Monday, 31 January 2011

The accidental hangover

I'm feeling a bit cheated today. On Saturday night I went to a party in a night club for my friends' joint birthdays, with live music courtesy of the birthday boy and his various bands. It was a fantastic night and as I had the DDs with me, plus I had a lot to do on Sunday, I deliberately only had two drinks (and a sneaky little vodka jelly) then switched to juice. As a further precaution, I downed a paracetamol with my Horlicks (rock and roll) when I dragged my tired dancing feet to bed at 1am and felt absolutely sober.

Then I woke up on Sunday morning feeling like cr*p, and wasted the day curled up on the sofa only emerging mid afternoon for chips.

After testing my recollection of the conversation in the cab home (I clearly recall giving my friend advice on how to use a drill, much to the amusement of the cabbie) and accepting my assurance that I wasn't drunk at all DD1, who has been learning about alcohol abuse at school, wisely suggested my drink had been spiked. Good point, I say except I didn't put it down plus it was a vodka alcopop thing in a small necked bottle (pretty revolting now I think about it, but the wine on offer was Leib... ).

I think it's more likely that I'm just out of practise. I have not had a proper social life for a long time so I tend to only really drink at home and only occasionally. I have a bit of a fear of drinking alone though, worrying that I'll wake up with my head in the cat food after having one too many so I recently started a book club. I now have a captive audience to drink with once a month and very well that's going too. We've even read some books.

If I'm honest, there are a couple of reasons for my lack of social life:

1) The DDs. By the time I've paid a sitter, a cab, a couple of rounds, we're talking half the weekly food bill. Not gonna happen. Admittedly I get one night off a week for good behaviour, but that leads me to...

2) Lack of available company. My close circle of friends are mostly married and cosy on a Friday or Saturday night. The few friends I have who like to party are hard core and I can't keep up with them. Which leads me to the saddest reason:

3) I really like hunkering down on the sofa when the kids have gone for the evening watching what I want on TV, or having a bath without having running conversations from their bedrooms. I adore my children with every breath, but if they made talking an Olympic sport, the DDs would be on the podium arguing over who deserved gold. Sometimes I just need silence. I crave it. Plus, I love my little house. Considering I get home from work at the same time as the kids I just like to enjoy it on my terms for a couple of hours.

The DDs want me to go out more, not least of all because they are nagging me to find a boyfriend. Unfortunately for them, I'm really not bothered. For the first time in my adult life, I'm enjoying the alone time and I'm getting to know me again (how very Oprah).  Perhaps one day I will like the idea of sharing my precious quiet time with someone but as the next man in my life must meet the DDs strict criteria I think my peace and chardonnay are fairly safe. On a long car journey recently the DDs announced, with no prompting from me, their requirements for my next partner. He must:

1) Have children the same ages as them.
2) Drive a big car (for holidays apparently)
3) Own the following pets: dog, house rabbit, tortoise.

So I guess the ideal scenario for us all would be for me to meet a slightly agoraphobic Dr Dolittle with a camper van. But, thankfully, unless he's the postman or the Tesco delivery guy, the chances of me meeting him are about as remote as me never having another hangover.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Crazy lady coming through

To help keep some perspective during what was without question the most horrible year of my life, I read a whole range of self-help books: 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' I was exhorted, 'I can make you happy/rich/thin/sleep' (yes please, Paul, all of the above), 'Happy kids, Happy you' (except that they can be mutually exclusive concepts...)

I found that after reading each book I was raring to go and full of positivity: to write that novel I've started several times, exercise regularly, learn to crochet, re-start my hypnotherapy practise... and then once the glow of the book wore off, I'd be back to the excuses: no time, too hard, too expensive, can’t fit it around the DDs...  So much for positive thinking.

Then one morning, I had a mini revelation: Every day we do things out of necessity and habit. We don't need positive thinking to take a shower, to put the bins out on rubbish day, to change the beds etc. No decision-making process, no pep talk. We just do it. So I thought I'd try this re-frame on other areas of my life, starting with exercise. From now on, I thought, I'd just do it.

And I have. For the past fortnight, I have managed to workout 3 times a week. Might not sound like a lot but that's probably more than I did for the entire previous year. I don’t have gym membership, I nearly always have the DDs with me when I’m not at work and only the hardy want to train outside in this weather. 

So I get up at 6am and jog around my kitchen table for an hour. No, really. I include boxing, weights and a bit of pilates, but generally the plan is to just keep moving. I'm not sure if the rear of my house is overlooked but I have my suspicions that any early risers get a thrice weekly vision of a wobbly brunette in bunches, stripey socks and Bon Jovi t-shirt (from the 'Bounce' tour... yes, thank you...)  like a hamster on a wheel, tripping over curious cats and sleepy kids slowly surfacing for breakfast.

It’s imperfect and a little nuts. But it’s doing the job. The trick I think is this: when the alarm goes off at 5.45 on my workout days, I don’t lie there and think “do I feel motivated to do this?” Because believe me the answer would always be a resounding “NO”! and I would burrow into my duvet. Without giving myself time to ask questions I just chuck on the first clothes I can lay my hands on and get jogging. The looks on the DDs faces the first time they encountered nocturnal mummy were delightful. They have been known to join in so we looked like a Benny Hill sketch, falling into each other as I shouted "TURN" - it's only a 6-seater so we have to alternate regularly to avoid motion sickness.  

Now I am looking at how I can apply this to the other areas of my life. Writing that book will be next. I have a plan and it starts now. Whether I feel like it or not. Because all this self help and motivational awareness can just be used as an excuse not to start anything. And the only thing that seems to get results is not positive thinking, but positive doing.