Transferrable Skills

(Organized Chaos)

I am up to my eyeballs in life right now. Nothing bad, just a lot. Like a LOT, a lot, and all at once. And here’s what happens when the “to do” list is long: I eat poorly, I get stressy, my social life takes a dive bomb, and I don’t sleep well. In other words, I’m perpetually hungry/angry/lonely/tired – the dreaded ‘H.A.L.T.’ triggers that undermine recovery.

We are in that awesome/shitty situation of selling our house super fast and packing for a move before we even know where we are going next. Our new house is under construction so we need an interim rental before the end of the month. (But hey, our house sold so YAY!) At the same time, my parents are downsizing to a seniors’ lodge (more packing!), our son and his wife have baby #2 due in a few weeks, AND we are headed to Vegas for a wedding in the midst of it all. See – all good things, just a lot all at once.

I like a plan. I like my calendar to be orderly and concise and fully detailed. I like to know where to forward my internet and mail, and maybe where I’ll be waking up on any given day. I don’t think it is too much to ask from life, and I feel deprived in the absence of certainty right now.

Last week I drove two hours to Calgary to meet my friend Anne ( for lunch. Hers is one of the thousands of families displaced by the Alberta forest fires; 90,000 people evacuated en masse through flames with little notice a month ago. We met another dear friend, Jan, who is also in recovery and in the midst of a stressful time with health concerns for her elderly parents. We sat for hours over lunch sharing our struggles and triumphs, marvelling at our respective abilities to deal with enormous amounts of tension and pressure.  All of us used to drink heavily and regularly just to get through the everyday stuff, and now we are managing much heavier loads without any alcohol at all.

“They seem like overly simplified platitudes, but they really are true,” said Jan, referring to recovery slogans like one day at a time and just do the next right thing.  Getting sober is a lesson in small victories; overcoming addiction requires the ability to stay in the moment and just work on the situation at hand, whatever’s before you, and not drink. It got each of us through those shaky early days; through cravings, discomfort, and moments of weakness. In our own ways, we have learned that our years of sobriety were built moment by moment of just doing the next right thing.

Recovery has taught us skills that are serving us well in life and getting us through difficult times. Bit by bit, we move through them. As Anne recounted her evacuation experiences, I was as entranced by both incredible drama of the tale and the amount of strength she has discovered within herself. We can do hard things.

The old me would have been miserable with this whole crazy packing-and-moving situation. I would have been cranky, panicked, and constantly venting. I would have exaggerated and heightened the problem to justify my negative response. And I would have drank at it, a lot. A LOT, a lot.

But now I know better. I will pack and work hard, and try to remember take time for yoga and coffee with friends and maybe even a pedicure if I can squeak it in. I will look for things to be grateful for, and I will continue to reach out to friends who are going through their own difficulties. I will try to address those H.A.L.T. issues, and make this busy month the best it can be.

Recovery really is a life-long process of discovery and growth. It shows up in all kinds of ways, and lends itself to every corner of our experience….if we let it.



  1. Imagine coping with all that hung over – you would feel like crap. I just woke up Saturday in NZ, 8am and first though was “wow I feel good”.


  2. ‘We can do hard things.’ YES. YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS. *smile* Thank you, Jean, for the great reminders and the update. I wish you well in your current and upcoming adventures. Also, I just love the image of the three of you sitting together, sharing time and space. Awesome. -HM.


  3. It sounds as though you have loads on your plate but are coping so well.
    House moves are tough if you like to love an ordered life!
    I clicked and read your post as I liked the Our years of sobriety were built moment by moment of just doing the next right thing. That is how I have managed 18 months. Just the next right thing, over and over.

    Thanks for the inspiration & congratulations on the new addition to the family – Claire x


    • Thanks Claire. It will serve us well our entire lives. What cool little old ladies we’ll be one day, just rollin with it. Congrats to you on 18 months! That’s an important milestone. I hope you’ll treat yourself to a reward in some way. I’m partial to sparkly thinks and/or a massage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, yes to the sparkly thing. And I too love a massage or a foot treatment. This time I went away to visit a special place with my husband and kids. It was really lovely and meant a lot.

        Take care and i’ll keep an eye out for your posts. You sound like a wise woman 😉


  4. Hi Anonymous,
    I did the solstice to solstice (June 21- Dec 21) with Belle from Tired of Thinking about Drinking and life was better so I have just kept going. It took me a long while too… I am 56.
    I have definitely stayed sober with blogs like Unpickled and The Bubble Hour podcasts. Congrats to you on June 21st! What year will it be for you? (Your message says 2016. )


  5. Exciting stuff Jean. Take it easy and thanks for the reminder that we all need to take care of ourselves when things get crazy even when it’s good crazy!!
    I hope it all goes well for you – you deserve it!
    Enjoy and take care Carrie xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Snap!
    My sober anniversary is June 21, 2016!
    I am 58, so took awhile , a very long while to realise wine wasn’t working for me too.
    I don’t comment much on anything but I read many blogs and they really do ring my bells.
    So thank you for reminding me how strong we are, and how happy and content I am since putting down my glass.


  7. Whew. You are having a day! (Or a week , or a month) congrats on the second baby.
    Moving is hard. It spins you right out of your comfort zone and into a lot of unknown. We moved from Pennsylvania to our home state in the northeast almost two years ago to help sibs with aged parents. While it was great to return to the famliar, we had lived away a long time, and I easily remembered the reasons why I wanted to leave in the first place. Don’t know if we will stay after parents pass. But for now I am enjoying every sober day, and life in general. All I can say is the trite but true: all things pass. Peace.


  8. Thanks so much Jean! I am thinking of buying a piece of jewelry to celebrate the day, but I am not sure yet! Wobbly is a good word-I am feeling that some, but am trying to remember there is so much more work to do and why turn around now? I don’t want to go back, life is too good!I also listened to The Bubble Hour’s episode Sober Milestones, and it was helpful!
    Happy packing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Jean!
    I am packing up my 91 year old mom’s house, too. She is still doing well, but moving to be closer to family.
    It’s hard.
    Moving on top of that would be doubly hard!
    You are right.
    We can do hard things. And we can be okay.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You make me mad. Why are your responses so long? I want to get sober not read a fucking book.

    Sent from my iPhone



    • I love this response…..I know the feeling of being intensely irritable with EVERYTHING! But Jean, we need you. Please keep it going.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Laura, part of the process of getting and staying sober is finding what works for you. If you could let someone know what is going on, maybe they can point you in the right direction. What I love about Jean’s blogs is the fact that she is so descriptive with the good, the bad and the ugly of sobriety, and how she deals with the everyday stresses that can take us down in a heartbeat. The best to you in your journey. It does get better!


  11. I love this post. It really is brick by brick to lay a solid foundation for sobriety. Some days it feels like the wall isn’t going up as fast as I would like, but what is there is strong. And to be honest, some days I don’t feel like being a (sober) mason!
    My story is similar to yours Jean, and many of you. I used wine to relieve anxiety and stress, to celebrate and commiserate. It worked until it didn’t work.
    I have been a lovely lurker on your blog for a very long time. I don’t know why I haven’t commented, as I could relate to almost all of your posts. I think I reflect on them for awhile and then it feels too late to write.
    I will celebrate one year of sobriety on June 21st! I am so happy to be free from the grip alcohol had over me…life is so much easier! No hangovers, no shame, more energy, no trying and failing miserably to moderate.
    While I know I will be celebrating at one year and my family will be happy for me, I am anticipating some disappointment too. I have been quiet about how hard this journey has been, and I just don’t feel like they will get it, even though they have been supportive. I think it will be like trying to have a party when your guests have never heard of the holiday!

    I knew it was time to reach out, but have found it hard. Last night I said to myself, the next time Jean from Unpickled posts, I will comment. What do you know, you posted today! Yay!
    So I thank you for your timely post, and I look forward to commenting more 🙂
    Love the pic and the blue nail polish!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, how perfect is that? I am so glad I took some time to write today, because it made you comment and now I get to say HAPPY SOBER B-DAY!!! If I may make a suggestion, spend some time doing something special for yourself that day (massage, pedicure, blue nail manicure…) in addition to celebrating with others. You’re right, most “normies” don’t quite understand how AMAZING it is to hit a milestone, the same way I don’t fully understand how my husband can care so much about his golf scores. But they are happy you are happy, and their presence is a show of respect. You might be surprised how well an honest conversation make go over, if you open up about your experiences. They might be curious but afraid to ask. And also share the positives with them, some of the great changes you’ve seen. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You’ve done a hard, wonderful thing and your life will be better for it. Well done. It isn’t easy. Be warned that lots of people find themselves wobble a bit around anniversaries, because it makes us stop and think “do I have to keep going with this?” (Yes, we do. Just for today.)

      ***Also, it is never too late to comment on a post – some comment/conversations are still going on posts that are YEARS old, because new readers find them all the time. I am always thrilled to receive a “you have a new comment!” message – it’s like a surprise hug and often I need those 😉

      Liked by 3 people

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