I was almost ready to turn around…

Earlier this summer I started riding my bike again for exercise and some quiet time out in nature.  Nothing spectacular, just a quick 10 to 15 minute ride at first, just to ease into it, and even then some of the muscles in my legs rebelled.  After a few weeks, I went a little farther.  Then a little farther.  But I wouldn’t attempt “the hill” that lurks near my house.  The hill actually has two bumps to it, not just one steady incline, and I knew if I attempted that route that I would end up with leg muscles screaming so badly that I probably wouldn’t even make it up the first bump and would have to get off the bike and walk it on up and over the hill, and I just didn’t want to do that, because it seemed like it would be a defeat of some sort.  I decided to wait until I felt I was ready.

Yesterday I attempted the hill.  I hadn’t plan to, but instead of turning around where I usually do, I kept going.  Yes, I shifted to a lower gear, and yes, the muscles still complained, but I kept going.  I made it to the top of the first bump and … kept going.  And even though I always thought the second bump was steeper and would be worse if for no other reason than a person had to experience the pain of the first bump to even get to the second bump, I was wrong.  The second bump was actually easier than the first.  The ride home from there was a piece of cake.  Endorphins and a sense of accomplishment probably kicked in, and those things (along with a slight tail-wind perhaps) made for an easy ride home that I won’t soon forget.

For me, it was an accomplishment!

And I thought… What if I had turned around?

How would my entire day have been different if I had turned around?  The “high” I felt from that accomplishment lasted all day, and still pops up from time to time.   How long would it have been before I decided I was truly ready to tackle that hill if I hadn’t just stopped thinking about it and tried it?  How many other accomplishments have I missed or at least postponed by thinking that I wasn’t ready?  Or worse yet, thinking that I’d never be ready, so why even try.

Sure, I probably would have eventually tackled the hill.  And yes, if I had failed and had had to walk the bike up and over I wouldn’t have given up and would have tried again the next day, or the next.  Probably sometime when I felt I was “really ready.”

But oh, the joy of a sudden burst of courage and an accomplishment come early!

My biking experience reminds me of many of our plans to quit drinking.  I’ll just leave it up to anyone who happens to read this to draw their own comparisons and hope it helps in some way.

And according to my Sober Time app, it’s been 5.66 days since I’ve had a drink.  I just flipped to it to check, and the quote at the bottom of the screen is this:

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other. 

And today I biked up and over the hill and the entire route home without a doubt in my mind that I could do it.

And I can’t wait for tomorrow, because I’m gonna do it again.

Take care, everyone.


Stop thinking so much and just do it….

Since some time in June I’ve been trying to start this blog.  I love reading sober blogs.  I can relate to so many stories so well.  I know that writing about my thoughts and feelings will help; I’ve kept journals off and on for years.  It’s just kind of terrifying to sit down and actually write down some thoughts and throw them out there to the universe.

How much do I tell?  What if I tell too much too soon and later regret it?  What if I put myself into a strangle-hold trying to decide what to include and what to leave out?  What if I talk myself out of writing a damn thing because the anxiety of deciding what to share with others and what to hold close (at least for now) just seems too overwhelming?

What if I just stop thinking so much and just do it.

Since some time in June I’ve been doing the off-and-on thing with drinking.  For the past … what, almost 20 years?….jeez…. I’ve been a pretty steady drinker.  And a really steady drinker the past 5 years.  And when times have been really, really stressful it seems I’ve had the compulsion to  punish myself by drinking too much.

It would typically start with the thought I’m going to allow myself to drink more right now to make all of these stressful things fade into the distance for a bit since I can’t seem to control my thoughts and feelings and shut off the worry and fear for even a little while. 

But then by the end of the evening and the bout of “heavier” drinking the deeper thoughts would surface.  They would often go something like this:

There are so many bad things that have happened over the years that you probably could have prevented, or at least made better, if you’d only made the right choices.  And knowing you, you’re probably going to make more wrong choices in the future that are going to cause pain for other people, too.  So what good are you?

Now I’m not saying that these thoughts are rational, but they do have a strong basis.  (More on that later.)  I mean, of course almost everyone has made decisions that have caused pain for other people.  Everyone has made decisions that they regret.  And of course we need to look at our motivation for those decisions and either change our behavior and forgive ourselves or let go of something that basically “just happened” and that we couldn’t control.  But for some reason our minds don’t always seem to work that rationally.  Not deep down inside, anyway.  At least mine seems to have a problem with it.

I’m actually hoping that by writing some of it all down (which I’ve done in the past) and throwing it out there to the universe (which I have NOT done in the past) maybe I’ll take a harder look at it all.  A different look.  Maybe someone will have a suggestion for a different way of looking at something and that will make a difference.

Maybe I’ve just made a new start.

And by the way… it’s been two days since I’ve had a drink.