Tuesday, July 09, 2019

How's the No Drinking Thing?

I was overwhelmed with the responses I got from my post about my sober curious journey. Thanks to everyone who reached out! I received a lot of texts, messages, phone calls and so forth.

I heard things like, "I've never liked the taste of alcohol so I've never taken up drinking. Because of that I am excluded from invitations to happy hour from co-workers. Ouch."

Ouch indeed. Just because someone doesn't drink alcohol doesn't mean they don't enjoy getting together socially.

Some people told me about their own journeys into and out of sobriety, and how drinking (or not drinking) has changed their lives. These stories were so educational to hear, sometimes tragic, other times hopeful. From this I've learned that alcohol truly affects the lives of so many people in this country, whether you drink or not.

The weekend after that post I hosted a happy hour at my home. I was so grateful for those friends who brought interesting sparkling lemonades and water and had recommendations for concoctions to mix with sparkling water to make it tasty. And I found a local restaurant has a "mocktail" menu with many delicious options for alcohol-free beverages. Yum!!

Am I still alcohol-free? No. I was sober for a month, which was a great experiment. During that time I had happy hours with friends, experienced a P!nk concert and had nary a drop, enjoyed better sleep most nights, and woke up more energized earlier in the morning than I typically do. Did I enjoy these things any less because I wasn't drinking? Not at all. Did I enjoy them more? Not really, to be honest.

The one thing that did NOT happen during that month is I didn't lose a single pound. I would like to lose a little weight, and I was wondering if the calories from alcohol were impeding my ability to lose weight. The good news is that I apparently don't drink so much that just cutting out drinking would make me drop 10 pounds. (That would have been concerning.) The bad news is...I didn't lose any weight after not ingesting any calories from alcohol for 30 days.

I celebrated my 30 days of sobriety with a glass of red with a grilled steak at our house. Mmmm....steak....can't have a bite without a glass of cabernet!

And since that experiment I find myself drinking less, primarily just on weekends and in lesser amounts. I do enjoy a refreshing glass of white wine on my patio in the late afternoon, and it seemed ridiculous to deny myself that pleasure when there was no reason.

This little experiment has led to my next experiment, which is that I have begun using the weight loss app Noom. If drinking less did not help me lose weight, then I needed some real guidance to help me trim the pounds that I want to drop. More on that in another post, for those who are interested!

Thanks again to everyone for your support through this journey. I feel like 2019 has become a year of discovery and growth for me, and I'm excited for what's to come!

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Ideal Independence Day

In my morning pages recently I described my "ideal day." One was an ideal day in your current reality, and another was your ideal day in an ideal world, meaning if money and resources were no object. My ideal day would start by waking up in the Italian countryside...in my ideal world, that is.

I had the most ideal Independence Day this past week and it kept me smiling all day.

Laurie has been staying with us and she is just the loveliest house guest. We had the best time sitting around drinking coffee in the morning on the patio.
Laurie and a tired Beauty and Wayne after a run.
Laurie and a tired Beauty and Wayne after a run.
But my day began before then, with a 10-mile skate around the chain of lakes. I haven't skated 10 miles yet this year, I had such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. It was so quiet around the lakes at 7 a.m., not the usual bike commuters or early-morning walkers.

Map of skating route around 3 lakes

I had to drop Lindsey off at Turnstyle for work by 9, then back to the house for the aforesaid coffee and chatter on the patio, this time with niece Chelsea as well who had stayed the night at her brother's house. She and Laurie made plans to go shopping with Marissa, while I walked down to the 50th and France area to catch what I could of the Edina parade. I love parades — the 4th of July just isn't complete if I don't take in a parade for at least a little while. I caught it near the end of its route, and unfortunately by the time it got to the end it was pretty disjointed. There were long stretches where not a single group came by, then one would go by, and — five minutes later — another. I stayed there for about half an hour, enjoying the sights of the crowd that had gathered. Little girls in matching red white and blue dresses lined the streets, alongside boys in shorts with little white stars adorning them. A baby was lying flat on its back in its mother's lap, completely asleep with arms raised above its head like Lindsey used to sleep, with bulbous, noise-canceling headphones over its ears. The baby was oblivious to everything around it, and the mother was looking down at the miracle in her lap when there was a gap in the parade.

I returned home to a quiet house. Lindsey was working, our house guests and Marissa were shopping. Wayne and I look at each other like this was the most miraculous thing ever, and made plans to go out to lunch. We stopped at Turnstyle first to bring Lindsey her lunch, since she left in such a hurry that morning she didn't have time to pack one. We sat outside with her while she ate her bagel sandwich. She talked about how she was enjoying spending the morning detangling necklaces. They didn't have many customers so the necklaces that people consign that were hastily stored in bins and never made it onto the floor were finally a priority. Her co-workers were all grateful that this was a task she wanted to do, because it was loathsome to them!

Wayne and I lunched at a restaurant called Town Hall Station that I discovered by accident when I had to find alternate routes around a bridge closure. It's a former gas station, and it's completely adorable with service station decor. We had hoped to eat outside but it was just starting to sprinkle, so we sat inside by the large open garage doors, feeling the breeze and listening to the patter of the rain. Wayne had a burger and beer, I had a glass of wine and a chicken taco was that unbelievably delicious. We visited and eventually noticed that every TV in the place was turned to Wimbledon coverage. We got into watching the match that was on TV and had to stay to watch the final point. Nadal was moving on to the third round, battling an up-and-comer who had already trounced a favored player in the first round.

Photo of Town Hall Station beer and patio

Back home, I began to prep food for dinner, making cupcakes for Lindsey's "RBG dissent" cupcakes (since her batch the night before hadn't turned out), and boiling potatoes and eggs for potato salad. Marissa, Chelsea and Laurie arrived home and each got a little quiet time. They had enjoyed a lovely lunch at Cov.

Later Laurie commented to me about what an amazing young lady Marissa is — so polite, thoughtful and kind. It was so nice to hear confirmation that somehow, we are doing something right in raising our girls. Then again, I can't even take credit for Marissa's beautiful spirit.

Food prep done, I was able to sneak a nap in while Wayne picked Lindsey up from work. And then it was time to cook! Laurie made grapefruit margaritas that were refreshing, Lindsey worked on her cupcakes, laughter and chatter was on the patio, in the kitchen, everywhere. We had hoped that Kristi would be able to join us, but unfortunately was not able to get off work as there were enough patients in the hospital that she was needed. So we raised a glass in her name and gave thanks to nurses everywhere.

We gathered around our table and passed all the goodies: grilled burgers and brats, buns, condiments, homemade potato salad, baked beans. I was informed by consensus that my potato salad was not as good as Sherrie's. Yes, yes I know. But it wasn't unedible, so there is that.

After dinner we gathered outside for more laughter and stories. Eventually we decided to get ready to head to the fireworks. Marissa offered up her blanket and we all got into the car for the 5-minute drive in the neighborhood. We drove down to where we could access the Minnekahda Golf Club from its back entrance, which they open up for neighbors to get onto their grounds for the fireworks that they host.

We watched the sun go down and savored seeing the sky light up before finally falling dark. The fireworks were so wonderful! Chelsea could not believe that we could get to an area to see them that was so close without having to show up 3 hours in advance or battling crowds or traffic to leave.
Pre-firework sunset with crescent moon.
Ready for some fireworks!
There was an outdoor bar at the club that was serving members only, Wayne somehow passed off that we were guests of [insert member name here] and got us a couple of glasses of wine.

After the finale we packed up our things and were back home in 10 minutes. Other people went to bed while Lindsey and I stayed up and watched two episodes of "Stranger Things" season 3 which had just dropped. It was 1 a.m. before we finally said we called it quits and went to bed.

The ideal Independence Day.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Writing a "To Done" List

I have started using an app called "Noom" to start tracking my nutrition and exercise, in an attempt to get healthy and lose some weight. "Noom" is all about the psychology of why we eat what we eat, what triggers us to make unhealthy decisions and help us counter those. The goal is to help people make better choices moving forward so users can maintain a healthy weight the rest of our lives.

This week the coaches at Noom had us do an exercise and create a "to-done" list, and I thought it was too good to not share with others.

We all have a "to-do" list, right? Be it a for work, home, family or just you, we've all got a running list of things we need to do. Mine often consists of stuff like: get groceries, make a dinner menu for the week, run kids around to appointments, make various phone calls for house projects, et cetera. That doesn't include client projects or other things that make their way onto that list.

The coach at Noom asked us to make a "to-done" list. List all of the things that you've accomplished this past week or month or whatever, those things that were most important to you. Your "to-done" list could look something like this:

1. Had a successful project launch at work.
2. Finally made it to the dentist which I've been putting off.
3. Spent time with friends at a happy hour.

Review that list, and now ask yourself, "What of these things is important and will be remembered?" 

This became really poignant when one of my group members posted her list, which consisted of many enjoyable activities like gardening, spending time with her grandkids, finally seeing a friend she hadn't seen in decades. She had this to say about her list:

"I've been retired for 13 years, and I've told myself that there is so much I want to do in retirement. I thought I would have less stress, but I still have stress and have more health issues than ever. Making this list have made me focus on the most important things in my life...my health and how much time I have left to enjoy it. Today is a new day with opportunities and I am going to make the best of it."

Wow. All that discovery from a weight-loss app? Yes.

Before reading her post I had made a list of my own. As expected, it consisted of many things that had been on my "to-do" list that were now done: Grocery shopping. Cleaning. Running kids around to appointments.

I made a second list after I read hers, and it read a little differently:

And then I had this epiphany: Those things that are on my "to-done" list need to start by being on my "to-do" list. I need to make room in my life for those things that bring fulfillment and happiness to me and to those around me. My kids probably won't know or care about how much grocery shopping I did, but Marissa will definitely remember going paddleboarding on a beautiful summer day with her mom, and Lindsey will have memories of learning how to drive with me in the passenger seat. (Hopefully not traumatic memories.)

Now I ask you: What things do you need to put on your "to-do" list so they make your "to-done" list?