Today, I have been mostly grateful for just being good enough.
Now, that is not a statement I could have made a few years ago. You see, I am – no, I used to be – one of life’s perfectionists. Let me tell you two things that happened this week.
I have to go back a bit. In January, I started two things. I joined a choir, and I gave up alcohol. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to give up alcohol for, but I joined Dry January to begin with. I had done it before, but this time I had a different mind-set from the start. I had been reading more about how there is no safe level of alcohol, now that the World Health Organisation has acknowledged it is a carcinogen (cancer-forming). For anyone who wants to read up about this, there is a recent article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_cancer. True, people usually under-report their drinking, making most of the epidemiological research flawed, but I was uneasy about taking that risk. Then, I was aware that by drinking (and I only drank at week-ends mostly, but then I went over the ‘recommended’ limit), I was peeing out calcium and other nutrients, which is not good for my osteoporosis.
During Dry January, which is supported in the UK by the charity Alcohol Concern, I realised I would like to go on further this year. By chance, I saw a posting in the DJ Facebook group that mentioned another group called One Year No Beer. And so, in February, I joined that, started their 90 day challenge, and have not looked back. They have a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/Oneyearnobeer/?fref=nf), and run challenges for which a charge is made but other resources are available to assist you in making the change.
I was, frankly, amazed at what changed for me. I could list everything, and certainly while my health has steadily improved in ways I could not envisage, I think the most surprising changes have been in me, and in my relationships. My husband says I am much nicer to him, for a start!
As I said, the other thing I did in January was to join a choir; the Hallé Choral Academy. The Hallé choir is a highly respected amateur choir (http://www.halle.co.uk/the-halle-family/halle-choir/), but that was not the one I was singing with! As a rusty older woman, I joined the Academy, which ran for the first time this year from January to June, culminating in a performance at the amazing Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, which was a week ago today (June 23rd, 2017). It was the most amazing feeling, to be standing up singing in the choir stalls, behind the orchestra, to about a thousand people; an experience I would not have dreamed was possible until I heard of the Academy and joined it.
Which leads me on to this week. Or rather, first of all this month. As part of On Year No Beer, a wonderful participant called Sally Wilkinson, who runs her own juicing and fitness business (https://www.facebook.com/getfitterwithsally), very generously took those of us who committed to do so through an amazing process, building up to a five minute ‘plank’ over the whole month. I completed that today, with much huffing and puffing and going to my knees and what-not, but I did it. One might say, I did it my way!
The other thing I did this week was to audition for the Hallé choir. Some might say I was mad, and I might have been, given that I don’t have to put myself through stressful auditions at my time of life, but I realised that if I did not have a go I might always wonder if I could have done it. To cut a long story short, my nerves got the better of me, and I was turned down. It felt like a blow to my ego, but my lovely hubby was proud of me for trying, and he was right. I had a go.
What both of these experiences reinforce for me, is that whilst I do not actually believe the rubbish spouted about anything being possible (we all have limitations), I do know that if you do nothing, nothing happens – or rather, what happens is not within your control. I had a go. I didn’t get into the choir, but that means I am not over-filling my time even more than I already do. And I probably will never again do a five minute plank, but at least now I know I can do a minute. I couldn’t have done that before.
And I’m still not drinking. And do you know what? I don’t miss it. I am living life, with bells and whistles. And I am not peeing out my calcium.