Cheese plants never give up

My little story of the day…was at my allotment, yet again pinning down the weed plastic that the unrelenting wind off the North Sea is determined to uplift, and my garden neighbour Mr Flowers appeared with half a cheese plant in his hand and an empty milk carton in the other.

cheese plant

I never found out what the carton was for but the cheese plant he said was a branch from the main plant at the bottom of their stairs which he and his wife call Mary, in honour of his deceased mother (he is pretty elderly) who had the plant for many years before they inherited it.


He said that no matter how often ‘Mary’ gets knocked over and bits broken off her, she still refuses to die. Now my thinking is well if a bliddy spangly cheese plant can keep going no matter what, I’m damn sure we all can.


I asked him if he thought his dear mum Mary was looking down on him and keeping an eye on him and he said of course, things go missing in his house all the time then reappear in odd places where they could never have ended up and he believed it was her reminding him she was there. He was pretty chilled out about having a haunted house, but in Durham people are pretty stoic about most things, so a few ghosts are unlikely to weird them out.


Anyway, the next time you feel like giving up, maybe it might help to think about Mary the survivalist cheeseplant, kindest wishes xxxx

A Top 10 to celebrate two years sober

Thank you to this swan for sharing how good sober feels after two years.
My two year soberversary takes place on Tuesday and knowing I have a busy start to the week work and family wise I thought I would take the time now to write something about this milestone.
I love a list, it must be the planner/organiser in me, so have prepared a top 10 of things that are better now I don’t drink. I have indulged a bit recently in some self pity and “fear of missing out” and I know those feelings can dominate many of our minds, so in my spirit of thinking positively and rejoicing in the good things, I thought an upbeat list would be better. Well here goes:
1. I never have a hangover.
Wow that feeling of waking up and feeling normal just never gets old and I love the fact that in the last two years I have never woken up feeling nauseous, with a throbbing head and dry mouth.
2. My skin and hair are in tip top condition.
I get compliments quite often about how good my skin is and how shiny my hair is. I don’t have a massively expensive or complicated beauty regime and eat relatively well, just a normal balanced diet ( with quite a bit of chocolate) but my skin and hair are the best they have been since I was a teenager. It has got to be down to the lack of alcohol.
3. My weight is stable.
I do have a sweet tooth and eat more sugar than I should. However, I maintain a stable weight and although would like to lose half a stone, I don’t find it as hard to maintain my weight now I am not necking a bottle of wine or two a night.
4. I am brainier!
Yes I know that sounds a bit daft, but since stopping drinking I feel so much sharper mentally and can work harder and achieve so much more. I just feel so much more on the ball.
5. I have more money.
Well not spending upwards of £5000 a year on booze means my husband and I can spend more money on other things we like doing such as family holidays and we even bought a blow up canoe this summer.
6. I am rarely ill.
Yes I am touching wood as I write this () but since stopping drinking I can’t remember the last time I was properly ill. Yes I have had the odd cold and migraine, but I can definitely say I feel a lot healthier. I also don’t have to panic every time I read something linking cancer or Alzheimer’s to drinking.
7. My teeth are in much better condition.
During my last trip to the dentist, I was told my teeth are in much better condition than they were previously and whatever I was doing, to keep it up. I guess the alcohol I used to pour in my mouth each day does your teeth no good as well as sometimes forgetting to brush them as I passed out rather than got ready for bed.
8. I feel free.
I didn’t realise how much alcohol shackles you and ends up making so many decisions for you, until you become free of it. I now don’t have to worry about who is driving, do we have enough drink in, what if I am the one drinking the most, have we booked somewhere for our holiday that is within walking distance of a restaurant, how will I get through this certain day with a hangover etc etc.
9. I am much less anxious.

I still do suffer from the blues and anxiety at times but it is so much better now I don’t drink. I don’t have the 4am strike of fear, where I worry about what I said, who I talked to, did I make an idiot of myself and think oh god why did I drink so much, I hate myself etc. Life isn’t suddenly brilliant, crappy things still happen and sometimes I let negativity way too heavily in my mind, but it is so much easier to kick myself out of it now I am sober.
10. I know I can do anything I want to.
I stopped drinking after a many years of drinking more and more as did my husband. If you knew us prior to late 2013 we were the couple you would have said were least likely to become tee-total, ever! Friends used to joke about having liver transplants after a weekend at our house and we were daily drinking to dangerous levels. I never thought I could be happy and never drink and I never thought I could just not drink, but I can and I did. So really I can do anything I set my mind to – even if I need to remind myself of that fact every now and then.
So two years on, stopping drinking is the best decision I ever made. It is so much worth persevering through the early days and weeks and looking back they were not as hard as I thought they would be. No it wasn’t all plain sailing, sometimes it seemed hard and unfair but in retrospect I have been through worse and survived. Stopping drinking was the kindest act I have ever shown myself and being kind to yourself is as I have learned one of the most important things you can do. Thank-you for listening.

illusions and confusions

Thank you to this dear swan for her share:


“Could it be that it’s just an illusion, Putting me back in all this confusion” …sang 80’s band Imagination and think it is very apt for me today as I sit here watching the rain lashing at my window and quite frankly indulging in a bit of a pity party. I am feeling a bit lost and direction less and things are not going quite how I would like, and sadly there have been times when I have been thinking about having a drink.

I am frustratingly seduced by the glossy Christmas adverts or the TV programmes showing people having fun with a great group of friends and family, always with wine glasses clinking or some expensive whisky being splashed into the crystal cut glasses. Sitting alone with my glass of diet coke in a beaker or cup of tea in a favourite mug feels just a bit like I am missing out on something fun and exciting. That if only I had a couple of glasses of wine, suddenly my life would become like a scene out of Friends or a Marks and Spencer advert. I would suddenly acquire a family who were never selfish and suddenly everyone on my street would all spontaneously start being the best of friends and popping into each other’s houses on a whim. However, I know this all an illusion, albeit a very powerful one at that.

My husband remarked to me earlier that he was actually scared to start drinking again. Explaining that the thought of that hangover, the feeling of loss of control, the fear of not knowing what you said/did and where it would inevitably lead to is quite frankly terrifying. And do you know what he is totally right. Drinking is something to fear and the illusion of it being something that enhances our lives is just that, not real. That illusion that drinking somehow adds something positive to our lives, despite all the rubbish stuff it brings is perpetuated all around us. On TV, in films, music, when we go shopping, at sporting events, we are sold the view that drinking is fun, an integral part of enjoyment and fulfilment when we know that is a big fat lie.

I was in a restaurant and gig last night in Glasgow and the reality of drinking is really quite unpleasant. It was the couple arguing with each other instead of having fun, it was the loud people at the bar shouting loudly and incoherently at each other whilst annoying everyone else trying to listen to an amazing singer then getting asked to leave, it was the young man vomiting into the gutter after staggering out of bar advertising shots at 90p and young women wondering aimlessly and staring vacantly as they tried to remember where they were. We never get sold this reality of events – can you imagine the adverts?

Once I have taken my head out of my backside, I rejoice once again in being free from the shackles of alcohol and all the negative crap that comes with drinking. I know I need to find my inner peace and happiness elsewhere. That is the more difficult thing right now as I am not sure how to do this but I do know the answer does not lie in a bottle of wine or three. Facing up to life and learning to deal with it as you are is hard, and at 42 I am just trying to figure all this out.

Five empty bottles


Thank you to this amazing swan for her share:


I hosted the evening for my book group meeting on Friday, which, had I been still drinking, would have been extremely stressful for me- although I would have identified the stress feelings as excitement and anticipation for the evening. Normally, I would have felt excited (anxious) all day and these feelings would have been centred around the fact that I was going to be able to have a drink with friends and know they would all be drinking too.
On Friday I was completely unstressed, instead of madly cleaning all day, trying to occupy myself and make the time go more quickly until (I could have a drink) everyone arrived, I started a painting! I have wanted to do this for so long! Ok, it’s not brilliant, but so what? I had the most relaxing and enjoyable day and have found that painting really keeps me calm:)

ali pic

The evening was a total success, for once, I managed to offer food and drinks around and everyone enjoyed themselves. In total there were 10 of us, the bottle count, when I cleared up -after driving someone home (what??!) was 5 empty bottles. I would dread to think what that may have been if I’d been participating, also, getting up to a tidy house, not retching all over the place and going to a craft fair made a very pleasant Saturday. Also, I mustn’t forget absolutely no paranoia and shame ridden texts to all my friends, apologising for my behaviour. Here is my very unfinished picture, which taught me a lot…

Never again, not tonight again


Thank you for this share from an inspirational lady:

Hello dear swans, today marks 6 months from the day I made my mind up to really give this a shot. The couple of weeks before I was drinking every day, and the months before my weekend drinking was getting out of control. I made so many promises to myself, every Saturday morning in fact, not to experience the hellish hangover I was invariably fighting off. In fact, I was beginning to stop fighting it, and just wallowing in it. What I mean by fighting it is, you know, getting up, dragging myself out of bed, coffee on and off to the gym to sweat it out, all the while beating the be jaysus out of myself and saying, never again, not tonight again and all the rest of the negative stuff that would flood into my mind as I pounded the treadmill.

Laterally I wasn’t even managing that, I was just wallowing in bed, feeling low, berating myself and comfort eating with huge breakfasts.

I remember the weeks prior to stopping I was coming to the decision of going for it again, I was reading a lot of blogs and in the contemplation / preparation phase. But that for me also gave me the permission to binge on it with abandon. Crazy?!

So the Saturday before I stopped I binged on red wine and snack food so much that I had some wine left in the bottom of the bottle. Sunday was supposed to be day 1 but no, I had to drink that last glass as it didn’t even enter into my head to pour it down the sink! So Monday became day 1, the first few weeks before I found SWAN I watched, read and listened to as much sober stuff on line. That’s what I did of an evening. Fridays were dire to begin with but I made sure I had things planned for the first few. For me it got easier as I became more aware of the sense of calm stopping brought me. The overwhelming sense of relief that I was able to do this & the penny dropping that it was alcohol that was compounding my depression.

A few weeks later I found you lovely people and that definitely has been the making of this attempt. My sobriety also became number 1 priority and I refused social occasions at the start, I walked away from situations to avoid triggers, no matter what others thought of me. It was the only way for me.

I was thinking of others struggling at the start, and a couple of things other than above helped me. I have a counter app on my phone which I like to look at occasionally to remind myself, and also because my memory for numbers is dreadful! I use “Quit That” and also “Drinks Meter” which allows you to enter what you were/ are drinking and examine possible consequences. It was designed by a health professional with an interest in alcohol misuse and excellent I think. Re SWAN It took me a while to start sharing but as I’ve said before, having that connection and non-judgemental feedback & support has taught me so much about this “thing” we are all trying to do.

A prize if you managed to read this far – a ramble as per usual.

Thank you all who have supported, given me your pearls of wisdom, or just sent me a hug from time to time.

Ye are the best xxx


Binki adds: if you would like to join a confidential support group on Facebook please friend request me and I will add you.

into sober year two


Thank you to this swan member for her heart warming share:

Today marks the beginning of the second year of my sober life.

It seems no big deal now, however remembering how it seemed so huge to even contemplate three days , thirty days, 3 months six months much less an entire year makes no sense to me now. I no longer choose to put poison in my body no matter how pretty, well marketed, delicious or restful it is presented.

It’s the same as saying I don’t like soda pop drinks, or sweet coffee drinks, those beverages won’t kill me and its very socially acceptable that I don’t care for them, however when I say I don’t drink alcoholic beverages that shocks people. Do they feel sorry for me that I don’t drink sweet drinks? No .

Now when asked in any situation what I would like to drink, I just say club soda, water, tea or coffee, I don’t say anything about alcohol I don’t even mention that I don’t drink it. That works for me. I continue to educate myself and keep books about the reality of alcohol in supply for those who want to know more.

I do want to get my one year coin from AA, I’m shallow enough to want the complete set from my year, and to acknowledge the accomplishments that come with being sober financially, physically and spiritually. This is what I celebrate! It’s an extremely pleasant body of water we SWANS choose to swim in.

Substitute Addictions

This is a very interesting post!

What...Me Sober?

There are two kinds of addictions. Substance Addictions create pleasure through the use of products that are taken into the body. and include all mood-altering drugs (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc.), food-related disorders such as overeating, and so forth.

Process Addictions, in contrast, consist of behavior that leads to mood-altering events that provide pleasure and distraction from our core issues, to which we can also become addicted.

imagesWhen we get right down to it, recovery from addiction is about learning to deal with the stresses of life in a healthy way, “living life on life’s terms,” as they say in the 12-Step rooms. Early in recovery these stresses include the process of learning to do without our drugs of choice, whether chemical or external. This is withdrawal, and it creates a very real chance that we may look for and find other addictions to take their place.

Some of the…

View original post 585 more words

I’m so grateful to have escaped the trap


Thank you to this swan for her update:

After a wobbly start to the day – I woke up worrying about something from work yesterday which turned out ok in the end – but anyway, as I was driving to work I saw this young(ish) guy walking his daughter to school, well not walking really as they were skipping along together and having such a giggle it was so lovely and heartwarming to see. It made me slightly saddened as my daughter will neve experience that kind of joy with her dad because of his alcoholism and total denial of the problem.

Once in work I realised the muck up from yesterday had actually worked out ok, for all the wrong reasons, but I had ultimately it turned out done the right thing (phew) but then we had a guy come to give us a talk about the work his charitable group does, it was listening to him which made me realise just how far I’ve come in the last 4yrs as they as a group helped me out in a crisis moment when my hubby left me as good as bankrupt, not caring that we (me and our daughter) could be almost as good as homeless for all he cared. This group helped me get together the deposit for a rental along with financial help for a tank of fuel oil to heat the new home. My god I will never be able to repay this kindness as that kind of help and support is priceless.

Becoming alcohol free for me is one of the next steps I have taken to taking back the reins of my life, just like I didn’t want my daughter being ashamed that her dad was of one of the local alcoholics in our old community, I knew I needed to sort myself out to as it would be so easy to head that way myself with the way I was heading with my own drinking – it’s ironic really that it was only after he left that my own drinking started to worsen. Allen Carr’s book likens alcohol and that slippery slope so well by comparing it to the venus fly trap, I’m so grateful to have escaped the trap and hope never to start slipping down again.

saying sorry makes it all better (not)

I don’t go to AA meetings and don’t agree with everything AA says, but I do take a lot of strength from many of the teachings and words written. I am currently thinking about ‘amends’ and found this post interesting (link below), especially when Bill is talking about recovery not just being about not drinking, but about being a functioning, healthy person all round. How making amends is not just saying sorry to others (and yourself) but about living and thinking in a way that shrugs off old habits; for example removing thinking and acting like a victim where you believe it is other people’s job to make you feel better. Sober thinking comes from within and is probably the hardest thing we will ever do, to think sober. That’s where I am at anyway, and I am having to pull myself up on a lot of victim type thinking.

Thanks for this, Bill:

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m clean and sober now, and I’ll never do it again!”

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and it seems to me a good day to talk about making amends.

imagesThe idea of making amends confused me in the early days of my sobriety. I knew I was supposed to do it, but I really had no idea of what to do or how to go about it. I equated it with saying “I’m sorry.” I was well-practiced at that, as most addicts are, but somehow it didn’t seem like enough. That was how I went about it, though, and pretty quickly. I suppose I had a sponsor, but I wasn’t big on taking advantage of sponsorship (or taking direction), and I saw recovery as more or less an event, rather than a process. Thus I was gung ho, ready to go — and far from being in the know.

That went about as you would expect. Some people, like my mother, didn’t know how to express their anger to begin with, saw forgiveness as a duty (staunch Catholic), and so welcomed me back to the fold with open arms and a load of hidden resentment, I’m sure. Others took a wait-and-see attitude, and some refused to consider the idea — vehemently. And of course I was going about it all wrong, because I didn’t yet have the skills to make amends believably.

I was still going about it in the old junkie way: “Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m clean and sober now, and I’ll never do it again!” Of course they’d heard that tale before, and weren’t likely to greet it with much more enthusiasm this time, whether or not they put a polite face on it.

That’s not the way we make amends.

First, we demonstrate by the way we’re living our lives that we have changed. Then we make sure that we have something useful to say, because making amends isn’t just saying “I’m sorry.” Making amends is saying, “I hurt you, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again to you or anyone else, and I’m going to do ______ to make it up to you. And then we carry out our promises, thus proving our point: that we’re sincere, and we can now be trusted to do the right thing.

We need also to be aware that forgiveness does not imply trust. Just because my Aunt Bessie forgives me for pawning her silverware and “losing” the ticket, doesn’t mean that she’s obliged to leave me in the pantry unattended; she’s not even obligated to invite me to dinner. Those are her choices and her issues to deal with.

Which brings me to the purpose of the whole exercise. Making amends is about me; it’s not about the other person. What they think of me is none of my business, but what I think about myself is everything to my recovery. I need to know that I’ve done the next right thing, that I’ve been sincere, that I’ve done it properly. That’s why we don’t do it right away.

When we’re first abstinent, we haven’t had practice in being really sincere; we’ve stifled our consciences and convinced ourselves that we were the ones wrong — that our behavior was in some way justified. We aren’t equipped to handle the emotions involved with making amends: dealing with angry people, people who cry, folks who simply blow the whole thing off.

Most importantly, we don’t really know if we can carry out our promises — it’s early days. If we relapse we may make it back, but we’ll have disappointed or reinforced the doubts of those whom we were trying to make things right, thus making things worse, not better.

The Steps come in order for a reason. They each prepare us for the one that follows, and there are eight of them before the amends process. To begin with, we make amends by doing our best. When we have proven ourselves — to ourselves — then we’re ready to prove it to others.

205th sober morning


Thank you to this swan member for sharing:

Today I am so very grateful to be lying here in a warm, clean bed writing to you. To have woken on my 205th morning sober and to fully appreciate all that it brings;

Peace of mind
Learning to love myself and respect myself again
Respect of my husband, children, family, friends and co-workers
Determination/drive to improve and succeed
To no longer miss alcohol even on Fridays
Rediscovering my sense of humour and learning to laugh sincerely
Appreciation of the beauty and day to day miracles around me
Empathy rather than apathy
Time .. Why did I waste so much time when it is truly so precious
Physically I am loving the marked improvements and so very grateful for:
Looking fresh faced without makeup
Stomach no longer inflamed
A new found love of exercise
Lack of headaches that made me look more aged
Plumper, hydrated skin
Whiter teeth

Lots lots more but as today is a Sunday and I really love Sundays. I need to be up and about as I don’t intend to waste a second of it …Brand new day … Clean fresh page …

This time two years ago


Thank you to this swan for her share and to the other swan for donating the beautiful picture!

This day 2 years ago I relapsed after an alcohol free summer. It was the beginning of a fast track descent into madness, chaos and is as close to the bottom as I ever want to get.

It was herbal sleeping drops which started me off. The compulsion after ingesting these was too overpowering and I got a bottle of wine to round off summer. Within a week I was secretly drinking, within a couple of weeks I couldnt function without alcohol in my system.

I did manage to dry out for a few days, maybe a week but a row with hubs over something really trivial sent me back at the start of October when 24/7 drinking took over for ten days. I know how quickly I was overcome, I`m amazed at the events that ensued to bring me to the brink of loosing my family, job and home.

I know how powerless I was over drinking, I honestly thought I would die without it and the series of coincidences which brought me to my first AA meeting which saved me. I’m certainly not advocating AA as the only way but for me it worked and more, it gave me a better life, a way of thinking which relieves the mental obsession and introduced me to some amazing, inspirational people.

I’m so glad to be sober this UK bank holiday and to have people in AA and Swans to share the joys of sober living. I don’t get to as many meetings as I need to so am so grateful to swans as I’m sure I’d have fallen without everyone’s support.

[Binki says: if you would like to join either of the confidential ‘swan’ support groups on Facebook please friend Binki Laidler and she will add you.]

A big moment for Demi

Thanks to Staying Strong 24/7 for their blog, and this article is a couple of years old but shows she has worked hard to overcome her addiction demons – great role model.

demi lovato
Demi Lovato opens up about heavy use of cocaine, alcohol
By Christie D’Zurilla

Demi Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m. with a Sprite bottle filled with vodka, headed back to a sober-living facility she was staying at and throwing up in the car. She said she realized that was alcoholic behavior.

Demi Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m.… (Mike Windle / Getty Images )

Demi Lovato may have been shy a few years back about her reasons for going to rehab, but these days she’s holding nothing back, telling all about the drug and alcohol abuse that saw her hitting bottom when she was only 19 years old.

Cocaine every half hour and a Sprite bottle full of vodka were the toxic cherries on top of her eating-disorder sundae, she told “Access Hollywood” in an exclusive interview she did Monday accompanied by her mother, Dianna De La Garza.

“With my drug use, I could hide it to where I would sneak drugs,” the now 21-year-old said. “I couldn’t go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes.”

She said she would “smuggle it basically” and wait until the rest of First Class tuned out, and then she’d sneak to the bathroom to do it, even though she had a sober companion keeping an eye on her.

De La Garza said she had an idea that her daughter was doing drugs but “for a long time I was in denial.” She said she didn’t actually see Demi, and wanted to believe her daughter when she said things were OK.

Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m. with a Sprite bottle filled with vodka, headed back to a sober-living facility she was staying at and throwing up in the car. She said she realized that was alcoholic behavior.

“When I hit that moment I was like, it’s no longer fun when you’re doing it alone,” “The X Factor” judge told “Access.”

Mother and daughter also learned they had something in common during Demi’s struggles: Both had eating disorders, and both had to deal with them.

Lovato said hers began well before her teen years, when she was 8 or 9, starting with binge eating then flipping to starving herself and making herself throw up.

“It got really difficult [and] I would throw up and it would just be blood and it was something that I realized if I don’t stop this, I am going to die,” she said.

Fortunately, Lovato got the help she needed — and both women said they’re now stronger as a family for it.

staying strong 24/7

I just witnessed an incredible performance by Demi Lovato on the VMAs. She absolutely rocked that stage.

Before she performed, she prayed and repeated “I am enough” multiple times into the microphone. She has a lot of courage and strength and took it with her on stage today, which is just amazing and something a lot of us are not able to do.

I am very proud of her. I’ve watched her grow. I’ve watched her

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Thank you GOD (Group Of Drunks)


Thank you to this lovely swan member for her share:

This time last year I was planning my last night of drinking (not that I knew) the wine was in the freezer, the vodka in the back of the cupboard and denial firmly at the front of my mind. The anticipation of waiting till 7pm always killed me…but I had my rules. With hindsight, I can look back and think how lucky I have been. I reached an internal rock bottom, hitting a ledge I’d say…what I can see now is that all the rules I had in place, some broken and re written already, would have eventually been broken over again. Who knows where that ledge would have propelled me had I bounced off. It doesn’t bear thinking about, to be honest I’ve seen first hand where with my parents.

I thank my g.o.d (my group of drunks…please excuse me calling you that, I promise it is an endearment) and my higher power as I see and feel it. I am grateful to be here and I’m grateful to be sober. This was my big vegan breakfast followed by cake, which I ate before snapping! I’m planning on celebrating all week! 💙

Tamzin Sharma's photo.
What a difference a year makes. I am so amazed that I’ve done this!! To think that this time last year was the last time I woke up hungover and full of fear and shame.

I love to write a list…so here are two.

10 things I have given up over the last year…

1. Trying to please people
2. Living with resentments
3. Guilt and shame about my past
4. Worrying about the future
5. Worrying about making a mistake
6. Putting myself down
7. Opiates (codeine)
8. Worrying about eating lovely food
9. Overthinking
10. Alcohol

10 things I have gained this year…

1. Peace and calm
2. A better connection with my children and husband
3. A love of yoga and meditation
4. A love of food
5. Contentment with what I have
6. A few lb’s (but that’s ok :-))
7. Relief from the obsession of addiction
8. Happiness, health and humour
9. New friendships
10. Confidence

I couldn’t have done 1-9 of the first list without doing number 10 and I couldn’t have done any of it without this page [Facebook group via Binki Laidler] or Soberistas website…this year has been a revelation…please know, wherever you are on you path, this is within your grasp too, there are no set rules (except don’t drink :-)) we need to find our own right way. Trust me, if I have done it and I was a right old mess, you can too!

Hot spot and sober

Good to be back from our first foreign holiday since 2010, when we got married. We revisited the same island, Kefalonia, this year and there are photos here! Sorry about the gormless woman photobombing some of them.

It was a first for me in that going abroad to a hot country sober was something I have never done since childhood, as in previous holidays I would drink every day from noon onwards. We met a few couples who were intent on doing the same – one foursome in a bar proudly recounted drinking right through till 8am then back on it after a few hours sleep on the beach. Older than us. It was obviously the Brits who sat and drank mostly, other nationalities just had a couple of beers with meals and for most there was little evidence of alcohol at all.

We had a visit to a winery and hubs was worried about the effect on me but to be honest the huge metal vats, rubber pipes and the production line reminded me that whatever it costs or however posh it is supposed to be, alcohol is a chemical produced using industrial processes the same as any other drug. Stuff the romance.

So the wobble initially just went and I got a kick out of my sparkling water and enjoying early mornings by the pool, clear headed and frankly, smug. I had more energy this year older and more wrinkly than as a tired and bloated honeymooner five years ago, then with my eyelash extensions and botox and manicure and swollen liver – I could barely get my hungover backside away from the pool last time but this time we explored every day, tramped about, talked to people, loved each other.

I cannot begin to express my joy at how different I feel this time round, which is why I guess I wanted to celebrate by posting. Two weeks went by in the blink of an eye, but to be honest when I think about being in year three now of sobriety, that has passed like lightening too. It is hard in the beginning but the more firsts you get under your belt, the more your self-esteem rises and it begins to feel like a real achievement, the then and now. Please keep going and try to remember to celebrate your own good times because that is what being sober is all about.

It’s my birthday today and I have now entered my fiftieth year – next year is the big 50 – and I am calling it Project 50, because I really want to go on to achieve more sober ‘stuff’ before my half century that I can look back on think, yeah I frigging well did that myself. What’s your personal project for 2015-16? Hope it brings you joy.

Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.

third August and stilll healing



I still get up early Saturday and Sunday mornings, just for the simple fact of being able to enjoy the morning view across our little valley, to have the peace and quiet, but without the need to get going down the road quicksharp.

The cloud formations are a hundred shades of grey (hesitate to say fifty!) today and everywhere is dripping wet,but it is so good to wake up with a clear head. I don’t think I will ever get sick of this feeling of relief that I am sober. This gratitude that I am no longer at the mercy of alcohol. I associate so many bad things that have happened in my life and that I have done with being drunk and in many ways that is a healthy association for me personally, because it keeps that apprehension about alcohol close.

I read about people being nostalgic about the good times when they were partying and having that drink and I think, it just wasn’t like that, not for me anyhow. I associate drinking with pain. I think of loneliness, grief, fear and stress. I have no good associations with drinking. I have moved forward to forgiving myself and others which is a major step towards inner peace, but there is still pain.

The thing is though, that the longer the sober days, weeks, months and then years go on, the less the pain, and the greater the inner peace. It is worth getting over the ‘firsts’ to go on to the ‘seconds’ and then the ‘thirds’ as I and others are having now, it is so worth it. This is my third August without drinking and no one is more surprised than me!

To conclude, Louise Hay is a heroine of mine and I would like to share a recent post of hers on Facebook:

I have found that there is only one thing that heals every problem, and that is: to love yourself. When people start to love themselves more each day, it’s amazing how their lives get better. They feel better. They get the jobs they want. They have the money they need. Their relationships either improve, or the negative ones dissolve and new ones begin.

Loving yourself is a wonderful adventure; it’s like learning to fly. Imagine if we all had the power to fly at will? How exciting it would be! Let’s begin to love ourselves now.

Here are 12 Commandments to help you learn how to love yourself:

1. Stop All Criticism.

Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. Forgive Yourself.

Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had. Now you are growing and changing, and you will live life differently.

3. Don’t Scare Yourself.

Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure, and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

4. Be Gentle and Kind and Patient.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.

5. Be Kind to Your Mind.

Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.

6. Praise Yourself.

Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

7. Support Yourself.

Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

8. Be Loving to Your Negatives.

Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

9. Take Care of Your Body.

Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need in order to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

10. Do Mirror Work.

Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself while looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents while looking into the mirror. Forgive them, too. At least once a day, say, I love you, I really love you!

11. Love Yourself . . . Do It Now.

Don’t wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or find the new relationship. Begin now—and do the best you can.

12. Have Fun.

Remember the things that gave you joy as a child. Incorporate them into your life now. Find a way to have fun with everything you do. Let yourself express the joy of living. Smile. Laugh. Rejoice, and the Universe rejoices with you!

Learning to love myself again


Thank you to this swan for sharing her progress.

I had an epic fail which may have ended up in the paper (so far, it hasn’t) and being such a small country town, reporters report on everything and have been known to face book stalk you and make comments in their article. So I deactivated for a bit.

So I’m back. I’ve read a lot of books about people like me/us, and grabbed a lot of different things from every one of them. I haven’t always agreed with everything however. I used to be the bottle of wine per night person, and more on the weekends until nearly two years ago now, my Dr unnecessarily (as I found out later) put the fear of god into myself and I stopped drinking during the week. Which was hard at first, but okay. Which made me re-examine the rest of my drinking and why I did it. It made me think, well I can stop. Even after a bad day – I can stop at one.

I realised why I drank on the weekends – I have crippling social anxiety and lack of self confidence and the weekends are actively social. So I drank before I went out – I needed the confidence boost just to get out the damned door. So, of course, the inevitable. I got wasted, ended up with wrong men and wondering who I needed to apologise to for my behaviour for the night before. At best.

Drinking heavily before has also made me realise the bad choices I made. Maybe not bad, but could have been better. I live with those choices now and am determined to work around them. Surprisingly, there are a few of my friends who realise at our age, we can’t recover like we used to. So no more mad parties, it’s dinners. No more festivals, it’s bbqs and camping. It’s new hobbies like photography (getting up early and taking sunrise pictures) and gardening, to name a few.

So my social scene is evolving. Feel like a baby walking and a wee bit lonely, but evolving. It means shifting from most of my friends now, and truth be told, GOF. It means getting tougher, learning how to stand up for myself. Now I realise how much people were taking the piss out of me. I used to laugh it off. Now, “um no. That stopped being funny about five sarcastic comments ago. I’m not stupid, so stop talking to me like I am.” Before, I just would have laughed it off. If I stopped and thought about it – “ah no. Stop it! Don’t think about it. Have another drink.”

I’ve cried a lot and screamed a lot (literally) I’ve had my set backs but I am not going to hate myself for that. I figure you don’t fail until you quit. Every set back has taught me something different. Ok, fight with husband. You got drunk. Did that fix it? Did the worry go away? No, now you just feel and look like shit, and you can’t remember exactly what he said last night so you can’t discuss it properly when you’re sober.

For me, I’ve learned that this journey is not about being alcohol dependent, it’s learning to love myself again. If I loved myself, I wouldn’t need drink to give me confidence. I would be already.

One year sober


Thank you to this swan for sharing below.

I woke up feeling slightly down and a bit confused about how to feel today. “Yes yes, it’s a positive” my critical voice said “but if you were normal you wouldn’t have to celebrate it at all”. I don’t have my children with me this weekend and there is always more room for that voice without the accompanying constant chatter of five year old girls to drown it out. Reading congratulatory messages this morning started a subtle shift in my thinking: perhaps the last year *was* an achievement to be celebrated? I’m certainly much happier now than I was before stopping drinking. I’m also over 3 stone lighter, and feeling for the first time as though permanent and significant improvements to my health are achievable. Whilst drinking I just felt constantly mired in an inability to be consistent about anything, that healthy days were just blips in between bad days.

I’m still midway through divorcing my incredibly difficult/controlling/abusive husband, but know that the process would have been much much worse whilst nursing occasional hangovers, peering through my fingers consumed with shame about texts or posts I’d written on Facebook which seemed hilarious at the time.

I’m also now trying to confront what I think the problematic relationship with alcohol is indicative in my life on a larger level – as Tommy Rosen puts it, addiction is: the compulsion to look away from our life, even when we know it is destructive. I know on a more macro level I have been choosing to do this for decades, whether it be through relationships, alcohol, recreational drugs, excessive internet use, procrastination. This is the biggie I need to face now, and not to shy away from. I feel both profoundly grateful that I’ve had this realisation for the chance it gives me for future peace, yet at the same time overwhelmed to face it.

Vacation time

so glad to find this blog xxx


hi friends!

I am on vacation. Visiting my parents and mother in law. And my sister and her family.

My beautiful nephew was baptized this past weekend and I have the honour of being his godmother. He is an absolute angel. I wish he lived closer. I wish his whole family was at least in the same country. But no, they are in England and I’m in northern canada.

It has been a good trip. We have spent time as a family, visited old friends, I did a yoga workshop and now we have a few more days to find fun and visit.

I was worried about the trip. My mother is hard to get along with. She is my biggest trigger by far. And trigger me she did. But this visit I had an ally. My sister and I have found a new friendship that we lacked growing up…

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Two years of a new life

Two years on the 21st July since that dreaded Oxford Landing white wine has touched my lips. Life has changed,although now I rarely consider deeply how truly gloriously and satisfying my life has become. Celebrations, births, marriages, deaths, and all the other old excuses to drink do not put me into a panic of  “will I succumb” ? When did the confidence and the knowledge that I had passed that stage happen ? I have no idea when I crossed from “The Dark Side” to the “Raw, Honest and Confident Side” but yippee I did, and I love it.

I now feel that I must address my chocolate rate of consumption.  I know I am ready for this and would like to hear from other little cygnets if this has been a struggle ?

Take care out there my little fledglings, spread your wings look up into the sky, life is glorious, it’s such a shame we can’t fly like swans


How a year of sobriety feels

Thank you for this wonderful update from a swan.

cygnet to swan

Last night’s yoga class was very emotional for me, I think the universe is really trying to remind me that gratitude is the corner stone of my sobriety. The whole of last night’s practice was based on gratitude and compassion, by doing a lot of heart opening poses and spending much of the time looking inwards…I felt very moved by it and in savasana I just felt tears streaming from my eyes. I felt a lightness as I finished the class and then when I got home, I made the effort to sit and listen to day 2 of the meditation experience with Oprah and Deepak rather than lay in bed (where I would fall asleep!) They are really wonderful deep meditations and are focused on grace through gratitude. I feel a deep serenity within me at the moment, it’s like nothing can touch me if I don’t want it too…life feels calm and I feel in control. It’s so amazing as I know work is crazy busy and we are going on holiday next week, something that would of had me spinning in circles a year ago. I’m feeling gratitude in the bucket load at the moment, one of the things that I have learnt is that by opening myself up to what is good, I can accept more and more. It really is working. Anyway, enough of my waffling! Today I am going for a spa day…first time. It’s not a super posh place, but it will be a chance to relax for a few hours…I have a back massage booked too 😊 then Friday I have booked a reflexology facial with a lovely lady from my yoga class…I am using my upcoming birthday as an excuse for all these indulgences…although I know how good it feels so I’m sure I will continue them in the future! Take care all and please hold tight if you are struggling at all…believe me when I say, reading back through this post…I would never have believed that I would be this person from how I felt a year ago. It is possible to live an amazing life free from alcohol and a life discovering what truly makes you happy from the inside out. Xxxx

Four Years of Sobriety School and the Lessons Continue

Love reading about people who are ahead of me; it gives me such inspiration – thank you and huge congrats xxx

That Snarky Vegan Girl

126,230,400 seconds
2,103,840 minutes
35,064 hours
1460 days

4 years

That is how long I have been sober today (well yesterday). Wow.

July 11, 2015 marks four years of sobriety. I am proud of this day, as becoming sober quite possibly saved my life, and certainly saved me from more humiliation and a heck of a lot of hangovers!

What have I learned in the last year of sobriety?

1. Relationships bring out my character defects, magnified! However, this has forced me to look at them, and work through them….and accept them.

2. Judgement is poisonous.  Judgment of others, and judgement of myself.

3. Life happens, no matter what. There is no way around that. And I have learned this year that acceptance is the key to getting through life and it’s moments (good or bad) with grace, ease, and service.

4. I have learned that being of service extends beyond…

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33 good deeds for 33 years

Many congrats to this lady on two years plus xxx

real mama morgan

In May, I turned 33.  I also celebrated 2 years of sobriety.  To mark the occasions, I made a list of 33 good deeds that I wanted to complete before my 34th birthday.


dates in parentheses indicate when completed

  1. make 5 sack lunches to give to homeless people
  2. pay it forward at the drive-thru
  3. let someone go ahead of me in line (5.31)
  4. pick up trash on the side of the road
  5. bake cookies for a neighbor
  6. volunteer at a community meal program
  7. visit a nursing home
  8. leave flowers on a stranger’s doorstep
  9. donate clothes/home goods to a charity thrift store (6.25)
  10. take a meal to new parents
  11. take a meal to a grieving family
  12. donate blood
  13. give a thank you note to a stranger
  14. renew my first aid/CPR certification
  15. submit a VGAL (volunteer guardian ad litem) application
  16. participate in Christmas in July **Habitat for Humanity Snohomish County…

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Mother Who Drank Through Pregnancy Speaks About Her Journey to Sobriety

thank you for sharing this x

‘I was always drunk for the school pickup’: Alcoholic mother-of-three who drank through pregnancy and abused her family speaks about her journey to sobriety

  • Sarah Colwell, 50, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism
  • The Cambridge charity worker admits to drinking while pregnant
  • She also abused her police officer husband and family
  • Finally kicked the habit after humiliating night out with family
  • She now says that her relationship with her family is better than any drug

Sober Family support: Sarah Colwell, a 50-year-old charity worker from Cambridge and mother-of-three, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism (pictured with her daughter Maisie)

Sarah Colwell, a 50-year-old charity worker from Cambridge and mother-of-three, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism.

Her addiction to drink saw her physically abuse her loving police officer husband Paul, 58, and emotionally abuse her first daughter Maisie, 25. She even admits to…

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Day 730: Two Years Today

huge congrats, I am following you x


Written on day 730 but not posted till day 740 cause, well, a girl gets busy.

I put aside the classy, glamorous, life-and-ambition-and-joy-sucking white wine two years ago today. Crazy, right? I don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about my drinking days as I used to, but with this date approaching I have been thinking of what those early days of sobriety were like–all that I didn’t, couldn’t know because I’d never been there before. If Today Me could have given Sober Newbie Me a glimpse into the future, here are some of the things I would have told myself:

  • You think right now that being sober is a condition you’ll learn to tolerate–that you’ll make your peace with it as a safer but also somehow lesser way to live. But you’re going to end up loving it. Seriously. It will turn out that clarity is your ideal and happiest state of…

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grow your own sobriety




So a bit of a strawberry fest yesterday. My mum and hub’s birthdays are on the same day and coming up soon, so I am going to attempt a cake with some of the fruit. I am a useless baker, as I am too slapdash with quantities, but will try harder. Sometimes it is a case of just trying harder. The fruit is taking up a whole freezer box and the sight of all those little red globes of joy makes me feel a sense of delight. There is nothing quite like growing your own food….except growing your own sobriety maybe.

Feeling middle aged has been a feature this week. I have been feeling tired and stressed by being over tired, and resentful of the set up in my life which makes me over tired, but also stuck and not sure how to proceed. I feel like I am on the edge of a breakthrough but need to THINK harder to get there. I guess it is partly a case of asking myself the right questions.

Questions can be very under rated. For instance I had to ask hubs yesterday when we were in the suit shop, as he has no suit and needs one, darling why are you taking off your trousers in the middle of the shop floor? Bearing in mind he is six five, on the large side, tattooed and bald. Go in the changing room. He paused mid squat and said, oh yeah, pulled his kegs back up and found a private booth. Then he said later, I’ve set the Sky to record two films tonight and I said, oh what are they, and he said, I don’t know. Later that afternoon, we both slept on our separate sofas, sitting upright. Like I say, middle aged.

100 Things That Make Me Happy.

oh I love this, thank you xxx

Ordinary Adventures

When I first thought of this post, I thought maybe I should do 4 things that make me happy this 4th. Then the list grew to fifty. And before I knew it, I had listed out 100 things that make me happy! It was so therapeutic and uplifting to recall and be thankful for all these little (and big) things in my life.

1. Spending quality time with my husband.
2. Blogging.
3. Going skiing.
4. Eating good food.
5. Getting home after a long day of work.
6. Buying new clothes.
7. Driving with the windows down.
8. Riding horses.
9. Getting little notes.
10. Having the thoroughly clean.
11. Lighting candles.
12. Getting things done.
13. Slurpees.
14. Getting a new piercing.
15. When my package is delivered.
16. Sleeping in.
17. Young adult novels.
18. The taste of Red Bull in the morning.
19. Finding new, beautiful…

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Thank you to this swan for her update on her recovery.


All’s still going very well.  I am happy and a lot calmer in my life and with those around me.  I am finding it a lot easier to be open and honest with those around me, which has been noted by most people who come in contact with me.

Myself and my partner had a rough week a couple of weeks ago, due to a few insecurities I was dealing with. I had a therapy session to deal with these issues and now I am pleased to say we are back on track : ) I feel on a weekly basis I am growing and learning about myself.

It’s not all plain sailing.  I  am working hard at it, but it is becoming more natural to fit the tools into my daily life, sometimes without even realising I have used them, till after the fact . Last week I went into town with a girl friend and drank mocktails and milk shakes…was bloody lovely.  My friend was very drunk and I was very sober and extremely proud of myself. In fact I felt I was the better person for not having that need to drink. I was having fun without it.

I have tried many things over the years to cut alcohol out of my life and failed big style. I’ve tried AA and community counselling; just didn’t work for me, as I felt it focused too much on alcohol and that I was getting it rammed down my throat and that brought it back to the  forefront of my thoughts, and then I was obsessing about it. Just wasn’t for me.

In my present therapy we have barley touched on the subject of alcohol, but we have focused on me. We have worked on how I think and act, how I feel, how to deal with me –  and this works for me. I know it won’t be for everyone, as we all have different needs.

We deal with the whole me not just alcoholic me and it works and it’s fun. I am more me than I have been for the last ten to fifteen years and yes, it’s nice to have me back and to love life again.

So I say there is something out there for everyone – you just have to find it and when you do, grab it and run with it, with an open mind . My time is now and I’m loving it xx

“Anything that annoys you is “for” teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is “for” teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet. Anything that angers you is “for” teaching you forgiveness and compassion. Anything that has power over you is “for” teaching you how to take your power back. Anything you hate is “for” teaching you unconditional love. Anything you fear is “for” teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can’t control is “for” teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.” ~ Jackson Kiddard

Yay! Yay! Proud to be Gay (and Vegan)

vibrant and truly alive, love it xxx

That Snarky Vegan Girl

We had such a great time at the New York Gay Pride Parade.  This year Jane and I marched with PETA and had a super fun time doing so!  Our pups, Cabo & Foxy, even joined in the parade! (keep reading below for some FUN video from the day)

Peta_Animal Rights_Gay PrideIMG_0373IMG_0371IMG_0375

Of course had cameras rolling to document the festive event, and to see what brought people out to march for the animals and equality for all.  Take part in the adventure and watch the short video.

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Monster tantrums


From a wonderful swan – thank you.


It’s our 5th wedding anniversary today and its been a bit of a non event, so far. Hubs is working and I didn’t see him this morning before he left. I wanted to get him a card when I was getting the teachers sorted for end of school year, but the youngest threw monster tantrums in the shop and I had to exit quickly.

I’m feeling guilty that I lost my temper with him, I was tired, he was screaming and firing his shoes everywhere. I got him a balloon as a bribe then when he started screaming for a toy car I just lost it and yelled at him to shut up as I marched red faced out of the shop. I can’t wait to work on my defects in the program cos temper and impatience are big ones for me. Pride is another, I hate people judging me like they’re so bloody perfect, which I realise is a judgemental statement cos they probably aren’t and everything’s not all about me. I suffer from crippling self awareness that I soothed with drink but that didn’t work too well, nothing like making a fool of yourself to solve that.

So, I’m trying to get out of this mood of self pity and recrimination, to relish the blessings I have. My husband is amazing for sticking it out this long. Our first year of marriage was horrible down to my drinking, second year was only better cos I got pregnant and the drinking subsided drastically though I was a hormonal dry drunk. I made up for lost drinking time when my second son was born, that was when I admitted my drinking scared me and I needed to get it under control. Four or five failed attempts to quit later, with each relapse getting worse, I can honestly say our marriage has never been healthier now I’ve 20 mths sober time. Once we accepted and adjusted to my alcoholism the past year has by far been our best. My husband knew I was stressed out yesterday so he took over toddler taming when he got home from work yesterday and sent me to the bath. I’m all set on this new day with patience and resolve to try to see the funny side of parenting no matter what.

Sober Retreat 2015


fountains abbey

So whoosh and the second retreat is here. For people who are new to the two SWAN groups or haven’t been able to come for whatever reason, there are a number of swans and soberista members meeting up tomorrow through to Sunday, in Yorkshire, UK, for a sober retreat to reflect on and enjoy life without alcohol. I started pulling people into it a good few months ago and it seemed a lifetime away!

Last year I was happy to organise one in Dorset and this year a few returners are coming again, but mostly the group is very new and many of us have never met, and frankly don’t even know what each other looks like! Seems crazy doesn’t it? But I guess the reason is really to take a flying jump out of our respective comfort zones, do something new and adventurous, and just see what happens.

For me personally it is a time to celebrate an upcoming two year soberversary on 20th July, and several of the others coming are also at the two year mark, or thereabouts. I hope that everyone coming has the chance to enjoy their personal milestones and gain strength from companionship. It may also be that some of us just choose to spend a bit of time alone, to reflect in the lovely surroundings, and that is good too.

I am delighted to hear from messages and posts that more events are going on, more meet ups and networking, and the swan collective is growing in such an organic and wonderful way. I hope that all the members of the two groups continue to enjoy fruitful and supportive relationships and even when there are difficult things to talk about and relationships to sort out, that in the end we all know that our true triumph is over alcohol addiction. So many very different people with different approaches and experiences and yet it all seems to work out in the end.

Sending warmest thoughts to all xxx

Saving myself

S.C Lourie's photo.

It really does seem that somehow, somewhere, deep in our hearts, often where people outside us can’t see, we feel we are fighting a losing battle with something or another. Everyone seems to be struggling with something. It can feel so overwhelming, the undercurrent of strain and sadness in the air. Sometimes the holes seem so deep, so bottomless. And you can relieve the sadness of another for a while, but it all comes back. That sweet soul still has to face their reality when you’re not around. We live in a harsh world that makes us feel unsupported and alone and I think those two things are the killers. Feeling like you have nowhere to go and just talk or scream or cry freely to someone. We always apologise when we let these kinds of feelings slip out. Social media is a blessing for that because by reading something or following someone you can feel just that little less alone. Yet, in society we’re missing something. We are missing out on all the beauty of having a society set on us being there for one another. In my drama class I am teaching the children about Native American culture and we’re looking at the different naming traditions. It’s a beautiful thing to think that mostly in the different tribes each individual would have a name in their whole name that would connect them to their tribe or even beyond that to the actual whole human family. How lovely to think that when your name was called you were naturally and immediately reminded of being a part of something bigger than just your present experience or that quiet losing battle. Because the thing is, we’re so much more than the battles we face and fight and life is so much more than that too. But we forget because we get consumed, quite naturally…Saving myself I have realised is about opening my mind, my vision, my heart to the bigger picture…to experience myself outside of just my problems, my struggles, my issues. There is always the phenomenon to touch into, the mystery, the simplicity of our souls. We need that in the day. Moments where we can put the fight to one side and just laugh or be still or walk by a river or paint our nails. The world would have us think life is all about struggling and curing ourselves from lacking by reaching out and striving to get more and more and more (achievements, things, experiences). But like with nearly everything, the world’s got it wrong again. I can’t solve your problems but I can remind you there is so much more to you than them. You might be fighting a difficult battle. But you are more than the fight. You are more than the battle. Consider that today. And allow yourself to do something with no fight in it. Something that serenades your soul immediately. It works wonders for reminding us of just how much more we are than all these variables anyway.
–S.C Lourie, June 2015

Reading the AA book

Thank you to a swan member for her post below.


I have been snuggled in bed reading the AA book…I’ve been listening and reading to some of their literature recently and it just makes total, utter sense to me. I’ve been reading again today about the mental obsession and the craving…when I was drinking I felt like I was craving alcohol, but really I think I was obsessing about it…I wasn’t physically addicted to alcohol…so It wasn’t a physical craving I was feeling. But, if I did have a drink, then I craved more. For me, having a drink of alcohol caused an ‘allergic reaction’…that allergic reaction was that I kept on drinking and couldn’t stop. I know this won’t make sense to everyone and maybe I don’t explain it too well…all I know is this is exactly what was happening to me.


Here are the meanings of the two words…for me it was ‘obsess’ that captures perfectly how I used to feel about drinking. And the ‘crave’ describes how I felt once I was drinking.


–verb (used with object)
1. to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly: to crave sweets; to crave affection.
2. to require; need: a problem craving prompt attention.
3. to ask earnestly for (something); beg for.
4. to ask (a person) earnestly for something or to do something.


–verb (used with object)
1. to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally: Suspicion obsessed him.
–verb (used without object)
2. to think about something unceasingly or persistently; dwell obsessively upon something.


I think, for me, knowing the difference between the two is what has helped me…I can’t do anything about the physical craving once I’ve had a drink…nothing or no one would stop me and I’d just have to keep drinking till I either passed out or ran out of drink.


But if I work on the obsession bit, by working on what is going on in my head, all the upset, hurt and resentments that made me want to drink, by doing all the things people told me to do, HALT, talking to someone, posting loads, sharing what is going on…who’d of thought that I needed to remember to eat or talk to feel better…by doing these things over and over the obsessional thoughts (about drink) have diminished. Now, weirdly I was getting like this about ice cream!! So, I’ve applied the same thought process to that and lo and behold I haven’t had any ice cream for 5 days!!


I hope this doesn’t all sound a bit vague and out there, I’m sure if you do AA, which I don’t, you may be able to understand? If I have got the right end of the stick that is!! Such a world of stuff out there to learn!!! Xxxx

Blink, and it’s a new world

yes indeed!

Kadampa Life

too much to do todayWhen we feel overwhelmed with busyness it is usually because all our activities are bleeding into each other. With thoughts of impermanence, they don’t. We can focus on the here and now. We have walls up (as described in this last article). We can still plan — put the things we need to do in a Google calendar or excel spreadsheet or regular to-do list — but then we don’t need to think much about it again until we need to do it. Tomorrow is plenty of time to take care of tomorrow’s business. We’ll have all day tomorrow to focus on tomorrow’s problems. We can be more like Charlie Brown:

I’ve developed a new philosophy… I only dread one day at a time.

So in the interactions we have today, we bring as much love and kindness into them as we can. We try to keep our mind…

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“Poor Me, Pour Me Another” [Starting Over]

you are never alone xxx


I’m a totally failure. But I feel GREAT! I probably won’t feel that way tomorrow, but right now, I do. 5 and a half days sober and I broke. I just couldn’t take it. All the crying, all the internal conflict, all the damn memories. I just needed everything to shut the fuck up for one night! And now…it’s quiet and I’m at peace. I might just be able to actually sleep tonight.

Oh my god! I’ve been trying to write since Tuesday but after my nose dive off the wagon, as summarized above I’ve been trying to keep myself as busy as humanly possible. I’ve been going back to AA meetings after work and because I’m a single mother, I’m THAT girl at the meeting with a child that won’t sit still. But at least I’m going, and he’s actually really well behaved considering.

I’m just so tired this…

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The Remarkable Kindness of People and other things…

This is Me

¡Hola! I have had a much better day today. I am still a little down, not quite my happy, outgoing self – but better. I have just checked and after my balls up the other day, it’s official. I am 1hr and 32 minutes into 5 months sober!!! Well I have no idea how the app I’m using to keep track works it out, but that’ll do me I suppose 😉 harrrdeharr!

So, given the depressed state of my last post, I was so moved at some of the comments and messages I received it nearly brought me to tears. Nearly. I don’t cry as a general rule, just too hard-faced I suppose. I was humbled though. People give up their time to reply to me on here, on FB, via text and Messenger. It’s amazing the support people are willing to offer up when they too are going…

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Of Beautiful Tragedies

brilliant, moving, very apt … thank you xxx


“I can’t do this. I’m sorry. But I can’t. I can’t be the person who can lead the crowd. I can’t be the person who walks along with the crowd. I’d rather sit at the sidewalks and watch them walk past me.

I can’t do this. I can’t be the person you want me to be. I can’t be this person who the world looks up to. I can’t be this person who is instantly recognized amidst a buzzing crowd. I’d rather be one little person, lost in the same crowd, looking at others.

I can’t do this. I can’t be the person you think I’ll turn out to be. For I don’t want to be this person. I don’t want to be the person who has perfect grades, perfect scores, perfect job, perfect family, perfect house, but not a perfect life. Perfection is delusional. I don’t want to be…

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How it feels to be sober


Thank you to one of our swans for her story below.



I’ve had a great day today. I got tons of work done this morning, our business is doing so well and my family is happy! Everything used to be such an effort for me to be honest, I found doing anything work related boring…I had no enthusiasm or ideas, just the physical act of getting myself out of bed and dressed some mornings was as much as I could manage, I had a miserable feeling inside every day and looked for problems everywhere, I liked problems as they gave me excuses to drink. I quite liked drama too…as that was always a way to fuel a good drink. ‘Poor me’ was also a good one…you know, if you had my life, if you had my issues, if you’d been through what I had…you’d drink. Now I don’t have the obsessional thoughts about drinking my life is so much better and through not drinking I am calmer, less dramatic and happy. This afternoon we went to the beach to take the kayak out, I sat on the beach watching my husband and the boys out on the water…again I thought of how this would have been in the past. I would have been agitated, wishing the time away, tapping my foot, silently seething inside and working out how long it would take to get home…feeling annoyed that I’d have to cook dinner and get the children to bed as that would delay me being able to drink. As soon as that first mouthful was taken it would be downhill, towards the end of my drinking I would be calling myself the most awful names and having a constant monologue about what a terrible, awful nasty person I was as I gulped it down, no sipping or pretence of normality then. Being sober isn’t always easy…facing feelings can be hard but believe me when I say, facing my sober self is so, so, much easier than living with the drunk me. Everything is changing, I am changing…I put a whole lifetime of growing on hold by drinking, I didn’t know any better then. But I do now and for that I am truly grateful! I thank the universe every day for allowing me to finally experience my life like this…it’s truly amazing and a true miracle to me.


If you would like to join other swan members on Facebook there is a secret group, just friend request Binki Laidler xxx

Let it go, or suffer the consequences

Brilliant post xxx

Sober Grace

can-t-keep-calm-cause-i-m-so-angryIn my last post I mentioned that my husband lost his job a few weeks back.  I panicked and freaked out and wanted to drink that night…briefly.  The desire to drink was really a fleeting feeling, it came and went and I didn’t act on it, thank God.  The panic and freaking out lasted longer, evidenced by the red eyes and tears that I wore to work for the next couple of days.  Once I calmed down and realized that everything would be ok and that we wouldn’t be destitute, living under a bridge, a different emotion set in.  Anger. Lots of it.

I don’t know if you remember from earlier posts, but my husband and I worked together at a local vocational college.  He was a teacher of general education classes for the Bachelor’s program and I am the registrar.  I was thrilled when he got the job, as we…

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a retired drinker


Hello, a bank holiday for some of us,which used to be an excuse for a few more drinking hours, and indeed the pubs will be full of people squeezing in a few more beers and wines before work tomorrow. A drink holiday rather than anything else. Seems to me a desperate lack of imagination…but I used to do it too, so shouldn’t be smug about the use of alcohol to fill gaps in time.

It is definitely harder to stay busy and occupied when you are ‘present’ rather than half cut, but that is the challenge, and once it becomes normal to plan their time, many people start to wonder how they ever had time sit and get pissed in the first place.

It’s perhaps a bit like retiring – retired people often find with their new lifestyle, they wouldn’t have time for work anyway. So I am considering myself as a ‘retired drinker’ with all the benefits that brings, including my sober pension 😉

getting healthy ramblings

Hello hope you are doing well. I have had a weird week health wise including a nose bleed and wondering if I could actually be pregnant. I made drastic changes to my food intake (I am very much an all or nothing person as are so many addicts) moving from a very heavy intake of dairy,  gluten and sugar to more or less removing them, except replacing (most of) my white bread with brown so still gluten in that and still an amount of skimmed milk in my coffee.


I started taking a probiotic and an anti-candida supplement. Well in beautiful harmony with my healthy lifestyle thinking, my stomach swelled up like a balloon, I had terrible flu symptoms and the diverticulitis I sometimes get came on with a vengeance, making it hard to sit at my desk and be pleasant this week when I mostly wanted to lie flat in bed. Then after three days of painkillers and wanting to eat all the bad things I normally rely on so badly that I thought I would kill someone, I woke up this morning actually feeling quite good. Four pounds off.


But apart from the weight thing (I am cautious about celebrating as it is the same four pounds I gain and lose every fortnight) I just feel a bit different mentally, a bit sharper and less depressed really. This is a different feeling. I have got into a little habit of three meals of around 400 calories with some coffees and fruit as extras and definitely the eating less at night has made a big difference to how I feel in the morning. I feel like I could actually continue this particular attempt at weight loss rather than knowing deep down I will give up after a few days,which is what normally happens.


So in conclusion to this latest ramble I would say a) cutting right down on dairy, gluten and sugar has helped me a lot after the initial three day withdrawal trauma b) eating around 1400 calories a day is not starvation and can be done c) eating less at night is liberating in terms of mood lift in the morning. I am feeling that after all the procrastinating and stopping and starting and reposting and boring people with constant reaffirming, I may actually have found a regime that will get my desired 28 pounds off, or at least most of that in time for my holibobs in August. Thank you for listening! xxx

Who I want to be

Love this, self awareness in bucketfuls xxx


I have days where I am successful in focusing on the excitement of this journey. I am seeing the potential for a real change, a seismic shift as I slowly uncover who I am and what I am really like without the mask and crutch of alcohol. Incredible really how much of an influence this substance has over us. It casts a shadow over so many of us, dictating what we do, how we feel, how we act, what we  think about (for me it was mostly when I could have the first drink that day)

Well it turns out I am one of the people I most likely used to mock. I like drinking tea whilst watching the sunrise, I prioritize learning something new every day, playing video games just because I want to have fun, I’ve been meditating and taking time to just be still. I speak my mind more, unafraid of being seen as weird…

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Don’t you know who I am?

How often do we take things people say and twist them, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes without meaning to at all….and how many times does the conclusion we reach end up damaging us…
I was thinking about this today; fallings out I have had with people, and misunderstandings about what they were doing or saying and sometimes being misunderstood myself.
I also considered in my reflection how often people misunderstand their own motives and actions and damage themselves through lack of self awareness.  Of course, drinking to excess comes to mind, but there are so many other ways we misunderstand ourselves, to our own detriment.  I am struggling for instance at the moment to comprehend my behaviour around certain foods when I am stressed, bored, frustrated ( I don’t binge when having positive experiences), and winkling out these true reasons for over eating, recognising when they happen, being mindful of them, and dealing with them in a robust manner.  It is hard work!  But the rewards of greater self awareness although distant sometimes, are worth the work.  I know this because of the way I feel as a sober person. Having history is a great way to build on self awareness.
Here is a very short story in a book from Steven Pinker – ‘The Stuff Of Thought’.
It’s a great illustration of others’ words being taken out of context and used to dramatic effect. Who misunderstands who in this passage, I wonder?
During the final days at Denver’s Stapleton airport, a crowded
United flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long
line of inconvenienced travellers. Suddenly an angry passenger
pushed his way to the desk and slapped his ticket down on the
counter saying, “I HAVE to be on this flight, and it HAS to be first
class.” The agent replied, “I’m sorry sir. I’ll be happy to try to
help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll
be able to work something out.” The passenger was unimpressed.
He asked loudly so the passengers behind him could hear, “Do 
you have any idea who I am?” Without hesitating, the gate agent
smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your
attention please?” she began, her voice bellowing through the 
terminal. “We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT
KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please
come to the gate.” With the folks behind him in line laughing
hysterically, the man glared at the agent, gritted his teeth and
swore, “[ Expletive ] you!” Without flinching, she smiled and said,
“I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to stand in line for that too.