Stone Cold Sober

May seems to be an auspicious month for me for giving things up. I don’t know why, but all of my many abstentions seem to have begun in or around the month of May.

Maybe it’s something to do with spring, the return of the sun, an eagerness to move on to new things, but the major changes I’ve made and stuck with all seem to have taken root at the same time of year.

At midnight on the 23rd of May 2005 I made a solemn vow to give up tobacco.

In 2007, after dancing around it for nearly a year, I committed to going fully vegan.

In 2008 I realised I wasn’t going to be messing about with any highs, legal or otherwise, anymore.

And in 2010 I finally swore off alcohol.

Been totally sober, animal product, and stimulant free since then, and I like it. It’s better for your body, better for your head, just better all round really. I never have a stinking hangover, never get into fights with my friends on a night out, don’t have to worry about paranoia attacks, food scares, or anything like that. I just go about my day, doing my thing, and it’s all good.

If you’re thinking about giving something negative up, do. You could make a solemn vow, like I did with tobacco; or you could take a week off, then two, then three, then a month, etc., like I did with alcohol. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth the effort. No attempt at positive change is a waste of time.

And don’t wait until some special set of circumstances kicks in, like New Year’s Eve. This is your starting point, right here, right now. Don’t put it in the future, because that is where it’ll stay. Make it something you do today, and eventually you’ll do it forever.

Week 44 : Frustrations

I’ve been trying to decide this week whether to continue with this blog or not. As I come up to 1 year of blogging I have to admit that My Brand New Life has pretty much failed in it’s mission; ie, to generate a brand new life. I’m still in the same job, in the same flat, still single, and still uncertain about where I want to go next.

It hasn’t been a complete loss. I’ve given up drinking booze. Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary of that (not counting a couple of mojitos I had a couple of months ago) and I’m happy with that decision. I’ve also done a lot more writing this year than usual, and I may have a script and/or book finished by the end of the year. And generally I’ve done lots more new stuff that I’ve found quite interesting (full report/examination on December the 6th). But is it enough?

Truthfully, the answer is no, it isn’t. I need to do more to be satisfied. But it’s a start, and that’s better than nothing. Is it enough to keep going with this blog though? Now there’s a question. I’ve already started thinking about doing a vegan specific blog, and if I decide to do a filmy one too what does that leave for here? It is a quandary.

I’d been pondering all this, then I came across this quote:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you will begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson


I need to let go of what was and move forward from where I am now. Like I tell people when they ask about becoming vegan, you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’re going to make mistakes, what matters is where you go from here. Don’t use them as an excuse to give up, use them as a starting point to begin again.

And so…

I’ve signed up to do a 6 week introductory yoga course at the Sivananda Yoga Centre. I met them at the Yoga Show last Sunday and they were just so nice I had to pop along to their open house yesterday. Again, everyone there was really lovely. The course was very knowledgeable, the introductory lesson nice and simple yet challenging and concise, and I was generally impressed by their warmth, openness and understanding, so much so that I signed up there and then. I’ll have to swap some shifts around to make the classes but it’ll be worth it. I have a feeling I’ll be doing yoga for quite a while.

Week 37 : out and about

Been a busy week this week. I’ve surprised myself with how busy I’ve been.

sandwich board advertising... sandwiches

We had a very successful International Kiki Day, where much fun was had by all and a number of goodies were procured for future enjoyment.

coconut and oatmeal cookies

I popped sarf o’ the river to see my friend Katie who I did Go Ape with, and who I haven’t seen for ages, taking with me a gluten free version of my Coconut and Oatmeal Cookies and some Chocolate Crunchies (which I’m still working on the recipe for – coming soon).

stella!

And then last night I went to a party, where I drank for the first time in 4 months. Not dirty dirty Stella, as pictured above, but a couple of mojitos. Now I didn’t get really drunk, the mojitos I made weren’t even that strong, but I wish I hadn’t bothered. I didn’t gain anything by it. In fact the only result was I felt a bit rougher this morning. That’s why I think I’m going to lay off the booze for good pretty much. I think I’d prefer it that way.

And finally, my days of ‘taching it up are coming to an end. I’ve called time on the Moustache for Cash project, and I’m now in the process of collecting all the donations and arranging to hand them over to the zoo. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to do one final blog entry with a grand total on, including some pictures of the handover, an announcement of who won the cookies and cake, and possibly another little surprise. Check back next weekend for more developments. 😉

Week 36: some stuff, and some other stuff…

Well, I know I said no more reports, but what the hell, when you’ve got something to say…

Let’s see, yesterday I celebrated 4 months off the booze. I’m no longer forcing myself not to drink, I just don’t feel like it. My test will come in a couple of weeks when I have been invited to a cocktail party (emphasis on the cocktails). Dunno what I’ll do, drink or not drink. I’ll figure it out on the day.

Went to see Inception last night. Not as dire as I thought it was going to be. Nor as amazing actually either. Just a good film that was a little slow and which I’m not bothered about seeing again. About usual for Christopher Nolan really.

About to start work on a new writing project. Got an idea for a book which, if it works, will invent a whole new genre. No details online as yet, keeping it very hush hush, but I am writing a very detailed outline for the first time ever. Normally I don’t bother as once I know what’s going to happen I get bored and move on, but I’m realising you need the detail to stay on track. Been trying to write a film script and it keeps veering all over the place as I haven’t pinned the middle down properly. I’m learning from my mistakes.

Going to a class on Buddhism tonight. Been waiting all year for the course to start. It’s like 8 weeks, and they do it 4 or 5 times a year, but every time they had one starting I was busy or I forgot it was on. Now things have converged to make me free, able and aware, so I’m going. Looking forward to it!

Also, off to see Diane Cluck at the weekend. Really looking forward to that. Bought two tickets months ago. Now I just need someone to go with me. Lets’ see…

Week 22: In which our hero discovers the many splendors of the anti-folk

Well I did it. One month without booze. And you know what, not as hard as I thought it would be. The second week was tough, but I didn’t know I was going to go a month then. The whole 30 day thing developed over time. Quite possibly, in fact, I couldn’t have gone a month if that’s what I’d set out to do. Then again, who knows?

Going to keep it going I reckon. For once one of my experiments has yielded actual tangible results. I never did feel any better/stronger/healthier when I went veggie, gave up smoking, cut out gluten, etc. but this time I do feel a lot better in my head for getting rid of drink. I’m more focussed, calmer (pause for a big laugh from those who know me), more positive (laughs again), and I just prefer the world this way. So let’s see how long it lasts. Got a big test coming up this weekend, a retreat with my Tai Chi group that is never short of beer, so we’ll see what happens.

Did hope to have a new thing for you this week, as I had a ticket to go see Laura Solon do her comedy show, but it was called off due to illness. However, as the title of this post suggests, I have been getting into me music a wee bit this week. And by that I mean I bought 9 albums and an EP, some of them at random, and not all of them ‘good’. But still, lots of outstanding tunes.

day 26 - kimya dawson!!!

Was already kind of into the anti-folk scene after hearing Kimya Dawson on the Juno soundtrack, and then going to see her live twice, but I got really into it because of a playlist I downloaded recently. So, off I went down Dada (the local record shop), iPod (and list of new bands to check out) in hand, and started buying random albums in bulk. One led to another, discoveries were made, advice was offered and taken, next thing I know I’ve got a massive stack of CDs to go through. And it’s not like I can afford it either. But what the hell, life’s too short eh?

I won’t give you a big list of who I bought (yet). Stay tuned, as later in the week I’m going to try and link to a downloadable playlist for you guys to check out. Gonna take me a few days to sort through everything and see what direction I want to go in, but hopefully I should have it up by Thursday. Check back then, it’s gonna be fabulous!

Oh, and to finish off here’s a little music video I found which is just the best thing ever; seriously!

Week 20: In which our hero celebrates an anniversary

peace tree

I haven’t managed to do much this week. Night shifts once again, plus I’ve had no money. So all I’ve done really is sleep, and read, and be annoyed that I’ve missed out on all this glorious sunshine. But anyway…

I realised on Sunday night that it had been five years to the day that I’d given up smoking. It happened as I lay in bed one night. I’d just been reading Gandhi’s autobiography, and a part of it kept going through my mind. He said that if you can’t make a solemn vow to give something up you don’t really want to give it up. Now Gandhi knew a thing or two about self denial, and I really did want to give up smoking, but I didn’t want to make a solemn vow as I knew I’d break it. But then again that’s the point of a solemn vow, you make it so you won’t break it.

This debate went on in my head for quite a while until finally I’d had enough. In my head I swore upon the Universe that I would never touch tobacco again, and the strangest thing happened, I physically felt the world change! Quite literally, it was as if everything just shifted slightly, or maybe it was just me. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I can’t. All I know is since then I have only been in contact with tobacco three times, and them only because of other people. I will never smoke again, ever, and I know that for a fact.

mini zen garden

Still off the drink too. Only been a couple of weeks (18 days) but I’m doing ok without it. Even passed one hell of a test on Thursday night. We were in the pub after Tai Chi when they were cleaning out the pipes, and they offered us the run off to drink. Basically, 4 pitchers of free booze, one each of lager, bitter, cider and Guinness. And I had a night shift the next day so I could have drank it all and slept ’til noon. Oh the irony! But, I resisted. Actually, it wasn’t as hard to do as you’d expect. I’m pretty much over drinking for now. The experience a couple of weeks ago has put me off. No idea if I’ll go back to it or not. I’m looking at doing a month without, then I’ll go from there. Who knows, that could be it for me. We’ll see how it goes.

mac cover

I’m going to take a break from online life for a while. Just a week. Want to see if I’ve forgotten how to entertain myself. See you in 7 days.

Week 18: In which our hero makes some significant advances towards a Brand New Life (or, Movies, mash and meditation)

My but what an ‘interesting’ week it’s been. Mostly I was working, five days out of seven getting up at 5am, but I still managed to squeeze in some newness; new thought, new action, and new intention. And a recipe, which was nice. First the food;

Mustard Mash

It’s probably a bit cheeky to describe this as a recipe, as really it’s just a way of making mashed potato a little less boring, but still it’s worth sharing so here goes.

mustard mash

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
a splash of olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard

Cook and mash the potatoes in the usual way, in a pan of salted boiling water on a medium high heat, for 15-20 minutes or so (until potatoes are soft and mashable).

At the same time fry up the onion in a frying pan until they are soft and a little golden.

Mash the onion and whole grain mustard into the potato. Mix thoroughly and serve with a nice pie (I had mine with one of Clive’s pies, yum!) and enjoy.

Now, down to business!

beginning buddhism

I’ve actually been doing some meditating this week. Only a couple of times, but at least I’ve made the effort to go on that cushion and do it. It hasn’t been easy, as there’s a lot of noise around me at the moment which is very distracting (God bless your neighbours eh?), but ultimately it’s all good practice and can only help to strengthen my mindfulness. To that end I have been aided by a decision I made on Thursday.

I’ve decided to lay off the booze. Not just for a week, but for… I want to say forever, but I’m not going to jinx it. I’m just going to take it day by day. What happened was I was having a good day on Thursday. I felt good, I was energised, I went to Tai Chi in the evening, felt great after that… then I went and had some dirty dirty beer. I didn’t want to, it was just out of habit, and I regretted it later. That night in bed, a little bit pissed and unable to sleep, I decided to pack it in completely, and so far it’s going great. There’s an element of not knowing what to do with myself of an evening, and I was a bit ratty over the weekend dealing with a touch of withdrawal, but I feel good and very positive about the coming weeks. I even poured away the bit of wine I had left rather than finish it off in an effort “not to be wasteful” so things are looking good. 🙂

Also I’m starting to make progress in getting my board game off the ground. I’ve arranged to meet a lad next weekend to see about doing some designs for it. If all goes well maybe I’ll finally make some progress with it; then who knows, maybe in a few months time we can go into production. It’ll take me that long to get the cash together anyway. For now all I’ve got to do is do some style sheets for Saturday, to show how I want it to look. It’s all good.

And finally, I thought I’d share some links and videos with you that have been amusing me over the past week. First there’s The Cleveland Show, the hilarious Family Guy spin off. If you haven’t tried it give it a go; you won’t be disappointed. New episodes available every Monday. Thank you 4oD!

Ever wondered how to professionally fold a t-shirt? Dave Gorman shows you how. Trust me, this is brilliant.

And my love of exploding things led me to this.

TTFN. 😉