It is early morning and I am alone in a gorgeous suite at a resort in Quebec. Last night I accepted a national award on behalf of my company at a Mardi Gras-themed event – a wild party and I had plenty to celebrate.

I did celebrate, in my new way. I celebrated with the new dress I wore, and with a pair of 4″ Fleuvogs (if you don’t know what Fleuvogs are, ask your wife. If you do know what Fluevogs are, you will certainly want to know that they are Paris Platforms in black and that I also have a pair of ice blue Macciatos that are to die for). I celebrated with a glass of sparkling apple juice while I dressed for the event, and another glass to toast my success before bed.

It was an easy, happy occasion and I felt comfortable the whole night. As I said “non, merci” again and again to the server offering wine at dinner, my only discomfort was embarrassment at my lack of bilingualism. Water was fine. And it was, it really was.

It was a whirlwind of a week that brought me here, and as I was packing the night before I left, I thought back to the last convention I attended just six months earlier. “That last convention was hard. Should I be worried?” I wondered. “I don’t feel at all anxious – is that because I truly am not or because I’ve just been too busy to think about it?”

I waited a moment to see if any clouds gathered over my head.

Nope. All clear. Sunshine and metaphoric blue sky all around.

It was easy. It is easy. This morning I popped out of bed at 6 am fresh as a daisy and eager to dress for the breakfast session. Many of last night’s revellers won’t even make it there.  Of those who do, I plan to find the various folks I met last evening and stop a moment to say hello, exchange business cards, and speak briefly about the points on which we connected earlier. There is a software developer who has a product I am interested in, a pair of brothers with a similar business to my own who I am hoping will be interested in exchanging a tour of operations, and a fellow who won an award last night with a project similar to one I am working on, whose brain I need to pick. I have my work cut out for me.

It is a remarkably different experience than Sober Convention Number One six months ago.

Back then I found it much harder to get through it all. This time it has felt natural and effortless.

This is who I am now.

The self-serve bar in my suite is not calling to me at all, except for the chocolate bars (which I have resisted). It is not a problem to not drink, even thought I am alone and no one would even know.

I just don’t do that any more. This is who I am now.

It is exactly one year today since the moment I knew I needed to stop drinking. My actual anniversary is in two days, because that’s how long it took me to listen to my heart.

One year….

Those of you who said, “It gets better,” were right. I could’t image that it would but it has.

Those of you who are reading this because you are struggling through the mucky parts, please be encouraged. Take heart.

It gets better.

It gets great!