Sunday 22 December 2013

Spa week roundup: all is well

After seven days, I'm declaring Spa Week a great success! I'm so glad I decided to step back from having returned to serious drinking. I feel a lot better. Last week, I had started to feel like my mind was wrapped in cotton batting. Now I feel mentally sharp and clear. And calm. Also, my skin and eyes are clear, and while it may seem shallow to care about that, I do care. I'm not looking for the fountain of youth, or trying to preserve myself in a vat or anything. It's just nice to be healthy, and to look it.

The biggest surprise of the week isn't that skin & mind clarity, though. It's this: all week, I didn't want to drink. (Unless you count that one halfhearted little moment of want that couldn't even work itself up into a craving.) I really wasn't depriving myself. I was relieved.

Since I'm happy not drinking, you'd think I'd have made up my mind about it altogether, but I haven't quite. I still think I might be able to have a drink on occasion. I get all twisted up thinking about that, and then I don't even know what I think, or what I want. So what I'm going to commit to is this: I'm going to pay attention to how I feel, and what I want, and how that works. And in a few days, I'll take stock of what I'm learning from that. And I'll let you know.

If you're still here, thanks for reading. I'm off to make some yummy dinner, and another pomegranate ginger fizzy drink.

Peace and joy.


Thursday 19 December 2013

Small victory: spicy cod-cakes, fun without booze!

Last night's dinner was fun! I made a parsley salad with marinated feta, then spicy cod-cakes in tomato sauce, all from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Jerusalem. So yummy! I've made 3 recipes from that book so far, and I strongly recommend it. I haven't had time to cook anything new in months, so it was a treat to try making something new.

I drank my special pomegranate-ginger drink and didn't miss the wine at all. Not even one bit. (I honestly didn't. I was paying attention, because I know I can sell myself on a program and then later doubt the whole thing, so I wanted to know how I was really reacting, not just convince myself that it was fine. For one moment, when I saw the bottle of wine on the table, I did have a small pang, but it passed immediately. And throughout the night, I enjoyed staying clear-headed.) We ate and talked and laughed lots, and I felt so relaxed and happy I thought I would burst! My friend missed the liquor store (the one in our neighbourhood closes early) so he didn't have a lot to drink, because we didn't have it on hand. And my partner never drinks a lot. So despite my worry, it wasn't a super boozy evening anyway. Just good food and good friends enjoying each others' company. Hooray for that!

This week is interesting. Me being me, I've made a zillion plans for how I'm going to deal with this drink problem. But mostly, I'm just paying attention. And I'm surprised to find myself relaxed and happy, enjoying not drinking, just plain pleased with life. For today, that's good enough.

Peace and joy.


Wednesday 18 December 2013

Spa Week update (Plus a yummy pomegranate-ginger fizzy drink recipe)

It's day 3 of my home spa week: treating myself to sparking water and slightly fancy juices and relaxation, not doing much except what I have to do. (Oh yes, and no booze.) That said, I'm working 5 days this week, so it's not really a vacation. But classes are out, so at least I have no deadlines for a couple of weeks. I have little chunks of unscheduled time, and that's a luxury.

So far it's going well. I'm already starting to feel more clear. I'm remembering how much I enjoy the fancy drinks I concoct when I don't have wine. And how much I like getting a good sleep. Unlike when I quit in June, this time I've had none of the fatigue or insomnia or night sweats, or even crankiness. Just me, enjoying the rest. To help me think my way through this, I've made myself a scorching list of what I don't like about drinking too much. It's too long to post in detail, and not super interesting for all that detail, but the gist of it is what you'd expect: feel better physically, feel better mentally, don't waste so much money, don't worry vaguely about problems with memory/self/others caused by drinking, don't avoid same vague worries. So it's not an insubstantial list. Writing it out in excruciating detail seemed a good idea. I didn't really do that this summer, but I think it might be helpful.

But this time, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone. No challenges, no proclamations. Just me, trying to figure out how to solve the drinking thing. Maybe it's drinking a whole lot less. (Yes, I know many think this isn't possible. But some people do manage it.) Maybe it's giving it up altogether. I don't know yet. I'm just trying to figure it out for myself.

Tonight we are having a friend in for dinner, a very heavy drinker. Ironically, that makes me much less likely to want a drink at all, though there might be a moment at the table when I have a wee pang. But the ongoing heavy drinking stage, that's when all the fun is long gone, or al least it seems that way to me, and I don't want to participate in that. I'm looking forward to the cooking, which I guess I should start thinking about soon.


On a festive note, here's an idea for a yummy drink that tastes as festive as festive gets. It looks good in a big wine glass or in a long, slender tumbler.

1-2 oz pomegranate juice, to taste
a little lime juice (usually I juice 1/2 a lime and use 1/2 that, so a tablespoon or two)
dash ginger juice (I buy it in a little bottle in the grocery juice aisle)
fill the glass with sparkling water or soda water

It really is glass of tart and fizzy joy! Let me know if you try it and like it. (It's also good without the lime juice, or with lemon instead of time, or cranberry instead of pomegranate.)

OK, thanks for reading if you're reading. Peace and fizzy joy to you all.


Monday 16 December 2013

Spa Week returns!

OK, I admit it: my recent attempt at moderation was a crashing failure! I was moderate for a little while, sure. But then I decided I didn't want to restrict myself, and I returned to enthusiastic wine drinking.

I don't recommend it.

It wasn't all bad. I really do like wine, and I'm not prone to hangovers or doing stupid things while drinking.

But it wasn't all great. Here's a list of things that I think are not so great, not in any particular order:

  • My hands hurt. I know that sounds weird. But they do. And they didn't while I was not drinking.
  • I look hungover sometimes. I don't get the killer headaches or whatever people talk about. But I do look a bit hellish some mornings. And on those days, my hands shake as well as hurt.
  • Sweet Jesus, wine costs a lot of money. A lot. At least $100/week. More money than I can afford to spend on it.
  • I am less sure of myself, somehow. This is a big one. When I quit drinking I shed a lot of this kind of insecurity, the "they're probably not interested in what I have to say anyway." Drinking wine, it's back in full force. 
  • I have gained almost five pounds in less than two months.
  • I miss reading at night. After wine, I try, but really I just fall asleep.
  • I don't sleep through the night. Ever. Four AM wakeup, need water, takes an hour to go back to sleep. Same old, same old.
I could go on, and I probably should, but that's the gist. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun after all, does it?

When I was planning to take down the blog altogether, both Lilly and Christy suggested just going quiet for a bit instead. I'm not much of an advice taker, but I'm really glad I took their advice there. Thanks to you both, if you see this.

So I'm making a radical change in direction, again. This is going to be Spa Week, an indulgent week of drinking sparkling water with cranberry, reading mysteries, riding my bike (if the weather holds). And no alcohol. After a week, I'll see what I think. I don't want to commit to anything longer than that. Though even saying that last part sounds a bit silly to me. I'm going to keep blogging after all, because I see how the blog works. You say something out loud, and then if it sounds ridiculous, you have to rethink it.

I know I should maybe have enormous regret about having tried this, but I don't. I had hoped the compulsion to drink too much had faded. One thing is sure: it had not faded. So that's a lesson learned, I think. I'm not sure what's ahead, but continuing to drink too much, or returning to old habits of drinking too much, really isn't what I want to do.

OK, I should make my lunch and head to work. Here's to spa week! And to the many fine people here who are such good encouragers, good enough to encourage a poor listener like me.

Peace and joy.