sober

Life update!

Dear Clairvetica friends and fans

It’s been a while since I posted one of these. Probably the last one was my New Year goals. A few big changes on the horizon for me.

I will be leaving Switzerland this month. You may have got an inkling of this if you’ve been reading my poems closely. I am very sad to leave and there is so much about this country and my life here for the past 5+ years that I will miss. It’s the place my second child was born, where I started this blog, where I stumbled on the poetry month, which was a gateway to becoming a poet (a label I now wear with pride), where I visited all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons in 52 weeks . It’s where I started running and rejoined the full-time workforce after taking maternity leaves/freelancing.

However, I’m also excited to see what it’s like to “repatriate” myself back in Australia. And I guess you’ll come on that journey with me in the coming months.

Another big change that’s perhaps not so obvious is I stopped drinking at the start of the year. Maybe it’s a bit personal to mention here but it’s been a huge shift in perspective for me. I feel like I’ve gained freedom and new insights and, in some ways, the choice was provoked because I wanted more time / headspace for my writing. So it’s relevant to the blog! This may be an odd thing to say, but getting sober is simple but not easy. They say that those who can moderate their alcohol consumption don’t need to, and those who need to, can’t. For me, 100% is so much easier. Also cos I’m hardcore! Anyway, One thing I’ve found unexpectedly enjoyable about the process is helping others (and being helped – it’s virtually impossible to do on your own, imho). So I’ll put it out there: if it’s something you’re curious about, please do read up on it, reach out to me, or an online group, or anyone. I’m finding life is so much better without booze!

Back to bloggery. I thought about changing the name Clairevetica once I’m no longer a Helvetian resident but, after some contemplation, I’m keeping it. (Also, in a sudden rush of blood to the head one night, I went ahead and bought the domain!) So Clairevetica remains and is actually official now.

Finally – a warm thankyou to all my readers. I really appreciate all your likes and comments and emails so much. Also thanks to the ‘silent’ readers who I know are out there too (well, I think you’re there. Are you there?!). It can feel a bit like “shouting into the void” sometimes so it is lovely to hear from people.

So, that’s it. In terms of writing goals and changes, my subjects and photos might change a bit. I’d love to get back into my novel (always the plan!) … maybe I’ll be doing more freelancing (please contact me about any writing / editing jobs or commissions! Maybe one day I’ll even get amazingly efficient at self-promotion too).

Watch this space.

Tips for Not Drinking

Snow Martini, tea or water

So it’s a new year: 2015! And lots of people will be keen to cut down on the alcohol. But I’m way ahead of you… because I’ve had nine months’ practice of trying to avoid one of my fave activities.

I may not have been entirely successful at cutting out drinking (ahem!) but I have learned a few tips and tricks, which I’ll happily pass on to you – and no doubt to my future self! I read this guide to Women Cutting Down on Alcohol in the Guardian today but I don’t think the tips are specific or practical enough. So without further ado…

Claire’s tips to stop or cut down your boozing

  • There’s a peak-craving time. If you get through it without taking a drink, you’re in the clear. Eg: I often start thinking about wine around 5-6pm and I’m stinging for a drink until 7 or 8ish (usually while preparing dinner). After the meal is eaten and I’m into the evening, I don’t care anymore. So the trick is: get through the craving period, perhaps by…
  • Fake it. I’ve recently discovered that putting a non-alcoholic drink in a wine glass really helps! I wish I’d realised this at any point in the past 9 months because I could have avoided many cheeky glasses of wine but hey ho, better late than never. Fizzy apple juice is working well for me right now but even water will do. However, if you’re like me…
  • Water is boring. Don’t get me wrong, I drink loads of water – definitely 8 glasses a day, sometimes up to 2 litres of the stuff – and it’s probably my favourite drink. But by the time I reach the evening, I’m pretty sick of water. At dinner time, wine feels like a reward, a treat, and/or a nice marker that the kid’s in bed/work has finished and I’m finally “off the clock”. So when tucking into a meal, particularly if it’s a special one, there’s there’s usually nothing fun about guzzling down YET MORE H2O. Therefore it’s worth getting yourself something different – cordial, juice, fizzy drink, milk, coconut water, tea, whatever. And…
  • Buy up. Even if, in general, you think of fancy waters or silly juices as an indulgence, at this tough time, it’s not. Treat yourself to San Pellegrino, Voss, coconut water, almond milk, Innocent Smoothies or whatever you want. Spend the money you’ve saved on the wine you’re (supposedly) not drinking!
  • Don’t tell. If you’re out at dinner or the pub, get yourself an alcohol-looking drink (eg: a short glass of lime & soda or pint of ginger beer) and let everyone assume you’re drinking vodka or Real Ale. This is something that works particularly well in early pregnancy before you want to announce it. But it would also work for people going dry, quitting or taking a break. I’ve found people in general hate to see you not drinking when they are (or maybe it’s just my friends, family and work colleagues ha!) so it’s often easier if they don’t notice. Once again, there’s a crunch-time involved. Buy yourself the first few drinks of the night and make them softies-that-look-hard and no questions will be asked. After that, people are too drunk to notice or care.
  • Sober socialising is hard. You get tired quicker and – surprise! – drunk people are boring. A bonus is, it’s easy to slip out early, especially if you’ve been drinkfaking it as advised above. Here’s a good blog by a Scottish woman Rachel Black with some tips for socialising sober.
  • Beware the enablers. Unfortunately, I seem to find myself often reading Modern Drunkard as well as being around people (my husband included) who are constantly reaching for a bottle, which makes it difficult, if I’m honest, for me to cry off the sweet stuff. I’m not saying it’s their fault, I’m conscious I have to “own” my own behaviour. But you have to be strong to resist a glass or two when you see others merrily quaffing away on a nightly basis. I don’t really have a good solution for this but you can employ…
  • Short pours and Water into Wine. If you feel like you simply can’t say no, you can try to negate the effects a bit by watering down your wine (note: this does not mean you can have twice as much!) If you’re making cocktails, give yourself the short pour while being extra-generous to the other drinkers. Yep – throw those dirty alcos under the bus if it protects you!
  • Tea is good. If you do find yourself drinking and craving more… or if by some miracle you’ve been good all night but get a sudden late urge, tea is an excellent “cap-off”. For me, a cuppa in the evening sends a message to myself of: that’s it, booze-time over, warm drink and bed is next.
  • Brushing your teeth can have a similar effect to a cup of tea.

Good luck, enjoy not being hungover and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PS: Got any more practical tips for laying off the sauce? Let me know in the comments below…