Monday, 27 April 2015

Three Cheers for Ginger Beer

I was at a friend's 40th birthday party at the weekend. A good friend that I would now be happy to tell the truth about why I no longer drink but, I decided her big party was not the place to do so.
I had planned to drive and leave it at that, should anyone ask.

We had been asked to bring any specific drinks we wanted and were advised there would be cocktails a-plenty.
Pushing the boat out, I decided to have a break from sparkling water and took along some cans of ginger beer.

Ginger beer was one of my first substitute drinks when I first stopped having alcohol. It has a lovely strong flavour, a distinctly spicy aftertaste and feels like a good sturdy drink. A splash of lime cordial to sweeten it doesn't go amiss either.
Despite being called 'beer' or 'ale' it has no alcohol content.
Anyway, although I don't feel the need to have a drink that looks alcoholic, I was surprised to find that mine did!
The host had prepared pitchers of Moscow Mules. Unbeknown to me, these consist of lots of vodka and...wait for it....ginger beer!
The result was that the drinkers' small glasses of cloudy cocktail looked identical to my much larger tumbler full of ginger beer.
 I drank my first drink really quickly and immediately poured myself another, smiling as a guest I did not know remarked 'Gosh you are really going for it tonight aren't you?!'

Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Fashionably Sober and Fabulous...The Countdown has Begun

It's now less than 1 month until my new book The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous is released on 20th May 2015. It is currently available to pre-order here at the guaranteed lower price of less than a fiver (UK) or $8 (US), and this is my last mention of it before then on this blog!

However, if you would like to receive the opening chapters for FREE then email me here and I will send you an e-copy. The book illustrates how changes brought about by not drinking, come in stages as the duration of sober time increases. The changes are not black and white, rather they develop and evolve, often in surprising ways, as time passes. And of course there are many 'Then and Now' experiences included for fans of those. Hope you will enjoy. Rx .

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tuesday Troubles

I've been feeling a bit blue the last few days and have found my mind wandering to alcohol more often. 
I'm not about to dive into a wine cellar or anything drastic like that but alcohol is much more prominent on my radar at present and I'm regularly reminding myself that whatever I'm feeling that's not quite right, will not be helped by drinking wine. 

Wine will provide a short period of standstill before I must re address those same feelings, the difficulty now compounded by a hangover. 

So I'm not going there. 

While sitting with the feelings I'm considering where they have come from and as usual there is never one simple answer. 

My list includes

1. The back to earth bump of returning to work this week. A full inbox and a couple of annoying hassles. 

2. Caroline Knapp's book: the majority of it recounted her love of alcohol and the joy drinking brought her. Much less of the book addressed the tipping point into negativity and beyond in recovery. I found it 'triggering' in that it was so well written I really knew what she meant and wanted to feel that way again. You know, the way it feels good before it feels bad. 

3. Dieting. It is going well and I've lost 10 lbs so far in 7 weeks. I'm really pleased and my clothes fit much better but I'm also feeling a loss of comforts. No tea and biscuits, cake or any other form of comfort eating. I've spent a lot of money at the shops and find the high from that just as temporary as from a kitkat. I can't be bothered to exercise. 

So I'm doing my usual fail safe tricks: reading sober blogs, interacting on sober sites, supporting others and finding strength for them which reminds me of all the benefits I know already that I should be grateful for and not take for granted. I remind myself that me and my family have no ill health. Thigs could be a lot worse. 

And I wait. Treading water for the good times to come back. 

Solving one problem in your life does not make the rest of it an eternal rose garden. The bumps still come so best to get comfy for the duration of the ride. 

Sorry so gloomy peeps.  

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover...

...So says Carolyn Howard Johnson, creator of The New Book Review which is one of the most highly regarded book review websites.

Needless to say she does not show the front cover of any book. Instead she publishes high quality reviews from external reviewers to stand and be judged on their own merit without prejudice from a front cover, good or bad.

Today she has published a review of Sober is the New Black . The review was written by Anna Buttimore B.A. Hons, herself an author and administrator at Law Care, a support service for those in the legal profession struggling with alcohol and addiction.

You can find the review here

Carolyn is keen to increase awareness about her objective book reviews so I ask on her behalf that you share the page within your social network as you feel appropriate. Rx.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Thoughts Thoughts and more Thoughts

Posting from my sun lounger to share my thoughts, and boy, do I have a lot of them. 
I am reading Caroline Knapp's book, Drinking. A love Story. I bought it a long time ago but needed a break from sober books. Plus, it never actually appealed to me despite its rave reviews. 

But I am blown away. 

I am so sad she is no longer alive because I feel compelled to write to her shouting 'YES, ME TOO! I GET IT AND I GET YOU'. Since she's not here I'm pouring it out to you instead. 

A 'journey of self discovery' is a much better way of portraying what I feel is often self indulgent, over analysing of oneself. I, for sure, am guilty of this. Perhaps perversely I enjoy reading about someone else having the same degree of self scrutiny, puzzlement and theories as they try to sort themselves out and live as normal people do. 

What I have learnt most profoundly, is that I am an addict. 

Whether to alcohol, food, sugar, cigarettes or a myriad of other pleasure giving (and taking) substances and behaviours that I have not yet tried, merely giving them up is not the solution. As Caroline says, this is merely 'Same dance, different shoes'. 
Instead, something is needed to fill the void of neediness within me. Something is missing and I've tried for many years to plug it one way or another, a true serial addict. 

Through fear of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, I'm going to search for the cause of that space. 

What is it that is missing?
What am I trying to replace?

Another blogger suggested a book called 'Feeding your demons' which I will check out as a starting point. 

Any experience of this kind of 'stuff' out there please share below. 

Me, I'm off for another sparking water. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Simple Sober Solutions

'What time do you want to leave the beach?'
'I don't mind. I'm happy to leave whenever.'

This was the question OH asked me one day this week, around 4pm, and my honest reply. As I answered him,  my mind was flooded with all the factors I would previously have weighed up and hedged my bets upon, terrified I would miss out on a drinking opportunity.

  • I want to leave now but don't want to look desperate to get back to the apartment for a drink.
  • I want to suggest a visit to the beach cafe but not for ice cream (or coffee). 
  • Does the beach cafe sell wine?
  • What will be doing next? 
  • Are we going straight for something to eat?
  • Did I leave wine in the fridge?
  • Will we go out later for dinner?
  • Is there enough wine in the apartment if we stay there all evening?
  • Can we legitimately stop off at a supermarket on the way back?
  • Can I, oh so casually, add a bottle to the basket because 'I'm not sure if we have any at home'?
  • Can I justify more than one bottle?
  • Will the kids notice? Will they remark? Is it worse if they don't? 
Still, OH is waiting for my answer. He knows I will have a specific answer so will not try to double guess me, knowing it will inevitably be wrong.

  • Does he know what I'm thinking? 
  • Can he see straight through my charade?
  • Does he pity me or feel irritated by the confines within which I make us live?
  • Surely he cannot know or why would he put up with me?

The truth is he does not mind when we leave the beach because to him it is a simple one-dimensional question whose answer is of very little consequence. The question does not induce anxiety, mental contortions of Olympic standard, nor does it have good or bad answers.

Only now do I agree with him. We packed up and left.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

99p Books Right Now

Just a quick note to highlight my books are on Amazon countdown deals right now.

How to Tell Them you Don't Drink is only 99p for the next 22 hours here

Sweet and Sober is £1.99 for the next 12 hours (or free if you have kindle unlimited) here

Get them now before the price goes up. You can also recommend or 'gift' them to a friend.

Now into the last month to pre-order The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous at a pre release price  here

Next time I will share the sober revelation I found at the beach...

Sunday, 5 April 2015


I've had several emails this week from fans of this blog. (Does that mean I've had fan mail??) Thank you to all who take the time to write, say how inspirational you find it and how you identify with me. It's lovely to receive such feedback. Several asked about my progress on the Cambridge diet so I thought it was time to update you.

Background: This diet is available globally. Most simply, it begins as a meal replacement diet which then progressively adds in real food: lean protein and a small amount of veg at first, through to fruit and complex carbohydrates later on. The aims are to:

1. Reduce weight quickly, capitalising on high motivation at the beginning.
2. Re-educate the way we eat with regard to healthy choices, recognising and responding to only true hunger with food to maintain our weight loss in the long term.

The raw stats, after 4 weeks are

Wk1 -4lbs, Wk2 -2lbs, Wk 3 STS, Wk 4 STS AGAIN!!!!

I'm getting over my disappointment at STS as I believe I have stuck to the diet and it will work given time. Diving into a chocolate Easter egg in despair will not help my cause.

I'm motivated to continue because I'm learning, I really am, in the same way as I did with alcohol.

When I considered stopping drinking for good, I was terrified. I would have done anything to be able to moderate and keep wine in my life. Then, I sadly said good bye to a friend. I missed it. I felt deprived, incomplete, bored and boring.
Then, I started to reap the benefits: so much more I could do now I was here, present, able, no longer held back by a hangover and a need to return to the sofa with another bottle. This was better. I could live with this. The price was worth paying.
Now, I would not drink if I could, had the option, could do so 'normally'.
Because it's not what I want MOST. What I want most is to hang onto my my blossoming life overflowing with plans, projects and possibilities and I know that a single glass of wine will not help my stay on that path. It will not add to nor facilitate the way of life I want to continue to lead.

Lightbulb Moment!

As the 'challenge' of the Easter weekend approached I was concerned about how my compliance to my diet would fare. Easter without chocolate?
In previous years I've nibbled and restricted, broken off a bit more, had pieces from each child's egg to even them up, tried to limit the assault and prevent, unsuccessfully, a full sugar blown binge.
This weekend I've thought rationally.
What is it that I really want?
Do I really want an Easter egg so badly? Above all else?
Or, is what I really want to lose weight and feel good in the summer as my safe winter layers are shed?

I'm going to finish on a profound note:

Don't give up what you want MOST for what you want NOW.

Happy Easter.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Sober Authors do Fact and Fiction: Marian Keyes and ME!

It's not often I have the opportunity to hob nob with celebrities or name drop those I've been rubbing shoulders with, so indulge me just this once.

I am featured alongside one of my very favourite authors, Marian Keyes (sounds good eh?) in an article reviewing books for women in recovery, in the Spring 2015 edition of Law Care News. The link to the article is here along with the rest of the newsletter but, so proud am I, I've copied the important bit below for you.

'Sober is the New Black' by me reviewed alongside 'Rachel's Holiday' by a proper well known author? (I can't claim she had me in mind when naming the main character though.) Who would have thought!

Books for Women About Recovery 

Christmas is often the time when people realise that their alcohol intake is probably higher than it should be. LawCare always gets more calls to its helpline regarding alcohol misuse in January and February than at any other time of the year, and the number of women calling about alcohol issues has been rising. So it's good that there are books available which can give the female perspective on alcoholism. 

Sober is the New Black by Rachel Black shows very effectively how alcohol can insidiously, destructively and completely take over a life. Throughout it powerfully juxtaposes events in the author's life--business conferences, family holidays, book club meetings--when she was drinking, and after she stopped. There's always a risk with this sort of personal memoir that it can become egocentric and dull, but this one avoids that on two counts. First, because Rachel will resonate with so many readers as a typical working mother, someone they can relate to. Second, because it doesn't go too deeply into aspects of her life (we never learn the names of her children or her Other Half, or what job she does) and stays firmly focussed on the subject of alcohol. I particularly liked the metaphor where the author compares lifelong abstinence with her mortgage. Both are burdens which look huge and terrifying when viewed as a whole, but are manageable and life-affirming on a day-to-day basis. The book well written, interesting and not overlong, but for me its best feature is the overriding optimism and delight on every page. If it has one message, it's that the sober life is wonderful. Rachel was evidently taken by surprise to find how much better everything, from social events to Christmas, is when you're not focussing solely on wine and how to drink as much of it as possible without anyone noticing. That brightness and assurance shines throughout the book and lifts it above other "sobriety memoirs".

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes tells the story of an Irish woman living in New York who is shipped off to an alcohol and drug treatment centre in Ireland. Written by best-selling author Marian Keyes, herself an alcoholic in recovery, its charm lies partly in the character of Rachel herself, and her slowly dawning realisation, in part told through flashbacks, that she does indeed have a drug problem. Hidden beneath the humour is a powerful and memorable message, and it gives a fascinating insight into the realities of in-patient rehab. Highly recommended.

Law is a respected profession full of high achievers. Within groups of this type, there are a number of functioning alcoholics. These individuals continue to work, drink and live, only just holding it all together until, well, until they can do so no longer. At this point their lives begin to unravel and the consequences and losses become apparent to all.

The profession is cognisant of this fact and there is a well established support network to help individuals. You don't need to be a lawyer to benefit from these online and downloadable resources (I'm not!), so visit LawCare.Org and have a look around at their 'Get help with Alcohol' section full of strategies to assess your drinking, give up alcohol and stay sober in the long term.

If you are concerned about your drinking and are wondering how to cope over Easter, get on line or download one of these books and see if you identify with any of the characters or experiences within.

Me? I'm off to chat to Marian (only on twitter!).
Follow @SoberRachel