As a matter of fact, I can and ……..I am proud that I made it.
Curious? Here we go. In April 2022 instead of flying to London I spent unexpectedly a day in hospital on a heart monitor. Consequently I found out that I had a few heart rhythm issues and that I would need an operation. The cardiologist muttered almost mischievously that of course drinking alcohol was not the best thing to do. While saying that he was doing a scan of my heart and did not even look me in the eye.
In France there is a joke that if the doctor asks if you have been drinking and your reply is – ‘No, nothing at all’. He would say: ‘What, not even wine?’
I decided to take the cardiologist’s advice rather seriously. Maybe because deep down I felt that I would love to drink less regularly. In fact I had been thinking about it for some time. I looked up causes of the heart problems I had and there it was – cause number one, alcohol and number two, coffee. Two of my favourites!
The best decision in action
Moving forward 6 months, I am still drinking a few coffees per day. However I have almost removed drinking alcohol from my life and against expectations, it was not hard. To be honest, it almost went by itself.
This made me think as I never before had a real need to stop having a glass of wine. Despite the fact that I felt that I rather would not have the habit. This time the urge to have a drink was gone and I slowly became indifferent about it.
Throughout the summer I explored zero alcohol beers and I discovered they are getting increasingly popular. Furthermore there are some tasty ones out there and I tried a few different brands. When Autumn came and the weather became slightly cooler I did not fancy a cold beer.
Then something interesting happened!
Imagine coming home from work on Friday. You feel like a drink to reward yourself and to finish of the work week. Instead, I felt more and more that that drink was not going to give me that feeling of reward anymore. In fact a cold glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon had the same effect. It seemed that the association of alcoholic drink and reward had become less strong.
It went even further and even if I poured myself some wine with a meal, I forgot to drink it while I was eating. So why have it then, was the logical conclusion. I am not sure what exactly happened but without me putting any effort into it, I had reduced the association between wine and enjoyment. To be honest I am thrilled that it happened like that.
My best decision made
Now I tend not to drink during the week and have a bit when socialising with friends or going out for a meal. I am happy to sit hours on the tiniest glass of wine and usually end up pouring it into my husband’s glass.
And one more thing – no more bad wine, please! If I have some, I would like a wine I appreciate. For instance there are a few local cafes where they serve rather mediocre cask wine. It definitely is less attractive going there since I made this decision.
Can you relate to this at all? I am sure there are many people out there who wish they could do this as well. Yet it never seems the right moment. In my immediate circle of friends there are at least a handful of people who have made the same decision during the last year.
I was watching a yoga practice and the teacher said the following – “Meet yourself at where you are!”
Immediately I asked myself “What does that mean and am I doing that?”
Taking this literally, the answer seems rather obvious. Of course I know where I am but you must sense that the real question addresses something a bit deeper. Practically I know where I am – my location, activity and general sense of well-being. However you probably get that this is not my point.
Meet yourself at where you are!
‘Meet yourself at where you are’. What does that actually mean? To be honest, all kind of things come to mind, but I found the below online.
Meaning to take note of where you’re at (what’s going on in your life, how you’re feeling, etc) and then give yourself permission to focus on what is important right now based on this.
I understand that it refers to an awareness of “where you are and if that is where you want to be”. In other words, are you doing what you love and are you living the life that meets your dreams, beliefs and values?
Reflecting on myself, I think I am ‘somehow’ where I want to be. I enjoy living where I am and I am grateful that I can earn an income online. What I do, may not be my ‘ideal’ job although it addresses many aspects of what I am trained for and enjoy doing.
The main restriction has to do with time. My work week is 9-5 for four days which sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Yet I am aware that deep down I would like it to be different…..
For starters I chose to work only 4 days per week because I have plenty of other things that I want to do. Before I accepted the job offer, I knew that working 5 days per week would zap me from most of my energy. Even with a four days per week, I don’t seem to have enough energy to do other things. Being over 60 may have something to do with it!
What is the answer?
The reality is that I am no different from many people. I am certain that many people with set work times feel the same. Many motivational gurus tend to make us believe that all we need to do is ‘make time and commit’. Somehow that does not seem to work for me and possibly not for you either.
To recap, I am able to take note of what I value and I am so lucky to be living in a country that I chose. I have the option to work from home and have been able ‘to set up office’ in five different countries so far. It means that I can travel, do house sits or move around while still doing my job and earning an income.
Some of my favourite things to do are hands-on. I love gardening, up-cycling furniture, mosaics and in general being creative. When I do such things, I tend to forget about time and am totally ‘in the moment’. This is the ‘place’ where I would like to be most of my time but so far I have not figured out how to make that my reality.
Not an easy one! Feel free to let me know if this rings a bell and intrigues you. I am curious about your thoughts!
Let’s have a look at role reversal. As some of you may know, we have made a recent move to the countryside. To be precise we have taken on the role of caretakers for an estate near the Pyrenees. It came our way and it shows how life can take an unexpected and sudden turn.
We usually do a few housesits throughout the year and 2021 was no different. In June we got a request to replace a caretaker’s couple so they could visit their family in the UK. The house was for sale and during that fortnight there was a house viewing. We helped to make it look presentable and met the couple that ended up buying the house.
To make a long story short, they asked us to become the new caretakers after they became the new owners. We accepted and hence the lifestyle changes since early December.
You can read about our recent lifestyle change here
The impact of our role reversal
The biggest change would be for my husband as he really was the one taking on the job. I have a job of over 30 hours per week and was not on the lookout for additional hours. I am aware I may have to chip in during the weekends especially when there are holiday guests. The house is already booked out during July and August. Considering it is not a cheap rental, we can expect demanding customers.
Our daily routine is as follows. We get up and I go to the ‘home office’. My husband puts on his work gear and ventures outside to tackle the property’s maintenance chores. The remarkable thing currently is the role reversal in this new life. I have not worked in an office ever in my life and all my jobs were hands on and quite physical. My husband on the other hand is an office man and never was that keen on manual labour.
The way it used to be
I was the one who took on landscaping, gardening, painting to name a few. Although I have always said NO to lawn mowing. Funnily now, we do what the other usually did and we seem to have taken to it without much effort. I must admit that although I do like my job, I find the ‘office hours’ element a bit of a struggle.
At the moment I am happy to do it, but I knew that I had to say NO to full time. In fact, I managed to negotiate a four-day gig, from Monday to Thursday. As a result I have been working like this since August 2021.
The role reversal has made me think about the things we like to do ‘innately’. I am sure that my calling was hands-on, active, outside and lots of people contact. My husband would be more of an office man happily sitting behind a computer and do his thing.
I have trying to install this sense of ‘doing what you are naturally good at and feel happy doing’ in my kids. Only time will tell if they manage to achieve this.
Writer David Chapman on how to improve your thinking:
“Learn from fields very different from your own. They each have ways of thinking that can be useful at surprising times. Just learning to think like an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a philosopher will beneficially stretch your mind.”
Every now and then, we can’t help having negative thoughts about a certain situation in our lives or about or ourselves. We are very likely aware that such thoughts are not helpful, but it seems there is nothing we can do to change them. Our thoughts seem stronger than ourselves and keep popping up even when we don’t want them.
It may help to put pen to paper and start writing down our negative frame of mind. Assess it and ask ourselves what the evidence is for such thoughts and if it is based on facts. Could it be that we are misinterpreting the situation? Can we imagine how other people would view this situation? Even more to the point, how would we view this issue if it happened to someone else?
Would we be as negative when it concerns a friend or are we naturally biased towards our own situation? Do we instinctively believe that we are the cause of the problem, that the issue is unchangeable and may ruin our whole life? We may have a pessimistic view and see only the factors we can’t change and control.
The good news is that we do have the power to deal with negative thoughts! We have the ability to change the way we perceive and experience these pesky thought patterns. If we cannot think them away, we can at least take charge and reduce their impact on our wellbeing. Let me share a few tips on how to do that.
How to counteract negative thoughts!
Accept and take ownership of your worries and acknowledge that you are in a negative cycle or mood. Accept them for what they are and let them be.
Consider yourself as your own best friend and ask yourself the following. ‘What would she do in this situation?’ I can guarantee you that you will be less hard on a friend with similar issues than on yourself.
Challenge your negative thoughts and stop seeing them as a threat. Rewrite your story from the viewpoint of a neutral observer and with the encouragement you would give a friend.
Don’t linger on the negative situation how bad it may be, but instead focus on the steps you can take to change and improve the situation. Seek information how to make things better or understand the situation you are in.
Do not blame the cause but focus on what is going to help you as a person. Believe there is a way and implement little things to make it better bit by bit every day.
Practice this consistently, become more resilient and let yourself be transformed!
Easy Done Change
This may sound easier than it is and you may need more guidance on how to apply these tips. Sometimes it helps to discuss it with an objective outsider to get more clarity.
If you feel you need more advice, I suggest you reach out and I would be happy to explore this in more detail with you.