As I write this, I am sitting in a super cool coffee shop in Seattle. This is such a great town. As usual when I do something again, only this time sober, I cannot help but remember the last time I was here. And not sober. Two years ago exactly we brought our daughter here with her friend to shop for a grad dress. I was drinking heavily. I was sad and I was negative. My world was small and dark. It amazes me that as I walked by a wine bar and several taverns shortly after we arrived yesterday, my addict mind tried damn hard to tell me that a drink would make this experience so much better than it already was. It STILL does that. My disease wants to come out of remission. It fights to become active once again. Mind boggling. Now I have some tools to recognize a negative thought pattern. I know that I am NOT my thoughts. Where I was swept away by my thoughts when my disease was active, that is no longer the case in my sobriety. I know that thoughts will come and thoughts will go. Most importantly though, I know that I do not have to be swept away by an old thought pattern that no longer serves me and probably never, ever did. I know that I would be devastated to have awoken this morning hung over, trying to remember what happened last night. How was that ever fun??? I know that I appreciated my food at the super cool Mexican restaurant we ate at last night. The house made ginger ale was awesome. Best part is while it was not sugar-free it certainly was regret-free. And even better was the fact that I was fully present for my dinner companions. I wasn’t laughing too loud. I wasn’t saying things that made others uncomfortable. I wasn’t wondering about where to get more alcohol for later in the hotel room. I was not obsessing about how many drinks I could have without looking like a lush in front of my daughter and her friend. I returned to the hotel room, did some yoga, washed up and read my book until my eyes got droopy from honest to goodness tiredness and not intoxication. I am not swept away by rogue thoughts anymore and that is such a gift of sobriety. This feels like a “do-over” for me. I am NOT drinking heavily anymore – or at all for that matter. I am NOT sad. I am NOT negative. My world is big and bright. I love this sober life. And when a thought comes along from an old pattern of thinking, I know exactly what to do now. I challenge it with a simple but important question : “Is that true?” (insert a shout-out to Catherine from the Bubble Hour podcast here http://www.thebubblehour.com) Is it true that a glass of wine would make this trip better? And when thoughts like that are challenged they tend to lose their capacity to create suffering because I no longer operate on “auto-pilot” where I am unconsciously acting on thoughts that harm me. I recognize that thought as outdated, untrue, useless and potentially harmful and life threatening. And then I kick it to the curb and go actually enjoy my sober self in this uber cool city with the people I adore. And that is another gift of sobriety. The gifts of sobriety are stacking up and seemingly endless. So as I sip an amazing Americano made from beans roasted right here, I am utterly filled with gratitude for not being where I was a couple of years ago. So much work to get here but so damn worth it.