Hello all

Here I am back again. Life has settled down after being away and I am refreshed and rearing to go. Now, where are we at today? Let’s get started …

Have you ever thought of giving something up for a whole year? You know, like alcohol for instance? It is almost the anti-thesis to my blogging every day for a year isn’t it? That’s because giving something up requires just as much discipline (maybe more?) than actually DOING something extra every day for the year.


It reminded me of the challenge given me by my Book Club friends this year, to go through a whole year without reading the end (prematurely) of any books I am reading. What a challenge that has been! Especially when I am in a hurry to get the book read and I am getting a little bored half way through …

Will I ditch it, or will I persevere all the way through? At this point, I have to tell you that I have now read three whole books right to the last page … a big deal for me folks. And yes, I have ditched a couple too; they really weren’t worth wasting my time on is how I looked upon it.

So now, what about Jill Stark who decided to give up drinking alcohol for a year and wrote a book about it? “High Sobriety … my year without booze”  which Jill wrote, became a best seller. She said about herself:

‘I’m the binge-drinking health reporter. During the week, I write about Australia’s booze-soaked culture. At the weekends, I write myself off.’

Now, how hard would this challenge be? Think about all the times where drinking is involved in celebrations, in meals, meeting someone after work ‘for a drink at the pub’. In fact, Jill lost friends when she gave up alcohol because her friends ‘felt bad’ when she did not drink and they continued on drinking. She was the only sober one there I suppose!

One reviewer wrote about the book:

“A sobering, and distinctly inspiring, glimpse of what Australia might look like without a hangover … Stark writes with honesty and unnerving clarity. Over its pages, the reader gradually comes to understand not just that Aussies don’t like to give up the drink, but that we don’t like it when our mates do, either.” Annabel Crabb

Jill Stark while she was still 'on the booze'

Jill Stark while she was still ‘on the booze’

I heard an interview during one of my sleepless nights some weeks ago with the author of High Sobriety and was fascinated by this topic. (No wonder I wake up in the middle of the night when I hear such interesting things). The thing was, Jill Stark was so honest when she shared her story that even I was inspired by her decision to give up alcohol and I hardly drink!

Then in the spirit of giving up, I heard on the radio during the week, a report about a techno-savvy American called Paul Miller who decided he would give up using the internet for all of 2012. Yep, you heard right. He got rid of his smart phone and exchanged it for ‘a dumb one’ (obviously couldn’t give up phone calls) and for four months he went along just fine … but not for long. Problems did develop after this.

But first you would have to ask: what did he expect to gain from giving up the internet? It appears he wanted to have more time to do other things as he felt he was becoming too dependent on the internet and he was spending too much time doing whatever he was doing online … especially being unsociable as he kept checking his smart phone and Facebook whilst with friends and family.

Yes, according to the reporter, at first he was amazed at how much time he had to do other things but as the time went on, he simply replaced the internet with other things and then he became just as busy wasting time as he was before. You can’t win can you? He documented his journey and it was shared on ‘The Verge.’ www.theverge.com/im-still-here-back-online-after-a-year-without-the-internet

“By late 2012, I’d learned how to make a new style of wrong choices off the internet. I abandoned my positive offline habits, and discovered new offline vices. Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.”

So to sum it all up, Jill did not drink alcohol for a year and she said she was totally changed forever by the experience. And Paul, who found new things to do (like discovering snail mail) just replaced his bad online habits for other bad offline habits!  Therefore, it seems that if we are going to give up something for a year, we must let it change us totally and not simply replace one bad habit with another. For me, this is vital.

Paul Miller while he was 'internet free'

Paul Miller while he was ‘internet free’

But here is another point to consider: why is it that we decide to take up challenges that involve ‘giving things up’ for a YEAR? Why a year? It that a magical time frame that suits perfectly? I suppose it is like bookends … you have a beginning – at a time when you feel inclined to take on challenges – and a define end of year when you can start something different altogether the next day.

I find this whole subject of ‘going without’ (or even ‘taking something up’ like me) absolutely fascinating and I cannot wait to start a new year in 2014 and see what I can do … perhaps this time I will ‘go without’ something for the year? Just not sure what it will be yet. The answer will become clear as we go along.

So, after sharing this interesting topic with you all, I need to ask: What would YOU like to ‘give up’ for a whole year? And how would you like it to change you?