Sobriety Is The New Black

Alright so this topic is a bit overdone right now, but I wanted to weigh in for a titch on this whole Dry January thing. The holidays are a shit show, I get it, everyone needs a little detox and that’s cool too, but for some of you who might be like me, it’s not so much a 30 days and done deal, it’s a life style choice that I’ve been forced to adopt because my brain and body have decided I can’t sustain the level of party animal shit show Kelly of the past.

The dreaded hangxiety (which is actually a real medical thing!) after big night out, used to last one day, I would stay in bed and then go back to normal. This last year it has gotten so much worse. It lasts forever, stewing in my brain, and then spirals into a depressive state for days after the ‘Saturday Night’ good times.

Cue panic mode.

I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions around sobriety to the nth degree over the last 12 months and I’m not here to preach for anyone to do it one way or another. I’ve gone weeks without, then fell off the wagon. I’ve tried to moderate, but in the end I know I am way better off without it. I feel sadness to let that party boat sail off without me and maybe I will fall off again and again or maybe I won’t, as of today I’m writing with clarity that today I am not going to drink, and that is good enough for me. Will that change in a month? Maybe, but regardless this post isn’t about my choices. I just wanted to share some sobriety goodies with you if you are so inclined to need them :)

I enjoyed this article about the Sober Curious Movement which appeals to me if only I could be a more ‘occasional drinker’ but in the end moderate was never in my vocabulary. I do love the bit at the end about having a non alcoholic drink to start the night which more times then not ends the evening with you sober. I always have found the hardest part for me was the first 1-2 hours of the night, once I got past it, abstaining seemed a fuck of a lot easier. 

I read Sober Stick Figure a few years ago and I LOVED it. It was written by comedian Amber Tozer, who I could relate to 100%. The book is a memoir of her life as a comic, her alcoholism and recovery. As per the name, her little stick figure drawings of her being loaded are reason enough to buy this book :)

I follow a couple of people on instagram which are great for a daily dose of inspiration, although if I happen to have had a few drinks the night before, reading about all the amazing things the sober have accomplished on a Sunday can be tough on the psyche. Maybe that statement is more telling than I think… Regardless, Millie Gooch was just a regular girl who quit the booze in 2018 but felt there were no resources for fellow young sober girls so she launched this great collective of ladies who support each other through their sobriety call the Sober Girl Society. Her insta is fun and colourful and I enjoy listening to her podcasts because she reminds me SO MUCH of myself.

Sober Girl Society has a great design aesthetic as well as a fun vibe which most sober curious people struggle with – can I still be fun while sober? Fuck yes!

The Sober Glow account is not as cheeky as the above, but her posts are lovely and I have enjoyed her 30 days of movement initiative for January. Her instagram board is very calming, I just want to sit on the beach with her in a flowy dress and have a chat.

I grabbed this from her insta. It really spoke to me as I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic but I was indeed living inside that large grey area.

I’m also reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray. Her stories and the way she tells them in her charming British way are incredible. I can relate to a lot of what she is saying, her recovery factoids are the most ‘A HA!’ moments I’ve read thus far and have helped shape my brain to think about it all differently. Even if you don’t want to stop the boozing, she is a great storyteller. I began it yesterday and am almost finished.

If podcasts are more your thing, I have not listened to a ton of these episodes but have heard great things about them :)

Love Sober (episode 58 had guest Millie Gooch on from the Sober Girl Society). Half of my love for these ladies is listening to them retell the horror stories of Holiday time loaded on Buck’s Fizz (mimosas to us Canadians :)

Seltzer Squad is also on my list to have a listen.

Recovery Rocks is a mix of sobriety and rock and roll chat.

A whole list can be found on The Temper.

So whatever your reasons, they are yours and for no one else to judge. Enjoy the sober month, year, life, or even if it’s just today, good on you!

Judgey is Sucky

So this morning I finished reading a book…and it was utterly unexpected.

The cover was naked and racy, the title mimicking the photo on the front so I thought it would be a silly sexy read that I really do love. I crave the escape of books in this genre. The easy push and pull of a new relationship, the heated looks, the whispers of touches that immerse you into their world with the awkward excitement of a new lover. It’s easy to be sucked in.

It’s not crazy intense, it’s not multiple books about middle earth in which you require a guidebook to figure out what the hell is going on. Sometimes you need a simple escape and book covers typically say a lot about what you’re getting yourself into.

But sometimes I am taken by surprise.

It wasn’t like that at ALL, well maybe a little, but once I was finished I stared at the cover for quite a bit. A whole bunch of thoughts tumbling into my busy brain at once and that is when I knew I had to write this out in a blog.

In the end, the book was a love story (plot shocker I know), but not a typical one that I was expecting. It was real and interesting and it took the entire book with years of friendship to happen. I realized that the cover was in no way reflective of how the book looked to me after I was done.

I’ll be honest, a lot of the books I read are smutty and I use that term with absolute endearment. I love the authors I follow, I think they are brilliant and I applaud the way they put themselves out there.

Christina Lauren, Penny Reid, Emma Chase…just a few that I count down to book release day. They mix humour, with characters that are flawed, but interesting. There is sex, but also relationships that are real and honest and not simply ‘Hey I like your boobs, I’m in love with you!’.

These are super smart women who love to write about love and sex and I am always in awe of the worlds they create. In real life Penny Reid works as a biotech researcher and Lauren from the Christina Lauren duo has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience…so like I said, they are SMART women.

Books provide my escape. I want to fall in love, I want to laugh, I want to read witty discussions and I want to be entertained. I don’t want to think about soccer practise, work deadlines, or the endless to-do list. So this book surprised me…and it also made me think.

To be honest I’ve been on the fence over whether I should still continue to write at all. Unsure whether I could let myself pursue it unabashedly and without fear that I will fail. Or knowing that judgement will happen regardless.

I know graphics, I know design, I have succeeded in this life, and I love it still. But when I write I feel inspired and excited. So much so that I would rather write then sleep. I would happily jump into another world that I can completely control for hours at a time. But I haven’t written in months. I sat down to write the second in the ‘Off Limits’ series, and I just felt blocked. I started to doubt. Began to tell myself to smarten up and maybe this is a waste of time.

I forgot about that feeling I get when I write.

I began to think that what I write is crap, so I held back. I stopped talking about it. I didn’t put it out there for anyone but close close friends to read. Friends, who I knew would like it. I started to think that I would be judged by my words or the cover. Like that book I just read.

I finished writing ‘Riley’ in November. I love this book. The few people who have read it, also loved this book. But I still hold back. I sit on it and start the cycle of depression that perhaps they were lying, perhaps it is a dumb thing. Perhaps I should make better use of my time.

I obsessed over how people would react to the book cover. Even though I designed it to be blurry and, I thought, pretty tasteful in relation to others that have naked dudes with girls’ legs wrapped around their bodies.

Would people start to think that it was something that I wrote about from experience? How I definitely must have had an affair with a young guy because that is who my main character is. Or maybe that I secretly want that to happen? I think about male authors and know that this would NEVER HAPPEN to them. No one would ever condemn a guy for writing a sex scene with a younger chick, not ever.

But this isn’t a feminist rant…not today anyways.

Would people make fun of it? Make fun of me for writing it? Would they say good job Kel, but then judge me as a silly mother who had better grow up and adult. It’s these thoughts that have silenced my blogs, my writing, as I continue to sit on something that maybe someone would actually like to read had they known about it.

It’s that line in the sand, that once I cross over, it’s out there. I mean, Finn happened to casually mention to his teacher, last year, that his mom was a writer and god love her, she googled me and found and bought my first book. I had no idea until she emailed me the most fantastic email to tell me how she loved it, that it was not her normal genre to read but loved it regardless and finished it within days. Now, this would be my young adult paranormal series, so it was out there, but again, it has no sex, no openly graphic scenes. So I stress thinking, what if his current teacher were to read my new book, holy fuck, what would happen then?

Someone once told me that I shouldn’t write things I’m embarrassed by and I am most definitely not embarrassed. I’m proud that I wrote it and I love my book characters. So much so that I have 2 more stories floating in my brain, waiting to be processed. But putting yourself out there, crossing that line. It’s a scary place.

I’ve never really cared what people thought of me before and I still don’t. I mean, not really. But this is the most ‘naked’ I have ever felt in sharing some of my art. Naked is a great word really. It’s vulnerable. It’s out there. I mean, my mother in law could potentially read this one day! The thought makes me sweat. But how else do we remain on the right path? And what is the correct path?

I’ve felt thrown off these last few months. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get back on that path. But when I think of my most happy moments, one of them is without a doubt finishing each of my books. Punching that last period and nearly crying with excitement. I think it would be a tragedy if I didn’t continue just for those gratuitous moments that I recall with perfect clarity. Even if no one but me loves them.

So.

This is me.

Standing naked.

Book in hand…and being proud of it.

Whew.

Kobo + Amazon

 

The Super Fun Literary Kitchen Table

So Happy New Year to you all! I’m currently still in a house with a Christmas tree but lack the energy to dismantle so we are still in holiday mode. It was a whirlwind last week, travel, booze, food, travel, booze, food, booze, food…more booze. We have decided to go for a cleanse this week and so far 4 days without it feels like we have run a marathon. I don’t know what the next few days will hold but so far so good. But that isn’t what this post is about. Nope. Today I am talking about something way more fun.

BOOKS!

I have come to a realize that I have been buried so far in my Kobo that I’ve forgotten how amazing tactile books are. I have 549 books on my device, which is the perfect place for them as they are novels and not the flip through type variety. This year I focused on giving books as gifts, funny and cute books. Books that look amazing on a table, readily available to enjoy. I’ve done this before, placing a pile of adult cartoon books on the kitchen table to replace a centrepiece and the results were people popping in and immediately pouring over them. Reading the good parts out loud for everyone to giggle over.

The Table

Our kitchen is our hub, most walk through the door, grab a beer and go no further then the 10-15 feet that encompass this room. We have a small round table, which I normally have the typical candles, vase or strange ceramic creature perched on, but after the holidays I decided to bring back the books and so far it’s a style I need to keep up.

This week I placed an old (gigantic) book of fantasy Manolo Blank photo shoots, an Orly Kiely pattern book (one of my fav designers), Rosie Revere, Engineer that Wren got for Xmas, Amazing animal facts, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (another comic gem for Wren), The Jose Bautista Bat Flip book (thanks Chad!), and 2 editions of Ladybirds comic genius – The Midlife Crisis, and The Shed.

Narwhal – Unicorn of the Sea is so cute

Narwhal - Unicorn of the Sea

A wide variety and one that the kids and I have enjoyed every day this week. Wren was obsessed with the pattern book, Finn, the bat flip one, and I pick up a random one daily, flip through and giggle, every time I sit at the table. It makes me so happy to see them stacked, or strewn open as the kids look through each one, laughing or pointing at something interesting. It’s made me realize that static centrepieces aren’t really my style and though it might look nice, it could be so much better with something that can make us think, dream, or imagine.

Wren and I poured through the Manolo book the other day which I was in awe over, no wonder they cost more then our car. Lately I have enjoyed the random book section at Homesense, the design and travel books alone are a great start to a Literary Table and so much more amazing then some dried flowers, or a bowl of fruit. Instead of watching TV, the kids can learn about Italy, or giggle over a comic book. Chapters is a HAVEN for me, the large size, colourful kids books are incredible even for an adult to look through. I have a wonderful friend who sends me kids books all the time and they are my favourite things.

Rosie Revere is a great message for wee girls

Rosie revere, Engineer

People always say they want to read more, the resolution I’ve heard so many times, but it doesn’t have to be a 700 page novel, that is overwhelming and sometimes unattainable with our schedules. It can be as simple as leafing through Zombie Apocalypse comic manual, or a gorgeous book on pattern or colour. Architecture books are incredible, or even a lovely cookbook that inspires you to try something new. You don’t have to read adult content to enjoy reading. I firmly believe a little imagination is mandatory in our daily lives. Embrace it and so will your kids. Happy Reading!

This Orly Kiely book is incredible

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The Shed is my husband to a tee…

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How Calvin & Hobbes made me (ME!) get emotional

This post is going to make Kristin laugh. I know, I expect the jabs to come soon. Aw Kelly, you’re going soft! But I can’t help it. I had a moment last night. A genuine top ten moment and as it nears 5:30AM this morning I’m laying here thinking about it and I need to write it out. Record the occasion.

Let me backtrack a second, like I always do. My son Finn is now in grade 3. I mean, he looks about as tall as a 10 year old, but he’s still just in grade 3. Reading is supposed to be a regular thing now, I see his other classmates crushing chapter books with a vengeance and yet Finn has never been jazzed over it. I’ve sat through countless PAINFUL reading sessions, choosing quirky books to get him at least interested in reading but he’s always done the groan and eye roll when I suggest we read together. And when he reads it out loud, it’s almost painful. That monotone voice he uses, just reading the words, not really getting the story.

Anyone who knows me, knows that his reaction will have me screaming in pain from the inside. Reading is beyond important to me. I run through about 8 or 10 books a month. I just prefer it over TV, and I love jumping into a new world for a few days, the book wraps up, I get closure and then I delve into another one. It satisfies my overtly non committal nature and relaxes my whirring brain.

I know it’s a possibility, I know I can’t force a love of reading on my kids, but it’s something I’m not ready to admit defeat to. I’ve begged to read Harry Potter to Finn, but he’s (GASP) not into wizards or the supernatural or anything of the sort (DOUBLE GASP). At least there’s Wren whose already has shown a fondness for monsters, so I’m hopeful.

Anyways, Finn’s never been that way, preferring watching cartoons over anything. So as he continued to read a chapter books out loud, a painful monotone retelling of a subject that even I’m bored of, I had to think. I had to come up with a new plan, this wasn’t working.

For either of us.

He still hated to read, and I hated to listen to it.

One night I watched a doc on Bill Watterson. Creator (genius) of the comic Calvin & Hobbes. It was a fascinating watch, due partly to the fact that I grew up reading and adoring these books. These books that I can still pick up, flip to a page and almost recall the strip. So this would be 10…ok…15…OK! 25 years later and it’s still relevant, still funny, still incredibly witty and astounding to me.

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The books belonged to my sister, which she still has, so I realized I needed to get some comics in here…stat.

My new plan unfolded.

We began to read 10 pages a night or so. I would read them, out loud, frame by frame, and obviously explain it as we went. Calvin isn’t a normal little kid, he’s brilliantly smart and understated. His imagination might be hard for a little kid to grasp in comic form, wondering why all of a sudden the strip is drawn from the Jurassic period. Or understanding the political references during G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy Girls) meetings in the treehouse. Finn would only smile at first, not truly figuring it out but loving the drawings and relationship between a boy and his stuffed tiger.

But eventually he started to giggle.

After a few weeks, he would carry around his 2 large books and ask me when we would get cozy in bed and read them together. HE ASKED TO READ (TRIPLE GASP).

As Seuss would say: my heart grew 3 sizes that day…

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I’ve decided recently, my kids watch too much TV, not that I care, I mean I grew up in front of the tube, and I turned out ok…relatively, but they turn into little A-Holes for some reason and I had had enough. Restricting the TV didn’t bother Wren in the least. Last week I took it away all week and when I finally put on a movie, she walked away to colour. Finn on the other hand was DEVASTATED. But after a few days, we came to a routine. We’d play cards (which was right up Troy’s alley), or lay in my bed with Calvin and start to giggle (this was my alley).

So last night was my moment.

I told him we would read out loud for 30 minutes and then he would do it quietly beside me. But as we sat and laughed together it was so much fun, we continued for an hour. Then it happened…

MY SON READ ON HIS OWN AND LOVED IT!

I picked up my kobo, but found myself peeking at what he was reading, smiling when he smiled. His lips moving over the long words, I mean, some of those are really hard words for a kid. I did have to explain what a tyrant was and why Calvin’s mom was being one, but after my dictionary lesson, he would smile and keep going.

So yes, I had my moment, I almost verklempt at the sight. It will be a top ten, ingrained, a flick in time that maybe I did something right as a parent (those are few and far between, it feels). I mean these are the times I will remember when he doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore, when he’d rather spend his night with his friends, when he leaves for university one day to start his own adventure. I will always remember last night. Cuddling in my bed, the snow falling outside, reading the best comic ever written, and laughing uncontrollably over a little kid, his imaginary tiger and decapitated snowmen. It was perfect.

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Ungraceful

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Yeah so I’m not sure why I’m procrastinating on this, it’s been up on Kobo and Amazon for a few days, but here is my post with the info for anyone interested in reading my book. Wow that sounded so clinical and boring. I should say, who wants to read my book??!!! You?! Do it!!

First, huge thanks to my supporters on this LOOOOOONG project, you are all amazing and I apologize for the many spelling mistakes you were forced to endure (grammar is my nemesis) and the fact that you have to re-read the book. I promise it’s better! ‘Ungraceful’ is a full rewrite of ‘Fall From Grace’, which in my opinion, improved the story two-fold. It’s pretty different in content due to the fact that, ahem, I wrote book 2 and realized I didn’t actually plan the ending, I just wrote and wrote and assumed it would fall into place. I was wrong. Yes I admit to my folly, and to the fact that I needed to add in and take out some characters in order to improve flow and all that good stuff. Plus I really love writing Hunters’ character so you get more of him :)

The name change came about after realizing ‘Fall From Grace’ is a super popular title name on e-book sites. So now we are ‘Ungraceful’ which is actually more of an accurate portrayal of Stella. The cover because I’m a graphic designer and I can easily do that. I mean, it was pretty imperative to add in the scull wallpaper in the background – it’s more ‘me’ that way. I also added in a sub title ‘Tales from the sorta dark-ish side’ (yes the darkish spelling mistake is intentional grammatical gurus), in order to let me have more freedom in upcoming books as they tie into the same genre. Plus I figure it was something Stella would totally say. Totes.

As a self published author, the issues are mini but many, and trying to get it to format correctly for all devices is HARD so I apologize if some things are a little out of whack. Also the pricing between the two options (Kobo and Amazon) are a little different due to the dollar and all that jazz. There is probably a simple solution but I’m (AGAIN) procrastinating in the fine details. I need to get this bad boy out there so I can focus on the second book which is almost done.

I’ve also been added to Goodreads, which I would love if you posted a review for me, it’s a great way to get exposure. So anyways, I digress, procrastination over. I won’t dick around anymore, here she is, be gentle on me and for those who like it – you are obviously my favourites :)

UNGRACEFUL SYNOPSIS //

I’ve got a secret. A sorta dark-ish ‘sometimes cool’ but steadily morphing into a ‘ruining my life while I attempt (and fail) to avoid any and all brutal maimings’ kind of secret.

Will we girls ever learn? No probably not, but history repeats as my story begins with a guy. Yes, there’s always a guy. Asher. Freaking. Grey.

Before HIM, I was blissfully ignorant of my current crap storm. I was graduating high school, selecting tupperware for my new bachelor pad in New York (shut up, it’s exciting!), getting straight A’s across the board … OK that’s a lie, but otherwise, everything was pretty ordinary. Sorta boring actually, definitely not ‘death knocking on your door’ exciting, however, I can now say with all honestly, boring is underrated.

I should have known from the start that someone with hair that perfect would have A) a shifty evil side and B) boat loads of neurotic baggage. My alarm bells should have been ringing off the charts, but said bells were being quashed by raging teenage hormones. If someone could bottle those suckers up, I’m pretty sure it’d be more potent then nuclear warfare.

I’ve been informed that I’m not who I thought I was. Actually NOTHING is how I thought it was. Is this a good thing? The jury is still out, but I guess avoidance of said maimings will be my new measure of success at life. Awesome.