Do you Dare to go Dry this December?

10 Reasons to be Dry this December

It’s the last day of 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 sexy”
  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!

Dry January Challenge – 2018!

So excited about our 2018 Dry January Challenge!

 

 

Yet again WorldWithoutWine has teamed up with the fabulous Earthchild Project in a fundraising project to provide children in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill with yoga and life-skills classes.

This is our third year of working together and the generosity of our donors has meant that so far we have been able to sponsor more than 300 children.

Over the past 12 years Earthchild have taught yoga to thousands of children in disadvantaged areas.

Yoga is a powerful and practical tool that supports the physical, mental and emotional development of the child.

Yoga empowers vulnerable children to transform their lives and communities.

Just R250 provides a child with weekly yoga and life-skills classes for a year

 

This is how it will work:-

In order to participate you will need to resolve to give up alcohol for a 30 day period.

The registration period is open from right now to the end of January so just pick your 30 day window – for example you might decide to be dry from 1-30 January or if you are still on holiday during early January you might prefer to choose 15 January-15 February.  You can even register on 31 January and end on 2nd March.  Or if you are anxious to get started or just like to be different why not sign up right now and go for a Dry December (!)

Once you have decided on your dates please reflect on how much you would have spent on alcohol during those 30 days and divert that money (or a proportion of it) to Earthchild.  Just a couple of bottles of wine comes in at R250 which already covers one child’s yoga classes for a year – how many bottles do you get through in a month?  Enough to fund several children’s classes perhaps?

So once you have decided how much you can afford to donate please click HERE and make your donation.  Then email me at worldwithoutwine@gmail.com with the dates of your “Dry January” and I will set up your daily e-mails.  BTW for the benefit of our regular donors I have written a whole batch of new Daily Mails for this year!

So lets have a healthy start to 2018 and help (at least) 120 kids have a better 2018!

I look forward to hearing from you!

janet x

Coins in a Jar

I connected with another Soberista a couple of months ago via her blog which you can find on FaceBook @coinsinajar – do check it out.

I was so impressed with her approach and her commitment that I invited her along to a workshop to inspire the participants – and she did!

She was also kind enough to write about the workshop so if anyone is wondering exactly what happens at our workshops then here is Jo’s review:-

 

“I was lucky enough to attend World Without Wine’s workshop two weeks ago. It was held at Janet’s lovely home in Cape Town. What a relaxed and welcoming environment.

The morning started with a coffee as everyone started arriving. There were 8 of us in total (I think!) as well as Janet and Mandy obviously, who run the course.

What struck me straight away was how welcoming Janet and her team were. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but as I got chatting with the others, I began to feel more relaxed. After all, we were all there for one very clear common reason: Alcohol. And the negative effects it was having or had had on our lives.

We all sat around Janet’s couch where there was ample space for all of us to be comfortable. The first thing we did was share why we were there, our relationships and history with alcohol. Each story was different but equally as eye opening. I just felt so fantastic to be sitting with this group of amazing, like-minded women who understood me and me them. To tell others your story and you just see the click in their eyes- they get what you are saying as they too have had enough of alcohol running and ruining their lives. It’s that simple.

After the shares, we received some important facts about the dangers of alcohol. We all know how bad it is for our health but just how bad and to see it in black and white was a good lesson. I particularly enjoyed our “prac”, which was to pour into a wine, whiskey and beer glass, what we think were the safe limits of alcohol consumption per unit. Very interesting. I’ll just say that I was drinking a woman’s weekly limit EVERY night. Scary stuff.

After a lovely lunch and more coffee, we had a guy come and chat to us that had not drunk for a year, after attending the course. It was informative and inspiring. Listening to him was great as he seemed so happy and alive, without having drunk for so long- something we all want to aspire to. Obviously, as we all do, he has stresses and strains in his life, but has just chosen to not numb them with alcohol, focussing on his health and family instead. Janet also read us her goodbye letter to alcohol which was deeply moving and just resonated with me so much. Her words could have so easily been mine.

We then watched a video and got some really cool info in the form of a “Toolkit”, in other words, how to cope with going to parties etc and also on how to moderate for those who wanted to go that route.

Some tea followed and then each of us spoke of our action plans and what we were going to do going forward. Some chose to cut down or moderate and others decided it was time to say cheers to the booze forever.

At the end of the workshop we had some alcohol- free drinks in the form of “what to drink when you don’t drink drinks” and I was amazed at the variety. Non- drinkers really do have options. I particularly enjoyed the Duchess gin and the JC Le Roux champagne. There was also a nice beer but I forget the name.

Everybody was so supportive and encouraging and there was really nowhere else I would rather have been that day. I’ve already been in contact with some people from the course and being on the wattsapp group and private FB page is so comforting. Knowing that others are on the same journey as you are.

And by the sounds of it, it only gets easier and easier and more rewarding and it’s super awesome to be a non-drinker.

Well done Janet, you guys rock and the amount of people you help, inform and inspire is incredible. I would highly urge anyone who wants to change their relationship with alcohol to give this course a go. Nothing to lose. Just a better and healthier life to gain.”

 

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

 

 

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..

Sexy Soberversary…

A whole year without alcohol – I did it!

It was certainly tough to begin with – but after about 6 months it got easier as the benefits started coming through – Year 2 here I come!

When I made the momentous decision to quit I tried to envisage my life without alcohol.  I imagined it would be just the same – only a little greyer, quieter and even a bit “boring”.  Little did I know my life was about to change significantly – in the most positive ways possible.

In fact I have been reflecting on the benefits of sobriety but decided there were so many that I would make that my next blog –  watch this space for my “top ten benefits of sobriety”.

So how did I celebrate that first Soberversary? – obviously champagne was out of question although a bottle of Pom Royale was a good start…

In fact I found multiple ways to celebrate:-

  • after a year of sobriety decided it was safe to write my “Goodbye Letter to Alcohol” – had an awesome response on Facebook to this letter – nearly 500 likes and 134 shares! – Son announced that meant it had “gone viral” which (I think) is a good thing – if you missed it then you can find it HERE
  • the lovely Fiona McCosh invited me to model for next year’s Sober and Sexy Calendar –  last year I did a feature on the launch of her 2016 calendar which you can see HERE   – the shoot was fun – you can see a “teaser” in the picture above – if you want to see more then you will just have to buy the calendar 😉  All proceeds to CTDCC (The Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre) and
  • submitted synopsis and sample chapters for my book proposal  – initial reactions from publisher are positive so now I must write another 50,000 words – provisional publication date February 2017.  Publisher not keen on my title which was to be “Living in a World Without Wine” as she said bookshops would place me next to the wine guides :-0.  Am now thinking one word title “SOBER” with subheading – “getting sober and loving your sober life”  but title definitely still work in progress – if you can think of anything better please send me a comment!
  • last but not least we went to fancy restaurant to celebrate in time honoured fashion – charming barman made me a Special Soberversary Mocktail…Talking of Mocktails hope you are enjoying “The Mocktail Series” with Linda and Jorja – love these guys – we had such fun making these videos – if you havn’t seen it then you can catch up with all 5 episodes HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

goodbye letter to alcohol

May, 2016

Dear Alcohol,

This is one of the hardest letters I have ever had to write – how can we possibly break up after 40 years together? – my life has involved changing countries, changing jobs, even changing husbands and friends but never changing you – you were always there as my constant companion.

We met when I was still a teenager – you gave me the courage I needed to get through college and to make and sustain relationships. We had some wonderful times together – I flirted with drugs but stayed faithful to you. You were the best – and made me feel special.

You gave me confidence – I was still “me” but just an amplified version. You helped me soothe the pain when things were not so good – why suffer with difficult emotions when you were there to erase them?

As I got into my twenties there were a few warning signs – do you remember that time I got so hammered I passed out in the bath and my flatmate had to ring the fire brigade to knock the door down? That was a great story to tell – especially the bit when I woke up in hospital with a shrink by my bedside. How we laughed at that one!

You were there when I met my first husband who also loved a drink – as did all our friends. I deserted you briefly when I became pregnant with my son but I still remember how much I missed you and how happy I was when we were re-united to toast the baby’s arrival.

You never prevented me from succeeding in my career – surrounded by heavy drinking colleagues we all believed in “work hard play hard” and anyone missing the weekly drinking session was viewed with great suspicion and written off as “boring”.

After more than 20 happy years together trouble came when I married for the second time. For some inexplicable reason my second husband hated you.

He was jealous and resentful of the hold you had over me and I realised that I would have to choose. Much to your fury I chose him.

He made me see that I was lost in you and that you could even kill me. I went through breast cancer but you convinced me you were innocent and I needed you even more to dull the fear of dying.

There followed a decade of trying to “moderate”. The thought of losing you completely was anathema to me but surely we could all live together if you and I were to “cool” our relationship.

This “ménage a trois” worked for a while. For months at a time we would all get along fine. Then you would suddenly exert your power and make sure that we had a crazy time together. Blackouts, injuries and terrible hangovers would follow and I would hate myself for giving in to you. You had become controlling and just wouldn’t let me go. The push and pull was becoming too much to bear.

I came to the jumping off place.

Blackout followed blackout while my husband watched helplessly. Sometimes I could easily drink a couple of bottles of wine and feel nothing at all. I finally realised this could not go on – there would be no going back if I continued on this path.

So on May 23rd 2015 I made my decision. I told you it was over. My heart was heavy but you were ruining my life. That was a whole year ago so I know it’s possible to live without you.

How you struggled at first – every day you harped on and on at me. I had no peace. You told me I would never survive a party or social event with you.

Evenings at home without you beside me were endless – painful and pointless. Socialising was difficult. I could not even get to sleep without you and lay awake for hours wondering if I had done the right thing. Without you to encourage me I felt depressed, angry and resentful of everyone still drinking. You told me I would never cope with the bad times without you – after all what experience did I have of dealing with my emotions?

How I missed the “buzz” – that beautiful high that came after a few glasses of wine (especially on an empty stomach). Never mind that after the high I would sometimes come crashing down and end up in tears.

But I hung on in there – and very slowly it got better. Your voice became fainter, my friends stuck with me and of course my long-suffering husband was thrilled.

I now realise that during all those years of trying to “moderate” our relationship was actually as strong as ever – your hold on me was ever present. You would allow me to “cool it” for a while but then come right back with a vengeance and cause havoc in my life.

You were right, it was hard –and sometimes it still is. Looking back on my year of sobriety I still remember the dismal birthday, Christmas and New Year “celebrations” – how could I celebrate without you beside me. But I am learning – and Year Two is going to be easier now that your power over me has diminished and I have experienced the joy of living without you.

So thanks for the memories – I will never forget you and often smile as I think back to those crazy times we had together – but it’s time for me to try a new life now – and for me to continue to live without you…

Yours sincerely,

Janet

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