Eight Year Soberversary

Hello, friends. It’s been a long, long, time since I last posted. Life is moving so fast! I’ve been retired for two years but seem to be busier than ever. We have six granddaughters now; we babysit the youngest two days a week, and spend as much time as we can with the rest of them. I have an elderly aunt that I grocery shop for and spend time with one day a week… and play “catch up” in my free time.
In some ways I feel that my life has come full-circle; thirty years ago I was a stay-at-home mom with little ones under foot. Fast forward to 2022 – I find myself in a very similar situation. I’m so grateful to be able to be such a big part of my granddaughters’ lives, but struggle to find “me” time.
My husband has, once again, been my biggest support and advocate. He has suggested – no, insisted – that we create a space for me to explore whatever hobby that sparks my soul…. We spent a great deal of time in the basement over the winter: purging, cleaning, reorganizing – all to carve out a craft area for me. Now I have to pick a hobby!
Long story short, as crazy and chaotic and stressful as life can be – drinking to cope is no longer on my radar. I barely remember the sad, scared, anxious woman I was eight years ago. I wish I could have seen how much better life would be without alcohol. I would’ve quit twenty years earlier.
Well, I’m off to prepare for a sleepover with three of those granddaughters, so I’ll end this update here.
On to year 9!

Wow – It’s Been a While!

Hello there, friends – so much has happened since my last blog post.

First of all, granddaughter #6 arrived safely at the end of August. My youngest daughter was induced and narrowly avoided having to undergo a C-section. Her sweet babe is another precious gift. We are loving watching our baby blossom as a new mother. She is handling the challenges in her life like the true bad ass warrior she is.

I have celebrated another sober birthday – my eighth! My husband planned a day full of treats and surprises. It was a wonderful day.

So here’s what’s rolling around in my brain lately….

We’ve applied for a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. The application process was involved and arduous, and included detailed questions about our medications, surgeries, and lifestyle habits.

We applied for a similar policy five years ago but the coverage was denied due to the fact that my husband had been treated for prostate cancer (successfully, thank the Universe) and wasn’t quite five years cancer-free.

So. Several questions were asked about tobacco use. My husband is a seasonal cigar smoker, and so there was much discussion about that.

But get this: not one – ONE – question was asked about alcohol use. Not one! What the hell?

So then I go for my annual checkup. The nurse asks me about a jillion questions regarding my coffee consumption: how many cups per day, how many cups of regular, how many decaf, blah blah blah…… Really? Really???

I was never asked such detailed questions about my drinking habits, by any doctor, ever.

Hey – I don’t know if any health care professionals will read this, but – you need to ask more and different questions about your patients’ relationship with alcohol.

Asking how many drinks per week consumed is simply put, not nearly enough. First of all, your patients very likely fudge that number. I know I did.

I humbly suggest you think about asking:

  • Do you ever feel uncomfortable or worry about how much you drink?
  • Has anyone ever expressed concern about your drinking?
  • Do you bargain with yourself about when /how much you can drink?
  • Do you make rules about your drinking (i.e., only on weekends, only wine or beer, etc.)?
  • Do you drink when you’re happy or upset or bored, or all of the above?

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about women developing alcohol-related health issues during the pandemic. I’m so grateful that I quit before then.

I’d likely be in real trouble if I hadn’t.

Has it Been 2,455 Days Already?

Hey, friends…. So much has happened since my last post.

Do you want the good news, the bad news, or the even better news first?

Good news? OK. I’ll start there.

Well. The good news is that grand baby #6 is due in August. Our younger daughter is expecting her first, a girl, in August. This is something she’s wanted for a long, long time. We were over the moon when she told us a few days after Christmas. The pregnancy is going well except for a nasty case of sciatica, which is making our poor daughter extremely uncomfortable.

The bad news is that about six weeks after the pregnancy announcement, the marriage imploded in a dramatic and irrevocable way. ‘Nuf said. She has been left to navigate first-time parenthood and single parenthood alone. We’ve been there for her through rage and betrayal and heartbreak and profound sadness.

Here’s the even better news: in three short months, she’s worked hard to accept what’s happened and has begun to make a plan for herself and her daughter. She has chosen to focus on what she has, instead of what she doesn’t. She has a career she finds fulfilling, a loving and supportive family, and a determination to co-parent with her ex in a functional and – dare I say – amicable way. I am amazed by her strength and resilience and wicked sense of humor, every single day.

But, friends…. I haven’t craved escape so much since I quit drinking almost seven years ago.

Not through difficulties at work.

Not through my other daughter’s miscarriage.

Not through my mother’s final illness and death.

Dealing with the shock of the marriage ending along with being a sounding board and shoulder to cry on for our daughter….. pushed me to my limit. I told my husband that I likened myself to an emotional sponge. But sponges have a saturation point and I felt I could not take ONE. MORE. THING. It was very, very hard.

I didn’t drink. I didn’t want to, either. But I did crave escape.

So how did I handle it, you ask?

Well. I listened to my inner voice. The one that told me to go easy on myself. The one that said to cut back on “have to” and instead, pay attention to “want to.” I gave myself as many opportunities to be quiet and still and “unplug” from the world as I could. If it didn’t absolutely have to be done, I didn’t do it. My sweet husband scheduled a couple’s massage for us after I mentioned that I felt my shoulders and neck were turning to stone from the stress. I let myself feel my feelings, instead of pushing them away. That’s something I still have to work hard on.

And you know what? We’re all going to be just fine. More than fine. And my sober muscles are stronger than ever. We can do hard things. Stone cold sober.

Seventh Sober Birthday

Friends! It’s been far too long. I recently celebrated my seventh birthday since quitting drinking. How I remember the first one…

It was a “special” birthday and I was not quite two months sober. My husband had made reservations at one of the swankiest restaurants in town. The maitre d strode to our table, brandishing two flutes of champagne. “I understand this is a special occasion,” he beamed. His smile disappeared when I blurted, “I don’t drink!”

Insert awkward silence..

Fast forward to today. If I knew then what I know now, I would have smiled graciously, thanked him warmly, and simply left the glass untouched.

Early sobriety is often like the first encounter: uncomfortable. Strange. Anxiety-provoking.

This year we had a socially-distanced dinner at a small Italian restaurant, just the two of us. After we were seated, the hostess placed two glasses of prosecco on the table. I smiled and slid the glass over to my husband without skipping a beat. No big whoop.

The point I’m trying to make is that time and continuous, uninterrupted days of sobriety are the key to getting comfortable with your new way of life. Not gonna lie – it’s tough at first. Weird. Strange. Uncomfortable at times. But I promise you – with time and practice, it gets easier and easier and easier.

And somewhere along the way, you’ll transform. Transform from someone who’s scared and angry and lost – to someone who’s proud of the person she sees in the mirror. You’ll morph into a badass who refuses to conform to society’s insistence that you need booze to enjoy life.

The rewards of staying sober and present in your life are myriad and wondrous. The simplest joys are elevated exponentially when you’re paying attention and not dulling your senses. A delicious cup of coffee. A belly laugh with a friend. A quiet walk in nature. A peaceful evening at home. Ordinary life can be glorious.

Trust me.

Staying Sober in a World Gone Mad

Well. An awful lot has changed since my last post. Life has begun to resemble a Stephen King novel. Personally, I have been incredibly lucky. My entire family has managed to stay healthy. The school district I work for is paying me during the closure. The weather is warming up here in New York, so my husband and I  have been able to get out for walks any time the mood strikes. And, after talking the notion into the ground for YEARS, last fall we purchased a couple of used bikes. Stashed them in the shed for the winter. Brought them out the other day, and – BAM! I’m twelve years old again, allowed to ride my bike in the neighborhood until the street lights come on and feeling like I can fly.

We seized the opportunity to Spring Clean the house last week. It’s the first time I’ve been able to perform this annual ritual (torture?) during the spring since about…. 1992, since I started working at my current job in the fall of that year.

Speaking of work, I’m retiring in June! And since the abrupt, hopefully temporary break,  I’m getting a realistic taste of what retirement might feel like.

Life’s not all sunshine and unicorn kisses. I’m scared. More than a little paranoid. Going to the supermarket is not something I look forward to. Every sniffle, cough, scratchy throat ratchets up my anxiety.  Worry is a heavy weight I pick up upon awaking every morning.

It would be lovely to escape, to be honest. When it became apparent that schools would close and everyone was panicking about the potential of being ordered to stay home, my coworkers and I were texting each other pictures of long lines in our local grocery stores. Three members of my team are, shall we say, “enthusiastic” drinkers. I received screenshots of their stockpiles of booze.

I have to admit, I felt a mix of emotions, viewing some of my old standbys….. Jealousy. Annoyance. Relief. On some level, I still wish I could drink. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away. I’m annoyed that they’re so insensitive. A couple of them know how I struggled with alcohol, and I feel a little stung that they’re so clueless about sharing those photos with me. But mostly I’m relieved that I’m not taking screenshots of my own stockpile – because I’m fairly certain that if I were still drinking, I’d emerge from this period of self-quarantine much, MUCH less healthy. Heavier. Definitely much worse for the wear. I know that drinking to escape simply hits the “pause button” – putting everything of concern on a shelf, where it waits patiently to be picked up again when the booze wears off. And add to that the anxiety and shame that drinking caused in the first place…. Ugh. Not worth the artificial respite.

So, how to stay sober when the world’s gone insane? Here’s what works for me:

Sleep – it seems so indulgent to go to bed when I’m tired and sleep as long as I want/need to. No more 4:40 a.m. alarm, for the time being.

Exercise – from long walks in the neighborhood to bike rides to H.I.I.T. videos on YouTube to my weightlifting regimen. I’m enjoying filling my extra time with activity. It stills my anxious mind and – bonus points! – helps me sleep soundly.

Nutrition – I’m cooking a lot more these days. Eating more fruit and, overall, more nutritiously. Finding new recipes to try, including 2-ingredient bagels, which I’m totally obsessed with. (https://kirbiecravings.com/2-ingredient-bagels/)

Gratitude – I have so, SO much to be grateful for. A clean, tidy, cozy house. Food and the resources to buy whatever we need. Healthy siblings, children, and grandchildren. An elderly aunt we’ve been shopping for and staying in touch with. It feels good to help. My husband and I haven’t been apart for weeks now. We go everywhere together, by choice. We truly enjoy hanging out together. And, after almost 45 years – that’s pretty incredible. We’re so lucky.

So. It is possible to stay sober and, dare I suggest – thrive? – during the pandemic. Actually, staying sober is the most powerful tool in my survival toolbox. I know that, without it, nutrition, exercise, and my treasured relationships would be in jeopardy.

Stay well, friends.

Who’s not drinking with me today?


The Importance of Self-Care

Hello, friends. It’s been a while!

So much has happened since my last post! The school year started again and my schedule this year is manageable and enjoyable. I’ve fallen back in love with my job again.

We went on a trip to Massachusetts to celebrate my 60th birthday. We visited Worcester and Salem and Boston and Marblehead and found a little Airbnb right on the ocean in a town called Nahant. It was so special and magical and restorative.

Last weekend, we spent Saturday afternoon taking care of our daughter’s three little ones while she had her hair done. It was, understandably, busy and fun and noisy. I was looking forward to a quiet evening at home. You know what they say about man planning and God laughing, right?

Well. My husband got a phone call from our son asking if there was any way we could accommodate him, his wife and two daughters, and possibly a friend from college who was visiting them –  for the night – since their power had gone out after a storm here with no sign that it would go back on any time soon….

Sigh. Sure! Absolutely! We’ll figure it out!

And we did. Turns out, it was really fun – an unplanned slumber party. Then we kept our son’s two girls the next day so our son and daughter-in-law could go to a football game.  Our daughter brought her three girls over for a play date with their cousins, so it was another full, busy, noisy, fun day.

Late in the afternoon, we dropped our son’s girls off to their other grandparents. We drove home in silence for a while, savoring the peace and quiet. I had a moment – just a moment’s thought – that I’d like nothing more than a big, fat martini. I said as much to my husband. As I verbalized that thought, it occurred to me that I didn’t really want to drink. That impulse was just the dying echo of behaviors from long ago.

I just needed to practice some self-care. We stopped and picked up groceries for an easy dinner. As soon as we got home, we threw on sneakers and headed out for a long walk in our neighborhood. It was exactly what I needed: companionable quiet, broken only by the sounds of our feet crunching on fallen leaves and our scattered conversation.

Mission accomplished Battery recharged. Alcohol neither needed nor wanted here.

I continue to learn on this journey. Self-care is every bit as important now as it was early in sobriety. I need to remember that.

Five Years

Today marks exactly five years of continuous sobriety. I was telling my husband the other day that, early on, I was watching a movie in which there was a scene with a man and woman in a bar. He offers to buy her a drink and she responds, “No thanks. I’m five years sober.”

I remember that scene so clearly – the thought of five years of sobriety seemed unfathomable to me at the time. And yet, here I am.

What have I learned, over five years? Well. I’ve learned it can still be difficult to be a nondrinker in this world. It can be lonely. I can still feel “other than” when it seems everyone else in the group is drinking and I’m not. And if I’m being perfectly honest, there are times when I still wish I could drink in safety. That I could fit in with the crowd and enjoy a few drinks and stop there.

I also wish I were five inches taller. And fifteen years younger. But most of all, I wish I’d quit drinking when I first knew I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, which was probably twenty years before I actually came to the realization that I had to stop.

I’ve also learned what true serenity, and peace of mind, and authenticity feels like. Waking up in the morning with a clear head and a free heart – without scanning my data bank for memories from the night before. My mind has been cleared of the constant “chatter” in the background: How many drinks did I have last night?  Wow – that’s too many. It’s probably unhealthy. I’m not going to drink tonight. Definitely. Well, maybe just two.  Next week I’m definitely not going to drink during the week. Yep, no more drinking, Monday through Thursday. Next week.


I’ve learned that I can experience profound joy and extreme sorrow, completely sober. And all the emotions in between – without any substance in my system to dull or fuzz or obliterate my feelings.

Along the way I’ve had so much help: Belle from Tired of Thinking About Drinking, podcasts like The Bubble Hour and Since Right Now.  A Facebook group comprised of people on the same journey. My sweet husband. Without his support I never – and I do mean NEVER – could have stayed sober. He’s evolved with me: at first he was dumbfounded and bewildered by my decision. He had no idea how terribly I was struggling. I deliberately kept my suffering quiet, because to admit it to him – to say it out loud – was to admit it to myself. I was too terrified to wrap my mind around the notion of never drinking again. He is my greatest champion and supporter. My daughters and some close friends (whom I’ve only had the opportunity to meet because of sobriety) truly “get it,” too.

I am eternally grateful and feel so blessed by the Universe. In countless ways this journey has been an incredible gift.  It has definitely not been easy – but like so many things in life, the things that are worth the most require a lot of effort.

So.  If you’re new to this journey –  there are so many tools you can put in your sobriety toolbox. Naps, bubble baths, yoga (there are TONS of free videos on YouTube), meditation, ice cream, trashy novels, funny movies, sobriety memoirs…… Make a list of ten things you have to do before you pick up a drink. Long walks. Being outdoors is very healing. Pick up a hobby to fill the hours you would have spent drinking. Have breakfast for dinner. Change your routine – especially during the “Witching Hour.”

Just. Don’t. Drink.

What I have can be yours.  And it is glorious.

Rounding the Corner on a Milestone

I just realized that it’s been almost six months since I’ve posted anything. Life continues at a happy, breakneck pace. We recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. It was a great school year and so far, a busy, happy summer. I hardly ever miss drinking. Sure, there are the occasional twinges when I’m at a restaurant or sitting outside in the evening. But they’re few and far between.

August 18th marks five whole, continuous years of sobriety for me. My life isn’t perfect, although it’s pretty damn great. One thing I know for sure is that drinking would contribute absolutely nothing positive to it.

There are some exciting life changes on the horizon for me: it’s very likely that I’ll be retiring after the end of this coming school year. And you know what? I plan to live for a long, LONG time. And booze doesn’t have any place in a healthy lifestyle. Not for me, at least.

I’ll share more reflections in a few weeks – until then, take good care!

And remember: eff booze! It’s poison!

More Blessings of Sobriety

Today the hubs and I are going to be out all afternoon. Our kids and grandchildren are  convening at our house while we’re out. My older daughter will be cutting her nieces’ and sister in law’s hair, and when we come home we’ll all have dinner together. They’re meeting here because our house is the most conducive to a big family gathering. After their haircuts, all the of little ones will play together while my kids and their spouses  hang out and visit, and then they’ll set the table and order a couple of pizzas.

You’re probably thinking, sounds like a typical Saturday for a normal family. And you’d be right. But during a period in our lives that seems like a million years ago, voluntarily spending time with our daughters wasn’t appealing, to put it mildly. Neither was feeling comfortable leaving them alone in the house. As a matter of fact, I would lock my bedroom door and my husband’s office door before leaving home. Every single day. Anything of value was locked up or hidden. I used to say, “You know when I can tell the girls are lying? Their lips are moving.”

That probably sounds heartless and harsh and over-the-top. But you have to understand that they were both heroin addicts. They were so far gone that our family was in ruins. I hated the sight of both of them.

Thankfully – long story short – they both did the hard work necessary to get sober. And in doing so, they not only repaired their bodies and souls and lives. Their transformation from dead-eyed strangers to the young women we raised also restored our faith in them. I now absolutely trust either one of them, in any situation, to do the right thing. They both embrace honesty and integrity in their everyday lives. We’re so unbelievably proud of them.

So the thought of them being “home alone” while we’re out, while absolutely unthinkable ten years ago, is of zero concern today. All courtesy of sobriety.

And a “normal” family dinner is still a miracle to me.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is next week and I’ve been mentally assembling my gratitude list. Here it is, in stream-of-consciousness order:

1. My husband and I have adjusted happily to his recent retirement. He takes care of two of our granddaughters one day a week, subs at the school he used to teach at a couple of days a week, and pretty much plain damn does what he pleases with the bulk of the rest of his time. After 43 years, it’s pretty amazing that we can still tolerate each other, much less enjoy hanging out together. He’s truly my favorite person.

2. I’m so grateful that my kids have all reached a level of contentment and relative peace in their lives. They’re all married and settled and pretty happy. Gainfully employed and making plans for their families and their futures. Our granddaughters are our Number One fans – and it’s 100% mutual. There’s another grand baby on the way. What parent/grandparent could ask for more?

3. My schedule at work this year is manageable and enjoyable. I’ve been pushed waaaaaay out of my comfort zone in terms of what I’m teaching. Guess what? You CAN teach old dogs new tricks! My co-workers and I are in sync about SO many things. I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to work with friends. I almost – ALMOST – feel guilty about getting paid to have this much fun. I’ve fallen back in love with my job, and I try to remind myself of how lucky I am every day.

4. Friends, old and new. Some have suffered losses this year: a brother, a father….. and I’m grateful to be present and able to hold space for them. So very grateful for my sober friends: my online group, and one special friend and her husband that my husband and I have met and become fast friends with. Also very grateful for a new friend – newly sober – who has reached out to me and become a special new light in my life. She reminds me of how it felt to walk this path in the early days, and it’s a privilege to offer her support and share my experiences.

5. My health, physical and mental. This old bird still feels like a 19-year-old most days. I’m one of those rare women who actually LIKES  her body.  It’s produced three healthy children, fed two of them, and gets me where I need to go. I’m proud of every stretch mark and scar. They mean I survived.  I’m happy, content, at peace, and find joy in life’s smallest moments. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

So, friends – there’s my gratitude list.

What are YOU grateful for?