The author Lynne Scrivens.
I work as a journalist. It's a unique stress; a daily deadline that never goes away. News bulletins must be filled. It's relentless, but exhilarating.
I'm 38 years old. My love life is sparse, I've done the online dating thing. I've been on bad dates; good dates I never heard from again. I've been stood up and looked over and had a six month relationship with a guy who never wore underwear. Enough said.
I drink too much, too often, alone.
But I'm also "can do" optimist, so when I saw a friend posting daily Grateful status updates on Facebook, I thought I should do it too. I knew the grateful project would help me get back on track. I just had a feeling.
Day 1: Exercise. I resolve to starting the new year fresh. But what I am secretly grateful for is the bottle of wine I'll have after work tonight. The rush to get home so I can open the bottle is palpable. The stress of my job, the loneliness of being single for too long all goes away when I drink. It's the click in my head I get after a few wines, the release from my life. Of course that alcohol fuelled release only lasts two hours before I go to bed. Then I wake up in the morning full of self-loathing.
Things I'm Grateful For Day 8: air conditioning on a 42 degree day!!!
Things I'm Grateful For Day 27: a phone call from the boss telling me I did a good job today.
By March, when I attend the annual foodies fest in Centennial Park, Sydney, I'm feeling very low. I was in a rut. I knew I needed a break from alcohol when I had a Bloody Mary and the buzz I should have got never materialised. All I had was deeply depressing thoughts. Really dark, deep, depressing thoughts.
Day 62: Good friends who help me be a better person.
I consult a colleague who had given up alcohol 6 months ago. "One day at a time" she said. Life opens up when you lay off the booze, she told me. With her encouragement I join Hello Sunday Morning and vow to have three months off alcohol. I write a Goals for 2013 list: drink less, be more active, host dinner parties, see more live music, laugh more.
Day 93: Feeling relaxed, healthy and happy after a week in Byron.
I travel to Byron Bay for a week for the Blues and Roots Festival with friends, and don't touch a drop of alcohol. I feel empowered; I've lost weight. I feel happy. On my return, I resume online dating, meeting two guys while sober. One was an insurance assessor and lovely. I gave him 3 dates before saying I wasn't interested. It wasn't time for a relationship. I was still learning to love myself again.
Day 119: My three times a week bootcamp. Actually really enjoying it!
I cracked after five weeks, and had a drink. A stressful day at work was enough to send me straight home for a glass of wine. I figured I deserved it. Life went on, but I was still searching for a spark to re-ignite my life.
By day 155, I'm feeling a bit tired of finding something to be grateful for. But my friends tell me not to give up. I keep going.
By now I was definitely drinking less than I had been before my sobriety stint, but I start to look at the real causes of my rut. I am a bit sick of work, I'd been in the same job for seven years. Maybe it was my Seven Year Itch. I realise that with my love life not going anywhere, I need to shake my life up. I've always loved Melbourne. But could I really move cities, I wonder? I have no kids, no boyfriend, no commitments to Sydney. I have a flat, but that would be easily leased. I'd always found my mojo in Melbourne. So I make enquiries about transferring south. Within four days I have a job and tell my Sydney boss I was leaving. He isn't happy, but there isn't much of a comeback when I say I am moving to find a husband. This isn't a career path, it is a lifestyle choice. A massive gamble.
Day 169: My last day at work in Sydney. I'm petrified, but deep down know this is the right thing to do. I'm ready.
Before I know it, my car is packed and I'm moving. I move into a flat with a friend, which I'm happy about. Company in a new city is a good thing. I know I'll have less chance to drink alone; I'll be less lonely. And she is a sassy, healthy and fun 40-year-old single chick.
Day 175: Surviving my first day in a new job!
The job is a culture shock. It's a smaller newsroom and I am "the Sydney girl", an outsider with little knowledge of the Melbourne news cycle, which is largely governed by footy, footy, and footy. I arrive smack in the middle of the Essendon supplements saga.
I quickly make friends with Rachael, a married mum my age and someone I instantly clicked with. When I confide my move to Melbourne had been made in pursuit of a husband, she did what no friends in Sydney had ever done: she sets me up with a friend of hers.
I was heading to the US for a holiday first, so Todd and I email before organising a date when I return. It's a Wednesday night at the Public House in Richmond. First impressions? Cute, well dressed. He is interested and interesting. It is the first date in years I am not checking my watch after an hour looking for an escape route.
Day 222: My sister's wedding.
I am a bridesmaid to my sister in Sydney the next weekend. I feel the date had gone well, but despite texting most days, Todd and I don't set up a second date for nearly two weeks. I nearly give up, thinking he just wasn't that into me.
Eventually, though, there is a second date; and a few more. It is slow and steady. Turns out he is super shy. We don't even kiss until date five - in a bar called Lucky Coq!!
Todd and I realise we have a great connection and we start falling in love very quickly. I pinch myself: suddenly I have a man who adores me, who wants to see me all the time, wants to be part of every bit of my life. I start getting anxious. How is this possible? Finding love so quickly? It is intense and I am quietly panicking. After so many failed dates and relationships, I struggle to accept a man's love.
Day 287: Flowers from my man. I make our relationship Facebook public. It’s exciting, and scary.
Day 299: A day at the races with Todd. But to my closest friends, I look uncomfortable in the photo of us. Yet I persisted. I knew issues with being in a relationship are issues in my head, not real life, but they are hard to let go.
Day 320: After seven days work straight, I unwind with home-made pizza cooked by a boyfriend. My posts about Todd would always generate the most "likes". My friends back in Sydney were so happy for me. And I was happy for myself because he’s an amazing cook.
Day 341: Sunshine on a weekend exploring Daylesford with my boy. The classic early love mini-break. And it is lovely.
Still battling anxiety, it's late December before I fully relax - largely thanks to a stern talking to from my mother! She told me he was a wonderful guy, before only half-joking: "If you don't marry him you have rocks in your head!"
I exhale. I relax. I let love in, completely.
Day 363: A boyfriend who plans a 2014 to do list. He is a keeper. He loves me unconditionally, and is planning our future together.
Day 365: My last post! I’m grateful for this project. I’m grateful for my friends for tolerating it. It’s amazing how long I spent each day thinking about what I was grateful for. Did it make a difference? Yes. It forced me to look on the bright side of life, even on crappy days. Its been a photo diary for a significant year for me. I sacrificed a career path in Sydney in the pursuit of happiness in a city I've long adored. I fell in love, saw my sister get married, had great holidays with great friends and spent quality time with my parents. And I’m heading into 2014 with a great big smile, and for that I’m eternally grateful.