Back To Reward Basics

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I worked really hard the first year of my blog, to define what a REWARD is to me. Some still work, clean sheets, toast, and books are still some of my favorites! (Though not toast in bed of course.)

I still struggle with using rewards that involve DOING something. Baking, going, creating, sorting….though I love these things, they aren’t rewards. They should be defined as To-do’s, yet I keep putting them on my rewards list.

Buying something should be a reward, but I have such a hang up about purchasing myself items. It evolves into a crappy, regretful moment. So, I steer clear of using ‘things’ as a reward. Well….except for flour…..and baking supplies…..and specialty food (Fannie & Flo’s lard for pie crust!!!!)….and organic heirloom seeds…. I really do love baking & gardening. But putting BAKING or GARDENING as a reward doesn’t work.

The best rewards are just time for myself. Like coffee & toast, or tea and a fancy cookie. Ice cream before bed. Or time to meditate. Ordering from a catalog (while eating cookie or toast) not shopping.

Three simple rewards a day work for me. The hardest part is planning them for the week. I’ve been rereading my blog posts and have been adding back in some classics, the library, Bubble Hour, fall Yin Yoga, stickers.

Rewarding myself is so difficult. I give away so much of my time to family, clients & staff and I RECEIVE SO MUCH in return for this time. It can almost get addicting to help others and get that praise in return. The REWARDS help to fill myself up, so I have enough of me to share.

In the very beginning of sobriety I would reward myself every 4 hours for staying sober. One whole day sober was just too much. I can’t imagine waiting a week, or 10 days or a month to get ONE reward. Not this girl. More is better Right!?! I can embrace that part of my addict brain.

I do best now, to get my rewards in before the day officially starts. Reading & writing blogs, toast, meditation, wearing my fun flower shoes to work, maybe TWO cups of my favorite coffee, my homemade strawberry rhubarb jam on my toast…..mmmmmm…..toast.

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Reclaiming My Space

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As I was cleaning this weekend I thought about how the spaces in my home reflect who I am. I tried to let go of how the room ‘should look’ and thought about how I actually USE the space and how that space could serve me better.

I tried to move a treadmill to a different room but it wouldn’t fit through an angled hallway. I was angry at the treadmill. I was angry that 4 years ago I made a bad decision buying it. I was ashamed that the kids & I hadn’t used it. I was mad it took up so much space. I didn’t want it. I took a few hours trying to figure out my anger. #1 – I didn’t get my way. #2 – It was a shameful reflection of poor self-care choices, financial & health. #3 – It didn’t reflect the aesthetic harmony I wanted in that room.

I’m pretty good at looking at a solution from 100 to 0. Sell everything to change nothing. I started with, put the treadmill back to its original location and ended with, getting rid of it entirely. Somewhere in there was an answer. I also tried to embrace my anger and shame.

Obviously (the forces that be) told me that the treadmill was NOT leaving the room. At least today. I needed to accept that. So what did I want that room and treadmill to say about me? Hiding it in a corner & using it to hang dry my delicates didn’t feel right. I needed to practice more self-care, especially regarding my physical health. How could that space reflect that priority?

I took every picture & deco off the walls. It amazing how those things define a space. I gave the room a set of new eyes. What if, instead of ANOTHER lounging, relaxing space, I created a space with energy? Instead of the focal point of the room looking OUT, I created a focal point looking towards the middle of the house.

When you walked into that room before, you would have said – That person likes to watch TV. Now when you walk in that room you would say – That person likes to exercise! Goal accomplished.

I made it a week sober. If I wasn’t blogging (thanks to Anne for reminding me that all voices are important here) I know I would have been drinking this week. I reclaimed my blogging space. I dealt with the anger & shame of not being sober & not blogging about it. I thought of quitting the blog (0) to making it my life’s work (100). And, as usual, the right answer was somewhere on that spectrum.

When you read my blog in the beginning you would have said – That person is trying to get sober for the first time ever. Now when you read my blog you would say – That person is trying to stay sober! Goal accomplished.

NCYC

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4:30 am – just dropped the boys off for four days of National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. Nobody wanted a hug goodbye…..lol – not surprising. This will be my first time alone. I went by myself to Kansas City this spring for my first time away from my kids. I have sent them separately to Grandma’s house, they have spent an occasional night with their dad, just a block away, though that ended very quickly many years ago when they were too young to say no. But this is the first time for their own (rather reluctant) adventure. I am alone in my own house for four days.

One of my first thoughts, even last week, was how much drinking would I do with them gone? Right now I feel like – NONE, (it is 5am) but I know that will change in a few hours. That thought alone reminds me that I am an alcoholic. Instead of being excited, or sad, or relieved, I think about drinking. How much, what kind, planning my driving route around getting it. During some longer periods of sobriety I remember being relieved that the thoughts of drinking just flashed for a few seconds and vanished. Currently, they linger all day. Alcohol is sneaky that way.

Sobriety/relapse reminds me of my dog. When I leave him alone for a long stretch, he is so clingy when I come home. But when I stay home all day, he can relax and go to sleep. The longer I stay away from drinking, the more my brain can relax about it. The relapse makes my brain just swirl with the thoughts of drink/don’t drink, shame/relief. I watch my dog get anxious when we put on our shoes. He starts to pace and cry. Anticipation of a change to come. Does he get to ride in the car? Get a treat because he goes in his room when we leave? Somethings happening!! That anxious pacing is how I feel when I’m deciding to drink/not drink. I usually give in to stop that feeling.

Just now my dog ran in the other room and stole something. He senses my discomfort writing and his body knows that this is the usual time that the household wakes up. He needs to nonverbally let me know that something that usually happens now is not happening! Discomfort!!! Anxiety!!!

Drinking will steal my weekend from me. I don’t want that. My kids are facing their worst nightmare this weekend – being social! And I face mine – being alone with the alcoholic brain. They are being brave. I can too.

And the dog gets Mom all to himself. Happy 🐕💕

Car/Sobriety Maintenance

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Having two really old cars for my boys reminds me to be thankful that I can still afford a 10 year old NICE car for myself! I have a Honda Odyssey that is basically a fancy pick up truck for a woman, well, this woman. I haul everything in that vehicle! The boyfriend has the BIG work pickup trucks that I have to climb into on my knees and a stick shift that is as long as my leg. One truck doesn’t even have a dash board, it just looks like the insides of a robot. I drive all these BOY vehicles but I do miss my pretty stuff 😉

I had never given much thought to vehicles before. I like all the new tech gadgets, but when it comes to repairs, it is expensive!! My son’s car repair bill came to…. $106. What?!? I don’t think I have ever spent that little. My van repair from the Honda dealer was going to be $1800. What?!? I found someone else, but still.

I put gas in the teenager’s car and filled it for less than $20. I even re-read the receipt to be sure. It gets 32mpg. My van needs twice as much for everything. The Saturn is a fun little car to drive but it has a ‘straight pipe’ instead of a muffler so I feel and sound like a teenage boy when I drive it. Lol

Learning to figure out where to invest time and energy to maintenance and repairs has been my lesson through this car adventure. ALL my headaches would not have happened with proper maintenance. I am a complete novice at car maintenance, but I can learn, and I can help my boys learn too.

It feels the same with sobriety & self-care. I need to be a little kinder to myself that I don’t know everything and to be a little more patient with the learning process. The sober blogs have been my “manuals”. Reading what others do to MAINTAIN is extremely helpful. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to want to just keep driving as long as it runs, not taking the time to check the air pressure or wiper fluid or brakes.

My continuing relapses and my ongoing car trouble are signs that I am not giving my best effort at maintenance. I am a little scared about both. It seems like another thing to add to my plate, even though I know not taking care of cars or sobriety, can lead to an accident or death. Both my cars and hangovers have led to missing work and lots of money and frustration.

So, back at it today. I am thankful to have 2 of my 3 cars fixed. And am thankful and happy to have another day sober.

Car Again

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From 3 cars to zero running cars. Two nights of the high school play. My mom here….and she brought wine. I ended up with the stress flu along with my son and a hangover to boot.

I have made progress though. Four years ago I was extremely hungover for this same child’s 8th grade play. It was a catalyst for change and one of those moments where I KNEW I had a problem, not just thought I did. This weekend I was sober & calm both nights. Had my mom not brought wine I might have made it to bed sober. (Not her fault -totally mine.) I still fell for the old ‘one glass before bed, while we chat & recap the night’ trick. It is hard to stop the adrenaline of a good night and go to bed.

I read a post this morning on maintaining the (sober) foundation. I keep telling myself that the only time I need to think about being sober is just a few minutes each night. Just enough to say NO. I haven’t been putting in the maintenance for 3 cars or for my sobriety. My cars and my body are broken because I have convinced myself that they “aren’t my thing”.

I do spend time plotting, planning and thinking about maintenance. Every Wednesday (in my day planner) is supposed to be devoted to working with the boys after school on car chores. Somehow it never happens. Same thing with sobriety. I think about it, but I haven’t put any real effort into it. Just say no isn’t working.

With no car to get to work this morning & the shame of a hangover yesterday, I am going to start my day blogging, reading blogs and getting in some self-care. I’m not giving up on this sober journey. A car situation also caused my best time ever of seven months sober to collapse. There is a lot to learn from this if I stop and spend some time in the discomfort.

Good Thing No Wine In House

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I have 3 cars. As of last night at 8 pm in another town, I am down to just one. I had to ask the uncomfortable question, “Can someone drive me home?” after an already late evening. Thankfully it was a farmer’s wife who understands that when her guy is in the field they can’t stop the combine to help you.

It was a day filled with too many little things going wrong all at once. My other car will be in the shop for 4 more days. Kids almost missed haircuts. Frantic texting & calling. Then anther call with my senior who has a leading role in the school play tomorrow has stomach issues. What did we all do before Immodium!?!

I can’t imagine how bad I would feel if I would have had one ( haha 3) glasses of wine before bed. Oh wait. I know exactly how crappy I would feel this morning. And right now, even though I have a pounding headache from stress, it’s a whole lot better than a hangover headache.

I am grateful to NOT be hungover while watching my son in the play tonight. If my car had worked last night I may have stopped to get wine on the way home. My broken car gave me the opportunity to have another sober day.

Embracing Where I Am

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Over the summer I instantly gained 15 pounds and “things” became irregular for this 54 year old woman. After stockpiling giant size boxes of tampons, I find I no longer need to spend $20 month on my every 28 days, for 40 years, blessing.

40 years. That is a long time. Longer than my sister was alive. 6 times longer than my marriage. And one year shy of my total time drinking.

Monthly hormones have always sent me to the box of wine. I am starting to put together this latest box craving with hormones. The funny thing is, I feel fine! No moodiness or hot flashes that my friends have. The hardest thing was the instant weight gain.

I had to buy 3X tops for my GBS. (giant boob syndrome for you A cuppers) I am uncomfortable in a new way in my body. Drinking to forget took on a new meaning this year. Having a manfriend has shown me that my private drinking slips out and does affect those around me. This also makes me uncomfortable. I want to isolate when I don’t get my way.

I wrote on real paper with a real pencil yesterday, my thoughts on embracing my weight right now and how to enjoy and appreciate different hours of the day. (I love my day up through noon, then it falls apart.) I’m going to incorporate some new rituals into the times I struggle. 3 pm & 6pm being bad ones. I bought new clothes despite the tag size. And, after 40 years, I need to choose a different path than the box of wine as my best companion.

I could have another 40 years on this earth. I would like to be able to reach past my boobs and tie my shoes for a least a few more years. I would like to have a conversation with my partner or kids in the evening instead of snoring in front of the TV from the wine. I want to look forward to all times of the day with the same joy and anticipation that I feel in the mornings.

Last year’s word of the year was REST. I wish I could do it again! It was a good one and I am still living by it. Word of the year has led me down paths I would never have walked. I’m looking forward to the next one embracing who I am.