These blog posts document my journey of abstaining from alcohol for a year with the help of the One Year No Beer program. Please feel free to comment because I know there are others that could benefit from hearing your voice as well. I would be thrilled if we could be on this journey together. I started this blog about 60 days in the challenge, so there’s plenty of time for us to be goal friends.
Sprint 7- January 8, 2022- January 27, 2022
Today’s inspiration was a review of the first Sprint. I remember being so ill for Sprints 1 and 2 that I couldn’t imagine using some of the skills with the exception of the ones that mentioned sleep and rest. Looking back on Sprint 1, I appreciate the skills of role playing and rehearsing tempting situations. Once I was confronted with a drink or social gathering, I was ready to use my new skills. I was unapologetically sober.
Today’s inspiration was a review of Sprint 2. The skill that stood out for me the most was seeking happiness NOW. I can be happy now. This came up recently because I have been listening to audiobooks and I’ve been doing guided workouts that mentioned being happy independent of the circumstances. Gratitude was a major component of seeking happiness now. Another skill was smiling. It reminded me of Kanye West. He has the most random and awkward smiles. Maybe he’s practicing smiling to be happy and more calm even when he’s not feeling it in the moment.
Today’s inspiration was a review of Sprint 3. The concept that stood out to me from the review was finding flow. I’m still trying to find flow, but an activity that gives me the most flow is talking and sharing my ideas. I’m sadly one of those people that like to hear themselves talk. However, I try to be confident that I know what I’m talking about. Although this is a great apprehension. It has held me back because I have negative thoughts that people don’t want to hear what I have to say or that I am not qualified enough to say anything. I’ve learned about this in many women’s conferences… Women feel the need to over-qualify or over-explain. I want to find the balance and let my flow… overflow!
Today’s inspiration was a review of Sprint 4. There were great take home messages from that week … Creating a gratitude journal, avoiding denial, and controlling how I feel. However, what struck me today was the call to do the year challenge. I usually get annoyed and can’t wait for after 90 days when the advertisements for the next challenge should stop. However, I liked his encouragement for people to just sign up and see how it goes. It’s so important to start and take things a day at a time. I was talking about running a marathon this week. It seemed daunting as I still felt sore from my 4-mile run. Yet, when I proclaimed that I’ll train and do what I could, I felt so free. I never thought I could run 4 miles and look at me now. Reaching for the stars and landing on the moon is still an accomplishment.
Today’s inspiration was a review of Sprint 5. Of all the skills, I loved the one where you reflect on what you’d do if you won the lottery. I love the reflection because you take it a step further to think about why you couldn’t have those things now. I’ve been reviewing that inspiration to myself, but have also shared that reflection with others. Most of us could live our lottery lives now, but have artificial barriers. Some of us are living those lives, but have too many preconceived notions of what happiness is, that we can’t feel it now. I would say that I am not living my lottery life, but I’m closer in mindset to it and feel happier appreciating the life that I have.
I made it… 90 days sober! I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t doubt that I’d finish, but I know this is a feat that would be difficult for most. It’s sad how much society has put this drug on a pedestal. It’s sad how dependent we are on it for various things such as sleep, partying, stress relief, celebrations, and unwinding. I’m so happy to have one less thing consuming my time, health, and energy.
I celebrated today. I started the day off will a run at the gym. I then went to a nearby farm/restaurant and bought some sandwiches and pies. They had mini pies, so I bought every flavor. I spent the rest of the day with my family and felt so fulfilled. I wonder what I’ll do to celebrate the big 365.
Today’s is the official start date of the 365 program! Yay!!! Finally no more advertising for the next challenge. At least… I hope not. Today’s inspiration was a review of what’s ahead. The inspiration also encouraged me to reflect on my why. My whys from day one were:
Sick of others questioning how much I drink.
Want to be physically and emotionally available.
This definitely needs revising, especially since half of those whys no longer apply. My new why statements are:
Continue to live fully
Physically & emotionally available
More time & energy for the people I love & things I enjoy
I’m glad to change my why statements because I feel these statements better represents my current relationship with alcohol. I don’t care about how I used to use or how people define me. I’m doing this to be a better version of myself.
Today’s inspiration was about how becoming alcohol-free is becoming cool. More people of influence are cutting alcohol out of their lives. Millennials are also drinking less alcohol compared to other generations. The inspiration encouraged me to think about who else would be inspired by my decision to become sober. Personally, I hope everyone I know would be motivated to drink less or stop drinking. I hope I’m a major inspiration to my children. I hope that they don’t feel the pressure to drink unnecessarily or in excess. I hope I can serve an example as an extraordinary person that doesn’t drink. Even if my children decide to drink, I hope they have a healthy relationship with alcohol that doesn’t dictate their lives or prevent them from reaching their full potential. I hope they have that freedom from all substances.
Today’s inspiration was about reflecting on my strengths as a means to improve myself. I did a strengths test and found that my top strengths are spirituality, fairness, humor, honest and love for learning. I wasn’t surprised by the strengths, but was somewhat surprised by the order. Although I define myself as a Christian above all things, I didn’t think of spirituality as a strength. I don’t think I would have thought of any of my top strengths as “strengths.” I didn’t value those attributes of myself in that way. Although spirituality is a major strength, gratitude is low on the list. That’s motivation to build that strength. I have so much to be grateful for through the lens of my spirituality. I have the problem of putting my strengths in silos. I believe that as I decompartmentalize where I use my various strengths, I will open up many doors to bettering myself.
Today’s inspiration was about training for life like and athletes trains for a race or event. We shouldn’t expect to be ready for life without working on our nutrition, exercise habits, and mental health Since starting this challenge, my exercise habits and mental health have drastically improved. I’m currently training for a 15 k and exercise regularly. I’m also doing well mentally despite a plethora of stressors during the last 90 days. I question if I would have the same resilience with alcohol in my life. I’m terms of nutrition, I’m not drinking anymore. However, I’m still working on healthier eating habits. I will likely go low carb soon and became more conscious about what I ingest.
Today’s inspiration was about getting rid of mental junk. When this was paralleled to hoarding I had a visceral response. I hate hoarding. Some beliefs that I held and that have kept me from being alcohol free were: I’m not that different when I drink, drinking didn’t affect me that badly, it’ll be weird not to drink, I’ll look like a fanatic, my friends that drink will cancel on me, abstinence is only for alcoholics, and that I’d seem like the party pooper. I’m doing much better with these beliefs, but I still second guess how people view my change. I have other negative beliefs that stop me from achieving other goals: you’re not qualified, no one wants to hear what you have to say, you’re not important enough to make a difference. I have to work on letting go of these beliefs. I’ve spent many years measuring status by degrees. It’s time I had more confidence in what I have to put out independent of what’s on paper.
Today’s inspiration was about creativity. I used to have various hobbies and interests that sparked my creativity in the past: crocheting, singing, painting, making things with Plastic string, latch hook kits, dancing, writing, acting, baking, beer making. It would be possible to build back some of these. I continue to bake bread and make kombucha, but a huge part of my creativity and desire to do those things have dwindled. I did a goals activity for Mastermind today and included very few of those creativity elements. Part of me would love to sing again, but I feel the boat has come and sailed away. I haven’t carried a note or sung a song in entirety alone for years. I’ve been thinking about new hobbies. I really enjoyed beer making and judging. A bulk of it was the flavors. I’m searching for something similar. So far, I’m most interested in looking into the world of chocolate. Nevertheless, I need to find that spark for sheer creativity without needing to intellectualize or compartmentalize.
The inspiration encouraged me to watch a TED talk done by Sir Ken Robinson in 2007 about creativity. It was hilarious. Most of all, it helped me value creativity in my children. I’ve adopted the same attitude to their creativity that I have to mine: We don’t have time or space for this. However, I need to rewire that because we need creativity to thrive just as much as we need “academics.”
Today’s inspiration was about the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell wrote a book, ” The Hero of a Thousand Faces.” that highlighted the similar motifs found in our favorite stories: call to adventure, cross to a new world, face worst fears, slay the dragon, return home with a gift, called to another adventure. The inspiration paralleled this to my journey of going alcohol free. I was asked to write my story. Here goes nothing.
“Don’t fear. No Beer.”
Claudine was going about her daily tasks, but she couldn’t shake how weak she felt. She felt something was wrong and finally went to check it out after she spent half the day telling others what they needed to do to take care of their health. Within 72 hours, her inquiry at a nearby urgent care turned into multiple blood transfusions, an EGD, and a colonoscopy that showed colitis. Claudine had suffered a GI bleed that could have claimed her life. Through all this, she mainly thought about alcohol. Part of her already knew that she may have needed to cut her usage. Maybe it was those one too many drunken nights, reaching to alcohol during stressful situations, or being unavailable after drinking. Whatever the reason, Claudine’s main question to the GI doc was whether she could drink again. He firmly told her, “No. Not another drop. Drinking is the worst thing a person could do to their body.” It was confirmed. It was time to make a change. As Claudine sat in the hospital bed, she researched support groups for going alcohol free. She reached out to a few people that didn’t drink. Some never drank and encouraged her. Some were alcoholics, but made it clear that their experience was different. Claudine kept searching and found One Year No Beer, a support community for people like her, people who wanted to change their relationship with alcohol. She dived in and signed up for the year challenge. A few hours later, Claudine received her passing score from the written Cicerone exam. Was she really ready? Was she ready to leave the beer community? She proudly posted about her score, but kept in mind that alcohol had to go. Her journey wasn’t easy. She was fearful of being judged as a fanatic or extremist. She was fearful of losing friends and hurting relationships that involved alcohol. Her biggest hurtle was going to chef’s table. Somehow, she forgot that these were supposed to be the best restaurants in the world. They better be able to accommodate everyone, including sober people. After working through temptation, Claudine has very little desire to drink again. She is able to manage stress, be available for her family, and become more active. She feels so fulfilled that she has prioritized searching for whats next through the Mastermind program. The saga continues…
Today’s inspiration was about reflecting on what gives me meaning. The analogy in the inspiration was that most people approach change in their life the same way amateur golfers approach golf. Amateur golfers usually focus on driving as opposed to putting. Putting is where the major gains come in. Likewise, focusing on mental health gives more gains than merely focussing on appearance and physical aspects of health. A key component to mental health is finding meaning. A few things that have brought meaning into my life are my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with my children, and my work as a psychiatrist. I’ve gathered various meanings from those aspects. However, the common thread is that those aspects cause me to reevaluate myself and how I view the world. I am always changing into a better version of myself as I reflect on and learn from those aspects of my life.
Today’s inspiration was about self medicating with alcohol. Common situations I used to use alcohol to self medicate included not wanting to be somewhere, boredom, and insomnia. Now that I don’t drink, I’ve still been able to deal with these things. I’m more likely to set boundaries and practice good health hygiene to battle those situations. Ironically, these situations seem much more manageable than when I was numbing the issue with alcohol. I wasn’t finding a solution. Finding a solution has made some of those situations nonexistent or easily addressed without much thought.
Today’s inspiration was about inaction being a choice. One time that I chose inaction was when I wasn’t working out. At the time, working out was painful and caused me to be out of breath. If I chose to act earlier, I would have known what I know now. The pain and breathlessness will improve with time. A time I chose action was online dating. I was scared, but was also determined. I had to overcome my own feelings of inadequacy to make a good profile and accept positive feedback. Had I chose inaction, I may have found someone. However, I wouldn’t have found my husband, a person that I feel was ordained to be in my life.
Today’s inspiration was about the hero’s journey. I was encouraged to watch “Finding Joe,” a documentary about Joseph Campbell. They further simplified his model into initiation, separation, and return. This movie was so cool because it showed clips of movies that showcased the hero’s journey. The movie also paralleled the hero’s journey to everyone’s journey in life. We all go through this journey and that’s why these stories and movies resonate with us. Above all, this documentary solidified the idea that I’m on a hero’s journey with my decision to choose an alcohol-free life. I highly recommend this movie. A story is truly richer than an explanation. Check it out on YouTube. https://youtu.be/s8nFACrLxr0
“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” Joseph Campbell
Today’s inspiration asked me to reflect on what I’d do if money wasn’t an object. This came up in another inspiration days ago and I blew if off initially. This time I’m going to answer straight out. If money was no object, I’d likely do many of the things I believe I don’t have time to do like invest more time into my kids and marriage. I love to outsource, so I’d likely be able to pay a team to help me release quality vlogs. I’d give money and time to the causes I supported. For some reason I have this perception that money can buy me time. That doesn’t seem completely true to me and I hope this gets challenged in a meaningful way in the future.
Today’s inspiration was about adapting my social life. I’ve had very supportive friends. Some friends even bought me alcohol-free products for Christmas. It’s been wonderful knowing that I have a great set of friends and that our relationships weren’t based on alcohol. I was concerned about hanging out with one of my friends that drinks regularly. I was afraid that i wouldn’t be fun enough. However, we had a great time and she wanted to hang out more. I realize that everyone isn’t this lucky. However, it also makes me reflect on how half of the battle with being social and alcohol-free is internal. I now leave events early and pass on events that no longer align with my new desires. It was difficult at first, but it’s now second nature.
Today’s inspiration was a recap of Sprint 7. I found the days discussing the hero’s journey to be the most intriguing. I am the hero in my story. I likely have many heroic stories, but my story of sobriety is a tale worth telling. Thinking about my alcohol free journey in the frame of a hero’s journey has been enlightening. I believe that I’m less reserved about my story and have been sharing it whenever possible. I believe that people benefit from hearing my story because it isn’t the norm. Identifying as a hero is also uplifting. I believe I have endless options. I don’t believe the status quo will satisfy me.
If you want more information about the One Year No Beer program. Check out this LINK. I strongly recommend this program if you question your relationship with beer. Even if you’re doing a “dry” month, it could be helpful for you to meet your goal.