Next year is going to be – for me, at least – the Year of the Adventurer. In 2013 I am going to swing, Indiana Jones like (if that’s not too strong a mental image for you to digest) into new experiences and interests. On News Years Day I will have been sober for a whole year. Or three hundred and sixty five loooooooong days. The ‘old’ me, still stuck drunkenly somewhere in 2009 looking for a cab and trying to make a call on a remote control would be horrified at this ‘new’ me, and more than that, pretty disgusted at this goody two shoes clacking away at her laptop somewhere in Devon in the rain. However, that girl is nearly three years gone, with a liver which resembles a pickled walnut.
People often ask me what its like to stop drinking. “Well,” I tell them, adopting the air of a curmudgeonly old man in beige slacks, “It’s very, very dull.”
It is. The bones of alcoholism are, as far as I can see, that NEED to have a drink. Without it, the days become as long and black as summer shadows. My NEED was almost total. To lubricate social situations, to celebrate success or drown a failure, to buffer a black mood or solder a broken heart. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and couldn’t drink that I realised how often I was reaching for the bottle. How often the thought occurred to me to have a nice pint. That NEED was as physical as hunger, and as total. It didn’t occur to me then to take up a hobby to stave off the tediosity of sobriety because as far as I was concerned, a ‘hobby’ was something pensioners and girl guides had. Telling the 2009 me to get a hobby was like telling me to get vasectomy. It wasn’t possible.
But necessity is the mother of invention isn’t it? And by last year it became necessary for me to find new ways to occupy my time, and I intend to develop these interests into next year as well. So below is my list of hobbies which I have either already taken up or intend to try. This isn’t about making NY resolutions. I’m not going to make you feel like shit if you do a hobby for a month and then drop it (but the Hobby Police may want a word with you in the basement), and I’m not suggesting you take my ideas and use them although feel free to – but next year you see, it’s all about you. It’s all about YOU.
Ugh, hateful aren’t I?
I am going to learn to meditate.
The equivalent of firing a bullet of clean air into your brain, meditation can be simple, effective and does not require any form of movement. There is no need for incense or chanting or brightly coloured ethic leggings although if this is your look, it is a savage one. I am currently reading this book, which I find user friendly and keeps the whole practice very simple, in terms a spoon could understand. Find a class, or a friend to teach you, or delve a little online to see what best suits you. Because sometimes the best thing you can do for depression, anxiety, stress or insomnia is learning to do nothing.
I am going to make my own chocolate
Raw chocolate actually, as it is bloody lovely and full of antioxidants and none of the processed fillers, fats or sugars which I’ve become so familiar with in ‘normal’ chocolate. Most pertinently, raw chocolate isn’t heated above 42C which means it still contains all its vital nutrients, antioxidant flavanols, protein, fats, calcium, iron, carotene, thiamine and riboflavine. However – as with all things good for you, like raw honey or flights to the Dominican Republic – the cost is pretty prohibitive. A 40g bar of raw chocolate bought from a shop is unlikely to be under £2. The ingredients for basic raw chocolate – cocao, cocao butter and agave syrup – can be bought online and will last you a while – or not, depending on how much you like the stuff – so is in itself an investment. The good news is the taste is much darker and more chocolatey than processed bars so you need less to satisfy you. I made a cardomon and seasalt bar the other day which was the SHIZNUTS. Honestly, please try this. It’s immensely gratifying.
I am going to learn to sing
Ha! Not really. I sound like a heard of bewildered cattle in an underground maze and no amount of lessons or vocal exercises can change that, sadly.
I am going to learn to sew
Those of you who lived with my calamitous experiment with my handsewn tee-shirt cushion covers will be thrilled beyond words to hear that I am going to attempt to learn how to sew with the aid of a sewing machine and under proper instruction. The downside of this means that you can all expect some cack-handed but well intentioned gifts in the future. I am very excited about this one.
I am going to grow my own vegetables
I currently have a vegetable plot in the back garden. I have dug it, weeded it, turned the soil and added compost to it for the winter. I have been known to worry about it if I go away, even though there is currently nothing in there except worms. Watch with wonder as I grow one spongy potato and a withered carrot which will remind you of Peter Stringfellow’s shrivelled little dingle.
That’s it. Nothing too big, or clever or doomed to fail – nothing which will make me feel blue because I ‘didn’t get it’. Just some happy things to fill my time and exercise my slovenly brain.