How is it July already!? Stop it, time, you stupid idiot! But here we are…and I am…the same. Okay i’m not the same. I am moving in the right direction. I fell off the wagon and started drinking again, but I have quit again and will make it through the end of the year, and beyond. I am nothing if not tenacious, and I am not embarrassed by it. I feel brave for trying, for telling the world, for experiencing a setback (learning what doesn’t work, right?), and getting right back on the horse. And this time feels different. It feels like when I actually quit smoking (ALMOST EIGHT YEARS AGO!) because I am not sad about it. I’ve got some tools now to get through tricky moments, which I’m sure will come, but hopefully this time it’ll take.
The same with writing. I was doing the thing, and then I just…wasn’t. But I’ve got some new strategies, including a wonderful new office and office hours set up in the shed in our backyard. It feels amazing to have a “space” for my creativity. No idea why I needed this, but it feels 100% right and I am sitting here during my “office hours” making it happen, and feeling creative and full of ideas. Let’s do this thing!
I checked my “hormone horoscope” app this morning and it warned me that today should not be a day to try anything new. I should stick to familiar places, foods, and people today. Hahaha, sorry app, that’s not happening at all. Every day we get to wake up in a new place and head out on a new adventure and it’s been completely life affirming. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt this happy. We have a rough idea of where we want to go each day/night, but other than that, we’ve been completely winging it, and the universe has lead us to the most amazing places, best food, etc. I hate trip planning, but I love exploring and discovering things, so this might be the perfect way to travel. Just plot a course and go!
The one downside is that has been very little time to write! I thought maybe I could use our car time to get work done, but the drives have been the highlight of the trip. Driving the California coastline is an event to behold, and I don’t want to miss one second. I can’t believe we have so much further to go…I feel so lucky! I am working on not feeling guilty about living this life, just trying to be grateful and appreciate every second. I can write about it all later when I’m back at my boring old house with my perfect dog. Right? Right.
As part of my quest to feel good, I purchased an OURA ring. This ring is the coolest! It is an activity and sleep tracker that measures your heart rate (and HRV!) and body temperature and is very low profile. One of the things that I love about it is that there is no data on the ring, you just connect it to your phone when you want to get info. That means I can go out for a jog or hike without a phone or any “data” about what I’m doing, which I think is really nice, and later on I can get that info if I want it.
Plus I like how it looks and can wear it on either hand.
An unexpected result of wearing it has been getting to know my body and my cycles better than ever. This next bit of information is for the ladies, but dudes, you may find it interesting as well. Since the ring measures body temp, I can track exactly when I ovulate and when my cycle begins. The crazy thing was that I noticed that my heart rate seems to go way up during the second half of the month, and down during the first. Since my temp is also elevated, and I tend to sleep worse, the ring seems to think I’m not doing so well. And a lot of the time, it’s true! My hormones almost put me in a state of “sickness” or “need recovery” as the ring would probably put it. There are other factors at play, such as if I’ve had a hard workout or am actually sick that will also elevate my heart rate and decrease my “readiness” score, but most of the time I know exactly what caused that.
I only have a few months of data, so look forward to collecting more, and look forward to discussing with a doctor. I tried to find studies regarding heart rate and hormones, but either don’t know how to search for that, or they are not out there. I find this completely fascinating, and just how out of touch most of us are with what is happening in our own bodies each month (or I was!). I now want to get an apple watch, and tons of other wearables to track all my vitals all the time. When are they just going to implant a chip in me and make me part computer? The future is now!
After hiking the Appalachian Trail, my body changed. It’s hard to say why exactly. The constant pounding combined with eating so much processed food was surely a factor, and all of this coincided with turning mid to late 30-something, so perhaps, it was just a part getting older. Halfway through 2017, I realized I was struggling to do the things I used to love to do, and I realized I had to make some changes.
I don’t know why it wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but drinking was one of my major problems. What had always been a fun social activity for me was now costing me. After even just one or two glasses of wine, my sleep would suffer and so would the next day. Drinking more than that would most likely result in a completely lost next day. YUCK. So I tried to cut back without great success and realized that going completely dry was the best solution. Drinking just wasn’t serving me any more. It was making things more crappy, and so in 2018, I vowed to go one year without drinking.
A lot of people looked at me like I was nuts, and couldn’t believe I was serious, but the further into this I get, the more my perspective on the issue of drinking changes. Why on earth would I do anything that makes me feel horrible and keeps me from doing the things I love and want to do? And why on earth should anyone care? So many things have surprised me…things I really didn’t expect at the start of this journey.
- Drinking is really, really common. And lots of people continue to do it even though it makes them feel awful and they do lots of things they regret, and most of us never question this. What is that about? I think the alcohol industry is powerful and desperately wants people to think they have to drink to be sophisticated and sexy and have fun and all those things. The further I get from it, the more insane it seems that we spend so much money on booze only to have it almost always lead to negative things. Also I know that it’s crazy that I plan to go back to drinking once I’ve proved to myself that I can go a year without it, but that’s my dumb plan at the moment.
- We tend to create a strict dichotomy of alcoholics/regulars, when it seems most people fall somewhere in between. We could probably all benefit from giving our livers a break without the world freaking out about labeling you. Alcohol is addictive (did you know that? I honestly didn’t) and anyone that drinks is on a “path” to alcoholism, in some way or another. It’s more like smoking cigarettes than I ever realized.
- I read “Recovery” by Russell Brand and learned about the 12 steps. They are beautiful! They seem like a class that should be taught in school, and certainly not exclusive to addicts. Why aren’t we teaching that kind of self-care? Seems way more important/useful than algebra.
- There are not a lot of great alcohol free alternatives that don’t have sugar or caffeine in them. Let’s work on that.
- I am way more in touch with my body and my emotions now that I am not introducing poison into it every time I feel slightly bad.
Yes, I can admit that I have messed a couple of times, but not much! I am very proud of making it to the end of march with fewer than 5 drinks for the year, and I am still committed to making it through this year dry. I feel so much better, so much more creative, and I’m sure it’s not hurting my bank account either. I’m eager to find out what surprises the rest of this year will hold.
I’m writing my memoir. People have been telling me to do this since forever, and I always thought it seemed pretentious and that I probably wasn’t talented enough to do it. BUT F THAT! I am all about self-improvement, and learning to control my own thinking is step #1. So the thought process is, “YES I CAN!” It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, I just need to do the work. I can get help from an editor or whomever (zooeythepuggle at the moment, who is hard to please. Just look at her judgy face. :)), and the story is special. We all have a special story. It’s finding perspective and words to bring it to life. I need to set concrete goals, so I am going to do that here publicly. My goal is to have the first draft complete in 3 months, so by July 1st, I will have written a novel. BY JULY 1st, I WILL HAVE WRITTEN A NOVEL!
How exciting is that? I believe in myself! Setting audacious goals gets me feeling tingly all over.
So does this sweet camera I bought off craigslist yesterday. I am so stoked to learn how to use her, and to share some luscious shots with you all here!
I read somewhere that the definition of happiness is “moving toward your own potential” and I love that. It explains why the pursuit of goals is enjoyable, and helps me to appreciate the journey, the movement towards, and not get too hung up in waiting for the goal to be met to enjoy things. So what am I enjoying? I am fucking loony about reading and writing. They are two loves of mine that I kind of forgot about. I’ve been wracking my brains for years trying to figure out who I am and what my “purpose” is, and I feel like it was just sitting in front of me the whole time, waiting for me to come out of an alcoholic haze and flick on the lightswitch that was under my finger the entire time. WORDS. Words are power, punch, guts, heart, tears, lives, everything. They are art and they are passion. I am over here trembling at the thought of what power lies at the end of this proverbial pen.
It is so scary. It also means responsibility. But I know now that I need to write. I know that a lot of it won’t be any good for a while, and I need to be okay with that. I am suddenly overwhelmed by the desire and excitement of observation. I need to see and experience the world in a a vivid and different way if I’m going to write about it. It’s the complete opposite of getting a little tipsy and basically forgetting to notice anything at all (which I have definitely been guilty of). My memory is dim and that makes me sad. I’ve been so lucky to experience so much, and yet so foolish to dull the shine of those memories with alcohol.
I also don’t know if I’ve ever been proud to tell someone my job title. Even when I was the Deputy Direction and Associate Vice President of a University, I thought it sounded so pretentious…I just couldn’t say it. I said “university admin.” I’ve dreamed of an elevator speech I’d be proud of, and writer does that for me. Oooh…what about, “I write novels.” Even the sound of the word “novel” makes me zing with joy. I love novels! How cool would it be to have that be associated with me? ME!? It’s weird, but it is the thing that scares me the most, so I know it’s the thing that I have to do. Even if it’s terrible, I’m writing. I AM A WRITER.
Had a safe first day in Denver yesterday despite the dangerous amount of fancy man sandals that I encountered on the streets. I wish I could understand why I hate some things SO MUCH. Despite the wretched footwear, I was lucky enough to go see Bon Iver at Red Rocks. For those not acquainted with the venue, Red Rocks is an open air venue formed by gigantic…wait for it…red rocks. It’s easily the coolest place I’ve ever seen a show (although the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza is a close second).
There are two gigantic rocks on either side of the seats. Here’s some info from their website “The southern monolith, that bears resemblance to a ship, is named “Ship Rock.” On the opposite side of the Amphitheatre stands “Creation Rock.” Both of the monoliths are taller than Niagara Falls, and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre was once listed as among the Seven Wonders of the World.”
My view of Ship Rock:
The view of Denver off in the distance, just before the start of the show:
Looking forward to day 2!