“Drink a beer!” At least that’s how my dad used to sing it anyway. He often parodies songs and makes up silly choruses to pop music. (It’s something funny and quirky I’ve always loved about my dad.) But let’s be honest, who here hasn’t had a hard time associating drinking with the holidays?
The commercials want us to do it. “Pair the perfect wine and cheese tray!” The stores cater to us from an early age. A quote from my own son, “Mom, please can we get some of this sparkling juice in the fancy bottle?” (I enjoyed buying that stuff when I was a kid too. Though I’m not insinuating that drinking sparkling apple juice will turn you into an alcoholic.) Our Christmas parties and co-workers are “living it up” at the office party. “Open bar? Yup, I’ll be there!” And don’t even get me started on the crazy drinking situations that happen when people go back to their hometowns for the holidays.
Being a non-drinker during the holidays can be tough if you don’t have a solid foundation of principles and a support system for which you can lean on. I know many of these things aren’t even a figment of our imagination anymore, but you can bet your bottom they were terrifying that first year of sobriety. It’s okay. I think it’s part of the process.
If we didn’t struggle with these situations, how could we help others later who struggle through the exact same thing? So whether it’s your first sober Christmas or your 52nd, I encourage you to be aware of how the holidays make you feel. Maybe there’s someone out there that can learn from your situation this Holiday Season.
It’s come to my attention, through the mouth of my husband, that I’ve been more irritable than usual lately. Now before you start making any assumptions about women and the changes our bodies goes through in a 28 day time period, let me just agree that yes I can be the most impatient and unpleasant woman in the world for a day or two every month. (Or maybe even a week or two every once in a while…)
But that’s not what we’re talking about here. I’m talking about the irritability and frustration that comes from not following my daily prayer, gratitude, and writing routine.
When someone (usually the hubby) points out that I seem a little out of character lately, I go down my health checklist. (Yes, I’m a total nerd and have lists and checklists for everything. I even have pros and cons lists too, but that’s for another day.)
- Have I worked out lately? Yes, a few times this week.
- Have I been eating foods that me feel like crap? Some pizza and birthday cake…oh yeah, and a donut and kolache the other morning (Getting warmer)
- Have I written my Gratitudes lately? Yes, but I missed two days this weekend
- Have I been doing my daily prayer? Yes, but again I missed two days this weekend
- Have I been doing my daily reflection writing? Yes, but I’ve missed a few days
*Obviously, I need to work on eating better and making time for my daily writing and prayer.
This may sound silly, but I’ve learned to rely heavily on this checklist to determine what in the world is wrong with me and how to remedy my mood. Most of the time it’s poor diet choices and lack of prayer. Sometimes it’s not being able to workout for a week. Sometimes all of these boxes have been checked and I’m still out of whack. When that happens, that’s when I really dig deeper to figure out what’s going on.
I hope this helps you evaluate your mental, physical, and spiritual health. We all go through cycles of ups and downs, but staying in the “down” too long can lead us on a dark path. Please take care of yourself today!
I want to be perfectly transparent here, I don’t follow the Twelve Steps program. I don’t go to meetings regularly. I haven’t check-listed things that I need to do on a personal inventory. Maybe I should, but I haven’t to date.
The reason I tell you this is because I want to be honest here. As much as I speak about recovery and being a better version of myself, I don’t know the ins and outs of the AA program. I know what my husband has been through and what he continues to practice on a daily basis. Other people in the program have also shared with me their life changing stories.
I may not have a first hand testimony of someone whose life was changed from the program, but I guarantee you I am an advocate for AA. There are so many people I know who have been touched by the program that it would be silly not to endorse such a strong recovery organization.
There are also people I know who have entered into rehabilitation centers and saw incredible results. The seclusion from the influence of the world helped them gain the perspective they needed to get sober.
Whatever your need is, or the need of someone you care about, I urge you to look into your options. There is no need to suffer alone. Even if AA or a rehab center isn’t for you, please talk to someone.
One day at a time…
In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.
This Holiday season, I’ve felt motivated to give more. Give more time. Give more money. Give more service. I’m not sure if it’s gratitude or perspective that’s got a hold on me, but I feel extremely blessed.
I feel blessed to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I feel blessed that my husband has a good stable job, that he actually enjoys. I feel blessed that both of my parents are alive and very involved with our family. I feel blessed that the few friends I have are there for me when I need support. I feel blessed that my children are all healthy. I feel blessed that my husband and I work together as a team, no matter the obstacles we face as a married couple. I feel blessed to be loved. I feel blessed to be alive.
Blessings, gratitude, and perspective don’t come from material things. I hope that you can find the blessings already present in your life today.
One day at a time…
Let me tell you, finding gratitude when you’re hungry, tired, and impatient is an extremely hard thing to do. How do I know? Recently, I attended a birthday dinner at a nice restaurant (with three kids mind you). The thing lasted three hours, when we could have been in and out of there in an hour and a half! Talk about testing your patience.
There were tantrums, melt downs, complaining about the food not being ready, and those were just from me. The kids really did an excellent job of eating bread and throwing crayons around the restaurant, but I quit caring about forty-five minutes in. It was almost like an ultimatum to the wait staff. “Okay, you get these kids fed or else I’ll be forced to give them each a bread stick and have them reenact a light saber fight by the bathrooms.” Zzzzzsssshhhhhrrrrroooooom….zzzzsssshhhhrrrroooommmm.
Anyway, the point of this whole thing is to say I’m grateful for the people I was stuck with for three hours. There were people I’d never met, people I hardly get to chat with, and my immediate family (minus one brother) was all in one place. I couldn’t think of better people to be stuck with. (Especially the sweet lady sitting next to my son claiming she has six grandkids and she knows how kids are. Thank God for that lady!)
You can find something to be grateful for in every situation. Every single one. You may have to look harder when it’s cold, wet, rainy, and you’ve lost your umbrella. But I promise you they are there.
Do you ever have a horrendous night of sleep that you know will drag you down the entire day? I’m talking about babies screaming and crying, kids kicking you in their sleep, the dog barking in the middle of the night, and weird dreams that jolt you panting into the darkness of your bedroom?
Yeah, that happened to me last night. And I’m trying my hardest to not let all of those affect my mood for the entire day.
So how can I turn this around? Just like you turn anything else around…get some perspective and focus on gratitude.
I’m grateful that my kids want to sleep with me when dad is travelling. I’m grateful that we have a large enough bed to hold our family all in one spot. I’m grateful for air conditioning and fans so when I have two other little people’s bodies pressed against mine I don’t sweat to death. I’m grateful for waking up this morning with a tiny face right next to mine. It reminds me that they’ll only want to do this for a few more years.
I hope you can learn to always take difficult situations or even just a bad night of sleep and turn it into something for which you are grateful.