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Mid Life Crisis

Have you ever done something out of the ordinary?
Have you ever thought about behaviour changes?
Have you ever felt unfulfilled with life?

I think that most of us can answer yes to one or all 3 of these questions, sometimes life can become stale, secure, we can take things for granted, we can wish for better things, we can ……………
Overall this doesn’t necessarily mean that life is bad all round, it may be just one aspect of it that may need tweaking, change is a frightening thing.
I was 55 years of age, settled within a 5 year relationship, living on the Pembrokeshire coast of West Wales, a comfortable home and lifestyle, playing pool on a Thursday night at our local pub, going out for dinner quite regularly with no drama at all, then I get carried away and develop a friendship with my landlords daughter, relapse and spiral out of control, I couldn’t seem to break free of this captivation and excitement that had come into my life.

I decided to undertake 3 things for my 55th birthday in July, I am a Leo so quite the exhibitionist, very sure of myself and overly confident at least on the outside, internally I struggle with many aspects of life, low self-esteem, vulnerabilities and insecurity, I consider myself a people pleaser although I am happy to take the lead in aspects of life that I have confidence and experience of, so what did I decide I wanted for my birthday??
Having spoken with my partner I wanted only 3 things which were really out of the ordinary for me,
1) I wanted a spray tan – yes a spray tan – Kath said that it was because I was attracted to the woman who owned the beauty parlour, she did nails, brows, massages as well as spray tans, I just wanted to feel better about myself or so I thought.

2) I volunteered for a community transport organisation, they had an idea of doing a marketing campaign and 1 of the ideas was to have a person in a full morphing suit, a bodysuit which gave the impression of a silhouette and yes you guessed it I volunteered to do it… It never happened but it caused my ex to laugh quite hysterically.

3) A tattoo … I have never really thought about having a tattoo, my Grandfather had a tattoo of the last supper on his back, it was really impressive but I guess that it must have hurt. I have nothing personally against tattoos but I have never thought of having 1, anyway June 2019, 3 – 4 weeks before my 55th birthday I was in a tattoo parlour having 2 tattoos done, the first was a declaration of my love for Kath, a Genies lamp with a heart coming out in the smoke
The 2nd tattoo that I wanted was the principle that I have lived my life by, “I did it my way”, however when I thought deeply about it, although I have lived my life to its fullest and yes I really have done things My Way, I am also quite a religious person, I went to church from a very early age, religion has played a big part in my life and I was once an alter boy, well really I was a young man aged 16.
I ended up having a verse tattooed upon my arm Your Love, O Lord, supported me Psalms 94v18, the full verse reads, When I stumbled, Your unconditional Love, O Lord, supported me.
My experiences in life have taught me that you can’t do things on your own and sometimes you need the help of someone who isn’t a personage but a heavenly being and certainly I have no shame in admitting that I believe in God, in his love for me, in his guiding hand and I am grateful that he hears and answers prayers.

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My intimate relationship with alcohol.

We often think of relationships as being between 2 or more people who develop a mutual understanding of each other’s needs, wants and desires and endeavour to fulfil them to the best of their abilities.
A working relationship is a powerful synergetic tool and instrument that enables the individuals to reach their fullest potential, mutually supportive, beneficial and an agreement between the parties.

Is it then possible to have a relationship with an inanimate object, most people would say no definitely not however I would disagree with this thought and indeed have had a very good relationship with an inanimate object along with many people who have experienced the same things.You are probably sitting there thinking how could this be?, well let me try to explain.

If we understand a relationship as being something that works between one or more things or people then we have to consider a person’s relationship with food, drugs either prescription or illicit and also alcohol.
Caroline Knapp wrote a book entitled Drinking, A love story, having read that book and a number of others especially on the subject of alcohol and alcoholism, I can fully understand this idea and concept.
A person may have a relationship with food because certain foods may give a person a feel good factor, chocolates, biscuits and certain other foods may cause the person who is eating them to feel on top of the world. Often though the reason why people reach for comfort foods changes, it could be when they are celebrating or commiserating, when things in life seem really good or when you are in the depths of despair.
Many people describe this as being an emotional eater and I have a great deal of sympathy and understanding of this because I too do the same, in times of stress or discomfort I reach for the Jelly babies, wine gums, chocolate bar or anything that will give me a feel good factor rather than something practical and filling, then you feel guilty when you have put weight on, your clothes no longer fit like they did, you lose the motivation and desire in the first instance and then you have to dig deep to pull yourself out of it.

My relationship though from my early teenage years was definitely alcohol and more often than not spirits.

I think that the above really sums up what alcohol really is seen by a lot of people, I often described it as being my worst enemy and my best friend both at the same time, a total contradiction and yet an absolute truth to me.
I saw it as my best friend as it was reliable, I knew the taste, the feel of it as it slid down my throat, the reaction that I would get from it and the way that it would make me feel, whether that was more outgoing, confident, self-assured or seemingly more acceptable company to others, although a lot of the time I drank alone.
My worst enemy because it clouded my judgment, released my inhibitions, after all on a friends stag night a group of us wandered through a local park stark naked and even had a conversation with a couple of men fishing at the lake at the bottom of the park, we all remained in a state of undress, I think that they were probably more embarrassed than we were, I do wonder though if we had been sober would we of done the same thing.
It clouds your judgment and what seems like a good idea at the time often ends up being the most disastrous and you still have to face the consequences. We also think about the trail of destruction that we leave not necessarily in a physical sense but in an emotional sense, just because we want that one last drink, although that one last drink never ends up being that one last drink until you have to stop just because, the time that you reach that stage on a night out feels like you are reaching a void, a depth of despair, your whole body aches and you feel a sense of loss and sadness that until the next day leaves you feeling lonely and ever so vulnerable.
The only thing that will fix it is the first sip of the day, the lubricating of the throat and the old feeling of being awakened and ready to start the day ahead, the merry go round begins once more.

Why then would you put yourself through this rollercoaster of emotions, this path to self-destruction, this thing that destroys your life in one foul sweep and yet you keep on going, if your marriage fails as 2 of mine did, the first I can definitely attribute to alcohol and the second had a lot of partying and alcohol in it and many things happened in a physically inappropriate sense, one night we had gone out and were drinking home brew wine, one of my ex-wifes friends had sat next to me on the sofa and was trying different lipsticks especially flavoured ones and we started to kiss, making the excuse that she wanted me to taste test the lipsticks, how ridiculous this seems now but at the time it felt almost normal and just what people did.
Friday afternoons I would find a bar and play pool on my own, drink and play Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to heaven on the jukebox, this was a great release after a long week at work and would be how the weekend began, when people started to come into the bar I would then leave, I didn’t want to be in that type of company, I don’t know why but I would always find my familiar, my comfort zone, my safe and happy place and then I would drink until the end of the night.

The hardest thing to accept is that this is how your life looks, success in a bottle and yet physically it damaged me immensely, I was hospitalised before I was 30 years of age so that would have been pre 1994, with alcoholic hepatitis and was told that I had a year if I continued to drink the way that I did, so I walked out of my consultants room and stopped for a year, after going back I was told that my liver was in pretty good shape and I went straight into the pub to celebrate, I was hooked once more, all of the good that I had done, I was undoing in a very fast and lose way, before I knew it I was drinking as much as I was before and acting in the very same way and I continued for a couple of years until April of 1997, when I decided I no longer wanted my life to be run and dictated by a clock in a bar and an amount of money that could be spent on alcohol each and every day.
I poured a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt whisky down the sink and that was it, the start of my journey to a better life and recovery, now some 22 years later and my life is greatly improved, I have a wonderful relationship with my partner, I have very few close friends but they are the people that I want in my life, my family and my partners family play a big part in how I want my life to be, I live by the coast and it is really good and quiet.

How do I spend my time now?
I have decided to spend some time developing this blog as a way of sharing my life, my choices and my failures and successes with others, highlighting that there is always another way.
I go to the gym regularly.
This year I have done a 5k and a 15 miles walk for charity.
I have been baptised in the sea, it was cold but refreshing and really enjoyable. I even had a swim before being baptised.
I volunteer with a community transport charity and am a trustee.
I enjoy time out with my partner and play pool with her 1 night a week and enjoy eating out.
My relationships are built on a more solid foundation, I like to think that I am more dependable and my health is a lot better than it was especially during my drinking days.
I also feel a great deal freer, addiction is like being in a chain of bondage but not to a person but a substance and it controls your thoughts and impulses.
I am so grateful that I no longer drink and I no longer have the desire to, if things are going badly I accept that, talk it through and look for solutions to the problems.
I do suffer from depression and anxiety but I don’t believe that has anything to do with the alcohol dependency but more about life and its circumstances.

Trying something new

First of all, Happy Fathers Day to all of the Fathers who were celebrated yesterday and I hope that you all enjoyed your day doing the things that you did.

I thought today that I would share some of my thoughts about new experiences and some of the things that I have done recently. Whenever we try something new or meet someone for the first time our senses are heightened, we may feel anxious or be filled with a sense of trepidation after all we are entering into unknown territory. Fear and anxiety are both feelings that are designed to protect us and allow us to evaluate our actions.

Breadmaking yesterday.

I live quite a distance from my family and although I have a reasonably good circle of friends yesterday I wouldn’t possibly have even gone out especially with it being Father’s day, a friend of mine saw a poster a couple of weeks ago aimed at men who may have been on their own, it was for a soup and breadmaking workshop, it’s something that I have never done before and in all honesty probably wasn’t my idea of fun but I went along with my friend to support the event and him. I have to admit that I was fearful, I actually lack confidence in many situations and often worry about making a fool of myself, previous experience has taught me a great deal, I have to say though that it was a really fun filled 4 hours in which I made bread and Soup but more importantly made new connections

The efforts of my labours.

I have had quite a lot of new experiences recently some that I wouldn’t want to repeat but many that I have embraced, I do short mat bowls on a Monday evening with a great bunch of people and this has opened up new opportunities, I now help out with a Stroke club who use bowls has a form of therapy, I am undertaking a voluntary role within the community centre that I attend and am developing new friendships πŸ˜€. I have rejoined the gym, am doing a fundraiser for a mental health charity which involves doing 10,000 steps a day, so not only are you supporting a charity but you are spending more time outdoors walking πŸƒπŸƒπŸ‹πŸ‹ i have lost 10lbs weight in 3 weeks and embrace the life I live πŸ˜€ along with using the Sauna and Steam room at my local gym many of these experiences were new to me.

Live the life you love ❀️

What do you value??

Many of you who have been following my blog over the last year or so will know that I suffer from depression and anxiety and have overcome an addiction to alcohol, had 4 marriages and have 2 children, 1 of which I don’t have any contact with and recently lost the 2 closest people in my life, my Aunt and Uncle who were the biggest influences in my life.
I have also experienced many hours of sitting in a Psychiatrists or Psychologists chair, talking therapies, being listened to and valued.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Putting your life under a microscope.
During the last sessions of therapy, I was asked the question, “What do I value”??
It is really easy to think about the things that you value when you look around you, the clock that you have purchased recently, the books on the bookcase, the laptop that you are writing this blog on, these are possessions rather than things of value, imagine trying to think about what you value, then I would ask that you close your eyes and imagine having nothing and then when you open your eyes focus upon the first things that you see, how you feel when you look at the items, hold and touch them.

This is how I chose to have my living room decorated, and the clock is a focal point of my wall however when I think about what I value, I try and move away from personal possessions, and think more about qualities and attributes.
What then do I value??
I value above all else my sobriety, 25 years of abstaining from alcohol is not only a milestone but also I have surpassed the length of time that I had been drinking.
I value my health and well-being – I am looking at losing weight, eating more healthily, going to the gym, walking more, trying to get into a proper sleep pattern .
Service – I look forward to the opportunity to serve others, whether it be on committees, helping someone with their shopping, taking meter readings for an elderly relative or taking the time to listen to someone.
I value education – I read uplifting and educational books, watch educating documentaries and take an interest in the world around me.
I value my relationships and have established healthy boundaries.

My uncle and his dog.

My Dad and I
My Aunt and I

My girlfriend and I last year.

These are some of the things that I value, my relationships are very important to me and spending time with my loved ones is how I enjoy spending what little time I have on this earth,

Being creative

I have just done the 1st week of a creative writing course, I don’t really consider myself to be creative but I have a very strong interest in writing. I tend to use the left side of my brain 🧠 🀣, that of course assumes that I have one, so many decisions I have made in my life suggest that I don’t have 1, or I’m certainly not led by it.

Certainly this is something that I am trying to do, I always believe in the fact that if thinking patterns change then life can become easier, we will still face challenges and things won’t always be easy but if we look at solutions rather than problems then we will create opportunities that we wouldn’t really see because we are stuck in the negative processes.

Where does creativity stem from??? I have often wondered about this and even now I don’t really know, I think that a lot of it has to do with imagination, even the way that we play, our circumstances and our relationships, I do believe though that some people provide inspiration by giving feedback and support but also by debate, positive debate provides the opportunity to collate thoughts and ideas.

I truly believe that my inspiration comes from my relationship with Josie my girlfriend and being outdoors, walking and observing the things around me. My mantra in life is ” Love the life you live but more importantly Live the life you love “❀️πŸ’₯😁

No matter what you do in life enjoy your experiences because they are opportunities to learn and grow but also make time for fun and laughter πŸ˜ƒ

8 days on the run.

We think about being on the run has being something scary or suspicious however its all about context. The context of this blog post is all about health and well-being and in particular keeping moving forward.

Last Wednesday

I have been feeling quite lethargic over this last few months, the weather hasn’t been too good, I experienced a great deal of loss last year but I have decided in the last few months that I really need to do something, I have put on some weight over the last couple of years, and my health has suffered quite a lot.

Enjoying a walk in the sunshine

No one said that life would be easy however if you want to enjoy your life then anything is possible, I try to find balance in my life especially in 4 aspects of it: Physical Social Emotional Spiritual Mental

Physical, I try and follow a good diet, sleep pattern, exercise and generally take care of my appearance. Social / Emotional- I have good relationships with people, supporting and encouraging them and being supported and encouraged by them, set clear boundaries and manage expectations. Spiritual – This is more about my relationship with self and the world around me, my character and the way that I behave inwardly and outwardly, living true to the values that I hold. Mental – I seek out opportunities to learn and engage in experiences that are wholesome, read good books, watch documentaries on the subjects I am interested in, wildlife, Sharks and sealife, do some puzzles etc.

Me in 2014
Josie and I a couple of months ago.

So why the title because on the last day in May upto and including today I have completed 10,000 steps plus each day and in the last week lost 4lbs in weight, for the 1st time in nearly 2 years I am close to getting to 15 stone in weight 😊 weigh day tomorrow so 🀞🀞

My weight last Tuesday
My mantra for life

I choose life

Many years ago I was in a really dark place, an abusive and controlling marriage, very little time to myself and every move that I made I felt as if I was being spied upon and monitored. Many times I wondered how and when it would end and yet each and every day I chose to live, I kept on trying to do the best that I could.

Me in 2014

After nearly 12 years of marriage in August 2014, I have a firm belief that God once again intervened in my life, I was given a couple of thousand pounds, not a lot but enough for a train ticket and time to find somewhere to live, I felt that I had to move far enough away from my family and few friends to feel totally safe and I moved to Pembrokeshire on the West Coast of Wales, met someone who I was with for just over 5 years, sadly it didn’t work out but I never give up on the idea of finding love πŸ˜€ ❀️. It’s hard sometimes when you don’t really love yourself very much and although I say that I do outwardly I don’t always feel it inside

Last year in Cardiff

Anyway after some hard times, loss and separation and having πŸ’‹ a few female 🐸 I found my princess πŸ‘Έ, a year later and we are still going strong and the past are just memories now. Whilst writing this post I am sat on a bench enjoying the sound of birds singing all around me.

3 DAYS IN A ROW.

I like many people struggled throughout the ongoing pandemic with bouts of depression and anxiety, lethargy and wondering whether anything would get back to normal, anyway over the last few weeks I have really struggled tying my shoelaces, I carry quite a lot of weight on my abdomen almost like a beer belly, not that I used to drink beer only spirits ha ha, not really a laughing matter but 25 years without a relapse I think that I can be quite proud of myself.
Prior to lockdown I lost over 4 stone in weight going from 17 stone to 13, using the gym, walking a lot, eating more healthily, over the last couple of weeks I decided to go back to the gym and last week I weighed myself, I weighed in at 16 stone 5 pounds, not quite where I started from but close enough to cause me to undertake a serious evaluation of my life.

Why 3 days in a row, I like to help others and my girlfriend Josie has a niece who has a dog so I asked if I could start taking her out for walks, she is a beautiful Huskie not a breed that you would expect to find in West Wales in the UK, day 1 Monday I did 18 thousand steps, day 2 around 16 thousand and today Wednesday June the 1st I did 23,000 plus steps, helped by taking a dog for a walk and being out with my girlfriend.
I also weighed myself last Tuesday and weighed in at 16 stone 5 pounds and I weighed myself yesterday a week later and weighed 16 stone 1 pound a loss of 4 pounds.

Yesterday Tuesday the 31st of May
Breakfast this morning.

Why do I share these thoughts with you???
Part of my aims in life are to support and encourage others, my journey isn’t complete yet but I hope that I by sharing a part of myself make a difference in someone’s life.
My gaols in life are very simple, to enjoy living, make the most of any situation, inspire, encourage and support others, even in this last week 1 of my friends has joined the gym, we regularly go out walking together, my girlfriend whose birthday is on the 1st of July is spending more time outdoors walking with me and for her birthday wanted an exercise bike which I purchased for her last week and it now sits neatly in her bedroom and yes I can confirm that she does use it.
I was asked a few weeks ago to think about 1 thing that I value, the list is not endless and it was difficult to pick 1 thing but the 1 thing that I cling to above all else is my sobriety and my life since giving up alcohol.

My friend and I on a 15 mile walk .

A mocktail that I made a few weeks ago.

I also have started making videos on Facebook about mocktails and mocktail making, life isn’t perfect after all what is perfect but the sun is shining, my relationships are healthy and my boundaries clear and I enjoy doing what I do.

Thank you everyone for being with me on this journey, this adventure that we call life.
Paul.

Do more of what you love.

I sometimes slip into bouts of depression and everything can become an effort, however I spend time evaluating the things I do in my life, sometimes even overthinking things.

These moments and frame of mind often lead to doing nothing or very little and sometimes even things that are detrimental to my health and well-being, I have decided that rather than doing things out of a sense of duty or a wanting to belong, I have given some thought and reevaluated how I spend my time

A trip to Manchester last year.

I enjoy being around people, walking and journaling, recently I have spent time with my girlfriend, she has a couple of days a week off work and I keep my diary free so that we can spend time together, whether it’s sat on the sofa holding hands and watching TV, shopping or even doing nothing she is my best friend, very quirky and mad has a box of 🐸 but really fun to be around.

Our beautiful coastline.

How do you lift yourself up??, Think about what you want to achieve, your needs, wants and desires, I like being around people so I attend a luncheon club on Thursday afternoon at my local community centre, every other week Josie my girlfriend and I go to prize bingo, I do short mat bowls on a Monday night with a really nice group of people and today I had the pleasure of helping someone make a chair planter I even used a saw 🀣🀣🀣 I also took my girlfriends nieces dog πŸ• a Husky for a long πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ πŸšΆβ€β™‚οΈ

Life is too short for drama and upset, I know that things happen in life that will knock us sideways but it is how we deal with these events and pick ourselves up once again, we are able to overcome challenges in our lives. The pictures I have shared highlight some of the fun days from the last year and some of the people I have spent time with, I have also suffered from 2 losses this last year my Uncle passed away last April and my Aunt passed away although I wasn’t told about her passing for very long and complicated reasons.

Its been a while.

I often think about how much I would like to achieve on any given day, my day is full of focus and a willingness to improve, then I open my eyes and all of my good intentions seem to leave, when I thought about blogging it was my intention to create a sense of enthusiasm and positivity and a zest for life, I thought about how much I had achieved in my life and the positive changes I have made, then life got in the way and my depression hit once again and life seemed different to what I wanted, energy and enthusiasm left me feeling like a wet weekend on a rugged coastline without either coat or umbrella.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, I have been labelled with Unstable Emotional Personality Disorder and just gone through 16 weeks of Psychotherapy, we have many areas of our lives that cause us anguish or discomfort and can be quite debilitating at times.
We discover those traits that limit us, our beliefs, our thoughts and our lack of confidence, we may not be in a position to alter the events that have happened in our lives or how we had reacted too them, however we can make positive changes from today, we can enjoy life if we change our attitudes towards it, accept that things happen to which we may have no control over, we can control how we feel and how we react.

We all have to have a starting point

This is my starting point on my new journey to losing weight, pre lockdown I reduced my weight to 12st 13 so as you can see I have put on quite a lot of weight but hopefully through healthy eating, drinking more water and regular exercise things will improve.

Lunch yesterday

In the words of the title of a song from the 90s, THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER.
How very true, life is a sequence of both good times and bad times however it is how we react to them that determines our character.

One thing that I have been doing recently is videos of myself making mocktails, some of you will know that it is 25 years since I stopped drinking and the range of alcohol free drinks and the way that people have developed the way of making alcohol free cocktails makes such a difference.

Give me a reason

Good morning / afternoon wherever in the world that you are, from a glorious sunny day in Pembrokeshire West Wales in the UK.
I apologise for not writing for some time and as much as I can give you a million and one excuses, I can’t give you a reason for my absence other than to say that unfortunately life sometimes gets in the way.

Last year in particular was for me like so many others a bad year, next month sees the anniversary of my Uncle’s death, in May we cremated him and at the same time I was burgled and lost most of my worldly possessions, I then spent a considerable amount of time travelling to Manchester to spend time with my Aunt until those visits came to an end in September through no fault of my own.
I decided to take the opportunity of the burglary to review where I was and in August of last year moved address, I now call where I live home and I enjoy being here.

I started a new relationship which is now coming to a year old, we celebrate our first anniversary on Mothers day, the sun is shining and things have improved, life certainly isn’t perfect but we can’t achieve perfection.

SOME PHOTOS FROM THE LAST YEAR

Why the title,
I have spent quite a lot of time over the last year in particular with the usual, this time next week, next month, next year or even sometime in the future and things will improve, I’ll start doing the things that I enjoy, the gym, walking, meeting people, going out or staying in, my biggest priority was to enjoy life and living and have fun.
I found a lot of reasons not to do things, I don’t feel like, I don’t think that I would enjoy it, I don’t want to go out, I’m bored staying in, I don’t think that I would fit in, many many excuses not to do something all controlled by my thoughts, my self pity, my over indulgence in looking for sympathy, you like most of us have probably heard those and many other excuses.
In August of last year, I moved onto an estate which held a luncheon club every Thursday and a friend of mine suggested that instead of wallowing that I should grab the bull by the horns, I went and except for situations beyond my control I am a regular, I also do prize bingo every other Thursday at the same venue….. I should be careful what I say or commit to, I needed the reason, the reason was the awakening to the fact that if you want people in your life then you have to put yourself out there, life will still have its ups and downs, we may still face rejections and sometimes the things that we try may not be suitable for us, I tried a men’s group that focused on DIY and practical stuff, I can’t even draw a straight line , needless to say I never went back but that’s okay, at least I tried, what I have started doing though is short mat bowls and enjoying the camaraderie and friendships that are evolving.
I just keep looking and trying and never giving up on the dream of a better life.

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