Saturday, 11 February 2017


We are back in the Swiss Alps. We arrived late last night, when it was dark, and we just caught glimpses of snow and the outline of the mountains in the light of a full moon from the windows of the taxi as we wound our way up to our chalet.

Now it's dawn and I'm watching the light change over the tops of the snow covered peaks, the village spread out below me, roofs covered in thick white duvets and street lamps still blinking in the half dark.

Everyone else is asleep. I'm hoping they won't wake up for a while as the cupboards and fridge are completely empty. As soon as the shops open I'll brave the cold and go out for coffee, juice, milk and freshly baked croissants.

The Swiss Alps used to be a full on party venue for me. They're now a healing place.

The last time we came here was three days after I finished radiotherapy (for breast cancer). The time before was four weeks after I quit drinking (see my post Sober in Switzerland).

My perspective has changed entirely since then, as if I were looking at the same mountain from a different aspect in a new season.

The first piste we ski when we come out here, our warm up run, is called Lac de Vaux. I saw a picture of it recently in the summer. Where the piste flattens out by the ski lift there's a beautiful shimmering blue lake, surrounded by lush green pastures. Of course, the lake is there all the time (the clue is in the name), I'd just never seen it before.

Back in the drinking days, life was about the evenings and the indoors: booze, long rambling conversations, letting the hair down, bars, clubs, dim lighting.

Now it's about mornings and the outdoors: waking up with energy and enthusiasm, long rambling walks, wind in the hair.

Back then it was all transmit: say your piece, shout to be heard, fight your corner. Now it's about receive: listen to what's being said, learn, grow, nurture.

I used to look at the mountains and see wildness and recklessness; now I see stillness and peace.

I don't regret my former life. It was, let's face it, a great deal of fun while it lasted, but I'm glad I moved on. It was time.

Love SM x


  1. I think perhaps what you used to see in the mountain was the reflection of your feelings about yourself "wildness and recklessness" and now you see the you you have become- "stillness and peace".

    Have a lovely break and enjoy the warm coffee and freshly baked croissants this morning.

  2. As you describe that scene and reflect back on the past two visits it's clear how much calmer and almost serene you are. I'm not sure if it's true for you but I used to have an overruling sense of urgency about everything, in that if I stopped then there was a chance the wheels would fall off. Now I feel that everything will play out in an orderly fashion even if it is on the tails of disaster. Does that make sense?
    If you continue to return to the Alps over the years I think it will bring your journey back to you and ours back to us as for so many of us we started your blog in Switzerland with you and I certainly remember how I was feeling that day. JEALOUS!
    Enjoy your trip and lovely family time.

    1. Groundhog Girl- I had someone tell me the urgency is the way keep others from seeing our cracks. If we don't stop moving and doing no one can see the hurt or the pain or major issues we have including the drinking. Makes sense that when you shed the alcohol you also shed the urgency.

    2. Totally agree. I spent an awful lot of time papering over cracks and trying to stop the wheels falling off!

  3. You're holiday sounds wonderful. Have a fantastic time. I'm just reading a book called "best kept secret" by Amy Hatvany. Highly recommend it. Its about an alcohol dependant mum whose drink ing snuck up on her.

  4. "Shouting to be heard." That line really hit home. Drinking is so much about how your appear -- funny, witty, exciting! And so little about anyone else. What a beautiful contrast with the serenity of the mountains.

    Congratulations on our transition. ; )

  5. Have a wonderful holiday! You've come a long way girl! Enjoy the view from the top of the mountain.

  6. Beautiful piece! Not just for the insight, but you made me decide going out for a walk on a so-so winter morning sounds like a great idea!!

  7. oh that was just beautiful....have a wonderful vacation. xo

  8. Wow that's sounds fab!!

    We are just on our way back from a skiing weekend in Glencoe, only our second skiing trip as me and the kids only learnt to ski recently. So both my skiing holidays have been when I'm sober and I just can't imagine going and drinking, you feel so alive and fresh when your skiing and it just wouldn't feel the same with a hangover and a fuzzy head!!
    And I think the old me wouldn't have had the confidence to learn to ski, or the determination to learn because it's not been easy!

    I've definitely had a weekend binge on hot chocolate though!!! So probably ready for a sugar detox now!! ;-)

    Have a fab time SM xxxx

  9. Enjoy, SM. It sounds wonderful. There is nothing like the mountain air to make you feel alive. Those days when it the sky is cornflower blue, the snow dampening all the sound and there is nothing but the swooshing of your skis. It makes me feel euphoric just thinking about it. Have fun!

  10. That's lovely.
    In my experience stillness and peace is everything. It's where we truly live.


    1. I used the expression as an homage to you, lovely Anne ❤