and trust between us.

Navigating this sober goat track is not always easy and there are many obstacles as I come to terms with such a different way of life. I am still learning so much about myself and about other people too, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes I unintentionally hurt others. I would much rather sit with these raw and painful feelings, until I can accept them and move on, without blunting the edges or distorting them with alcohol or any other substance. I love the clarity.

I have been giving a lot of thought just lately to who I can really count on in my life. Who can I count on completely for loyalty, honesty, trust and support? Who will absolutely always be there for me? The answer is Me.
I can be a lot of things for a lot of people, and I can give my honesty, loyalty, trust and support to my children, my family and my friends, and to a large degree I get the same in return. But if I really want to count on someone absolutely, it must be me. So, to this end, I strive to become stronger, wiser, and braver. What I aim for this year is to learn to love my aloneness. (I’m going to have to where I’m going)! Alone is self-sufficient, alone is resourceful, alone is dependable, alone is often good company.

I need to be able to give support and comfort to myself when I am misunderstood and bewildered.
I need to turn to myself for wisdom and guidance in all aspects of my life. And I need to dig deep every day for the courage I need to continue, and to succeed in all I’ve taken on, with the build, with my business, the move, decisions on how exactly to run things once I have left Christchurch.
2017 will be an interesting and very challenging year, as was 2016.

I’ve also been giving some thought as to boundaries. I have realised that as a consequence of no longer getting shitfaced on an almost daily basis, I no longer put up with shabby behaviour. Not in my personal life or my business life.
I can and do stand up for myself better than ever before, if treated unfairly and inconsiderately.
I told a customer the other day not to bother coming back to my company for his rental caravan next Christmas, that I don’t need negative, rude and pedantic whingers picking holes in anything and everything they can, instead of enjoying a fabulous camping holiday like everyone else. He was a right twit and it felt rather empowering, and I hope it makes him realise what a dick he is! Probably not the greatest thing I could do for my business reputation, but for each one of him there are 100 happy campers…..so who cares? Not me!

Wishing everyone a Happy, Hopeful, Humourous Humdinger of a New Year

We all need someone we can lean on, and if I want to....I can lean on  me!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

BOXING DAY

It's 5.00am on Boxing Day morning, sleep is eluding me so time for some reflections.
29 years ago today my son Rory was born. Such a long time ago yet it has passed quickly.
What a joy he is, and I hope he has a happy day relaxing with his friends and Rose. We had a lovely day yesterday and kept it small and simple here at home. The smallest and the last Christmas we will ever have in this home. It was easy and happy and we all ate far too much, as we'd had a brunch earlier in the day with Georgia's man Dane's family.

Today I'm going over to Takamatua to spend it with my big sister and her tribe and my younger brother and his wife. We were all hoping our other sister would be there too, but she is sadly very unwell and in hospital. I am excited because today is the day I'm going to give them a special book I have been working on for quite some time. I've had 5 copies of it made, one for each of us, and I've had them for a couple of weeks now, published and sent from America, and I can't wait to give it to them. It was all too busy and hectic in the week before Christmas. I will just have to wait a little longer to give it to my other brother and sister. It is a book of "Our Mother's Prayers" made up of hundreds of prayers written on a variety of cut up wheetbix and cruskit and bell tea boxes and similar, over several decades of Mum's lifetime. I found these prayers when we were going through Mum's things after she died on the tenth of the tenth in 2010. They are beautiful and real and raw and a living testament of her love for us all, and of what an amazing woman and Mother she was.

I am strangely a little nervous now it is finally time to reveal this big project. 
There is stuff in there that will make each of us cringe on occasion, but it's all part of the rich tappestry of the life of our Mother, of her strength and courage, her grace, and her love and acceptance of us all, just as we are.

I have had much professional help and support from fellow blogger and journalist, Soberman365. He photographed every single prayer beautifully and laid them all out in the book, while I typed them all to be shown on the page opposite the photographs. It looks so cool seeing the hand written version of them all, next to the typed, which is in a handwriting font. Then I've tried to sort them as well as I can into date order, which has been the hardest and most time consuming part of it all, even more so than the typing, as they span close to thirty years. The cover is made of a mix of all the cut up packets and looks colourful and interesting, and  if it wasn't for the title on the cover one would never guess the depth of the content inside.

So off I go for a day in the sun, and it will also be fabulous to see the progress on my house again now that the gib is nearly completed, and the big oak door I've had made has been installed last week.

It's early evening now and I've had such a nice day catching up with family, my niece with her husband and four gorgeous children. My other niece and her Mum too whom I haven't seen in ages. My sister and brother love their books, and I know they will treasure them, and will read it thoughtfully in quieter moments than today gave us. I know that Mum would be happy today.







Sent from Samsung tablet

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

BUILDING THE FUTURE


5.59am on a Thursday morning. Just woke up with a smile on my face! I was dreaming about hammering the cedar onto the house with special little copper nails, and wondering if they do it by hand or with a nail gun and I was hoping it was by hand. Not sure why, as it will surely cost me more. Maybe because the cedar costs so much that it deserves to be treated with the utmost care. Then I got to thinking about how cool and fun it is to be building this home with my kids being involved every step of the way. Rory as the builder, and Georgia as my consultant on all purchases and all things to do with colour and style. We discuss stuff about the house every time we see each other and often on the phone as well. What I love about it is their enthusiasm and excitement. All three of us nearly have to pinch ourselves sometimes to make sure it's real. But then I guess Rory’s aching back after a long day keeps it real enough for him. And the multitude of complexities he needs to store in his brain.

It is like we really are building our future. For me it's my immediate future, which is scary and amazing and exciting and brave, and that will change their immediate future as well. Now there will be a fabulous destination for them to take little breaks, bring friends over for weekends, and somewhere they can have a boat, get into fishing, go swimming, take nice walks, wander around the cafes and shops and streets of Akaroa. They can listen to music under dimmed lights on the deck long after this old sober Mumma has gone to bed. And I hope before the first year has passed I can organise a working bee weekend where we get a few over to help me build a cool outdoor oven/fire where we can slow cook legs of lamb, bake a ham or have a crack at making our own bread, and enjoy some outdoor ambience while we're at it.

It is with immense satisfaction and dare I say it, even a measured amount of pride, that I'm forging ahead in the creation of this home that will one day become theirs. Some say you shouldn't speak to your children of their inheritance, and to be fair, our parents didn't speak to us about ours, but the world's a different place now and I don't see the point in keeping something so obvious a secret. It is the land I inherited that has provided such a beautiful location for this home, and it's much more fun to share the excitement, and enjoy the humour. Like Rory saying "Can I put a power point over here Mum? I'll be putting a workbench in this corner one day". The thought of them enjoying the home with their families after I've gone is one that makes me smile, knowing they will always be grateful I had the guts to take the project on. As it's turning out, it is no small project either. I'm glad I didn't know too much or fully understand the complexity of the plans, or the true cost involved before I started, or I likely never would of!

The enormity of what is still to come is daunting, like the sorting out of this house in the city, and the streamlining of my business, at which I am all at sea due to my right hand man, Dave, being ready to retire after Christmas, and new staff I'm trying to get trained up continually letting me down, and not working out. There are just four weeks until Christmas and still a massive amount of preparation for the caravans to be ready for their touring holidays. Somehow I’ll get through it all and all will be well.

I am grateful every day that I eliminated my favourite hobby, getting pissed, as taking that out of the equation has enriched my life so much more in the ways that count. I am capable of holding all this together somehow, working on several other projects at the same time, handling the pressure, keeping calm, and actually enjoying the process.

I adore my children, Rory and Georgia, I am so proud of both of them, and I am very happy and grateful for the fabulous relationships we all have with each other. This is what matters more than anything. This is what counts. This is what makes for a happy life as I'm growing older.
This is pure gold for me. A big day awaits me and I am happy. Bring it on!





Friday, 7 October 2016

PONDERING MY WAY THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH


I am beginning to feel like a shell of my former self. I don't know what I want any more, and that scares the hell out of me. I seem to be out on a bit of a limb in all ways!

I am enjoying the build, and Rory's warm and sunny nature makes it so much less stressful than it could be. It is awesome to be doing this with him, but it is still a lot of pressure just to be doing it at all. Such big ongoing decisions to make, all of which are quite crucial, and with such a lack of experience in these things, it’s really keeping me on my toes, I’m just winging it as best I can. And all the while I am trying to imagine what it will be like living there. Beautiful, yes, but I have never in my life felt quite so alone as I do now, this year.  I have never before spent such vast quantities of time completely alone. I am somewhat disillusioned, and a bit at sea. This isn’t how I had hoped my life would be at 2 years and 3 months sober. The remote location at Takamatua certainly won't help this, (the permanent population on google is incorrectly 0, hahaa, there must be at least 30, and the nearest town, Akaroa, 624 rising to 15,000 in tourist season). On the bright side, at least by then I will be used to being mostly by myself. I am trying to learn to love it, and there is much about it that I do love, but it is hard to get used to, particularly without ever softening the edges with an altered state. And more particularly, when for all of my previous life I have been surrounded with people. It is like I have retreated into myself unconsciously, to succeed in being alcohol free, and now I am kind of invisible.

So what else am I feeling? A deep emptiness, maybe a little depressed, and rather confused.
I think I am realising that neither my family nor my friends really bond with the sober me. They prefer me the way I was, which is understandable I guess. I was way more fun, I had more humour, more personality, I was more reckless and I suppose easier to be with, up to a point. The point where they probably stopped drinking and I kept going.

My friends have all but forgotten my existence, or so it would seem. I guess though, at this age everyone has got their own stuff going on in their lives, and in winter we all hibernate a bit, so I mustn't be paranoid. I do sometimes miss that old reckless me too, and I sometimes ache to be sitting amongst old friends having a good laugh. But the truth is that some people find having someone in their midst who is not drinking, when they are, to be quite confronting. It seems to make them feel uncomfortable about their own drinking, often to the point where they start talking about it, and almost justifying themselves. Frankly, I don't mind a hoot what anyone else does, I am not even thinking about their drinking, I'd much rather not talk about it, and it’s never me that brings it up, but it is just what happens. Usually it soon passes and we get onto other things and have good conversations, but it is sometimes a bit awkward at first. It is hard enough to learn to socialise sober, but having this completely unintentional glitch to get through is a bit of a burden sometimes. The very last thing I want to do is make anyone uncomfortable. So I get torn between making an effort to go out, or staying at home in my comfort zone because it is easier.
I have also realised that when I am not working I am a bit lost. I can hardly wait until it is late enough to go to bed. How sad is that? That is definitely like a shell of my former self!!

I guess I must trust that all will be well, that wounds will heal, family will unite, laughter will return, my new home will bring new energy and perhaps new people into my life, eventually, and the serenity those views will bring to me daily, will be a balm to my soul.

I know, even if others don't, that the life I am living and the person I am striving to become is the best version of myself I can be. There will always be a vastness of room for improvement. I am human after all, and right now my human frailty has risen right to the surface and it is that which I am living and breathing daily. I need to keep a stiff upper lip as my Dear Dad used to say, and I need to allow and observe and sit with my feelings and feel the rawness and accept it, and move on.

I will continue to offer support to others daily in their own brave quests to give up the booze.
I have a very busy week coming up. I am honoured that Mrs D has asked me to monitor the Living Sober website for a week while she takes a well-deserved break from all social media and technology, for the first time since before the LS website was even launched. I will strive to do a good job of that. I will strive also to be a sister that my family are proud of and I hope that they will try to see me as I am. A straight sober and sensitive sister who loves them all, and who is working her butt off and living on her wits to try to pull off the biggest dream she’s ever had. 




Saturday, 17 September 2016

A LAKEHOUSE GATHERING


Last week I flew up to Tauranga and stayed with my very cool friend Charlie Gilbert, whom I met right here in 'blogisphere" when we both first started blogging after giving up alcohol on the same day, 20th July 2014. It's the third time I've been up to see her, and we met up once in Wellington too at the big gathering there in October last year. We've become good friends and we both know it is a lifetime friendship we will have. Since I was last up she has ended her 10 year relationship, sold out of her shared home, farm and business, and purchased and moved with her two children into a beautiful waterfront home in Tauranga with views to die for. Her Apsie teenage daughter has changed his name to Felix and is wearing man’s clothes, dyed his hair pink and got a nose stud.
She has founded a group and set up a very relaxed premises for educating quirky teens who do not fit into the school system, and it's going off, the teens, including Felix, are loving it and thriving, and it’s getting big attention from various agencies who simply cannot help these kids. There is a film crew there at the moment doing a reality documentary following one of the Tourette’s kids. I call Charlie the Aspie Whisperer. Other agencies already want to come and gawk at how it's done, but she won't allow her tribe of teens to be intruded upon in their safe space which they love. She's started another small enterprise at her home, doing a course for the teen girls on hair and makeup, clothes shopping and nail polish etc, and they all just love it, and love her, as do the parents. She also does respite day care in her home some days for an Aspie boy whose Mother needs a break. I am so very proud of her, it is a beautiful thing to witness such courage and ingenuity in the face of huge adversity. To watch a friend find her true calling, break new frontiers and thrive, is nothing short of amazing.
Watch this space. She will go far.

After staying a couple of days in Tauranga we dropped Felix off at Aspie school on the Friday and both kids would stay with their Dad for the weekend, while we went up to Rotorua for our long awaited weekend with three other Living Sober members at a big luxury Lakehouse at Ngongotaha on Lake Rotorua. What a phenomenal weekend. One flew in from Brisbane, one from Wellington, one from Dunedin. We were three ladies and two men. All of them the most fabulous and brilliant characters, and it was just beautiful to forge deeper friendships and to know and understand them all so much more. These friendships are quite unique in that there is already a powerful trusting bond formed from our communications on the LS website, so when we all get together in person it feels like old friends gathering, yet some of us hardly know each other. On the Saturday we had a few friends arrive for a big afternoon visit, all friends from the LS website, two from Whakatane, one from Taupo and one from MataMata or Hobitown, and Mrs D who was up in Rotorua for a big Addictions Conference. It was very cool to entertain them all in our lovely big warm temporary home, and we feasted and drank mocktails, and talked about our lives, our struggles and our triumphs, amidst much laughter and warmth. We enjoyed watching our resident Swan Whisperer, Phil, attracting about 20 black swans and many ducks with his bags of bread and left over curried egg and rocket sandwiches. I had such a wonderful time deepening these friendships with amazing people whom I love and trust, and I feel greatly enriched by the experience, and the privilege it was. We would all love to do it again.

Home to some tricky family issues taking place in my absence, but hopefully that will result in us all being more understanding, loyal and united as a family. It is beneficial to all to recognise and respect each other’s qualities, forgive the shortcomings, and celebrate our differences.

The roof is ready to go on my new house this coming week, it was supposed to be yesterday but the roofer has had to delay again. This is So exciting for me and it will be great to see the progress that will follow. The windows are ordered, the joiners measure up next week, the tiler was over there yesterday checking things out, and the drainage guy too, so there's plenty going on and sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe I am really doing it, and that my son Rory is really building his Mumma's home, and doing a fine job of it with such excellent communication and patience with me, it is so appreciated. How many builders would be merely amused at a client who changes her mind about nearly everything at least six times!! What a lovely nature he has. We are all so excited and blown away, Rory and Georgia and I, that it really is a happening thing and soon we will have a lovely home in paradise to relax in and soak up the sun and views and the peace, whenever we want  for the rest of our days. I look forward to the patter of little grandbabies feet, and to all the love and laughter and promise the future holds for us all.

I feel the spirit of my Father on this land, I always have, and I know Mum and Dad would be proud of us all for honouring them and their gift of this land, by putting down these strong roots for our future generations. I am feeling so lucky and blessed.