Category Archives: breath

“Killing me softly”

So there I was in the Colonial Pantry gas station & convenience store at the corner of Green and Illinois Avenue. It was the convenient store that I would walk to alone in the middle of the night to get cigarettes. I really didn’t drink a ridiculous amount back then, so rarely alcohol. This store was located right by the apartments where I learned how to lay tile and also learned about rape. It was also across the street from where I had my first crushing break up of my college career and both of those moments were pretty pivotal in every. single. thing that ever I experienced after that…

AND THAT’S HOW STORIES GO for sexual assault survivors just so you know. Out of nowhere I just got to run down those memory files again…

So there I was in the Colonial Pantry buying cigarettes. I cannot afford my usual hard pack of Camel Lights so I buy Doral 100s – little bit more smoke per pack.

I always said that I was committing suicide slowly and I just made a connection to that with the alcohol and of course the cigarettes and the short-lived drug use. I did, in essence, kill myself and I suppose that’s where this rebirth comes from – this  phoenix rising from the ashes. I was on fire and instead of tending it, I poured ethanol on it. I included a link there to some research about the links between alcohol and cancer. here’s another one.

I lost two of the most special women in my life to cancers identified as connected to alcohol: liver and breast. It is literally on my to-do list to get my ferritin levels re-checked since quitting my habit. I cannot lie and say that fairly heightened levels was a final factor in my big quit, though it certainly resonated.

Back to the original story – I saw a story on Instagram about how people are using social media to help others with their mental health struggles. That’s what I have been trying to do my entire teaching career and for the last 20 years with trying to get this book I wrote called, Something from Nothing published.

For the longest time in my life, one got published with publishers. Then there were companies that would charge you THOUSANDS of dollars. And then there was Amazon.

CLEARLY I need a little marketing help. I always knew I was on to something and OF COURSE, I was before my time.

I may have to hire a real editor since my current person is coming up on two years pissing around with it. If she can’t find some passion for it, then – someone else!!

I think if I could get a timeline for when it might actually be finished, I would know how much to share with others in social media. But also there is the whole I have to have a certain persona as a teacher and is it okay for me to share the kinds of things that I would need to share. So I have this huge struggle with my own identity while I’m trying to be my own person. It is just a cluster $u@*.

So I have chosen to live and am on day 136. I honestly have to look that up every time. I bet there’s an app for that (wink wink). Doesn’t matter though because I won’t use it…I just don’t worry so much on counting the days as I count the moments where I’m catching up for so much lost time and just drinking every single feeling in and through me instead of drinking to cover me.

In case you’re curious, I don’t link my personal writing website or name to this website because I am open about that aspect of myself at this time, as much as possible, given my conservative profession, but I am not “out” about the rebirth, where the girl who was damaged by all that decided to walk back to herself. You know, to get the more she always wanted!

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Self-Care crunch

I am in a really big jumble right now. I have so many deadlines and responsibilities upon me, but mostly I want to focus on my inner journey and growth. I have so many creative ideas and juices flowing and it’s frustrating to have to set them aside when I have finally we reawakened them.

My husband and I have been on a tremendous journey the past seven years and we feel as though all of our hard work is about to break open and this change that we have put into motion is about to come to fruition and it is an exciting and scary time.

I can get overwhelmed in times like these, and I remember that I have forgotten my morning self care ritual of yoga and breath work for about two weeks now.

I had a nice morning off feeling my way around my home and the responsibilities and things that need done over this weekend and I believe that starting tomorrow morning I will be getting up and doing my yoga stretches and my morning breath work and we’ll see if this helps me to handle the forthcoming challenges and give me the energy to do all the good that I want to do.

There are deadlines for my current career as well as applications and job interviews for the next chapter in two possible locations. There are conversations with the distraught 13-year-old about not wanting to move. There’s blaming and there’s doubt and it’s muddy, but I am a Warrior of the Light and I will continue to be attentive to the signs that keep leading me along this journey.

I think it’s safe to say that alcohol has not been a contributing factor to my success in life and now it is time to break free of those chains and take my training wheels off for good.

Perhaps when I get through the deadlines I can get focused and carve some time for adding the regular writing into the self-care mix.

Day 110

I just had an amazing growth experience in Colorado and am still reeling from the amazing positivity and energy there. I visited some people dear to me and I felt welcomed and inspired.

According to Doreen Virtue, a popular spirit healer, “1, 11, 111, and 1111 in Angel Numbers all mean: ‘”Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts are manifesting instantly into form. Focus only upon your desires and not upon your fears.”‘

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I could not bear to be inside earlier today and I had so much to do. Sometimes, even with the best plans, deadlines approach faster than expected. I took on a lot this year because I thought if I could handle the administrative licensure while working full-time last year, I could do anything. I tell you what I know for sure, and that is that sacrifices must be made to follow dreams. I am thankful I am able to do just that.

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I have had much encouragement from the universe in these past months and I am watching and listening carefully.

I just returned home from some time at my mother and father’s house in Texas. My little brother hosted my son on a wild game hunting trip on the land he leases just 12 miles north of Mexico. It was a wonderful trip for my son and, as it turns out, for me.

I can hardly write for wiping my tears. I’m trying to be discreet as I am not alone and these moments are so personal to me and because I have so little control sometimes, I love for my moments alone to be alone. It just so happens that my study is in the heart of the house.

A house that I have grown to love so much. It cradled me in its arms and spoke gently to me. We grew together and it will be the hardest thing to leave behind when we pack up and head to Texas. Because we have to.

I believe it was Monday night that everyone went to sleep and I still had plenty to think about so I jumped into a Master Class through Mind Valley Academy to embrace my energy body. Since my session with Grace I have been chipping away at educating myself and the classes I’ve found are not lining up with my schedule. It was well explained and I was able to feel the warmth of my energy between my hand as Jeffrey Allen described. I coaxed that block from my sacrum and I replaced it with fresh new expansiveness.

While my mom was taking an afternoon nap and my sweet husband was driving our ten-year old around on the golf cart, I sat on the back porch rocking. I am interviewing for positions in education again this summer in and around Austin and I saw myself driving to the Lake on the weekends to visit my mom. Her respiratory issues are just not good.

She has taken such good care of herself almost her whole life and smoking, combined with toxic chemical exposure, has really  done a number on her ability to breathe and live.

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Cannot be any accident that I have discovered my breath this year. I rocked on her porch, strolled over to the pond and just let all of my thoughts and feelings wash over me. The bitterness from getting the raw end of the deal was absent. Suddenly I felt like I was the lucky one. My boys are 13 and 10 and my brother’s first son is not quite 8 months old.

So I redoubled my efforts and got a few more applications in to other districts while I was there. She had very little energy, having battled bronchitis for three weeks and so there were no big outings or anything so I had plenty of time to do it. Things were very low-key with my Dad and oldest being gone and there was plenty of down time.

I am back home now decompressing and processing the moments of the past few days, which included a digital video interview for a HUGE position in Austin and some crazy little details and connections being revealed that may or not be synchronicity, or as I always called it, as a young girl with a favorite book, Serendipity (1974).

I have been looking to purchase this book for myself for a number of years and I went ahead and bought a first edition, just like the one I used to have. Many of my childhood toys and keepsakes were missing from my grandparent’s basement when my mother and I returned from her first tour in the service. I have always been sad to have lost those things.

About three years ago my mother found “my” Raggedy Ann doll on Ebay, bought it and sent it to me.

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I will be so curious to peel back the cover and see the name of the original owner of Serendipity and that little girl (?) and I will share a moment of acknowledgment that “Knowing who you really are will bring you happiness” as is the theme of the book. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my connection to this book has been steadfast my entire life. I look so forward to re-reading it. Perhaps the next time I head down this spiral, I will treat myself to my other favorite: Flutterby (1976), with the moral: “Be just who you are.”

At any rate, I am feeling a certain pull to the area. Perhaps a real connection to the idea that this is finally the real move that is due. It was no trouble at all to be present in my own skin without being inebriated or drinking at all. Maybe I am ready to surrender to the idea that my Mom is certainly not perfect, but she has done the best that she could for me. Maybe I can learn to forgive her for things that hurt me.

I guess she has probably had to forgive me hurts over the years.

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Independence Day 2016

I bumped into a yoga instructor and holistic healer on social media. It was a bizarre meeting, but we have many things in common and she is conducting a Nourishing Awakenings women’s nature retreat just a few hours from my home. Fire walking is involved and I am very seriously considering going. I contacted her about it and in our conversation it came up that I am trying to get my family to Austin and we’re saving money and all of that and of course, that’s exactly where she was on her travels as we spoke. Anyway, I have saved this much since quitting drinking…I continue to want to reinvest it…2017 word = truth. This could be my celebration of my SELF. My real self. This event takes place post 100 sober days…walking on fire…hmmmm…Just all seems so serendiptous.

We shall see – I have until the musical I’m directing closes this time next week to make a final decision, so the timing could not be better.

This post is a reflection of me at 81 days. Getting clearer and clearer.

Gong Sound Bath

You may have noticed I have been interested in all things holistic lately and engaging in the closest I can get to a toxin free life. I have worked to heal my mind through various talk therapies over the past thirty years. EMDR was a wonderful way to put a good seal on my childhood sexual abuse and the assault that took place in college. Now I am trying to finally remove myself from the family traumas of my youth.

I think a large step toward that came when I enlisted the assistance of a group on Facebook called SearchSquad to locate my biological father. They helped me also to craft a letter and made suggestions about how to send a self addressed stamped envelope and photographs. It has been almost 9 months and I have heard absolutely nothing. The first months brought a touch of sadness when the mailbox didn’t contain my SASE and then, after a while, I just forgot to look for it.

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Meanwhile, my relationship with my mother remains at a distance. I am allowing her the space to be consumed with her latest grandchild. My parents have somewhat recently moved to Texas, about two hours from my only sibling (yes, half brother) and his wife. They have married and had a child in these past three years. Prior to this, my parents had moved from Louisiana to my father’s hometown in Massachusetts. This cut our regular visits dramatically.

I have had a struggle with hurt feelings and longings for my family to be something that it is not, has never been and likely simply never will be. And it has been a bitter pill, indeed. So I continue to measure my words and stay aware of my expectations and ground them in reality. My breath work in this regard has been most helpful.

My husband and I have been considering a move to be closer, but this is such a complicated situation and there is a tugging that tells me to go on ahead and fly out. I booked my flight Tuesday to see what Colorado might offer and I could really use a few signs from the universe to the effect of whether or not we are heading down the right path.

Naturally, when I saw this Gong Sound Bath at a local holistic studio, I signed up and then in a fun twist, invited my husband and he decided to attend as well.

“Immerse yourself in healing vibrations at our upcoming Gong Sound Bath. Sound healing has been shown to relieve stress and tension, combat anxiety, help regulate sleep cycles and digestion, normalize blood pressure, and create feelings of overall health and happiness.
Aaron, a professional drummer/percussionist with fifteen years experience, has fallen in love with the gongs. The vibration of the gong impacts the body and its meridians on a physical and emotional level. Prolonged exposure to its sound can activate higher states of consciousness and trigger inner healing of deep emotional traumas. If you have wanted to experience a more meditative state, but felt some assistance could be of service, the gong could just be that friend (or tool) you were looking for.

Lie back, relax, and rejuvenate at our Gong Sound Bath. Blankets and bolsters will be provided. Please bring pillows, special supports, and whatever else you need to lie down comfortably for one hour.”

My husband seems to have really enjoyed it so I hope it resonates with him. (Yes. Sorry, not sorry.) I read that the effects can stay in your body for three days. I think that’s glorious. It was a carefree hour and I got completely lost in the sound, the moment.

I have linked the research I have done about sound therapy directly for you here, here and here.

I look forward to the signs that will eventually come…

Edit: Once I hit publish, I directed my attention back to the single piece of mail that had been placed on my desk while I was writing. A direct mailing for Planned Parenthood, an organization with which I have no real personal familiarity, but that arrived practically in my lap today. I was reminded of going to the local health clinic at age 15 or 16 to get my first gynecological exam and a prescription for birth control – you know, just in case, since I was the product of a fifteen year old getting pregnant…

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Keep the signs coming…I can take it.

Breathe in, breathe out

Heal the trauma and the decisions will make themselves…

Second edit: Even later after I published,  I looked down at my arm where I had put a temporary tattoo the day before. I had kind of randomly selected one of the quotes that didn’t resonate as much…”the universe doesn’t make mistakes – you belong”

Just going to keep listening…

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(yes, those “track marks” in the crease of my elbow are from lithium toxicity tests)

 

50 days

So, I just did the math and it looks like I have saved a little more than $250 since quitting drinking. I never bothered much with regular bottles, went straight for the jugs or boxes or magnums in a pinch, so this total would be significantly higher if I had been buying anything of real quality.

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I kind of wish I had done the math a good bit ago, maybe I’d have quit then. But, I do believe that we are moved when we are ready and I do think I managed to hit the sweet spot in that regard. My original goal was to hit the mark that I hit when I let go of wine in the fall of 2012, which was about a month. Well, that is has come and gone and now I know that I have this.

When I went for my energy healing session and I shared my “big quit” with Grace, she said that basically one is “still drunk” until about 100 days. I have not had much success in finding research that explains that process, but there are tons of “100 day sobriety challenges” so I guess there could be something to it.

Well, I’m halfway there! And I feel like I am in a wonderful alternate reality. There is TIME here. Lots of it. I keep catching myself wondering why I am not rushing about and then settling back into the almost weightlessness of living.

There it is –The Unbearable Lightness of Being – again.

I shall listen and gather it for immediate reading…too bad I let that book go almost ten years ago…I’ll have to find it at the library. I have been overspending a great deal lately and though I haven’t taken the time to investigate my habits, I know that I need to just cut back on everything. I want to start a new bank account where I make deposits into our European vacation fund. It is my plan to finance a family trip abroad with money saved in sobriety. Unfortunately, I made a terrible financial mistake in the last year or two that is costing me about $8,000, so I will also need to reconcile that oversight. I accidentally took out more student loans than I intended and didn’t notice the deposits because I wasn’t paying any attention.

Financial things make me a little frazzled. I’m going to need to work to do better.

I was able to attend my Saturday morning yoga at the Park again, after two weeks of traveling and work commitments. It was an amazing workout for my sacrum and I was actually in a bit of pain on Sunday, so that I attempted, what is turning out to be, my afternoon 4 minute adjustment. Try it. I think it is amazing!

I was also able to try out the meditation class again and had further practice with the Bellows Breath and am proud to say that finally I practiced three sets of twenty this morning. I have been waking and doing some informal stretching and some pretend breathing, but it’s slowly evolving into a routine with real techniques and poses.

I keep reaching for yoga and breath instead of booze and I am so glad I am.

Some more reading for you: Yoga and Stress

Here’s to 50 more sober days!

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Seek Truth

On the last day of a 3 day Christmas visit at my parents’ home, I was getting some help from my father on a little shadowbox project. I needed a slot created at the top so I could slip ticket stubs and other memorabilia in the box to use it as a living memory box. We thought it was wood, but it ended up being made of plastic and a non-essential part melted from the tool. After further inspection, my Dad hugged the box to his chest and had a funny look on his face, like, “Ooops.” I smiled when I took a look at what the to-do was about. Just a little condensation that would quickly evaporate.   “Just giving me a hard time, huh? Like I don’t get that enough for real, right?”

“Nah, to make you laugh. I don’t see you do that very much.”

It’s the truth. I have been so exhausted from trying to hold my family together for the past five years. I’ve operated on lots of coffee, wine (and beer and gin and whiskey and just about anything else that’s available and flowing).

I used to drink a lot of colas. I replaced it with something more dangerous, but no one ever talks about Coca-Cola being a gateway drug. I have come to understand that it was, in large part, a sugar addiction for me with the side effect of being able to disappear.

A part of me is very angry that I lost so much time to drinking. I can’t change it and so I accept it. Every day is mine to be the best I can be now and I continue to focus on that.

I had to sit down and count how many days it has been. It’s not that I don’t think about drinking, because I do, but not really in any kind of fond manner. And frankly, not in any bitter way either. It is very much something that was not serving me and I decided to let it go. Because of that, I haven’t concentrated on how many days, nor have I mentioned it a great deal.

It’s been 6 weeks or 43 days. I am much less scattered and frantic. Might be all the TEA! I think the insides of my mouth might be raw from drinking so much warm herbal tea with honey – like as much as one can practically CHUG in an evening…okay, not really, but a lot.

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I need joy in my life, my Dad is right. It was my word last year and I think I made great progress finding it. I feel that by seeking truth throughout my life this year I will be even closer to that than I have been in a very long time.

Energy Healing

(Monday, January 23rd) This morning I woke up my new thirty minutes early and I set down my blanket and I went through my morning breath exercise and then spent a whopping minute or two stretching. Seriously, I just had to do it half-heartedly, didn’t I?

Well, that’s okay. There’s a lot going on right about now and I am making a lot of really great progress on my journey, so 6 minutes of self-care in the morning is still 42 minutes a week that I wasn’t getting before.

I switched out the essential oil in my diffuser in my classroom. I had settled into a routine with Peace and Harmony for a couple months and it was nice, but I was feeling the desire to get through some of these gloomy winter days with a little Cheer Up Buttercup. Perhaps fueled by the power of suggestion, since we just finished The Princess Bride in film classes.

I left after my last class to make it to my first energy healing session. I have never spoken to anyone who has ever engaged in this type of work, but I have been interested in picking up on the moods of others less and have wondered about energy shielding. It can be challenging to be a sensitive soul such as I. My emotions can get all out of whack and I don’t know what stuff is mine and what is someone else’s. Nothing pleasant about being in a heap of tears when someone with whom you work somewhat distantly, announces their retirement. In fact, it’s awkward.

I have always been this way – in high school I described “seasonal cries”and it’s just been something I have grown accustomed to, though it can be inconvenient, I know it is a gift and I’m open to discovering more of the magic than the detrimental qualities.

I was comfortable from the beginning and the practitioner and I got to talking and come to find out that besides the mutual connection we shared that got me there, I taught her son two years ago and of course, it was a very positive and close experience. I was probably much more at ease because of those shared connections, so I am grateful for that added bonus.

There was at least an hour of eyes closed aromatherapy and energy work. I have very little idea, really, as my eyes were closed under the cloth that held the oils, but there were moments of sensation in various chakras – a warmth in the seventh, or crown, a need to expel some of the mid-January by-products of allergies when she was working with the fifth, or throat chakra, a tingling foot… And the feedback she gave me afterward made me weep with the possibility of healing that could come about were this the truth.

(Thursday, February 2) After the session, Grace touched my shoulder and said softly, “You are complete.” During the feedback she asked me if I believed in past lives (sure, why not?) and told me that she thinks I might have lived in Scotland or Ireland or somewhere where there was lots of stonework and that I may have been killed for being “crazy” and that I may have come into this life running from that label or diagnosis (neither her words). And then she added that perhaps my mother had been my child then and so she had wanted to protect me from that as well because she had seen me die.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has always resonated very deeply with me as have the Salem Witch Trials and many things Gaelic, my maiden name is McCormick, after all. All of that moved through me in the second she said it and all the suffering I had felt in being hindered and unsupported and unloved by my mother vanished in an instant and I wept.

I serendipitously started The Artist’s Way on my first day of sobriety (after years of putting it off – this story sounds so familiar). I leafed through it again this evening more than a week after Grace mentioned it and I see that I had underlined Julia Cameron’s  third in a list of twenty “commonly held negative beliefs” that plague the artist.

“I will go crazy.”

I told her about the respite and psych nurse Barb and how she called me an anomoly and that it sustained me for years. Someone cared enough about me to think of me as different or defying classification. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved myself a lot of road.

I told her about the psych ward and how I was so scared and isolated and alone. Actually, the feelings part came later in thinking about it. But I did share that I now know that I am not any of the diagnoses that were placed on me, but that I have some different gifts that can sometimes wind me into a tizzy, but that I have learned to breathe through those sorts of things now.

But, alas, it was an adventure.

I stalled on reading (and annotating and re-reading and aha-ing and the like) as I got into “Week One” and realized that I am over-committed just now with a family, (more than) full time teaching and directing a play in the evening. I figured I’d get back to it in early April when I could better pace myself with new demands on my time.

The session seemed authentic and true and so positive and affirming. I think working with energy further is something I am as interested in as exploring yoga and meditation. I also am considering trying out the “morning pages component of The Artist’s Way. The breathing exercises haven’t taken a real hold just yet and I do want to expand the writing anyway. It’s been relatively recent that the writing valve has even been open at all.

Looks like my second and third chakras could use some enlivening. Most the others are in great working order and she said I am most certainly “grounded.” We are dealing with the sacrum (second) and the Solar Plexus (or third). She suggested magnesium in epsom salt baths (already a regular), spicy foods and that yellow and orange were my colors.

I immediately set about being attentive to the yellow and orange and healing the chakras and jewelry and pigeon pose to open up those hips and stretch that psoas. I had been led to an orange tea just a few days before, we had been buying clementines – it was just a little uncanny how I seemed to intuitively know what I needed.

 

 

Meditation practice

In the background of my coming to terms with incorporating this change in drinking behavior, I have been working on some upgrades to our home. I have painted half the house and have been rearranging furniture and spaces and have claimed a small room in the middle of everything as my study. It is still a work in progress, but you can see the direction it is taking.

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I have wanted to incorporate some basic Alexander Technique into my morning routine and have been waking half an hour early every weekday morning this semester (since January 3rd) so that I can incorporate a morning ritual or practice. So far, I have done little with this time, but I have kept at the waking up part. It’s a little overwhelming as a beginner.

I have only begin to delve into yoga, breathing and meditation resources, but I purchased Praana Praanee Praanayam in my efforts to explore the power of breath. Independently of a practice, I have felt the difference in myself when I catch the tightness in my chest and I correct my breathing from a shallow place of discomfort and fear to my diaphragm. Sometimes, I’ll allow a sigh. It relaxes me and I can then reframe the situation.

I know that healing breath awaits me. Exploring this further to has lead me to this TEDTalk. I think I am on to something.

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After a month of missing my Saturday morning yoga due to travel or schedule conflicts I was able to make it to The Park to practice and set aside the hour afterwards to attend the Mental Fitness Happiness Wellness Series conducted by Art of Living. They’re an International organization and their goal is to make people smile. The teacher was a lovely woman and a gifted teacher. I wish I knew the name of the first breath technique she shared, but it involved very forceful breathing in and out to expand one’s lung capacity.

We only use 30% of our lung capacity and these exercises are meant to help eliminate toxins stored in stale breath. I don’t know about the science, but it felt wonderful. I could feel the tingle of the energy moving. I knew instantly that this was meant to be part of my morning routine. 4 sets of twenty takes about 5 minutes. What a perfect exercise to start my mornings – I don’t need any technology or step sheets. Just me and my breath.

It was suggested that we clear our noses before this exercise. I would recommend this as well. You start seated with elbows bent and arms close to the sides of your chest with palms facing forward making a soft fist. Get regular breath and then inhale deeply through your nose and push your arms straight up as high as they will go and open fingers, exhale (again, through your nose) and bring arms down and close fists on the exhale. Repeat rapidly for four sets of twenty. This breath should be loud and forceful.

I felt a tingle of new energy at the conclusion. It was nice. I can easily start my morning in this manner. Our teacher also taught us a victory breath. I already looked and it is a different one from the Kriya for Victory in the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. I have been trying to find it online as well.

It involves making an ocean-like sound at the back of your throat. I think this video is similar. It is very calming and suggested before bed. I will definitely try this because afterwards at the session, we sat in silent meditation for seventeen minutes and it felt like two. I struggle a great deal with stillness so this was growth.

I have subscribed to the YouTube channel – there’s an overwhelming amount of free content there. I feel like I hit the mother-lode. This audio meditation for transforming emotions is what I found that I believe I will begin a longer practice with. It’s simple and easy to follow. I don’t think I want to do something different each time…I want to concentrate on the process and correct posturing and work on staying present and then expand later. My time is very limited right now, so simple will be best.

One more tip before I go – The Art of Living teacher (I will have to get her name when I am able to attend again in two weeks) also recommended their free app. It’s called Sattva and there are oodles of free meditations and they are served up in a social community if that sort of thing inspires you. I just love that it’s in the palm of my hand and I am not tempted to spend time searching for resources and getting caught down that rabbit hole when I could be actually meditating or writing or living.

Today is day #27 without booze and I think I am doing just fine. A lot of my anxiety has quelled and I do not lose my temper on a whim and I simply feel more balanced and calm. My fingers are not retaining water and all stubbly sausages and my skin seems to have more elasticity and shine.

Please let me know if you have tried any similar techniques! Namaste

What everyone else is doing

I gave a bit of thought today to a conversation I had with a friend this weekend about drinking. It was my annual (11 years strong for me) Girl’s Getaway Weekend, wherein we sit around tables and scrapbook (or grade papers – we’re all in education) and “catch up.” We were talking about Colorado and how beautiful it is. An article that said Colorado Springs is ranked by U.S. News as #5 Best Place to live was the conversation starter – prompted by the introvert’s best app to start a conversation, Facebook. My husband posted the link as we have a bit of a (secret) dream to move there.

As I looked longingly at those beautiful mountains, I showed my friend and we talked about all the awesome stuff there would be to do and see there. She mentioned something about beer and it was at that moment that I blurted out, “I quit drinking.” We talked a minute about it and I shared the reasonable reasons I am quitting: better health, clearer mind and the reality that when my husband has his heart valve replacement surgery, he’ll go on Coumadin and therefore won’t be drinking (he really doesn’t now – never has been a heavy drinker), so I “may as well.” His surgery could be a year or two from now or maybe he could squeak by a couple more years, but it WILL happen.

I told the truth that in my ideal world, I might be able to have a beer or two someday, but that for now I am not drinking anything in an attempt to re-program my brain and I am doing just fine. In fact, my anxiety has actually lessened. {BREATHING} She discussed her drinking patterns (social drinker) and how when she was on a Paleo diet for CrossFit, it was a little annoying for her to attend social functions where people were drinking, not because she “needed” to drink, but because she wanted to do “what everyone else was doing.”

Do not get me wrong, I do not fault my friend in any way, just like I know she would not fault me if I admitted that as an introvert, I kinda “needed” a little buffer to enjoy the crowd. I wasn’t ready for a full disclosure, talk about the messy stuff, confession and though I don’t think I projected that, we made no real big deal about the “big quit” and left the conversation with a “Good for you!”

As I have ruminated since I have been home, I will be adding something to my arsenal of tools. I have never really wanted to do “what everyone else is doing.” There’s a rebel in me that will resist the things that are mainstream. A couple examples from my life:

Case in point #1:
Person: “Oh my gosh, my schedule got changed and now I don’t have study hall with anyone I know! What am I going to do?!”

Me: “Maybe you’ll STUDY.” I chose that day to sit alone in the cafeteria in an effort to find deeper waters. I was a 15 year-old sophomore.

Case in point #2:
Person: “Everyone’s reading this great new series about an orphan wizard and it’s so wonderful.”

Me: “Not interested. Let’s see if it stands the test of time.”

(Fast forward fifteen or so years, and I still haven’t read the Harry Potter series OR The Hunger Games OR Divergent or really anything else that mainstream media got to first – forgive me. Game of Thrones? Nope. Not even Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill or Sex in the City. I’m hard-core this way.)

You get the idea. And so, this not drinking thing is simply like anything else. I choose not to do it just because everyone else is. Because the reality is that it’s a myth. Not everyone else is. I think it just seems like it. I feel as though it is healthy to question your relationship with alcohol. If I drink tonic water or tea at a function where alcohol is present I want to look at it as if I am giving someone else permission to do the same. We should look for one another the way I remember doing as a Camel Lights smoker in college and a bit beyond.

People are forever watching their diets or their exercise routines and yet, some, sabotage themselves with destructive habits such as chugging wine, smoking or eating dessert every night. Except, the eating desserts every night doesn’t have nearly the social stigma that excess alcohol consumption has, and besides the addictive nature of both substances and the similarities in the sugar content – over-drinking is the more taboo. Smoking cigarettes isn’t taboo so much as simply gross.

I wonder if that assessment of the way the various substances are perceived varies from location to location and even from person to person.

Moreover, alcohol is GLORIFIED in the entertainment industry and sizeism is still rampant. Huh? How about we acknowledge that they are basically the same and neither condition is shameful? Neither “addiction” reflects weakness or even failure. We all just do the best we can. Even that kid in the back of my classroom who has a knee-jerk negative comment or reaction to nearly everything I say…the best he can.

Tobacco advertisements have been regulated in the U.S. I think it might be time to consider such regulations for alcohol indoctrination. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean everyone should be doing it.

If you are considering a change and you think you really could just do it if you could talk yourself out of your desire – try the advice of one of my favorite comedians, Bob Newhart, in his turn as a therapist in this 1970s skit. Whatever is troubling you, remember that you are stronger than the tools you use and STOP. IT.

It could just be that easy if you let it.