Who me?

learning to see myself clearly

Barbers, haircuts and places we always went…

I miss having a place to go where I can find a friendly face anytime.  Why are there no alcohol-free places like that around here?

I’m on day 49 and last night for the third time since I quit drinking, I stopped at the restaurant closest to home for a bite to eat.  Of course it is also the scene of a lot of my drinking.  I know it’s a bad idea.  I’ve heard the admonition:  if you keep going to the barbershop, eventually you’ll get a haircut.  The other two times, I went in early, got food and left.  I saw a couple of friends, had a cup of tea and felt very relaxed about it all.

Last night was different.

I knew it at the time.  I was on my way home from yoga and I was hungry.  Since I live alone in cold, snowy, dark New England, going home means walking into a dark 60 degree house needing to light a fire in the wood-stove and take three dogs out.  Last night the firewood was beneath a foot of snow, the driveway was beneath a few inches of ice and I couldn’t remember anything in the fridge that I could eat without making it a project.  Already feeling defeated, I opted for letting someone else feed me.

Since it was 8:30 when I arrived, the bar was well inhabited.  I knew everyone.  I sat down ordered tea and dinner, and for the first time, I felt completely out of place.  There was nothing right about it.  I was feeling good after my class and without the haze of some quickly consumed cocktails, the group looked largely sad and I didn’t want to be part of it.

It was as though I walked into the proverbial barbershop, but I could see the bad haircuts and I knew that I  never want what they have again.

The best advice I have received since becoming sober is to find people who have what I want and stay close and pay attention.  I did that.  I found a group of really positive women.  I figured out what meetings they go to.  One of them agreed to be my sponsor.  I will stick with them and remember that the old places and many of the old people just don’t have the life I want.

49 days sober and feeling very grateful


I think I need to take a lesson from the dogs


Confession:  I’ve been letting winter kick my butt the past couple of weeks.

It is common to battle feelings of sluggishness during the low light days of winter.  I know better than to give into the feeling.

It’s important to get out into the sunshine, especially when there is less of it.  My dogs certainly love running around in it.

It’s time for me to refocus.

Step one:  Look at what was working…

  • Yoga and meditation – I’ve missed classes because of the weather
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Going to 5 or 6 meetings a week
  • Less tv and more reading

Step two:  What was missing…

  • Real exercise – I need to get out and walk more
  • I need to reduce the bad carbs
  • Sleep schedule – I do better when I am more routine about sleep
  • I need to be more social – I need to call people just to talk, I need to make plans and get out

Step three:  Make a plan…

  • Go to Yoga classes on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  This also fills part of the social need.  During vacation next week go to at least 2 daytime classes.
  • Meditate everyday – first thing and last thing.  Add Yin if I miss a class
  • Pack my lunch for work
  • Eat fruit and yogurt when I crave something sweet.
  • Go to bed and wake the same time everyday.
  • Meetings – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Meet my sponsor on Fridays.  During vacation next week hit the first light of day on Monday and Friday and the noon meeting on Wednesday.
  • Buy snowshoes and use them.  The dogs will love it.
  • Call at least one person everyday.
  • Call my sponsor at least 4 times a week
  • Everyday – spend time journaling, reading and knitting
  • Find people who like to hike and snowshoe

Step four: Do It!

On a positive note:  I am 49 days sober.


Boundaries – the universe thought I needed a lesson

how-to-set-business-boundariesThe universe has decided that today I need to work on this.  It still amazes me the way these things will start to show up everywhere.

This morning I found myself irritated first thing when I walked in the bathroom.  There was a mess courtesy of my 24 year old son, who clearly is capable of better.  I was then irritated with myself because I have said nothing about similar messes since he moved in.  I so want to have a better relationship with him, I fear pushing him away.

When I got to work there were more lessons.  I went to a friend to talk about a work issue and get advice, she made it all about her.  Then I offered to pick up a friend for a meeting, she said yes enthusiastically then said call me first.  I hate not having plans, but I said nothing.  I have showed up at her house in the past (she has no licence)  and she sent me off alone.  She also calls last minute for rides. A little later it was still bugging me so I sent a text explaining that since I didn’t want to pressure her, I wouldn’t pick her up or call.  If she wants me to pick her up at 5:30, she needs to let me know by 4:30.

Of course I felt guilty, so I googled articles on boundaries.  Took some deep breaths and got to work. A little while later this was in my inbox:

Today’s Affirmation:  I Shore Up My Boundaries
One of the fundamentals of taking care of yourself is to have healthy boundaries.  Try the following statements on today, and make up your own as they suit your situation.  Saying them will train you to be more judicious about how you expend your life force.I shore up my boundaries; if I want to be respected, I have to respect myself enough to say “stop” or “no” when it’s appropriate.  I shore up my boundaries because I’ve let the wrong-doing go on for too long; I kept thinking if I let it go, it would stop.  It hasn’t.  I shore up my boundaries with the one who doesn’t hear what I’m saying; I need to make clear that I’m not willing to continue if we aren’t communicating in a fruitful way.  I shore up my boundaries against the internal voice that harangues me with negative self-talk; I refuse to turn against myself anymore.  I shore up my boundaries with anyone who is depleting my energy; I have too much to do in my life and I need to focus and conserve my vitality.  I shore up my boundaries, but I do it in a way that is tactful…in a manner that would feel comfortable to me if I were on the other side of the equation.
Lean in to a better life!LIKE me on Facebook  | FOLLOW me on Twitter | VISIT me | SUBSCRIBE now! Share today’s Daily Lean!   Facebook   Twitter
Copyright © 2014 Kathy Freston, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email because you opted in on my website. If you would like to opt out, simply click so at the bottom and I will happily take you off of the list. Thank you!

How is that for the universe sending lessons my way.  I clearly need to work on this. boundaries21

1 Comment »

Happy Dance!


It feels so good to reach the one month mark.  Beginning this journey, one month ago, able to write a bit about my thoughts and to have you all show me your support has been a gift.  I am finding new friends in the halls of AA and for once I don’t feel so much like an outsider.  I am realizing you can find strength when you open yourself up to a new way of thinking.

I was reluctant to go to AA.  I wasn’t sure I needed it.  I didn’t think I would feel comfortable…all the excuses you can imagine.  What I found there, I do need.  I need to open myself up to other people.  I need them and it’s good for me to allow them to lean on me as well.  I get so much out of reaching out to others.  I hear things in every share that I can relate to.  I feel less alone.  Communities are important and I am grateful to have found a new one here and in the halls.



Feeling Stuck

stuck-dogIt’s not easy feeling stuck…when your head spins around the same thought.  It’s easy to spend time wondering, Why me?

Those thoughts are a trap.  We need to try to watch them go by and replace them with a more positive version.  How about,  Why not me?

Think about the difference.  Why me? belongs to a victim…someone who feels powerless.  Why not me? belongs to someone who is open to a lesson…someone who realizes that we are all tested in this life.  No one is too good for a lesson.

Everyone has stuff they deal with…  If you think someone doesn’t, you don’t know them as well as you think you do.


1 Comment »

Will power…or is it won’t power?

change willpower

I always thought one of my flaws was a lack of willpower.  I drank whatever I wanted, I ate whatever I wanted.  When confronted with a nice display of chocolate in our lunchroom at work, I heard one co-worker congratulating another on her willpower.  My response was, “I will have some, too.  I have plenty of willpower; I just need more won’t power.”  I’ve never had a shortage of self deprecating humor.  (note to self:  put that on the list of flaws)

Is willpower really the issue?  I’ve been allowing myself to indulge the sugar cravings a bit this month. (I’m on day 30)  I do know that this cannot go on endlessly.  I am sober, that is good.  I also need to watch my sugar intake for my health.  On that note, I am not ready to change.

I like the way that sounds.  When I consider whether or not I am ready to make a necessary change, it sounds like an opportunity for growth.  Lack of willpower sounds like an excuse, like some dreadful personal failing.  I am really working on thinking about things in a more positive way.  Today I will begin with this.


Finding a community…

duckling fitting in


I never felt like I fit in…anywhere.  I always felt different.  I suppose that is the thing that many of us have in common.  Somewhere along the line drinking became a way to feel like I fit in, to try to be the fun girl everyone would like and in the end it was what isolated me.


Imagine my surprise when I began to post to this blog and I found a community of people with the same struggles.  I could read about their thoughts and feel less alone.  When I wrote, you responded and I felt less alone.  I found my way to the halls of AA and again, found people who are warm and welcoming.  After only a few days, I no longer felt like an outsider, I knew I belonged.

I am beginning to realize that, after a life of being a chameleon, my greatest challenge moving forward may be staying true to myself.  I am starting to see that I need to be a bit more careful about how I spend my time; it’s precious.  I need to find a way to nurture relationships that are good for me.  The relationships that have a negative tone need to change or I need to let go.  This is for my survival.

This part of my life has to be about learning who I am and being comfortable and happy with myself.




Clearing the noise in my head

How do you clear your mind?  This was the question posed by my friend on Saturday.  As I thought about it, it occurred to me that the answer wasn’t as simple as yoga, breathing, meditation, acupuncture…and all of those type of things I have mentioned.  I realized that it is deeper than that.

As an educator, I have spent over 25 years learning about how the brain works.  I learned, years ago, that when kids were working on things that were strongly right brained they talked less and didn’t seem to notice the passage of time.  I came to understand that this made sense because it is the left brain that perceives time and processes language.

I realized that when I thought about the kinds of things that calm me, they were primarily right brain activities.  I think that when I sit and run negative thoughts or over analyze things, that happens in my left brain.  Music, art, creativity, spatial kinds of puzzles, sudoku, watching and listening to the waves at the ocean, laughter, spontaneity all happen in my right brain and help pull me away from the things that drag me down.  It is when I do these kinds of things that time passes effortlessly and I relax.  Yoga and things like that work because I get lost in the music (right brain).


Who am I?

My childhood was spent all over the United States; we moved every three to five years.  I learned to be a chameleon of sorts.  We would move to a new place and begin to explore.  We would see the new sights and try the new activities associated with our new acquaintances we hoped would become friends.  Sometimes, I loved the new experiences, other times I did not.  I would paste a smile on my face and make the best of it; that’s how you make friends.  Or is it?

I’ve developed a wide variety of interests over the years.  I can strike up a conversation with almost anyone, almost anywhere.  When I had a drink in my hand, everyone was my friend.  Whether I was in the fanciest city club, or a biker bar in the country, I could make it work.  Making it work is different than feeling at home and really enjoying myself.  Thus the question…

You’d think that 50 years on this planet would teach you a thing or two.  I think I’ve learned a bit and this journey to sobriety seems to be a lot about picking the lessons to live by and learning to focus on things I really love.  I’ve begun with things that help me calm my mind without a substance.  Yoga is really working in that regard and I like the positive messages I hear.  They are a great balance to the sometimes darker feeling I get at meetings.  Massage and now acupuncture have proven wonderful to take the edge off the anxious feeling.

This is a difficult season for me.  The darkness comes too early in New England.  I find myself in a routine of immersing myself in my work.  It’s easy to do with a classroom of early adolescents.  Two evenings each week, I run off to, what is apparently one of the ten snowiest campuses in the US, to teach undergrads and graduate students.  If I am lucky, I have a little spare time apart from shoveling, correcting papers and napping.  Now that I don’t have to include drinking on my to-do list I have room for other activities.  Now I just need to remember what I enjoy doing sober.  It’ll be nice to find some sober friends along the way.

I look forward to the longer, warmer days of spring and summer.  There are many more healthy diversions then.  Hopefully my feet will be more firmly beneath me as well.


Triggers – what to avoid, what to face

The other day I read an article that questioned the wisdom of avoiding difficult situations entirely.  I wish I could find the link.  The article discussed the discomfort and difficulty of going to a restaurant.  They cited a study where people who avoided visiting a restaurant entirely had an intense reaction even after much time had passed, whereas people who faced the difficult situation experienced a gradual desensitization.   I’m trying to decide how I feel about this.

Last night, I met a friend for dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant.  I made my way there completely carefree.  I was early, so I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes catching up on email.  As I sat, my mind wandered.  I automatically anticipated the lovely margarita inside and had to push the thought aside.  Finally, I entered the place and was seated.  I asked for water, snacked on chips and pulled up my current read on my phone, good distraction.  My friend arrived and ordered herself a drink.  Fortunately,  as a life-long al-anon person, she never spoke about my drink choice.  It was okay.  We had a nice dinner and wonderful conversation, but I was left to wonder about the wisdom of going to places so firmly connected to drink.

Gray’s discussions this week of pseudo-booze and our routines were good food for thought.  If you haven’t found Gray’s writing, the humor alone is worth the read,  and his insights are thought provoking.  It is wonderful to know that the things we are experiencing are not unique.

Friday, I have been invited to a friend’s surprise birthday bash.  I am already planning ahead.  I will bring my own beverage and a full reserve of strength.  There is also a meeting that night.  The party is right after work, so I will plan to go to both.

The following article about relapse triggers seemed to make good sense.


I fear I have been guilty of number three, at least outwardly.  I think I have been operating on the belief that if I keep telling myself that I am fine, I will start to believe it.  I would love to hear about your ideas and experiences with regards to triggers.  This community has been a gift.