Taking “The Sober Show” on the road

This is it folks, the moment my newly-sober self has been training for… eight weeks away from home as a reservist. For the next eight weeks, I’ll be living in barracks with 150 other adults who are pretty fond of getting wasted in their spare time.

Not only that, as someone who is trying to get back on the path to veganism, it’s going to be FUCKING TOUGH eating in a military mess. (Their idea of a “vegetarian option” is overcooked white pasta, twice a day every day.)

So, I’ve decided that this summer will be All About the Graze.

food

I will likely end up eating like someone perpetually on the run, picking and choosing the healthiest options I can find for myself in the dining hall, supplemented by a hell of a lot of healthy shit that I’ve packed for myself.

And although I’m not looking forward to it, I have to try out my new sober persona with a whole bunch of people who are used to hoisting a few cold ones with me.

I’ve packed my yoga mat and my meditation cushion. I’m planning on running every day. The new me is a healthy vegan fitness-nutjob who can’t party cuz she’s got to “downward dog” at the crack of dawn. How will folks react to the new me?

Time to hit the road and find out. Stay tuned!

Peace,

~Tracy

Namaste, bitches… Yoga practice inspires me to blow the dust off the TVP

My growing up years were, shall we say, unpleasant. It ran the gamut from ongoing sexual abuse resulting in a trip to emerg, to bizarre self-absorption and mental fuckery from a mother with narcissistic tendencies, to an alcoholic father whom I was told had died when I was a child. (Surprise! Not dead! Found out when I was in my 30’s.) (Unsurprisingly, the other ladies I met at Oakhill had similar shitshows in their past to content with.)

My therapist once casually mentioned that she was surprised I hadn’t “offed myself” a long time ago, and it’s no great surprise that I ended up trying without much success to drink the feels away. After you spent forty plus years pretending to be someone else, (whoever the people around you wanted at any given time) the inability to actually identify who the fuck you REALLY are can make the inside of your head a pretty confusing place to be.

Enter yoga and meditation. At the recovery centre, we did a lot of both. I intended to play along with whatever was asked of me (I checked myself in, after all) but my inner skeptic rolled her eyes a bit in the beginning. Turns out, all this time spent twisting myself into a pretzel and examining my own belly button was the key to starting to figure myself out.

What DOES Tracy like, anyway?

Well, not eating meat, for one.  I felt better when I didn’t eat it. I don’t need any books or documentaries or studies to back me up when I say, I KNOW I feel better when I don’t, so dammit, I believe I’ll abstain, thank you.

Luckily, I went vegan back in the days before there were fancy meat substitutes in the grocery store, so I’ve always had TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) in my cupboard. Soy crumbles, basically. You throw these suckers in a sauce or broth and they plump up into meaty soy deliciousness. (They also make my husband’s farts particularly noxious, but I’ll deal with it.)

TVP

If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s available everywhere, it’s cheap, and depending how you use it, the meat eaters in your life may not even notice the difference.

 

spag

I like it the best in tomato-based sauces, like pasta. Supper has never been so fast, so healthy and so CHEAP!

(BTW, apparently the price of meat is going up 9% this year, so it’s a great time to investigate other noshing options.)

Another day begins.  Let’s giv’r!

Peace and pasta,

~Tracy

Mindfulness is Da Shit

Happy Father’s Day to all of the great Dads out there! It’s now been, uh….76 days without hooch for me? I think? I’m gonna lose track of that pretty damn soon. Unlike the Alcoholics Anonymous program, I don’t see anything magical about these “days sober” milestones. It iz what it iz.

Unlike most people I don’t really celebrate Father’s Day, as I don’t have a father worth celebrating. Long, LONG story there, but defective “fathering” was one of the reasons I ended up wallowing in booze in the first place and finally checking my ass into Oakhill.

At the recovery centre, the staff used a lot of different techniques to help the clients sober up. Sure, twelve-stepping was one of the methods (and I ended up attending WAY more uncomfortable meetings than I was expecting) but it didn’t do much for me.

I enjoyed hearing from other people about their quest to stay sober, but far too many of those stories were tales of woe from folks “white knuckling” their way through life.  Perhaps it was simply the meetings we attended, but there wasn’t a lot of joy there. Sobriety should be something we GET to do….not HAVE to do. I could totally get behind the Hip Sobriety approach far more than the AA model.

What Oakhill did give me that provided that AHA! moment was the concept of mindfulness, and the idea that inside all of us there are two entities….the primitive lizard brain that reacts to situations based on all the unhelpful defense mechanisms accumulated over time, and the “curious observer” that is wise, aware and just sitting back watching us be idiots and make bad choices.

In essence…our thoughts do not define us.  Through mediation and yoga and journaling, we can examine our thoughts, reactions and behaviours with curiosity instead of judgement, and ultimately get a better idea of where those thoughts come from.

This, for me, was an eye opening concept. So simple, and yet so life changing once the lightbulb comes on.

During my time at Oakhill I collected a number of crystals during forays to Nan’s Rock Shop, a neat new-agey spot nearby. It’s not something the centre promotes but all the other gals were kinda into it, so I investigated. As a militant, almost card-carrying atheist I’ve never been what one would consider spiritual, but since entering recovery I’ve almost turned into a damned hippie. Although I don’t believe the crystals actually do anything to my body, (sorry, but no) I have found that using them in meditation helps me focus on certain concepts (like peace, or joy, or creativity) and set intentions for my day.

Even the cat is reluctantly getting in on the act. Namaste, kitteh….

Stan and rock

In fact, I’ve gotten so into meditating, and my collection of “stuff” has grown to be so important to me, my son surprised me by making a special box to put it all in. Such a sweetheart, that one….I’m going to meditate today on getting him a new car or something…

box.jpg

I know, I KNOW, you’re skeptical. I was too, trust me, but ever since I suddenly “got” this concept I have a weirdly peaceful feeling with me all the time that’s hard to explain until you feel it. I haven’t had the urge to drink since I discovered it.

Of course, I think about drinking now and then, but they’re just thoughts and thoughts aren’t real. That’s the difference.

And on that note, I’m thinking about breakfast, so I plan on “curiously observing” some food getting in me on this weirdly unsatisfying Dad’s Day.

Until next time,

Peace and paternity,

~Tracy

Black Beans look like rabbit turds….and other unfortunate truths.

Day 74 of sobriety up in this bitch….and all is good in the neighbourhood. I think I may just be forgetting what beer tastes like…which is convenient, with summer just around the corner.

I am amusing myself by re-watching documentaries like Forks Over Knives while eating cereal in my bathrobe, and pondering ways to up my veganism game this time around. Although our family ate a mostly vegan diet for about seven years (and my daughter still does) it was, on many days, leaning towards meatless junk food. (I admit it. I own it. It happened.)

See, eating a healthy diet has never come easily to me. I was raised in a household where creamed peas on white toast were about as exotic as it got when it came to mealtime. Hard to believe, but I was in university before I ate a raw vegetable. I never saw someone cook with real garlic until I met my husband in 1991. I had left home completely unprepared to feed myself anything that didn’t come out of a tin can or a deep fryer.

Things have changed a lot since then of course. I can eat quite a few vegetables now, provided that they’re presented to me in the right way. For example, broccoli eaten raw is OK. A bit like gnawing on an old rope, but OK. COOK it however, and it reminds me of something dredged out of the swamp, (and not in a good way.)

So I’m going to make a greater effort in the days to come to try some healthy shit that I have turned my nose up at in the past. Like black beans. They remind me of rabbit pellets.

I eat white beans and pea beans and lentils and kidney beans and jelly beans, but I always drew the line at black beans, causing much mirth to the rest of my burrito-mad family. (Feck off, all of ye…)

So I took the plunge, and conjured up this meatless, vaguely southwestern rice and bean concoction this week and I have to say, I don’t know what I was worried about. They don’t taste like shit at all! Who knew?

Maybe this weekend I’ll figure out a way to cook some broccoli that won’t make me throw in my mouth a little. Fingers crossed!

 

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Who am I, anyway?

Good question.

Up until 71 days ago, I am not sure I could have answered that.

I could tell you that I’m 47 years old,  a mother of two, married for 26 years to the handsomest ball and chain you could ever imagine, and a writer when and if the mood struck me.

I could use a lot of different terms, if pressed, to try and describe myself to you.

I’m a wife, a Mom, a sister, a blogger, a cook, a reservist, a former vegan, a half-hearted housekeeper, and a lover of naughty humor. I’m a mediocre photographer, a fan of horror movies, a exceptionally slow jogger, a brussel sprout despiser and a new convert to yoga and to dabbing essential oils on my third eye.

Up until 71 days ago, I would have added “pitiful drunk” to that list. Due to a unique combination of life circumstances, predispositions and pure happenstance, the siren song of alcohol ended up hijacking my brain, taking me further and further away from the real me that was hanging around inside, desperately wanting to get out and be heard.

I was sick of feeling like a prisoner held captive in my own skull, subject to the whims and irrationality of my “lizard brain.”  I wasn’t sleeping for weeks at a time. I had panic attacks in the middle of the night. I was experiencing crippling anxiety that left me reluctant to get out and socialize with other people. The only thing that made the thoughts stop was booze…and that was rapidly losing it’s ability to help, even temporarily. Near the end, I was downing the equivalent of a quart of vodka a day. Even that was not enough to fix what an abusive and neglectful childhood had begun.

The real me, the one that hadn’t appeared in far too long, had had enough. I took to the Interwebs and searched for a way out, and found it in the form of a trauma-informed treatment facility not far from my home.  I contacted the facility, packed my bags, and even drove myself there.

I spent 47 days at Oakhill Recovery,  and it turns out that was where I found out that the “me” I was looking for was far more than a list of the roles that I played for most of my life. I have to say, those 47 days were some of the most peaceful and meaningful days I’ve ever spent, and I left with an ever-deepening appreciation for myself and a desire to treat myself as well as I would treat everyone else in my life. (Maybe BETTER….ha ha.)

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Part of that treating myself well also meant a return to a diet that our entire family had rocked for about seven years back in the nineties – a mostly vegan diet.  I had blogged about our journey as near-vegans in small town Canada for a long time in a blog called A Veg*n for Dinner. I deleted it quite some time ago, and I’ve been kicking myself in the ass ever since. (I still exist out there in some form or fashion though, like this entirely random appearance on Pinterest….!)

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I never stopped believing that a whole-food vegan diet is the ideal diet for us hoomans, so now that I’m discovering who I am, it turns out the real me wants to get back to treating my body with the same TLC as I’m now treating my brain.

This is my journey. I’m finally getting the chance to explore life on life’s terms, experiencing what life freed from automatic and intrusive thought feels like (thanks to some amazingly cool treatment-type shit at Oakhill!)  I don’t know what lies ahead, except to say that I plan to have a hell of a lot of (sober) fun along the way.  Join me, will you?

~Peace and pancakes,

Tracy

 

 

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