image credit: Famous Five Style‘s smashing blog

this is my post-holiday post and it’s turned out to be so long and waffly that I’ll do it in two parts, I think! short version – sunshine with some thunderstorms (both literal and metaphorical) but no alcohol consumed and no urges to do so, hurrah!

as an overview I am surprised, I think, at how difficult I found the holiday. in that way it reminded me of New Year 2014/15, which was the first sober one I spent not on my own turf. the common factor is that they were both extended periods of time spent with other people away from my home environment.

since coming back I’ve been researching holiday stress online and a lot of the advice centres around expectations. which as we ex-boozers know all too well are just pre-meditated resentments…

I think that my primary hope or expectation for this holiday was that it would be a calm and relaxing time away from the usual pressures and commitments of life. a blank canvas, if you will, upon which to paint a new picture… however what this experience has shown me is that a holiday is more like brass-rubbing: the harder you rub, the more the pre-existing, underlying patterns of the family dynamic show through.

brass-rubbing may well be a mostly English sport, instigated by those ingenious Victorians and involving long uncomfortable hours spent on one’s knees in a cold and draughty church, chapel or cathedral, replicating the work of a craftsman long gone commemorating the existence a person long forgotten. that doesn’t make it sound much fun! however I remember enjoying it considerably as a child, relishing the appearance in relief of the pattern below. in hindsight it had strongly meditative aspects. nowadays apparently it is established that repeated rubbings damage the brass itself and so centres such as this one at St Martin in the Fields in central London offer an assortment of replica brasses for the purpose.

their details can be enchanting.

I took a sober tool-kit with me: the soberverse, sober pen-pals and my meditation app on my iPhone, the new Brené Brown book ‘Rising Strong’, a candle, bubble bath, some colouring books, herbal teabags, healthy and delicious emergency snacks and my running kit. all brought into play and worked well. however there was more I could have done to maintain my equilibrium and this is really me making notes for the next time!

I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Johnson podcasts recently. Brian talks about ‘physiological fundamentals’ – the things we can give our bodies on an ongoing basis which if done consistently make it, as he says, ‘really hard to have a bad day’. looking back on the experience of my holiday, and comparing it to my usual habits, for me these could be summarised as

Finding SNEMO:

  • sleep
  • nutrition
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • off-line time

well, sleep was all to whack due to travel times and a strange bed. and I did all I could to combat that. no scope for improvement there.

nutrition – aaaaaaarrrggghhhh. I had completely forgotten how much I dislike not being in my own space food-wise and how ANXIOUS it makes me. we were primarily self-catering and did the best we could but the range of fresh food – vegetables in particular -in even the largest local supermarkets was very limited when combined with the limitations of equipment in our holiday kitchen. and when eating out at the range of restaurants that our budget and family permitted, their idea of vegetables seemed to be a flavour-free tomato and a token heap of tasteless iceberg lettuce. I think next time I will go better prepared with recipes and basic ingredients eg for pasta puttanesca that can be rustled up without too much hassle.

in fact I cooked this last night…. wish I’d thought of it a week ago!

the other side of the nutrition coin is that I was eating a LOT of crap on holiday. mostly pastries and chocolate, which I had given myself permission to do as I was not having WINE. but because this is not how I normally eat, I had forgotten how truly appalling it makes me feel. on the day, for example, that I had pastries and coffee for both breakfast and mid morning snack, by 12 noon my blood sugar levels were crashing spectacularly like an Olympic ski-jumper. ick.

lesson here I guess is that I need to keep more of an eye on sugar in these circumstances. and sometimes that might mean being the one who sits with a coffee only while everyone else is having cake…. I call this the coffee-cake conundrum – I love the idea of a coffee and walnut cake.  the reality is that after the first few bites it makes me feel sick, but I keep eating it because, you know, it’s on my plate 🙂

oh, double rats, WP has just swallowed up several paragraphs on exercise and I really can’t face re-writing them, so next instalment soon I hope! thanks as ever for reading and, you know, BEING THERE. what would I do without you?! lots of love, Prim xx