Nothing to “wine” about

It’s been 47 days since that last glass of wine. For someone who really enjoyed a glass (or 2) of wine to mark the transition from work day to evening, that’s a huge accomplishment. So, yay me. Nearly 50 days without a drop of alcohol.

But here’s the thing: I don’t feel at all like I’m denying myself anything. Every day, when 5 o’clock nears, I allow myself the freedom to choose. Drink or not drink. And every day, for 47 days, I chose not to drink. And the more days that I choose sparkling water or ginger ale over a glass of wine, the less I even think about other options. To be honest, I really haven’t had cravings or been tempted by the sound of a cork popping as my husband opens a bottle on any given night. I’m just not interested.

I talked a little bit in my last entry about that freedom, but today, as we contemplate the idea of signing up for a workkamping gig at a beautiful winery in Wisconsin, I wondered if I would be tempted by hanging out with rows and rows of big fat grapes.

Would I be drawn in by the joyful sounds of carefree wine drinkers clinking glasses across a long wine bar? The pure irony (or cruelty?) of this particular scenario is not lost to me. This time last year, if I was approached with the opportunity to work 20 hours a week at an Italian vineyard, I would immediately research the wine list to see what lovely varietals I had in store for me. Today as we contemplated the idea, I cruised through the online menu and was so excited to see beverages that included San Pellegrino (by the 1/2 or full liter) + a full range of San Pellegrino Sodas, including Limonata and Aranciata Rossa! How fun!

The idea of working at a vineyard is just as intriguing as it was when wine was the big draw but now it’s because I’ve never worked in a winery. I’ve never been to Wisconsin. This “gig” would offer us an opportunity to experience so many new things. Be introduced to a new place, new people. Something entirely different than our day-to-day. An adventure. The work-camping allows RV-ers (like us) to work a few hours a week in exchange for a campsite, and other very cool perks of the job.

There is a particular kind of empowerment that has been percolating within me since quitting. Maybe it’s just my ego on fire with the “I can do anything” chatter, but the idea of leaving my life behind for 2 or 3 months and going on a journey that is completely unknown sounds like just the thing to do.

That’s the thing that’s so great about life, right? The not knowing part. I, for one, am ready to toss out the script and ad-lib a little.

Or maybe I’m already doing that! 🙂

Free and clear

Google says: After 30 days without alcohol, the fog starts to clear from your brain and you finally feel like yourself again. Better hydration and improved sleep will have increased your productivity and daily wellbeing. Your liver, stomach and skin will also have benefitted from not dealing with alcohol.

As I passed the 30-day mark yesterday, I can attest to the fact that since ditching alcohol I’ve lost a little weight, slept so much better, felt less anxious, and just feel happier overall. When talking to a friend today, I found myself almost giddy as I shared my alcohol-free journey. She and I have had plenty of conversations around drinking and wine–of cutting back and maybe even giving it up. I was excited to share my milestone with her and so pleased to hear her say that I had inspired her to consider her own journey toward an alcohol-free life.

There are most certainly some challenges ahead, as I introduce my new self to friends once we are socializing again, but I feel confident in my decision to embrace this new version of me. I really do like her so much more. She is clear-headed. Calm. Motivated. A little carefree, almost. And she’s still fun. Well, no LESS fun than she was when she was drinking!

The freedom that comes with choosing not to drink is really motivating for me. I’m free from the self-talk (wine or no-wine tonight?) I’m free from the Sunday hangovers. I’m free from the self-shaming the day after a few glasses too many. I am free from falling asleep on the couch before the movie ends and free from waking up in the middle of the night with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth due to hydration.

I’m just plain free.

Thinking about drinking

Day 23. I haven’t spent this many days without wine in decades. That sounds awful, just writing that, but even when I was a newbie wine drinker, I drank wine a few days a week — so yea, 23 days without a drop of alcohol feels very liberating!

I started this personal blog so that I could track the changes to my life — the way I felt, etc — along this journey. As I don’t plan on going back to drinking, the number of days don’t really matter to me as much as the way my life is changing without alcohol in it. But there IS something about ticking off days on the calendar. Everyone likes to track success, right? I think it’s motivating to know those numbers.

The biggest change I’ve found now that I’ve surpassed three weeks is that I don’t think about drinking. Not at all. Not at 4 o’clock, when happy hour was on the horizon. And not at 5 o’clock when the workday is done.

The last few years, I’ve spent a lot of hours thinking about drinking. Thinking about whether I should have a glass of wine on a Tuesday. Thinking about whether I should have a good bottle of wine with our Italian dinner on a Wednesday. Thinking about whether I should NOT drink on a Thursday. Thinking that it probably wouldn’t be any fun to go out for date night at the local bar we love and order just a club soda.

So much thinking…about drinking.

It seemed like all I ever did was think about not drinking. Even in the morning, when chatting with a friend, our conversations of late have turned to the topic of drinking. Both of us on the same page that we really felt like the two or three glasses of wine most days of the week was probably not helping us, health-wise. Neither of us would be classified as “alcoholics” (though, I have tons of thoughts on that whole term…), but it had become clear to us that drinking was a big part of our everyday lives.

And what did we really THINK about that?

We talked about how I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol so often that I think both of us were sick of talking about it. We talked about a plan for not drinking Mon – Thurs. And I tried to stick to that. We talked about arthritis and aches and pains we were feeling in our post 50-year-old bodies — blaming alcohol as a likely culprit. And yet, when 5 pm rolled around, I popped the cork on an everyday Cabernet and all conversations about the perils of alcohol were abandoned.

The next morning, foggy-headed after drinking that third glass of red, I’d feel that regret. Why didn’t I just have one glass of wine with dinner and be done with it? I remember one time even looking in the mirror and calling myself an idiot. It didn’t feel good to feel like a failure.

So, today on Day 23, I woke up again at 6:30, jumped out of bed and within an hour had taken our dog for a walk AND enjoyed a bike ride with my husband. And tonight, when 5 pm rolls around, I’ll be sipping a Perrier Lime, knowing that tomorrow morning I wake up with a clear head and a positive attitude.

No more thinking about drinking.