12 Amazing Things I Did Sober in February
This new monthly series of posts was inspired last month by this post from @thingsidosober. I wrote my own for January, and had such a good time reflecting on the month that had passed, and all the things that had happened because I no longer drink, and that were so much better because I no longer drink, I decided to make it a regular post.
February has been a really busy month, with lots of fantastic experiences that have only happened because of my sobriety, or have been greatly enriched by it. Life in sobriety really isn’t boring, it really can sparkle!
February was a great month, and March is shaping up to be just as good. I already have some fab things planned, and I already look forward to sharing them with you next month!
Here, in the order I thought of them rather than the order they happened, are some of the great things I have done sober this month.
850 Sober Days!
This was a moment of massive excitement for me. 850 is a fairly random number, but it seemed HUGE! I struggled with 3 sober days before, so 850 is remarkable! I wrote this very excited post to celebrate!
On my birthday in December, my brother took me to the incredible ‘You Say You Want a Revolution‘ exhibition at the V&A museum in London.
I am a MASSIVE fan of all things 60’s, and spend more of my time listening to the music of my parents’ generation than my own. This exhibiton showed how the spirit of protest, increased affluence, technology, the spirit of adventure and experimentation and the rise of consumerism changed the world, for the better and for the worse.
It was a very powerful, thought provoking exhibition, and prompted many discussions and alterations of world view in both of us. So when I was thinking about what to buy my brother for his birthday, which was the day after the last day of the exhibition, tickets to go again seemed the obvious solution!
The day was brilliant from start to finish. I wrote this very excitable blog post at the start of the day, when I had several reasons to reflect on just how much my mindset has changed in the last couple of years – since I got sober! Old Esther was a VERY different person!
The exhibiton itself was amazing again, I saw lots that I hadn’t spotted the first time, and spent long, blissful moments gazing adoringly at Beatles memerobilia, and dancing to the wonderful playlist that was being streamed into my ears through the exhibition headphones.
I will write a more in depth review of the exhibition soon, but for now, here is a picture of me with my love, George Harrison
Yoga at the beach, poety and pole dancing!
I had THE most amazing time with my incredible and inspirational friend Alice Smith, poet, activist, teacher, goddess, fighter, world changer, force of nature. I met her in India last year when I attended the Women Economic Forum where I went to share my story of recovery and yoga. This is a friendship I only have because I quit drinking, we would never have met was I still drinking!
Alice invited me to go to Bath to see her perform in a ‘Poetry and Pole Dance’ night. I went not really sure what to expect, and was so glad I did. I discovered that pole dancing is an incredible art form, is sensual without being all about stripping, requires tremendous strength, skill and grace, and can be done by anyone with a body, you don’t need an althlete’s body to do it. I was mesmerised as I watched women of all shapes and sizes move their bodies in such elegant, powerful movements. It changed my view of pole dancing completely.
The poets were astonishing. Alice, as always, sent shivers down my spine. I met a wonderful lady called Crysse Morrison, who, as the funkiest, coolest 73 year old I have ever met, became my new hero, and a poem about the aftermath of rape by a young woman called D’arcy Cooper Chappell nearly made me cry, and Rich Butnotfamous sent me on a strange journey through my head with his powerful rap.
The following day I got up early and started my day with a walk along the beach, and several rounds of Surya Namaskar. It was a beautiful way to start the day, and a longer walk later with Alice helped to fill my lungs with lots of wonderful sea air.
I find Alice such an inspiration, meeting her has been one of the best gifts my sobriety has given me, even if I did have to go to India to do so!
Alice is the Founder of Goddesse Education, a movement working to provide a voice for woman and girls who are touched by domestic violence and exploitation, and seeks to inspire others to do the same. The winner of the 2017 Goddesse Awards will be announced on International Womens Day, March 8th
A small, crowded cellar bar in Swindon became the coolest bar around when The Doors Alive played at The Victoria.
I went there with one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I hardly see these days. The last time she and I went out we staggered back to her house, noisily and drunkenly, in the early hours of the morning. Now, I don’t drink, and she is breastfeeding her baby, so she doesn’t really either, it was a very different sort of night for us!
As I travelled to Cardiff, I reflected on all the ways my journey was different. I would have probably stopped in the pub by the station for a pint before catching the train, would have probably bought a can or two for the journey, would have probably had a drink before we left Kylie’s house, would have probably been very drunk before the band started, so by the time the very good Jim Morrison lookalike singer asked the crowd for someone to go on to the stage to ‘give him some love’, I would have probably been the one who would have very drunkenly done just that! I was SO glad I was sober – he was probably the same age as my oldest son!
It was a great night, which ended early (by our former standards) with a cup of herbal tea and a quiet, calm conversation. It was lovely to wake the following day and be capable of sensible conversation! A wonderful time was had, and I look forward to another night out with her in the not too distant future!
Connection with friends
I had a funny moment when I was heading to the train station to go to see Kylie. I walked past the Great Western, a pub I would often make a pit stop to when I was heading to visit Kylie in the past. I was passing at the sort of time when work colleagues are going for a Friday night, post work drink, and as I glanced into the window, I felt a pang of nostalgia for Friday evenings in a pub. I felt a warm glow when I thought about times I have done that in the past, and for a split second, I felt that I was missing out on a way to connect with friends.
It really did only last a split second when I realised how much better I am able to connect to people when I am with then now. I may not find small talk as easy as I used to, but when you need a pint or two in your system before small talk is easy, then it isn’t really is it? Being drunk takes us further away from people, it doesn’t really bring us closer. We may think we are closer, but it is not the real you. I have had really in depth, you’re my new best friend type conversations with people I don’t even really like. The alcohol may have meant I got over that barrier, but it went straight back up the minute I sobered up!
I love the depth of connection you get when you are really, truly, fully present and you in someone else’s company. sobriety is the only way to really get that – you have to show up as you to truly connect.
T2 Trainspotting – TWICE!
I loved the first Trainspotting film, and have watched it many times over the years. I was SO excited to see the new film, and I must say, it did not disappoint.
It was so good, in fact, that I have seen it twice, and the second time, I really wanted to just stay in the cinema and watch it again. It really is that good.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it – there is much food for thought in it about friendship, self belief, revenge, finding your purpose and taking action, forgiveness and love. I will definitely be buying it when it is available to purchase, and will, I feel, watch it many times!
Bought tickets to see Russell Brand
Russell Brand is one of my favourite comedians and increasingly something of a hero of mine. I love his courage and his determination to use his celebrity to highlight the issues he cares so deeply about. I hand delivered a copy of my book to his management a few months ago, but really want to give him a copy myself.
There is only one way to do that….
stalk him….go to one of his shows and hang out to meet him.
So that is what I am going to do. I bought ticket to see his show in Bristol in May, and I am very excited! I will be taking a copy of my book, and I will refuse to leave Bristol until I have handed it to him! Russell…Bristol…you have been warned! 🙂
Been a model for a photography project
My friend Dan Wood is a fantastic documentary photographer. When he contacted me to ask if I could show him around my home town so he could take some photos I was delighted to. It is part of a new project he is working on, highlighting life in two valley towns either side of the Bwlch mountain.
I had a lovely time walking around my home town with Dan, and was really pleased when he asked if he could include some pictures of me in my yoga room. I love the photos that he sent me, and am honoured to be part of this project, I am very excited to see how it develops!
Taught in family fun day for Anaya Aid
I was delighted to be asked by Hayley Richards to teach a yoga class in a family fun day she was organising to raise funds for Anaya Aid. Anaya helps refugees in need by delivering essential supplies such as medical equipmemt, food, clothing, and other vital resources to where people need them. The plight of refugees, and the way the powers that be are demonising people who are fleeing war and other terrible situations horrifies me – people who need and deserve our unconditional love and compassion are treated worse than dogs, and viewed with mistrust and fear…even the children! I was very glad to be able to contribute to this day.
It was a really fun afternoon and while it wasn’t the easiest yoga class I have ever taught (competing to be heard with a story teller and a bouncy castle) I did enjoy it and was proud to be part of an event that raised about £700 for those in need.
Lots of content on the website
I have had some wonderful conversations for the Sober Living Rocks podcast, and have released four such conversations. I have been really enjoying connecting with such wonderful people, and am so grateful to all my guests and listeners.
I have been quite busy in the blogging department as well, and plan to get busier! I was inspired to begin the Sarkemedia 30 day blogging challenge again (I will complete, I will complete!) One post I wrote on the train to Bath to see Alice got more views in the first 48 hours than most of my other posts have ever had!
Sharing my story
I have been sharing my story on other blogs and podcasts this month. I wrote a guest post for Kate On Thin Ice, did a ‘Recovery Rocks‘ interview with Veronica Valli, one of my previous podcast guests, wrote an article for The Fix, which is being published today, although I wrote it a few weeks ago.
I have also been a guest on the Dr Lo podcast, in which I talked at great length about the power of learning to breath, and was nterviewed for the Rise2recovery podcast, although that has not yet been broadcast.
I was also very honoured to be asked to take part in a documentary project for Time To Change Wales, to talk about the importance of being able to talk freely about mental illness. I will be completing the Time to Change champion training in May to enable me to support the work the organisation are doing in raising awareness of mental illness, and trying to break the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Started signing people up for Sparkle in sobriety
I am very excited to start my new programme, Sparkle in Sobriety, which is aiming to inspire and empower people to see life in sobriety as a source of joy and excitement, not of fear. I will be teaching a variety of coping strategies, mindset techniques, physical relaxation and releasing practices, to help you to bring your body and mind into balance and enable you to change your relationship with your self, your life, the world and alcohol. It will help you to see that a life of sobriety can be a life of joyful freedom, not a punishment and just hard.