Life’s Little Disasters

Beach in AlbertaDoes this rustic Canadian beach look like a nice place for a stroll?

It is.

I walk this stretch almost every day when we are here at the lake. Sometimes twice a day. Often with my dog, generally by myself. I know every nook, cabin, rock, weed, and tree. I have come here every summer for 33 years and walked this beach hundreds of times.

When I leave the cabin on my own, my husband says, “Take your phone. Which route are you taking?” It seems slightly overprotective, and I rather love his concern. I am not a risk-taker. Whether I am kayaking, paddleboarding, or going for a walk, rest assured I will proceed in the most awkwardly overcautious manner possible. There is almost zero chance of me encountering a problem, beyond maybe a wasp bite or the misapplication of sunscreen.

My pride has taken a bit of a beating this summer. My swimsuit is now, well, not fitting quite the same. And the other day, I was trying to pull myself up the ladder into the boat and kept slipping back into the water. I felt awkward, all noodle-armed and bottom-heavy. I’ve been slacking on the yoga and exercise, and excelling at the dessert-eating. Plus, you know, menopause and all.

I look the same, I just don’t feel the same.

So needless to say, this particular walk was both necessary (post-dessert) and within my comfort zone.

Take your phone. Tell me your route.

Eye-roll. Smile. Leave.

Rocky Beach in AlbertaNow. Do these rocks look like an appropriate place to do gymnastics?

They are not.

Nevertheless, I managed a backward shoulder roll while crossing this short rocky section of the beach. The same rocky section I have walked for decades without incident. But this day, I fell. Slowly. Backwards.

Before it happened, I was simply catching my balance. Hop to a rock, wait, balance, next rock, balance. It is fun. I like it. Wearing flip-flops was a bad idea, though. I knew better but I did it anyway. The sand was wet, the rocks were wet, but I pressed on as if nothing was different. I was taking chances, little baby chances.

Bad idea, I thought as my sandy flip-flops flipped and flopped over a slick stone.

Oh no, I may have said out loud, as the heavy-bottom, noodle-arm feeling returned and I reached out unsuccessfully for something to hang onto.

What is behind me? I tried to remember as I felt myself falling backwards, calmly wondering what part of my body was going to need protecting on the way down.

How is this going to turn out? Why is there time to think so much? I felt myself going upside down and remembered having the exact same thoughts the last time I fell in slow motion, which was on a ski hill and if you are wondering how that went, click here.

Well now, this is just embarrassing. I’d hit the ground without incident or injury but now the force of the fall was propelling me “ass over teakettle” (as my mother would say) and at this particular moment I was upside down and somewhat impressed with myself for turning this into a backward summersault, albeit a graceless one. (Knees apart, toes not pointed, did not stick the landing. My junior high phys ed teacher would grade it a C-.)

Which leads me to this:

Fallen on Beach(Artistic rendering of dramatic life moment.)

I allowed myself to lay in place momentarily in case someone had witnessed my fall and perchance might come running to my rescue. I wasn’t hurt and yet…well, it seemed appropriate to just give it a few breaths.

No one coming to check on my wellbeing? Oh okay. Great, actually. That means no one witnessed this. Oh right, except me.

Now listen, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I can suss out a recovery analogy from life’s little moments. Especially the awkward ones.

I knew better but I did it anyway….

I pressed on as if nothing was different. I was taking chances, little baby chances….

This is a story about a middle age woman who went for a walk and had a harmless tumble. It is also the story of that time you went to a party straight from work without eating first. It is about every sober person who said, “I am okay and everything is fine,” when that was not the truth.

Wait, wait, there is more.

The next day, my husband and I decided to cut down a tree that was growing too close to the cabin. I was on the guide ropes, my noodle arms responsible for tugging in the direction we wanted it to fall: away from the cabin.


Tree Fell on Cabin

Shit happens.

Nothing was damaged, but the poor dog was terrified from the crash.

I took her for a walk to calm her down.

I double-knotted my runners, and headed back to the beach.


Want to come on retreat with me? Meet You at Kripalu!

Have you watched my kayaking video yet? Come Paddling With Me

Do you ruminate on bad memories? Try this: Memory Modification: A Tool for Recovery




  1. Oh Jean! You had me going there for a minute. Also, I did not know that in addition to your many other talents that you were such accomplished sketch artist! Happy you are un-damaged. I am feeling your heavy-bottomed (but not noodle-armed–16 sets at the gym! Chubby but muscle-y!) -ness and also winning at non-existent dessert-eating contests. Excited to see you in LA!


  2. Jean, Thank you for sharing this!!! I used to trail run with my daughters and almost every time I would have what they called an Epic Fall! It was that slow motion tumble when I tripped over a rock or a root or even air. Usually I was hardly worse for the wear. Once I learned after running another 5 miles that I broke my toe. Another time I dropped my keys in a stream. The recovery analogy is not lost on me. I am early in my recovery and am truly struggling. I have had epic falls….I just need to brush myself off and keep running…..and maybe keep my keys in my pocket! Laura


    • Hi Laura, I’m so glad this hits home but sorry you are struggling. Send me a message through UnPickled on Facebook and I’d be happy to help
      You connect with a support group or recovery community!


  3. Jean haven’t been here for a while. I loved your analogy to recovery. Glad you’re ok, and thanks for sharing. I have been sober now for 604 days, a full year and 259 days. I had lost count and did my tally today. Everything was “fine” until I took and emotional tumble of my own and realized everything is not “fine” and it is ok to sit and reflect with out the other things I have developed in the last year and 259 to numb our (e.g work and codependency). I listened to the bubble hour yesterday, the interview you did with Sherry Gaba, I was i need of a soul salve. I am going through a recent break up (since last weds, officially closed out the relationship this Tuesday). It was and is a heartbreaking and painful separation, we both love each other very much but needed to part ways for many reasons. I won’t bore you with the details but listening to Gaba’s interview is helping me with the hard work I have on plate at the moment and in front of me. I’m definitely in bargaining phase, but today I decided not only to refocus my energy on my alcohol recovery journey but also on my recovery post this relationship. I decided ok I’m going to start counting days much like the days post break up with alcohol. I had three slip ups in early alcohol sobriety, and post relationship break up three days of “checking in” via text with my ex. Today I started a retro count, much like my decision to keep counting after my three early slips with wine, I am going to continue counting my days post relationship and commit to taking it one day at a time. Sobriety: alcohol 604 days, relationship 4 days. I commit to not drinking today, and commit to not “checking in” today. Onward!

    Thanks for all you do and all the insights on the bubblehour

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jean,
    I love the Bubble Hour and it has helped me in so many ways. My story is unremarkable and like many others. I knew I had to quit drinking but it took me many years to really do it. I heard Kate Bee on your podcast and took her class last January. I have not had a drink since. I feel very lucky to listen to the women on your program and identify with something they all say. I would love to come to the yoga retreat but the timing doesn’t work this year. Maybe you will do it again. I’m at a point where I feel I need more connection but haven’t figured how to do that. Many thanks for all you share and do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sharon, yes I’ll be doing two retreats in 2019 if all goes as planned. Connection will supercharge your recovery! Anything you can do to meet with others is great. Send me a message through my UnPickled Facebook page and I can help you find an online group as well. I love that you did Kate’s program! She’s so lovely.


  5. Hi Jean,
    I just listened to both Bubble Hour episodes with Erin W. and I want to thank you for keeping it real. I have been sober for 4 years and find I crave cutting through the nicey nice small talk with friends and getting down to what’s really going on in our lives. It’s hard to break through the social mask sometimes. I feel like there’s more pressure these days for people to curate their lives the way they curate their social media. I appreciate how I can always count on real women talking about real life experiences on your podcast, and I look forward to reading every new blog post. You don’t know how often I catch myself saying “me, too!” Thanks again!


  6. Oops! glad you came out of this one unscathed. My husband was injured in a “cabin mishap” last week and the ER doc teased him about it. “Ah, cabin season,our busiest time of the year” he said. Take care out there!

    Day 763


  7. Dear Jean: it’s so generous of you to share even the awkward moments on your blog. I know that that tumble was no fun, a little bit scary and definitely awkward. The tree project a bit harrowing too! The way you share your vulnerability is an incredible asset to those of us who need strength. Thank you for being there. Also, your time and dedication to the bubble hour is helping to save thousands of people.


  8. So glad you’re ok.
    I love your pod cast but honestly your too rich for me to really relate to. I think it’s a lot harder to face sobriety when every day you work to feed your family and survive.
    I need to find people who get the endless grind but thank you and the others for the bubble hour!!


    • Ah well, different stages of life, I guess. I was still in the daily grind when I got sober and started this blog, and in some ways I found the routine and busy pace was helpful. You’d be surprised how many readers of this blog became addicted to alcohol AFTER they retired because of all the down time. Money stress is a heavy load though, I hear your point, and please know that addiction will leverage it as another reason you *deserve* that drink. Sneaky bugger! At any rate, I promise you that if you and I sat down for coffee we would have heaps to talk about and many moments of “I know!! Me too!!” to connect us. Thanks for following and hang in there.


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