Monday, 20 November 2017

Fingers Crossed


You know how life spins out, everything trundling along just fine, and then something really awful threatens to happen, right out of the blue?

Maybe it's a health scare, or something wrong with one of your children, parents or friends, a redundancy or relationship break-up.

Then you find yourself doing a deal with the universe. You say things like if I get through this terrible time, then I promise I will never, ever take things for granted again. I will always be grateful for the stuff that really matters, and I will be a GOOD person, for ever and ever.

(Or is it just me who does that?)

Anyhow, a few weeks down the line, the potential disaster dealt with or averted, then forgotten, and - sure enough - you're back to stressing about the things that don't matter and forgetting to be grateful for the things that are genuinely important, like your family's health, a roof over your head and food on the table.

Well, the handy thing about having had breast cancer is that you are never, ever allowed to forget. Because every few months, a letter arrives in your post box telling you that you have a mammogram, or an ultrasound or a blood test, to check that your boobs haven't decided to try to kill you again, or - even worse - that some pesky cancer cells haven't cropped up in your bones, or your lungs or your brain.

Tomorrow I have to go back to the cancer clinic for my two year check-up.

So, to distract myself from feeling terrified, I am reminding myself to feel grateful.

Grateful for a wonderful two years which I might not have had. Thankful for any more time I'm allotted which I can spend helping shepherd my children towards being proper, well-rounded and happy grown-ups, and making some fabulous memories for them.

(Yesterday, I got to celebrate my eldest turning fourteen. There was a time when I thought I might not be able to do that.)

It's also a great time to feel grateful for being sober. Because the truth is that when you drink to numb all the difficult stuff in life, you numb all the good stuff too. And I don't want to miss a single minute of it.

If you have a spare moment, please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And here's some really HAPPY NEWS! Ang75, who many of you know from her comments on this blog, is ONE YEAR SOBER TODAY! Happy Soberversary Ang. You are amazing. Have a truly wonderful day.

By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page, a lovely post from Club Soda on what children say when their parents quit drinking.

(Click here, to go to the Facebook page, 'like' the page if you want to stay updated).

Love SM x




Friday, 17 November 2017

3 Reasons Why Dogs are a Sober Girl's Best Friend



Yesterday, I was reading the incredible story of Mali - the special forces dog who's just been awarded a medal for bravery after sniffing out explosives and Taliban insurgents during a seven and a half hour gunfight in Kabul.

A grenade badly injured Mali's belly and legs, blew out a tooth and damaged his right ear, but still he kept going, being hoisted from one building to the next in a sling on his handler's back.

This story reminded me how incredibly loyal, brave and clever our furry friends can be.

The picture on this post is my scruffy terrier, Otto. He's not as well trained as Mali (in fact, he's barely trained at all), but he's my hero, nonetheless.

He sat by me, literally, his head on my tummy, as I recovered from treatment for breast cancer. And he was my very best sober buddy.

Here are three reasons why dogs are a sober girl's best friend:

1. They get you outside

However much you might want to hunker down at home and mope, your four legged companion is going to stare at you with those big, brown (unless you have a Husky) eyes until you take them out for a walk.

This is a very good thing, as exercise - especially outdoors - is incredibly good for your mental health, which is why the Japanese are so obsessed by what they call 'forest bathing.' It reduces stress and anxiety and boosts all your happy hormones.

Also, walking outside gets you away from all those booze-associations - the fridge, the wine rack, your favourite armchair, etcetera ad infinitum. Even I never took alcohol with me on a dog walk, even in the baddest of bad days.

2. They are masters of mindfulness

One of the best ways to get through the early days of sober is 'mindfulness': concentrating on the present moment and not worrying about not drinking forever and ever or what sins you might have committed in the past.

But mindfulness is incredibly hard. Which is why you need your own furry mindfulness guru to hand.

Dogs only live in the moment. They remind you of all the incredible things happening right now under your very nose. The thrill of a new path, splashing through mud, having a cuddle.

Just look at how much your dog loves life and you realise that booze really isn't necessary in order to discover joy in the everyday.

3. They love you, whatever, unconditionally

By the time most of us quit drinking we can be pretty hard on ourselves. We spend an awful lot of time examining our flaws and fretting over past misdemeanours.

Our dogs remind us that we are completely loveable, imperfections and all. They don't judge, they just lick.

If you don't have a dog already, then think of all the money and time you'll be saving by not drinking and consider spending some of it on a new friend.

Don't buy a puppy, find a rescue dog. A dog who deserves a second chance at life and a whole load of love, just like you do.

Please tell me about your own furry friends in the comments below....

By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page: some inspirational wisdom from Winne-the-Pooh, and the story of Robert Downey Jr, and how he beat his addictions. I wonder if he has a dog.

(To go to the Facebook page, click here. 'Like' to stay updated).

Love SM x




Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Please Can You Help?



It's six weeks until the book comes out, and I'm starting to get seriously cold feet.

If you write fiction, and reviewers and readers don't like something about your heroine, it doesn't really matter. That's all part of having created a well-rounded, complex character.

However, when the main character in your novel is you, and people - for whatever reason - are critical about you, that's altogether harder to deal with.

I think I'm going to have to practice growing a very thick skin....

I also keep reminding myself why I'm doing this.

I wrote the book because I know that stories change lives, and because if we all stay quiet and anonymous, nothing will ever change and people will carry on struggling in silence and feeling alone.

I'm hoping that people will read my story and realise that there really is an alternative to spending your life self-medicating and blurring all the edges, and that that life is so much brighter, better, more real and more rewarding without booze.

And that's where I'm hoping you can help....

Over the last few years many of you have sent me wonderful e-mails and left incredible comments, saying how this blog has helped you.

My lovely publishers would very much like to use some of your quotes to feature in the advance publicity for the book on social media (Facebook mainly) so we can spread the word as widely as possible.

I obviously don't want to use any of your words without permission, so would be HUGELY grateful if you could post in the comments below anything you'd be happy for us to quote, about how and why this blog, and my story, has helped you, if it has.

If you're not happy using the name that comes up alongside your comment then just say so. You can make up any alternative name you like, or I can just call you 'blog reader' if you prefer.

If you'd rather mail me privately, or if Blogger isn't allowing you to comment (it's been playing up recently), then do mail me at sobermummy@gmail.com

Thank you SO much, I am terribly, terribly grateful - not just for this, but for all the support you've given me since I started this blog, nearly three years ago.

By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page, one of my favourite poems for anyone who's ever fallen off the wagon (that's pretty much all of us, right?) and the most hilarious sketch about being a non-drinker by comedian Tony Baker.

(To go to the SoberMummy Facebook page, click here. 'Like' page to stay updated).

Love, and huge thanks, to you all,

SM x

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Surrounded by Champagne


I'm surrounded by champagne.

Not only is the festive season starting to gear up, but my local Waitrose supermarket, which has been closed for a couple of weeks for a re-furb, has just re-opened featuring not only a sushi bar, but a sparkly new champagne bar!

WTF?!? (As my kids would say).

Since I discovered this, I've been amusing myself by imagining the meetings they must have had back in head office.

SCENE 1: WEEKLY STATUS MEETING

BOSS (a misogynist): Chaps, last week I asked you all to go away and come up with ideas for how to get ladies to spend EVEN MORE money in our already vastly overpriced stores.

What have you come up with? What do women around here spend their husband's money on?

MINION 1: Errr - wine. Lots of it.

BOSS: We already sell wine. Idiot.

MINION 2: Yes, but they buy our wine then dash home as quickly as possible to drink it.

Why don't we open a champagne bar in-store? Then they never need to leave! Throw in a sushi bar and there's everything a middle-class, middle-aged mum needs to survive, all under one roof.

They don't even have to move when they want to socialise with friends - they can just message them to pop on over to Waitrose and get the party started here!

BOSS: I LOVE IT! I'M A GENIUS!

Help me build on this. After all, there's no 'I" in team, right boys?

What happens AFTER they've had lunch at our sushi bar, done their weekly shop, invited all their lady friends round for a party at our champagne bar and got drunk?

I'll tell you what! They have to stagger back through our store and - inhibitions loosened, and too squiffy to read our over-inflated price tags - they'll spend all their remaining money on our products!

Let's run my idea up the flagpole and salute it!

We're going to be EVEN RICHER! Crack open the champagne - we're celebrating!

THE END.

(This meeting may sound farcical, but in my twenty years in advertising I spend hundreds of hours in meetings JUST LIKE IT).

Yet more evidence that the world has gone mad.

In other news: if any of you are fans (like me) of audio books, then you might like to know that there is going to be an audio version of my book (The Sober Diaries).

My publishers sent me a recording of a professional actress reading the first chapter of my book. It's very odd listening to someone else being me. She sounds just like I wish I did, but (sadly) don't.

If you'd like to be the very first person to pre-order a copy of the audiobook, then click here to go to my Amazon page.

Also, exciting news if you're in Germany (totally irrelevant if not): a German publisher is keen to publish a german version of The Sober Diaries next year. Hurrah! Or should I say Hurra!?

(It turns out that 'Hurrah' is one of the few words that is shorter in german than it is in english).

And, finally, there's lots more on the SoberMummy Facebook page. Click here to visit, 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all,

SM x




Thursday, 9 November 2017

Booze in the News



Right now is a really good time to be ditching the booze, because pretty much every single week there are articles in the press about the dangers of drinking and how more and more people (especially the young) are walking away from alcohol.

Today's big news - reported widely in the USA (thank you to the wonderful NorthWoman for alerting me), is that the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has, for the first time, put out an official warning on the link between alcohol and cancer.

Dr Noelle LoConte, author of the report, says "ASCO joins a growing number of cancer care and public health organisations in recognising that even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer."

According to ASCO, drinking alcohol is linked to SEVEN types of cancer: oesophageal, mouth, liver, colon and breast cancers.

It is, they say, the direct cause of 5.5% of all cancers globally.

It is also probable, they warn, that alcohol is a causal factor in pancreatic, stomach and other cancers.

The more you drink, the higher your risk.

Yet two-thirds of Americans surveyed said they had no idea that alcohol has any link to cancer. I'm sure the same is true in the UK.

None of this is terribly surprising to me, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, after two decades of drinking rather a lot more than I should have.

I had a relatively uncommon form of breast cancer - lobular - which has a particularly significant link to alcohol consumption.

Yet, whilst every single medical professional I came across during my initial diagnosis asked if I smoked (which I didn't), only one asked me if I drank.

(I am very sure about this as I was desperate to be asked how many units I drank each week so I could reply "Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a drop." Before confessing to past misdemeanours...)

Also, not one single person told me to stop drinking alcohol, or cut down, during or after cancer treatment. Quite the reverse. I was constantly being urged to "go and pour yourself a large gin and tonic."

It's not so very long since doctors would recommend their patients smoke tobacco to ease a chesty cough.

Alcohol is, I suspect, the new tobacco...

Also in the news this week, a report by the Office for National Statistics showing that the baby-boomer generation are increasingly dying from alcohol abuse as decades of overly-enthusiastic drinking starts to catch up with them.

Since 2001, the likelihood of women aged 60-64 dying as a direct result of alcohol has increased by 35% (this does NOT include those dying of cancers which may have been attributable to alcohol consumption).

But there is GOOD NEWS! If you reduce the amount you drink or, even better, stop altogether, all your risk factors go down. WHOOP WHOOP.

So hurrah for me, and hurrah for all of you.

New on the SoberMummy Facebook page this week: a post I've written about wine bellies and the most fascinating TED talk by Ann Dowsett Johnston, the author of DRINK - The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.

Click here to go to the Facebook page, 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all,

SM x

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Alcohol and ABBA



Back in 1980, when I was 11 years old, I was obsessed with ABBA.

I had posters of them all over my bedroom, in their thigh high boots and American tan tights (the girls), open necked shirts and facial hair (boys).

I knew all the words to every single one of their songs, and would spend hours carefully lowering the stylus onto the vinyl records (remember those days?) and singing along, using my hairbrush as a make-believe microphone.

(I promise you, this post does come back to the subject of my blog eventually!)

I even wrote to Jim'll Fix It (decades before we knew the truth about Jimmy Saville) to beg and plead to meet them.

Then, one day, I was sitting in a German class. I was at the British School in Brussels at the time. A teacher came in and said "I have a letter for Clare Pooley's parents."

I was terrified. Why had I been picked out for special treatment? What had I done?

I wracked my brains trying to think of some past misdemeanour that had finally caught up with me.

I did think about steaming open the letter. Or quietly shredding it. Instead, I manned up and gave it to my Mum.

As she read it her eyebrows did that OMG thing (decades before OMG became a thing). She read it out loud, slowly. It said something like:

Dear Mr and Mrs Pooley,

The popular music group, ABBA, are doing a worldwide tour of their Voulez Vous album and are playing here, in Brussels. They are looking for a small group of English speaking children to accompany them in the chorus of one of their latest songs: I Have a Dream.

Your daughter, Clare, has been selected to form part of the group.

CAN YOU IMAGINE!?!?

All my wildest dreams had come true.

And I sang, on stage, in front of eighty thousand people. And I held the microphone in my sweaty hand. And I was patted on the head by Agnetha. And I got all their autographs. And they gave us so much free chocolate and sweets that I was nearly sick.

It was the most exciting night EVER.

So, I've always had a super soft spot for ABBA. Which is why (and here's where it gets relevant - thank you for bearing with me if you are still reading) I was thrilled when Benny Andersson was featured in the Times Magazine 'What I've Learnt' column.

And guess what? Now I love him even more, because he said, as part of his life lessons:

Stopping drinking was the best decision I've ever taken.

He carries on: It was a problem, absolutely. So 15 years ago I thought, I have to give this up. I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't. I triggered a lot of my friends to quit too and they are equally happy.

So hurrah for Benny! Hurrah for ABBA! And hurrah for all of you!

New of the SoberMummy Facebook page: a video inspired by you on 'the best things about being sober', the world's sexiest teetotal men, and - going up this evening - comedian Tim Minchin's hilarious and inspiring 9 lessons on life.

(To go to the SoberMummy Facebook page click here. 'Like' page to stay updated).

Love SM x



Saturday, 4 November 2017

This will make you happy!



There are many, many times during the sober journey when you find yourself thinking why on earth am I doing this?

Why am I spending every evening explaining to uncomprehending friends that 'no, I can't just have the one glass of wine'?

Why am I dealing with life raw, when it would be so easy to rub the edges off from time to time?

Why am I insisting on staying sober when the world and his wife are knocking back the drinks and gearing up for the silly season?

(Just today I was tempted to push the self destruct button when I received an e-mail from Homebase titled CHRISTMAS IS HERE! No it’s not. We’ve only just got through Halloween, I’m still trying to get the face paint off various children and pumpkin seeds out of the furniture, so please shut up about Christmas for at least another week). 

So, a couple of weeks ago I asked you lot to complete the sentence 'The best thing about being sober is....'

You wrote some incredible, inspirational things. You made me laugh. You reminded me what this is all about.

I tried to summarise all the things you said, and turned them into a YouTube video. Yes, really!

(Actually, I have to confess, I got my thirteen-year-old to turn them into a YouTube video. And before you start thinking how incredibly helpful she is, bear in mind that I had to pay her. £5. Hopefully you'll think it was worth it).

So, if you're feeling a bit down, and you've forgotten why you're doing this, then check out the video. It's on the SoberMummy Facebook page - click here.

Also new on the FB page: the world’s most sexy teetotal men (well worth checking out) and Jamie Lee Curtis on how being sober changed her life....

(If you want Facebook to keep you updated with new information and inspiration, then 'like' the page).

If you like the video, please share and spread the love....

Happy sober weekend, everyone!

SM x

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Apologies in Advance....


I've pondered a lot about whether or not to write this post as it all feels a bit Boasty McBoast Face, and I'm a bit British about not showing off in any way, so I'm really sorry about this one...

....but I'm just SO EXCITED, because I just got my FIRST EVER Amazon Review and I just HAD TO TELL SOMEONE.

My book isn't out until December 28th, but Amazon have this network of approved reviewers called 'The Vine', and they were sent advance copies.

One of their (apparently completely unbiased - I checked!) reviewers then posted this one:

This book is at once immensely serious, very funny and extremely well-written, describing the struggles of a mother of 3 young children as she tries to give up a serious alcohol habit.

What I really enjoyed was the disarming honesty, in all aspects of life - not just the fight to stay on the wagon. Clare writes about marriage, parenthood, friendships and everyday life in a way that cracked me up. 

However, her descriptions of hangovers, drunkenness and the cravings she experiences as she tries to kick the habit are sometimes truly heart-rending. You really feel for her, even though the alcoholism is ultimately a problem of her own making.

Clare is a likeable guide through the travails of ethanol withdrawal. She spurns the usual routes like Alcoholics Anonymous, for reasons that she explains with great lucidity, but doesn't uncover a magic bullet in their place. You read on, constantly wondering if she is going to keep her resolve (although, like a 'whodunnit', you could skip to the end to check, of course!).


In conclusion, then, this is rather different to some "mis lit" addiction stories, in that the narrator is a genuinely grounded, likeable individual. You warm to them, and that makes your involvement in their struggle to stay off the booze all the more compelling.

And he gave me FIVE STARS (out of 5).

I was so excited that I told the children while I was getting breakfast ready.

"Wow," said #1, "now if it all goes wrong, you'll know that at least one person really liked your book." 

Back down to earth with a bump, as always.

(If you'd like to pre-order a copy of the book click here).

In other news, if you haven't seen it already, check out the world's most sexy teetotal men on my Facebook page, it'll make your day...

(Click here to go to the SoberMummy Facebook page, and - if you'd like to stay updated - click 'like.')

Have a great day everyone, and apologies again for the boasting. Please forgive me. I will try not to do it again.

SM x

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Alcohol and Anxiety


Alcohol and anxiety are so closely entwined that it's difficult to know which comes first. Do we drink because we are anxious, or are we anxious because we drink?

In fact, both are true - one leading to another, creating a downward spiral, sucking us in like a spider down a plughole.

Alcohol gives your brain a dopamine hit, but, over time, it reduces the amount of dopamine it produces naturally to compensate, making you feel anxious and edgy whenever you're not drinking.

The good news is that when you quit drinking your brain will, over time, find its natural equilibrium and start producing dopamine again, all by itself. Woo hoo! Hello happy pink cloud.

The bad news is that in the early days of giving up you'll probably feel super anxious as your brain is missing all the dopamine you used to ply it with.

Added to which, you've been so used to self-medicating your anxiety with booze that you have absolutely no idea how to manage without it.

Well, here's an idea....

I was pottering around my kitchen a few days ago, with This Morning playing on the TV in the background.

I was stopped, dead in my tracks, half way through unloading the dishwasher, by Harry Judd - member of McFly and McBusted and winner of Strictly Come Dancing.

Initially, I have to confess, I wasn't even concentrating on what he was saying, I was just thinking OMG, he is just so gorgeous, and so charming, in an embarrassingly hormonal middle-aged mother sort of way.

Then I started paying attention. Harry was talking about how he had been crippled with terrible anxiety, and - as a result - had quit smoking weed and drinking.

He then discovered that the cure for his anxiety and OCD was exercise, leading him to write a book: Get Fit, Get Happy.

I bought the book.

Now I'm even more in love with him.

Harry writes honestly and engagingly about his issues, showing that anyone, however successful, talented and ripped (stop it, SM) can suffer from addiction and mental health issues.

Here's what Harry says about booze:

...I had been using alcohol to allow me to relax at gigs. I'd be hungover the next day, wake up feeling grumpy, have breakfast at midday, stagger to the tour bus and travel to the next venue. I would sometimes be pretty negative to be around and not as welcoming to the fans as I should have been. It wasn't until an hour before the next gig, when I would crack open the first beer of the day, that I would start feeling good about myself again. And so the cycle would continue.

Harry describes how drinking would lead to full on panic attacks and terrible anxiety. So, eventually, he quit. He says:

Kicking the booze was good for me in so many ways: it helped to stem my anxiety and it had a hugely beneficial effect on the way I was able to do my job....I was more positive around the fans and a happier person in general. My routine became healthier.

Hurrah for Harry!

Harry's book goes on to talk about why and how exercise is miracle cure for depression and anxiety, as well as being great for our physical health, obviously.

There are lots of exercises, categorised as 'beginner', 'intermediate' or 'advanced' which you can fit easily into your daily routine.

This certainly fits with my experience. I found running, walking the dog, yoga, swimming - any exercise really - invaluable in the early days of fighting off the wine witch.

I have to confess, I haven't yet done any of the exercises in Harry's book, but just looking at the (utterly gorgeous) pictures of him doing them has made me feel fitter, and happier. So there we go, job done.

If you'd like to see the interview with Harry on This Morning, it's on the SoberMummy Facebook page.

Also new on the Facebook page is a great Irish article about women's relationship with booze, and one of my favourite inspirational memes.

If you'd like to apparate onto my Facebook page, just like Harry Potter appearing in Diagon Alley, click here. If you 'like' the page it'll update you with new posts.

To read more about (and buy) Harry's book click here.

Love to you all,

SM x



Monday, 23 October 2017

Does Drinking Make You a Selfish Parent?



There have been several articles in the press recently about alcohol and parenting.

The headline of Liz Jones's column in the Mail on Sunday last weekend read Parents who drink are selfish. My boozy dad taught me that.

Liz wrote: Me, aged 11, in my narrow divan. It's 11pm and I can't sleep. Not until I hear the crunch of my dad's car on the gravel, which means he has made it home from the Wheatsheaf. I'd been praying, hands clasped, for him not to crash. Only when lights streak the ceiling can I unclasp; my palms are wet.

Liz goes on to talk about her sister's children coming home from school to find their mum unconscious, surrounded by bottles, children who are now motherless.

Then the Telegraph ran an article, inspired by the tragic death of Sean Hughes, from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 51, titled Are alcoholics born or made?

The article reads: The former Never Mind the Buzzcocks team captain may have joked of a childhood where he was left in the car outside pubs for hours - “We would while away the hours by nodding at the other kids parked up in other cars as we all looked to the warm glow of the pub” – but he also talked of disliking his father for his behaviour.  

It seems fairly obvious that those drinkers, like Liz and Seans' fathers, who have travelled pretty far down the slippery slope of alcohol addiction towards rock bottom, do not make good parents.

But what about the bottle-of-wine-a-day drinker, like I was? What about the mum who has just one or two large glasses of wine at the end of each day to reward herself for a job well done?

To be honest, I didn't think I was a selfish parent. I thought I deserved that wine come six o'clock. It was me time. Mummy's little helper. It made me feel adult. It helped me wind down.

Surely, I would argue to myself, a relaxed mum is a better mum? Happy mother, happy child.

And this general acceptance that boozing and motherhood go hand in hand has inspired endless Facebook memes and books like Why Mummy Drinks and (the hilarious) Hurrah for Gin.

But last week, the Guardian ran an article titled Even moderate drinking by parents can upset children, based on research by the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

The study found that even parents drinking 'moderately' can leave children feeling embarrassed, worried or lead to their bedtime being disrupted, and that children who see their parents tipsy or drunk are less likely to describe them as a positive role model.

15% of children in the study had asked their parents to drink less, and 11-12 year olds described alcohol as “like sugar for adults” and said parents drink to “solve their problems”.

Even so, I'm not sure that I would agree that drinking necessarily makes you a selfish parent. I know many, many wonderful parents who enjoy a glass of wine on a regular basis.

Also, I don't think it's right or fair to judge other parents. We mums are all just muddling along trying to do the best we can.

However, I would argue that being sober can make being a good parent a lot easier - at least I'm certain that's the case for me. Here are five reasons why...

1. I'm not constantly running away

In the drinking days, I was always looking for excuses for 'me time.'

On a Saturday or Sunday morning, if I woke up with a hangover (which I often did), the last thing I'd want to do is to push the swings in the park, play Monopoly or (god forbid) go to a soft play centre. I'd be much more likely to switch the TV onto CBeebies and crawl back under the duvet.

At countless children's bedtimes I would skip over pages of whichever picture book we were reading, so I could turn the lights out as fast as possible and retreat to an armchair with a goblet of vino. Because I'd earned it.

I'm pretty sure my children knew that I was often searching for an escape hatch. But they didn't blame the vino, they just thought I didn't like spending time with them very much.

2. I'm more consistent

Any parenting expert will tell you that children hate uncertainty and crave consistency.

One of the main reasons why children are uncomfortable with their parents drinking is that their behaviour changes - they become different people and that, for a child, is scary.

A few months after I quit drinking I asked my son whether I'd changed. "Yes," he replied, "You're more....mummyish."

What he meant is that I was behaving like his mummy all of the time. I was no longer swinging from being mummy, to being grumpy hungover person, to being wild child, then back to mummy again.

3. I have more time and more energy

Drinking, and recovering from drinking, takes up an awful amount of your day.

I get twice as much done at the weekends now as I used to. I bounce out of bed (well comparatively speaking, at least) and never fall asleep in the afternoon.

In the old days, I would often engineer separate 'child activities' and 'adult activities' at the weekends.

My favourite Sunday activity would involve a long, boozy lunch with a group grown ups, while the children watched a movie. I told myself this was more fun for everyone.

I certainly wouldn't plan anything that involved driving anywhere after lunch, or in the evening.

Now, I'm much more likely to plan something for all the family: a bike ride and picnic, swimming, bowling or a cinema trip. I am - I hope - making memories, ones that will have me actually joining in.

(I still arrange those long Sunday lunches with friends, but now, instead of sending all the children off as quickly as possible, I organise games for everyone, like Charades or Who am I?)

4. I'm more patient

Looking back now, I realise that I was a pretty grumpy mother when I was drinking. I was often short tempered and I did an awful lot of shouting.

This was partly because I didn't like myself very much, but to my children it looked like I didn't like them.

Being free of the constant merry-go-round of recovering from one drinking event and trying to hurry through to next one has made me, comparatively, zen. Liking myself again has helped me like the world a lot more.

5. I'm a better role model

One of the main reasons I quit the booze is that I didn't want my children to grow up thinking that it was normal for mothers to spend every evening with a glass of vino welded to their hand.

I didn't want them to believe that all grown-ups need alcohol to enable them to cope with the ups and downs of life.

I wanted to be able to show them that it's perfectly possible to live a fabulous life without a drug to take the edges off.

I'm still far from a brilliant mother. I'm a work in progress, and I expect I always will be. But, I'm very much better at it than I was.

I'm also certain that I wouldn't have got through my recent treatment for breast cancer, without all the wheels coming off in front of the children, had I still been drinking.

I don't begrudge those mums a large glass of vino at wine o'clock (there are still times I'd love one myself), but I've come to realise that, for me, and for my children, life is a lot happier, easier and more peaceful without it.

If you'd like to read the Guardian article, it's on the SoberMummy Facebook page along with lots more inspiration and information about quitting booze.

To get to the SoberMummy Facebook page click here. If you 'like' the page, Facebook will keep you updated with new posts.

To pre-order SoberMummy's book and find out what it's like to go sober in a world where everyone drinks click here: The Sober Diaries

Love to you all,

SM x




Sunday, 22 October 2017

Good News and Bad News


Well, for those of you who read my last post, and know that I finally plucked up the courage to show my book (about the year I quit drinking) to my parents, the good news is this text, sent to me by my mother.

(I can't believe she used an emoji!)

The line 'you could say that we have learned a lot...' sounds a little ominous, but I'm taking it at face value.

So, hurrah! And phew.

On the bad news front, however, those of you who know and love my fellow blogger and virtual friend, the fabulous Mrs S, might want to know that she's currently waiting for biopsy results as she has a suspected melanoma.

Please, please pop on over to her blog to give her your support, and to read the horribly sobering statistics she's found on the link between drinking white wine and skin cancer. 


Mrs S, we are all thinking of you and sending love and strength.

SM x



Friday, 20 October 2017

The Parents....



I am blessed with two wonderful parents.

My childhood was, in my memory, a happy melange of butterscotch-flavoured Angel Delight, Space Hoppers, Blue Peter and Cindy dolls.

Throughout it all my parents have been endlessly patient, supportive and accepting.

So I know I really shouldn't worry about being honest with them about my past misdemeanours.

When I told my parents I'd quit drinking they were proud of me, if a little bemused.

When I said I'd landed a publishing contract for a book (The Sober Diaries) telling the story of the year I ditched the booze (and got breast cancer), they were thrilled for me.

But they haven't yet read it.

And because I love my parents so much, I only ever want them to think the best of me. They are the two people in the whole world who I least want to see my dark side.

But it has to happen at some point. So, today, first thing, before I had the chance to talk myself out of it, I sent this e-mail to my publisher:

Dear Charlotte 

I've been putting this off for a while, as I find the prospect terrifying, but I think the time really has come for my ever-patient, supportive and sainted parents (copied above) to read the book. I'm hoping that they won't disown me.

I'd be hugely grateful if you could send two proof copies (so they can read it simultaneously, rather than one reading while the other yells out "she said WHAT?!?") direct to them.

Many thanks,

Clare

I told Mr SM what I'd done.

"Really?" He said. "I thought you were planning to keep your head down and hope they never read it!"

"No," I replied, "that's my strategy with your parents. I'll never get away with that with mine."

And now I know I'm going to spend the next few days in a state of abject terror.

It takes me right back to the days I spent, aged sixteen, lying in wait for the postman, hoping to intercept the letter from my headmistress telling my parents I'd been caught smoking behind the squash court. 

Aarrrgggghhhh.

Love to you all,

SM x

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

What the Hell Happened Last Night?


It's exactly thirty years since the Great Storm turned Sevenoaks into One Oak, wrecked Michael Fish's reputation and contributed to the worst ever stock market crash.

I was eighteen years old back then. 

I'd left school, but had twelve months stretching ahead of me to fill before starting University, so I was living with two girlfriends and working for IBM, saving money so I could take off around the world with a backpack for a few months.

We were living on the tenth floor of a block of flats in Wimbledon.

The storm didn't wake me up. Nothing woke me up in those days. But, when my alarm finally cut through and I staggered out of bed, I remember being totally confused.

Our flat was trashed. The windows were wide open and the curtains had been pulled outside and were flapping in the wind. 

A standard lamp was leaning out of one of the windows, its shade nowhere to be seen. There were papers and rubbish all over the floor and everything was damp.

What had I forgotten now?

Had we had a party?

What had I done?

I picked up the telephone receiver (this was still a decade before I'd get my first mobile), not sure who I'd call or what I'd say, but the line was dead.

I turned on the television, but there was no picture, just an eerie fuzz.

Feeling increasingly alarmed, I switched on the radio, and that's when I discovered that it wasn't just me. The whole country was waking up to the remnants of a wild and unplanned party.

I re-lived that feeling many times over the following decades: waking up and trying to piece back the events of the night before.

How did I get home? Do I have my bag? My wallet? My keys? Did I text an ex-boyfriend? Have I upset anyone? Did I go shopping on the internet?  Are Net-a-Porter going to turn up with a stupidly expensive outfit in an overly optimistic size that I can't remember ordering?  Arrgggghhh.

But by now the only storm was the one raging in my brain.

I didn't have full on black-outs, but I did get the milder version, the precursor, known as 'brown-outs.'

(A brown-out is where you lose track of small chunks of time, so a four hour evening event in your memory only seems to have lasted an hour, and it takes you some time the next day to piece it all back together).

One of the very best things about being sober is always waking up with a clear head, with total recall of where you are, how you got there, where your stuff is, and with very little chance of having lost any friends along the way.

Bizarrely, on Monday, the anniversary of the Great Storm, the sky in London went red. For hours, in the middle of the day. This was, apparently, caused by a melange of dust from the Sahara and ash from the forest fires in Europe, but it looked like a scene from Mad Max.

As I went to bed that night, the children were hypothesising that the red sky heralded the start of a zombie apocalypse.

Oh well, I thought, at least if I wake up to Armageddon, I'll know it wasn't my fault. 

By the way, if you were walking on Wimbledon Common in the autumn on 1987 and came across a fetching beige Habitat lampshade, it's mine.

New on the SoberMummy Facebook page (click here for teleportation), a great, well-balanced article on mums drinking, plus (going up this evening) my favourite blog post by Holly Whitaker on why she (like me) hates the word 'alcoholic.'

In other news, all you lovely, kind people who've pre-ordered my book on Amazon might like to know that the publication date has been brought forward to December 28th.

Yay! But also, Yikes! Am I prepared? Of course not....

(If you haven't ordered a copy and would like to, click here for UK or here for USA).

For more on alcohol-induced blackouts, read Sarah Hepola's fabulous memoir, Blackout.

Love to you all,

SM x




Sunday, 15 October 2017

Why Don't You Just Drink Less?



Have you been asked this question?

My friends and family can understand why I wanted to do something about the amount of vino I was getting through each week, but they still can't quite work out why I don't just drink a bit less? 

"Isn't going completely teetotal (God, I hate that word) a tad extreme?" they say.

And, many times over the last two years, I've have the same thought myself: have I gone a bit over the top? Surely, after all this time, I can have a glass from time to time, like a normal person?

So, as a reminder for myself, for anyone else who asks me, and in case it might help any of you, here are the three reasons why I don't just drink less...


1. Moderation is not my thing.

I am an all-or-nothing person. I am not very good at having a little bit of something I like and then stopping. I'm good at many things, but that just isn't my forte.

I was the same with cigarettes: thirty a day until I quit, then nothing, not one puff, for the last fifteen years.

I've come to terms with this character quirk. After all, it has its upsides. We 'immoderate' people tend to throw ourselves at everything - we're immoderate with our energy, our love, our enthusiasm.

We're not the sort of people who take one bite at the cake of life, then leave the rest sitting on the plate. Oh no, we gobble up the whole thing, then check the cupboard for more.

2. Moderation is exhausting.

I have, as it happens, managed to moderate my wine intake for periods of time. I did endless deals with myself, when I was trying to avoid giving up altogether.

I did 'I will NOT drink on weekdays.' I did 'I will NOT drink at home.' I tried 'I will NOT drink alone.' Then 'I will NOT drink wine, only beer.' 

Needless to say, within a few weeks I was stretching the rules, then abandoning them altogether.

And, in the meantime, I was exhausted with the effort of trying to be good. 

I was fed up with the devil and the angel on my shoulders constantly rowing with each other, the infernal, internal dialogue in my head, the self-loathing every time I failed again.

The very best thing about quitting altogether is peace. (You have to get through the first 100 days or so first, obviously).

No more endless debate about what you're drinking, when you're drinking, how much you're drinking, because the answer is simple: nothing, nowhere, never.

3. What would be the point?

Now, (and, I have to confess, it took me two years to get here) if ever I think about having a glass or two of wine, I ask myself what would be the point?

For a start, I wouldn't just have one glass. One glass doesn't even touch the sides. If I had one, I'd have several. And, having wrestled for some time with decades of social conditioning, I realise the absurdity, the pointlessness, of getting drunk.

Now, I can think back to those days of feeling woozy, wobbly, slurry, forgetful, annoyed and anxious and ask why on earth would I voluntarily do that to myself?

Deliberately poisoning your body with an addictive toxin in order to 'have a good time' just seems a little....absurd.

In the same way, I now look at smokers inhaling deadly fumes from a tube of rolled up dried leaves and think isn't that a bizarre way to spend your time?

I no longer need alcohol in order to feel relaxed or to have fun. I'm not at all sure what it would add to my life, but I have an incredibly good memory of the things it would take away.

Yet, explaining all of that to the friend at the party with their bemused question "surely you can just moderate?" would take far too much time, and I'm not sure they'd believe me in any case, so I just smile and say:

"Moderation? It's just not really me."

Because it isn't.

New on the SoberMummy Facebook page this week: a hilarious article about the evils of Prosecco and, going up this evening, for all my fellow Bowie fans, a clip of Bowie talking to Paxman about the joys of being sober.

(To visit my Facebook page click here. If you 'like' it, the Facebook people will keep you updated).

Love SM x



Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The best thing about being sober is....


How would you complete that sentence?

When I first quit drinking, I did it mainly because of the negatives, the things I didn't want in my life anymore.

I didn't want the hangovers. I didn't want the self-loathing. I didn't want the wine belly. Most of all, I didn't want the constant dialogue in my head about drinking (or not drinking).

When I thought about what life would be like SOBER, I could barely get past that ghastly adjective.

(Sober definition: earnest, serious, sensible, solemn, restrained, sedate. NOT ME, NOT ME, NOT ME).

Once I got past that (and the word teetotal - where on earth did that one come from?), I got stuck on all sorts of concerns:

How would I ever cope at a drinks party? Would my friends disown me? Would I ever dance like nobody was watching again? How would I ever have fun again? How would I *whisper it* have sex?

What I didn't really think about was all the fabulous things about being sober.

But, what I started to realise is that those fabulous things just keep on coming. Some appear right at the start (like amazing, alert, glorious mornings), but some only become apparent months down the line.

So I thought, for all those women (and men) who are back where I was then - knowing that they have to quit because life is becoming unmanageable, but not able to get excited about it, see any joy in it, I would ask you to help me with this survey.

How would you complete that one sentence? What are the big and little things that have made a difference to your life?

Then, I can take a selection of those answers and post them on Facebook (anonymously), maybe even turn them into a YouTube video. It might change some lives.

Here are some ideas from me to get the party started:

The best thing about being sober is...

....driving!

....getting to see the end of the movie.

....liking myself again.

....being on the same wavelength as my kids.

I'd love to hear yours. Please add as many ideas as you like in the comments below.

Meanwhile, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page this week (click here to be magically transported and, if you want to stay updated, click 'like') there's my first ever YouTube video (full disclosure: the children helped me make it!) of my favourite non-alcoholic tipple, plus a video - sent to me by a lovely reader down under - on mums and the problem of 'wine o'clock'. 

Going on the page this evening, a must-see article by sober sister* Hannah Betts in the Telegraph. Here's a preview: We're tired of drunkenness, not tired of life - booze being the only area in which we, the soberocracy, have reached our limit.

And so say all of us.

Love to you all,

SM x

*Please note, Hannah Betts is not my actual sister. Sadly, I've never even met her, but I feel like we have a connection. All we sober women are, in my view, sober sisters.



Sunday, 8 October 2017

Because You're Worth It

This week's flower delivery

Shortly after I gave up drinking, I read a fabulous piece by my favourite journalist, Caitlin Moran. It was her letter to teenage girls. She wrote this:

Pretend you are your own baby. You would never cut that baby, or starve it, or overfeed it until it cried in pain, or tell it it was worthless.

Sometimes, girls have to be mothers to themselves. Your body wants to live – that’s all and everything it was born to do. Let it do that, in the safety you provide it. Protect it. That is your biggest job. To protect your skin, and heart.

Buy flowers – or if you are poor, steal one from someone’s garden; the world owes you that much at least: blossom – and put them at the end of the bed.

When you wake, look at it, and tell yourself you are the kind of person who wakes up and sees flowers.

This stops your first thought being, “I fear today. Today is the day maybe I cannot survive any more,” which I know is what you would otherwise think.

Thinking about blossom before you think about terror is what girls must always do, in the Bad Years.

Ever since I read those incredibly powerful words, I have spent the equivalent of two bottles of wine per week on having fresh flowers delivered to my house.

Every Tuesday, I wake up to find a box of incredible blooms sitting outside my front door. I bring them in, take them out, one by one, chop off the ends of the stems and arrange them in a vase, feeling like a 1950's housewife, and place them in the centre of my kitchen table.

Then, all week, I can tell myself that I am the kind of person who wakes up and sees fresh flowers. I remind myself what I've achieved. I tell myself that I deserve good things in my life. I feel grateful for the wonders of nature.

And the flowers make my family happy too. (I think. Perhaps they don't even notice them!)

So, if you've just quit the booze, think about how you might be able to spend some of the money you used to spend on your poison-of-choice in a way that could, every single day, remind you of how bloody amazing you are. And how wonderful life is.

If you have any good ideas, please tell us in the comments!

By the way, it really is worth reading the whole of that Caitlin Moran letter. It's as relevant to the middle-aged as it is to teenagers. She talks about how, in times of trouble, you should focus on just getting through the next minute - a hugely helpful trick if you're battling the wine witch.

So, I'm putting a video of Caitlin reading her letter on the SoberMummy Facebook page this evening. Also new on the page is the inspirational story of Tom Hardy, and what he managed to achieve after he dispatched his demons.

To visit the SoberMummy Facebook page click here. 'Like' the page to stay updated.

Love and flowers to you all,

SM x



Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Alcohol and Breast Cancer


I used to love Autumn. Falling leaves, woollies and mittens, Bonfire night and Halloween....

But then, almost exactly two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Autumn's never been the same since.

Now the fallen leaves remind me of standing in the local park, howling like a mad woman because it was the only place I could cry where the children wouldn't see.

Halloween was the night before my operation, when I hid under my duvet, saying a private farewell to a sizeable chunk of my left boob, ignoring all the trick-or-treaters ringing on the doorbell.

Bonfire night reminds me of the party we went to where I became unable to handle small talk. Vague acquaintances would ask me " How are you?" and I'd reply "I have breast cancer." Believe me, it's a conversation stopper.

It's really, really easy to think that's never going to happen to me. That's exactly what I thought. Until it did. 

The truth is, breast cancer is terribly common. But there's one thing you can do that will significantly reduce your chances of it happening to you, and that's QUITTING DRINKING.

Dr Ellie Cannon recently published a supplement in the Mail on Sunday on how to cut your risk of breast cancer.

She says that around 3,200 cases of breast cancer each year in the UK are linked to alcohol. Just drinking three alcoholic drinks a week (ha ha!) increases your risk by 15%.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, after reviewing all the evidence of the link between booze and breast cancer, said last year that whenever she's about to have a drink she thinks "do I want the glass of wine or do I want to raise my own risk of breast cancer?" This comment was treated with outrage by the media. It's a message that no-one wants to hear.

Alcohol can damage the DNA in your cells, and it also leads to increased levels of oestrogen. In over two-thirds of breast cancers (including mine), oestrogen acts like rocket fuel.

Interestingly, Dr Cannon goes on to talk about other risk factors, including lack of sleep.

Numerous studies have shown that long term disrupted sleep patterns may be linked to breast-cancer development, and women who are sleep deprived are more likely to have highly aggressive cancers. (This is also down to that pesky hormone, oestrogen, whose levels rise in poor sleepers).

Now, when I was drinking I had terrible insomnia. I'd get to sleep, no problem, but then wake up again at 3am, tossing and turning and hating myself. Now, I sleep like a baby.

Guess what another crucial factor in breast cancer development is? THE MUFFIN TOP! Also known as 'the wine belly.' Oh boy, did I have one of those... Then I quit drinking, and now I can look down and see my feet! I've lost twenty-eight pounds and the belly.

Research suggests that 5% of breast cancers could be avoided by maintaining a healthy body weight. And weight around the middle is especially dangerous.

A recent study showed that women who go up a skirt size every decade between the age of 25 and the menopause have a 33% increased risk of breast cancer in later life.

So, if you quit drinking you reduce not just one but THREE of the major risk factors for breast cancer.

Yet another good reason to put down the vino.

If you need some inspiration, information or just something to take your mind off the wine witch, then check out the SoberMummy Facebook page here. I post every week day at wine o'clock, and if you click 'like' on the page, Facebook will keep you updated.

(New this week on the Facebook Page: a piece I've written on why I blame Bridget Jones for the fact that so many middle-aged women drink too much, and some inspirational wisdom from the gorgeous Bear Grylls).

Please, please share this post. It's important.

Love to you all,

SM x


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sober is Seriously Fashionable!



When was the last time you were properly on trend? Ahead of the curve? Finger on the pulse?

For me, it was probably back in the late eighties, when I was an early adopter of the leg warmer, fingerless black lace gloves and the puff ball skirt.

I've made some effort since then, but I often catch a wave a little too late. I moved from bootleg cut jeans to skinnies just as everyone was embracing high waisters. Then, as I caught up they moved onto 'boyfriends' and three-quarter length flares.

But this week, my friends, we are DOWN WITH THE YOUTH! We are not only on trend, we bloody invented it.

Research by Eventbrite into the habits of Millennials has been all over the press this week because (shock, horror) it turns out that they don't think drinking is cool, let alone getting drunk.

In fact, they describe it as 'sad' and 'embarrassing.' It's something their parents do. Only one in ten described getting drunk as 'cool,' and 42% say they are drinking less than they were 3 years ago.

For fellow fans of Absolutely Fabulous, while we are Patsy and Edina, clutching desperately to our disappearing youth as we swig Bollinger from the bottle, the under thirties are Saffy, sitting at the kitchen table doing their revision and rolling their eyes at our humiliating antics.

There are many reasons for this trend.

Millennials are far more interested in spending their (small reserves of) cash on new experiences, rather than just another night down the pub (where they might bump into those embarrassing parents).

Events like food festivals and Secret Cinema look much better on their Instagram feeds.

Instagram, and it's social media pals, have a massive cautionary effect too. Every Millennial knows someone whose life (and career prospects) have been ruined by  photographic or video evidence of something they did when drunk. It's just not worth the risk.

If they do go to a music festival they are quite likely to do so sober, with one in five saying that they drank no alcohol at all over a weekend festival.

An article in The Telegraph on this survey hypothesised that Millennials don't need to drink as much as we did because they are more comfortable with talking about their feelings, rather than suffering from the 'stiff upper lip' of our generation.

Personally, I think that one of the big differences between our generation and theirs is our role models.

My role models, back in the late eighties and early nineties were Bridget Jones, the aforementioned Ab Fab ladies, the girls from Sex and the City and (in the real, non fictionalised world) the 'laddettes' like Zoe Ball and Denise van Outen. Massive drinkers, one and all.

Millennials, however, aspire to be like Kim Kardashian, Zoella and Ella Woodward. WHO DON'T DRINK.

Clean drinking is the flip side of the coin to clean eating.

So, next time you're feeling embarrassed or ashamed about being sober, then STOP IT! You are surfing the zeitgeist, my friend.

I've written a (short) piece, accompanied by a fabulous Bridget Jones clip about this generational gap called WHY DO MIDDLE-AGED WOMEN DRINK SO MUCH?

It's going up on the SoberMummy Facebook page at 6pm (UK time) this evening. I'd LOVE it if you could comment and share, as it'd be great to get a debate going.

(Also new on the Facebook page, a fascinating debate from Good Morning Britain about all those 'wine o'clock' jokes, and whether they are trivialising women's drinking).

Click here for the SoberMummy Facebook page and 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all,

SM x


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Alcohol and Driving


So, the mayor of London has put Uber on the naughty step. 

I imagine that they will stay there for a couple of months, thinking about what they've done, then they'll proffer an apology and promise to start treating their drivers properly, report serious incidents in their cabs to the police and, you never know, maybe even pay some tax.

Then they'll be given their license back (thereby saving the jobs of 40,000 drivers - hurrah!) and told that they'd better keep getting smiley faces on the reward chart, or else.

A while back, the thought of living in the capital with no Uber would have been rather terrifying, but not now, because I am my own mini-cab!

One of the very best things about giving up booze, (along with the fact that, having lost the muffin top, I can now see my feet! And I can afford to buy great shoes to put on them!) is being able to drive ALL THE TIME.

If Mr SM and I have a 'date night' in a fancy West End restaurant, I don't need to book an expensive taxi to get us there and back. Oh no. I just drive and park right outside. Because nobody drives into central London at night time, so you can park anywhere. For free.

If I go to a party, when I decide it's time to go (usually in the middle of someone telling me a 'hilarious' story for the third time), I don't have to find the host to ask for the number for a cab firm, then try to sound sober while I book the cab, then try to look sober when I climb into it.

Oh no, I just leave surreptitiously, find my car (which is usually right outside) and drive home.

I even offer lifts around to all my drunk friends. It's a great way to stock up some brownie points, (or maybe make up for past misdemeanours). It's amazing how popular being a 'designated driver' can make you.

And one of the real joys is being able to sail past police cars confidently, knowing that there is absolutely no way that you are over the limit. 

In fact, I have been known to deliberately drive 'erratically' around police cars in the hope that they will breathalyse me, so I can watch with huge smugness while the light remains stubbornly on GREEN.

Even if you are incredibly responsible about drinking and driving, and always take a taxi or public transport home, there's always the niggling fear that you might just still be over the limit in the morning. On the school run. Or driving into work. 

Give up drinking, and that's totally impossible.

So, yet another fine reason to quit the booze.

In other news this week, the makers of Jaffa Cakes, in their wisdom, have decided to cut the number of biscuits (cakes?) in a pack from twelve to ten. It's a disaster.

During my early days of not drinking I mainlined Jaffa Cakes. Ten would not have been enough, would barely have touched the sides.

New this week on the SoberMummy Facebook page: some fabulous women talking to the BBC about giving up booze, the stories (and before and after pictures!) of fifteen celebs who have gone sober, including Angelina, Adele, Samuel L. Jackson and Drew Barrymore, and the funniest video I've seen in ages.

For inspiration, information and a few good laughs every weekday at wine o'clock, join the SoberMummy Facebook page. CLICK HERE, and 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all, 

SM x

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Getting Through Wine O'Clock



The most difficult thing about giving up the drink is getting through the witching hour.

For me, it was longer than an hour - it stretched from around 5pm until about 8pm.

The clock seemed to move agonisingly slowly, and the wine witch would be jumping up and down inside my head yelling at me to stop being such a kill joy and just open a bottle of wine! (You don't need to drink the whole thing...)

I found that distraction really helped. Finding something interesting to read, or something funny to watch, or connecting with other people in the same boat.

Which is why I've created the SOBERMUMMY FACEBOOK PAGE! It's aimed at anyone who wants to quit or cut down on booze, or just drink more 'mindfully'.

I'm going to post something every weekday at wine o'clock UK time (I'm afraid that'll make it lunch time, or thereabouts in the USA) to inspire, inform or just entertain you.

There'll be newspaper articles, book reviews, mocktail recipes, TED talks, celebrity drinking stories (I know it's puerile, but I do love them. It makes me feel a little more glamorous) and much more. All upbeat and light-hearted - things you'll, hopefully, be happy to share.

If you check out my page now you'll find a the most widely shared TED talk on addiction, a newspaper article about Carol McGiffin drinking two bottles of wine a day, a wonderful video about parenting which I swear will make you cry (in a good way) as well as my favourite Absolutely Fabulous clip (because I blame Patsy and Edina for the pickle I found myself in!).

I'm on a mission to provide an antidote to all those drinking memes that crop up on your Facebook timeline!

All you need to do is to click the link here, or type SoberMummy into your Facebook search bar. Once you find my page, if you 'like' it Facebook will keep you updated with new stuff as I post it.

I'd love to make it all a proper community, so please do share, comment and message me via the page with any suggestions of content you'd like to see up there. You can also e-mail me on sobermummy@gmail.com.

Once we've got enough people on board I can set up some community areas like a 'Dry January' group or a '100 day challenge' group, so you can chat privately to people with the same goals as you and egg each other along.

So please, please drop in and 'like' my page (I'm aware I'm sounding needy!) I'd LOVE to see you there. And please leave any ideas, suggestions, issues in the comments below.

Love SM x

CLICK HERE TO GO TO SOBERMUMMY'S FACEBOOK PAGE

P.S. After two and a half years of blogging, I have finally managed to work out how to post images as well as words! That's my kitchen clock at the top of this post.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Will I Lose all my Friends?



This is the question that haunted me when I first quit drinking. In fact, I posted with this same title back on day 13. (To read that post click here).

And the truth is that I didn't lose any friends, in that no-one called me up to say Good God, you are SO BORING that I never want to see you again. (I really had expected that to happen).

What has happened, though, is that there are some friends who contact me a lot less. Needless to say, generally the ones who can't contemplate the idea of a night out without getting totally hammered, and don't want a sober person there pouring rain on their parade.

I'm not angry about this. I get it. I would have done the same, back in the day. I would have justified this to myself as being 'because they're no fun any more', when actually I was just worried that it would shine a light on my own out of control drinking.

This slight negative is, however, totally drowned out by the positive, which is that I have made lots of new friends. 

I hadn't made many new friends for years. It felt like too much effort. I was also somewhat aware that my old muckers would be more forgiving of any wayward antics than brand new, shiny friends.

But now I have a much wider social circle, including several women who hardly ever (or never) drink, the ones I would have written off in the past as being 'not my type.'

Then yesterday the lovely people at Go Sober for October sent me these fascinating statistics from a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support.

7 MILLION BRITS DITCH THEIR FRIENDS FOR DRINKING TOO MUCH

Apparently, 13% of adults (6.7 million people) have stopped going for a drink with at least one friend because they believe they drink too much.

And a Go Sober survey found that one quarter of UK adults avoid drinking with certain friends because of the way they behave after a tipple. 54% say their friend gets too aggressive, and 47% say they get too loud.

This is all driving a trend towards 'soberlising' - socialising without the booze - which is particularly popular amongst the young.

So, don't fret about losing your friends when you STOP drinking, worry about losing them if you CARRY ON!

And if you need some fabulous help and encouragement, then join my friends over at Go Sober for October.

(You'll also be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support who were a huge help to me through the whole breast cancer thingy).

In other news, are any of you called Nigel? Apparently NOT ONE baby was named Nigel last year in the UK. This makes me sad, as my first ever snog was a Nigel. On a school trip, aged eleven. Just saying.

Love to you all,

SM (Clare)

Monday, 18 September 2017

Shame



An amazing thing has happened since I officially came out of the closet last week. (See my post: SoberMummy's Coming Out).

As well as posting here, I also posted my book cover on my Facebook page.

Now, I didn't think I had any sober friends. I thought all my friends drank (almost) as much as I did. I thought that me going sober would horrify them. That's why I hid for more than two years behind a pseudonym.

But, within hours of posting, several of my friends - from university, from advertising and from the school gate had messaged me privately saying I've given up too. Years ago. Best thing I ever did. Can we get together?

Why, why, why don't we shout about going sober? So we can find each other and support each other. Why do we all struggle on feeling so alone, when we're not?

I think mothers are particularly wary of confessing to having a problem with alcohol. We worry about being seen as bad parents, as terrible examples for our children.

Even more so, mothers who are in the medical or teaching professions, and who counsel patients and students daily about the dangers of alcohol.

Well, if you are a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher then hear this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I get e-mails from doctors, nurses and teachers every single week.

We only feel alone because of the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction.

This makes me mad. And sad.

So, since I'm already out of that closet, and since I've never been one to do things by halves (not bottles of wine, not life), I decided to do a TED talk! On 'making sober less shameful.'

How, I asked myself, does one go about doing a TED talk? Who is TED and what's his e-mail address?

Then, I went to my postbox, and blow me down with a feather, I discovered, amongst the bills and flyers and catalogues, the most extraordinary piece of serendipity: a letter from my old Cambridge college saying We are hosting a TEDx event and are looking for alumnae who are interested in speaking.

So I applied. I wrote 300 words on how and why I want to change the world. Then I had to upload a one minute video of me talking to camera.

I roped in Mr SM.

We recorded many different versions. Some were too long. Some too short. The dog barked during one. This light was wrong in another. It was a nightmare.

Then we recorded one that was just perfect. 

Let me see! I said to Mr SM. He passed me the phone. It WAS perfect. Except for one thing: IT WAS UPSIDE DOWN!

Well, said Mr SM,  at least it'll stand out.

After some more trial and error we did one up the right way, and it's gone off, to TED (wherever he is).

Fingers crossed.

Love SM (Clare)

TO PREORDER SOBERMUMMY'S BOOK CLICK HERE (UK) OR HERE (USA)

Saturday, 16 September 2017

They're Bombing my 'Hood



That headline is not some kind of fancy metaphor. They are, literally, bombing my 'hood.

Yesterday a bomb went off at my local tube station: Parson's Green, five minutes walk from my house.

This makes me really mad.

Like the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert, this one was timed to explode when the train would be filled with children, on their way to school in the morning.

Luckily, the device, a home-made nail bomb, much like the Ariana one, failed to go off properly. Several people were burned, but no-one died or suffered critical injuries.

But, can you imagine how terrifying the whole event must have been - the screaming, the stampede, the crush - for many of the children's friends, who only just started navigating their own way to school at the start of this term?

Londoners, however, are wonderful people (apart from the terrorists, obvs, who Mr Trump so lyrically described in a tweet yesterday as losers).

Everyone rallied around to help the injured and to reassure unaccompanied children. Our favourite local restaurant opened its doors to all the emergency services as a base for first aid.

Friends of mine, who live on the roads that were closed off, kept the police topped up with coffee and Krispy Kremes, and they, in turn, let the children try on their riot gear, which made them seem much less scary.

In a literal display of adding insult to injury, it transpired that the terrorists hadn't meant to bomb Parson's Green at all.

The timer went off early. The bomb was intended for a higher profile target like Paddington Station or Notting Hill. The media reported that 'outside of London, no-one has heard of Parson's Green.'

So the terrorists dissed us, then they bombed us.

I'm angry about all of this, but it doesn't make me scared. (Despite the threat level being raised to 'critical' and the constant buzz of police helicopters overhead).

Quite the reverse, in fact. It makes me realise, yet again, that life is short and unpredictable. We have to be brave enough to make the most of every opportunity.

On a happier note, thank you, thank you to all of you who pre-ordered my book on Amazon! And for all your wonderful comments on my 'coming out' post. (You made me cry. In a good way).

For a brief moment on Thursday I was #1 on the Amazon chart of 'recovery books', knocking Russell Brand's new book into second place.

(I had great fun imagining him, all snake-hipped and leather-trousered, pacing up and down his kitchen, holding his cute new baby, shouting Who is this SoberMummy person?!? But I doubt he even noticed).

If you'd like to help me change the world (or just want to annoy Russell Brand) by ordering a copy, click here. If you're in the US, you can also find me on Amazon.com.

Stay safe everyone, and love to you all,

Clare (SM)