2 years alcohol-free

After having a day off alcohol on January 31 2018 and feeling so good about it, I haven’t found any reason to drink alcohol since.

Here are a few highlights from practicing self-awareness and moderation since then.

Trained for and ran a 50km run.

Saved over $4,000. ($40 per week formerly spent on alcohol .)

Been using Duolingo daily for over 16 months to study Greek and French.

Drawing daily since October 2018.

Maintaining my 35kg weight loss from 2015-16.

Continuing to log my daily food intake on My Fitness Pal nearly 5 years.

Continuing to be at a parkrun every Saturday.

Exhibiting and selling my Art.

Writing zenmode.org blog.

Implemented home energy-saving and reduced my cost of living.

No-Spend November.

3 months Slow Fashion Season Challenge (bought no new clothes).

Made investments.

Travelled to visit parkruns further afield.

Saved for and travelled from Australia to Europe and met up with friends.

I see no temptations in alcohol any more.

I’m always happy to be free of its ups and downs and its guilt.

drinking alcohol in moderation

Tomorrow You

Be Kind to “Tomorrow You”.

Instead of lumbering myself with guilt, headaches, and poor nutrition hangovers in the morning, I think of how nice it would be not to feel that way tomorrow.


I worry about “Me” and don’t want “Tomorrow Me” to feel awful.

Instead of thinking alcohol is something nice to have *now*, think of *NOT drinking* as something nice we can do for the person we are when we awaken in the morning.

Do you bank calories for a festive occasion? (Handy tactic, I might add.)

We can bank a good mood for when we wake up.

We need to have sympathy for “Tomorrow You” and be kind to her/him.

Don’t look at a day without alcohol as a punishment for being bad or having no willpower.

Not drinking is a lovely, sympathetic gesture towards the person we are now, and whom we will wake up as.

You’d be kind to a stranger. Be kind to “Tomorrow You”.

Last drink was January 31 2018.


7 years free from smoking
3 years free from alcohol
3 and a half years without caffeine.

I don’t miss these things.

Sometimes I get a shadow of an urge that is a residual habit, but it’s fleeting.

Over the years, those urges became weaker and weaker.

I’m not Little Miss Perfect. There’s caffeine in chocolate. I’ve had creamy pasta cooked with white wine, and beer-battered fish and chips. And I don’t care.

You might not care that you consume addictive substances. I did.

I feel fantastic, not only for health reasons, but for the freedom it gives me by not having addictions.

And the smugness is a maraschino cherry on top.

7 books which teach Logic, Debunking, and Critical Thinking

I believe in the scientific method (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) as a way to determine how to discover good information.

I believe that a knowledge of logical fallacies (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) and cognitive biases (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) helps determine what is a bad statement.

I also believe in being kind.

📖Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, 1995.

📕Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst, “Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial”, 2008.

📒Julian Baggini, “The Duck that Won the Lottery (and 99 other bad arguments)”, 2008.

📗Debbie Nathan, “Sybil Exposed”, 2011.

📙James Randi, “Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions”, 1980.

📘Martin Gardner, “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science”, 1957 (1976).

And yes, I’ll include one on Art:

📚John Berger, “Ways of Seeing”, 1972.

Running helped ease my anxiety and boosted my confidence

Once I was regularly running and losing weight (zenmode link) I realised this “getting healthy” thing isn’t meant to be a punishment.

I wanted to look after myself instead of hating myself for not looking after myself.

Running and losing weight had given me more confidence in tackling the things I needed to overcome.

Being a little more confident led to wanting to run races/fun runs (zenmode link) and meet up with running friends I’d met online, though that was scary to me.

I used to get pains in my chest and shivering due to anxiety. My doctors weren’t worried about that, but rather the fact that I was taking valium a few times a week to manage the symptoms in the week prior to an event (never the day before an event).

I was given a doctor’s referral to see a neuropsychologist 10 times in a year, free with Centrelink/Medicare Australia, should I need them.

The first appointment was really, really scary to turn up for, no matter who says “stop the stigma” (I think that makes stigma seem more real).

But I was very relieved after I’d been to the appointment. It was such a relief – much more so than a valium used to be (I didn’t quit those straight away. The mind isn’t oftgen that flexible, neither is the body).

From the psychologist I learnt about the nervous system, and the two types of nervous systems – the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. It’s the sympathetic that is most in play when anxious.  The “fight and flight” response.

Since then, I’ve used that knowledge in multiple situations, knowing I (or someone) is acting the way they are because of the need to move and burn energy to escape their fear (zenmode link). I still get scared, but I do tackle difficult issues with a desire to understand them.

It’s quite odd that we live in an age where people are afraid to run.

Having said that, I’m seeing more and more people outdoors exercising than there were 5 years ago, even with COVID-19 restricting much activity.

Running is a virus?

Leave a comment below.

Drawing is Seeing

“Drawing Is Seeing”

"Drawing Is Seeing" - Life Drawing by Carol Pryle Media: Fudebrush Ink Pen on Paper Life Drawing 2019 Framed, 59 cm by 77 cm (23 inches by 30.5 inches) $475.00 including postage (only within Australia).


Saving the world saves you money

How do you prioritise your spending? I’ve been discovering the FIRE community – Financial Independence / Retire Early. It’s a cool thing that also ties in with Finance, Environmentalism, Self-Care, Minimalism, even Frugality, and the best bit is overall personal and global health.

I posted on a frugality blog today and thought I’d use some of that to make a post of my own about things I’ve been doing because I wanted to, not as some sort of punishment or penitence.

This stuff is the stuff that gives and keeps on giving.

I gave up makeup, haircuts, and hair dye about 20 years ago when my son was young.
My “man-bun” is now finally the done thing. I’ve always just kept it long/longish so I can chop the ends off and tie it up.

I gave up shampoo and conditioner in bottles, and switching brands all the time. Now my hair doesn’t get dandruff (I worked out that changing brands is what made it itchy/flaky/scabby etc). I also worked out that the thing in them that keeps your hair soft and unfrizzy is the nut/plant oils, so I use macadamia oil when I need to.
I’ve been using a shampoo soap bar (paper packaging) by Ethique NZ, and only need to wash when I get really sweaty after a long run, about every week. The shampoo soap bar lasted months, still got months left, and cost about AUD$30.
I don’t bother ironing, or rather, many years ago, I stopped buying clothes that need ironing.

I gave up alcohol by starting the Feb Fast challenge two years ago. Oh, the benefits!! Don’t get me started on how great it’s been. A REAL treat for myself, unlike the contradictory justifications for drinking. The money I saved let me pay off our mortgage early so now we can redraw if we want a low-interest loan.

I never started driving, ie never got a drivers’ licence. So I’ve never needed to buy a car.

I did go through a sedentary job/depressed/drinking phase where I used a lot more taxis and did barely any walking, but that’s over. I didn’t want to cheat myself out of exercising.

Some of these things might sound tiring, but I was tired because I was worried I wasn’t doing them.

The urges took over to want to start walking more and more, then running and making friends at parkrun, and becoming happier and more confident, and balancing out my spending and overconsumption. I met friends who taught me about local sustainability initiatives and groups.

I’m now in my mid-fifties, and am a huge advocate of Public Transport, since it’s got me so far without ever getting a licence.

I brought my lunch to work for the past 4 and a half years. That helped me lose 35 kg in weight AND save a lot of money. I put that money away each week to save up for running shoes and events.

I meal-prep once a week. That makes it far less likely to do an overspend after work when “hangry“.

I did No-Spend November in 2018.

I thought it would be really difficult, but it made me want to try and be even more prudent.

Instead of a gut-reaction to buy, buy, buy, my brain wanted to think, and think some more about if/why/when I needed things.

Of course, the massive cultural delusion of Christmas then stepped in, then the New Year penury. Gradually, though, I’ve been saving more and spending less.

I did the 3-month Slow Fashion Challenge from June-August 2019 where I stopped buying clothes and started thinking.

For several years now, I’d almost given up buying flowering plants for the garden. I let the garden die off till only the tough things survived. Now I’m putting in food plants and planning a greywater watering system for a vegetable garden.

I joined an Unpackaged bulk-food group for locals, where we order in bulk online once a month, and split bulk orders of different and interesting food items. That’s saved money, and removed a lot of temptations and decisions at the supermarket, and helped with meal planning, because of having interesting, new, and nutritious things to try that more thought has been put into.

These things feed each other with self-moderation or regulation, and a sense of having enough.

I still feel the fast-paced frenzy of wanting to purchase things online, although now it’s mostly signing up to newsletters or alerts about software, financial apps, and courses to study to learn All The Things. 🙂

It’s still a battle to keep those email subscriptions and payment subscriptions under control.

I’m learning to unsubscribe when I feel annoyed or pressured. I’m getting better at knowing to sign up for more info when I see things on offer, and so I’m reminded to think it through some more. When I get an email I can then either schedule it in, pay for it at a big discount, or decide what I want my memory and/or reminder technology to do with it.

Now I’m looking for either a new job and/or increasing my (passive) income, so frugality has become even more important for minimising worry.

How do you prioritise your spending?

The long goal

I’ve had some big lows this year, due to difficult times in the financial planning industry. The brain use and related insomnia was exhausting.

I’ve had to cut back a lot of running, and haven’t entered races. Haven’t done any big runs since early in the year. But running a few 5-10 km a week has been sustainable, and kept me my positivity.

We had an amazing speaker at our run club social night, Julian Spence (ran #39 in the world in the marathon at Doha in the world championship in October). He talked about his run club, which includes Steve Monaghetti who won silver in the Olympics.

Julian Spence talked about how so many runners accelerate their training too quickly, and about how football, part of his early career, is not very healthy and has too much drinking.

He said to focus on the long goal, of running regularly and sustainably with your run club mates for years and years, to stay healthy and happy

This helps with recognising when to take breaks and ward off impending chronic injuries.

I’m not saying this is going to get us to the world championships too!

It makes me treasure the love of running, my running friends, and my positivity. I’d rather have those than medals any day.

50 ways I’m trying to save the world

Disclaimer: Brace yourselves, this is going to sound like a brag.



In 1986 I heard David Suzuki on ABC Radio telling Australia about global warming, pollution, and the hole in the ozone layer and decided I would always walk or take Public Transport, and that’s what I’ve done.


I’ve created a survey and petition to improve our regional Public Transport services, which is getting support, and I’ve contacted politicians, transport organisations, and the state government planners, and the local paper are interviewing me next week.


I’ve been eating vegan Food for 4 weeks.  I never liked red meat, and after a kid vegan started bullying me on Twitter, I finally decided that being over 50 I can eat whatever the fuck I want.  People don’t like the idea of being vegan because they don’t want to be bullied the way they bully and insult vegans.  I’ve now started bullying meat eaters on Rate My Plate.


I’d read the full EAT-Lancet Global Health Commission Report July 2019; and since then, its Affordability Study November 2019 confirmed my decision.




Vegan is the optimal health and productivity recommendation from the world’s dietary & agricultural scientists, biologists & food geneticists, and humanitarians, despite what TV told you in 1980.


If we don’t all eat vegan, and if we all only ate mince once a week, a roast or cut of red meat once a month, and had 3 meat-free days a week, then 65 million people would still have to spend 86% of their weekly income on food, and we still would have malnutrition, war and/or food-related family violence amongst the 10 billion people we are going to have in 2050.


We can’t keep using 45% of the world’s arable land on growing food for our food (i.e. livestock fodder) even with optimal yield and distribution rates and minimal food waste.


I’ve got 4 fruit trees in my back yard.


I have only two other food types planted, and I would like that to be more, but I need to set up a drip watering system or do an affordability/ecological study of my own for that.


I’m a member of our local “unpackaged” food collective-buying group, where we split bulk orders of various ethical food and household products.


Our house has an electricity provider which supplies the grid with Energy generated from a hydroelectric scheme in Tasmania.


My personal Investments are in sustainable/ethical funds & companies & technology.


I created a spreadsheet for our local types of Recycling collection points (lots of things can be recycled by smaller initiatives), and our town council have asked to use my spreadsheet on their website’s recycling page.


Our town collects 3 bins from our kerbside:


  1. FOGO (food, green waste, and organics): big bin, council collection available every 2 weeks;
  2. Paper/glass/plastic: big bin, every 2 weeks.
  3. Landfill: smaller bin, once a week. I have been putting it out every couple of weeks with a small amount in). Still would like to have that close to zero landfill waste.


I also have containers in the house for collecting these things to take to their local recycling collection points:



E-waste (electronic waste);

Plastic bottle tops;

Bread tags;


Dental products;

Printer ink cartridges;

Soft (scrunchable) plastic;


Paint tins & brushes;

Home and furnishing items.



For 3 months this year, I did a Slow Fashion Challenge and online course about global pollution, recycling, Clothing manufacturing, ethical employment, and sustainable development.


I have only bought 1 item of new clothing in the past 7 months. Not bad for a woman!


I’ve got into mending and Repairing things a lot and designing and sewing things again.


I use the Ecosia Chrome Extension for searching the internet, which is a non-profit Tree-Planting initiative which has so far planted 65 million trees using ad referral click income to fund its work.


I follow the world’s leading dietary and fitness scientists, the UN, climate activists, Reuters, AFP, NYT, global share markets, developments in Universal Basic Income pilot studies (great results in Africa recently), I read/listen to the pioneers in Circular Economy and their books, and I follow news of the countries who are implementing Circular Economy plans, I am one of The World Economic Forum’s “top fans” on social media, and a (verified) former head of the UN started following me on Twitter the other day.


I’m on a mission to save the world!!

(50 sounds like a rough guess at the stuff in this post, but this doesn’t count writing about and discussing politics, economics, logic, social media, art, weight loss, health and fitness, and facilitating and coaching running.)





Vegetable Dumplings

Vegetable dumplings (or they could be fried slugs, not quite sure, they were in a box).

Ketjap Manis & Sriracha Sauce for dipping.

Green Leafy Stuff with Lime Juice, Walnut Oil, and Sesame Seeds.

Real Raspberry Liquorice and a Carob bear (for when you’re meh with chocolate and sugar hits in the supermarkets).

Some sort of Dandelion/Chicory “Coffee “made by a local Barista (probably called Catweazle) which actually doesn’t make you feel weak in the veins or nauseous or high/low/high/low all day like the Coffee Rollercoaster.