I came across, quite by accident, a post about a “30 Days of Brave Challenge “. The point of the challenge is to inspire you to change something in your life, to be brave, to be inspired. You can join up if you want via the webpage https://intentioninspired.com/30-days-of-brave It is 100% free with no hidden catches. I signed up out of curiosity to see where it would lead me. To do this you sign up with your email and every day you are sent your intention for that day. My first email arrived on 16th June, so that was my day 1 and the start of my journey.
Having a rough time both mentally and physically at the moment I have kept this project to myself thus far. I started it whilst in my holiday home in Filey, having a respite break and kept it to myself and even my family didn’t know I was doing it. BUT, now I feel ready to let you know and share with you how I have got on with the first half of the project. I will try to complete the full month of inspirations and will blog about the second half of the journey in just over two weeks time when I have competed the full challenge.
So here you go…
Day 1 (Fri 16th June) ~ I AM BRAVE: Inspired to take brave action. Choose a physical object to serve as a reminder of why you committed to this 30~Day Brave Challenge. Embed your intention in this object. Strategically place it where it will be seen/used every morning during this short, powerful exercise. “I am inspired” ~ “I am inspired because I can feel a flame inside me pulling me to create more and live life more fully. In any given moment I have the choice to push through resistance, be brave, and fuel that inspiration into courageous action.”
“From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame” Dante Alighieri.
WOW! This was food for thought, what brave action should I take ~ and what can I find to by my physical object to help me remember my challenge? *I decided on my object whilst I was away but couldn’t hold him or look at him until my return home. My object is my little happy Buddha, his wee smiling face and plump belly make me smile, he is small and portable so I can pop him into my pocket if I want to. Mostly though he just sits cheerfully on my desk, in front of my keyboard, under the monitor.
Now to my brave action ~ what could it be? It had to be something big, something important for me to consider this a brave action. The answer? To go sober, to stop using alcohol as a buffer, to stop the spiral down into alcoholism whilst it was still abuse but not yet beyond control. *Gulp* I can’t remember the last time I was sober, I drink EVERY night, mostly wine and usually 2 bottles. To ensure I had this I had to have help and so downloaded an app called “Nomo” and have a sobriety clock on there to record my journey and keep me on track.
So that was Day 1: To become sober ~ my husband was amazed that I had decided to do this and to start whilst on holiday, but once something is on my mind then it has to be actioned immediately. As I said earlier, I had decided to use Bernard Buddha as my talisman, totem, or whatever you wish to call it. Plus I decided on my vow whilst away and on my return held Bernard and made my vow and embedded it into him, it was very short and simple “I can do this”.
Day 2: (Sat 17th June) ~ I AM COMMITTED. We are what we repeatedly do. I will hold myself accountable to completing my 30 day goal by making one of the following commitments:
- Make a public statement.
- Get a friend to join you.
- Set stakes if you fail.
- Adapt your morning routine.
“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”
The email also advised journaling daily to help discipline myself towards my goal. Instead of that I decided to update this blog day by day instead. So which of the four options did I take? I chose to get a friend to join me by asking via the “Nomo” app for a “buddy” to help me stay sober ~ that buddy happened to be my eldest daughter and one who is committed to helping me stay on the straight and narrow. Not living with me she can be more frank and honest when speaking to me and is full of praise at the end of each day I have been sober. Having a family member who can be candid with me, who knows me and my triggers is beyond valuable and my thanks go to Keisha for being my “sober buddy” as well as my daughter.
Day 3 (Sun 18th June) ~ I AM SELF~AWARE. Know yourself to grow yourself. “Ask a friend what they see as your greatest strength and greatest weakness. We all have blind spots in our thinking patterns and behaviours. Ask someone who understands you; whom you respect; and will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” Abraham Maslow
It follows with words of affirmation saying that in order to change you have to know yourself, be more self-aware and utilise your strengths and be mindful of your weaknesses. By having this deeper understanding of self you can than be more ware of any emotional reactions you may have and be able to navigate through them.
So, I asked my husband for his feedback on the questions I was told to put forward regarding strengths and weaknesses.
If anyone knows me it’s him, we’ve known each other for 44 years, since primary school and been married for 24 years. The response I had back was;
Greatest Strength: I care so much that I do all I can to help and support and be there. I have compassion and empathy for not just my family but those beyond that too.
Greatest Weakness: I care too much, so much that it really affects my mood and stress levels. I have the innate desire to “fix” everything that goes wrong in the lives of those I care about, so much so that I can’t let it go. I wear myself down worrying and trying to find solutions. Sometimes I have to accept that I just can’t do anything. I have to be there and support but not “do”, just listen and comfort. In more general terms I get affected too much by things beyond my control. I have to somehow desensitize myself to protect myself. As my family said, as weaknesses go it’s not a bad one to have ~ but a very difficult one to rein in and correct.
My daughters came back with a very similar answer, my youngest daughter aka Little Chicken put it like this.
“Greatest strength and weakness would be the same thing which is your selflessness; often you care too much about what’s good for other people that you forget to do what’s right for yourself, which is good because you help others out but it needs physical and mental energy, so ya need to stop worrying about other people and help yourself a little more too.”
All in all I feel hugely emotional, so much so that I had to fight back the tears and emotions that were stirred up with these responses. Saying that I am quite relieved that my strengths and weaknesses are what they are ~ it could’ve been so much worse like being stubborn or farting or whatever ~ but also quite a tough one to control too.
Day 4 (Mon 19th June) ~ I AM PRESENT. A surefire way to conquer anxiety. “Take a mindful moment to count 5 slow breathes in a row ~ breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Feel the lungs fill and expand whilst breathing in, feel the sense of letting go as you breathe out. Breathe in and feel the body getting fuller, breathe out and release the tension. Breathe in and feel alive and awake, breath out and feel your muscles relax. Breathe in that sense of fullness, breathe out the unnecessary tension in the body and mind.
“There is only one time that is important ~ NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” Leo Tolstoy.
I have practised this breathing technique before, taught to me years ago by my sister who was doing yoga an awful lot at the time. This breathing has seen me through my labour pains with my daughters and through worrying times when family have been very ill. I now use it as a tool to relax and try to not stress about absolutely everything, which is a terrible habit I have. I worry about things other people don’t even give a second thought about. I worry for myself, for others and for things that may never even happen. SO, this breathing exercise is invaluable for me.
Day 5 (Tue 20th June) ~ I AM ENOUGH. The beautiful story of you. “Spend time listening to your thoughts of “not enough” these voices of “not enough” are there because there’s something to be learned. Today write down all the ways you’ve been telling yourself you are not enough. Thank those thoughts for helping you better understand yourself and let them go as you say, “I am enough”.
“You are enough just as you are. Each emotion you feel, everything you do in your life, everything you do or do not do… where you are and who you are right now is enough. It is perfect. You are perfect enough.” Melanie Jade.
I am very guilty of beating myself up and putting myself down, I jump in to deride myself when in public so that no~one else can get in there before me. I’m not doing enough to help my husband out, I’m not strong enough emotionally to be there all the time for my family. I am lazy and weak giving into illness and dark thoughts. I should be able to shop, clean the house, do the chores and walk the dogs. I am fat and ugly, I’m not beautiful enough, thin enough, good enough. I am boring, I cannot hold anyones attention, no one will want to be a friend of mine because I have no conversation, interests that they would be interested in. I am rubbish at photography, why do I bother, why don’t I just give up. I am a crap mother and bad example to my daughters. I swear far too much, have such a potty mouth and was drinking way to much. I can never remember anything, why is my brain so dysfunctional. Why can’t I just pull myself out of my depression. Why does my family love me when I am so unloveable, selfish, lazy and boring? Oh these thoughts are treacherous bastards, intent on eating away my self-confidence and moral. Makes socializing a challenge because I am constantly afraid that people are sick of my company. I am sure I am not alone in these thoughts, so many of us put ourselves down because we see only the outside of other people’s lives and not the reality behind the scenes. No one is perfect, we are all perfect with our imperfections, they make us unique and who we are. I have to keep a firm mind to stop these negative thoughts pushing their way in and remind myself I am enough!
Day 6 (Wed 21st June) ~ I AM PREPARED. Luck favours the prepared. Choose one metric to use that can measure the results of your 30 day goal. Measuring progress will help you stay on track and reach targets.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.” Yogi Berra
I already got this one! My “Nomo” app is tracking my days, hours and minutes of being sober. Every now and then I get a new token to reward my achievements and this along with Keisha being my buddy is a good measure of my progress. My goal actually is to expand beyond the 30 days to 365 days ~ but let’s just take this in baby steps. Also today I met a very old nursing friend, we hadn’t seen each other for literally years. In the past we used to always have a glass of some alcoholic beverage in our hands and slowly get drunk and put the world to rights. This time we met in a pub BUT both drank soft drinks, mind a double low cal tonic water with ice and slice, Jane a soda and lime. We still put the world to rights but when we parted we were both sober and got into our cars and went our separate ways. It was literally awesome seeing someone I have a lot of love and respect for, chatting and catching up and leaving sober, with full memory of what we had discussed to boot!
Day 7 (Thu 22nd June) ~ I AM HEROIC. The hero of my own story. Stand in the superhero stance, legs apart, feet firmly parted, arms above your head in line with your legs and whilst raising your hands in the air breathe in the power stance and own it. Then say out loud “I am the hero of my own story” and believe it! You have the power to control how your story unfolds, be the hero of your own story.
“If you are no the hero of your own story, then you’re missing the whole point of your humanity.” Steve Maraboli.
So if my life was a film and it was written from today and I was the hero I would use my power to remain strong in the face of alcohol. To acknowledge that it has no power over me unless I allow it to. As a hero I break the habit of looking at the clock and pining for a glass of wine. Instead pour myself some water or juice and revel in the fresh flavours and how it quenches my thirst. I would replace the old wine guzzling habit with choosing new fresh healthier beverages to sip and enjoy without guilt.
Furthermore, today was a difficult day emotionally too and it took superhero strength not to break down and cry in front of my daughter. Why? Because my Baby Bear moved out today and we took all her belongings over to her new home. I am both proud of her and happy that she has reached a point in her life, at the age of almost 19 years old, to move on by herself. To be all adulty without me, paying rent and bills, working to earn her rent and learning how to budget. I know she’s not far away but that’s my second daughter who has flown the nest. The house is much quieter and tidier without her. I miss the mess bizarrely and her presence. BUT I didn’t cry until I was in the car driving home and that I can tell you took superhero powers!
Day 8 (Fri 23rd June) ~ I AM CAPABLE. The seeds are taking root. So for today you have to water someone elses seed of intention. Bring to mind a friend who you think is capable and gifted in a certain way. Send them some words of encouragement, letting them know you see that in them. Who knows a little nudge of confirmation could be all that friend needs to begin their own brave adventure.
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” Roman Payne.
I am feeling stronger in myself right now, YES I am still craving the booze, but now I feel I am capable of not giving it to its calling. Also, although I am not sure if my family have noticed, I have been quietly telling my husband and daughters that I love them and that they can do whatever they set their minds to do. Trying to be kind and supportive whenever I can in order to support them in their day-to-day life and challenges it brings for them. That they can do whatever they put their mind to do. I have been trying to help but not interfere too much (very hard for me being of a bossy control freak nature). Even if they haven’t noticed, for me it’s been rewarding as I am seeing them more clearly for the very strong and resilient individuals they are. I always loved and supported them but now I am trying to take that extra step to continue to do the same but with more praise, support and encouragement.
Today I also took the dogs to the vets for their annual check and booster jabs. Dave came with me as Loki is very anxious when in unfamiliar situations. I asked Dave to handle Loki for me so that my anxiety didn’t rub off on him and Dave is a very calm person, perfect for Loki having his check~up. All went well and both dogs are thankfully in good health. Loki has no allergies recorded from skin tests so his allergies must be food based or environmental. I still think it’s cut grass but whatever it is it seems regular each washes and Piriton are helping keep his itching at bag. Taylors teeth are also much better too and so no scale and polish required ~ yay!
Day 9 (Sat 24th June) ~ I AM VULNERABLE. Sharing myself wholeheartedly. Today be courageously vulnerable by openly sharing this weakness with a friend.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” Criss Jami.
Today I told my husband to enjoy his time away overnight with friend watching drag racing. I accepted that he needed time away for himself and couldn’t always be around just to be there just for me. I am a big girl and can take care of myself and so said goodbye and genuinely wished him a lovely time.
I then arranged to have dinner at our local pub with my 3 daughters, I acknowledged that I loved them and missed spending time with them more than I cared to admit. Now they are young women they have priorities of their own and I need to let them fly and not hold them back. I acknowledged my weakness of wanting to hold on to them very tightly and keep them with me but I recognise that by doing that I would be holding them back from self-sufficiency and independence. Sadly Keisha couldn’t make it at the last-minute but despite missing her on this occasion I had a lovely dinner with Tasha and Tara, taking Tasha to her new home afterwards and waving goodbye to Tara as she left to go out with her friends for the night.
I spent the evening on my own, with the dogs and it wasn’t scary or awful. I was okay and my family were okay doing what they were doing on their own too. So I managed to overcome my weakness of “caring too much” and wanting to hold on to them to protect and care for them, instead supporting from the sidelines and allowing them to go on their way.
Day 10 (Sun 25th June) ~ I AM CURIOUS. Why am I scared of this? Ask three consecutive “whys” to someone today. Apparently by asking why three times we go beyond the surface and get to the real root of the question or problem.
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide.
Courage takes curiosity and conversely curiosity takes courage. Ask yourself when facing fear “why am I scared of this?”
I have to admit I am not quite sure if I did this or not, today is Dave’s 49th birthday and he returned back from his weekend away at tea~time and a little jaded due to being a little over indulgent in the drinking department. The girls couldn’t come over as it was late and they had plans but had left me with his birthday presents, so that he could open them on his actual birthday. We have planned to go out later this week to celebrate his birthday belatedly all together. (so that is the scene set so to speak)
I asked Dave how his time away was and remember asking many questions but being brain fogged I’m not sure if I asked the same question three times. He drank a fair bit and got really quite drunk apparently, although he seemed to get drunk faster than in the past. After he had his birthday dinner and cake he opened his presents and he laughed as he opened his two bottles of American Whiskey. This led to a conversation about how he can’t tolerate alcohol like he used to. We chatted about why that could be. Was he drinking more previously because I was drinking every night? Could it be as a psychosomatic result of me quitting alcohol leading him to be more conscious of his consumption and hangovers? Or could it be that his body had slowly built up an intolerance for alcohol in any excess and so now more was less? Currently he can enjoy the odd whiskey but not a “session” of drinking without feeling lousy. So I suppose my three whys were included in this conversation but in the context of a conversation and not as three specific set questions. Anyhow ~ the old boy is now 49 years young and helping with my sobriety either consciously or not, by drinking less.
Day 11 (Mon 26th June) ~ I AM COMPASSIONATE. Letting fear fade away. Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress. Bring the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. NOW say to yourself; “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. I will treat this suffering with compassion and kindness.”
“Compassion is the courage to descend into the reality of human experience.” Paul Gilbert.
Compassion melts fear ~ so to face the fear and letting it go or fade back is a start. The situation I decided on is my pain, it is with me 24/7 and grinding me down. So today I thought about it and decided that I could do more to help ease things for myself and decided to start taking the CBD paste tablets I had ordered for my second born. Who had decided she would rather I tried them first to see if they worked. So my gift to myself was some CBD paste capsules to take alongside my other prescribed medications.
I am taking control and treating myself with the kindness, the pain is awful but perhaps some interactions with complementary medications may help. I chose to buy my daughter some of these capsules but she had asked me to take them instead. I have purchased two months of 16.4% CBD capsules and two months of 25% CBD capsules to take daily.
I now have 6 alarms on my phone to remind me to take them. I take my Gabapentin tablet with my multi~vitamin at 8am. My 25% CBD capsule at 10am. My Gabapentin tablet at 2pm. My 16.4% CBD capsule at 4pm. My Gabapentin tablet at 8pm and finally my Amitriptyline tablet at bedtime, literally after cleaning my teeth and before falling into bed. That is my compassion to myself.
Acquiring and taking medications both prescribed and complimentary in order to help ease my pain and help me feel more human. I still have pain and it still gets me down but I am giving myself time and space to vent that frustration and pain. I can cry if it helps, sleep if I can and have a nap or just rest. It will take time to see if this regime will help. I may need my Gabapentin dosage increasing and may need to experiment with times taking my CBD for best result ~ only time will tell.
Day 12 (Tue 27 June) ~ I AM CALCULATED. Confidently to take that next step. Say “no” to a pending invitation or opportunity that would get in the way of your current 30~day goal.
“Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not ones’ better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.” Maxwell Maltz.
Today I had nothing I needed to say “no”. This is perhaps because my life is so small, my circle around me is mostly my immediate family who can read me and understand me. I am grateful that today I didn’t need to say no to anything. However, I will keep this in mind and come back to it.
Day 13 (Wed 28th June) ~ I AM AMBITIOUS. You are guaranteed some form of success. Define one thing you can do every day, no matter what, that will help you achieve your 30~day goal.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi
So, this made me think? What can I do every day, no matter what? Today we celebrated Dave’s birthday belatedly and went out for dinner with the girls and a couple of friends. During the dinner they had alcohol and I stuck firmly with my tonic water. After the meal we then visited a pub, where I again stayed loyal to my tonic water. So I suppose the one thing I can do everyday is to replace my once daily evening tipple of wine with a soft drink, either tonic water, lemonade, or something a bit different like elderflower cordial. To mix up the mixers and avoid the alcohol and continue on my sobriety challenge.
*NOTE* going back to Day 12 ~ saying no. Today I wrote official confirmation to a reunion group page that I would not be going back to my home town and attending the planned reunion. I explained previously that I thought this would be too much for me right now and that my health was just not good enough. Yet, part of me still hoped I could make it. Alas the travel alone would knock me off me feet ~ I usually need a good day to recover. So to travel AND go out in the same day would be a no-no. It’s a shame I will miss out on catching up in person with some good friends who I mostly chat too through the power of the interweb. BUT I have to consider my energy levels and what I am capable of. A sad truth but I said “no”, which is all I could do all things considered.
Day 14 (Thu 29th June) ~ I AM DETERMINED. The will and skill to fight. Choose one of the determined micro~challenges.
- Chew each bite 30 times.
- Brush your teeth with your opposite hand.
- Carry around something tempting.
The small seemingly insignificant things help us flex our brave muscle and adopt new normals.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell.
So, what did I do? I brushed my teeth with my opposite hand and I can tell you ~ with an electric toothbrush this is not easy. Suffice it to say toothpaste flew and my gums, roof of mouth and cheeks got a brushing too!
So that is my journey so far learning to flex and strengthen my brave muscle and conquer my demons. I’ll update y’all with the second half of my journey when I have completed Day 30.