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  • Writer's pictureDandelion

11,14,13,12... done. 2/3rds to go

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Number 11. Alkohol-frei, Zucker-frei AKA most people's utter version of misery.

A month of no alcohol, which I joyfully decided to go sugar-free for too. I slept better that month than at any other time since becoming a parent. The freedom of saying no to the moments when we say yes to please others, even when it erodes our own needs. I could just say NO (thank you) with the minimal of explanation, as its not a time to be rude obvs. We did a normal month of the normal life stuff and celebrated things and stayed with people and it was rather easy...

Apart from the end of the first week, which was horrible. Work had been hard; in the spirit of wanting to be amenable and reliable so jumping through all the self imposed hoops to 'show' good at a new job before people know you are worth it. I totally overstretched myself at work this particular week by saying yes to three extra extracurricular things. I also had an observation, which I panicked over and therefore definitely did a sub-optimal lesson. I also had no work basics yet on auto-pilot, so sometimes even photocopying was seriously pain-inducing and I had just stopped my bike-muteing because of the dark. Although I was aware of the deficit to my physical health, I had underestimated just how fundamental the cycling had been to my mental health, and I momentarily fell into a deep well. I had came home via the garage and bought two bars of 85%, marvellous mother in law brought me another 2. And somehow just knowing I had given myself permission to stop for the sake of my sanity, I found enough strength to stick with it. The physical changes were interesting too, but not important as not the goal. This is the month I discovered Seedlip, splendid stuff.

12. Early January 2019 I started a month of no swearing and quickly added my month of no complaining (13). Actually can't remember which I decided on first or when I decided to double decker them but it was a revelation. I honestly can't rate the synergistic effects of the pairing enough. When you are not complaining you are not able to exacerbate the bad situation... so you are less likely to use the bad words, and when they aren't peppering your speech or a moment I felt less likely to dwell in the unpleasantness. Anyway, I started the no swearing a night of two before a big 40th where I unwittingly had painted myself into a corner of wearing an outfit the birthday girl wanted me to wear and then do a choreographed dance on stage. Naturally I felt I needed the courage that is fizzy so got very pizzed, and then found myself swearing with joyful abandon, no cursing was done in rage but sufficient words were wafted around that the challenge was reset the following morning. I chose this challenge because over the years I have become unhappy with the quantity and severity of some words I have used, so that all but the most wicked words had lost their power and even then I was so desensitised to their remaining shock that I might utter them in rapid fire, sometimes almost sub-conciously. Over the course of the new month timeframe I have sworn approximately 10 times. Some slipped out before I could reel them back in, and that is explainable. A swear word can take a fraction of a second to appear, whereas complaining is a longer process, where you can quickly do a U-turn and reframe the emotion. There is a definite correlation between alcohol and booze, the lowered inhibitions widens the holes in the net. One of two uttered in booze on the final night was in emphasis when a dear friend's situation utterly can barely be described by mere words and I felt no guilt, another was due to clumsiness. Rediscovering the power of even the more minor words has been interesting (strangely I never swear in the classroom! Not sure how, but long may it continue!)

Did you know that the power of swearing can be harnessed. The swearing group in an experiment were able to continue to keep a hand in freezing water significantly longer than those forbidden to swear. Like radioactive particles that become more stable by the emission of Gamma Rays, we too can become more resilient when able to emit expletives!

13. No complaining. Whoa, this needed boundaries. I had to decide what line to take, what was a complaint and what was an explaint. Would this challenge meant no assertion of feelings was allowed, or was it more a way of limiting the negativity that seems more acceptable than the opposite; being happy with your lot. Although supposedly we are all aiming for gratitude, but what does it look like and are more people interested in shared misery and commiserating and can gratitude seem like bragging. For me not complaining means not dwelling on the myriad of things that naturally do not (and can not) go to plan. But not feeling wounded bu them or taking them personally, acknowledging them, processing the feeling and them swiftly deciding on a solution or coarse of action towards gratitude. Expectation management has been a very helpful tool and listening to all the amazing podcasts has helped my resolve.

I have loved this challenge, and I was completely unaware that my month was up until I looked at the diary and reallised I was 4 days over someone asked was I going to let it all out like a dam bursting. Absolutely not, no resentment has been stored, I have been liberated from many of the miserly feelings I might have clasped. No 'Oh, I can't wait to share this misery or whoah, can you believe what this XYZ did, said etc.' I mean I did share some anecdotes but more in incredulity about how things which would have ground my gears was utterly irrelevant. I am sure several people in my life will be very glad not to have me ask " am I complaining or explaining?' but understanding the fine line between the two has been a worthwhile exploration. I want to stay in this new state of reality, and although at times I might get slightly blown off track I believe I have sharpened my ability to navigate into favourable internal weather.

14. Cold Showers, one week of them. Started this after beginning 12 and 13, and finished it before them; a month of cold showers might have been too much, but I'm now sure it would have been complete-able retrospectively, but not one I could have possibly suggested back in April 2018... Without grossing out the possible audience, the rules of the challenge meant I had to have one every day and there is the odd day that I do not take a shower of any temperature! Other rules were; the shower had to be longer than the warm ones I take, and at least 2 hair washes needed doing (and I have VERY thick hair which requires an epic rinse). I think I threw this challenge in here because I figure there is no harder time than in early January, and I needed to feel success when I was finding the no swearing so hard at first. Taming the sub-concious is much harder than ticking a box.

That's all for now, would have forgotten most of this if I'd waited to complete the next 6.

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