Grabbing life by the baubles.

As anticipated I had a day full of warranted energy yesterday to exert on a fun filled day out with the kids visiting Santa at his grotto. I managed to start the day off right with a brisk 4 mile run, stretches and tummy exercises, so the combination of fresh air, exercise, and my smug lack of a hangover gave me an extra boost of get up and go.

I was aware I was fully present as we enjoyed the day, and how different everything felt in comparison to previous years where I’d forced fake smiles whilst feeling horribly hungover and wished to God we could just go home. It makes me sad that I wasted so many opportunities for genuinely happy experiences with my kids, but there’s no point feeling regretful over things I can’t change.

Today I’m up and raring to go for another adventure. And what an adventure it will be! Germany, here we come! Polish your festive baubles, we’re expecting an extra shiney Christmas market awaiting our arrival in a few hours time 😁

This is the first time taking the children on an aeroplane. I’m so glad I’m able to do this for them sober. They’re nervous enough about flying without having to see mummy with her glazed over wine eyes shushing their queries with an impatient shun. I’ll be with them, and I mean really with them, every step of the way.

We’re gonna have a ball! 😍

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Doing the right thing for me.

Bit of a mixed bag today. Got up early full of energy to crack on with my long list of things that desperately need doing. Panicked about time. Cancelled an appointment that wasn’t hugely necessary. Indulged in an hour of self care. Made myself pretty for a a Christmas meal out with friends.

Had a lovely evening catching up with people and having a giggle. Thoroughly enjoyed devouring every last morsel of food served to me, thinking back to past meals out where I picked at my food without eating much to save room for more wine.

Felt thankful that I was able to head back to my car to go home while everyone moved on to a pub for more drinking. But then argued with my tipsy husband on the journey home when he stated that I was being unfair on him for not going to the pub with everyone after the meal, even though I’d made it clear to him that I intended on going straight home after eating. I stated my point and then left him to silently sulk while I concentrated on driving.

I’m refusing to let it ruin the evening. I had a lovely time, but I am so glad to be home and in my pyjamas by 10pm with the prospect of a good night’s sleep so I’ll be fresh for a day out with the kids at Santa’s grotto tomorrow.

Gone are the days where I suffer to please other people. I will not be waking up tomorrow wishing I’d gone to the pub. I’ll be thankful, and I’ll be ready for a new day of adventures with the people who make my life the most full and interesting:

These guys win every time ♡

Tossing out the ‘to do’ list.

I felt totally overwhelmed yesterday by how much I’ve got going on and how much I need to do before jetting off to Germany on Monday, and it’s continued through to today.

Yesterday was a cookie and cake baking marathon in preparation for the kids Christmas fair cake selling stall today. I’m not a natural in the kitchen, and mess stresses me out, so I could feel my throat constricting with impending panic attacks periodically throughout the task. I managed to keep shouting to a minimum by stretching my patience out with the rolling pin and taking long cooling swigs on my bottle of ginger beer.

By bedtime however I was so tightly wound up that I couldn’t get to sleep.

This morning I made my morning coffee with a clenched jaw and hunched shoulders. So in spite of the fact that I have a list as long as my face (It’s very long right now) I have donned my exercise gear and hit the gym.

I’m writing this while my legs are giving the exercise bike hell. I already feel lighter and looser. By the time I get home in an hour I know it will feel like someone switched me off and on again.

Sometimes it’s ok to hit the fuck it button and throw the ‘to do’ list away in exchange for self care. I would have done a piss poor job of today’s tasks if I would have attempted to plough through the tension in my head and body this morning. Everything and everyone can wait. The world isn’t going to stop turning just cos I’ve buggered off for a couple of hours.

I would rather turn up at the school Christmas fair slightly unprepared but clear headed, rather than tense and gasping for a drink to take the edge off my inner turmoil.

So I’m burning it off, and I’m refusing to think about any of the things on my to do list. Right now I’m here pumping the blood through my veins and boosting my serotonin levels. I love it, and my mind exists just here in this moment that is just for me.

Conscious moderation.

Today’s shoot was a huge success and I drove home very excited at the prospect of getting the edits through within the next week or so. I was very pleased with how my hair and makeup turned out. I tend to start preparing for a shoot with a general idea and then just see how I end up looking after an hour of preening. This was today’s result…

It worked well for the dramatic warrior image both myself and the photographer were working towards, and I’ve spent the rest of the day enjoying the warm satisfied glow in my chest of creating something good.

I treated myself to a tasty baguette and a slice of cake but washed it down with green tea (cos moderation 😉), and then forced my sleepy bum up off the sofa to crack on with the housework and endless preparations for going to Germany next week for our first family holiday abroad.

I’ve settled into bed this evening feeling good about how much I’ve got done today, and that I managed to have my treat after the shoot without sinking into sloth mode.

I’ll read for a while to calm my over thinking brain and then hopefully get a fulfilling nights sleep in preparation for gym bunny mode tomorrow morning 😊

I’ve also just realised that today was the first photo shoot I’ve ever done without smoking a single cigarette. I didn’t even think about it. There were no nerves, no discernible shakey hands, not a flicker of discomfort as I embraced the warrior poses expected of me. I was fully present, and I enjoyed myself.

Yes. This is who I wanted to be. Finally.

Enforcing a strict regime of moderation!

I thought I best sit down and make a conscious effort to digest the events since I posted last. It feels like a lot longer than 9 days!

It’s been a good week generally, with no big news, and no incidences of desiring a drink either. I saw my dad and his wife for a lovely catch up out and about in the Welsh country air.

Ann, my dad’s wife, put together a box of pampering goodies as a way of saying well done on my sobriety. My face went sufficiently beetroot with flattered embarrassment when she surprised me with that. I was so touched, but God I’m rubbish at knowing how to respond to such wonderful gestures!

I received the first edited photo back from the shoot in Birmingham, which I’m very pleased with. The photographer has already warned me that she has a backlog of images she already needs to edit and get sent out before she can fully focus on my set, so I’m anticipating having the rest sometime around or after Christmas.

Normally the excitement of getting an edit through from an exciting shoot would have me itching to crack open a bottle of wine, both to celebrate and to quell the overflowing excitement buzzing through my veins.

There was no desire to open a bottle this time. The excitement I felt regarding the shoot and the image was much more measured this time around. I was in control of how I felt. This realisation alone was enough to make me sit a bit straighter with pride. No desire to spin off the rails in an unnecessary splurge of self indulgent intoxication. I was able to prolong the pleasurable proud feeling for days because I didn’t numb it out that evening and replace it with shame the morning after.

I indulged in ice cream and snuggles on the sofa whilst giggling with the bearded one and the kids over our favourite tv programme. It was the best way to celebrate.

The next morning I went for a run, and I’m sure my chin was a little higher and my chest a little more pushed out with the awesomeness that I was still feeling.

As promised, I relaxed a bit more last week on the exercise front. In fact from Tuesday to Saturday I transformed from sprinting tiger to sleepy sloth. It was as if I’d switched off my get up and go. From 6pm onwards each evening I couldn’t be moved from the comfort of the sofa apart from when I needed to replenish my stock of munch. This is classic me. I was aware of it happening but once I’m in this mode it’s very difficult to get out of it. I’m all or nothing. There’s no two ways about it. I either eat completely healthy and exercise every day, or I lounge around in my pyjamas for the majority of my waking hours and eat my body weight in junk food.

By Friday I could feel the storm cloud in my head getting ready to break and devour me. I wasn’t maintaining as I had planned. I was self sabotaging. By Saturday I was pissed off with myself as I took myself off to bed early to stop myself from eating any more. My body was groaning at me, each gurgle in my belly a plea to just stop eating for God’s sake woman!!

Sunday I stood on the scales. I had to. I needed something to hit me about what I was doing. It worked. I’d managed to put 3 pounds on in 1 week. As I scowled at myself in the mirror I envisaged how this would end up if I carried on the way I was; fat again, feeling heavy and crappy, unhealthy body and mind, self loathing, no confidence, hiding away….back to the bottle.

I could see it. I could see me so clearly heading back in that direction. It made me angry that I had worked so hard to get to this point and I was just allowing myself to slip backwards. I used my anger and took myself off on a 4 mile run. I thought I would struggle because I’d ignored my running shoes for a week, but it felt fantastic. The air was freezing and I relished the bite against my skin and the graze on the back of my throat as I pushed myself faster, imagining me running back to how I was before I hit sloth mode. By the end of the run I was in full tiger mode, the storm cloud had evaporated, and the shine was restored to the eyes that smiled back at me in the mirror.

Moderation is something I’ve never learned the art of, with anything. But I need to. I have proved to myself that I can’t just think “right, I’m just gonna chill out a bit and do a bit less exercise and allow myself a few more treats”. That obviously doesn’t work. My brain does not compute with this logic. I evidently need a plan. A routine to stick to that allows me to maintain my healthy weight whilst indulging in treats.

So after my invigorating workout on Sunday I planned my week, and wrote down the days I need to hit the gym/go for a run, and what treats I am allowed each day.

I know I can not deviate from the plan if I want to avoid slipping down the slippery slope back to old Amy habits.

I look at my plan for the week and I feel lighter. It’s a relief knowing that if I follow the plan then all will be well. And it’s a totally achievable plan. 3 workouts a week instead of the 5 I used to do when I was losing. And a little treat every day instead of once a week when I was losing, and every waking minute when I lost the plot!

I’m determined to make this work. It would be nice if I’m able to get to a point where I don’t need to make a plan every week and just naturally be able to moderate my indulgence and exercise. But I think I may always be like this, and that’s ok aslong as I’m aware of what I need to do to keep me on the right path.

One day at a time. Today I ran 10km in 64 minutes. Full on tiger mode.

Tomorrow I’m taking my tiger stripes off to a shoot with a photographer who specialises in dramatic head shots. I’m excited to flex my creative muscle once again, and afterwards I will reward myself with a treat, and be ready to get back in the gym the day after.

I’m gonna moderate the hell out of this week damn it 😉

Life begins.

I’m sat at the train station now waiting to be whisked off on my very own little adventure, away from the bearded one and the pesky kids that, in spite of how much I love and adore them, have been driving me around the bend of late, and I’m pondering over the journey I’ve been on over the last year, from battling the black dog and drunken misery, through the confusion of early sobriety, to the point that I now find myself at.

I’ve transformed myself completely from the wreck that I was just 9 months ago. It feels like such a short space of time to have experienced all of the different changes that I have and to have learnt so much about myself that I was missing for all these years.

Right now I feel like I’m right where I want to be in every way; physically, emotionally, mentally and morally. Which makes me wonder what will drive me forward now.

For the last year the driving force of my sobriety has been a determined mission for self improvement. I’m slimmer and fitter than I’ve ever been. My happiness levels are higher than they’ve ever been. My conscience is clear from not sabotaging myself on a regular basis. I trust my own judgement and choices, and for the first time in my life I feel worthy of all that I have, and maybe even a little more.

It’s been a hard slog to get here, a beast of a mountain to climb, and the way that I see it is that I’ve earned a little sit down. I’ve been burning rubber at the gym, volunteering myself for all sorts of outings and activities, constantly reading sobriety and mindfulness material, and just generally working on myself on a constant basis.

If I’m honest, I’m starting to feel tired. I need some time to relax and find my way into my sober future without the constant obsession for self improvement now. Of course I’ll keep checking in with the amazing folk on the sobriety social media groups who have helped me get to this point of epic self empowerment, but I’m going to read a good old fashioned fiction, and I’m going to cut down the exercise a tad to maintain rather than lose, and I’m going to think about what I now want for my future now that I’ve found my sober feet.

I used to model, and I loved it. I was at my peak approximately 5 years ago, and was aware I was drinking too much but wouldn’t acknowledge it. The 4 years following would see my drinking become heavier than ever before in my life, with the last year nearly killing me off. As a result I got fat, lost confidence and couldn’t model. I tried to convince myself that I had just tired of modelling. But the truth was that I had loved it. It had been something that made me feel powerful, and something that was just for me away from my role of mum and wife (unappreciated skivvy 😉). Drinking had pushed me away from something I’d loved, and further into the wicked teeth of the black dog.

Today I’m dipping my toe back in the water of modelling. I’m off to Birmingham to shoot with a photographer and make up artist who I’ve admired for a long time. I’m excited and nervous and thrilled to be feeling all these feelings absorbed in my sober brain and body.

Towards the end of my modelling days I was drunk for every shoot. Highly unprofessional and dangerous considering how I was rendering myself vulnerable in the company of male photographers, some of which were strangers to me. I needed the booze to give me the confidence to model. How awful that I had lost the vibrant girl that had found the love for shooting at dramatic locations, for weird and wonderful artwork and creating sensual, and sometimes utterly bizarre, photos. The high I used to feel after a damn good shoot was awesome, and would keep my mood up for days after. But I lost it, I lost me.

I have worked hard rediscovering the girl who knows what she wants and goes out and gets it. I’m back, and I’m going for what I want and need to make me happy. Come at me life! I’m ready for ya!

Always makes me giggle. And it’s totally relevant for how I feel today 😂

*****

9pm update

Shoot complete! It was great!

Here I am on the right with the photographer on the left and the makeup artist in the middle.
Truly wonderful girls, we had a blast and I’m so excited to see the results of our creativity 😊

I also got a pressie! Still haven’t opened it yet 😂
Anticipation is half the fun! 😂

I managed to get away with sitting in first class on the train most of the way home. Moved to standard seating when I saw the ticket lady approaching 😂

Looking forward to getting snuggled into my pyjamas, and scoffing toast and hot chocolate when I get home. Back in my drinking days I would have got smashed on the train on the way home to congratulate myself on only having a couple before the shoot, and I would have had bleary eyes for the duration of the shoot.

Yep. Sober life is a million times better than that shit.

Nothing beats a good natural high!

*****

10pm Update on the update!

Look what I got in my goody bag from the shoot as a thankyou!! I was not expecting so much. I feel like the universe is actively rewarding me for all of my hard work over the last 9 months. This truly is the perfect end to an incredible day. I love every item and feel thoroughly spoiled!

*great big elated grin on my sleepy satisfied face 😊

Mindfulness exercises.

The book I am currently working my way through (The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook) is very good for reminding me to do things that I know work but that I don’t do enough. It has prompted me to practice mindfulness for longer lengths of time to emphasise it’s effectiveness, and to truly focus on the present without allowing any time travelling worries of past or future to interrupt my focus on my senses (It’s harder than it sounds!).

It has also reminded me that feelings are temporary, and thoughts can be changed or challenged to achieve acceptance, and to let go of fear or anger. In time I’m hoping that I won’t need the reminders for my mind to process uncomfortable thoughts and feelings automatically without distress. For now, I’m diligently following the orders of the book.

One of the exercises was to draw an emotion, as a way of seeing it objectively, and the scenario surrounding the emotion. So for the first time since I was in my teens I got out a sketch pad (don’t tell the kids I used their stuff 😉 ), and I sketched a bit of an abstract portrait of me sitting with uncomfortable feelings, distracting myself from those feelings, and finally accepting them and letting go of the pain.

I know I’m no artist but looking at the drawing makes me feel proud, not because of the artwork, but because that’s me, and that’s what I’ve been doing every time I’ve felt pain over the last 9 months.

It’s one thing to know that I’m doing well and to be proud of how far I’ve come, but it’s a whole new level to sit and look at my pain and discomfort, and watch me ride it out and let it go. I feel tearful with pride when I look at it, and grateful to still be learning, gaining strength with every hurdle, my mind and heart wide open ♡