The Gift of Time

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What is that one thing we all want more of?

How often do you hear the words, “I’d love to…., but I don’t have time.”

How many of you if asked “Would you like more time?” would say “Oh yes please!”

We all lead such extremely busy lives, probably busier than any other time in history some may argue. Our lives are filled with Jobs, kids, housework, DIY, Gardening, Keeping fit, social media, socialising, TV Binge watching. Today we are very rarely bored – there is never “Nothing to do” Kids of today, don’t even know what boredom is.

What if as an adult, I told you can – you can have more time, to do with, whatever you choose; Time with friends and loved ones, time for goals, more exercise, study the course you have always wanted to,  time with kids and parents who are growing older and who will not need you anymore, or won’t be here 😦

I’m going to let in you on a secret; I wish I had known earlier in my life. If I had known it earlier I wouldn’t be left with certain regrets.

You CAN have more time, you can have more time, BUT you will need to make one sacrifice.

…………. Alcohol

For the past 314 days, I have been alcohol free. Those who know me, will testify to that fact that if asked, if I could not have a drink for a whole year, they would have probably laughed so hard they would lose their false teeth if they had any (You get my point)

If I’m honest, even I didn’t think I would last an entire year without my favourite tipple or being merry. I started drinking when I was 15, it was cool back then, it was cool to go to school and say you had consumed copious amounts of alcohol on the weekend. I even got drunk one weekend on a Sunday afternoon when my parents were out because I didn’t want to go school on the Monday (It had been a quiet weekend) and admit that I hadn’t been pissed[i] on the weekend. My parents drank every day, they were great hard working parents, but I grew up thinking that daily drinking was a norm. In my house we even had a fridge especially for beer and wine and a cabinet for spirits. It was like a fully stocked bar – teenage heaven to unsuspecting parents. Yes, Sorry Dad, that white spirit you rarely drunk may have been topped up with water … and Mum, the time you thought that Rebel [ii]had ripped you off because your happy box was half empty, I may have had something to do with that (oops).
For years, I have had a love/hate relationship with booze. I love to party, love to sing (I sing less sober, but probably sound better)

The perceived benefits of booze are the ones we all love, it’s social, it reduces inhibitions, makes us party hard, laugh more, take risks we wouldn’t usually take (There will be actual science behind all this  – alcohol and the effects on the brain)

I used to love a “good drink” ……. until a point.

I have no off switch, moderation is not a word in my vocabulary, I am all or nothing girl, always have been (might explain the extra pounds too) I could turn this into a novel and tell you an abundance of sordid tales about my drunken behaviour over the years but 1) My Dad and kids might read this and 2) I no longer go to confession. I’m sure it is enough to say that sometimes in my drinking past, I have behaved out of character and for that, yes, I have regrets and in some instances if my bad drinking behaviour ever affected anyone else, then I am also sorry.

I know one should not dwell on regrets, I cannot dwell on regrets, however one of my biggest, is drinking the weekend my Mum passed away. If I hadn’t drunk on that Friday, I would have followed my instinct and driven straight around to my Mum’s house that afternoon when I knew she wasn’t well. If I hadn’t drunk on that Friday into Saturday morning, I wouldn’t have spent the last day of my Mums life with one of the worst hangovers ever – one that would have usually crippled me to the couch for the day. If I hadn’t had such a bad hangover, I might have driven back to the hospital that Saturday night when again instinct told me that my Mum wouldn’t be recovering this time.

If If If,

Me, not drinking probably would not have changed the outcome for my Mum but it certainly would have changed how I remember that day, that last beautiful day when my Mum’s time ran out.

In my younger days it was literally quite easy to recover from a big sesh[iii], the youthful liver metabolised the alcohol (and fat incidentally) beautifully and drinking also only happened on weekends or at parties.
Then habit kicks in –  the bad day drink,  the good day drink,  the bad news drink,  the celebratory drink, Monday Drink, Tuesday drink, you get the picture… it simply becomes a habit.

Habits are formed when the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine [iv]……… and once formed are very hard to break. We cheat ourselves into believing that we need it, we need it to be social, we need it for nerves, we need it for stress, when in fact what we really need is to give our fucking livers a good rest!

That poor liver of yours has had to work bloody overtime for so many years, it’s actually creaking. I know mine was; I felt awful. Even after a drink, that wouldn’t be considered a heavy session or a lot to drink, I felt lethargic and I had heart palpitations, a fairly recent development which definitely wouldn’t have been good for the old ticker if it had continued. I felt bloated and I was really worried about getting “old woman alcohol face” Ladies, look around at older woman who love their wine (No offense intended) but boozy face as I call it, is not attractive and as for those nasty little blood vessels that burst and appear over time – awful – I could actually picture my face looking like this and it wasn’t pretty – whoever said visualisation helped was right, and while visualising what you’d like to achieve is the recommended option, no harm in giving yourself a bloody good fright either. (That’s what those disgusting cigarette boxes try to achieve)

Another reason for taking a break from the booze was injuries, I was very tired UDI’s[v] as they are commonly known in the “cool drinking gang”.  I have too many to mention over the years because quite honestly, I can trip on my own shadow sober, so you only imagine how I was with a few drinks in me. I will however confirm that my UDI’s consisted of broken toes, ribs and even a serious spinal fracture (that one still makes me feel ill to this day)

So many people have asked me over the year, why am I doing this? This is my honest answer. Yes, I AM doing a one year challenge and that is the standard answer I have given this year, however if you are reading this and haven’t fallen asleep by now, you now know the full reasons why.

The first few months were very tough, and in January and February, I was total recluse, in part because I completely miserable and in part because I couldn’t walk anywhere on my pesky broken toes. It was during this time of couch misery that I discovered One Year No Beer. I don’t know if I would have had the resolve to stick to this goal without OYNB, my track record of fulfilling New Year’s Resolutions is not outstanding, I’ll admit…

In March I slowly emerged from my cocoon of misery and the rewards have been pretty mind-blowing. I have walked 3 marathons, 3 half marathons, a few 10km and 5km and I’ve zip lined across the Clyde. I’ve taken my Dad to Dublin and been on holiday to Portugal with my family all without an a alcoholic drink, but more importantly, I have been present, truly present and enjoyed every minute.

One unexpected but beautifully welcome consequence has been the gift of time…

Time now, because I haven’t had a single day or night this year where I have entered that Booze Time Warp – all drinkers know those nights – when it is 8pm one minute and 3am the next and then next day, you don’t remember any of it, nor have I wasted a day on the couch due to a hangover! Don’t get me wrong, I have had days on the couch, but these have been of my choosing and not because I am too ill to move.

I can drive anywhere, anytime, which means I can even put fuel in my car on a Friday night at 10pm if I want to – do you know how liberating this is and how quiet petrol stations are at 10pm on a Friday night.

I am taking the time to write this and I don’t think I have written anything this long which wasn’t for work or study, since I left school.

The evenings and weekends are longer and somehow you fit so much more in. I am more present, I remember everything, my head is clearer, I am planning and dreaming and goal setting. Unfortunately my love of a glass of fizz has been replaced by a love of chocolate but hey, Rome wasn’t built in  a day and I am still a “work in progress”

Time later, because I’ve probably added time at the end too because being healthier should statistically add a few more years on, provided the proverbial bus doesn’t get me first.

I would like to say a very big Thank you to One Year No Beer for getting me through this year. OYNB is founded by 2 very inspirational men, Ruari and Andy. You know that saying that goes something like “if I can help just one person, then I will have made difference in the world; I will have succeeded” Well you have both helped me inordinately with the support and motivation on this challenge. You are quite literally changing the world’s view of alcohol (and I’m sure you are also responsible for the momentous increase in the sale of and new products in the AF Beer market) I love the ethos of OYNB and everything is stands for and wish you every success in building OYNB in to a successful business, while changing more lives.

If anyone else would also like the gift of time, try a break from the booze, honestly, you have absolutely nothing to lose but everything to gain.

Lou

November 17

[i] Slang – Drunk/Intoxicated

[ii] SA Off Licence Chain/Bottle Store

[iii] Drinking Session

[iv] The Power of the Habit – Charles Duhigg

[v] Unidentified drinking injury

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