Guest blog – Tina’s story

My lovely workshop “graduates” are hitting their milestones and some of them are even sending me their stories – thanks guys – we love stories and I am always humbled by the way people open their hearts and “share” at the beginning of our workshops.

All our stories around alcohol are different but by sharing our angst about the booze we can all become stronger – there is a great benefit to being open and honest and that is how we will change our relationship with alcohol – as well as inspire other people.

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Nick’s Story”, today it is Tina’s turn and “Jamie’s story” is in the pipeline – so watch this space!

TINA’s STORY

Alcohol was my best friend, my go to strategy when feeling blessed, stressed or depressed.

I grew up with alcohol – from my first party at 14 to girls holidays in Ibiza – from countless afternoons in the wine bars of London with work colleagues to milestone birthdays in Vegas. It was fun, it made a good night out great and gave me unbridled confidence.

I always turned up for work – I worked hard and played hard – I never drank on Mondays and thought that meant my health wouldn’t be impacted because I often took breaks of 2-3 days, sometimes weeks at a time.

The years of partying continued into my late forties. But then thing started to change, I noticed it was taking longer and longer for me to reach that ‘buzz’ and even longer to recover from a ‘big night out’ or ‘legendary lunch’.

The hangovers were getting worse and the frequency of waking up not entirely sure what had gone on the night before were increasing (I now know these to be blackouts) I particularly didn’t enjoy the feeling of waking up and having to retrace my steps through bar and taxi receipts (let alone text messages).

My health was also suffering. I was bloated, had chronic indigestion, my skin was dehydrated and my diet was generally poor – the hangover days were fueled with carb and sugar frenzies.

I slowly started to resent how alcohol was dominating my social life. Days and nights out were built around alcohol – even going to the theatre had to involve pre, during and post show drinks.

Still I carried on consuming way over the recommended amount of 14 units (I mean who sticks to that, really?). It was normal to get plastered at the weekend- everyone drank as much as I did…. Right?

The problem was my conscience was nagging me. It wouldn’t let up. I had known for years that I drank way too much – I’d often thought about stopping but knew I needed help. I kept minimizing the adverse side effects and attempted to cut down on my own but that lead to drinking more and eventually my consumption began to negatively impact my relationships and so I decided enough was enough and last October I made the decision to quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s been a challenging journey but with the help of support groups I am looking forward to celebrating my one year soberversary.

A lot of people questioned why I would want to give up alcohol and now one year later I frequently get asked how I feel and have I experienced any benefits.

Truth is there are many benefits – I’ve listed a few below.

My anxiety has dramatically reduced

I can focus better

I stick to my commitments (like training for a half marathon)

My sight has improved and my skin is clearer

My face is not bloated or puffy

I don’t binge all day on pizza, crisps and coca cola

I listen to others instead of talking about myself all the time

I’ve not injured myself or anyone else

I’ve met some amazingly cool and fun sober people

I still party like its 1999 – I just remember everything and don’t lose the next day to a hangover.

If you’re thinking of quitting for 30 days, 100 days, a year, forever the best thing you can do is join a support group. I had stopped for a few weeks but was struggling, then I attended the World Without Wine Workshop in Cape Town. It helped me enormously.and now, 1 year later, I want to help others on their sober journey.

If I ever doubt my decision to quit I only have to ask myself this … is my life better or worse with alcohol…

Tina

Time to get rebellious!

A lot of this sobriety game is psychological

When you think of the billions spent by the liquor industry to brainwash us into believing that we need their product it’s little wonder some of us get hooked.

Not to mention the fact that alcohol is chemically designed to be addictive.

And then you have the fact that drinking alcohol has become so “normalised” that it makes it’s appearance at just about every event from a Christening to a Funeral.

It’s the lubricant that oils our social life, it’s the gasoline of fun!

Or is it?

How about we get a bit rebellious here and go against the grain, move out of our comfort zone and even defy social expectations a little.

I know I started to drink because I just wanted to “fit in”.

Yes it takes a fair amount of confidence and courage to socialise sober – and to dare to be different.

But it does get easier.

So maybe it’s time to rise above all that social conditioning.

After all we got wise about cigarettes – we now know they kill you and are not particularly cool or sexy.

Let’s get ahead of the game and see booze for what it really is – a poisonous trap.

janet xxx

getting the sparkle back…

This is my first blogpost for more than a year – not because I “fell off the wagon” but because I have been busy building my alcohol free life – and making it awesome.

I started blogging the day I stopped drinking and used it to track my first year of sobriety – first blogpost was May 2015 so if you want the whole story just click HERE

I hope this new post is reaching some of those kind people who encouraged me through those tough early months – would love to hear from you and anyone else who would like to leave a comment!

One of the best things about sobriety has been the opportunity to help other people via the worldwithoutwine workshops – we run them in Cape Town and Joburg and more than a hundred people have attended – about a third of those people have stopped drinking completely, another third of them have cut down and the rest did not reply to our survey so I have concluded that they are still “in contemplation”.

Contemplation is actually a vital part of the change process – my decade of trying (and failing) to moderate was definitely “contemplation” before I finally accepted that I would have to stop drinking completely.

My biggest learning as I begin my third year of sobriety is that putting down that last alcoholic drink is just the beginning. If you don’t make some serious changes in your life then you end up trying to live your normal life with a big hole in it – where the booze used to be. I certainly went through that phase, feeling depressed – and stuck because I couldn’t even chase away the blues with wine. I used say that I felt as if I had lost more than I had gained – but now I feel the opposite. Now I know that you need to fill that big hole with stuff that’s going to lift you up, connect you with others and broaden your horizons.

I have learned so much about addiction since I got sober so am planning to share some of those learnings, as well as some personal insights, via a weekly blogpost – please follow me if you’d like to get notification when I post.

Never forget that the opposite of addiction is connection.

I leave you with a quote from Mary Karr:-

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite”

That’s when the sparkle started for me”.

janet x

 

 

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!

10 Reasons to be Dry this December

It’s late November and the traffic is hectic, the shops are heaving, the party invites are flooding in and your relatives are already squabbling over whose turn it is to host the Christmas get-together.  Your head is spinning and your to-do list is getting longer by the day.

Same old, same old – every flippin’ year… but… why not make this year just a bit DIFFERENT?

No I’m not talking about cancelling Christmas but I am talking about a whole new way of coping.  Yes I’m talking about a DRY DECEMBER!

I know it’s crazy, I know it’s “off the wall” but sometimes it feels good to swim against the tide…

So here we go – 10 reasons to be dry this December…

  1. December is a madly busy time – chances are that whatever your profession you will be busy at work, busy socially – and of course busy creating that “perfect Christmas” for your family.  If you give up alcohol for December you can actually claw back a lot of time.  Time usually devoted to planning drinking sessions, drinking and then getting over the drinking.
  2. Everybody does “Dry January” but only the seriously cool people do “Dry December” and then start the new year feeling fantastic – rather than exhausted and poisoned with excess food and alcohol. Always remember that “sober is the new black”.
  3. There is never a perfect time to give up or cut down on alcohol – there will always be a party, a wedding or that “teambuilding” event coming up.  In fact December is just about the most crazy time to take a break from the booze – but maybe crazy is how you roll?
  4. You will reduce your stress as you “take control” – you will sleep better and steam through your “to-do” list and even begin to feel slightly superior to your pals as they struggle with their hangovers…if your friends give you a hard time just tell them you are doing 30 dry days to raise money for Earthchild – maybe they will even join you…
  5. You will have a wonderful excuse for avoiding the dreaded “office party” – “I’m taking a break from alcohol at the moment so think I will give it a miss this year” – let somebody else do the “walk of shame” through the open plan office the morning after the office Christmas party.  You can be sure you will hear about exactly who did what to whom before the day draws to a close.
  6. You won’t have that anxiety in your heart about the amount you are drinking and the nagging thought that you really must do something about it come January – you will be way ahead of the game this year…
  7. Action is the key – “Just Do It” – at least get through those first few days in December “alcohol free” – and if you can’t manage it then maybe you do need to seriously think about addressing your relationship with alcohol.
  8. You will lose weight!  We are surrounded by super-fattening foods during December and after a glass of wine or two we just get stuck in.  Staying sober means you can stay in control of what you are eating and drinking.  As an extra bonus you can opt out of the dieting misery train that we are all supposed to board come January 1st.
  9. A lot of people worry that they cannot enjoy themselves without alcohol – but think about it – what makes a good Christmas?  – being with your family and seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they open their presents – or knocking back the booze?
  10. At the very least a sober Christmas will be an interesting experiment – even if you hate it you will have tried – and who knows – you may even discover a whole new side of yourself…

To help you on your way WorldWithoutWine have launched their “Dry January Challenge” which in fact can also be “Dry December” if you dare – just make a small donation by clicking HERE

In return you will receive a daily motivational e-mail from WorldWithoutWine to keep you on track for 30 days.

We are raising money for the Earthchild Project – just as we did last year –  check out this 5 minute movie we made about how we spent the R30,000 we raised last year..

Thanks for reading!

Janet x

Top Six Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol

Now those Soberversary Celebrations are done have been taking some time to reflect on some of the benefits of giving up the booze…here are my top six:-

  • Finding my purpose – when wine plays such a big part in your life it is easy to drift through the days in a pleasant haze – giving up is a shock to the system – so much so that it creates a kind of “void” and demands a switch of pace.  It also kickstarts energy and creativity – I used mine to build a community via World Without Wine and it’s been hugely rewarding to know that our workshops have helped some people to quit drinking.  Have had to learn about websites, social media and marketing with the help of some pretty awesome people.  (Oli and Mari – thank you for your endless patience!)
  • Having a happy Husband – and I think Son & Girlfriend are pretty damn impressed as well 😉 Friends have been awesome and have supported me all the way – nobody’s dumped me (yet) for being “boring” – in fact some of them have even joined me in the quest for sobriety.  Have also acquired some new pals – my very own “sober buddy” plus those awesome WWW ladies.
  • Losing weight – without dieting!  Having grown up with Twiggy as role model have obviously been on an eternal “diet” – existed almost entirely on cigarettes and white wine throughout my teens and twenties – then switched to healthy eating and exercising a lot but of course knocking back plenty of alcohol on top.  Well would you believe it – dropped the booze and those stubborn kilo’s just melted away.
  • Emotional maturity – after a lifetime of using alcohol to enhance positive emotions and chase away the negative ones am finally managing to live “in the moment”.  Abusing alcohol is like hiding under a massive and comforting cape – remove that “numbing shield” and there is nowhere to hide – I have had to meet challenges head on, feeling raw and exposed but gradually I got my strength back and and am living my life full on.
  • Health has improved – better sleep, more energy.  As a breast cancer “survivor” I live with the possibility of a recurrence – but at least I don’t feel I am tempting fate by consuming vast amounts of wine.
  • Being in control of my life – no more waking up at 2am agonizing over what I may (or may not) have said the night before.  No more wasted mornings staggering around trying to function through the fog of a hangover. True I have sacrificed some highs but also lost the major lows – the depression that follows yet another failure “to moderate”.  Overall I feel calmer, more balanced – and happier..

on the run…

WorldWithoutWine claims to be a “social network” so we are busy getting social.  Last Sunday some of us got physical and did the Spar 5k walk.  Zaida volunteered to do the admin although may not have realised at the time that this involved going to Philippi township to collect the goodie bags for the group.

It was June the chihuahua’s first visit to a township and she was quite intrigued – in the picture you can see her checking out the bags for dog friendly snacks.  Considering this event was supposed to be a “healthy” one it was surprising to see the amount of sugar filled drinks and snacks in the goodie bag.  They weighed a ton and thanks to everyone generously donating goodie bags to Red Cross Hospital Zaida had to gather them up again to deliver to the hospital.

Even though it had been billed as a “Ladies Walk” Husband announced he would be coming with..

In my mind I was expecting a few hundred people – in fact there were TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND people there so had to park miles away and had to walk about 5k to get the starting point.  Vague arrangements to meet “near MacDonalds” proved impractical as there were thousands of people “near MacDonalds” – all wearing identical t-shirts.  Husband’ mood was deteriorating by the minute and he kept asking me “what is this for?” – sadly could not remember what it was for so just told him to stop moaning.  Amazingly we managed to locate a few WWW ladies and joined the massive queue waiting to start.  After the long walk to get to the starting point – and then the 40 minute wait before we could start was pretty worn out before we began.  Husband perked up briefly when they played Gangnam Style at full volume but as soon as we hit the road he was looking for an escape route and soon legged it back home.  Think the next social event will involve sipping mocktails in a calm and quiet environment.

Worldwithoutwine

In other news there are three more workshops scheduled –  one in Cape Town on May 21st – then we are branching out to other locations –  one in Joburg on July 9th and another in Somerset West on 23rd July – more details here

Check out this TED talk from Glennon Doyle Melton who comes up with the analogy of addiction being like a comforting cloak – removing the cloak leaves one feeling raw and exposed – getting worse before it gets better – but it does get better  – love the title of her talk “lessons from the mental hospital” – check it out HERE

Finally to end on a green note a big thank you to Janis Theron who sent in 15 practical ways to save the planet  – link is HERE

Dry January Does Good!

Son and girlfriend were over from London recently so they came with us to Khayelitsha to help us make a little movie about how we are spending all that lovely money we raised from the Dry January Challenge. We went to one of the schools where Earthchild run their yoga classes where we were viewed with curiosity by the pupils.  Although white people are no longer a rarity in the townships white people with pink hair are not a common sight.  Son’s girlfriend now knows what it’s be like to be famous – in the pic she is being mobbed by kids who just wanted to touch her hair…

We made this film to thank our donors (thank you donors!) – Son had excellent idea to get a group of kids shouting “thank you” which somehow came out as “thank youuuuuuuuuuuu”  Here is a pic of us trying to get them ready for the shot – organised chaos would be a good description!

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Photo by Pinkgraphy

As you will see in the film which you can watch HERE we had a tremendous response to our Dry January Challenge.  The idea was that people would sign up to an alcohol-free January and donate the money they saved to a good cause – some people procrastinated so long about starting the long, dry month that they did a Dry February instead!  Shame for them it was a Leap Year 😉

In return for their donation I sent a daily e-mail to everybody that signed up – tips, inspiration and encouragement.  Got some lovely feedback from my mails which really seemed to help – plenty of people felt so good at the end of their dry month that they were going to continue and others felt it would be so much easier for them to “moderate” after a complete break.

The success of this initiative made me wonder if W0rldWithoutWine should offer the e-mail support to anyone who wanted to take a month off the Drink at anytime during the year.  We could call it the MOD (Month off the Drink) and it would start on the 1st of every month.  Let me know if you think that idea has legs…

We have some advice from Cate in our regular feature Cate’s Cache – you can read it HERE

That’s all for now – am going to leave you with another one of Pinkgraphy’s stunning photographs.

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Dry January Challenge funds yoga in Khayelitsha

A big thank you to all our donors who gave up alcohol for  our Dry January Challenge and donated the money they would have spent on booze to Earthchild.  We raised R30,000 – 50% more than our target – check out the video to see how your money will be spent…

What is a Dry January Challenge?

Dry January is a custom of abstaining from alcohol for the month of January, particularly practised in the United Kingdom. The custom, as a formal entity, appears to be relatively recent, being described as having “sprung up in recent years” even in 2014.

 

Sober Just Got Sexy!

More proof that sober is the way to go.

Dry January is over, pay day is finally here, but not everyone is going to be hitting the bars hard, because there’s been an explosion in sobriety movements.

Going sober no longer resigns you to pints of cola or staying in. There are loads of new organisations, establishments, drink and even clothing brands looking to get in on the increasing number of people wanting to avoid the hard stuff – whether for a month or forever.

Which is great news! It’s never been easier it is for us to make clever, healthy choices whilst keeping our social life just as healthy and our drinks just as exciting.

If you’re tempted to try a new way of socialising, here’s Elle Magazine’s Guide to the most exciting sober stuff around.