It’s the Most Wonderful Time…

“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.

 

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Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health

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!

Remember to Take Your Daily Meds

I don’t take medicines unless I’m burning up with a fever or the pain somewhere in my body has finally got to the unbearable threshold. I’ve always been this way. Vitamins, supplements, and the occasion vitamin C are my daily pills.

But there are people who are dependent on medications they truly need (not the ones that are toxic and destructive).  If you asked one of these people how important their medications are to them, I’m sure they’d tell you they are a completely different person without them. They need them. They physically and mentally don’t feel like themselves unless they get the proper dose each day.

This is how I feel about gratitude and prayer.

Sure, I can live without doing it. I won’t die. I’m not going to collapse one day because I forgot to get down on my knees and pray to God above. But I know I won’t be myself. The signs won’t show up immediately. It’s okay if I miss a dose once or twice ever so often. But it can be detrimental to my well-being if I don’t get my “meds” for several days.

I turn into a person my family doesn’t recognize. I turn into a person I don’t even recognize.

Gratitude and prayer are my stabilizers. They keep me grounded and my head clear. Their ability to steer me in the right mindset has proven more effective than any dose of anything else.

Try it some time. I promise it can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul.

Doing What You Can with What You Got

It’s easy to say, “I wish I had the celebrity lifestyle. Then I’d have a stylist to deal with my fashion choices every day, a manager who takes care of all of the nonsense schedules, and a nutritionist/health expert to keep my body in tip-top shape! Oh, plus piles of money surrounding me. Like the gold coins they had in cartoons where they are deep enough to swim in them. Then I will have made it.”

Well, I don’t have that kind of lifestyle. Not even close. The money would be nice. But I prefer my comfy jeans and t-shirts, my seemingly predictable schedule, and my workout/eating habits aren’t killing me.

I’m doing what I can with what I got.

I use this platform as a source of healing and motivation on days when I simply can’t make it to a meeting, which is basically every day. (I really should find one I can go to around here.)

I manage to make it to our local YMCA for workouts. They offer childcare there so I can take my youngest with me. Win-Win! I eat salads several times a week and I shove vegetables in my face even when I really want a donut instead.

I write here, as well as multiple other places, to keep my mental health in check. (Trust me, mama doesn’t need to get off her writing. It’s like my meds. It keeps the crazy at bay.)

I’m doing what I can with what I got.

It may not be the glamorous way to live life some days, but I don’t really care. I’m happy. My family is happy. We are all healthy. What more really matters?

Drinks On Vacation

My husband and I struggled for a while when we first became sober. We didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be to go out to eat and go on vacation. We didn’t like going to restaurants where the margaritas were flowing or the beer smells took over. Being around alcohol when you’re freshly sober isn’t a good feeling when you lack the will to completely turn your back on the stuff.

Now, I’m happy to say we no longer suffer from the drama that surrounds alcohol. We can go to places where there’s bars all over and the smells are wafting through the air (a reasonable amount – nothing excessive). 

We recently went on a weekend getaway and had the chance to dine at some amazing restaurants. Since we don’t go out often, we decided to splurge on some fantastic meals.

What is interesting, to me at least, is the different tones you get from the waitstaff when you tell them, “No thanks. We don’t need to see the wine list.” Or, “No, we don’t need anything from the bar, but that fresh mozzarella looks amazing!” Obviously they would rather us be partaking in adult beverages to drive the bill up higher. (What we should mention at the beginning is “Don’t worry. What we lack in alcoholic drinks, we make up for in desserts!”)

Instead, we’ve found our drinks of choice. “Can we have a bottle of the San Pellegrino with fresh limes?” (It’s a fancy sparkling water.) Y’all this drink in a tall, pretty water glass is amazing! And we feel like we’re partaking in fancy drinks at a nice restaurant!

This may sound like a silly thing, but it makes all the difference in the world for the experience. Whatever helps us create lasting memories and have a good time with our lifestyle is worth it to me. No matter how silly it may seem to anyone else.

Staying Grounded When Things Are Going Well

Have you ever gotten into a really good routine and then – BAM! – out of nowhere everything is derailed in an instant?

I feel like this constantly happens to me. It’s not until I go back to pick up the pieces that I reveal where it all went wrong. Recently, my husband was having a bad week. He couldn’t figure out why he was struggling so hard with motivation.

“I’m still praying every morning. I’m taking care of my school work. [He’s currently in an MBA Program.] I’m trying to get enough sleep every night, but I still just don’t feel it. What is the deal?”

Then he went to a meeting. He realized he was going through the motions with some of his daily routines and not really working his program. He hadn’t talked to anyone outside of the large-group meeting he was attending and was merely spectating as others actively tried. He had a realization that he couldn’t see until it was brought to his attention.

We all go through ebbs and flows of life’s tide, but it’s our job to step back from the big picture every once in a while and make sure we are still on the right course.

Maybe you quit working out because it hasn’t fit into your schedule. Maybe you are eating out more because it’s convenient for those late work nights. Maybe you simply don’t believe you have time to pray every morning.

Make taking care of yourself (mentally, physically, and spiritually) a priority and I promise you won’t have any regrets.

Absorbed in the Past

Writing has meant so much to me over the past 3 years. I’ve learned so much from personal journaling, writing my thoughts and feelings, jotting down my hopes and dreams, and strategizing what I want my future to look like. I’ve also done a lot of reflection on my past.

I don’t mean to hang around and dwell on things that aren’t relevant today or try to stir up emotions that I have already dealt with, but I can’t help going back to this time in my life when I was 17 years old.

Being a junior in high school is tough for anyone, but I was extremely hard on myself. I didn’t need my parents to make sure I was getting good grades because I was intentionally focused on getting great grades. I was highly involved with everything in school. Cheerleading and volleyball (where I served as both team captains and played on club teams) took up the majority of my time, I threw discus in track, I became heavily involved with several student organizations (they look good on college admissions applications), I was trying to get into the best college in the state, and I was doing all of this while truly believing I had to maintain a 4.0 GPA taking college level dual credit courses. Most days I would arrive to school before 7:00 am and not leave until 4:30 pm just to head home and work on homework and practice more. (During volleyball, we had to be at the school by 5:45 am.)

Needless to say, I cracked under the pressure I was weighing myself under. I binge drank on the weekends, every weekend to be more accurate. Thank God I was too scared to experiment with drugs because I believe that would have taken a very dark turn. I was trying to deal with all of the expectations I was putting on myself by blowing off steam instead of addressing the real issue at hand – I was exhausted and overworked.

Looking back, I see now the patterns that I was ignoring. This shouldn’t be the typical lifestyle of a high school kid who is burned out before they even make it to being an official adult. I was tired of “adulting” before I was even old enough to vote!

Don’t overwork yourself. Don’t do too much. Keep a realistic balance in your life and save some margin for days when you need a break. Don’t give yourself a reason to crack under pressure.