Recommended Reading


Are you feeling introspective and withdrawn as New Year’s approaches? Me, too. It’s a time for looking back, looking forward, looking inward and still some how looking sparkly at parties.

I invite you to make a cup of tea and read a few of my favourite posts, which may trip some insights or ideas for you as you contemplate the year that was and the one to come.

First, “Don’t Give Up” –  a post I wrote just after last New Years, in which I laid bare old wounds with brutal honesty in hopes of encouraging others to look honestly at themselves. Reading it now still takes my breath away. I can’t believe I had the courage to ever post it  but I’m glad I did because it has helped a lot of people.

Next, take a look at “Are You a Recovery Hero” and guage what position you’re at on the hero’s journey as it relates to sobriety. If you read this when it was originally posted last year, you may be surprised to find that you’re now in a different spot. I really love this post, it’s one of my favourites.

Then check out a New Year post from two years ago when I asked readers to comment with messages of encouragement for anyone contemplating sobriety as a resolution. Over 200 responses resulted and the bounty of wisdom and insight there is astounding.

And finally, a post about how to ask the people’s your life for what you need. You can print the graphic from this post to give to loved ones or use it as a guideline to customize your own list. “Top Ten List for Supportive Normies” is a must-read.

As for me, I’ll be spending my FIFTH (!!!) sober New Year’s skiing with family – grateful for the good health to enjoy the snow and sunshine, and the good fortune to have four generations of family to share the experience.

I wish every single one of you joy and peace, those  unexpected gifts of recovery, in the year to come. I wish I could sit with you to drink tea and discuss these things in person because truly, there is nothing better than a heart to heart that’s face to face. Many of you I have managed to meet; from Rome to Calgary to Boston and Palm Springs – I love that wherever I travel I’ve been able to connect with you in person. I hope to do more of that one day.

Hmmmm….perhaps that’s something to consider during my own quiet time.

Happy New Year.


  1. I was supposed to start a sober life Jan. 1st, then the 4th, cause, you know, it was a holiday weekend. Well, that didn’t work. Now it’s the 9th. Will I choose today? Probably not, hell it’s Saturday and even though I feel like shit from the bottle and a half of wine I drank last night, it makes me nervous just thinking about it. I haven’t gone longer than 3 days in a row without drinking for 10 years. I used to be fine. I was married to an alcoholic for 10 years and hardly ever dank. I divorced him, he drank himself to death 2 years ago. My husband now hardly drinks and doesn’t like my drinking but doesn’t say much about it. I remember getting drunk the night my father died 10 years ago (he was an alcoholic too) and I pretty much just kept the party going until now. I watched my brother almost die from his alcoholism. He is now sober 3 years. I keep telling myself that I’m ok…everybody drinks…. but I know it’s a problem because it IS a problem for me. The fact that I feel bad about it, that I think about it, want to change it must mean there is a problem. Even if I am successful at my work, even if I exercise daily, even if no one else thinks it’s a problem (hell, maybe they do) It IS a problem. Problems have solutions, this one being pretty easy…don’t drink. Why then is it so hard? I see myself in so many of you and am inspired and hopeful, surely I can be strong like you…I hope so.


    • Hi Tracy. First, (((hug))). You’ve been through a lot. It’s simple but it’s not easy. People who aren’t addicted can say, “just don’t drink” but to someone with an addiction that’s like saying “don’t breathe” or “don’t poop”. Our brains have been retired to understand that alcohol is necessary for survival, so when we “just don’t drink” when our brain/body react fiercely. That’s why we need help sometimes to make the change. It isn’t weakness, it’s just how the body works. You are very lucky to have a brother with solid sobriety. Is he in a program like AA or smart recovery? Would you consider reaching out to him and asking for help? Many of us in recovery are eager to help others get sober, it helps us in return. Chances are your brother would be happy to be your encourager in this. if not then please consider going to a meeting for some support or talking to your doctor. You can comment here for feed back any time or write to me at You are not alone and it is possible for you to change this. Things can be so much better, I promise. Sending you love and strength. You deserve happiness and freedom.


  2. Hi Jean and readers.. I just wanted to check in and say that I am three years sober today. I was told by a doctor that I am a rare breed and that not many people have the will power to do this. I know you and all of your readers are just like me,we need each other to keep going. You are on the other side of the world and yet you and your readers are like my own family! In three years I have been able to completely switch off alcohol even though people all around me are imbibing. I have been through challenging situations, the worst of which are weddings where the nights drag on and on and I can’t wait to get home to bed! I have found my nightly ritual after washing up the dishes is to have a shower and put on a pretty nightie and watch TV, get on the computer or read… in solitude. I like to wind down on my own. I really look forward to that and it is the calm down that replaces the alcohol.

    For your new readers I was a” bottle to a bottle and a half of wine a night” girl. All my days were geared around the ritual.It became so destructive that I hid it in bins cupboards, behind chairs and was in denial of the effects it was having on my loved ones. I hit rock bottom on January 6th 2013 when my husband issued me with an ultimatum, it was either the bottle or him. I stopped and haven’t looked back. The first few weeks were the hardest as it was so ingrained in me that I had to completely reprogram myself. Since then I have not looked back. I hope that you all can experience the love and serenity that sobriety gives you.


    • Hello Coming Clean! I’ve missed you! Three years is beautiful – I am so happy for you! I hope you are celebrating this milestone properly with the attention it deserves: jewelry, a trip, a special dinner at least?!


  3. I’ve decided that today is my Day 1. I’ve never admitted I have a problem with alcohol to anyone but felt safe to do so here in this community. I hope that by admitting I have an issue with alcohol I can start the process of recovery! I am tired of the guilt and shame and want to live a better life. Wish me luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • With apologies for the delayed reply, I do wish you luck. But more importantly I wish you strength, willingness, and determination. I wish you joy and peace. I wish you coffee and cheesecake. I wish you were my neighbour so I could have coffee and cheese cake with you and talk about lol these things. It’s been a few days now, how is it going? Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few false starts, that’s common. Just keep moving forward.


  4. Jean,
    Just wanted to thank you for your advice and encouragement. A year ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible to make it through the Holiday season without a drink. But here I am embracing a brand new year clean and sober. 265 days sober! Finally I can look to a new year with optimism and hope instead a self loathing and regret. I cannot thank you enough. Your words helped me when I needed it the most.


  5. Been reading around you blog the last few days after deciding to go sober this past Monday (so today is day 5 for me). Not a daily drinker but not a quitter once I start, either. Too old for this shit and my sons were worried about me. Anyway, all was fine until I snacked on some cheese and olives on New Year’s eve. Suddenly my brain sat up and said, “Where’s mah wine?” And I actually felt sad. Deprived. Genuinely bummed. Significant craving. Not five minutes later someone dropped by to gift us with a beautiful bottle of red wine with best wishes for the new year. I was like, “Really, Universe? Seriously? It’s not even all that funny.” But it was funny in a surreal, slightly startling way. A pop quiz is one thing but this was like a surprise entrance exam to grad school. Holy shit, the temptation was strong. Thank goodness I’d been reading this blog. I think it fortified me. Best to you and everyone here working to be well. And thanks to you and everyone who shares their story.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have followed blog for a year now.Ready to take that first step. I am a white wine lover. What can I expect symptom wise?


    • Hi Cindy – Happy New Year and happy “YOU” year! How wonderful that you are ready to make this change. What a beautiful gift to yourself. The withdrawal/detox process can be different for everyone, depending on a number of factors. Depending on how much and how often you drank, and any preexisting conditions you could fall anywhere on the spectrum from few symptoms to serious complications. Do a quick search of alcohol withdrawal info to determine what to expect health-wise and be sure you feel it’s safe for you. I can tell you, however, what to expect emotionally. You might be restless, sad or anxious. Change up your routine as much as possible and have lots of little snacks on hand to enjoy when a craving hits. Many people find that sugar negates alcohol cravings, so sweets or fruit is helpful (I leaned heavily on ice cream!). Avoid things that you used to have with wine (like cheese and crackers) because you will notice the absence of wine more than with something that would pair badly with wine (mint, oranges, etc). Stay busy and plan lots of self care- stock up on bubble bath and nail polish, sudoku puzzles and trash magazines. Listen to podcasts like The Bubble Hour to fill your mind with success stories of others who have gone before you. Yay yay yay for you Cindy! You n do this!


  7. Jean, these were all wonderful posts.
    You have been a vital lifeline for me through your blog and a gift as a friend in real life who really gets me.
    When I think back at how much I hated the idea of ongoing recovery early on, I realize now that without it my life would be lacking.

    Thank you for shining your light.



  8. Happy new year, Jean! I am another one for whom your blog was one of the first major paths into the cybersobrietysphere. I’m grateful that you still appear here on a regular basis. Blessings on you!


  9. Hi Jean! Just wanted to say a quick hello and Happy New Year! And thank you … I am about to celebrate my second sober New Year (I passed the one year mark on November 8th without much fanfare.) Your blog was a great help to me last year as I began this final journey into forever sobriety. I really appreciate your honesty and insight along the way. Happy New Year! -Kim


  10. Unpickled, Sending a quick Happy New Year to you and yours. I’m planning on no drinks today myself (and I’ll probably do the same tomorrow) so I’ll be slipping into the new year (#12 for me) with a clean drinking slate. I barely made it 12 days, how it has been this long seems a little boggling. Alas, with all of you folks to support me and love me, it seems totally imaginable. Thanks Jean for all you do for all of us in recovery. xox Lisa


  11. Back to day 4 today. Accomplished 4 months of sobriety earlier this year, now getting back on the horse with a different perspective. Reading all these blogs and comments today helps so much. I feel like I’m in that quiet observational zone more than ever. I know I can’t hesitate. I know I need to come first, for the first time in my life at 45. What a crazy world. Happy New Year everyone. Comfort and cheer to all. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Happy New Year Jean and Thank-You for this wonderful blog and your participation in the Bubble Hour along with all your wonderful co-hosts. Whenever I hear you all, I wish I could
    Just pop right in and hang out with you all. This will be my second sober New Years and things are going well. I do still struggle trying to find my place in this alcohol-saturated world,
    I am surrounded by drinkers who are supportive of my not-drinking but yet still feel odd and left out at various moments(Can I say HOLIDAY PARTIES) I know I need to stay strong and firm in 2016 and your blog and The Bubble Hour are just the tools to reinforce my resolve.
    Have a wonderful ski trip with your family and Thank-You!


  13. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I came upon your blog over a year or so ago, and I’ve been following you ever since. I knew I had a problem a long time ago, and I allowed myself to do all of my “research” through you and your fellow teammates on The Bubble Hour. I’ve only been to a few “meetings”, and I can’t quite say whether or not they are right for me. I’m much more comfortable listening to The Bubble Hour and reading blogs, books, etc. for the time being. I had my first sober NYE last year, but the sobriety lasted short of 90 days. I’m doing things differently now, and I am now 3 months and 12 days sober!! 🙂 My world is forever changing (for the better). Sure there are bumps along this journey, but I am so thankful that I am finally on my way to a better and healthier future. I’m a better Mom, wife, friend, and daughter for having “met” all of you along my journey. Thanks again for all of the advice and encouragement that you and your recovery team provide. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!


  14. Jean! I just had to share with you that yesterday marked my 1st year anniversary of not drinking!

    I’ve worked pretty hard on myself over the year (which is, in most ways, an opportunity I probably wouldn’t have stumbled on had I not had a drinking problem). Along the way, I’ve read your blog (which I discovered in the first week of my sobriety) and listened to you and the rest of the team at The Bubble Hour at what have definitely been crucial times. Crucial in the sense that, although I’m solid on the not drinking front, fitting in in the world has been difficult and these crucial times were always times I either felt very alone, or felt like I needed more information from others who had been there before me. It sort of recalibrate due each time.

    So I really wanted to thank you for existing. You’ve been a major part in my feeling right in my own skin – not only as a non-drinker but as a person. Thanks Jean.

    GeeGee xx

    Liked by 2 people

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