One Year Alcohol Free

Last week, I celebrated 365 days since I quit drinking- one entire year of being alcohol free! Yay me! I also started my new job that same day of my first “soberthday” so very distracted with new yoga job, I made little fanfare the actual day of. Got a cake. Lit a candle. Applauded myself. Ate said cake. It was glorious.

It is important to note I did not eat the entire cake, I cut it into 4 pieces and delivered a slice to each family member. When I told them what the cake was for they responded, “Aw, that’s awesome! Good job!” and went right back to doing what their previously cake-less selves were doing. And all that was perfectly okay with me.

This one year of not drinking, in the grand scheme of things, is truly no big deal to anyone but me and that’s just the way I like it. I am happy that this date was just that, a date, and only important insofar that I crossed a calendar finish line that means… nothing. I did it and I will keep on doing it and that one year mark was a typical day-in-the-life, only made special with a slice of chocolate cake and not some random date on the calendar.

Just as it should be. My sobriety is now the norm and it feels fantastic.

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Top News in Alcohol: 12.27.22

Alcohol and Running
Came across this article on RunnersWorld.com and as a former marathon runner who drank all through my running days, I was happy to see this story finally being told to such a large audience! I wrote about this in posts prior as the topic hits very close to home: the act of doing something healthy paired with alcohol was my go-to for many years and I am not alone in this! The virtuousness that is exercise “deserves” a drink and as runners, this is proven by the fact that most races offer a beer or glass of wine upon crossing the finish line. Most races also start very early in the morning. Most races, therefore, make it completely acceptable to drink before breakfast as well as send the message that only with alcohol can we celebrate our accomplishments.

Races besides, it is also the community running and drinking create. The largest running group in my city is called the East Bay Beer Runners, at over 6,000 members strong. They meet at a different local bar weekly, run, then drink and socialize. Another group, the Running Lushes, I was a member of and even though it’s a smaller group, most members are very well known in the Bay Area Running Influencer circles (because yes, that is totally a thing). Even I led a mommy running/drinking group for many years called the Cocktail Moms.

“… the benefits Americans attribute to alcohol—that it is good for the heart, helps you sleep, eases pain—are false… The truth is, there’s no safe amount of alcohol, not even one drink a day… blithely telling yourself beer is a recovery drink because it has carbs and your Tuesday night run ends at a bar? Not so much.”

Society tells us that alcoholics drink in the morning or on the weekdays. Society also tells us that “responsible drinking” does not include slamming pints after we exercise. Then, are runners who grab that congratulatory drink after a race at 8am irresponsible alcoholics?

Both lifestyles are enmeshed and this is the first, I hope of many, articles calling out the oxymoronic nature therein. I also hope that race companies will start to seek more NA partnerships thereby offering at least more than water NA options post-race. Money is the driver here as always but read on for another article that shows a distinct uptick in the consumption of NA beverages in 2022.

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Dear Laura: I’m Sorry

Dear Laura:
I owe you more apologies and even more applause for the things we’ve gone through over the bumpy course of these 48 years. We’ve done a lot and we’ve seen a lot and I have held you back at nearly every turn. Often I’ve ignored the truth and lied to you more times than I care to admit and for this, I confess my fault in it all.

I am sorry for allowing toxic relationships to abuse you and for destructive environments to punish you. You were always right from the start- every time you said things were too stressful and too dramatic and too threatening I didn’t listen, I only told you to take it all with a smile and go back for more the next day. When you recognized these harmful situations, I was wrong in telling you to accept things for what they are. You always knew better.

I am sorry for the mistreatment you suffered at the hands of your parents. You had nothing to do with their inability to love and show kindness, it was not your fault that they physically and mentally abused you, at least we can both agree about that. But all those times I said you deserved it, again I was wrong. You never deserved abuse. I am regretful for ever putting that on you. Look at how much you’ve accomplished despite that lack of unconditional parental love. I am sorry that continues to haunt you and I promise to remind you of how much you shine, how much love and comfort you provide for your own family even though you were never taught how- you always had it in you.

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Top News in Alcohol: 12.7.22

Alcohol and the World Cup
According to a recent article posted on CNN.com, “… no alcohol would be sold at the eight stadiums which will host the tournament’s 64 matches. Alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks and other licensed venues around Doha, FIFA said in a statement.” This is not a new rule as the same applies in France, Spain, Portugal, and Scotland, where no beer is allowed in stadiums at all- if those countries can survive without a drink for 3 whole hours while watching a match, why can’t the U.S.?

Reuters covered this same story in a different light, reporting that female fans feel safe at Qatar World Cup thanks to reduced alcohol consumption. As noted in the aforementioned article, intoxication due to the overserving of alcohol at sporting events and the link between public disturbances and violence has been of great concern and we already know that several studies (just a few here, here, and here) have linked major sporting events to an increase in reports of domestic violence, “It is well known that incidences of abuse and violence increase when teams lose, but there are also more reported incidences when they win.”

Then is stands to reason, why is masculinity and sports fueled by alcohol? Al Jazeera even posed that question with their recent article, “Beer, Sport, Men: Inside the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Alcohol Marketing” which states that the link between the 3 and the violence towards women that results is truly led by the desire of the markets and the money to be made therein. Thankfully, the urge toward decoupling the worlds of alcohol and sports is on the rise, with profit motives now leaning toward inclusivity and a shift away from the more “toxic” and violent elements of the culture.

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The Last Drink

December 18, 2021: hubby’s birthday party. I’m holding 2 Santa shots here, each a different type of bourbon. I do not drink bourbon but I drank both of these that night… along with much, much more…

Given the festivity pictured, you would think that that was my last drink. It was not. It was actually the fourth to last but the events that occurred the night of 12/18/21 certainly propelled my decision to quit.

I love a good theme and this Christmas explosion of a bar was a perfect backdrop to don our merriest apparel in celebration of hubby’s birthday. Once the drinking buddies arrived, our drunken antics began. The menu included an array of Xmas-crafted cocktails at $15 a pop. Not kidding. $15. Each. And when you’ve got an open tab plus “friends” who take advantage of said open tab plus you’re at this freaking place for 8 hours straight, that tab adds up. And add up this night it certainly did- in more ways than one…

Of course, my goal was to try them all!
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Sober Thanksgiving Toolkit

I chose to stop drinking in January of this year and have gotten through a lot of sober “firsts” since then, Thursday will be my first sober Thanksgiving. Apologies in advance to the Turkey Day Devotees out there but, I hate Thanksgiving. (Not a fan of Christmas either but I’ll jingle those bells next month.) Only thing that got me through the prior 30+ Thanksgivings was alcohol. Lots of it.

Mainly, I dislike Thanksgiving because of the family pressure. Given my childhood Traumas, I am not too keen on spending time with parental figures and distant family that you only see once a year. This brings up my anxiety, several triggers, paranoia, and constant self-doubt. Am I dressed okay? Do I look alright? Why isn’t anyone talking to me? Do they like me? Am I being entertaining enough? Am I acting too drunk? Is it rude if I just go ahead and open another bottle? Have we really been here for 3 hours drinking yet haven’t even had dinner yet? When will this damn dinner be over and when can we leave? Well, too bad you feel that way Laura- the calendar says so, damnit, and now you have to spend the longest meal known to man, chit chatting every last ounce of your energy away, while consuming 5,000 calories because society expects you to. Grrrrrrrrr.

Alcohol was my Thanksgiving savior, social lubricant working all its magic, allowing me to feel inauthentically happy and carefree- alcohol gave me the power to talk more (even though I was slurring), listen more (even though I recall little of what was said the next day), and feel some semblance of confidence (even though I actually acted a hot mess). But not this year, Thanksgiving. Not. This. Year. This year, with over 10 months of sobriety in tow, I am confident I can get through Thursday just like I got through all the other “firsts” and- hopefully- will finally find a newfound gratefulness and appreciation for the holiday itself. (Highly doubt that though. I vote we have a second Halloween in its place instead- who’s with me???)

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Today’s Reason: You

If no one has told you lately, let me be the first: you are awesome and perfect just the way you are. Your journey is unique and no one else can inform your path. Others we choose to bring along our journey become our teachers, even if temporary, and guide us when enduring the hardest of times. The times where we struggle, the periods when the world is just too much and everything is a battle, the days when not one thing goes right. I’ve been there too. We all have. Yet, you are the answer. The power is within you, as it is within all of us, to grab the reigns, bear down, and ride those rocky paths of life with grace and triumph.

It’s taken me a lot of work over several years to finally love myself and have true compassion for others. For way too long, I ruminated on all the things I wasn’t: not kind enough, not smart enough, not accomplished enough, not skinny enough- yet, surprise surprise, that did absolutely nothing for my motivation. All the negative thinking did was hold me in place; stewing in those comparison juices got me nowhere. The moment I started telling myself, “I want to do this, I can do this, I will do this, and I do not care what other people may think!” is when the real action began.

Where ever you are in your journey is the exact right place to be. Remember that! Once life takes you down a difficult road know that you have the ability and skill to choose how that difficulty dictates your life. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.” and I am here to tell you that’s stupid. In times of strife, especially, one must take the good along with the bad as they are a package set. It is 100% okay, even necessary, to see and feel every inch of the bad, every little nook and cranny of it, in order to truly understand it. The good is you, the bad is you and both hold the answers you seek.

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Today’s Reason: 48!

Celebrated my 48th birthday on November 1st and this one was, by far, one of the best birthdays I have ever had! I did all of my favorite activities (yoga, hiking, got a massage, stayed at a fancy hotel, took a cooking class, ate a ton of beautiful and delish food), felt all the love from my family and friends, and didn’t even set that cheap Halloween wig on fire when blowing out my birthday candles! Best part of it all: no days lost to hangovers, no money nor time wasted on drunken ragers for other people, and no memories lost to black outs! (I did, unfortunately, get into an argument with a former drinking buddy but other people’s reaction to my sobriety is a subject for another post.)

In one year, so much has changed. I started off my 47th year of life with a weekend trip to wine country wherein my husband and I drank for 12 hours straight, joined 3 new wine clubs, purchased 16 bottles of wine, and were too hungover the next day to truly enjoy that fancy hotel or that beautiful food or do anything active whatsoever so started drinking/”celebrating” all over again! That was how I valued my time a year ago and that’s quite alright, acceptable to most even; but now, above all, I value presence, joy, learning and movement- all of which alcohol robbed me of for way too long.

Kicking off 48 with a 9 mile hike in
amazing Muir Woods!
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9 Months Alcohol Free

Woke up this morning, checked my phone and smiled at the notification from my I Am Sober app: I’m nine months alcohol free today! Yay me! I’ve hit the 3/4 of a year milestone and I can barely believe it- feels like these nine months have flown by but also like its taken forever to get here.

So much has changed during this time, I’ve endured some difficult situations along the way and while some still remain, just about every other aspect of my life has improved. My skin is brighter, my face and belly aren’t bloated anymore, I’ve lost weight, sleep is The Best (have never slept this good in my life! ever!!), my blood pressure has dropped, the relationships with my kids and husband have improved, and I feel like a freaking Sober Super Hero- hands on hips, chest puffed out, cape flapping fashionably behind me, villain triumphantly defeated.

From the start, I inhaled as much writing as I could about alcohol addiction and its effects on the brain, body, relationships and how much our American society applauds/ supports/ encourages our consumption from all of our day ones. I’m just at the tip of the Quit Lit iceberg, yet I have a much clearer understanding about why I drank the way I drank, the influences (direct and indirect) that kept me drinking for nearly 30 years, and how all that impacted my sense of identity.

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Funemployment: Week 1

I was let go a week ago. I am recovering. I am no longer wallowing. And I am keeping busy…

DAY ONE: Embrace all the outrage, anger, sadness, and humiliation in the world. Cry in husband’s arms, call/text all girlfriends for support and vent until I can’t vent anymore… then vent more. And cry more. Wanted- in every last fiber of my being- to open several bottles of wine and anesthetize from all these horrible feelings but, I didn’t. Instead, I called more friends and ate chocolate.

DAY TWO: Couldn’t sleep all night, woke up still feeling horrible. Wrote blog post about getting fired to try to feel better about getting fired. Kinda felt better. Kinda didn’t. Started applying for jobs. Successfully stayed away from the Wine Witch but did not escape the Chocolate Chum.

DAY THREE: That horrible, gut sinking feeling remains. Damnit. But holdonwaitasecondhere my job applications are getting responses! Two interviews scheduled already! Also got to the gym and listened to all the angry break-up songs while I attacked on the elliptical and did weights for an hour and that felt great. Rage seems to be abating but pretty sure I need a little more chocolate just to be sure.

Finding truth on the trails.
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