Monday 4 January 2016


It's not happy people who are grateful, it's grateful people who are happy.

I found that the single most difficult thing about quitting the booze was dealing with stress and anxiety.

For years, or decades even, we have reached for a glass of our favourite tipple whenever the going got tough, 'to take the edge off.'

For me, this became such an ingrained habit that I'd automatically anaesthetise even the smallest stresses. (Uh oh, the telephone's ringing, better have a glass of vino).

So, when we quit, dealing with all of that day to day stuff, raw, is a bit of a shock.

That's why, whenever I attempted Dry January, I'd generally choose a start date of January 5th. Firstly, it knocked a few days of the month, and secondly because the beginning of January can be a bit stressful.

Yesterday was a case in point.

I had to get everything packed up and cleaned ready to move the family back home from skiing in the Swiss Alps to London, involving one taxi, one train, one plane and one car journey.

We were due to get home 10pm, with kids starting school 8.30am the next day (aarrrgghhh!).

Added to which, I knew that on my return I'd be back to earth with a huge bump, dealing with the flood in our cellar, the two pounds I've gained over Christmas, the annual tax return, and the biggie.

'The biggie' is the fact that over the last week I've managed really successfully to forget about the whole cancer thing. I've hardly thought about it, after two months of thinking about little else.

But now I have to get back to the reality of check ups and starting a ten year course of Tamoxifen.

In the old days I would have drunk my way through a day like yesterday. Not getting drunk (it took quite a lot to get me drunk by that stage), but providing a constant blur to all the stress.

A glass or two while packing, one at the airport, one on the plane (more if I could brave the disapproval of the air hostess), and the best part of a bottle on returning home.

Not now.

So I'm always looking for new ways of relieving stress. Usually I'd do a bit of 'time out.' A hot bath, a good book, a slice of cake. No good, however, if you have to travel hundreds of miles.

Well, apparently GRATITUDE is the new Mindfulness. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pierce Brosnan, Barack Obama, and many more, swear by it.

Oprah insists that the 'gratitude diary' she's been keeping for the last twenty years is the most important thing she has done in her life.

Twitter is suddenly littered with #gratitude (accompanied by sick making pictures of minor celebrities doing improbable yoga poses in jaw dropping locations).

There's science behind it too.

Psychologists have shown that gratitude is linked to better sleep, less anxiety and depression, sounder relationships and higher long-term satisfaction with life.

It even makes us healthier, and Janice Kaplan, author of 'The Gratitude Diaries' swears that being grateful for our food can make us thinner.

The bestselling self-help book The Secret takes the concept of gratitude even further, claiming:

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have and you will attract more good things.

What's not to like?

So I gave it go. I took my list of all the things that were stressing me out, and turned it on it's head.

Instead of fretting about the journey, I focused on what a great holiday we'd had.

Kids back to school equals more free time - yay!

Thank goodness we'd found the mains pipe leak in our cellar before we went away and were able to turn the water off.

A two pound weight gain is nothing compared to the eight pounds I'd have gained over a boozy Christmas.

Well done me earning (just) enough cash last year to qualify for a tax return.

And, the biggie: Thank you, thank you Universe, for the fact that I'm currently (as far as they can tell) cancer free.

And you know what? IT WORKS!

I went from dreading the day to feeling positively buoyant.

So, next time you hit a bump in the road and it makes you really, really want a drink, remember this one:

There are people out there who would love to have your bad days...

.....and have a hot chocolate instead. Or an AF beer.

(I do have to confess that I did need a crate of Becks Blue by the time I got home, despite all the Gratitude stuff).

Love to you all, and Thank you!

SM x


  1. I'm GRATEFUL for the timing of your posts ! They seem to arrive at about 5PM every day here in Australia ie "wine o'clock".
    The timing couldn't be more perfect....

  2. The yoga poses - that's not gratitude, that's showing off. But I know what you mean about turning it on its head. On Saturday we went into town so that I could take my incredibly uncomfortable (and incredibly expensive) mail order shoes back to Toast to get a refund. Except I left the shoes on the train... I went back to the station and spoke to a very nice young man called Gareth. Our train was terminating at the next station and then coming back, so I thought I could just pick up the shoes then (it was the train we were going to catch anyway) but apparently they like to take things to lost property rather than give them to random people on a train. I managed to go with the flow, smile, say, Well, IF you can that would be great... all the while beating myself up, WHY didn't I move them down with the other bags when it occurred to me on the train that I might forget them... Anyhow, end result, it all worked, the guard gave me my shoes back, and even though I still haven't got my refund I'm weirdly glad it happened because it's restored my faith in human kindness.

  3. I second Aussie Mum - this post is perfectly timed - I'm looking for something to replace my stress buster, so will give gratitude a go! Good luck with your return to reality, you'll ace it am sure. Red xx

  4. I am bad at Gratitude. I'm going to think about it more. Day 5 here! Can't remember when I last got to Day 5. I'm grateful for that! Annie x (and I am very grateful for you).

    1. Well done Annie, keep baby-stepping your way through this. I think you are great! I think you courageously refuse to accept defeat and keep trying and in the past making the painful decision to admit when you had stumbled. Despite what you may think I am sure there are people out there who have been helped by you and your honesty. I am grateful I found your blog.

  5. Thanks! Not easy to do, turn the thinking around but does make a difference!

  6. I'm grateful for AF beer! 😉

    I do try to take stock of how grateful I am for my one precious life as often as I can. It does put it all in perspective.

    Hope your kiddos had a good first day back.

    Wendy P

  7. Great reminder SM! I forget how supremely lucky I am at times x. Hope you get that plumbing sorted x

  8. This was a great post about gratefulness and one I will reread many times as anxiety and stress were certainly things that validated my drinking, as were loneliness and boredom. Heck, even cleaning the toilets seemed not such a nasty task with a couple of white wines to keep me company! So, thank you for what I need to be reading, right at this moment, three days sober.

    1. Welcome Tammy, and huge congrats on 3 days - keep at it! xx

  9. I know it may irritate some people but not me. When I lived in America there was a time when "The Attitude of Gratitude" expression was going around and I LOVED it. I thought America was great because people did seem to project more positive than negative and it was without doubt my happiest ten years of life. Lastly I have only positive things to say about anyone who quotes Oprah, cheesy I know but I think she is great. Well done Sober Mummy (first thought always seems to be Super Mummy)

  10. Sat down at my computer to try to 'stave off' my intense feelings of I NEED A DRINK, i.e. I am lonely, bored, and want a fuzzy feeling of 'everything is going to b alright' unreality. I found this blog...I had a Gratitude Journal til my little bro died...time to get back to it me thinks...

    1. So sorry about your little bro, Seeking. The internet is a lifesaver when it comes to 'wine o'clock.' Keep at it, and keep in touch! hugs x

  11. Great Blog! I am so inspired! I am reading Jason Vale book and have started a blog, I was hoping you could follow it to keep me on track,
    Thanks for such great information!

    1. Hurrah Mary! Good for you! Am going to follow you. SM x

  12. Dear SM - this post is superb. I have had a bit of a hectic (normal) day with the 3 darlings and a few wee disasters happened - and I thought of this post and thought - be grateful that it was xy and z instead of the myriad other things it could have been. And guess what - all so much easier to deal with not hungover and with clear sober head. I feel I need to confess to you that I had a minor blip (for a few days!) over new year and felt disgusted with myself in every single way - but now I'm back on the straight and narrow and soooooo don't want to do that again. So I'm following all the tips I can, (by the way did you ever re read certain sections of Jason Vale's book when you were feeling weak - he suggested it might be detrimental - I was just wondering), and I'm really feeling positive and strong. 2016 is going to be my year. I want to be where you are on this wonderful journey - and I'm determined it's going to happen. Thanks for everything SM. Love SFM.

    1. So glad it worked for you too, SFM! I re-read JV frequently. Sorry to hear about your blip, SFM, but HUGE CONGRATS on not letting it de-rail you. You rock. Here's too a completely sober 2016 xx

  13. Totally agree with this SM! We introduced gratitudes at evening meal time in our house last summer, I guess it's a bit like our way of saying grace. (We are not religious in the conventional sense) each family member says three things about their day that they are grateful for and we try to focus on small, unique things (I.e. I remembered my umbrella) as opposed to really big things (my family, my friends) I think it has taught each of us to be more aware of what is happening around us and not take the little pleasures in life for granted. The children (5 and 8) genuinely look forward to it and will fight over whose turn it is to go first!

    1. what a fab idea, SWMum. Am going to try it with mine!