Tempered

Happy New Year, cats and kittens! I sort of half-heartedly intended to update over Christmas and New Year’s, but ended up…not doing so. Which just meant that I was having too nice of a time with my family (or was lying in bed with a cold, if we’re talking last Tuesday). I hope you had some time off and got to spend it with loved ones like I did.

Now it’s everyone’s favorite time of year, now after the parties and drinking and eating and presents and sitting around watching movies that are hoping to get Oscars: Resolution Season, when you decide to stop doing everything fun and start being “healthy” or “organized” or, God forbid, “adult.”

Actually, I very much appreciate the New Year and our traditions surrounding it. I think it’s important to take as many chances as we can to reflect on the good and the bad in our lives, identify changes that we want to make to improve our time of it on the planet, and plan ways to implement those changes. Maybe it’s the tireless DIYer in me, the part of me convinced that I’m not living up to my potential if I don’t speak five language, play a few instruments, write every day, work up to running a marathon, and still have time to cook healthful meals for myself. Seriously, though, I’ve always been decent at setting manageable goals and reaching them, and I enjoy the encouragement to do so at least once a year.

Then again, I’m not really one to set hugely life-altering resolutions. Last year I decided on practicing patience. A lot of times I just remind myself to try to live in the moment. This year, I’m trying something that’s both bigger (as in, hits me closer to home) and smaller (as in, limited in scope): I’m giving up alcohol for the month of January.

Why? Well, for once thing, my tolerance is too high. Which most likely means I’ve been drinking too much, too often. I have not yet managed to become the model of moderation, and I know it. For another thing, I spent 3/4 of my life completely sober, and managed to have a pretty good time of it. I even made sure to hold off of drinking in my early college years to prove to myself that I could still have a good time without “social lubrication.”

Candidly, I’m a little bit uncomfortable with how much of a force alcohol has become in my life. Not just my life, but the lives of many of my peers, especially city-dwellers, more especially, it seems, artsy folks. Any activity that should be fun without intoxication, it seems, we see as twice as fun plus booze. And the limits of “not before five p.m.” or “only on weekends” don’t hold anymore–everyone wants to have “Sunday Funday” and cocktails on Tuesday and Happy Hour on Friday. My office provides free beer and wine from 3-5pm on Friday afternoons. Events without alcohol involved are often met with scorn. Worse, I’m more and more often the person scorning them.

I don’t think I have a problem. Not really. Not given how easily I have found that I can go without when I put my mind to it. But the issue is that beer and wine and whiskey and who-knows-what is always around me, always available, and it’s so easy to say, “Just one to take the edge off. I had a rough day.” Or, “Well, a hot toddy would be delicious.” Or, “Everyone else is trying the bar’s special anyway.” I don’t want to get to the point where I think that the only thing that will help me unwind is a cocktail or three, and–you know what? I don’t want to continue to deal with the empty calories of a couple drinks a day.

So far, there have been three days in January, and I have been 100% sober for all of them. And, strangely, I’m not finding it to be that difficult. I don’t particularly want a beer, or a glass of Three Buck Chuck. I’ve been drinking lots of tea, and I just keep wanting another chamomile. My stomach feels good, settled in a nice way. I’m not stressed or cranky. I’ve had two good workouts in as many days, and my spirits are high.

I’ll keep you posted as this month’s grand experiment continues. Maybe it will be like the “no shampoo” month, and I’ll end up saying, “Well, that was good to do, but now it’s over.” Maybe I’ll decide I like remaining sober. Maybe, most likely, I’ll come out of this with a compromise for myself–no buying alcohol for the home, but a drink or two at a bar or a party is A-OK. We’ll see. For now, I have some rooibos to finish, and then it’s time to sleep and prepare myself for my biggest challenge: the first Friday Happy Hour.

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