"Want some Bailey's in that?" My brother-in-law asked, pointing to my coffee. This was the day before yesterday, Sunday brunch. "Absolutely, yes!" I said. "My month without alcohol is over. Now, I want it at every meal." Joking! Sort of!
I did it, I gave up drinking alcohol for 4 weeks, as part of my New Year's effort to find ways to increase energy and focus in my life. Mary Carlomagno issued the challenge in her guest blog post here, and I took it on, all by myself in my circle of fair-weather family and friends, but with online support from Facebook friends doing similar fasts from alcohol, sweets, TV, etc. "How was it?" people ask warily, usually followed by "I don't think I could do it. Don't ask me to!" You want to know the truth? It was really pretty hard.
Not that I drink all that much, mind you. Except for the glass of wine while cooking or with dinner, the occasional margarita with a girlfriend, the mimosa that comes with Sunday brunch after church, the beer during the football game, and...you get the idea.
So the month became about finding other ways to celebrate or self soothe. At first it started with sweets. Which, many pointed out, would negate the calories saved from not drinking, and give me a sugar crash which would sabatoge my goal of feeling more energetic over all.
Then, it became about distraction, which meant FB chatting with others who were staring down their own temptations and screaming at each other through the computer "Drink water! Take deep breaths! Think good thoughts!" and laughing til the moment passed.
Then, and here is the payoff, it became about paying attention to the other stuff in front of me. The food, instead of the wine. The company, instead of the margarita. The football game, which for Giants fans was really exciting enough without a beer. The food at my favorite Italian restaurant is delicious with or without wine. My friends are fun with or without a pitcher between us. And while there were moments when I wished I could unwind after the kids finally fell asleep with something stronger than herbal tea, I was probably better the next morning for not feeling fuzzy and tired. I also spent a longer time stretching at night, which helped my aging joints a lot more than a nightcap would have.
I broke the fast with a fancy cocktail with a twist of orange, on Friday night, at a bar with a girlfriend. The drink was delicious, the atmosphere was convivial, and I loved every sip. But we talked endlessly, laughed uproariously, long after the glass was empty and we'd moved on to ice water. The company was, without question, the best part. Which, when people ask "why would you want to give up alcohol?" may be the bottom line. Because by doing so, it made me appreciate everything else that much more. Life is actually full of natural highs. I'm going to enjoy all of them, with or without a twist.
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