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Sea: Mediterranean. Nail colour: Plush Pink. Toes: model’s own.

four years and still here! so, so grateful that I found my way out of that dark place, with the help of lots of marvellous people – like YOU, reading this!

you are all bloody amazing. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

in the past I have written detailed and obsessively  thought-through anniversary posts at my one, two, and three year anniversaries. this is not going to be one of those 😉 there will however be the traditional elements of sober bling, cake, and my next Word Of The Year, so please feel free to skip the chatsome middle section and go straight for those at the end!

for the snapshot at four years sober I thought it would be valuable for my own purposes to review what I am still doing on a regular basis that is specifically recovery-focused. not because there is a ‘right’ amount to be doing at any stage – I know people online whom I think do either considerably less or considerably more than this – but because I hope to continue blogging and will find it interesting in the future if this changes.

daily practices:

  • wearing my Stay Here bracelet and my two-year sobriety ring – usually also one of several necklaces that are also sober tokens.
  • I am still registered with the entirely brilliant Belle. I receive her free emails and subscribe to her podcasts, and spend 10 minutes every morning, while I do my creaky-middle-aged-woman exercises, listening to either a series of her free One Minute Messages or to a section of a longer podcast. Belle inspires me with how she is evolving in her own recovery and is a tremendous role model in how she is continually trying new things and keeping her life exciting!
  • checking in on WordPress and reading and commenting on sober blogs. by the nature of time passing the commenting is less as some of those bloggers I grew up with blog less frequently. I often add new bloggers to my blog roll and always appreciate their perspective.
  • listening to podcasts as I go about my day, some of which are specifically related to recovery, such as Since Right Now, Buzzkill, and The One You Feed (which just had a great interview with Maia Szalavitz, the author of The Unbroken Brain – highly recommended).
  • nightly journalling including a gratitude practice.
  • pretty much daily – checking in by text or email with sober buddies whom I now count as real-life friends: truly priceless.

less frequently than daily:

  • blogging – my posting frequency has decreased as time goes on. there is less urgency and the issues troubling me nowadays are perhaps less recovery-focused, more nuanced and more specific to me. also I think by writing here, and also by writing to sober penpals, I have become better at framing my thoughts and expressing them appropriately to those around me in real life, so I need this less as an outlet, perhaps? without getting all Captain Oates about it, I have had the thought that I should/could deliberately drop blogging at this point. however I think I would miss it if I did, so I won’t!
  • emailing Belle – again, I do this less. it is great to have her there as a resource but again I don’t nowadays often feel the need for it.
  • replacement drink – I make sure that the cranberry and tonic with lime is still always available as a 6pm little something, but it gets deployed only irregularly – maybe once every 10 days or so, when I am feeling in need of a boost – and not as a replacement for alcohol, but just because it is nice in its own right.
  • meeting up with other sober folks – very special. wouldn’t be without it! I am wondering who I will meet in real life in the coming year… now there’s a thought…

just to stress again – I don’t think there is a ‘right’ amount of recovery work that anyone ‘should’ be doing. I have taken to heart Belle’s advice to err on the side of caution. there is a ‘right for ME’ amount and there will be a ‘right for YOU’ amount. if we are sober and happy about it, that’s the right amount!

so – on to the cake! here it is – carrot and peach cake with a caramelised peach topping. please help yourself to a slice. you will need a fork!

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a sober showstopper.

and now for my new Word of the Year, and the sober bling, which tie into one another.

my words in the past have been peace, and attention, and choices. my word for my fifth year of sobriety is going to be brave.  I think there is a pattern, a progression in those words. I hope to be able to live into that word as I carry on in my sober flight. here is my new necklace to celebrate 4 years sober and looking forward to the next adventure.

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one final vignette: recently, in an effort to make paperwork more appealing, I have been lighting a small scented candle on my desk as I work. carefully, of course! flame + paper  -> potential conflagration, which seems an extreme way to reduce one’s intray.

soon after I started doing this, my daughter came into my office after I had put the candle out, sniffed, glanced at the table, and asked,

“Mum, have you been burning a scented candle in here?”

(you should appreciate that my daughter is currently at the age where if she had a dial it would be permanently set to either ‘Flounce’ or ‘Mild Scorn’.)

when I confirmed this, she responded, with faint pity,

“That is just such a Mum thing to do!” 

so my teenaged daughter thinks of me as doing paperwork while burning a scented candle? I will settle for that, sweetheart. I’ll settle for that.

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