Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Why?

Merry Christmukah! Yesterday, was my mother's death anniversary. She died of breast cancer that spread to her lungs when I was a high school freshman. A few months later,  I was away to boarding school where my fellow classmates taught me to smoke cigarettes and drink. These vices stayed with me through college as well. As I was embarking my journey into college,  I lost my father to a sudden cardiac arrest.

My mother was neither a smoker or a drinker nor was she a drug user. She was athletic and enjoyed skiing, figure skating, hiking, and gardening. She bought our food from farm stands and health food stores. My father smoked a pipe of tobacco but gave up alcohol by the time I was four and was vehemently against the use of drugs. He commonly preached, "mind over matter," and, "where there is a will there is a way". 

I had been raised in my upbringing to be a voracious reader but also an athlete. I competed in figure skating competitions and performed in team figure skating events. I raced downhill skiing but I preferred doing ballerina like tricks on short skis. I competed in equine events of all sorts my favorites were the cross country and gymnastic events. Dressage was my nemesis - where was my "other left?" I was on the following Varsity Teams in high school: Equestrian, Dance, and Snowboarding.  I was always very active and athletic. I enjoyed being a creative writer and an athlete.

I grew into the sort of person who went to work, went to the gym, and then I would shower and change and go out to meet friends for dinner & drinks - which lead to smoking because drinking & smoking go together like peanut butter & jelly.

Before I knew it, I was no longer participating in any of my beloved sporting events. I was merely going through the motions work, gym, socializing. I could hide behind my writer's hat and claim I was following in the footsteps of all those writers before me who drank too much alcohol and smoked too many cigarettes.

One day I realized I was not happy. In fact, I was severely depressed and that I needed to change something. I decided I needed to start pursuing my dreams and I decided to do that I would start by cleaning up my act.

The top two risk factors for breast cancer besides stress are smoking and drinking. It can be difficult to give them up especially when you live in an area where social events center on alcohol and cigarettes. 

I gave up smoking on June 28, 2015, and continued to drink which proved to be a dumb idea as I'd wake up in a panic smelling everything to make sure I hadn't smoked while I was drinking the night before because I kept having smoking dreams. I gave up alcohol on December 20, 2015.
And by mid-February 2016, I realized I was going to need to meet other people who didn't smoke or drink to keep me on this path of changing my lifestyle. It didn't take very long for me to find people who belonged to sober active community's to join hiking, surfing, snowboarding, doing yoga, etc.

I still have to cut out the refined sugars and processed foods and to lose the sobriety weight before I will feel confident in my skin again. I'm told people to succeed in changing when they only make one big change a year. Year 1 - I gave up smoking and drinking. Year 2 - I started a new career at a startup which has been rewarding and challenging. Year 3 - I will get back in my "competitive shape."  

26 Things I've done during my second year of sobriety.

Here is what my second year of changing my habits looked like:

1. December 2016: A year in review of photos of my first year of sobriety: 

2. December 2015: I celebrated my first second-drinking New Years Eve volunteering at First Night Portsmouth, the friend who was supposed to be there with me was sick and stayed home. It was really cold out and I was home by 10 pm and curled up in bed with my cat.

3. January 2017: I started a new career at a start-up company.

4. January 2017: I joined a book group.

 5. February 2017: I went snowboarding for the first time in way too long!

 6. February 2017:  I went snowboarding for the first time in way too long!

7. March 2017: I rearranged my apartment and created a wall of art to showcase my grandmother's paintings and the tree of life print that I inherited from family.

 8. March 2017: I turned the monthly poetry series at RiverRun Bookstore over to its new host Shane Morin!

 9. April 2017: I visited my grandmother on her 100th birthday!
Photo Credit: Anita Macero 

 10. April 2017: I joined our local TEDx committee as a volunteer on their Marketing Team.

 11. May 2017: I went hiking with about two dozen other people in Maine.

 12. May 2017: I attended Mick's UNH Graduate School Graduation Party!

 13. June 2017: I was a movie extra #LoveinKilnerry

 14. June 2017: One more shot from the movie set!

 15. July 2017: I attended my first workout at welcome at Phoenix Multisport Gym in Boston.

 16. July 2017: I played mini-golf for the first time since high school.

 17. August 2017: I took surfing lessons at Summer Sessions Surf Shop in Rye, NH.

Photo Credit: Chris Daggett

 18. August 2017: I was in the newspaper - the redhead on right is me.

Photo Credit: Ioanna Raptis 

 19. September 2017: I attended my first TEDx event. The speakers were engaging and inspiring.

 20. September 2017: I love being a TEDxPiscataquaRiver volunteer

 21. October 2017: I went hiking with friends at Mount Agamenticus

 22. October 2017: I joined friends for a 6-mile hike and sunset yoga next to the lake at Pawtuckaway.

 23. November 2017: I tried out Bending Bohdi Yoga studio in Dover and loved it!

 24. November 2017: I went hiking with friends in Exeter.

 25. December 2017: I remembered my mother on the anniversary of her death that's her below and me on my horse. The day she died is also her youngest sisters birthday and I  texted her before I went to work yesterday morning.

 Photo Credit: Dad

 26. December 2017: Me sitting in front of our tree wearing a Patagonia Fleece Hat & Pullover and Mens 501 Levi's reading per usual. This is a picture of me when I was in high school.

Today, I am 8 days away from my 2-year mark and my personal goals for next year are in place. This year I will add clean eating back into my program and cut the processed foods and refined sugars out. Which is easier to do without the pressure of everyone trying to feed you C.R.A.P. from Thanksgiving to Christmas. <3

 The message is its okay not to drink alcohol.  

Are the five Buddhist precepts what straight edge is based on? 
The core values seem the same. 

Be kind to yourself. You deserve it. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

48-hour Seacoast Digital Fast Diary

I survived the 48-hour Seacoast Digital Fast. That means I went without my iPhone, my computers, the internet, and Netflix for an entire weekend!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Made plans around lunchtime to go to Pawtuckaway Saturday with Kate
And Clough State Park Sunday with Eugene

Made a list of things to get done over the weekend – a balance of play and being social and my time and cleaning and chores

Realized I would need a way to wake up without using the alarm on my cell phone.
I went to TJ Maxx and bought a battery operated clock.

I stopped by 3s Artspace around 5:30 pm to pick up my digital fast button and chatted with some very nice folks there.

Then I raced home to finish my online research before the clock struck 7 pm

I texted a friend my agenda for the weekend in case I got kidnapped so someone would have an idea of where I was:

Fri, Aug 4, 6:40 PM

“Gahhhhhhh going without my phone for 48 hours as of 7 pm for the digital fast participation in case I get kidnapped here’s where I’ll be this weekend:

Tonight: I just got home and I’m cleaning the house.

Saturday: I’ll be at 411 middle street for yoga 7:30-9:00 am in the garden then hiking trip (Carpooling with Kate) to Pawtuckaway State Park. Then figuring out what poems I’ll be reading on stage at Prescott Park this Thursday night.

Sunday: I’ll be at 7-8 am Yoga at Fort Foster in Kittery, ME then meeting friends 9-10:30 am for coffee (listed out address in full in Portsmouth) then picking up Eugene at noon in (listed his address in full) in Concord then we are off to Clough State Park (Pond Beach) in Weare, NH away from crowds here then I’ll be back in Portsmouth by 7 pm and spending two hours with email planning my Monday/work week.”

After 7 pm I made myself a salad for dinner and read. 

 Then I cleaned and mopped the bathroom I also mopped the kitchen and mudroom floors.

I put my cat in the dog carrier that our vet gave us so he wouldn’t walk on the mopped floors.

I realize at this point, I forgot to buy batteries for my new wind up alarm clock and I so I drove to Walmart in Newington and walked the aisles staring at Televisions for sale, iPhone accessories, Video Game systems. Finally, I purchased my batteries and left.

Prior to leaving for Walmart, I stood outside next to my car and talked to my next-door neighbor for a while who was coming home as I was going out at 10 pm at night.

Post Walmart, I flipped over the laundry from the washer to the dryer, took a shower, and read a story from half wild, then I picked out poems by Lydia Davis to read for Thursday.

-       Had to avoid my gym (PF) for my music was all on my iPhone and there were TVs everywhere
-       No cleaning music because I listen to Pandora on my MacBook and iPhone
-       No news sources
-       It’s odd to be in the bathroom without reading on the phone

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Slept in hit snooze on alarm was up until nearly 2 am reading Caroline Leavitt’s CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

Met Kate and Lori at Walmart Parking Lot to Carpool to Pawtuckaway
Hiking in the Rain

Home exhausted
Went back out for eggs, and cheese, tomato sauce 
Forgot to buy toothpaste

Completed one book a graphic novel LOVE ADDICT

-       Had to avoid my gym (PF) for my music was all on my iPhone and there were TVs everywhere
-       No cleaning music because I listen to Pandora on my MacBook and iPhone
-       No news sources
-       It’s odd to be in the bathroom without reading on the phone
-       Overslept yoga was up late reading
-       Couldn’t text neighbor to tell her about noises in neighborhood

Sunday, August 6

No Sunday news without the internet. Hmph. Eat breakfast staring at my food. 

The photo below is how a normal weekend breakfast at my house looks - it is not how it looked during the digital fast no Dunkin Donughts coffee and no laptop. Just my food. 

Go to Market Basket for ice for cooler and toothpaste

Have cleaned Livingroom and bedroom and swept and vacuumed early this morning

Have packed a cooler with snacks (gluten free bread & peanut butter, grapes) and seltzer waters plus cherry coke zero and ginger ale and Arizona ice ginseng green tea

Pick up Eugene from Concord and have him look at directions that I wrote down at lunchtime Friday in my moleskin plan book that I hadn’t used since April to get us to Clough State Park.

We parked and as we were getting our beach stuff out of the car Eugene picked up my wind-up alarm clock from the pocket behind the driver’s seat. Why is this in here he asked. I looked at him sheepishly, I couldn’t figure out how to turn the alarm off and didn’t want it going off this evening when I’m not home when it reaches the 6:30 mark again. He looked at the back of it the black on the black coding of alarm on/off and showed me how to control that. I felt a bit silly. I’ve become so reliant on smart phones that I didn’t completely trust the time the wind-up said and found myself walking to my phone and picking it up and putting it back down wanting to see if the time matched.

Anyways, we hiked down to the beach where we sat down and Eugene read a book while I people watched. It reminded me of a horror movie lake so calm, beautiful day, but with clouds, kids and adults picnicking and playing in the water, some guys having beers and playing corn hole behind us by the picnic tables where many folks were hanging out and chatting.

Finally bored of watching the same kids go to the water and back past me towards the port-a-potties I suggested a walk up to the dam. We hiked back to the parking lot and put our chairs and cooler back in the car. Then drove the other parking area on the opposite side of the park and hiked up the hill and over the dam. It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be but it was a beautiful day and I was determined to survive the digital fast.

We left around supper time and went to Pizzeria Uno for dinner salads and pizzas my meal GF and his not. Neither of us on our phones at the restaurant – something I was not used to – people were always on their phones – colleagues, me, friends, family – to be phoneless was liberating. I’m FREE I’m FREE I’m FREE.

I arrived back at my house around 6:30 pm and decided to take a hot bath I put my phone down near the tub on a towel on the floor. 7:01 pm I immediately opened my phone

EMAILS (personal): 27

Really no one would notice if I no longer was on social media, or didn’t have email, only texts which are my preferred method of communication. I don’t check voicemail I often don’t get a voicemail notification on my phone.

-       No news sources
-       How to turn off the wind-up alarm clock
-       Overslept yoga was up late reading
-       No camera to document our trip
-       No GPS for directions to park

Questions from the Organizer:
So, how was it?  It was absolutely liberating! Fantastic! Would do again!

Did you succeed? Yes, however, as I do not have a landline only my cell phone, I made one except. I could accept a call from my boyfriend Friday night when he got out of work around 11 pm and Saturday night when he got out of work around 10:30 pm – we talked for about 30 minutes each night. My reasoning was if I had a landline I would be able to make or receive phone calls.

Did you fail? No. I succeeded. I didn’t check my texts, social media, any applications on my phone, I didn’t use my camera on my phone I didn’t’ use my phone except accepting those 2 calls total. No, wait, 3 because I called my next door neighbor around 11 pm Saturday night Alexandra to tell her where the loud noises were coming from (not our street but about 5 houses away near Middle/Cabot street). I went out and explored on foot to see where as with the windows open reading the party music sounded like it was right here when it was down the street around the corner from us.

Was it life-changing? Yes!

Were you counting the minutes until you could check back in on the news/weather/social media/Game of Thrones/Red Sox/Trump/whatallofyourfriendsweredoingwithoutyou

No, I missed the alarm clock function, texts, and my camera. I don’t own a TV. I don’t have cable and I’ve run out of things to watch on Netflix so this was the perfect reset for me back into reading at night.

The Why?

Merry Christmukah! Yesterday, was my mother's death anniversary. She died of breast cancer that spread to her lungs when I was a high...