It’s Wednesday, December 17, the middle of the day in the middle of this very busy week. I decided to stop and check in with the “to-do” list I made Monday after my last post. I made a list of what I was hoping to accomplish each day this week. I’ve gone a bit out of order, and not surprisingly I am behind, but that is OK. A few other things came up that needed attention. Yesterday especially, I am glad I allowed myself to veer from the list. Because it involved doing something to help a friend. And she truly appreciated it. It reminded me of the best advice I heard this year, and I am not sure where I even heard it the first time. The Bubble Hour perhaps? Belle? Or perhaps I read it in another blog too? I know I have heard it a few times; and now I repeat it to myself a lot. I can’t believe I never wrote about it here. The advice: “Do the next right thing.” It’s just so perfect. When you are a list-person, a people-person, a wanting-to-be-perfect person, a wanting-to-be-there-for-others person, like me, it is perfect. It works when I do something good. What’s next? Do the next right thing. It works when I veer from my to-do list. What’s next? Do the next right thing. It works when I make a mistake or have a regret. What’s next? Do the next right thing. So as I was between “things”, I thought about this advice again. And then I also thought, “Gosh that would be a good blog post.” And it would be a shorter and more straightforward post than most of my blog posts! So here it is. Writing this post was the next right thing. What’s next?
It’s Monday morning December 15, 2014 – 10 days before Christmas! It is time to start really enjoying the season. It is time to make sure I stop and soak it all in at times – the lights, the music, the excited anticipation building with the kids. I am not the kind of person who rushes Christmas. This is partly because I absolutely love Thanksgiving, and I want to enjoy that weekend without rushing into the next holiday! Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. For Thanksgiving, there is no pressure to buy gifts or decorate or buy costumes. It is simply a time to be with family, eat a great meal, and reflect on how we are grateful. While I have not posted here in a while, we had a great Thanksgiving weekend. One of the highlights for me was going on Friday to a sing-a-long showing of The Sound Of Music! It was so fun to belt out the songs in a theatre with Julie Andrews and lots of family!
Then, like most years, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I allowed myself to start thinking (a bit) about Christmas. This year Thanksgiving was late (November 28), so the weekend after was already December 6-7. We got our tree December 7. It is a beautiful Frazer. Slowly, but surely over the course of the last week, we decorated the tree with lights and ornaments, doing a few ornaments each day. Yesterday, we got our stockings hung and had Christmas music playing. Yes, it is starting to feel like Christmas around here!
So where am I going with all of this here in this post? Well, the kids have 5 more days of school this week before being off for two weeks. For a stay-at-home mom like me, that means those 5 days are the days to really get it all done! This includes: the Christmas cards, the extended family gifts, the teacher gifts, the Santa gifts, the attire for the school shows chosen, the holiday clothes and shoes too, the treats for the school parties, the angel costume for the Christmas Play finalized, getting the Amazon and UPS boxes from out-of-town grandparents opened and wrapped and under the tree while the kids are at school, etc., etc. Whew, I need to take a breath! My husband, God bless him, has gotten a big start on our Santa shopping so we are in good shape there. But now, this week, it is really time for me to join in and get a ton done. “It will get done. It always does,” I tell myself. And I work better under pressure. I always have.
This year I also feel different though and it is such a good thing! I have a calmness inside of me that feels so different. It feels great! That paragraph above last year would have had me in a frenzy. Now, when I say, “It’ll get done,” it is with a smile and a self-assuring hug to myself. I really can’t believe it but I am honestly not stressed about it. I am calm. (We’ll see how I am Friday!). But truly, I am looking forward to the challenges of this week. And I am looking forward to the time I will have with my family over the two weeks after that. I feel like I have learned so much in the past 7 months about myself and about what is truly important.
I know to breathe when I start to get anxious. I know to slow down and focus when I find myself going room to room in a frenzy looking at all the unfinished projects.
And other things I have learned. I am reminded here by my own writing and so much I have read to be present. I know to stop and listen to my daughter when she wants to show me an ornament, and what she likes about it. I know to really be present when I am tucking each of my 3 kids in bed at night. I know not to let the dishes waiting for me and “to-do’s” to distract me from being there, truly present, adjusting their blankets and making sure they have their favorite stuffed animals, and kissing them goodnight. I know to feel with every fiber within me their hugs.
My oldest is 11. I know in 7 short years he will likely be away at college. This time of year he will be studying for finals and not home to help us with the tree in early December. And I will not have the opportunity to tuck him in every night. The teenage years are on the horizon. And the other two kids, at 9 and 7 will soon follow.
In the past 7 months especially, I have learned, now is the time, now is moment – the present. This is where I am now. This is where I need to be focusing. Of course, we have to plan here and there – have milk in the fridge for tomorrow’s cereal, etc. But I have learned it does not help me to get all jittery inside and anxious worrying about all there is to do in the next 5-10 days. It will get done. And enjoy it while doing it! Take it in, that moment, live in that moment.
So, in the next 10 days, I will not rush through to get to December 25. I am writing here to remind myself of this. I talk fast, I move fast, but I will try to take it slower. I will try to enjoy every moment, smiling to myself as I watch my boys feel uncomfortable in their holiday sweaters singing on stage. I will be enjoying the moments on December 24 watching my shy daughter be really brave as she performs as an angel (with a group of other little angels) behind the Angel Gabriel in the Church Christmas Eve Play. This is the first year any of my kids have volunteered to be in the Play, and I am so proud of my daughter.
And in the next 10 days, the rest of 2014, and continuing on after that, I will be alcohol free. This will help me be more present too. I will not be waking up with headaches or regrets about drinking. Today is 217 days, 31 weeks since May 12, 2014. Friday December 12, 2014, was 7 months. I have gotten through a lot of social events (including my husband’s work holiday party on December 6 the day before we got our tree). And “gotten through” is a poor choice of words actually; I genuinely had fun at this party and recent events. Remember The Sound of Music Sing-a-Long – “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music!” (Read in a singing voice I hope). I am starting to feel like I am actually having more fun at social events without drinking. I am conversing intelligently until the end of the night, remaining witty and funny (I’d like to think) until the event winds down, like at the December 6 party.
I know I would not have had as much fun on December 7 getting our tree with the kids if I was hungover! And in the last 7 months, as much as I have wanted to have a glass of wine at times, let me tell you, there has not been one morning in the last 7 months where I have woken up thinking,”Boy, I really wish I had a drink (or 5) last night.” It has not happened! So the effort has been worth it for me so far. My husband and true friends really don’t care what is in my glass – whether it is bubbly wine, bubbly ginger ale, or bubbly water. They don’t care. And while I may think I really want a glass of champagne, the next day I am so glad I did not.
I am learning so much through all that I am reading (lots of sobriety blogs), books (loving Mrs. D’s book right now), my Gratitude Group and our sharing, the podcasts I am listening to (The Bubble Hour) as well as the audios of Tara Brach whom Mrs. D recommends, and through life experience. The most awesome thing is that while I turned to all of the resources to help me with my decision to take a hiatus from drinking, I am learning so much more about the person I am and the areas where I am strong and the areas where I need to improve.
In the last 7 months, I have learned that Recovery Tools are so helpful in so many areas of life, not just quitting drinking!
I have a lot of areas where I am still trying to improve – punctuality, time management, being considerate of others (thank you notes, not losing my patience, being kind especially when others are not), organizational improvements, self-care, being present, etc. I am also learning that, actually, I can’t blame all of my “bad” habits on my drinking! And taking away the wine did not magically take away all of my “bad” habits! Ha!
Drinking wine certainly helped me with avoiding all the areas where I want to improve. Avoidance and procrastination are two main issues I have – wine did not cause them but it certainly contributed to them! And now that I feel so much better every morning, I can tackle more things. And if I don’t, I am more forgiving of myself. I am developing strategies to improve in these above-mentioned areas. I am trying – one day at a time.
That is another area where I am improving – not being so hard on myself. I do still have high expectations of myself. But now I know I am not perfect and that is OK! And my kids are not perfect and that is OK! Being imperfect is the way it is meant to be. Mistakes and regrets provide an opportunity to learn and to grow. Thank you Bubble Hour!
I am unique. I have flaws. I make lots of mistakes. But they are part of who I am. And I am still a loving person who deserves to also be loved. And the same is true for my husband and my kids and my mom and siblings and nieces and nephews. I love them all so much for who they are! And while for a bit (or longer – I need to think about it all more) I was allowing myself to go down a path of potentially not loving myself, I do really love myself again.
So on to that to-do list! Happy Holidays everyone. Thanks for listening if you have gotten this far. Enjoy the moments!