Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Am I an Alcoholic"--Laura McKowen's response to a reader's question

If you are asking this question, then listen to your gut and make sure that the correct questions are being asked.

I told my primary care doctor and therapist that I had a drinking problem when 1-2 glasses of wine a night was a regular thing. They both thought I was being too hard on myself. They asked me standard, outdated questions that missed my cry for help and the current DSM-V standards for alcohol use disorder. 
  • Have friends or family members made negative comments about your drinking? No
  • Do you drink in the morning to fight a hangover? Never
  • Have you had problems at work, with the law, etc because of your drinking? No
  • Do you drink and drive? NO
Okay, then you are fine. There is nothing wrong with a 1-2 drinks a night with a meal or to unwind. WTF?

They didn’t LISTEN to my plea. I KNEW that I was falling into full on dependence and into addiction. They didn’t believe me because they have bought into the myth that there are alcoholics and everyone else.  Laura McKowen wrote a great post in response to a reader’s question, Am I an Alcoholic?. She reframes the question and assumptions people make about “healthy drinking.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

I have not come this far to only come this far.

Mantras are a great way to improve our mind and open our hearts. During the first 2 months quitting drinking, I incorporated matras into my daily practice, but lately I haven't been. They were part of my healing process and way to rewire my brain toward healthier thoughts. In the earliest days, I used mantras to fight cravings. It's been over 4 months since I quit drinking. Yay me. I am past craving alcohol, but some days I want to crawl back in a hole and numb out.  There are less physically destructive ways to numb out than drinking: binging on Man in the High Castle, checking Facebook, watching the news . . .

Alcohol free living is a major lifestyle change, which in many ways is big enough on its own. One reason my alcohol use switched from occasional to habitual was my desire to disconnect from painful experiences in my life and to turn off the negative thoughts that swirled in my head because I never fully processed old or day to day problems.

Positive mantras are an antidote to years of automatic negative, self destructive thinking. When I decided to quit drinking alcohol, I wasn't just giving up a beverage. I was choosing to engage with life and process years of stuffed emotion so that I could enjoy ALL life has to offer. Today, I'm reminding myself of my intention to keep going, learning, growing, feeling, loving, and being.

Holly Whitaker and Tammi Salas created The Mantra Project, which features 40 illustrated mantras and some thoughts on the mantra as it relates to sobriety.  Practicing a single mantra throughout the day has positive effects. Doing a mindful practice for 40 days is even more powerful. "I have not come this far to only come this far" is one that Holly shared with us during Hip Sobriety School and is in the mantra project. The image above is mine, but the words come from Holly.

Friday, January 13, 2017

10 of the best things that happened to me in 2016

In some ways, I don't want to reflect at all on the past year. However, we are who we are because of all of our life experiences. Last year was painful in many ways. I've worked hard to process the difficult parts and to recognize the good. Here is a list of 10 of the best things that happened to me in 2016.
  1. Helped my mom through a big chunk of her cancer treatment, which had the side effect of bringing the Pecora family closer despite the miles that separate us. Also, I was reminded to nurture friendships. (See blog for Sally's Story)
  2. Fell in love with Hamilton the musical via my amazing kiddo #2.
  3. Quit drinking alcohol. The first of many major lifestyle changes. (This Naked Mind & Hip Sobriety School)
  4. Meditation became a regular part of my routine. (Insight Timer is a cool app for bringing meditation into your life)
  5. Started yoga (not the crazy bendy pose yoga that you see in magazines).
  6. Our family adopted Luna.
  7. Discovered Tulsi Tea (herbal hot drink that is not really a tea).
  8. Joined See Jane Write where I met several awesome people and learned about some cool businesses.
  9. Donated a lot of stuff that we don't need. Less physical clutter equals less mental clutter. 
  10. Bought a lot of art supplies. 2017 will be a year to create and grow.
Bonus: I am practicing being in the moment and accepting whatever emotions arise. I have less anxiety and am more content with who I am. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More confessions

In my Confession and Plan post, I mentioned a few health issues. Well, the list goes on . . . I had such an intense pain in my toe that I thought I might have fractured it. The blood work and x-ray don't really point to anything, but the symptoms point to severe arthritis. This is not run of the mill arthritis, which hurts a lot. This is "wake me up at night pain" when my toe touches the sheet, bumps the mattress, or I flex. Guys, these are symptoms of gout. I don't have full-blown diagnosable symptoms, but I know what I eat and drink. I'm on the path to having a really debilitating disease that is avoidable with life changes.

So what it is the problem? Why can't I make these simple changes in diet? I was an athlete, so the walking is going quite well (ignoring the pain in my toe may prove to be a poor choice, but exercise helps arthritis). I can give or take sodas and desserts. In fact, I really only crave a Coke when I eat fried or processed foods. I prefer fresh veggies and home cooked meals. Skipping fast food and then the soda is really easy for me. Ice cream used to be my daily treat: 1/2 a cup a night, and I could skip all other sweet temptations throughout the day. I've become increasingly lactose intolerant since my gallbladder was taken out. I've heard that happens as people age. Also, I'm predisposed because of my Mediterranean background.

I have a number of great skills for losing weight through exercise and healthy eating, but there is one thing that has tied my hands and is the cause of all of these issues. I'll explain more in the next post.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Confession and Plan

I went to the doctor and the numbers don't lie (even if I pretended the mirror was). I knew that my body needed attention. I'm tired all the time. I can feel my veins pulse when my blood pressure is too high, my heart will beat too hard, I snore, my clothes don't fit the way I would like, my arm goes numb when I sleep, and on and on. These are really big warning signs. I'm only 44. How did this happen? Excuses and no personal accountability.

  1. Weight highest it's been since pregnancy
  2. Cholesterol iffy even on meds
  3. Blood Pressure iffy even on meds
  4. Prediabetic because of all of the above 
  5. Reason for the above is simple: I eat too much and don't exercise enough.

  1. Confess publicly so that I can have friend support. (Don't be offended if I turn down foods or drinks. Do call me for a walk, an activity, or to play with art instead of lunch or drinks.)
  2. Daily walks
  3. Add weight training
  4. Track eating and modify diet for diabetic friendly eating.
  5. Celebrate milestones and keep going till I reach my goal of better labs and a healthier body.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Brave Girls Club

Tomorrow, Brave Girls Club launches a new online class, Soul Restoration. "You don't need to change--you just need to restore," Melody Ross.
I'm in the midst of a major life shift. One kiddo just left for college, and the other finishes high school this year. I left a job I love because I found it impossible to balance family, life, friends, health, and teaching. After spending months in Virginia helping my mom through cancer, I realized that I couldn't juggle so many balls as once. For now, teaching is the ball I put down.

Many people juggle more balls than I do or ever will. I don't know how they do it. My husband and I are pretty happy with a simple life. When I was working 12 hours a day and another 10 on the weekend, our life was not simple.

I'm looking forward to taking the Soul Restoration class as I make peace with the changes in my life. I'm my own worst critic. If I'm going to really enjoy the next century, then I need to get back to the real me--not the one I think everyone else thinks I should be.

Monday, July 25, 2016

See Jane Write

Saturday, I attended my first See Jane Write event: How to Build Buzz for Your Blog, Book, or Brand. I have been blogging on and off since the beginning of the format. I remember arguing that Blog would win over Weblog as the common name. I'd like to say that I hail back to the Bulletin Board days, but my husband does. 

Click here for notes from the day!
Javacia wanted to find a writing community in the Birmingham area for non-fiction bloggers. There were fiction groups and journalists, but not what she was looking for. She reached out to other women writers to see if they wanted to meet. Writers need a group or tribe as we spend so much time alone in our craft. One thing lead to another and See Jane Write began about five years ago.

Part of me regrets that I didn't join in at the beginning because I could tell See Jane Write would grow into something awesome. At the time, I was recertifying to teach and was moving out of the writing world. Writers write. If they are not doing so a part of them is dying, shriveling, unsatisfied . . . lost. Lesson plans, a classroom blog, professional blog, and twitter kept some of that need to write alive. However, it's not the same as when I was giving novel writing a go and writing Killing Time (my blog in the late 1990 and early 2000).

I worked incredibly hard to recertify to teach. I loved teaching with middle school kids subject I'm passionate about, but I couldn't figure out how to be a good mom, wife, friend and individual while working full time. I'm a lifelong learner, teacher and social justice activist, so I'll always be involved in education in some way or another. It's also really nice to be back to writing.

Years of Happiness remains my mantra. This blog will continue to evolve as I do.

Peace, have a great week, and thanks to See Jane Write for adding fuel to my writing fire.

See Jane Write