New Year, new challenge!


Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa brought you what you wished for – in my case, having my sons home for Christmas and sharing food, fun, laughter, games and  music with friends and family.

Today’s a good day to give thanks for the experiences of last year, and to think about the gifts in store for 2013 – whether planned or unexpected, I hope they bring you joy.

Now, although I’ve written here before about the advantages of making new resolutions when spring starts to blossom, nevertheless I’ve decided to take up the challenge of having a Dry January – 31 days with no alcohol!  Why, I hear myself cry?  After all, I don’t have a drink problem, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine or pint of real ale, and this is a month where a combination of the post-Christmas slump, long cold dark nights, tax return deadlines – and the fact that I have a January birthday – surely beg for the cup that cheers . . . oops, better not talk myself out of it already. . .    

So here’s the reasons: I spotted the challenge on the CADAS Facebook page – CADAS is a wonderful local organisation that supports people to deal with drug and alcohol problems and make positive changes to their lives.  As they pointed out, most of us say that when it comes to alcohol we can take it or leave it, so why don’t we leave it more often?  That got me thinking about how embedded some of our habits can be, and I started to wonder what it would be like to shake them up for a few weeks and do something different.

Politicians and health experts are involved in the debate around the cost and easy availability of alcohol, and it’s a thorny subject – all I can say is that there has undoubtedly been a huge culture shift towards drinking more within the home in my lifetime.  I guess when I was growing up you didn’t stock up your wine carrier in the supermarket and pop it in the trolley with the rest of your shopping – a bottle of Blue Nun was an exotic treat from the off-licence!  For ordinary families like my in-laws, meals were accompanied by a pot of strong tea while the drinks cabinet was opened at Christmas and special occasions only (when you’d be offered such retro delights as a Snowball or a port-and-lemonade).

Now of course we’ve all picked up continental habits, and the glug-glug of the wine being poured accompanies the evening dinner in many households.  One glass can swiftly be followed by another, and the robust reds favoured by our more sophisticated palates are much stronger than the weedy German whites of my teenage years – so without being fully aware of it we can be packing away a fair few units of alcohol per week.

I’m conscious that when we take a pleasure for granted we miss out on really focusing on the enjoyment of it – something the practitioners of mindfulness highlight.  So I’m not going to think in terms of giving up (my inner rebel doesn’t like being told what to do) but simply of experimenting with a new pattern of behaviour for a few weeks – so that hopefully, come February, I might taste my glass of wine with a sharpened sense of appreciation.

With mindfulness in mind, I’ll also try to notice if I do feel any different without any alcohol – I’m curious to know if a few small tweaks could make a difference health-wise, and of course I’m interested in the effects on mood and happiness levels.  So I’ll report back at the end of the month, and would be most interested to hear from anyone else who’s taking up the challenge.  If you have any great tips for delicious alcohol-free drinks or ways of keeping up motivation please share them – cheers!

Verse of the week

You can rely on poet Wendy Cope for a cheeky take on our wobbling New Year resolutions . . .

No more thinking about a second bottle
And saying ‘What the hell?’ and giving in.
Tomorrow I’ll be jogging at full throttle
To make myself successful, rich, and thin.
A healthy life’s a great rejuvenator
But, God, it’s going to be an uphill climb.
We all have to be sensible sooner or later
But don’t let’s be sensible all the time.

                          from ‘The New Regime’




8 thoughts on “New Year, new challenge!

  1. Happy New Year Kay. My gratitude jar has its first entry today, thanks for an amazing heroes and villains New Years Eve party. Please pass on my thanks to your friend for the idea.

  2. Drink! Now theres an interesting subject. My background is in bar & restaurant work and also enjoying a rather sophisticated pallet when it comes to booze. About 5 years ago my body started to send very serious messages that I had had my fill X many. Being a persistent woman I kept trying just the one or two every now and again to be absolutely sure that I was in fact intolerant to all alcohol. The shakes, vomiting, passing out, getting the sweats etc was not a deterrent enough to stop me picking up a glass. Booo! I could not tolerate it but could not stop! My brain would forget my sickness and I would carry on with a glass or 2 until I was ready for the emergency Department.
    When had I become dependant on alcohol? How did that creep up on me?

    TG after a terrible, terrible night & day after 3 beers I decided to do an online quiz. “Are you an alcoholic?”.
    Wow, wow, wow! 20/20!

    I have never fallen down drunk. I have never passed out. I have never been in a fight. I have never puked in public. But I am an alcoholic. Thank God!

    Why “Thank God” you may ask. Stopping drinking started me on my spiritual journey to the God I have found in MY HEART. The me that as my mate in NY commented “i never knew you were drunk until I met you sober” was running and hiding from a me I thought was inferior in the raw.

    I have not had a drink in over 3 years. My husband joined me 2 years ago. When I was attending AA I was told that alcohol cuts the connection to GOD, my unconditional self, ME.

    I am so happy. So alive. So free. So loved. So energetic. So healthy. So vital.

    Pass me a glass of Perrier and cheers to a fabulous New Year dear hearts.
    You don’t loose when you quit booze. You win more, more & more.
    Tess xxx

  3. Well done Kay! Benefits you might expect include more energy and a bit of weight loss (not that you need this). Alcohol takes pounds out of our pockets and puts them on our stomachs and hips! I won’t be joining you though as I have an occasion in January when I might indulge in a small tipple. In my defence, the only booze I had in December was the brandy I set fire to on my Christmas pud. Yum!

    Happy New Year


    • Well it sounds like you definitely deserve a January tipple Jackie – what an abstemious December! Can’t say as I’ve missed it yet, but then it’s only day 3 . . . !

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