Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sober Day #32- First Holiday/Vacation without Wine

Today it is official!  Thanksgiving without wine, and a week's vacation in New Orleans without wine.  Truly a Milestone for me.

These are the things I did to help ensure my No Wine success this week:

(1)  As soon as we arrived, I stocked up on flavored seltzer water and diet soft drinks.
(2)  I permitted myself food treats this week that I usually steer clear of- my usual diet is No grain, No sugar- and this week I had some of both.
(3)  I arranged distractions of Non-Wine things I enjoy:  crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzle, new embroidery threat, a quilt that was done except for hand-stitching the binding, a large stash of magazines and a few new books, etc
(4)  I enlisted the help of a few trusted folks- DH, one sister, my nephews- to help distract attention from me if there were questions about my not drinking.  DH was kind enough to refrain from ordering any alcohol when we ate out.
(5)  I took my kindle with me to social gatherings, and occasionally excused myself for a few minutes of Reorientation by Book.
(6)  I invented the Detail Game:  When I feel disoriented or regretful about no wine, I refocus on my surroundings.  I challenge myself to notice at least 10 details that I haven't seen before.  This turns out to be fascinating:  from cracks in the ceiling (a la Madeline in Paris?) to a carved wooden edge to the table I'd never noticed, to a column of caged oyster shells at the restaurant-  this approach seems to add a richness and grounding.

What do you do to help set yourself up for No Alcohol Success?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sober Day #31- Eating to support Sobriety

Being a somewhat insatiably curious person, I find myself wondering about how we in early sobriety can use nutrition to support ourselves, how food and supplements might hasten our return to vibrant health.  And there is a ton of information available, as my initial google searches have identified.

On the other hand, as a scientifically-trained physician, I am highly skeptical of unattributed blanket claims.  Things like:  Eat more vegetables, Never eat xxx, always eat a lot of yyyy- grab my attention in a bad sort of way.

So I have given myself a new task:  Developing a health assessment useful for establishing a health baseline on quitting alcohol, and coming up with evidence-based recommendations for food and supplements.

Evidence-based means that I can show you (a) specific article(s) from peer-reviewed medical journals that provide good evidence to support that recommendation.  It is the opposite of the 'snatched from thin air' recommendations found proliferating on the web.

As soon as I figure out how to do it, I will make a separate page summarizing these ideas, with references back to each specific post detailing the scientific evidence for this particular recommendation.

My Thanksgiving, BTW, was alcohol-free and pretty awesome.  This was my first major holiday without alcohol, and it went pretty smoothly.  Thank goodness I have a relatively drama-free family, so I didn't have to cope with the massive drinking around me or other major crazinesses that many of our community had to face, and I am grateful for that!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sober Day #30- Happy Thanksgiving!! The Visit

Last night a dear friend I hadn't seen in a while visited us in our rental house here in New Orleans.  Our typical evenings together are usually sharing wine while catching up on news.   I texted her about my 100 day challenge- expecting that she wouldn't drink when we got together.  Yet when I texted her yesterday about what she'd like to snack on, she replied:  white wine and I eat almost anything.

Well, I thought, I can handle this.  I asked DH if he would please buy a bottle of white wine, open and pour it for her, and handle pouring refills so I didn't have to handle the wine bottle at all.  And so he did.

Observation #1:  Friend is a devout Catholic.  She mentioned how another friend of hers was also doing a 100 day no-alcohol challenge- for a special novena or something (please forgive, I'm sure I have the religious terminology wrong).  And friend approached my challenge like it was no big deal, like it wouldn't be any harder for me than, say, giving up sweets for Lent.  And I actually found this very refreshing.  Since it was no big deal in her mind, it made it easier for me to say to myself:  This is no big deal, you are just choosing not to drink wine tonight.  It turned out to be very refreshing NOT to have a moral/judgmental component attached to my actions.

Observation #2:  I bought a big jigsaw puzzle for us to work on as we talked, as distraction for me.  This worked well.  And as we sat at the DR table doing the puzzle, I had the same great time I always have with her, complete with lots and lots of belly laughs.  I will admit we also had a ton of great food to nibble on, which helped me feel not-deprived (back to my usual low-carb eating after this week in New Orleans!!!).  And not-drinking was not nearly as hard as I feared it might be.

The things I keep learning about sobriety, they continue to surprise me!

Happy Thanksgiving and Many Blessing for the coming year!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sober Day #29- Bone Density Improvement after Quitting Drinking!

As a, ahem, mature female, I do think about my bone density.  I want to keep it strong and normal to support a healthy active life as I age.  My weight-lifting, pilates, yoga, TRX, cardio, etc, certainly help-  but I also know chronic alcohol overuse has an adverse affect on bone density.  Therefore I was very happy to come across the following article.  What I have reprinted here is the article's abstract.  The full reference is at the bottom of the post, for anyone who wishes to review the original article in it's entirety.  It is available at as a free full text article.  I have highlighted the bits that are the most relevant!  


The aims of this study were to assess bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC), osteocalcin, serum telopeptide, PTH and vitamin D in alcoholics, and to determine if a 6-month period of abstinence leads to changes in these parameters.


Serum osteocalcin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), telopeptide (40 patients) and 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, were measured in 28 controls and 77 alcoholic patients, 48 of whom were evaluated again 6 months later. All patients underwent whole-body assessment of BMD by a Hologic QDR-2000 (Waltham, MA, USA) bone densitometer, at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.


Patients showed higher serum telopeptide levels **(0.59 +/- 0.40 versus 0.19 +/- 0.10 nmol/100 ml, P < 0.001), lower IGF-1 [median = 49, interquartile range (IQR) = 31-121 ng/ml versus 135, IQR = 116-237 ng/ml, P < 0.001], vitamin D [26.5, IQR = 17.0-37.8 pg/ml versus 82.4 (IQR = 60.9-107.4 pg/ml, P < 0.001] and osteocalcin (2.1, IQR = 1.1-3.6 ng/ml versus 6.65, IQR = 4.9-8.8 ng/ml, P < 0.001) than those in controls. Patients also showed lower BMD values, Z- and T-scores at many levels of the skeleton and reduced total BMC. After 6 months, those who continued drinking showed a loss of bone mass, whereas those who abstained showed either no change or increase, differences being especially marked at pelvis, right arm and total BMD and BMC. Simultaneously, abstainers showed a significant increase in osteocalcin (versus a decrease among those who continued drinking). Serum telopeptide increased in both groups.


Ethanol consumption leads to osteopenia, and decreased serum osteocalcin, which improve with abstinence, whereas those who continue drinking show a worsening of both parameters.

Full Reference: 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sober Day #28- Fun in New Orleans!

I do love New Orleans.  I may have initially, long ago, decided I like the city because alcohol is so much a part of the casual culture here.  I wonder?

It is so interesting seeing New Orleans without alcohol-  without planning meals in restaurants to be sure they are in a place that serves alcohol, without mapping out where the local wine/liquor stores are, without having whole chunks of my day defined by alcohol consumed.

I actually think I may like being sober.  This surprises me, since I'd thought of a life without alcohol as a Life defined by a continuous feeling of Deprivation.  And I'm not really feeling deprived, except in a minute or two, here and there, mostly when a Habit-Thought relating to obtaining or drinking alcohol kicks in, and then I realize, Oops, I'm not doing that right now.

It is still an alien feeling, though, this feeling fully present all the time, to myself, my companions, my surroundings.  A wee bit I feel like I'm in a strange foreign country, and equally I feel like I'm home to a comfortable loving place that I'd forgotten I belonged to.

This is a sensually-rich city. The house we are renting is just off St. Charles, and I love hearing the streetcars go by!   Audobon Park is just a few blocks away, and what a lovely place that is!!  DH and I are both still liking the idea of retiring here eventually- and we're having fun driving around (it's rainy, making our usual walking-biking mode a little less attractive than usual) vetting different neighborhoods and imagining ourselves living in them.

We are now off to lunch in a French Quarter restaurant owned by the family of one of my patients-  apparently a New Orleans institution that I've somehow missed before.  I'm almost drooling in anticipation of more great food!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sober Day #27- Sleep: Restore to Factory Settings

I'm having a fabulous time on my New Orleans vacation- even without alcohol.

One of the biggest changes for me over the past nearly-four-weeks has been sleep.  Judging from the other blogs, that seems to be a universal theme for early sobriety.

Before (i.e., with alcohol) my typical night involved 4.5-5 hours in bed.  Much of that was poor-quality sleep, disturbed by metabolizing the large amount of alcohol in my system when I went to bed.  Although I occasionally remembered dreams, I doubt if I regularly got much REM sleep at all.  This has been my pattern for a couple of decades at least.

From day #1 of this challenge, I have been craving more sleep.  I've been tracking my sleep times in my journal, and note that I've been getting 7.5-8 hours of sleep most nights.  Since I get up at 5:30 almost every day, this involved astoundingly early bedtimes, like 9PM.  And yet it feels very nourishing.

On the two nights we've been in New Orleans so far, I have been in bed an amazing total of 12 hours or so a night.  And most of that time was actually spent sleeping, lol!  I feel so relaxed, so calm, so full (and not just full of the wonderful food that flourishes here- also full, as in fully charged, ready for any activity or fun that comes along).

It really does feel like I am getting the amount of quality sleep my body needs, finally.  Like I am making up for a many-year sleep deficit, and getting to the way a person should feel, rested and full (not just full of the wonderful food that flourishes here, but also full, as in the energy tank is topped off, restored to factory settings, so I am energetic and enthusiastic about whatever comes along!

Hurray for sleep!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sober Day #26- Flying without Wine

I have always been a Fearful Flyer.  I would not get on a plane without at least one glass of wine in me, even if it was a 7 AM flight.  (Sometimes awkward, lol!)  International flights?  Glass after glass of wine until I fell asleep.  I guess I thought I would self-destruct without that cushion, that self-erected zone of I am Not Really Here.

Yesterday I got to the airport, and went through security.  My default after that is to head immediately to the closest bar.  And I did.  But I ordered iced tea and a salad.  When at the next airport between flights, I bought a diet coke and some cashews and nibbled on these while recharging my phone and reading the morning's WSJ which I'd brought along (hard to read newspapers on planes!!)

I got on the next flight, and arrived here in New Orleans.  And here I am!

How was it?  Almost painless.  I did stock up on a backpack full of magazines, and a few cross-word puzzles to distract myself.

Final Diagnosis:  I guess I must have long ago outgrown being a Fearful Flyer without realizing it.  Another revelation of this sobriety experiment. I keep finding out that I am Stronger than I thought.  In a lot of ways, excess use of wine seems to be an emotional crutch that I no longer need.  Wow!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sober Day #25: Two Percent More Brain!!

What follows is from the medical journal Brain.  (Full reference at the bottom of the page, if you wish to read the whole article- this is just the abstract.)  Here I am at Day #25.  If you interpolate the timeline in this article, this means that chances are that I have now gained about 1% in total brain volume over the past weeks.  I'm not sure what that means functionally, but I nevertheless find it very encouraging!!  I mean, how cool is this??

Chronic alcohol abuse results in morphological, metabolic, and functional brain damage which may, to some extent, be reversible with early effects upon abstinence. Although morphometric, spectroscopic, and neuropsychological indicators of cerebral regeneration have been described previously, the overall amount and spatial preference of early brain recovery attained by abstinence and its associations with other indicators of regeneration are not well established. We investigated global and local brain volume changes in a longitudinal two-timepoint study with T1-weighted MRI at admission and after short-term (6–7 weeks) sobriety follow-up in 15 uncomplicated, recently detoxified alcoholics. Volumetric brain gain was related to metabolic and neuropsychological recovery. On admission and after short-term abstinence, structural image evaluation using normalization of atrophy (SIENA), its voxelwise statistical extension to multiple subjects, proton MR spectroscopy (1H-MRS), and neuropsychological tests were applied. Upon short-term sobriety, 1H-MRS levels of cerebellar choline and frontomesial N-acetylaspartate (NAA) were significantly augmented. Automatically detected global brain volume gain amounted to nearly two per cent on average and was spatially significant around the superior vermis, perimesencephalic, periventricular and frontal brain edges. It correlated positively with the percentages of cerebellar and frontomesial choline increase, as detected by 1H-MRS. Moreover, frontomesial NAA gains were associated with improved performance on the d2-test of attention. In 10 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects, no significant brain volume or metabolite changes were observed. Although cerebral osmotic regulations may occur initially upon sobriety, significant increases of cerebellar choline and frontomesial NAA levels detected at stable brain water integrals and creatine concentrations, serum electrolytes and red blood cell indices in our patient sample suggest that early brain recovery through abstinence does not simply reflect rehydration. Instead, even the adult human brain and particularly its white matter seems to possess genuine capabilities for regrowth. Our findings emphasize metabolic as well as regionally distinct morphological capacities for partial brain recovery from toxic insults of chronic alcoholism and substantiate early measurable benefits of therapeutic sobriety. Further understanding of the precise mechanisms of this recovery may become a valuable model of brain regeneration with relevance for other disorders.

  1. Martin Bendszus1.
  2. Manifestations of early brain recovery associated with abstinence from alcoholism.  Brain Vol 130, Issue 1, Pages 36-47

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sober Day #24- Alcohol and Routine and Travel

For the last 24 days, I have been at home, settling into my normal routine:  Normal work hours, normal school hours for daughter.  I am getting used to the rhythm of this, and each evening without wine is a little easier than the next.  But a new challenge is coming up.

Tomorrow we leave to spend the week of Thanksgiving in New Orleans. I've spent a fair amount of time there, although I've never lived there.  We love the city, and it is where we eventually plan to retire.  BUT- it is definitely the land to Big Eating and Big Drinking!!!  I certainly plan to take advantage of the Eating- but I do not plan to drink.  I mean, I will not drink.  And this will be new, and possibly difficult.  Usually when we spend time in New Orleans, we get right into the routine of a lot of great food and great drink.  I'm not sure if approaching this routine with a major change- no alcohol- will be hard or not.

DH has decided he will support me by not ordering wine or beer for himself when we are eating out.  He loves his glass or two of red wine each evening, so I really appreciate this help!  (And he is one of those who has his two glasses of wine, and switched to Fresca- no problem.  sigh.)

I've been noticing at home that I am more aware, more noticing of little details of delight- tastes, sounds, smells, etc-  that I would in the past zip by in my hurry to get to the next glass of wine.  There is so much to appreciate in New Orleans-  I am hoping the richness of the new appreciation of my senses and surroundings will compensate for the 'loss' of the rosy glow of wine.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sober Day #23: How the Mundane supports Sobriety

It's that everyday routine that could easily go awry when I was ending every day with multiple glasses of wine.  The bed's not made?  So what!! The sink is full of dirty dishes?  Who cares?  The dirty laundry is piling up and the garden has more weeds than flowers?  I'll get around to it tomorrow.

What a change!  Our bed looks so pretty with its colorful comforter and piles of plush pillows.  The dishwasher is loaded and running, and the kitchen counters are clean and sparkling.  Laundry is all caught up, and the few flowers and other plants surviving the cold at this time of year have plenty of weed-free room to 'breathe'.  There is nothing inherently morally admirable about completing any of these activities, they do make a difference.  In a Feng Shui sort of sense, having a clean, tidy and orderly environment keeps my brain clearer.

And a clearer brain makes less anxiety, and less anxiety makes less of a drive to seek solace in wine.

This is very satisfying!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Losing the Alcohol-Induced Drama: Sober Day #22

When I drink to excess, it creates a lot of drama in my life.  Not Soap-Opera, Tangle-with-the-Law drama.  Or even Throw-Things-in-a-Fit-of-Anger Drama.  Just Making-every-Day-Hard Drama.
It starts with waking up later than intended, feeling sluggish.  There's the drama of racing to get to work.  Hoping to be presentably dressed and smelling good.  Ignoring the pile of dishes in the sink and the unmade beds, living on the adrenaline of the last moment.

Then the drama of last-minute surges to meet deadlines at work.  And, oops, the deadline or two I forgot about.  Work like a fiend to get these done, fueled on caffeine and adrenalin.  The drama of finding something to eat, since I forgot to bring a lunch. Figuring out where to stop to buy wine on the way home.  Figuring out my 15 yo daughter's schedule, so I am able to drive her safely where she needs to go.

Today, I got up with plenty of time to have a Diet Coke (my version of coffee), read the paper, do a load of laundry, straighten up the remaining kitchen mess.  In a little while, I will be showered and dressed, with my lunch safely stowed in my bag, ready to drop Daughter off at school on my way to work.

Which feels better?  Hands down, I'll take a morning like today over any pleasure and escapism of drinking at night.

Who knew?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sober Day #21- That's right, Three Weeks!!

I'm settling in to this new way of life, and I'm curious- to see how things will go from here.  For so many years my metabolism has been ruled by processing all the alcohol first- perhaps it will be easier to drop a percentage point or two in body fat?  I've been stuck at 24% for about 3 years, and would dearly love to get under 20%.

My anxiety levels have dropped, and the quality and quantity of my sleep has increased dramatically.  Surely this is accompanied by a significant drop in cortisol levels.  I keep staring at my face in the mirror to see if it looks any different.  Is it my imagination?  Or is my complexion a bit brighter, a bit healthier looking?

As I mentioned yesterday, the more dramatic changes in how I feel that happened during my first week have settled down now, and I am in a holding pattern- which is overall pretty good.  This allows me to direct more of my energy toward strategizing new behaviour patterns to work on developing to support me in this sober life.

One foot in front of the other, again and again.  It is working for now.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sober Day #20- A Bit of a Let Down

I'm working on cutting down on diet coke at the same time as I am cutting out alcohol.  Today at Whole Foods I got a ton of different seltzer waters and flavored zero calorie drinks- auditioning an evening drink substitute.

This weekend was a bit more difficult than the last for me.  I think the initial novelty of feeling good, getting good sleep, losing the brain fog, is beginning to fade.  In its place there is a quiet enjoyment of this, but also more of a space to miss alcohol.  It's the habits that end up making me feel a bit bereft.  The:  let's go out for Sunday lunch and a glass or two of wine.  The Sunday evening wine while cooking dinner.  It's not that it takes great effort to resist, but more that I feel more acutely the absence of what seemed a nurturing and enjoyable habit.  Obviously, this was a false friendship, and had become a habit that was interfering with living my personal Best Life-  but it still feels like an empty hole.

However, I am plodding forward toward my 100 days, and do not think I will ever become a daily drinker again.  Sigh.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sober Day #19- Why Procrasinate?

I've been thinking a lot about procrastination lately.  How, although I have a highly successful and accomplished professional life, procrastination permeates my daily life.  Until I set aside the rose-colored glasses that wine provides, I was not really aware of this.

I buy food for a recipe, and a week or so later throw out this food when it goes bad before I've made the recipe. I agree to review a manuscript, then don't start reading the manuscript until two days after the review was due.  I toss bills aside in a pile to pay 'later', and find them a month or two later when I get a notice my utilities will be turned off if I don't pay them immediately.

Why?!!  I think it is rebellion. As in 'You are not the boss of me'.  I can see how doing this undoubtedly contributes to that underlying angst, the constant feeling that something bad is about to happen.  This seemingly-free-floating anxiety is, of course, part of what enticed me to escape into alcohol.  Can you say:  duh?

I will have to think about how to disarm the knee-jerk procrastination reaction.

In the meantime, this is a lovely Sunday, and I will enjoy my well-rested, well-slept state this morning.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sober Day #18- Food in Excess doesn't Work Well either.

Well, this is an experiment I won't repeat.  I thought, wow, I'm really cutting down on empty calories of wine- so maybe once a week junk/carb loading won't hurt.  That's how I'll celebrate the end of the work week.  I suppose I should have thought about the fact that I've eaten fairly strictly low carb for years so my system is pretty well adjusted to that.

OK. I got myself potato chips, an ice cream sandwich, two large cookies.  And I ate a good portion of it at one sitting last night.  Then, about half an hour after that, I started to feel slightly nauseated- and then spent most of an hour with belly cramps. My GI tract was truely not ready for grains and sugar.

Morals of the story:

(1)  Food in excess, especially the wrong type, is definitely not as bad as too much wine, but it is not doing my health any favors, either.

(2)  If I need a Friday night treat, a steak and part of a baked potato might be good, or some form of shellfish, which I adore.

(3)  It's back to mostly very low carb for me!!

Carrie at Day #18.

PS.  The rest of everything went down the garbage disposal.  Groan, says my stomach, even now.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day #17- The Upset didn't Upset my Plan

I had an upset with dear daughter tonight.  Overall, we have a great relationship for a teenage girl and her mom (I think she saw a lot of the problems older sister and brother created for themselves and learned from this- and those two are themselves doing much better these days).  But tonight she promised to accomplish a household chore while I was out (NOT out drinking!!!) - and I got home late to find the task undone.

In the past I would have grumbled and retreated into my wine glass, feeling abused and ill-treated.  Instead, tonight, I hitched up my pants like a grown up and said, OK, I am disappointed in your choice- but let's tackle this task together.  And so we did, and it got done.

And now I am sitting here with my diet root beer and a small handful of dark chocolate chips. She is settled down in bed.  In a few minutes I will take a quick shower (the task being somewhat malodorous, lol) and put myself to bed.  With a few extra chocolate calories on board, but not a drop of alcohol to be seen.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day #16- The Blahs

Tonight I am feeling a bit blah- not major down or upset or anything, just a bit blah.  In the past I would have jumped away from feeling this feeling and into a bottle of wine.  I was so uncomfortable with any emotion, so scared of my emotions, that alcoholic 'anesthesia' was the only way I felt I could deal with them.

Tonight, I sat with this feeling.  I ate some dinner, finished up some paperwork, went to my Pilates class.  And sure enough, I am feeling more normal, more engaged with the world again.  The somewhat staggering realization for me:  Emotions ebb and flow, come and go.  I won't get stuck in an emotion, and the emotions won't hurt me.  They are what I am feeling, but they are not me.

This is a very different way of living for me.  I like it. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day #15- Walking Past Wine

This really surprised me.  I decided last night that I needed a little treat, so stopped at a little gourmet grocery shop on the way home from work.  I was hoping to find some cool diet root beer or other diet soda to sip during the evening (even though I'm trying to redirect most of my wine-sipping to selzer water).  I went in, walked through their extensive wine section to reach the aisle with the soda.  I found and purchased some great root beer, bought it, came home, poured out a glass on ice, stuck a straw in it, and enjoyed the cool deliciousness.

It wasn't 'til then, sitting at the kitchen table, that I realized I hadn't even considered buying wine.  In that place where I have purchased many, many bottles of wine.  It didn't even occur to me.  This is astonishing.

But then I've also been thinking a lot about what I will do when I finish these 100 days.  Moderation -as in, drink a glass or two of wine a few days a week-  will definitely not work for me.  Two glasses always become four or five.  Yet to tell myself I will never ever taste wine again- well, that just sets up what seems a unrealistic goal against which I will need to rebel.

I am pretty sure I will never go back to drinking daily, or even weekly.  But perhaps one Friday or Saturday night a month?  Perhaps I will try this, and it will work fine.  Or perhaps I will try it and find out that this ends up interfering with my quality of life on the following Saturday or Sunday?  There's a part of me that thinks I will find out that, after all, even that much wine is not worth the trouble, and I'll limit myself to a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve (not this upcoming one, however, as it falls within my 100 days).

Most of the blogs I've read that talk about trying 'moderation' seem to end in relapse, out of which the person needs to reclimb.  But unfortunately, there is little detail about what the 'moderation' consists of. I guess that I will see.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day #14- Is it really TWO WHOLE WEEKS??

Wow.  I am surprised.

I had always intended to stop drinking for a while, but the date which I was imagining doing this was always a few months in the future (kinda like Middle Age is always 5 years older that one is, lol).  I didn't really intend to quit now. I just had that one day of alcohol-related bad experiences, and found the words coming out of my mouth:  That's it.  I'm done.

That first evening I discovered the world of sober blogs, and was amazed to find out that I wasn't the baddest, most worthless person who ever lived- just because two glasses of wine was NEVER enough.  There is a whole community of people who are struggling with the same issues I am.  Wow.

In that vulnerable and open state, I came across Belle's blog, and her 100 day challenge.  Without really making a decision, I found myself signing up for this, sending her the original email.  And here I am at two weeks into it.

I'm a bit worried because it hasn't really been all that hard.  I had no withdrawal symptoms that I could notice- and I was watching pretty closely.

Things I am liking: (1)  great sleep (2) more energy and clarity in the mornings (3) not spending all that time figuring out when and where to buy wine, when it was OK to drink (ie, not needing to drive anywhere) (4) getting a whole lot more done around the house and for work, in that variable time formerly occupied by being half-present, half in a bottle of wine.

Maybe I am a fraud- or maybe I am doing something wrong?  I read of others' agonizing struggles through the first days, the first weeks.  Maybe I am just on a giant pink cloud, and the awful reality is going to hit me soon.  Maybe-  I don't know what else.  It is not often that I am uncertain or at a loss for words, but this is definitely how I'd describe my mental state at present.

In the meantime, however, tomorrow will be Day #15, and the day after that (U"bermorgan, as the Germans say) will be Day #16, and I will be continuing my trek toward Day #100.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day #13- Almost Two Weeks!!!

Hurray- I've hit the Teens!  It might seem a might small number to people who've been working at this for a while, but it astonishes and amazes me.  I guess I thought I was just constitutionally unable to go nearly two weeks without any wine-  I don't know if I thought the universe would vaporize me, or if I'd self-implode, but going this long without wine certainly seemed very improbable.

What's different now?  It's funny- almost like I am slowing down and actually paying attention to the details of the world around me- nature, people, food, etc.  I think for very long I whizzed through everything else on my way to the evening's first glass of wine.  Only after that was inside me did I start to feel 'normal'.  The experiences I am learning to savor are more subtle, less intense-  but there to be appreciated when I slow down and pay attention.

What a revelation!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day #12- Monkey Chatter

(no disrespect meant to monkeys, of course, but they DO chatter on so).

I've been working on listening to my own background chatter, the seemingly involuntary background talk running on the backburner of my mind all the time.  (note to self:  does the mind really have a back burner?)

What I've learned is how much of it is/was concerned with alcohol.   Before (ie, 13 days ago and before that) there was a stream of berating talk:  how much DID you drink last night, where did that bruise come from, what is it that you are not remembering, why are you so weak, what is wrong with you that you always need to escape into alcohol, I thought you were only going to drink one bottle of wine last night, on and on and on.

And that is shifting! I am really amazed.  There is actually some silence.  And the tone of that background chatter has become slower, less frantic, more neutral instead of nagging and negative.  What a reprieve!

That alone is almost worth the Price of Admission, the giving up of the solace of escape into wine from whatever I am obsessing about on a given day.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day #11- (in hushed, wondrous tones) India!!

I am so excited:  India!!  It has been on my travel bucket list forever!  My man has been invited to speak at a conference in India next June.  I, of course, will be tagging along.  New Delhi!  It is supposed to have one of the greatest concentrations of Art Deco buildings!  (Art Deco being one of my passions)

I was, however, startled to realize that one of the first places my mind went was travel and alcohol.  Long haul flights have always meant a free pass to me to drink as much wine as I wanted soas to fall asleep and pass the time.  I don't think I want to do this anymore (even though that will be after my 100 day challenge, this facing the world 'raw' stuff is beginning to grow on me!)

And travel/vacations have always meant another free pass:  Wine at 10 in the morning?  Sure.  Wine at 2 in the afternoon?  Sure, have as much as you can drink!!  And I think by doing this I've probably missed half the unique-ness of each place, and half the fun of being there.

Wait, did I just say that wine DIMINISHED my fun?  Wow, I guess in a way it did.  What a sobering (no pun really intended) realization.

And I realize how much time I spent making sure I had a reliable supply of wine.  Where was there a wine store?  Where is the hotel bar?  Is there a mini-bar in the room?  I don't think I want to do that anymore.

One other thing that has changed international travel for me:  my Kindle.  I read avidly and fast, so more than half my suitcase weight 10 years ago would always be books.  Especially if the destination was a non-English-speaking country, I had to assure a adequate supply.  Now I can just load my kindle with a delectable selection of books and magazines, and contain my entire travel library in this slender device.

So this will be a trip to plan and think about.  Traveling light without physical books, and not wasting time drinking or thinking about drinking-  will be an entirely new experience.  I think I will travel extra light, so I can fill by suitcase for the return trip with delicious bright silks and cottons!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day #10: Carry On!

Wow!  Double digits!!  My next increase in # of digits will be hitting 3 digits at Day #100!

I decided my theme song for this challenge will be Carry On by Fun.


If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

And I think this is what most of us beginning a sobriety journey are doing, from one day to the next, focusing on carrying on.

When I first heard this song, I thought it said:  May your PATH, not May your PAST.

Actually, my version makes more sense to me-  as in:  creating my own unique path with each footfall, not following any pre-ordained path.

Anyway, that's my theme song for the next 90 days!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day #9- Ambivalence

I don't want to like this sober crap, but I do.  It's not too hard and I feel awesome- but in a funny sorta way, I don't want to.  I want to find it so hard that it is unsustainable.  I want to finish this hundred day challenge and say:  there, now that's done.  Now I can get on with my normal wine drinking.

Except I don't think I can.  I am one of those people for whom one glass of wine definitely means a second on.  And a second means I am even more eager for a third, et cetera, et cetera.

None of this means any firm decision about the role of wine in my future life.  Except for seeing out the total of 100 days of abstinence right now.  But I'm just sayin'- forever without wine does not seem very attractive :(

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day # 8- Why Now?

Why now as a time to quit?  Why not tomorrow, or last year, or next month?  Here's my reason:

I've always excused my excessive wine intake by remembering that I never drive after drinking, and never let drinking affect my work.  

About a week ago, I had a dreadful night.  Insomnia, a nightmare, staring at the ceiling for hours.  About 3 AM I gave up and got up.  Frustrated and mad, I drank a (large) glass of wine- and finally fell asleep again.  Naturally enough, I overslept.  I bolted out of bed and slammed out the door on my way to work.

It wasn't 'til evening that I realized I'd undoubtedly had alcohol in my system on my drive to work and for at least the first part of my morning.  Both of my alcohol Red Lines, transgressed in a single morning.  Whoa!  Time to do something very different- and taking a nice long vacation from alcohol seemed like an obvious next step.

I found Belle's 100 day challenge, and signing up for that seemed like a good idea.  So here I am, a little over a week from my last drink.  I think I can do this.  I'm not sure what I will do after 100 days, but I'm in for making it to 100.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day #7. Fitness and wine.

It's funny, that I could be such a fanatic about fitness-  and still convince myself that a bottle or two of wine a day wouldn't hurt my fitness quest- duh!  I work out at least an hour a day, often two, and adore weight-lifting and pilates.  How could I possibly think that was compatible with so much alcohol.  We can certainly delude ourselves- I certainly deluded myself.  I am curious to see how my fitness progresses in the absence of alcohol.

I'm surprised- so far this isn't as hard as I expected- but I anticipate there will be hard days.  The thing at present that throws me most off balance is habit-  going to the grocery store, heading for the wine section, and thinking:  Oh, no, I'm not doing that today.  Going to a restaurant, about to order wine- oh, that's right, not today.  Thinking about my evening, visualizing reading with a glass of wine, and remembering-nope, not today.

Now I've got the first week under my belt- let's see what my next week will be like.  100 days is a LOT of weeks- like, fifteen or so.  Seems forever.  Sigh.  But I'm on it.