Monday, 28 December 2015

Doing the Time

It's glorious here in Switzerland. The snow isn't great, and the pistes that are open are very crowded, but the skies are completely clear, except for a myriad of coloured paragliders.

It's so beautiful that you have to constantly fight the urge to break into a rendition of 'The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Music.'

(I actually did this once yesterday, until I noticed that the whole family were standing several feet away from me and pretending not to be related).

Now, I'm not a good skier. I started way too old. The rest of the family, however, are demons on the slopes. Even the seven year old will ski any black run at full tilt. They all call me Escargot.

Today, as I skied gently down a red run, admiring the scenery, I felt an analogy coming on.

You see, learning to ski is very much like giving up the booze (here's the analogy!)

You have to spend weeks and weeks constantly on your arse, aching all over and feeling like an idiot. You think 'I am never ever going to be any good at this, and what's the point anyway? What's wrong with walking, for God's sake?' You curse the people swishing past you and assume that they're just built differently.

But the truth is, you just have to put the time in. You have to train your muscles over and over again to work in a particular way, until one day it's just instinct.

Then, you suddenly find yourself gliding down a slope feeling the most incredible high, because it's amazing! It's WAY better than walking. And it's all the better because getting that point wasn't easy.

You are literally, and metaphorically, on top of the world.

Because nothing in life that is really, really worth having is easy to achieve.

I watched an amazing documentary last week about the early days of Queen: one of the greatest bands of all time. They spent YEARS travelling the country playing in dives. They once played to an audience of ONE.

J.K.Rowling spent years living on state benefits, writing in a cafe because she couldn't afford to heat her appartment, and was turned down by several publishers.

Behind every 'overnight success story' you'll actually find there's years and years of effort, of disappointment, of picking yourself up and trying again.

And going sober isn't easy. You have to do the time (we certainly did the crimes, didn't we?).

It takes about 100 days to get through the worst, and six months before it starts becoming second nature.

But the rewards are worth the effort. And way more.

So don't give up. Put your skis on and fly down that mountain. I'm with you.

Love SM

P.S. I had a great moment today when I had to go to the ski shop and ask them to adjust my ski bindings because I am fourteen pounds lighter than I was when we were here nine months ago! The sober diet: half a pound per week, slowly but surely. But, be warned, it often doesn't kick in until you've done about 100 days.


  1. It's a good analogy - I've spent plenty of time falling over on those icy slopes (hope your actual slopes aren't icy by the way)... Annie x

  2. That's so true! Funnily enough, my Christmas present to myself was six ski passes to Mount Washington, as I have neglected skiing for about five years (cut into my wine time!)- so I am literally and figuratively with you all the way!xx

  3. Amen, Escargot, amen!! It is a funny dichotomy, that instead of resenting how hard sobriety is to achieve, we end up reveling in the fact that it almost broke us. Because it didn't. And we found out how very strong we are. Swish, swish!

  4. Clear blue skies are one of nature's greatest medicines! I'm an appalling skier but managed my own version of "swish swish" with my first AF Christmas Day and Boxing Day in 20 odd years! Instead, when things got stressful, the family crowded into a glass box and whacked balls at each other... Surprisingly therapeutic!