“I just want to quit drinking.” (02/03/16)

February 3rd, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

I have the wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of different people, either face-to-face or through email. Many of those people utter the infamous words, “I just want to quit drinking.” But what is it that they REALLY want?

I believe that what they really want is to be healthy and happy. They want fewer problems in their life. They want less drama in their life. They want to have more disposable money available to them. They also don’t want hangovers. They don’t want any of the problems, remorse or embarrassment that comes with excessive drinking. But the truth is that many of these people really don’t want to stop drinking, what they want are the results of being a non-drinker.

People want the results, not the behavior. People don’t say, “I want to watch what I eat and limit my food intake.” They say, “I want to be thinner,” but they don’t want to diet or watch what they eat. Another example, people don’t say “I want to spend dedicated amounts of time lifting heavy things and running endlessly on a treadmill.” They say, “I want a ripped, toned body,” but they don’t want to strain themselves by doing physically and time demanding exercises. People want the results, not the behavior.

This isn’t a criticism of all humanity. This is natural. I want things (results) either without doing any work or by putting in the least amount of effort. That’s thinking in terms of efficiency. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “I want this project to be really difficult, stressful, time consuming and physically demanding. Plus I don’t really care if I get any tangible results.” People want results and they want those results while putting in the least amount of effort.

Living as a non-drinker doesn’t automatically make you healthier, wealthier, wiser, happier or have fewer problems. But living as a non-drinker puts you in a better position to create opportunities and to make those things happen within your life. Many people want the results of living sober and they want those results the day after they quit drinking. That’s why I wrote the book: Okay, I quit. Now what? It’s a pretty logical and reasonable question. “Alright, I quit drinking. Now what the fuck do I do? (With my time, my money, my mind, my body, my life.)” Followed by a few more questions: “How come I’m not happier? How come (blank) doesn’t love or respect me now? How come I’m not richer? (Whatever.)

There are reasons why so many people have relapses. Without a plan of what you want and don’t want out of living sober, you have no tangible reasons to stay sober. Things start going well and the individual feels confident that they can have a couple of drinks. But for those of us that have no “OFF BUTTON,” this is virtually impossible. Having your own personalized plan, goals, an action list for achieving those goals and having an understanding of your own motives will help you evolve into a genuine non-drinker. Before you know it, living that way becomes a way of life and you ebb away from always thinking about sobriety. This is why so many of my blog articles and podcasts aren’t solely focused on sobriety. Once you stop drinking, that part of the re-invention process is done. What you do with the rest of your life becomes your new focus.

Maybe instead of saying, “I just want to quit drinking,” you will rearrange the words and state it a different way. “I want to live a healthier and happier life. I don’t want to feel like shit all the time. I want to feel good about myself and my behaviors. I want to take better care of myself and my family. The way I’m going to accomplish this is first I’m going to stop drinking, then I’m going to change some of my other behaviors and actions. I’m going to go straight home from work every day. I’m going to go to the gym 3 days a week. I’m going to start a sobriety savings account and make a deposit every week. I’m going to eat better and make grocery lists and follow it when I go grocery shopping on Thursdays. This will help me spend my money more wisely and keep me out of the liquor and beer section.” You’re stating your result, but your stating WHY you want the result and how you’re going to get it.

Take control of your statements and put some commitments into your statements and develop structure into your own life. The nice thing about having power and being in control is that YOU decide how much structure YOU want. Some people perform better under highly structured plans. Others like only a bit of structure. Without some structure (combined with self-discipline to stick to your structure), none of those dreams and plans will ever come to fruition. And even with the best plans and structure, the outcomes you desire may not come to fruition. You might lose only 12 pounds instead of the 20 you were hoping for. Or you might lose 25 pounds and still hate your job (or something else). At least you have put forth effort towards your own betterment. You will have proven to yourself that you can take control of your life, and that’s something you can be proud of.

I hope that I get you to think a bit here. When you state what you want such as, “I want to lose weight, I want more money, I want to quit drinking,” ask yourself WHY. Why do you want this? What do you think will be the rewards of this outcome? When you know what the rewards are, this will help galvanize your motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve the things you want.

Remember that when you say “I want…” you will have to follow that up with tangible actions to get closer to accomplishing and achieving the “I want…” This isn’t just a reminder to you, it’s a reminder to me as well. I can dream all day long, but I won’t accomplish jack shit until I actually do some work that moves me closer to my dreams and wants.

If you hear yourself saying, “I just want to quit drinking,” think about what you really want. Stopping destructive and excessive drinking is a great start. But to get the results of sobriety you have to not drink and then start living as a non-drinker. You’ll have to pursue goals, attempt challenges, risk failures. All of the things you’d probably be doing as a drunk, only now you’ll be facing these things with graphic sober reality. You may not be able to control the outcomes, but you will have taken control of the direction, and that’s something you can be proud of.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. And please, check out my latest book: Living Broke Sucks. I think you’ll find it interesting, entertaining and valuable. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

How much is your time worth? (01/17/16)

January 17th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

How much would you pay yourself if you worked for you? Most people want to be paid at least minimum wage. (I’m self-employed, so I have no idea how much that currently is.) And almost everyone would like to be paid more than minimum wage. So how much would you pay yourself if you worked for you? Well you are working for YOU when you punch out, log off or leave your workplace for the day. If you were a boss, would you want to pay someone to sit around and drink? Would you pay someone to sit around and watch TV? Would you pay someone to simply sit around? You are your own boss with your own time, and your time is valuable. If you want to spend it getting loaded or just sitting around, that’s your choice.

Every single action—or inaction—is an exchange. And what you are exchanging is your time. If you are doing this then you can’t do that. If you are sitting and reading a book then you can’t be working on another project. If you are sitting in a bar, sitting and watching TV or sitting in a support group meeting, then you can’t be somewhere else doing something else.

I’m not inferring that you must work all of the time. Leisure, recreation, relaxation, personal time with friends, social time or time alone is very important. And each of the experiences I just mentioned is uniquely important to each individual. Going to meetings may be important to you. Sitting in a bar may be important to you. Watching YouTube videos may be important to you. Just understand and accept that you are always making exchanges. Sitting in a bar, at a meeting or puttering out in your garage means that you’re exchanging time that you can’t spend doing something else (like sitting with your kids or spouse).

It’s 2016 and 24 hours is the same as it was, 25, 50 or 100 years ago. The following paragraphs are excerpted from my book: Living Broke Sucks. This segment is from Chapter #10, “What money can and can’t buy.”

Which do you value most: Time? Health? Relationships and friendships? Self-actualization? Recreation? Creativity? Material possessions? Freedom? The weird twist is that it truly does require money to have any of these. Your age and how much of any of these you want will establish how much money you’ll need. Let’s go over each of these subjects.

Time: People who earn the most money tend to spend more time working. True, they can afford nice things and luxurious vacations, but enjoying their toys or going on vacation requires time away from work. Because they spend so much of their time working they don’t have much time available for other activities. When they do go on vacation they might try to cram everything into a very tight schedule or they’re constantly making calls, checking email or texting. They return home and go back to work worn-out from their vacation. Have you ever had a vacation like that? Do you have toys you never get to enjoy because most of your time is spent shackled to golden handcuffs?

As recent as 50 years ago most people actually spent MORE time working than relaxing than we do now, yet many talk about “the good old days when life was easier and a slower pace.” Life wasn’t easier, many jobs and household chores required tough physical labor. Today we have labor-saving and time-saving appliances and machinery. But with that machinery and technology comes time consumption. TV viewing requires time. Social media requires time. Look at how much time you spend behind the wheel of a car going to all the entertainment and shopping options you now have. Multitasking, like talking on a cellphone while driving sounds like a timesaver, but it’s time consuming and mentally taxing. Pay scales and labor laws may mean we spend fewer hours at our job and many of our new technologies may be labor-saving, but all of these advances and innovations haven’t given humanity any more time.

One hour is still the same duration today as it was 20, 50, 100 years ago. With all the advances in technology, in transportation and in living conditions we now have many more choices, which makes that one hour seem shorter. You often hear people say, “I just don’t have the time to get everything done.” Having all of these multiple options is what creates the feeling of living at a fast pace and not having any time.

There are actions, and inactions, you can undertake to make it feel as if you do have more time. Instead of multitasking try singletasking. Consciously focus on doing one task at a time. Sure, you can be doing laundry while you vacuum with your iPod on. But if you start too many projects or try doing too many things at once you’ll be bouncing around between projects and forget about something or have to stop what you’re doing to go finish the other project. I have learned that if I focus on one task, complete it and then go on to the next, my work efforts are more efficient, I get more done in less time and the task is done properly. Then I can genuinely relax or go do something else that’s more enjoyable. Singletasking makes me feel as if I have more time.

Walk slower. You will likely notice things—things which have always been there—for the very first time. Force yourself to slow down during meals or while engaged in intimate conversations. Turn your cell phone, iPhone, Blackberry or computer OFF once in a while. When you turn it back on you may discover that you didn’t miss out on very much. At first some of these things can make you feel antsy, but you’ll get used to it and it may change your entire perspective on how you want to spend your time and live your life.

Some people like a hectic schedule, thrive on pressure and always want to be connected. If that’s you, then revel in the pressure, but please don’t complain that you haven’t enough time to relax or to enjoy simple pleasures in life. I like a hectic schedule and high pressure while I’m working at my job, but I absolutely do turn my job “off” when I’m done. After my workday is over I slow down my pace and want to genuinely relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors.

If you have more money you can pay other people to do some of your work, but then you have to exchange more of your time at a paying job to afford those services. Conversely, you can’t pay someone else to serve as “you” when it comes to spending time with people you care about. I’ve been saying all along that everything is an exchange. Sometimes you have to exchange or forego an option so you’ll have more time to yourself, to spend with people you care about or to live at a slower pace. Money can’t buy you more time, but it can buy you more options of things to do with your time. Make the best of those options and enjoy your time in ways that are valuable to you.

I don’t care what you do with your time. It’s your time. I would just like you to think about how much value you put on your time. Consider this: If you have to stay an extra half hour at work you’ll likely want to be paid for your time, especially if you’re an hourly employee. But that same half hour will be gladly wasted away sitting in a bar waiting for your friend to arrive. You might complain that he was late, but you won’t expect him to pay you for your time. Your time is valuable. Decide what you’re willing to exchange it for.

Look, I waste plenty of time doing dumb shit and nonproductive stuff. But when I really think about the question: “How much is my time worth?” I have a tendency to focus on more productivity and my relaxation and “fuckin’ off” time is far more gratifying. This thought process also helps me value my sobriety more and thus helps me maintain my status as a non-drinker. My time is far too valuable to waste it getting wasted.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s pleasant and relaxing to fritter time away. I waste plenty of time doing dumb shit. But what’s nice about wasting time when I’m sober is that sometimes I actually do get something productive done. Or if I get tired of wasting my time on something nonproductive, I can jump into a productive project and I’m not all drunked up where I won’t do it right or stick with it. I do fewer “impulsive” projects and projects actually get finished with my sober mind.

For me, drinking and doing drugs was a way to consume time. Sure, I was having fun while I was loaded, but time simply passed by. Then more time passed by. It didn’t matter how much time I was using, it was my time, I was loaded and I was having fun. But nothing productive (or all that rewarding) was getting done while I spent all that time getting loaded. And then I had to deal with the ramifications the next day—lower productivity due to a hangover or simply sleeping it off. And it wasn’t just the next day’s ramifications that were hurting me. Due to some of my behaviors I was also ruining the rest of my future.

I believe that most people want to make the best use of their time and most people probably feel that they are making the best use of their time. Getting drunk or getting ghenked up on junk truly isn’t the best use of someone’s time. It may be fun—at the time—but it’s time that you’ll never get back. In fact, no matter what you’re doing, you are exchanging time that you will never get back. Do valuable things with your time because your time is valuable.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. And please, check out my latest book: Living Broke Sucks. I think you’ll find it interesting, entertaining and valuable. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“Someday I’m going to…” (01/05/16)

January 5th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

There are many variations to this hollow utterance. “Someday I’ll blah, blah, blah… As soon as (blank) happens I’m going to blah, blah, blah… If only (blank) would do this, then I’ll blah, blah, blah… When I’m (blank) then I’m going to blah, blah, blah…”

I believe that most people have the best of intentions on doing “something” someday, and many even believe their own bullshit, but they never do it. I don’t think that people are liars or lazy; life is busy and you’ve got plenty of things to do already. Sticking with “what is” can be easier (but less gratifying), than making changes. It’s natural to avoid difficult changes and nobody likes failure. And if you don’t try you can’t fail. Then you can always blame someone else or some external condition for never getting started on whatever it is you were going to do, someday.

My intention here isn’t to lecture you or insult you. If none of this applies to your own behavior, then congratulations and don’t worry about it. And even if you are a “do it now” person, you still may learn something from this article.

Have you ever heard someone say, (possibly even yourself?), “I know I drink a lot, but nothing bad has ever happened. If something really awful happens, then I’ll quit.” If you feel that you have a problem (with anything), why wait for it to get worse? Why wait for something awful to happen? Why wait for the elusive “someday” to arrive?

Life is too uncertain and fragile. Time keeps moving along, whether you want it to or not. If you keep waiting for all the planets and gears to align before you begin, you’ll never begin anything. I have witnessed too many people fade away (die), before they ever made their first move at, “Someday I’m going to…”

These first few paragraphs have a generalized tone to them, so let me give you a couple of solid examples. I’ll use some situations from my own life. I’ll show you both sides; the pitfalls of waiting too long for everything to align and the upside to taking action now, in the present.

Many years ago I planned on quitting drinking, or at least cutting down. That went on year after year. As those years passed by, my marriage was becoming explosive and I sensed some distancing building between my wife and I. I knew deep down inside that my drinking wasn’t helping matters, but I kept on drinking anyway. (We were both heavy drinkers but I’ll take the blame for everything.) I figured that if I quit drinking this would solve the all of the problems. When things finally got really awful, I finally stopped drinking—but it was already too late. That was the pitfall of waiting too long.

After my divorce I began laying out new goals and destinations for my life. I decided that I would like to travel the country and find a new place to call “home.” Well, instead of saying, “Someday I’ll do that,” I began making plans. I had to figure out how I would travel, where I would go and how I could still work while I was travelling. But in the meantime I had to continue working and saving so I could afford to buy an RV. I had to also decide what I could eliminate from my current way of life. I had to decide what I was going to have to forego and do without so that I could undertake this journey. This didn’t just happen in one day. It took a few years of working my plan, making adjustments to my plan and adapting to changing circumstances before I could eventually make my first journey.

Once I began travelling I had to watch for opportunities and take a few risks. Eventually I discovered a place that I wanted to call “home.” The oddest part is that I never even knew this place existed. But by being willing to plan, take some calculated risks and adapt to opportunities, I have found a “home” that is better than I ever imagined. But none of these experiences ever would have happened if I had sat and waited for everything to fall exactly into place. That’s the upside to getting busy and doing things NOW.

I’m not suggesting that you leave your children and go hitch-hike around Europe because that’s something you always wanted to do. You can’t just abandon your responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start making plans NOW and figuring out how and when you’ll do it.

Remember that things may not turn out as you plan, and some detours or alternatives may have to be employed while working at a goal. Hell, you may even go do something, try something or make a decision—and you experience its accomplishment—only to discover that it isn’t what you want. But at least you’ll then know what you don’t want and can then begin pursuing something else.

This isn’t just about the big things in life. Have you ever said, “Someday I’m going to clean out that closet.” That day will never come if you’re waiting for a sign. Just start. You may get it cleaned out sooner than you thought you would, or at the very least you’ll have made a dent. And who knows, you might find those old Capri’s pants you thought you lost. And how do you think that closet got so jam packed in the first place? You kept piling and throwing shit in there, always saying, “I’m going to clean this out and organize it someday.” That’s what life and substance dependency can be like. You keep hiding shit, saying, “Someday I’m going to get to that.” Someday is right NOW.

This “do it now” behavior isn’t just about projects like cleaning a closet, the garage or a junk drawer. This behavior can be applied towards all of the little things you encounter during any given day. Going through your mail, doing the dishes, clearing off the kitchen table, responding to an email, whatever. Just DO IT NOW and it’ll be done and out of the way.

It’s all the little shit that compounds and keeps wearing on you. The little shit can build into an overwhelming pile which will weaken your resolve. It’s interesting how most people can handle big problems. You know it’s an obvious problem or disappointment and you have a coping mechanism to handle it. But when little shit keeps piling up it’s almost worse. You’ve got all this mail sitting there on the table. You look and see that there’s a pile of dishes in the sink. You walk into your bedroom and the dresser is a mess, so you rifle through some drawers and can’t find what you want. You turn the TV on and cable is out. So you grab your phone and the battery is about to die. You walk over to the fridge to have a look inside and a jar of mayo falls out and spills on the floor. But on its way down it hits the leftover spaghetti and that spills onto the bottom shelf of the fridge. “Can’t fucking anything go right for me?” you scream. Only to turn around and you bang your knee into the cupboard that was left open. Now you’re pissed! And it’s all because of little shit.

Some invaluable lessons that I have learned:

  • Don’t wait to make plans. Establish plans NOW and begin working at your plans NOW.
  • Adapt and adjust your plans along the journey.
  • Risks will be part of the journey. Take some calculated risks.
  • Be willing to forgo or do without one thing to gain something else.
  • Watch for opportunities. Many opportunities are veiled behind something else or aren’t obvious.
  • Compounded little shit can weaken you faster than the big problems. Tend to the little shit NOW.

Next time you hear yourself starting a sentence with, “Someday I’m going to…” STOP and think. Is there something you can do—right now—to make today that someday? When is NOW. All of your desires may not pan out. Even those that do pan out may not be as great as you thought they would be. And don’t let all the little shit wear you down; you’re better and stronger than that.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

What does an alcoholic look like? (12/10/15)

December 10th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

When people think about what an “alcoholic” looks like, most will visualize the stereotypical bar floozy or unshaven guy sleeping on a park bench or dozing next to a dumpster. But alcoholics come in all different shapes, colors, genders and religions, and many show no outward indication of being an alcoholic. So let me tell you about an alcoholic.

My friend’s wife was a closet alcoholic. She was the perfect image of a mother, wife and professional working woman. No one knew about it. The neighbors didn’t know, her kids didn’t know, not even her husband knew, and he is a very attentive husband. Her alcohol overuse wasn’t affecting the family, her marriage, her career or the household finances, but it was affecting her own relationship with her family. She felt that she was robbing her family and robbing herself by missing out on a better life. Her family was in disbelief when she told them that she had a secret drinking problem and that she wanted to stop. They had no idea because she DID NOT look like or even act like an alcoholic.

Every drunk doesn’t look like one and every person who drinks isn’t a drunk. Judging someone else who drinks is very prejudicial. That’s like judging someone because of the way they look, dress or because of the color of their skin. Plenty of people are fully capable of living normal, healthy lives as a social drinker. Even moderate to heavy drinkers can live normal lives. Just because you see or know someone who drinks heavily doesn’t mean they are a drunk or that you need to preach the word of sober salvation to them. (Just think about how you would have felt—or did feel—if and when people talked to you about your usage.) Unless someone else’s drinking behavior and drinking lifestyle directly affects and impacts yours, then mind your own business.

And even people who have that “druggy look” aren’t all dope addicts. I look like a freak. I have long hair and I’ve got shells and sharks teeth braided into my hair. At first glance you would “presume” that I’m a pot-head. But maybe I wear my hair long because I like it? Maybe I have shells and sharks teeth braided in my hair because I like it? Maybe I say outrageous things because I’m well aware of what I’m saying and I know I’ll get a reaction out of you? Maybe I don’t get high or drink because I don’t want to? But I still look like a freak.

When people first meet me, they figure I must be a wild party animal or a stoner. I am fully aware of what I look like and that people will treat me a certain way because of it. I’m not shocked or surprised by it. What does surprise me is the way people will often treat me after I disclose that I was once a drunk and a drug user. They say, “Wow, you don’t look like you had a problem,” or “you don’t seem like you had a problem.” Well how am I supposed to look or act?

The fact is that people perceive me a certain way because of my appearance. I like it when people say, “Man, I’d love to go out and party with you some time.” I know that we would go out and do more crazy things sober than if we were loaded. But I don’t mention that I’m a non-drinker. If I feel like hanging out with the person, they’ll find out soon enough that I’m a non-drinker. And even if they are drinkers, I may hang out with them again if I find them to be interesting and engaging. But it all starts with their perception of me.

And the same goes for people who openly talk about their recovery. Doing so can create perceptions or prejudices levied against you. “Oh, he’s a recovering alcoholic, he could crack at any moment.” Or if you tell people that you no longer drink they may perceive that you’re going to preach to them, that you’re no fun, prudish or a religious fanatic. Think about the image you project. Do you think that your appearance, behaviors and words are representative of how you want people to perceive you?

Regardless of realities, people have their own perceptions of things. For instance, I find it interesting that some people will talk about how much money a friend of theirs wastes by stopping at Star Bucks every morning on their way to work. They’ll even cite how much money someone could save weekly and annually if that person didn’t buy coffee from Star Bucks, yet they’ll tell me this as they sit there pounding down a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine every night. Please explain to me how that’s any different as far as wasting money goes. It is their perception that Star Bucks is a waste of money but their own spending on beer, booze or wine isn’t because they “deserve it.”

You may not agree with my Star Bucks example and comparison here. I know that you can’t get arrested for driving under the influence of coffee. But if you’re spending $10 or $20 a day at Star Bucks and you can barely afford food or rent, then you have a drinking problem—albeit a coffee drinking problem. I further believe that my Star Bucks-vs-Beer purchase example illustrates the vast differences in people’s perceptions of what is valuable to themselves, to others and what is and isn’t a waste of money.

My opinion tries to get away from perceptions because I believe: “It’s your money. You work to earn money so you can pay your bills and reward yourself with some pleasantries. If buying a Star Bucks brings you joy, then it’s not a waste of your money. If guzzling a 12-pack of Bud Light every night brings you joy, it’s not a waste of your money. It’s YOUR money. But every purchase you make is an exchange, and not just a financial exchange. If you have limited income, then Star Bucks, beer, lottery tickets, Netflix or the ultimate cable package are poor utilizations of your money. When you spend money on one thing that usually means you won’t have enough money for something else. But are you wasting it? Who am I to judge? However, if you’re spending money that you can ill afford to spend (regardless if it’s booze, drugs, coffee, clothes, unlimited cell service, whatever), and this spending is harming your health or the wellbeing of the people you are responsible for, then you need to do something about your spending problem.”

So what’s my point with this article and what do I hope that you the reader will take away from this? A couple of things:

Perceptions will always outweigh realities. When you see someone, don’t automatically envision the worst of them. When you see a drinker, don’t automatically think, “Oh, she’s an alcoholic.” And remember that people will have similar perceptions of you as well. If you tell people that you’re a “recovering” or “recovered alcoholic,” don’t be surprised if people treat you a certain way. I know that your sobriety is important to you. I understand and can appreciate that you may be very proud of yourself and want to share your story with others. Use the proper times and places to disclose your history, your pains and your tales of debauchery. People will judge you on what they perceive.

You’d be surprised at some of the crazy (and incorrect) shit that people perceive about me. I don’t like it and sometimes it’s very hurtful, but all I can do is continue to behave and live in a fashion that’s acceptable to me.

And like it or not, people will also treat you a certain way based on your physical appearance or the way you dress. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. About the only thing you can do about it is pay attention to your own behaviors. Pay attention to how you project yourself to others and keep an even closer watch on your own thoughts so that you give those you meet and those around you a fair chance. You don’t want to be judged incorrectly, so don’t judge others incorrectly. Just because you do the right thing doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated.

You will be judged and treated by how people perceive you. Not on facts but on perceptions. You can’t control what others want to think or believe about you. But you do have a certain amount of control over what you present and thus how others will perceive you. And ultimately you do have control over how you perceive others. Please give other people a fair chance before you make judgments based only on your perceptions of them.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

The invisible turning points. (11/09/15)

November 9th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Good events and bad events usually have invisible turning points. It isn’t until the obvious becomes obvious that you notice that a turning point has occurred. Destruction happens faster and is more obvious than the rebuilding. A lot of times you don’t see the destruction coming, such as the weakening of a dam or a funny sound coming from your car. But when the dam breaks or your transmission craps out then it suddenly becomes blatantly obvious that something happened.

Alcohol dependency or drug addiction is like this. It slowly builds and develops (or devolves) into a problem until a major calamity occurs—that’s when it becomes obvious. Dependency is a great example of an invisible turning point. I can’t think of anyone who has said, “Next week Tuesday I’m going to start my downward spiral as a drunk,” or, “this Wednesday I’m going to get addicted to heroin.”And even when drinking or drugs becomes an obvious problem some people will ignore it, or they’re so mentally muddled that they can’t see it or don’t want to accept the facts.

You don’t necessarily see problems coming, but then suddenly something bad happens or your problem becomes obvious. Then you start on your rebuilding process. At first it may seem like the greatest thing ever. Then in a few months or years you’re miserable, or you may be able to develop your sobriety into something wonderful. But you don’t always notice all of the subtleties of the rebuilding going on and you don’t always see the invisible turning point when things are beginning to get better.

People want obvious and immediate results. Don’t rely on or expect major and obvious turning points to occur. Look for and recognize the positive within invisible turning points. What at first seemed to be a small or insignificant decision may have been the catalyst to an invisible turning point for a wonderful outcome. The human mind prefers the obvious and wants to see correlations. i.e. “I did this so then that happened.” But the obvious and correlated aren’t always the case. Something may have simultaneously occurred that was out of sight or out of your awareness. Just acknowledge the turning point, be happy with it and work at making the best out of it.

There are more invisible turning points in life than visible turning points. Turning points aren’t always clear and there are multiple facets within any turning point. Having a child come into your world may be a joy, but that child will also come with responsibilities, duties and often some sacrifices on your behalf. Marriage may be a joy, but it will also come with responsibilities. Sobriety may be wonderful for you, but it will also come with hard decisions, sacrifices and self-control.

There are usually only a handful of major and obvious turning points in life: Graduating from school, choosing a college, choosing a career or certain job. Joining the military, getting married, getting divorced, having children or making the decision to live sober. But the wonderful turning points of sobriety (and life in general) aren’t always obvious.

Even when you do make major decisions and undertake major turning points, numerous invisible turning points continue to happen within the spectrum of the major decision you made.  Quitting drugs or stopping excessive drinking are major decisions and major turning points, but many other invisible turning points will unfold and take place. You may suddenly realize one day that you no longer have the same level of cravings. You may realize that you no longer think about or feel like doing drugs or drinking. You may not consciously realize that you’re no longer always broke. (You might still be broke but at least it isn’t because you pissed your money away on booze.) You have to sit and think about these things. “Hey, I’m not completely broke. I don’t feel like shit every morning. I don’t have to remember who I pissed off, argued with or what I did last night.” An invisible turning point has taken place.

It is because of these invisible turning points that I highly recommend that you reward yourself—regularly—for staying clean and sober. (You don’t have to just reward yourself, you can share your reward with your family or friends.) I dedicate an entire chapter on building your own personal reward system in my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? Without constant rewards (even small ones), the invisible turning points slip by without conscious recognition. Having goals and rewarding yourself allows you to see goals achieved—turning points reached—and it helps galvanize your decision to stay clean and sober.

There will be many invisible turning points during your sober evolution. You will rarely wake up one morning and say, “Wow, as of today I no longer feel like drinking.” Turning points happen slowly. If you’ve genuinely changed your life into behaving as a non-drinker, you won’t even notice that the opportunities for temptation become fewer and farther between. If you’ve changed your life you will naturally not get yourself into dicey situations. And even when “tempting” conditions exist, you have turned a corner and can handle the situation. For instance, I have a part-time job where almost every Friday night my co-workers all get together and have a small party. It isn’t a wild booze party. People all bring a food dish and somebody whips out a guitar and starts playing and singing. Oh sure, the beer and wine is flowing, but not everyone there is a drinker. The focus of the gathering isn’t just to drink and get loaded. I typically hang out for about an hour and then slip away. I’m not tempted to drink—and I’m not turned off by others who are drinking—but I don’t feel like hanging out much longer than an hour. I have gotten through an invisible turning point. I can go to parties, hang out, have fun, engage in conversation, and then leave without feeling tempted to drink or feel as if I’m missing out on something. I don’t know when that turning point occurred, it was invisible.

Often there is no clear line of demarcation with turning points. You might meet someone and think they’re the greatest person ever. But you have no idea how it may turn out in 5 years. It might develop into a fantastic relationship. It might be pure hell after a year or two. It can be the same with sobriety. You don’t know how it will turn out, but at least you do know that you’ll be sober while life is unfolding, and that gives you a better chance of making life work in your favor.

Even my own decision to stop drinking was a major turning point (lifestyle change), but so many invisible turning points happened after the obvious decision to stop drinking. Many of those invisible turning points enabled for a lot of wonderful things to happen in my life. I can say without hesitation that I never would have had so many wonderful experiences and would absolutely NOT be living at the standard I do today had I kept drinking. However, some very painful and heartbreaking invisible turning points have also come with it. None the less, I have no regrets for making that major decision to stop drinking.

Additionally, I am often asked what my turning point was for me to make such a major decision. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, downward spirals take time and my downward spiral took a long time—years in fact—to come to a full implosion. Yet there had been many major catastrophes along the way, but I always managed to drink my way through them. In my case, there really wasn’t a single event that turned me. It was a series of events that all collided at the same time. My predicament was that it was too late for me to fix or repair some of these catastrophes. However, I felt I had no other alternative. I knew that if I continued to drink, things would just get worse and worse consequences would follow. If I stopped drinking I could at least still save myself. (It was too late to salvage anything but myself.) I made the decision to change my life and to use my skills and my mind to figure out how to make the best out of all the unknowns and ugliness that was about to come my way. The only regret I have is that I didn’t make the decision sooner.

By understanding that there will always be invisible turning points, I have become calmer and happier with my status as a non-drinker. Now I look for those invisible turning points and I look for ways to make the best out of those turning points. I want my life to continuously keep changing for the better. When you reflect on your own invisible turning points you might see how those various turning points facilitated change and how you adapted to and accepted those changes. Most people don’t care for change, especially when it’s abrupt and dramatic. But slow and invisible turning points will ease you through the change. If you have made the conscious and obvious decision to live as a non-drinker or non-user, then please be patient with yourself. Allow time for the invisible turning points to take place and do what you can to see them, enjoy them and make the best out of them.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

10 days is a bigger deal than 10 years.

October 12th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

As of this date (10/12/15), I have officially been sober for 10 years. I have not had a sip, stumble or taste of alcohol since the day I stopped drinking. 10 years may be a fantastic anniversary, but to me it’s just another day of living as a non-drinker. But this article isn’t a celebration of ME and my accomplishment. Yes, I want to point out that a drunken, drug-addled goofball like myself has been able to stay clean and sober for this long. And that’s something that I hope will be of inspiration and motivation for other people. But this article is about YOU. I want to acknowledge YOU and your efforts.

But briefly, I want to touch on my own sober evolution to help motivate you and get you thinking about your own life. When I first stopped drinking I couldn’t fathom the thought of making it 10 years. In fact, at that time, I didn’t want to even think about it. All I wanted to do was make it 30 days without a drink. I figured if I could make it 30 days I would be able to prove the point that I had strong enough willpower to do it. I also figured that after 30 days I could ease my way back into drinking again. But something strange happened to me on about my 20th day sober. My mind realized (and forced my body to accept), that I will never drink again. That’s when all hell broke loose and heartbreaking events began happening. Literally every aspect of my life (as I had known it up until then), began falling apart. I had no idea of how dramatically my life was about to change.

No matter how shitty things got during my first few years, I still believe that the first 10 days were the hardest (and longest) of this entire 10 year run. Those first 10 days showed more strength than the past 10 years. Your first 10 days is a bigger deal than my 10 year anniversary. Your first 10 days are the foundation and launch pad for what will come next in your life. Your efforts and your hard work at self-control are to be acknowledged and recognized. I congratulate you, even if you’re on day one. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sober 20 years or one day, what you are doing for yourself is greater than anything I could ever do for you and a greater accomplishment than mine.

I made it 10 years without a drink. So what. Sobriety is not a contest of who can be sober longer. There is no gauge to who is soberer. All that matters is how your sobriety will benefit your life and the lives of those you love.

After a certain time duration of being a non-user or non-drinker, your sober lifestyle becomes as normal as your life was when you were a drinker or user. But that’s providing that you’ve made lifestyle changes and have embraced those lifestyle changes. If you’re 3 years into your sobriety and you’re still hanging out with drinkers, it will no doubt be challenging to maintain sobriety. But if you’ve adjusted your lifestyle and surround yourself with sober living opportunities, it will be much easier (and a higher likelihood of avoiding a relapse), and you will be able to maintain your status as a non-drinker or non-user. Lifestyle changes will be a necessary part of living as a non-drinker. Sorry, but some of those changes can really suck.

I’m not saying that after a specific or predetermined amount of time all urges will go away, but maybe for you they will. Length of time with sobriety is no guarantee of staying sober. Temptations and opportunities to drink will always pop up at the weirdest times and unexpected occasions. (I could write an entire article on this subject.) If you want to live as a non-drinker you will always have to be vigilant of your own behaviors and your own activities. Always have a plan and always indulge yourself in “self-talk.” Ask yourself questions like: “Is this a good idea for me to be here or to go there? What is my escape plan? How will I answer if I’m offered a drink? Will I do it without making a scene? How can I still have fun without drinking? Am I making the best of my sobriety? Do I reward myself for staying sober? Do I reward the people I love?”

Another thing I noticed is that after 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, whatever amount of time, you might begin to feel as if “I’ve got a handle on this. I could keep my drinking under control.” Well, you might be able to go back to drinking and keep it under control, and then again you might not. Is it worth the risk to have an implosion and then have to start those first 10 days all over again? My first few months were miserable (especially the first 10 days) and I never want to go through that shit again.

I believe that any of us who have 18 months or more of sobriety under our belt should applaud and do what we can to support someone else who has 1, 2, 5 or 10 days sober. (I know that this sounds like Step 12, but this can be done without going to AA meetings.) You might have a friend, family member or coworker who is just starting this journey. All you have to do is congratulate them and let them know that you’re willing (that’s if you are willing), to lend them a compassionate ear. You might have years of sobriety behind you, but remember that the other person is going through the hardest part right now and that they are going through the biggest changes in their life. Oh sure, bigger decisions and more changes with bigger consequences may be in store for them as their new sober life evolves. But the decision to live as a non-drinker is their biggest decision of their life—at this moment. That decision and their behavioral changes will impact the rest of their life and facilitate all of the other changes in their life which are yet to unfold. Congratulate them—help them feel good about their decision.

Right now I would like to thank YOU. I wouldn’t be sober today if it wasn’t for YOU. I stay sober for other people, not for myself. Ultimately I receive the benefits of staying sober, but I’m truly motivated by YOU. I have publicly given you my word that I will stay sober and I must stay true to my word. I may not know you personally, but I have an obligation to YOU and I will not let you down. The only true value a man has is his word. (I’m not being gender specific, this applies to women as well.)

Privately  and all by myself in solitude, I’ll spend some time to reflect on what has transpired over the past 10 years. I’ll run my memory through recalling some of the amazing experiences I’ve had and think about many of the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I’ll remind myself that none of these experiences and none of these people would have ever happened or come into my life had I kept drinking. I will also make it a point to call many of those people and thank them for their friendship and their support.

Over the past 6 to 7 years I have experienced things in life that I couldn’t even have imagined in my most drunken dreams. When I was drunk or genked up, I just thought about “stuff.” But with my sober and clear mind, I have been able to plan and pursue things with focused effort. I have taken chances and calculated risks that I never would have taken as a drunk. I have attacked change in my life with defined plans instead of letting life’s changes push me around and then me reacting to the changes. Drinking and drugs kept me fearful. Now I have virtually no fear. I have an attitude of, “Fuck it. Do it. What’s the worst that can happen?” With a clear mind I can evaluate the situation and take on risks. Not dangerous and stupid risks, but wild, exhilarating and life expanding risks. How strange that drinking and drugs makes us uninhibited but it simultaneously instills laziness and fear.

I can’t say that getting sober was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Getting sober has allowed me to think clearer, live with a healthier body, enjoy my money more, enjoy my health more and use my mind better. Getting sober has opened the door for me to do some of the greatest things in my life.

What is the greatest accomplishment of my life? Discovering that I have the ability to share ideas with other people and to hear back that some of my work has helped other people expand their own life and make their own existence better. That’s the greatest accomplishment of my life. My mission is not to stop people from drinking. Many people have no problem as social drinkers. Many people live wonderful lives as full blown drunks. I don’t care if people drink. My mission is to help others who have a genuine desire—of their own—to stop drinking.

I’m putting the final touches on this article as I sit someplace that, 7 years ago, I never even imagined existed, and now I live here in the lower Florida Keys. What a crazy life sobriety has opened up for me. Oh, and if you’re thinking, “Well isn’t that great for you. If I wrote a bunch of books and made a shitload of money I could do that too.” Hey, guess what? If I relied on book sales to earn a living and buy food, I would have starved to death years ago. Sobriety has allowed me to think better and work better. I earn my living through my day job (and I’m very good at it). I do all of my writing in my free time instead of spending my free time drinking. I personally pay for every aspect of my book publishing, website, blog, podcasts and travels. Because I don’t spend my money on booze and drugs, I don’t have to earn as much money, which in turn allows me to live well. I didn’t even graduate from high school, but I can safely say that I’ve read and written more books than most college graduates and I probably earn more money than most college graduates. Don’t hate me because of that. Surpass me because of that. Use me as motivation and make YOUR LIFE better than mine and do it in your own unique way.

I’m telling you this to help motivate YOU. What have you always dreamed of doing? How have you always finished this sentence: “Someday I’m going to (fill in the blank).” Instead of just dreaming and saying you’ll do it, why not use your sober mind to think and figure out how you are going to do it? While you’re developing your plan you may come up with even better ideas and dreams. That’s what happened with me and even better things can happen for you.

If I can make it 10 years sober, I know that YOU can make it 10 days sober. After that 10 days, who knows what great things you’ll begin to think of, plan for and accomplish. Surpass me. Outdo me. Be the one writing an article like this and help empower others like us—we drunks and drug users who have the genuine desire to live clean and sober. Yeah, living sober sucks. So what. But it’s better than living drunk, sickly and broke.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

One size fits none. (10/06/15)

October 6th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

When I first decided to stop drinking 10 years ago, there weren’t many “alternatives” to 12-step systems or religious-based systems. The few alternative systems that existed were almost as strict in their philosophies as traditional systems. I also noticed that there was a wide chasm between traditional systems and alternative systems. Members held a very stern line in support of whichever system they followed. However, I’m seeing that chasm close or become bridged.

I feel privileged to hear from (and communicate with), hundreds if not thousands of different people. I’m thrilled to hear that more and more people are developing their own personal plan for staying sober. Many people have found that AA can, at certain times, be a helpful resource for them. Some of these people have found groups which they attend for a short period of time or only once in a while. They utilize meetings for their own purposes. I have heard from quite a few people who embrace and follow only the steps that they are comfortable with or they feel are useful for them. They then add a few of their own ideas or ideas which they have gained through reading “alternative” materials—ideas that you’ll find in my books. I’m excited that people are taking control of their own lives’, thinking on their own behalf and making their own decisions.

I am not a proponent of AA or religious-based systems, but I don’t dissuade or sell against them. I believe that it’s worth your time to investigate and learn about all options and ideas for staying sober. Times are changing. The computer and information revolution has opened up many new doors to people. It isn’t that the information or system has changed with AA or other groups—it’s the people attending who are changing the way they utilize these programs in unique ways for themselves.

Some people feel awkward or uncomfortable going to meetings that are held in churches or schools. Larger metropolitan areas naturally offer more options for meetings. You might be able to find a group that fits your lifestyle, social views or age group perfectly. If you can’t find one in your community you can most likely find something online. AA meetings and events or organized religious functions can also serve as social opportunities and venues for many people. That’s great if that’s what you’re into.

Now, even as I say pleasant things about AA and religious-based recovery systems, I also want to offer a warning. Sometimes other members can be a bit pushy and pressure you into going “all in.” Take your time before you pledge full allegiance. Make certain that it’s something YOU believe in and that you are comfortable with. Also keep in mind that during the early time of sobriety a person can be vulnerable and susceptible to the influences of others. Those other people may not genuinely have your best interest in mind. Many stories abound of pariahs picking on (and picking up) newbies. I’m not saying it’s going to absolutely happen, just be aware that it might. And this isn’t exclusive to recovery groups. The shoulder you’re looking to cry on may want to force your head into other areas. When you’re in a weakened state sometimes almost anything seems right to do.

I personally haven’t been to an AA meeting in over 9 years. I also don’t attend AA or religious social functions. Yes, I would like to meet a woman who doesn’t drink or use drugs, but I also don’t want to be disingenuous. It wouldn’t be proper for me to hang out at these places simply to meet someone when I don’t believe or follow the same scripture that they follow. If you’re single and sober, I ask that you respect the people and those organizations and don’t use them as a pickup joint. Only attend meetings and functions if you have a genuine desire to learn or to participate in them.

Earlier in this article I said that times were changing. Recently, a friend of mine gave me a publication (a book) which is put out by Hazelden. Much of the wording and scenarios have been contemporized, but there is still a heavy religious theme throughout the book. There also seems to be another theme throughout the book, and to me that theme is: “You are not smart enough or strong enough to make your own decisions. You don’t know how to run your own life, but your Higher Power does. You MUST turn to a Higher Power for every answer because you’re too weak and too stupid to figure things out yourself.” The underlying concepts of good humanistic behavior are excellent within the book, but I can’t help but feel as if I’m being berated and belittled while I’m reading it. However, I am able to read it and overlook the strong forcing of religion upon me and still gain some knowledge of how to make the best of my sobriety from it.

I believe that people ARE smart enough to make their own decisions. I believe that people should take ownership of their own life. Of course you’ll make bad or incorrect decisions. Of course things won’t always go as you want them to. But with a clear, sober mind you’ll be in a better position to minimize the mishaps, correct the wrongs and take advantage of good opportunities.

At some point in time you NEED to make your own decisions. You NEED to go out into the world and use your skills. I’ll grant you that some people respond better under a structured plan or a controlled system. And quite often a structured plan, system or environment isn’t a bad idea when someone first stops using substances. But eventually a fully evolved, sober adult needs to begin making their own decisions. Even if you decide to stay with a structured program, you are still making the decision to do so.

You can believe in any religion or Higher Power that you want to. You can believe that your Higher Power gives you all of your answers and guidance. You can trust in your Higher Power. You can praise and glorify your Higher Power. You can give all the credit to your Higher Power. But remember that it is YOU who has made the decision to do so and to believe what you believe in. YOU are still making the decisions.

I’m not selling against religion, I’m not selling against having a Higher Power and I’m not selling against AA. Quite the contrary. You don’t know what you don’t know until you learn about something. It’s unreasonable to criticize something when you have no knowledge of it or experience with it. Therefore, if you’re serious about your sobriety, then look into AA or religious associations. You don’t have to agree with everything. You don’t have to go back if you don’t like it. But at least by looking into it you will then be able to form a knowledgeable and intelligent opinion of your own. And if anything it may serve your purposes for a while until you feel confident in standing on your own two feet. When you were a drunk or a drug user I’m sure you were willing to try almost anything, hell, I know I did. So why not try some of these things.

So let’s continue to close this chasm and bridge this gap. Because no matter what school of thought you follow (12-step, religious-based or alternative methodology), we are all pursuing the same goals: To live a happy and content life by making the best out of our sobriety.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

The Entrepreneur and the Drunk. (09/17/15)

September 17th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Most of us like to hear stories of “Rags to Riches. Zero to Hero. Poor kid finally makes good.” Most of us like reading about and studying about “average people” who have stuck to their belief in themselves, persevered and then risen to the top of the success charts. This is evidenced by how many “success” books, websites, articles, movies and motivational seminars that people pay for, read or attend. Every motivational speaker says the same thing, “When you get kicked in the gut and you’re on the mat, get back up and fight again.” All motivational speakers (or writers) remind us of the same common principles:

  • Accept failures as inevitable.
  • Learn from failures.
  • Failure makes success taste sweeter.
  • Failure never means the end.
  • Adapt and adjust.
  • Never give up.

Adapting and adjusting is probably the hardest of these principles to understand. Adapting and adjusting may mean changing course and going in a different direction. Adapting and adjusting may mean letting go of one idea or concept and going after a different one. But the end goals (successful achievement, happiness and contentment) remain the same. The main basic theme of all motivational speakers remains the same: Never give up.

Every single one of these “entrepreneurial secrets” are very similar for living a sober life:

  • Expect disappointments.
  • Expect that things may get rough.
  • Expect that everything may not work out as planned.
  • Adapt and adjust.
  • Never give up.

History abounds with stories of successful people who repeatedly failed or received numerous rejections: Michael Jordon, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Steven King, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Benjamin Franklin, the list can go on and on. Every one of these people encountered miserable failures and setbacks. They all struggled through problems, adversity and rejection. But even after achieving “success” they more than likely still face (or faced) struggles, various failures and rejections. And I’m sure that after they had “made it,” each one of them still has shitty days. I’m sure that Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey still belches and farts. I’m sure that Steven King gets a cold or a case of the runs. So even though these people are publicly recognized as “successful” they are still regular people like you and I.

There are stories of success and stories of complete implosions, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read a single story about someone who “almost made it” or stories about people who “aren’t wildly successful but are still relatively content.” How many people would attend a conference or seminar to hear a speaker say, “I’m not all that wealthy, I’m not famous and I haven’t really done anything attention grabbing or world changing. But I don’t have a lot of debt so I can afford a few luxuries for my family. I don’t experience excessive drama in my life and things are fairly calm. My life isn’t all that exciting but my life isn’t all that bad either. But I can say that I’m content in my life.” That speaker would not pack auditoriums and lecture halls. We like the BIG stories—big success or big failure.

And even the “wildly successful” people we all hear about may not be at a level of simple contentment. I didn’t know Steve Jobs personally, but of all the biographies I’ve read on him is that he was a real asshole and I would therefore question whether he was genuinely content. Many “successful” people are total assholes and it causes me to wonder if they are content. So I must then ask: “Who is more successful? A content “average person” or a superstar personality who’s an asshole?” For me, I can find happiness in reasonable contentment. I don’t need to achieve wild fame or become obscenely wealthy. (Either of those would be fine but they are not my driving forces.) So which do you feel is a greater success: Fame and riches or a calm, pleasant and content life?

Living a sober life is parallel to entrepreneurial success. You must keep trying. Keep adjusting and adapting. Keep expanding your mind. Keep evaluating what’s best for you and keep searching for your bright spots. I believe that you need to stop occasionally and look to see if you have actually hit “success.” Success may be all around you, but you’re so busy working at success that you don’t see that you’ve reached it, or that you’re nearing it.

Just because you sobered up doesn’t mean you will become wealthy. Just because you sobered up doesn’t mean you’ll become happy. Just because you sobered up doesn’t mean your family life, home life and love life will become wonderful and fulfilling. But if those are your goals, a sober, clear mind will allow you to think better and continuously behave and work your way towards those goals. Will they all be reached or achieved in the timeframe and to the level you desire? I don’t know the answer to that. For YOU, it may happen and happen sooner than you think.

Sobriety offers no guarantee of happiness or success. Since I sobered up I’ve written 6 books. 4 of them have been abysmal failures (in number of unit sales), but I have still successfully written, completed and published 6 books. In unit sales and financially I have a 66% failure rate, but I haven’t completely given up. My goal for a finished book isn’t to achieve ludicrous financial gains. I get joy from writing and it’s an emotional and intellectual release for me, but I would still like to at least break even financially. Therefore, after 4 failures I’ve had to evaluate whether writing books is worth the time and financial expense to me. (Because while I’m deep in the midst of writing a book I can’t work, so I have no income. And there are hard costs involved in book publishing that may never—and usually never are—recouped.) So I’m adapting and adjusting. I write more short essays now. I may not write another book for quite a while. I have failed but I haven’t quit.

I just mentioned that I’ve had 4 book failures and even though I’m sober, I’ve recently had other failures and disappointments happen in my life. So I started writing a book titled “Born to lose.” So even in my failure I’m still moving forward and writing. I will make sure that I don’t waste too much valuable time on the project. I have to evaluate how much time and money to invest. But writing the project (which will more than likely never be released or published) keeps me thinking, practicing and honing my craft. It has sparked other ideas. Constant forward movement (even if it’s slow) is really the key to success. That’s the secret meaning of “never give up.” “Never give up” doesn’t mean “keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again and it will eventually work.” “Never give up” means “keep making forward movement even if it requires a different direction or a different plan.” Never stop trying.

I know that my writing can have a pessimistic and dark tone to it, but I’m far from pessimistic. I’m actually highly optimistic, but I approach optimism with pragmatism. I know that just because I “try” doesn’t assure me of success. I know that just because I “keep at it” doesn’t mean something will eventually and ultimately come to full fruition. But I can say this, “More unexpected successes and accomplishments have come my way because I DO continue to keep trying and because I am willing to adjust and adapt.” The core goals and values remain the same (those being contentment, happiness and feelings of self-worth), but the process and journey may change.

Look, even if your life only becomes “slightly better” by living as a non-drinker isn’t that successful compared to drunken implosions or always being in debt or always dealing with drunken dramas? I don’t know about you but I would rather have “slightly better” than “completely fucking miserable.”

So I feel there are similarities between the entrepreneurial spirit and the sober spirit. Both desire success, happiness and comfort. Both must stay focused on the goal. Both must anticipate and be prepared for failures and disappointments. Both must learn from past failures. Both must be willing to adjust and adapt as conditions change. Both must be willing to accept that there are risks involved. And both must keep on trying and always come back when they get knocked down.

I may not know you personally, but I believe that YOU are capable of achieving contentment in your life, and that my friend is pure SUCCESS.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can support me by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

The easiest way to make $900 (or more).

September 11th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

I hear people say, “I would do anything for my kids.” Okay, how about you quit drinking for 90 days? Stop drinking (buying beer, wine, booze and going to bars) and put the money that you would have spent into a dedicated Sobriety Savings Account. At the end of 90 days (only 3 months), you will likely have accumulated $900 or more for Christmas (or whatever holiday you observe). You don’t have to spend the money on stuff (more video games or tech gizmos). You can spend it on clothing for your kids, good food for holiday dinners, family movie outings or family events. If you start doing this now you’ll have money available to spend on your kids this Christmas without going further into debt.

You’ll not only show your children that you care about them but you’ll show yourself that you care about them. You’ll show yourself that you truly are willing to do anything for your kids. Plus, you’ll be teaching your kids the benefit of self-control. You’ll be able to teach your kids that by foregoing a few things now (booze) you will reap the benefits in the future. And this isn’t like saving now for retirement in 20 years. This is a way that you can see the self-control pay off in a short window of time (only 90 days).

If you really want to do something special for your kids (or your spouse, lover, family, whoever), then put the money you would normally spend on boozing into a Sobriety Saving Account. It’s not difficult to figure out how much you spend every day. “I don’t drink every day,” you say. That doesn’t matter. You can still equate your average daily cost. “I only drink during football season” or “when I’m golfing” or whatever. Again, you can equate your average daily cost of boozing even if you don’t drink every day.

Just think about how nice it would be to have money available for the holidays. Well it doesn’t have to be a dream. It can easily be a reality. If you don’t want to do the simple math then I’ll do it for you. I’m going to give you some general examples, but after this podcast is over, I ask that you do this mathematical exercise to see the factual numbers about your own unique alcohol spending habits. So let’s look at some examples:

Weekend Drinker / Bar or home, partying on Friday & Saturday nights.
Amount spent:       Avg. daily cost:     90-day Savings Account:
$50.00                            $7.14                        $642.85
$100.00                           $14.28                    $1,285.71

Football Juicer / Drinking and food for game day parties.
Amount spent:          Avg. daily cost:   90-day Savings Account:
$40.00 (at Sports Bar)      $5.71                      $514.28
$60.00 (at home party)     $8.57                      $771.43

*If you attend a game at a stadium the cost for beverages and food will be dramatically higher.

After Work Imbiber / Drinking a couple cocktails, beer or wine daily after work.
Amount spent:            Avg. daily cost:  90-day Savings Account:
$35.00 (6-pack per night)   $7.00                     $455.00
$40.00 ($8 Bottle of wine)  $8.00                     $520.00

*This reflects 5 days a week x 13 weeks. Weekend partying must also be added in making this average dramatically higher.

Full Throttle Party Animal / Daily, weekends, football games, any event.

Amount per week:      Avg. daily cost:   90-day Savings Account:
$105.00                           $15.00                    $1,350.00
$140.00                           $20.00                    $1,800.00

*If you smoke or do recreational drugs that cost must also be added in making this average dramatically higher.

After you’re done reading this article or listening to this podcast, I ask that you sit down with a pen and piece of paper and do an honest accounting of how much you spend on drinking. You may be shocked at the figure. But you will at least clearly see how much money you literally piss away. That’s money that you can save and then spend on your kids, family, friends or loved ones this Christmas. If you no longer drink, you can do the same mathematical exercise and then ask yourself, “Where is the money that I’m no longer spending on booze?” Do this for yourself. Reward yourself and make your sobriety pay you back—in financial terms—by starting a Sobriety Savings Account.

I earn my living in a career that’s involved with financial instruments. I am stunned by the billions of dollars all the booze and tobacco companies generate and the millions of dollars they earn off of YOU willingly buying their products. And don’t worry, the U.S. economy won’t collapse if you stop drinking. The money that you’ll no longer be spending on booze will be spent on something else. Your money will still be part of the U.S. economic float.

I’m not inferring that you live like a pauper and don’t have any fun. I go out to dinner and it’s not terribly expensive, especially when I don’t have a bar bill that’s more than my meals. I watch football games at home, at friend’s houses and at Sports Bars—I just don’t drink. Try it sometime. You’ll be amazed at how affordable living well can be when you’re not spending all of your discretionary money on booze, especially overpriced booze at restaurants and sporting events.

So how do you control your booze spending? If you’re going out take only a limited amount of cash with you, or simply don’t go to a bar. Don’t order drinks with your meal when you dine out. Don’t supply people with endless drinks if you host a football party. Ask people to bring their own if they want to drink. (You’ll quickly find out who your real friends are when you do that.) You don’t even have to allow people to drink in your house. If you have kids you probably don’t allow people to smoke in your house, so make ‘em drink outside if they want to drink; it’s your house. (Again, you’ll find out real quickly who your real friends are.) If you’re serious about saving money so you can afford a better life for your kids, none of these things are difficult to do.

Life isn’t just all about money, but the fact is that without money you can’t eat, clothe yourself, pay your bills and enjoy a few conveniences and pleasantries. You work to earn money, so make your money do something nice for you. Don’t simply piss your money away. It’s your money, enjoy it. Hey, but if you do want to spend your money on creating piss, that’s your choice—it certainly won’t affect my standard of living, but it will affect yours and your kid’s.

I beg of you to start your own Sobriety Savings Account—a bank account that’s separate from any of your other accounts. Earmark that account to be used for your kids or for some other goal. You don’t need to have a goal amount in mind nor do you need a specific purchase in mind to start your Sobriety Savings Account. Just start it, keep adding to it and let it build for 90 days. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fast it grows. If you do have a savings goal, you can remind yourself every day, “I am now $7.00 (or one day closer), to buying my car” or “that’s another $7.00 I can spend on my kids this Christmas.” It doesn’t hurt to have a goal in mind but it isn’t necessary. Do this on a daily basis and it will become another one of your self-control skills.

Does having a special Sobriety Savings Account work? Well I haven’t had a drink in almost 10 years. Know what I have to show for it? $40,000. I put $10 a day into MY Sobriety Savings Account. I don’t have kids and I don’t know what I want to do with that money yet, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean I have to spend it. I’m going to let it keep growing and reward myself with something really nice some day or it’ll come in quite handy in case of an emergency. Remember that just because you have $20 doesn’t mean you have to spend it.

This article is similar to the subjects I discuss in my latest book, Living Broke Sucks. Money, like it or not, is a very important part of living a comfortable life. And with a sober, clear mind, I believe you will be able to get more utility and joy out of the limited amount of money that you do earn.

I would like to wrap this up by saying that if you claim that you really are willing to do anything for your kids, then prove it—stop drinking for 90 days and start a Sobriety Savings Account. Give your kids the gift of a happy, healthy and well fed Christmas. You can do that much for them, can’t you?

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can support me by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

Sobriety: 50 shades of every color except grey. (09/08/15)

September 9th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Life has very few grey areas. There are distinct colors and hues to life. Colors are often used to describe recovery stages and life moods in general. For example you hear people say, “I’m feeling blue. Her future looks bright. There are dark clouds brewing, “or “She’s on a pink cloud.”

Some things in life do fall into a grey area, but most things don’t. Pregnancy isn’t a grey area. You can’t be “kind of” pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t. Your pregnancy can make you happy or sad or both at the same time and at different times. You can’t be “kind of” married. Either you are or you aren’t. Being married can be a joy or a burden and often it flips back and forth between the two. You can’t be “kind of” sober. Either you are or you aren’t. Sobriety can be great for you or it can be a suffering or it can go back and forth. And there is no guarantee that sobriety (pregnancy or marriage), will bring only bright colors into your life. The emotions and life conditions of sobriety don’t come in one single color. Living life sober is not always bright or dark; it’s not even grey. In sobriety, some things are brilliant white, some are the darkest of black, some are varying hues of happy pink and others are an unappealing shade of monkey vomit green. At least that’s how sobriety is for me.

It seems that some people feel as if living sober is a grey area. “I only drink on weekends. I only drink beer. I don’t drink to get drunk, I drink to feel better.” It doesn’t matter to me whether you drink or not. It doesn’t matter to me if you only drink on weekends, if you only drink beer or if you only drink (or get drunk) once in a while. It should only matter to YOU if you drink or not, especially if your drinking is creating problems in your life. Your consumption or drinking lifestyle may be a problem if it’s harming other people (the people you love or are responsible for), or if it’s adversely effecting your job, career or education advancement. But it’s still up to YOU if you will drink or not drink. Drinking or NOT drinking is pretty clear. It’s black and white, there is no “grey area” to sobriety—either you’re sober or you’re not. And even though drinking or not drinking is black and white, neither is right or wrong. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s right or wrong—for YOU.

A peculiar aspect of being clean and sober is that many colors and hues happen (or are felt) simultaneously. For instance, you may be facing the darkest of problems when suddenly an unrelated ray of bright light shines in. This doesn’t meld the colors together into one single grey, each of the colors are felt uniquely. One color may blend into the other, making a dark moment look brighter or the bright, happy moment look muted and a little darker, but I find that I can experience differing emotions at the same time, I’m sure you do as well. I don’t recall having that ability when I was drunk or ghenked up—I was either happy or pissed off, and switching between the two could happen at any moment without warning.

Life’s colors often change during a sober evolution. I’d like to share some of the shades and colors I experienced through my sober evolution during the past 9+ years. My first year was a period of distinct dark blacks and very few bright spots yet there were a few random happy pink moments mixed in. I believe this was because my mind and body were healing, getting used to living as a non-drinker. Plus there were all the dramatic life changing events taking place due to my change in drinking lifestyle. My second and third year of sobriety turned monkey vomit green to mostly dark. It wasn’t a very fun time in my life. All of the dramatic life changes were taking root and reality had to be dealt with. But near the end of my 3rd year sober some changes began to happen and I experienced a definite turning point. I was tired of letting my “recovering alcoholic” mentality make me feel as if sobriety was the cause of all my sadness, boredom and misery. So I let go of all connection to traditional “recovery” methods and systems. I changed my mindset and began living my life simply as a non-drinker instead of living as a “recovering” alcoholic. That was when I began writing my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? The title pretty much explains what the book is about. “Alright, I quit drinking. Now what do I do with my life? How do I view life as a non-drinker?” (My books are available through Amazon.com and through my website.)

The following 5 years were generally pretty bright along with some random dark periods mixed in, but that’s what normal life is like, and I was finally feeling and living normal. During that 5 year period I had hit a positive stride and I felt that sobriety itself was rewarding me. Yes, I did take credit for my sobriety, but I gave sobriety credit for all the brightness and happy colors in my life. Like any normal human mind, I wanted to connect correlations, I wanted to affix specific reasons for specific results, so I believed that all my good fortune was a result of sobriety itself. I didn’t connect that sobriety simply allowed for clearer thinking, which allowed me to work smarter and accomplish more goals.

Now I come to the present. The past 12 to 18 months have been the deepest of darkness and the ugliest of monkey vomit green I have ever experienced. But I’m wise enough to know that isn’t sobriety’s fault or a result of sobriety. But this is a different (and better) style of ugly shit that keeps showing up. Upon analysis, I can see that the problems are different and better problems to have. The problems and ugly stuff isn’t a result of drunken behavior and errors. And for me, this can be difficult to handle, because I can’t blame “the booze” or “the drugs” for my problems and difficulties, I have to take ownership of them. I know that ugliness, disappointment (or dissatisfaction) in life are just part of life and I must be accepting of that. Regardless of whether I’m drunk or sober, life will keep showing up, and as long as I’m sober I better make the best out of it.

Sadly, these past 18 months I’ve found myself questioning whether staying sober has been worth it. To that question I can honestly answer with: “Yes, it has been worth it.” I know that I wouldn’t have had so many amazing experiences over the past 7 years. I know that I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful and interesting people over the past 7 years. I know that I wouldn’t be as healthy as I currently am. So no matter how hideous the colors may look through my eyes right now, I know that the probability of improvement lies strictly within my determination to make the best out of my sobriety.

I can also say that I haven’t woken up once with a hangover since the day I stopped drinking. I haven’t once had to apologize for saying or doing something I regret while being drunk. I haven’t once had feelings of shame, guilt or self-loathing due to drinking. Believe me, I’ve said things I needed to apologize for, done some real bonehead things and there are plenty of decisions I’ve made that I have regrets about. But all of those rude statements and bonehead decisions were done with a clear mind. I felt that I was doing the right thing at the time. There’re a lot of things in life that you don’t see the results until a month, six months, a year or 5 years later, but that’s just part of being sober.

What’s my point with all this? Well the emotions and results of living clean and sober aren’t black and white. It isn’t even grey. It’s a wide variety of colors all happening at once. Getting loaded is a way to try and change the colors you don’t like, but it’s not a very good way. You can attempt to drink your way into a bright spot, but that can easily turn into a dark abyss. When you’re drunk, colors become distorted (and so do people’s appearances). It’s difficult to see and experience the reality of life’s colors through a drunken or ghenked up mind.

I believe there are ways to assist yourself so that your life’s colors will be undistorted and that you move towards the colors you desire. First, by avoiding or eliminating mind altering substances from your life you will be able to get a truer picture of the colors in your life. Next, having tangible and realistic goals helps you move towards the colors you desire. Every goal may not be accomplished, but the pursuit of a worthwhile goal keeps you in a brighter spot. Finally, stability in life helps. You don’t have to love or even like your job, but if it’s stable, that gives you something solid to stand on. Responsibilities can create stability. If you have children or you’re in a relationship, being responsible to your children (and your partner) can bring stability. Stability and responsibility doesn’t automatically turn your colors brighter, but it can give them clear definition.

Life continues to move along regardless of if you’re drunk or sober. Good things still happen and bad things still happen. Bright spots and dark spots will always come along. A constant grey doesn’t sound all that interesting to me. A wide variety of colors makes life more vibrant. And for me, living as a non-drinker and non-user has allowed me to see, feel and experience many more of life’s colors, even when I’m not all that fond of the color combinations.

I hope this article was interesting for you. I hope it gives you pause to reflect on what colors you desire to see in your own life and mostly I hope that the bright spots and pink moments will always be brighter and more frequent than any of the other colors that come your way.

These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. They’re all available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can support me by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.