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 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: 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 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: 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 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: 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 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: 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 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: 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 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 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: 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.

Grasping for ANY life preserver. (08/02/15)

August 2nd, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

A drowning person will frantically grasp at any item that floats to use it as a life preserver. They’ll even grasp at other people with life preservers or at those who can swim. But in their panicked struggle a drowning person will often endanger both themselves and other people. Substance overuse can be just like drowning. And in sticking with the drowning comparison, we have two situations here.

#1) Grasping for ANY life preserver.

#2) Endangering yourself or another person by desperately grasping on to them to keep yourself afloat.

In a panic to do something, newbies will often grasp onto anything in hopes that it will save them. They may not have a clear mind at the time so they will grasp at systems, medications, religions, other people or replacement substances. Any of those things might be fine at first, just to keep you afloat, but eventually you need to get to a place where you’re safe and comfortable. That may mean changing life preservers occasionally and eventually swimming on your own to safety.

When I first stopped drinking I grabbed on to all sorts of life preservers. (Actually I was in such physical and mental shock at first that it wasn’t until after about 30 days did I start grabbing for life preservers.) I grabbed at the AA life preserver, I grabbed at the religion life preserver and began going to church. I went to those places by myself because my wife continued drinking. I was alone, drowning and desperate so I also grasped on to all of my family and friends and bored them to death with my tales of woe.

As it turned out I didn’t care for the AA life preserver, but it served a purpose at the time. I wasn’t comfortable with the religion life preserver—I couldn’t say with total honesty that I believed in God or that I believed in a higher power. I would have been lying if I were to profess my belief, say that I’m powerless and pledge my allegiance to a group or any religion. All I wanted to do was live a relatively normal life as a non-drinker.

As time passed (about 6 to 9 months), I realized that all of these things that I was using as life preservers were simply floatation devices and I wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t making any progress, I wasn’t getting to a safe place. In fact, some of these life preservers were actually weighing me down, and I was endangering myself and some of the people I was hanging on to. I didn’t want to keep holding on to people who weren’t good for me and I didn’t want to be an annoying downer to my friends that I still hung out with. I know how to swim (both literally and figuratively), so I had to let go of these life preservers and some of these people. I had to swim on my own to a safe place.

That’s why I wrote my book, Okay, I quit. Now what? I wrote that book as a sobriety plan for myself. I had made a commitment to myself to stay clean and sober and I wanted to figure out how to make the best out of my life as a non-drinker—no matter how things would develop and turn out. Writing that book has helped me design an entire footlocker filled with life preservers—all custom designed to fit me. I believe that book will help you personally design your own unique life preservers. In the book I give examples and suggestions—but your choices of what to do are left up to you—because it’s YOUR life, not mine, I don’t tell you what to do.

So in the case of “re-invention” you often do have the choice of what life preserver you can grasp for. Find the one that fits you best and is the most comfortable on you. Eventually, you may be able to do just fine and not have to keep holding on to a life preserver. And sticking with my nautical theme here, you always want to have a life preserver when you’re on any boat. You don’t have to be wearing it at all times, but you want to have one handy and you want to know where it is. I’m a good swimmer and I won’t get on a boat until I know where the life preservers are. More than likely nothing’s going to happen, but I still want to know that I have one and where it is.

Living clean and sober is just like that. If you’re heading out with friends, going to an event or a party, you want to have your life preserver handy just in case you need it. Your life preserver is your sobriety plan. If the situation becomes dangerous, what’s your escape plan? How will you get yourself to safety? How will you make sure that you don’t find yourself drowning in a drink?

Look, if you want AA, NA, some group or a religion to be your life preserver, I’m certainly not going to try and talk you out of it. But remember what a life preserver is: it is an item to keep you afloat until you can get to safety. Once you’re safe you don’t keep wearing your life preserver—you take it off and go about rebuilding and living your life.

I’m almost 10 years clean and sober now, and you know what? I find myself still grasping at life preservers now and then. I still get depressed. I still feel lonely and life still throws its’ random handful of shit at me. Once in a while I do feel like drinking. Once in a while I do feel like getting loaded out of my skull so that I can forget all of my problems. But I remain calm, breath deep and fill my lungs with air so I can continue to float. I don’t want to grab at just any life preserver that’s handy—be it a drink, some junk, a religion, a system or a person. I just want to live a relatively normal life as a non-drinker. I use my own personal sobriety plan as my life preserver.

I sincerely hope that you get yourself to a safe place in life where you don’t have to constantly wear a life preserver. And if you do occasionally find yourself in the midst of a bad storm, make sure you have a life preserver handy and don’t be afraid to use it. Just make sure that it’s the right life preserver for 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 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: I show a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and you can clearly see that I’m not making money doing this. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

The things you DO have control over. (07/30/15)

July 30th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

There are a lot of things in life that none of us have any control over. However, there ARE many things that we DO have control over. We are not as powerless as we may think, or we are told that we must admit to being powerless over.

Within limits we do have control over what we do with our own time. Most of us have jobs and that consumes a good portion of our time, but we certainly can control how efficient we are and what we do with our own personal time. We also have control over our own spending behaviors and our own money. You may have high financial obligations to pay, but they are likely a result of your own spending choices or life choices. You have control over your physical wellbeing because you decide whether to exercise or not. You can assess your physical capabilities and perform exercises within your capacity. You have control over your social environment by deciding if you’re going out partying with friends. You have control over who you hang out with. Sometimes people you want to hang out with don’t want to hang out with you; then the only person you can hang out with is yourself. You do have control over how you will react to temptations and various stresses. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say nothing or sit in solitude and do nothing to avoid reacting badly to a temptation or stressor.

And finally, you do have control over your own hands. You decide to move your hands to pick up a drink, a pipe, a spike, a pill, a joint, whatever. You must use your own mind and control your own motor functions to ingest a drink or a drug. I admit that it’s not always easy to keep your hands under control. But it can be done.

So you DO have control over many things in life. Again, I will admit that it’s not always easy to exhibit self-control. It’s not easy to push yourself to exercise when you don’t feel like it. It’s not easy to remain calm when big problems arise. It’s not easy to make major career changes, relationship changes or move to a different city. And it’s not very easy to say “No” to tempting invitations for drugs, booze, sex, money—whatever your weakness is.

I can honestly say that at times I feel like my life is out of my control. It seems like either my life is insanely busy, or if I’m not insanely busy, then I’m stuck in a boring rut. Rarely do I find myself in the happy medium. But I’m certain that I could control that better. I can learn to say “No” more often. I can plan my work more efficiently. And if I would get busy and do something when I think I’m bored, I wouldn’t be inundated with deadlines and a zillion things to be done all at once because I frittered away my time sitting being bored.

This blog/podcast isn’t about accomplishing more—it’s about controlling stress, pressures, temptations and getting control over boredom. I’m sure that you would prefer a low stress life. I know that I want a low stress life, so I need to use my own time, mind and body more effectively and efficiently to keep stress at bay.

So you do have control over more things than you may think you do or than you recognize. But this can also be a tough realization to swallow. Suddenly you realize that you can no longer blame other people or made-up events for your situation. When you clearly see that many things are within your control you might become deflated or depressed. You see that some outcomes are the result of your own doing. That can be painful, especially if you’re not happy with the outcome of events. That is when you want to assess the reality of your situation. “What can I do about this? How can I make the best out of this, even if I don’t like the conditions I find myself under? How can I make this shitty situation less shitty?”

There are and always will be things which are out of your control: weather, global political conditions, other people’s behaviors and much much more. But you can control how you react to those things, what you want to believe and to an extent, how you feel about those things. You can get upset or you can remain calm. You can feel frustrated or you can think about what you’re able to do about it—what actions you can take which are within your capacities and within your immediate universe.

Acceptance isn’t “giving up,” acceptance is looking at realities and then considering what control you do have over the given reality. I’ve got nothing against someone saying, “Hi, my name is ________ and I’m an alcoholic.” By making that statement you’ve accepted your reality. What’s important NOW is to then answer with, “And this is what I’m going to do about it,” then state your plan. You can say, “I am powerless over alcohol (coke, H, meth, whatever), and to regain my power over it, this is what I’m going to do about it,” then state what actions or behaviors you’re going to undertake.

You might have unexpected or unwanted children. You have to accept those conditions, take control of the situation that exists and make the best out of it. If you have an “unplanned” family, how can you make the best out of your life and help your children develop into happy, productive and stable adults? It’s NOT their fault that they were unplanned. You can’t blame them. You made them and they are your responsibility. Accept them and take control over helping them develop properly.

You might have to accept that right now you have to work at a job or in a career field that you hate. “My debt is out of control and I have to work at a job that I hate.” Then ask yourself, “How can I get my debt under control? How will I pursue a new job or career field?” You might have to forego some luxuries, cut your expenses and spending patterns. You might have to work at a miserable job until you have the education, skill or opportunity to leave that shitty job.

Look, I work in a career field where I have NO CONTROL whatsoever over as to what the financial markets will do. I accept that I have no control over the price of oil, Apple stock, Amazons’ sales or whether a given country will go bankrupt or not. But I DO HAVE CONTROL over what maneuvers, strategies or decisions I will make based on the information I have. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. But I am still in control and I try to make the best out of my job. I have not been forced or coerced into this career field. I made the choice to do this and to continue doing it.

The hardest part about having control is actually doing it—actually doing something. I know that I have control over much of my time and my active behaviors, but I still have to do something—I have to take action and do the work. That’s the hard part. If I want to get a blog article written and then record a podcast, I have to do it. I can’t just sit in front of my computer playing solitaire or checking email or pretending that I’m busy doing something else. I have to actively work at that which I want control over. And the same goes for you. Intentions are nice, having a plan is better, but actually doing the work is the most important part.

If you want to take control of your drinking then you have to actually do something about it. If you want a new job then you have to look for one. If you want to change career fields then you need to further your knowledge or education. If you want a happy family and home life then you will have to do something to facilitate it. All of your actions will be solely up to you.

So in summary: You DO have control over many things in your life. (You may even surprise yourself at the amount of things you have control over.) And the things that you can’t control you still have the ability to accept them as reality and then control what you are willing and capable of doing about it to make it turn out to be the best—for you. And of course, the only way to have control is to take action and do something about it.

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 website. It’s You can find my books on and if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. If you really like what I do and what I write about, you can help me pay for all this by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: Donations are NOT tax deductible. Thanks for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

Why the competitive conversations? (06/26/15)

June 26th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

Why do so many people feel that life is a competition between one another? This is often reflected in the conversations some people have. Let me give some examples:

You might happen to say to someone, “I’ve been sober for a little over 2 years,” and the other person might respond with, “Well I’ve been sober for 12 years.” Who cares? Does the length of time make one person more sober (or better) than the other? Or you might mention your bottom point and another person will say, “You think you were a bad drunk, well let me tell you what I did!” Again, who cares? This isn’t a contest of who can be sober longer or who was a worse drunk.

These competitive conversations aren’t strictly limited to substance misuse (or various group meetings). Almost any subject you bring up in conversation, another person wants to mention that “they have one more than you, outdid you or already have that.” I sit back and listen as people compete in conversations. I don’t believe they’re even conscious that they’re doing it.

Some people believe that this is a sign of low self-esteem, but I believe that it’s normal human nature to present importance of self to others. This is done by “one-upping” the other person through pointing out how wonderful you are and how good you have it. If you can’t outdo the other person with your accomplishments or your acquisitions, you can always point out how awful and miserable your life is compared to theirs. Even when being dismal you can still participate in one-upmanship.

People also like to get the spotlight pointed towards themselves by pissing in your well. For instance, you go buy a Triumph motorcycle and someone else says, “Aw, Triumph is a piece of shit. You should have bought a (name any other brand).” Or, “why did you get a red one? You should have got a blue one.” “Why did you go to Italy? You should have gone to France.” Notice how you don’t feel good when people say shit like that to you? I typically respond with, “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you go fuck yourself!”

I also find it interesting that when you do have something good to share, some people will act like they’re happy for you, but then suddenly turn sour. “Oh sure, if I had your (insert anything) I could do that too.” Again I say, “Hey, go fuck yourself.” The other person has no idea what struggles you may have gone through, how hard you had to work or what you sacrificed to accomplish what you just told them about.

But all this “one-upping” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. By sharing mutual experiences (be they good or bad) and by sharing accomplishments, this builds commonality between people and creates a bond between them. I’m sure none of us has ever sat in a bar and got into a conversation with a complete stranger and within minutes felt a bond of commonality as we commiserated about our problems. The sharing of stories and experiences isn’t bad. What’s bad is trying to take the joy away from someone else by one-upping them or criticizing them in conversation. It doesn’t have to be that way if you pay attention to your own words and how you deliver your words.

You can share your own stories in return and do it without stealing someone else’s spotlight. You could say, “Wow that’s really great. I had something similar to that happen to me, but not as good as what happened to you,” and then tell your story. If you’ve had a bad experience with a certain brand or prefer a different color—keep it to yourself. I’m sure you don’t like being interrupted and told, “Oh, you should have…” You don’t have to dole out false flattery but you also don’t have to piss in someone’s well.

I know that I give many stories and examples from my own life. I share a lot of things on Facebook and other social media. My purpose isn’t to say, “Hey, look at me. Look what I did.” My purpose is to share and show that an average former drunk and drug addict CAN turn their life around and that you CAN accomplish and experience some mighty wonderful things in life. I also make it a point to ask you to share some of your success stories in return. I want my posts and conversations to be engaging for both us.

While writing this article I began to grow curious as to why I am drawn towards some people and why I ebb away from others. I thought about the people I’m drawn to and I noticed that it’s because they aren’t blowhards and the conversations are mutually engaging. I then decided to interview some of these people. I wanted to know if they consciously worked at being engaging and non-competitive in conversations, was this a natural trait and were they even aware of the trait that they have?

I talked with quite a few of my friends. What they all had in common was humility. They also weren’t completely aware that they were so pleasant. But when I asked them whether they knew any blowhards or had an idea of what I was talking about they all said, “Oh yeah.” They could all think of people who always monopolize a conversation or always have to one-up anyone else involved in a conversation.

Two of my friends in particular were able to nicely articulate why they purposely attempt to be engaging in conversation and try their best to avoid one-upmanship. I’ll call them Jerry and Joyce just for the sake of giving them names. I also wanted to give a perspective from each gender.

Here’s what Joyce had to say about the subject: “I know some people who I dread answering my phone when I see it’s them calling. All they’re going to do is talk about all the great things their kids have done, what they just bought and how wonderful their life is. If I ever get a chance to talk, they have a better story to interrupt with. Then there are others who are just going to ramble on about all the same problems they’ve been rambling on about for years. I don’t want to be like that person. They’re not fun to talk to or be around. I want to talk to and be around people I enjoy and who make me laugh.”

Here’s what Jerry had to say: “I guess it’s because my parents taught me to be humble. My dad always told me that no matter how good I was at something there’s always somebody else who can do it better. He didn’t say it to criticize me or belittle me. It helps with my humility.”

Jerry and Joyce are genuinely fun and engaging people to be around because they don’t mind letting others have the spotlight. That’s the reason I like hanging out with them. And Jerry’s dad was right. The fact is that there will always be someone better, faster, smarter, prettier, stronger, richer and luckier than you. You can be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. (Hell, I’m pretty arrogant about some of the things I’ve done. I always say, “It’s not bragging if it’s true, but you don’t have to belabor the point.”) But you can also be humble in your pride.

What does all this have to do with sobriety? I believe that it’s part of your growth and evolution of becoming a fun person to be around. And I think that’s especially important for a non-drinker.

Why not genuinely be happy for someone? Why not listen to their story, and if you’re envious, ask how they did it and learn from them. Even if you have done something better or for longer than the other person, let the spotlight shine on them. That’s true support, fellowship and friendship. Don’t compete in conversations. Don’t be the person that everybody wants to avoid.

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 website. It’s If you like what I do and what I write about, you can help me pay for all this by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: Donations are NOT tax deductible. Thanks for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel

You get what you get. (06/25/15)

June 25th, 2015

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

In a classic Rolling Stones song, Mick Jagger sings: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” In sobriety, and life in general, you rarely get what you want. You often don’t even get what you need. You just get what you get. But you CAN make the best out of whatever you do get. It’s not always easy to accept that statement and it can be pretty hard to make the best out of a shitty situation, but that’s a big part of sobriety. Making the best out of it, no matter how things pan out.

Sobriety may be a struggle at times. It may seem boring at times and everything doesn’t go your way. But that’s life. You can’t blame sobriety. Please believe me. I’ve tried to blame sobriety for a lot of things that didn’t go my way. I would wonder if sobriety was worth it. Then I wanted to drink my problems away. I wanted to drink my way into happiness or drink my way into someone’s bed. But I always knew better. I knew that booze would get me what I wanted—at the moment—but I also knew that what I wanted—at the moment—would ultimately turn out to be bad for me. So I never took that drink. But I still blamed sobriety for my sadness and woes.

But then I’d think to myself, “Would I work better if I drank just a little? Would I earn more money if I drank just a little? Would I do more in life if I drank just a little? Would I get laid more if I drank just a little?” (Okay, I might get laid more if I drank, but would I even remember it or would it even be good sex—for either of us—if I drank?) I can’t honestly see how drinking would help improve anything in my life. So I can’t blame sobriety if I don’t work as good as I should. I can’t blame sobriety if I earn less than I want. I can’t blame sobriety if I don’t do exciting things in life. And I can’t blame sobriety if I don’t get laid.

It’s only natural that our mind wants answers and wants to blame somebody or something for when we don’t get what we want. When we don’t get what we want we almost automatically find blame or have an answer. Some people will say, “It’s God’s will,” or “That’s the way God wanted it.” Others will blame their parents, spouse, boss, society, any other race than theirs, drugs, alcohol or even sobriety. Rarely are people willing to acknowledge that things may just be a result of chance, luck and randomness. Fact is that very often there are no obvious correlations to be seen as to why events occurred as they did. But the mind still wants—if not demands—an answer.

Sometimes you can find clear blame. You wouldn’t have been arrested for drunk driving if you wouldn’t have been drinking. You wouldn’t have a hangover if you didn’t drink heavily the night before. You wouldn’t be broke if you didn’t spend all your money on booze or drugs. But those things aren’t booze’s fault or anyone else’s. They are your own fault. You can seriously eliminate a lot of unnecessary and inconvenient problems by eliminating overuse of substances. Sometimes eliminating substances calls for drastic measures, like complete and total abstinence from the substance.

This takes me to another popular old saying which is, “Be careful of what you wish for.” The law of unintended outcomes and unintended consequences comes into play here. There will always be unforeseen outcomes and consequences for almost anything we attempt to do or actually accomplish. Not all unintended consequences are bad, but unforeseen events will occur.

Here are some examples: You end up getting the job or position you were hoping for but it turns out that the job requires more time or skill than you anticipated. Or maybe someone else was vying for the same position and now you have a secret enemy trying to make your life miserable at work, even though you did nothing personally against that person other than to get the position that they also wanted. Maybe you sobered up and your spouse, lover or friends no longer want to be with you because they think you’re not fun anymore. Life is filled with unintended outcomes and unintended consequences. The happiest people learn to make the best out of them.

I also find it rather funny when I hear people talk about what they want. Their desires and wants aren’t funny—what’s funny is the unrealistic extent of their wants. “I want to travel the country but mostly hang out along the Gulf of Mexico and go swimming every day.” Then I’ll ask, “Okay, how are you going to do that? How will you earn money for living expenses? Where will you stay when you’re not traveling? Where will you stay when you are traveling? How are you going to make this happen?” The answers can be hilarious. “Well I want to do what you do. I want to buy an RV, travel around the country and not work much.” That’s hilarious because the person has no idea how much I had to work and forego to earn enough money to buy an RV. They have no idea how I developed a way to work while I’m traveling and how much I do work to earn my daily living expenses. No one gives me free food. No one gives me free diesel fuel. I may be able to stay at a campground for “free” but I have to exchange my time, talents and labor. I don’t just hang out there. I have to put in 8 hour days of working for the campground. And I better work hard and put in more hours than I’m obligated to or I won’t be invited back. I have to do a lot of work for what I want and so will you.

Dream big and want big, but remember that you will have to work for it and there may be some unintended outcomes and consequences when you do get what you want. But don’t let the unknown hold you back. There’s no way to foresee every outcome or unintended consequence—that’s why they’re called “unintended.” And don’t blame someone or something if unintended consequences come along. Accept what’s happening NOW and try to make the best out of it.

You and I won’t always get what we want. We often won’t even get what we need. But continue to try. Isn’t getting 50% or 25% of a desire better than getting 100% of nothing?

I made a small poster which I hung above my computer desk. It has a statement in bold letters and questions that I ponder.

I have more than I need but less than I want. My needs obligate me to work. My wants compel me to work creatively.

  • Do I really need all that I want?
  • Am I veiling a want as a need?
  • What will or might change if I get what I want?
  • Will it all be good changes by getting what I want?
  • How can I better enjoy what I currently have?
  • How can I learn to be more appreciative of what I currently have?
  • How can I make the best out of what I have?

In the end, don’t blame sobriety, anything else or anyone else if you don’t get what you want in life. The one thing that will give you the advantage at getting both what you want and what you need is SOBRIETY. Sobriety keeps your mind clear and that allows you to make the best out of your abilities and capacities regardless of the circumstances you’re in. Do everything you can to make the best out of whatever you do get.

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 podcasts and website. It’s If you like what I do and what I write about, you can help me pay for all this by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: Donations are NOT tax deductible. Thanks for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel