1. December 2015: I traded in my JAMIS commuter bicycle and put my trade-in credit towards an EVO, Classic City Sport, City Bike, Black, Step-Thru (2015) from Pedal Power on the day I decided to quit drinking (12/20/2015) and celebrated my first alcohol-free Christmas riding bicycles.
2. December 2015: I celebrated my first non-drinking New Years’ Eve by getting coffee, seeing the fireworks, going ice skating, checking out the telescopes and stargazing, then dancing at the First Night in Portsmouth. I was home exhausted and eating pizza by 10 pm and asleep before midnight. It was so much fun!
3. January 2016: I bought the VW Jetta that I wanted ever since I drove friends a few years ago.
4. January 2016: I started celebrating Friday nights with pizza and movies at home instead of my routine since college with consisted of pre-gaming with friends after work until 9 or 10 p.m. and then heading downtown and bar hopping and then to the after-party until dawn or the birds were singing. I would wake up Saturday afternoons hungover from chain-smoking cigarettes and drinking too many martinis or vodka soda waters and then order a pizza and eat the whole thing and then I’d walk the 7-mile loop from Portsmouth through Rye, New Castle and back into Portsmouth and home.
5. February 2016: I joined a monthly hiking group.
6. February 2016: It was warm enough outside that I went for a walk on the beach in Rye in only a tee shirt and sweater.
(Tee Shirt and Sweater both from the Banana Republic, necklace from Tiffany & Co., sunglasses from Sunglasses Warehouse, hair cut and color by Tease Hair Salon )
7. March 2016: I went to the New England Aquarium for the first time since elementary school. Myrtle the Turtle pictured below.
8. March 2016: I was invited to host a monthly youth poetry series at RiverRun Bookstore, and I accepted the challenge! The photo below is of Mark Palos reading.
9. April 2016: I visited my grandmother on her 99th birthday – I spent 9 hours driving to spend 3 hours at lunchtime with her!
10. April 2016: I joined an all women’s skateboarding group on Facebook and started connecting to women of all ages that skateboard from around the globe!
11. May 2016: I volunteered at local poetry events for Seacoast Outright.
12. May 2016: I went hiking at Mount Agamenticus for the first time ever with some new friends and we had a great adventure. My first sober Memorial Day weekend was way more fun than ever before!
13. June 2016: I went to an all women’s skateboarding event at Rye Airfield Skatepark!
14. June 2016: I enjoyed being at the beach not hungover with friends throughout the summer!
15. July 2016: I attended my first poetry workshop ever on Tuesday evenings with Matt Miller at The Word Barn in Exeter.
16. July 2016: I published my first poetry collection, a chapbook on House of Love and Pizza Press.
17. August 2016: I took my first ever surfing lessons at Summer Sessions Surf Shop in Rye, NH.
18. August 2016: I celebrated my first sober birthday at Canobie Lake Park, enjoying the rides.
19. September 2016: I started thinking about what I want my life to look, and after a long conversation with an old friend realized I need to stop letting fear hold me back from pursuing my dreams of becoming a writer. To date, I’d only submitted less than six pieces of work for publication.
20. September 2016: I was invited and accepted a three-year position on the board of the PPLP: Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program. The PPLP is the first place I ever got up the courage to stand up in front of an audience and read my poetry out loud.
The above photo is of me, in February 2014, reading my first poem out loud at the PPLP Hoot Night at Cafe Espresso. Photo Credit: Tammi Truax
21. October 2016: I went to a Halloween Party, and it was more fun, not drinking!
22. October 2016: I write my MFA applications personal statement.
23. November 2016: I was one of twenty featured authors at the Portsmouth Public Library (NH) second annual author fair. I sold four of my poetry books and traded two more with authors for their books.
Photo credit: Dan Szczesny
24. November 2016: I decided to defer applying to MFA programs.
25. December 2016: I remembered to text my mom’s youngest sister and wish her a happy birthday on the anniversary of my mom’s death.
26. December 2016: I’ve read 52 books this year. That’s an average of a book a week.
Note: I’ve changed a lot over the past year. I’m no longer judgmental, mean, gossipy, or filled with fear/doubt/insecurity. I’m at peace. I live in the moment. I try to think before I speak. That’s still something I’m working on! And I’m grateful for the life I have and all the people that I’ve encountered on my journey. When I get overwhelmed or start to feel like I need to compare myself to other people’s successes, I think back to the beginning of the month when a wise friend told me to keep it simple and to be grateful for things like soap.
Sobriety doesn’t equal sitting at home bored and alone watching TV. It means getting off your ass and pursuing your dreams. It also means working through all of the painful personal shit that has been holding you back, paralyzed by anxiety or fear of what other people will think or fear of failure.
I’ve been busier in sobriety than I ever imagined.