Going Dry

This week’s column has the potential to be mildly controversial but what’s the point in sharing my thoughts with the world (or readers of the Express and Echo at least!) if I’m not brutally honest? Despite my tendency to waffle, I’ve no interest in merely filling space or offering empty platitudes. So without further ado, let’s dive in and hopefully you’ll find my thoughts at least vaguely interesting!

I started this year with the pledge of partaking in “Dry January”. I wasn’t doing it to raise money or even really making it widely known that I was taking part. However, a mere 6 days in, after a week of tending for my flu-ridden family I, without thinking, decided to withdraw from the challenge and share a bottle of wine and a whiskey nightcap with Dan.

I slipped quickly back into our normal drinking habits; admittedly they are fairly modest and we just tend to share a bottle of wine 2 or 3 times a week, but still, not quite the dry month I had planned. It was only when Dan asked what had happened to my pledge today that I started thinking (again) about my relationship with alcohol. Over the last few years, I have swung from long periods of being sober, most noticeably when I abstained for over 7 weeks in the lead up to my first big run, to drinking definitely more than I should be.

Increasingly, I’ve been thinking about whether I should just go totally sober. I really like wine but sometimes I wonder if it’s a healthy relationship. Since upping my exercise recently, I’ve found that even after just 2 or 3 glasses of wine, I feel awful in the morning, my tolerance is lower and I feel drunk and not in control more quickly. I’m also quick to associate having a drink with relaxing and I’d rather turn to healthier ways of dealing with stress. Ultimately, I think I find drinking in moderation challenging and rather than constantly battle with knowing when to stop, maybe I just shouldn’t start?

During my periods of being ‘dry’ over the last few years, despite initially missing the booze and wanting to indulge in a glass (particularly after a rough day with the kids), I’ve quickly found myself feeling healthier, making more progress with my fitness and generally not missing it at all!

I’ve set myself the challenge of a baby-ultra marathon this May and so in order to maximise my chances of successfully completing this, alongside my flirtation with sobriety, I’ve decided to stop drinking until after the race. My thoughts are that I can use this as a ‘test’ period to see how I find life without the bottle! I was reading about someone who disagreed with the trend of ‘dry’ fundraising months and claimed they were faddy and ineffective. I would disagree; although I didn’t complete Dryanuary, it has been useful in helping me assess my relationship with alcohol and deciding whether it’s one that should continue or not. So wish me luck as I embark on 16 weeks of sobriety, I’ll let you know how I get on!

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Tangible Memories

As we’ve met up with friends and acquaintances through the course of our return to normal life this week, one of the common questions that we’ve asked to each other is ‘how were your holidays?’ Whilst replying in the affirmative, I suddenly realised that this year we had taken absolutely no photos on Christmas Day or New Years Eve. This realisation was met with mixed reactions. On one hand, I was happy that we were obviously having such a lovely time that we forgot to record it all for posterity’s sake but on the other hand, I was a little sad that I won’t be able to look back at photo’s from this Christmas in years to come.

When I was much younger, I went through a phase of habitually going to the cupboard where my Mum stored all her photo albums and leafing through them all. I loved looking at old photo’s of us all as babies, snapshots of special birthdays and holidays, forever remembered in print. Obviously, this was before the age of digital and developing a film wasn’t cheap so the moments that had been captured were ones that my parents conciously chose to remember. Somehow, this made them even more precious. Now that we can take a thousand photos on our smartphones with ease and online printing services means that you can print them off for pennies, I suspect we are a litlte less discerning with what we choose to snap.

When Sophia was smaller I was a little obsessed with getting pictures of her all the time. I didn’t want to miss the chance to make a record of anything. Then I realised that living life behind the lens wasn’t as rewarding as putting my phone or camera down and living in the moment itself. I’m pretty sure the kids would rather remember me getting involved rather than standing on the sidelines, trying to get the perfect shot.

Consequently, now I’m trying to tread the fine line between making sure I do have pictures for when I’m old and grey and the kids are no longer small bundles of excitable energy, and being glued to my phone for fear of missing a candid moment. At the end of the day, I know that nothing will truly capture the heart meltingly cute gaze of a toddler or the hilarity that older kids often cause with their amazing facial expressions. I’ll have to rely on remembering how those moments felt, even if I can’t relive them.

So whilst I was a little sad about not taking any pictures over the festive period this year, I soon got over it and realised that in 40 years time, all the Christmases will blur into one and it won’t be a big deal if my photo albums are missing the odd one or two. I will certainly make sure I have some tangible memories in the form of pictures and precious saved relics of their childhood but I suspect it will be the intangible memories that are the most special to me in the end.