A Week in the Life of a Sober Girl

(Full disclosure: I initially titled this “A Week in the Life of a Sober Grandma” but decided against it and not because I am vain but only because I thought you wouldn’t read it. Was I right?)


If sobriety has been an invitation to rethink my identity, imagine the challenge of being a newly retired workaholic. In case I haven’t had enough trouble wrapping my head around the concept of “I am not what I do,” it is not uncommon for people to ask, “What will you do with all your time? You are too young to retire!”

First, let me say that I am very glad I got sober first and then retired. Recovery has helped me to understand why I felt the need to lose myself in my work and how to feel good about myself apart from approval and accolades. No small task!

I suspect that the freedom that comes from the less-structured routine of retirement could lure many drinkers into a rapid escalation of their consumption and that the red flags of mounting addiction could be masked by fewer obvious consequences. (Has anyone experienced this? I would love to hear from you.)

So what DO I do with all this time? Here are just a few things I have done this past week:

On Tuesday I was interviewed for this video series by Sarah Roberts of “Sobriety Starts Here”. I was a bit under the weather and nervous about being on camera but Sarah is a great interviewer and I am truly honoured to be part of this series:

Later that same day, I recorded a Bubble Hour interview with author of “My Self” Kelley Kitley about her experiences as a woman in recovery who works as a psychotherapist. You can listen here 

After finishing two interviews, I went to my sister’s house for one of her amazing Ayurvedic Foot Treatments – a 90-minute process on a heated table. My sister is an incredibly talented healer with a gift for picking up on other people’s energy – I know that sounds “woo woo” but there is no other way to describe her sensitivities.

When she first started working on me I said, “I have been doing recovery interviews all morning and I have a lot of other people’s stuff stuck to me!” She understands exactly what I mean by this – that I am hanging onto the stories and emotions that go with being vulnerable about ourselves and holding space for others.

“Oh, you sure do,” she murmured softly and began gently brushing my arms as she moved around the table. Soon she was massaging my feet and I went into that floaty almost-sleep stage that is somehow better than sleep. Pure heaven.

Wednesday mornings are busy and delightful. I have a standing date with my 80-year-old mother to take her for groceries and then out for errands and lunch. While she toodles around the grocery store, I sit at the coffee bar and read. She is losing her vision and no longer drives, and also she carries a flashlight in her purse to help her read labels and menus and such. You would think this might slow her down but honestly the reason I drink coffee instead of going around the store with her is because I can’t keep up. On the first outing I lost her twice and gave up. We are both happier this way.

After groceries we went out looking for new lamps. She moved into an assisted living facility when my dad was sick and was too busy to decorate or make their IMG_3331new apartment cozy. It has been a year now since my dad passed away, and she is ready to make some changes. We have been doing little bits each week – while she puts her groceries away, I move furniture or set up some new purchase or do some little job she has saved for me. On this particular day, we struck out on finding her new decor but she did succeed in cracking me up. I pointed out this cute ceramic frog in HomeSense and without missing a beat she quipped, “Looks like he just got kick in the slats!”

Such a sweet old lady.

Wednesdays are also a big day because its “Survivor” night and although my enthusiasm for the show is dipping ever so slightly – though I have never missed an episode in 36 seasons – this season we have a pool of ten friends betting on the outcome. Ever week my husband send out a funny newsletter with updates.

Tonight I have a side bet for a $10 Tim Horton’s with my friend Susanna that no one will play an idol. We met over dinner on Monday night to discuss our side bets and we laughed ourselves silly over the nonsense of it all. Susanna and I were only drinking water but we were having the most fun of anyone there.

I continue to get up early every morning and do my “Morning Pages” exercise, and now I have added writing another 500 words on my novel afterward. Yes, I am writinfullsizeoutput_ff4g a novel! I am no longer scared to say it because I am really doing it.  My goal is to have the first draft completed by my birthday in June.

Even at the cabin on the weekend, with a houseful of guests and a fridge full of groceries in need of cooking, I managed to get up early and write for an hour before becoming the hostess with the most-est. I cooked huge meals including desserts, skiied the mountain from top to bottom repeatedly, played with my grandsons, and slept like a baby every night.

There was an unusual amount of snow in the mountains for the last weekend of skiing. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has flowers in April, I both envy and pity you! We are a few weeks away from green leaves and flowers here in Alberta but they will come soon enough. Meanwhile, we have been having fun in the snow.

Note – I am looking over at my family in this picture but I cropped them for privacy. You understand. The important things to note are the smile on my face (I love them all so much!) and the crazy amounts of snow under my bum.

I got back from skiing and immediately recorded another Bubble Hour episode, this time with my friend Jan. Listen here.

Those are the highlights. I left out the boring bits, like the bookkeeping I still do for our rental properties and the large quantities of time I spend plucking my eyebrows. I did not mention that we have been watching “Barry” on HBO and eating ice cream, or that I almost beat my high score on “Wooden Blocks” while simultaneously watching “The National”. Oh and Rick Mercer’s final show deserves a mention – treat yourself to a half hour of that fine Canadian humour.

In short, being sober and retired still means lots of activity – entertaining, going out, staying in, connecting, creating.

And one more thing I’ve been doing this week – crying. My heart goes out to all affected by the horrific bus crash here in Alberta that has taken the lives of 15 teams members of the Humboldt Broncos. I don’t think anyone who has heard about this tragedy has been unaffected. It is almost too sad to contemplate.

So there you have it, a glimpse into my girl/grandma life.  Next week we will embark on a ten-day camping trip to Vancouver Island. More goodness to come….


  1. I didn’t get sober before retirement. It does give you an excuse to not worry about how much you’re drinking if you don’t have to get up for work. I’ve been retired for almost 5 years. The drinking escalated. I’m trying to cut back and have been mostly successful but had way too much last night. I need to stop altogether as my off switch doesn’t work anymore. It’s tough. I love your blog and need to commit to reading it daily instead of periodically. Bubble Hour is great too.


  2. Thank you for this post. I am 3 weeks into my sober journey and one reason I started is because I turned 59 and didn’t want to go into my 60th year drinking the amount of alcohol I was drinking. I am a grandma 4 times over and can’t WAIT to be retired (I started morning pages but can’t find the time in the morning to do them). So far I have had a few white-knuckle days, but overall am doing pretty well. I will read more of your blog, sounds like we have a lot in common.


    • Hi Karen, congrats on 3 weeks! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our “golden years” than to be as healthy and present as possible. Beautiful!


  3. Thank you Jean for being my guardian angel and helping me and so many others. I loved this post and Jan’s story has been my all time favorite in many ways. Not feeling alone has been the greatest gift and given me hope today and everyday. I continue to grow every time I read your blog or listen to your podcast on the bubble hour. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. And congrats on entering into your new chapter of life on your schedule! You have so many, many talents to nurture and share. Can’t wait to hear more about your novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, Jean! I love catching up on what is going on with you – thank you so much for sharing all of this. Retirement sounds delightful and rich! Congratulations on writing your novel and for saying it out loud – that has to feel powerful. I hope to say those words one day. On another note, I need to find someone in my area who does Ayurvedic foot treatments – that could be the best self-care idea I’ve heard yet. Have a great week, I look forward to hearing the latest podcast this morning. -Tracie (Formerly known as Anne, I’ve had a bit of a coming out after sobriety)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your opening comments and questions prompted me to think about some things. I’m not a workaholic, but easily could be. I find what I get back from my family and other pursuits (volunteer work, running), more personally rewarding in lots of ways, so I think I do a pretty good job of carving physical time away from work. BUT . . . I do find that a lot of my self-worth is tied up in how others perceive me as a professional. I don’t want to just be a lawyer – I really want everyone to always be singing my praises, to be completely honest. So I am always “on” at work in a sense (thank you, I-Phone and remote work capabilities) and it does occupy a lot of my mental space, even when I am with my family or friends. Maybe that is a workaholic. I guess I have some work to do there!

    Of note – I can completely see how unstructured time can lead to more significant drinking due to the absence of red flags. I was not able to do a lot of day drinking on working days, but when on vacation, I kept myself in a constant state of a mild buzz, leading to full on drunkenness in the evening. I was on vacation, so why wouldn’t it be ok to start every day with alcohol? I can imagine it would be similar for drinkers in retirement.



  6. I love and so relate to you in so many ways and look up to you

    Can you recommend a sober coach but one that would be affordable??? Thank you for all you do

    Sent with love



  7. Your mom was spot on about the frog! Lol
    I often think about what a drunken retirement would have been like for me. It would not have been pretty, I expect.
    I’m always available to proof read a novel! I love to read!
    Love you and miss you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jean,

    My first day of retirement started with me surveying my kitchen table covered with gift bottles of alcohol and a stack of gift cards for liquor stores. I knew right then that retirement would be the beginning of the end, or the start of something magic. I chose magic. I emailed you and started what has been the best journey of my life. Not always the easiest, but the best. I start everyday with exercise and make sure I do an hour or so of ” sobriety work” like listening to a podcast. Sobriety was my full time job for a while, but now it is second nature. I’m sure that you’ll be more than busy in retirement-the work you do for all of us is huge and so appreciated. Enjoy B.C.!

    Day 651 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jean!
    I retired before I got sober. I found it was so easy to drink all day, and meet friends for happy hour, or go to the bars by myself. One of final drinking days, was when I spent all day drinking with friend, then by self, and ended up driving while blacked out.
    Long story, but I ended up at my yoga studio where I had a massage appointment. No idea how I got there.


  10. Congratulations Jean! Maybe there should be a different word to retirement – you’ve just stopped the daily routine but are still working but on all things you choose. Your comments on Survivor made me laugh. I still watch it with my husband even though our teens stopped a couple of seasons back.


  11. Lovely! I have thought of you so many times after hearing of the children lost in the crash. Unfathomable and beyond sad. I love hearing of your ups and downs in sobriety. It truly is wonderful, isn’t it? Congratulations on a working career well done. Your “work” now is such a gift to us all❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Much love,


    Liked by 1 person

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