In the sober groups I’m a part of on-line I see so many people wondering what to do to fill their time. Drinking, it turns out, takes a LOT of time. Especially if you factor in the recovery periods, planning drinks in advance, pausing daily chores to refill your drink or grab another beer……..
I never realized until I got sober how many hours and days were lost and suddenly a whole new world opened up. Sure, I knew I lost a lot of time in blackouts and over sleeping, but I never factored in the thousands of minutes drinking stole from me under the radar.
For example, I celebrated my 16th Sober Sunday a couple of weeks ago and it went something like this.
In no particular order. I finished reading Alcohol Explained, highly recommend, I wish I had read it earlier in my sober journey. I helped my husband use the internet (he has a flip phone y’all). I helped my daughter complete her school work for the day. I made omelets for breakfast. I made myself an iced coffee. I made meringue cookies. I made regular cookies. I made mini cheesecakes. I made lemon curd. I made 2 different kinds of chicken. And 2 quiches. And all the dishes were cleaned. I also got laid. It was a pretty full day.
A huge contrast to 17 Sundays ago. I was hungover. I had just had a massive fight with my husband over my drinking. I was guzzling vodka and seltzer at 8:00 a.m. and I was 28 pounds larger and the most unhappy creature on earth. I accomplished NOTHING on this day. I’ll take a sober Sunday ANYTIME.
Sundays aside, we still have evenings, mornings, holidays and random time slots to fill without getting wasted. So I’ve compiled a simple list of things I enjoy doing sober and alone. I’m focusing on things you can do alone because many times, especially when we are first trying to get sober, we need to distance ourselves from our friends or other relationships that may not support our decision. I hope some of them will resonate with you and please give me any suggestions or things you enjoy in the comments. I’m looking for new ideas to!
- Coloring with map pencils. Here is a fun game, find the snake who came into the house on Easter Sunday and coiled up with my map pencils.
2. Creating collages from bits out of magazines. I actually have a notebook filled with collages, quotes I love, a list of every book I’ve read and an ongoing list of things I want to do before I die. It’s kinda my favorite book. I nearly had a stroke when my stepson spilled Kool-Aid on it a few years ago. I’m pretty sure I cried.
3. Yoga is something I also enjoy but my daughter always wants to join me and she farts when she bends over and starts laughing which makes me laugh and then everything is pointless so I’ve given it up for the time being. My favorite is Yoga with Adriene. She is great and offers lots of free videos.
4. Kayaking is fun alone or with friends. And if your friends are being shitty, you can paddle away and be alone. Bonus!
5. Planning menus and prepping meals for the week, or weeks, ahead. It’s so relaxing knowing when you get home, supper just has to be warmed up. You can make single portions in little Ziplocs or freeze entire casseroles, doesn’t matter. Muffins, unfrosted cupcakes, most cookies, breads, almost anything freezes well except potatoes and/or cream. Don’t try that. Horrible idea.
6. In the baking spirit, most of us who enjoy baking don’t want a million sweets lying around. So do what I do, make loads of cupcakes or cookies or candies and toss them at friends and relatives (not literally of course, but I wave and leave things on kitchen tables in the name of social distancing while also avoiding long conversations I don’t wish to have – perfect). Fire departments, police departments, home-bound seniors, libraries, heck, just make the rounds spreading love and sweetness. Everyone adores the guy or gal bearing sweets.
7. Read some great Quit Lit, such as This Naked Mind by Annie Grace or The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Grey They are my 2 favorites. And here is a stack of all the ones I am working on.
8. Write letters. Real, hand-written letters. Get some pretty paper and collectible stamps. Dig out your address book from college or high school. Drop a line to an old friend. Brighten your grandparent’s day. There are lots of websites connecting pen pals if you’re stumped on who to write to.
9. Composing simple poems and paintings. Here is one I wrote awhile back. And my owl. Obviously, you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.
10. One of my most favorite things ever is photography. I leave my phone at home, grab a real, honest-to-goodness camera and hit the woods, trails or a county road. And I walk. Not for exercise, but for pleasure. And the goal is to just slow down, notice the small things and capture them on film (or SD card). Before my drinking got out of control, I did this every week and blogged about it. I shared my Wicked Walk every Wednesday. It was a fantastic outlet I really enjoyed and I’m happy to be getting back into it now that my mind has cleared up.
11. Hunting, while not for everyone, is a great way to practice stillness and just being with yourself. And if you’re not comfortable shooting a gun, take a camera instead. Perching in a tree and watching wildlife undisturbed is pretty great. Sometimes you see deer. Sometimes you see gophers, Sometimes you see bobcats. Sometimes you don’t see jack-diddley-squat.
12. Teas are something else I enjoy when the weather isn’t 9,000 degrees. It’s fun to try new flavors and learn about where the teas come from. Forget wine, there are a lot of tea snobs out there. Who knew!?!
13. One of the most overlooked things are activities right where you live. I’ve observed in my 37 years on earth, that people will travel and plan all sorts of things to do away from home and never see the great things in their own backyard. Google your town, state or region, drop by the Chamber of Commerce or visitors center. I’ll bet you will be surprised what you’ve missed.
14. Make playlists. Maybe you’ve already done this but I’m behind like 100 years and had never made a playlist until recently. I have one for American Classics, think Burl Ives singing Froggie Went A’ Courtin’ or Big Rock Candy Mountain, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, that kinda thing. So many great songs out there. I also have one to keep me pumped up about being sober labeled “AFAF!” and it’s loaded with stuff like Fight Song by Rachel Platten and Burn the Ships by King and Country.
15. Gardening! Grow flowers. Grow succulents. Nourish a butternut. Tackle a tomato. Chase some running beans. Pickle some peppers. Growing things takes time and patience and it’s something, if you tend to it daily, will yield beautiful delicious things into your life. Just like sobriety.
So there you are! A few things I’ve found I enjoy, alone and sober. I hope you’ve found a thing or two you would like to try. I’d love to hear your experiences. Have a great, sober and safe weekend!