Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
Alcohol has always been a problem for me, way before I even realised. At the tender age of 8, my dear Gran gave me my first sip of sherry at Christmas & I was hooked!
Growing up I used alcohol to fit in, to be part of the gang, you weren’t cool if you weren’t swigging from a bottle of white lightning or puffing on a joint.
I always sought out other big drinkers, I wouldn’t trust people who didn’t drink, there must be something wrong with them!
I met my (now) husband, Dan, in 2005, he too enjoyed a drink, we’d wile away the hours in the bars in Edinburgh drinking & drinking & drinking some more. I loved life back then; it was extremely hedonistic & I look back with fond memories even though way too much alcohol was consumed.
Once I became a mother in 2010 my relationship with alcohol changed. I now had more responsibilities; I stopped going out on the lash & settled down into family life, but I still drank more than is healthy & still on a regular basis.
Over the years I’d occasionally address the problem but always go back to regular drinking. I’d take a week off, a month off or even 9 months off when I was growing my babies, but still, I’d go back to it. I told myself that I deserved it, don’t we all deserve a treat at the end of a long day? Don’t us mums deserve a reward for all the hard work we put in to raising our young? This is the line we are fed, from the TV, adverts, social media…mummy needs gin, is it wine o clock yet? and various other alcohol related memes.
Dan had often spoke about taking a year off the booze, I never thought that he actually would, I thought he must have been mad to even consider it. There’s no way that I could. How would I survive without my cheeky glass of rum whilst I cooked a meal, or a bottle of wine to relax on an evening, or without a beer in my hand on a sunny day? How would I cope with social situations without alcohol? Christmas? Birthdays? It was too much for me!
January 2022, I decided that I needed to make some changes. I read ‘This Naked Mind’ & ‘The Alcohol Experiment’ by Annie Grace and I realised that the amount I drank was not sustainable. I began to recognise the harm that it was causing, not only to my physical health but to my mental health too. I’d read about how alcohol significantly disrupts your brain chemistry & how it destroys your cognitive functions, and about how it depresses the mind & dulls life. Once I’d learned these facts, I couldn’t unlearn them. I’d put off reading the alcohol experiment for months as I’d had a feeling that it would completely destroy my relationship with alcohol & I was right, it did! I now couldn’t drink without shame, without questioning myself as to why I was willingly pouring poison down my throat. I made the decision to take a couple of months off. Those 2 months evolved into an entire year!
A couple of weeks into the first month I saw some noticeable differences, in the way I looked, my skin tone was better, my eyes were brighter, I didn’t feel as creaky in my joints. I started to feel fitter. I used to have a beer as a reward for going running, I figured that if I was well enough to run then I was ok to drink. Funny how the mind works.
I slowly started to become faster, I’ve never been a ‘runner’ as such, more of a ‘plodder’ but once alcohol was out of my system, I started to feel stronger. I shaved 5 minutes off my 5K time & started regularly running 5K in around 26 minutes, after 6 years of sticking around the 30-32 min mark this was a huge improvement to my fitness levels.
When I was out, the smell of wild garlic & the bluebells in the woods filled my nostrils, I saw the colours in the sky, the reflections in the water, I started to really notice these things & appreciate them. It was like I was looking at the world through an Instagram filter! My senses were alive! This was such a great feeling & I wanted more of it!
If I felt the urge to drink, I would reach for a Becks blue instead, I started drinking Kombucha & to signify the start of the weekend I’d make myself a fancy drink in a goldfish bowl glass, packed with ice & fruits. I missed the warming sensation initially, but the ritual was just as important & definitely filled the gap.
I imagined that life would be boring without alcohol, how wrong could I have been!?
I’ve always loved the great outdoors, but now I started to really love it, I developed a deep yearning to be outside, up a mountain, in the woods or beside a waterfall. The previous year I’d started wild swimming, very tentatively at first. I loved the feeling that it gave me afterwards, the warm glow, the silly smile, the giddiness, a real natural high.
2022 was my year to fully experience the real high that wild swimming gives. There’s nothing better than feeling the sting of the cold water against your skin, feeling the power of the water, the spray from the fall on my face, the salmon pink skin after a winters dip. This was where I was supposed to be, as up close & personal with nature as you can get, trout leaping before my eyes, dippers dipping on the rocks & ducklings swimming alongside in the river. I was a part of the landscape & the feeling was incredible, way more pronounced than it was the previous year when I was drinking.
The year 2022 was full of ‘new’ experiences. Those I’d had before were always alcohol fuelled, this time it was different, sometimes awkward at first but definitely different & always better. I’ve never regretted not drinking, in contrast to pretty much always regretting drinking (even if it was just for the dull headache in the morning) & that’s a pretty stark contrast!
I felt like I could really connect with people in social situations but once they started dribbling, that was my cue to leave. Being amongst people whom I love & respect, I realised that I didn’t need alcohol to socialise with them, the buzz was already there, in fact, previously I was numbing that buzz.
Highlights of my year were….
Climbing Scafell Pike with my bestie; we were incredibly lucky to have picked the most stunning May bank holiday weekend, with clear views from the summit & perfect weather conditions. We also found the most breathtakingly beautiful swim spots the following day. No alcohol needed!
Wild swimming with my boys in the summer. We went to lots of local beauty spots & splashed about & ate picnics on the banks of the rivers & the rocks by the falls. I loved seeing the joy on their faces & the feeling of being connected with them & with nature. No alcohol needed!
My little sister’s wedding, I was maid of honour which really was an honour, it was a lovely day & even better for not drinking. Earlier in the year I expected that I would indulge on the wedding day. I couldn’t imagine a wedding without booze, but the reality was that I was present throughout, I really felt the love, I soaked up every moment of the day & I remembered it all afterward. I was still able to raise a toast & join in, but now one of the main perks was driving home sober & waking up with a clear head the next day!
Christmas – another event that I couldn’t imagine enjoying as much without alcohol, again, the opposite was true. Christmas is a time for family & connection, for fun & laughter. We enjoyed playing games together, baking & eating mince pies, hot chocolates by the fire. We indulged in alcohol free mulled punch, Christmas films & lovely winter walks in the country. None of it dulled by alcohol, no after dinner sleepiness, no Christmas eve anxiety… just pure happiness.
Now 2 weeks into January 2023 & over a year off the booze & I have no desire to go back to it. Alcohol used to bring me comfort like a warm blanket, but over time it became suffocating & itchy like a wool jumper that I longed to peel off so that my skin could breathe in the refreshing cool air.
I once read a quote from the wonderful Billy Connolly that really resonated with me: “I decided to give up drinking while it was still my idea”.
I’ve always been a bit of a rebel & I see my sobriety as the ultimate act of rebellion, in a world that puts drinking on a pedestal.
‘The act of being alcohol free is so much more than not drinking. It’s an act of establishing true freedom. You don’t just become free from alcohol, you become free from the illusion that you needed it’
I am continually thankful that I have finally found true freedom.
[I'm grateful to share this guest blog post from Laura Byrne]
"The nerve is damaged, we've confimed it by a camera too, and there's nothing can be done."
A sentence like that could cause many people to give up but Casey wouldn't have it. Wouldn't believe it.
We first met in November, when she told me since flu nearly 6 years ago, she'd had chronic sinusitis, a complete loss of smell and taste and massive build up of mucus all day everyday. It woke her on a night dripping onto the pillow.
She'd had several surgeries to try and correct it, to no avail.
I listened to the details of the symptoms, explored further, asked her questions about herself, who is Casey, how does she experience her place in the world, her interests, her likes, dislikes, emotions, dreams and lots more.
I prescribed a remedy to be taken twice over the next two days and again in 2 weeks time.
Excitedly I recieved an email before Christmas telling me that she had smelt a cheese toastie cooking and it was amazing.
We spoke for a follow up in January when she told me that for the last week the constant mucus had slowed massively, taking her from approximately 27 tissues a day to around 3.
In terms of her overall symptoms she rated that they were a 10/10 when we last met and now scored them at a 2/10.
Despite having told she wouldn't ever smell or taste, she'd smelt 4 different things recently and tasted peas. The drip on a night had cleared and she hadn't been waking to blow her nose as often.
There's still improvements to go, this is early days, but what a great start. I asked permission to share a short write up as I'm aware there's so many folk out there struggling having been told there's nothing can be done.
Remember TEETH - tried everything else, try homeopathy. Or just try homeopathy. As you like.
"My wish for the coming year:
that we may see different opinions and perspectives not anymore as way to create distance but as bridges between our ways of understanding our lives and our universe."
Martien Brands, Homeopathic Dr, The Netherlands
I've been thinking a lot about unity and diversity. About our need to separate and divide, particularly well highlighted globally during our recent Corona times. "You did, I didn't; you're bad, I'm good." Blame casting, guilt tripping, often rendering families torn apart over what are turning out to be pretty irrelevant details.
The need to identify as absolutely unique for so many of us perhaps casts a longer shadow and maybe creates even more distance between others. I would argue we may be at a time when we maybe need each other more than ever. Need our tribe. I'm incredibly grateful for mine.
I'm aware as I write, as a cis-gendered white woman, that I've got privilege aplenty and my areas of diversity are small compared to many. It's not to say I've not experienced 'otherdom'. Hanging out in small mining towns in Australia quickly saw me recognise the sexist nature of many of these places. Even Perth, WA where I was shocked by it at times. It doesn't have to be small towns. My 'otherdom' for simply being a woman. We see it many places in many different lives.
Reading Braiding Sweetgrass recently has allowed some beautiful pondering time. In particular reading Chapter 11, where Robin Wall Kimmerer discusses the Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee peoples in North America. One of the things that struck me was the repetition of 'Now are minds are as one' at the end of the verses, which are directed towards all areas of our natural world. Separate we may fight tooth and nail for 'our needs', which may often be 'our wants', together it's more about community; what is best for the whole.
Support for each other, recognition of our beauty, our individuality but celebrating our oneness feels to have been lost in the mad rush for our individual uniqueness. 'All duality is illusion' wisely spoke my Belgian storyteller who I know I've quoted here before. How far do we have to travel into the separate illusion before we recognise our collective beauty. Without insult to 'other', with peace and with love.
Our common humanity is a key element of Kirstin Neff's writings on Self Compassion, and I fear we're quick to forget it at times. Remembering our togetherness, our interconnectedness feels crucial. Of course we are all unique, different, special in our different ways, but we are likely more similar than at times we care to think. When I reflect on my nemesis neighbour, I'm sure wants her kids to be happy and well just as I do. She grows an amazing garden so presumably loves plants. Whilst she was muttering about ours in a mocking whilst walking past when we changed it "Oh yeah we don't like anything natural, get rid of all that' and the like; of course we do and we are excited about planting up the space we have - and being able to use the area for fires, celebrating things with friends, sitting out and appreciating the stars from there... maybe even a sleep out one day in there. We are each quick to defend what we think is right, even if we may not align with the other's views.
Watching the last episode of How to Change Your Mind last night made me think further. Over the series Michael Pollan explores several well known, and one slightly less well known, psychedelic compounds. All had mind expanding qualities, even Peyote, the least hallucinogenic of them, which had the feeling of feeling more, diving more deeply into life. One of the clearest things for me coming through the series has been the interconnectedness that participants reported experiencing time and again. There's a time and a place for everything so whilst this is no criticism of current medical psychiatric drugs, merely an observation that often on taking them I've heard people report feeling flat and separate. There is some fascinating research ongoing into the potential of psychedlics in mental health support and is an area I'm intrigued by hearing more from as it develops.
We don't need a mind altering drug to have an experience of interconnectedness of the world but I do wonder if we need to step away a little from the current narrative. That of more is better, nature is there for us to use and throw away and that we all need one of everything as our needs are so different to our other fellow folk. I often wonder about sharing more, and what if there was a street lawnmowever instead of one in every home. I wonder if we need to fall in love with nature, the natural world and those around us (human and non human) all over again. To get more into the here and now (which regular readers will know is one of my feelings that homeopathy can help us with). To see each other with love.
Last words? Have a read of Braiding Sweetgrass - it took me a while to get into it but now I'm there, I'm eager for quiet times and opportunities to read it. Eager to get transported into a world where the natural world is honoured, thanked and appreciated. And all the more appreciative of the sky, the stars, the ground beneath my feet.
My final wish? Let us meet the beauty in the other, and whilst appreciating our unique individualness, celebrate in our shared humanity.
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.