I. After getting all of that out of my system, my body went through some stuff that felt like some kind of somatic release. First, I shook like a leaf for a while. Then, the shaking eased and I melted into a puddle of more relaxed than I’ve been in a long, long time. Then I got goosebumps and felt waves of contentment wash over me. I put together two pieces of flat-packed furniture (one more to go, and I’ll have a place to sit and eat or write or whatever one does while sitting at an actual table). I ate a massively stacked smoked meat sandwich on rye with coleslaw on the side. I had a slice of chocolate cake, a cuddle with the doggos, and then watched a few episodes of season 4 of The Great Pottery Throwdown. I slept beautifully. I woke up naturally, with no alarm necessary at the break of dawn (I love doing that!).
I woke up feeling clear.
II. A little while ago I signed up for a Moonology challenge (I’m a fan of Yasmin Boland’s way of working with the phases of the moon) and the challenge starts today. Turns out one of our first recommended activities is to clear the impact of the past on our present. Well, then! Perfect timing! Done and dusted, though today I will apply ritual action to the release as instructed because I love me some spicy psychology (aka witchcraft).
I like that kind of serendipity.
III. I’m really loving this new thing I do where I sign up for things and actually follow through with them. Especially right now when I’m chomping at the bit for any kind of movement forward. Any little thing I can engage and make progress on feels really good right now, so I’ve signed up for a bunch. A year of rituals with Christopher Penczak. Shadow work with Jane Cunningham. A bunch of Brighid-centered offerings from various teachers. Fierce Grace with Carrie Anne Moss. A folk magic immersion with Matthew Venus. I’ve dusted off some of the stuff that’s been sitting on my hard drive for years, too, and I’ve actually done a few lessons in Life Book already this year! I don’t know what happened, exactly, but that feeling like my wheels were spinning in the mud is gone and I’ve lurched (and cussed) my way out of stuckness and into action.
I like it.
Speaking of which…
IV. Yesterday, I did my intake interview with a primary care provider, so I no longer have to worry about who’s going to prescribe my asthma meds. It’s a neat little collective of nurse practitioners who can diagnose and prescribe and refer out to whatever kind of care you need, including dentists and eye doctors and physiotherapists. I love this, and I realize how lucky I am that I got this done so soon after moving here. It can take *years* but I have determined friends who will a) sit with me while I fill out paperwork (thanks, Renee!) and friends who will bring up my situation during their own visits with the nurse practitioner (thanks, Kimi!) and voila!
And in the same vein…
V. I’m ready for a rebrand for my little empire, but I’m not sure where to start so I’m just sort of sitting with it for a bit. I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and was reminded yesterday that there are people who do this kind of thing for a living, so I’m half-expecting the universe to plunk whoever it is that’s supposed to help me with this (because there’s someone. I can feel it!) right into my field of vision so we can get to work.
VI. I saw this on the Internets and now, I, too, will forever call ellipses “drama dots”. I love a good pregnant pause. Don’t you?
VII. I spent some time on Zoom with my sweet wee girl and we talked about neurodivergence and compared notes and I apologized for genetics and we laughed about it, but underneath that laughter was a palpable relief that comes with knowing that we’re not alone and we’re in this together. It brought home to me once more the fact that we can navigate anything in the right company.
One of my love languages is getting people and being gotten but there is something especially powerful in getting and being gotten by your own kid.
Speaking of kids…(DRAMA DOTS!)
VIII. The boys are all good and sorting out their stuff, and I’m proud of them and relieved, because they’re coming together as a little village to solve some of the issues that would have required a lot of time, labour, and money on my part, but now that they’re getting it sorted on their own, I can continue to do my own thing over here and drop in now and then as a cheerleader and a contented observer, and that makes me *ridiculously happy*.
X. Today, I will fling paint, work on building some more flat-packed furniture (a high table and two chests of drawers on wheels for art supplies), stuff my face on chocolate-covered almonds and cheese and whatever else I want to eat, and I will do all of that alcohol-free, and that’s worth celebrating. *Clinks mugs with you*
Content warning: I’m angry. If anger scares you or upsets you, you might want to back away and come back another day.
I. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging like I did in my last post, but I needed to spend some time with my own thoughts and feels about whatever the heck was going on with me in response to the sudden lack of boozy buffer. Boredom was *not* something I expected to experience in response to going clear, but that’s what came up. Boredom. An intense awareness of the “rinse, repeat” quality of this moment in time. A hankering for something – a craving, really. But not for wine. Not for any kind of altered state, actually, unless you can call “engaged” or “connected” an altered state.
II. It took a while, but here I am. Engaged. Connected. Into everything. Curious. Open. Awake. Alive. Alcohol-Free for 60 days, too, which feels like a bit of a minor miracle given *waves at all of this*, but here we are.
Here comes the anger in t-minus 3….2……1…..
III. A lot happened around and to me over the course of the last almost two years, and most of it was no bueno. I *did* manage to navigate it and I *have* gotten over most of it if by “gotten over it” we mean “I have raged and cried and grieved and pondered myself into a puddle of spent and also receptive goo”.
The thing I most grappled with was the idea that bad things happen to bad people and if bad things are happening to me, I must therefore be bad. This is not an uncommon bit of unconscious content, I know. I am not alone in grappling with this. Even though I am potently and poignantly aware of how the overculture conditions us to believe that we are, in fact, completely in control of what happens to us what with the way it pushes The Law of Attraction and the whole “thoughts become things” thing that gets shoved down our throats on the regular, my newfound sobriety uncovered a stinking pile of this conditioning hiding out in my deepest innards. I had, thankfully, disconnected from most of the purveyors of this kind of horseshit by the time I uncovered it within myself, but there were some holdovers. Some second-guessing. Some doubts about my choices. Some guilt about the INFJ door slam that I have been unashamedly employing thanks to an ever-increasing sense of self-loyalty.
IV. My therapist and I have talked about the same relationships for years. They came up in every session. It felt very much like my own personal soap opera. “This week on as Effy’s World Turns.” The one that did the very thing I asked her not to do and then kept doing it, but in secret. The one that made sure I knew about what was happening in secret because they got off on my upset over it. The one that took full advantage of my fawn trauma response and “The Bank of Effy” while talking shit about me to anyone who would listen. The one who would pick me up and then shelve me like I was some kind of doll. The one who enjoyed the lavish, devoted experience I offer my lovers, but did not offer much of anything in return except a wicked case of cognitive dissonance, broken promises, and words that did not align with actions. The one that told me my son was sick because KARMA – that I’d allowed him to be abused in a past life in order to keep a husband happy. The same one that told me that if I broke up with a guy that was causing me real harm, I was doomed to be in pain for the rest of my life because TWIN FLAMES. The same one who acted like she didn’t like me (or anyone else, frankly) very much, but kept me around because – why? I made her feel better about herself?
Humans baffle me.
And that’s just in the last two years.
And so, fuck them. Fuck all of them.
And since I know how humans work, and since I know very well that at least some of them are reading this:
May you be happy. May you be healed. May you be loved.
But far from me, you fucking dumpster fire.
V. Do I sound like a victim?
Maybe I do, but I’m okay with that because while the overculture wants us all to shut up about it and put on our positive panties and accept that if these bad things happen to us it’s OUR FAULT and we are ENTIRELY TO BLAME and COMPLETELY IN CONTROL of everything that goes wrong while encouraging us to GUSH ABOUT HOW BLESSED AND GRATEFUL WE ARE when things go right, something inside of me – something that’s been sitting in weekly therapy for almost nine years now is ready to fight the overculture on that.
When did “victim” become a dirty word? When did we equate saying what happened to us with “playing the victim card”? When did pretending we’re untouchable, unflappable, indomitable, bulletproof, beyond being harmed become the requirement for being acceptable?
VI. I’ve been harmed, and the sole responsibility for healing that harm is on me, I know, but I am *pissed off* that so much of my psychic energy has to be spent in healing wounds that I *did not inflict upon myself*.
Y’all, I am in therapy *because of people who refuse to go to therapy*. I’m in therapy because of my encounters with those who will not touch their own unconscious content with a ten-foot pole, but instead, project it all onto the nearest available scapegoat, and how did I become the nearest available scapegoat?
I was raised to be one.
And I’m fucking angry over it.
And you know what?
It’s about fucking time.
VII. I live in a world where *waves at all of the above* is completely unacceptable. I am supposed to show up in the world with a smile and a twinkle in my eye and paint under my nails and delight and joy and inspiration and gratitude. I am supposed to take the hits as they keep on coming and assert that it’s all okay because “HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE” with a forgiving, tender smile on my unphased face. I’m supposed to forgive. I’m supposed to keep my dirty laundry to myself and I’m supposed to be professional and polished and I’m supposed to whitewash everything and I’m supposed to make sure that I do not get my stuff all over everybody else *at all costs* including my own survival.
Right? I mean, isn’t that what we’re told to do? Isn’t that what’s modeled for us? Don’t we get labeled “too much” if we do otherwise?
I mean, for fuck sakes, even the Dalai Lama is out there telling everyone that anger is poison, and when a very wise council of humans suggested to him that this might be a spiritual bypass (because it *was* a spiritual bypass) he didn’t address it. He just left his toxic positivity hang out there for all to see without any accountability to anyone for how poisonous *repressed & denied* anger is when expressed anger is actually *healthy and human and necessary*.
VIII. One of the people I mentioned above told me that I was scary because I get angry, and it was at that point in our relationship that I should have ended it, because I *do* get angry. I get angry when I’m lied to. I get angry when I am betrayed. I get angry about injustice, betrayal, disloyalty, passive aggression, malice, other people’s projections, and other forms of fuckery. And I have learned to say “I’m angry”. I’ve learned to say “Don’t do that to me.” or “This is my boundary” or “What you are offering me in this moment is not what I need.” and the people who can’t handle that, who think that makes me “scary” or “too much” are, frankly, not enough for me.
I wish those people all the luck in finding someone who is less.
Because I’m not it.
I’m all of me.
Angry me included.
IX. And it’s not like I get angry over stupid shit, because I don’t. In fact, it’s been brought to my attention by qualified professionals that I don’t get angry *enough*. I have to go through a lot of inner work before the anger even begins to arise. I have to sift and sort and tell the story to a willing, objective ear over and over again for a long time, to get the experience witnessed by someone who can be *angry on my behalf* before I can even begin to access my own anger.
So if I’ve told you I’m angry?
You can bet I worked to get there, and that I value you enough to tell you, and that it comes at an enormous personal energetic cost to me to tell you in the first place, so if you reject me or criticize me for being angry? If my anger is too much for you? If your response to my anger is to talk shit about me or abandon me?
And if I’ve slammed the door on our relationship, it’s because I told you until I was blue in the face what I needed from you and what my boundaries were and you didn’t listen or didn’t care, so again.
X. Sixty days today, and I’m fucking angry, and I am glorying in it because I have every reason and right to be angry, and my rage, which hid out under a blanket of booze for a decade, has risen up. It is here. It is honest. It is holy, and if you can’t sit with me in my anger, you don’t fucking deserve me.
I. I’ve been frustrated by the pandemic. Coming out of the fog of too much wine for so long means I am coming into awareness of the feelings that lurked beneath that fog, and one of them is frustration. I’ve got stuff I want to do, and *waves at all of this* is standing in my way.
II. This would be less frustrating if I were in control of it, but I’m not. I did all the things – isolated, masked up, double vaxxed, looking for a booster (they are pretty hard to book at the moment for obvious reasons), and yet here we are back in lockdown in Ontario. I am hoping Omicron is going to lead us to herd immunity and this will soon be over-ish. We’ll still have to live with COVID but it will be endemic and less threatening. This is the hope. *Fingers Crossed*
Bring it on and so it is.
III. I’m grateful for my work because there is always something to draw me out of the ennui and existential angst that this life of “rinse and repeat” is bringing on. As long as I can bring whatever it is I’m experiencing in the moment into my creative practice, I feel like I can deal with it. It may not necessarily solve anything to express it but at least it means it isn’t taking up quite so much room in my body and mind.
IV. I do feel, though, like my world has shrunk. The usual experiences that fill me up (fests, mostly, and live music) have been lacking for me since late 2019. That’s a long time to go without soul food. Those kinds of experiences add something to the well I draw from as a journal artist, and I’ve had to depend solely on my very tiny world – mostly on my inner life – to fill that well. It’s made my creative practice a little less inspired. I’m not going to lie. So, I’ve marched my butt into the classes I have stored on my hard drive so I can add new experiences, techniques, imagery, etc. even though I’m pretty much stuck in the house.
I started Life Book 2022 this past week. Here’s where I’m at with that so far:
Week One – Soul Glow warm up with Tamara Laporte
Week One – Shine Your Light with Tamara Laporte – This one isn’t quite finished yet. I’m going to do a few things to it today, I think.
V. I’m reading again as well, though, and I’m not talking about audiobooks, either. They’re a perfectly valid way to read, and I leaned hard on them over the last few years as a way to lull myself to sleep, but lately I’ve been *so bored* of the “rinse repeat” I mentioned above that I’ve added some titles to my Kindle library and I’m reading throughout the day. “Cat Magic” by Whitley Striber is my current distraction. It’s a book I read way back in the 90’s that I absolutely loved. It’s been fun revisiting it. I don’t know where I’ll go after that’s done with but I have a few titles queued up. I’ll keep you posted.
VI. I’ve been knitting, too. Still working on that shawl I cast on the day I quit drinking and it’s coming along beautifully. It’s going to be the perfect reading shawl once I’m done with it. It’s on big enough needles (size 6) that it doesn’t bug my eyes and I’m just doing a straight purl row one knit row two to keep it easy to work on while I’m watching something mindless on the telly. This and a lot of organic kombuchu (ginger flavoured – mmmmmmmmm) and dark chocolate have been saving my bacon.
VII. SO BORED THOUGH OMG I’M READY FOR THE NEXT ADVENTURE.
VIII. Speaking of which, I have another level one pottery class scheduled for four weeks beginning Jan 18th, but I don’t know what’s going to happen with that given the current surge. SEE WHAT I MEAN BY FRUSTRATING? I have the feeling I’m going to come out of this thing with a serious case of wanderlust and the will to do something about it. Like get my passport. And maybe a car.
How It Started (Day One) & How It’s Going (Day 37)
Hello, lovely ones! It’s been a little minute since last we typed, but I didn’t want the first Monday of 2022 to go by without a love letter from me to you, so grab a bevvie and settle in. I’ve got some things to tell you.
First of all, today marks 38 days since I decided that I wasn’t loving the way wine made me feel anymore. For the last 38 days, I have chosen sparkling water or tea instead of that ever-present glass of boxed Chardonnay. I did have a glass of champagne on New Year’s, but it was what we call a planned “blip” in my alcohol-free support community. I cut it with grapefruit Perrier, enjoyed that one glass, and did not have another.
Changing my relationship with alcohol has been the singular most precious gift I’ve ever given to myself. I mean, just look at those faces above. Day One – I was desperately depressed and anxious, and all too aware that I had tipped over from a pleasurable glass of wine now and then to a soul-sucking habit. Day 37 was New Year’s Day – the first New Year’s in about a decade that wasn’t spent with a pounding headache and a queasy belly. I taught that day, clear-eyed and fully present. I was in full possession of my will and my senses.
That little voice in my head that told me I was nothing without my wine – that my creativity would dry up, that I’d be bored all the time, that I needed it to get me through – has been proven a liar, because none of those things are true. My creativity is flowing. When I get bored (the danger zone for me for sure) I have activities I’ve chosen to replace the ones that drain me and do nothing to contribute to my general sense of aliveness in the world. The only thing I need to get me through is my *attention* and self-love and the toolbox of skills I’ve developed over many years of self-work and therapy.
In fact, I’ve discovered that a lot of my depression and anxiety, which I was using alcohol to medicate, was directly related to how much I was drinking.
As in I am no longer depressed or anxious.
I have all this energy now that I didn’t have before. My sleep patterns have changed dramatically. I’m in bed by 11 at the latest and I sleep through the night. New ideas fly at me from all directions and my ability to implement them has increased exponentially. There is nothing I’m phoning in. I’m excited. I’m optimistic. I’m alive in the world and I like it like that.
I spent the years from 2014 (when my marriage ended) until now gazing at the world through the fish-eyed lens of tear-stained eyes (Thank you Roger Waters for that line) because I legitimately did not know that what I thought was medicinal was actually poisonous. I didn’t know that what I was doing was keeping me stuck in protracted grief. I didn’t know that drinking was a gatekeeper, barring the way to optimism, hope, and change for the better.
But now I know.
And so, this is the way.
I don’t know if I’ll stay alcohol-free forever or if I’ll find my way to moderation. Some people can do that. Some can’t. I don’t know which I am at this moment in time, and I’m not in a place where I’m ready to experiment with that. That one glass of champagne on New Year’s was my way of saying “I am in control here” and it was a good experience, but I didn’t want to extend that experiment beyond that one glass on that one day. Perhaps in time, I’ll be one of those humans who can have a glass of wine with dinner or raise a toast on her birthday without descending into the hell that is daily drinking from noon and until midnight, but that time is not now. Now is the time to discover who I am unaltered, unfettered.
So far, I like who that is.
I am feeling all kinds of positive things about 2022. I survived 2020 and 2021, but just barely. As I pause here on the threshold that is the first Monday in a brand new year of days and weeks and months, I feel optimistic, hopeful, and energized. I feel ready to take my life to the next level wherein I am not merely getting through it.
I’m aiming higher.
I aim to thrive.
Thanks for listening.
P.S Throughout the course of 2022, I will be releasing new Journal52 art cards + musings. Here is the first!
If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that my primary purpose, the #1 thing that drives me is self-possession. Whatever I’m doing, that’s the goal. I want to be my own authority. I want to know myself so intimately that everything I do is in alignment with my values.
Well, I lost myself there for a couple of years. A love affair and subsequent breakup, my son’s mental illness, which moved me to upend my life and move in with him only to turn around and upend my life and move out again six months later (we’re good now, though – we love GG! We just don’t love the illness that, without medication, makes him a bit of a bear to deal with, eh?), relocating to a new city in the middle of this damned panini, bone crushing loneliness, layer after layer of grief, intense trauma work in therapy….
…it should come as no surprise that wine o’clock started coming earlier and earlier in the day. I *know* I’m not alone.
Needless to say, I have been anything but “self-possessed”.
Twelve days ago at the stroke of midnight, I quietly and determinedly dumped all the alcohol in my home and rolled myself up in the blanket fort with the furbabes to have a nice long cry over my loss of control over my rate of consumption of alcohol. When I woke up the next morning, I signed up for an alcohol free challenge (gamefying things works for me), got my butt into a sober support group, and installed a sobriety tracker on my phone. I connected with a couple of people in my support group so we could “buddy up” and I’ve been alcohol free since.
Best. Decision. Ever.
This was me on Day Eight. LOOK AT MY EYES! Seriously.
The first three days were gnarly, let me tell you. Insomnia, tremors, difficulty regulating my temperature. My skin felt like it was going to crawl right off of my body. I was dizzy and wobbly and whoa. Slowly but surely, though, things improved. I started to sleep better. I woke up *without* anxiety and depression. My *vision* improved (did not know that was a thing, but it is a thing!). The tremors stopped. My digestion improved. My appetite came roaring back with voracious cravings for avocados and pan roasted tomatoes and sautéed greens and allllll the cheeeeeeese and olives and hummus and CUCUMBERS omg CUCUMBERS.
I stopped ordering in food because the crap I’d been eating wasn’t what my body wanted. I dusted off my chef’s knife and started cooking again. The dogs, who had been picking up on my frenetic alcohol fueled anxiety and acting out calmed right down and returned to their usual sweet, chilled out selves.
Seriously – I have never been able to get a decent picture of Salem unless she was sleeping because she *could not stay still*.
Look at this. LOOK!
Soooooo Mellllloooooow! *Happy Sigh*
Why am I telling you this?
I guess I want to you to know. I want you to know that while I’ve been plodding along over here through *waves at all of this*, life got to me. All the tools I had in my tool box – art journaling, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, therapy – lost their power in my life because I was soaking my brainmeats in cheap boxed chardonnay – and if that can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If you’re in your own struggle with whatever, I want you to know that you *can claw yourself back from it*, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Help is out there and recovery is possible. A quick Google search will yield results – some free, some not free.
Here are the resources I’m leaning on:
One Year No Beer Alcohol Free Challenge – Daily videos and emails, gorgeous support group. Varying timed challenges (28 days, 90 days, 265 days – I signed up for the year because I am dead serious).
Alcohol Explained by William Porter – This was life changing for me because it perfectly explained what alcohol was doing to my brain and why it was so easy to fall prey to it, and so hard to let it go. Available on Kindle, too!
I Am Sober – an app that tracks money saved, calories saved (I didn’t care about this, but some might), hours saved (because you’re not really focused and functional when you’re low key buzzed all day). It prompts you to make a daily pledge and then do a nightly review. Very supportive. Available on both Android and IOS.
For those who prefer a more traditional route (AA), check out In The Rooms for 24/7 meetings and support. AA is not for me for reasons I won’t go into here, but it works for a lot of humans, so if it resonates, dooooo eeeeeet!
Okay, that’s enough of that.
My focus from here on out will be all of things that move me in the direction of my prayers – the art as magics, the self-inquiry, the vigilance against anything that knocks me off course, connection with other humans, pottery (which keeps me grounded), ritual and structure and good habits (like walking the dogs and that vitamin packed smoothie every morning and fizzy water with lemon and checking in with my alcohol free buddies). I may occasionally mention where I’m at on this journey, but one of the things I’ve learned over the last 11 days is that focusing on what I *do* want (to be clear-eyed and minded and energized and ALIVE IN THE WORLD) rather than on what I *don’t* want is the way through this thing.
In other words, this will not become a “sobriety newsletter”. I have a million other things to write about and focus on.
LIKE ALL OF THESE GOODIES!
First of all, I’ve got a special weekend workshop upcoming in which I will be decorating a new Sweet Trash Journal for use in 2022. This retreat will include a bunch of demos of how I use the journal! It’s being offered as a special price until December 13th! Get the details here:
Ten hours of live video instruction + replays + forever access for $27 until December 13th, at which point the price will go up to $45! I hope to see you in there.
ONE BAD ASS ART JOURNAL is now open for registration. EARLY BIRD PRICING IS $69. I’m really excited about this year since I wasn’t feeling very bad ass through 2021, but I’m definitely going into 2022 with my BAD ASS FULL PRESENT. Here are the details.
We have a full moon + info session on December 18th (Full Moon Actual) at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link This gathering will include an hour long info session right off the top, and then we will move into a Full Moon Painting Party. Everyone who attends will get a coupon code for Moonshine 2022 AND a chance to win a spot.
There will be a replay offered to all attendees. If you can’t attend, but you want a replay, please hit reply to this email and I’ll send you one.
We have a Solstice Releasingi Ceremony on December 22nd, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link. This gathering is open to the public, so feel free to tell your friends!
Book Of Days 2022 is filling up with beautiful faces and I hope you’ll join me for a gorgeous year of creativity presented to you by me and my deep diving, soul stirring, amazing guest artists!
Class is on sale for $99 (no coupon required) until December 31st at which point it will go up to $120 (still a fraction of what it’s worth!)