“Drink, Don’t Think”

 

A little less than a month ago, as we were driving home from Palm Springs, Chris and I were chatting about our (then) upcoming trip to Ohio. I told him that I had a bit of anxiety about going to his cousin’s wedding and my friend’s bachelorette party (the following weekend). As much as I love to see family and friends, I inevitably end up eating poorly, drinking too much, and abandoning exercise and my mediation practice. This results in a highly stressed out version of myself that I don’t particularly like. Chris, being the good husband that he is, probed me with difficult questions- “How can I make this trip different? Why do I feel the need to over indulge in alcohol? What would happen if I didn’t drink at all?” I ended up in tears. I didn’t cry because he was being mean. I cried because I realized that fear was driving me to over drink. I worried that I wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t drink. I realized that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the party starter. I also realized that these were old thoughts that no longer served me.

From the very first time that I drank alcohol my body rejected it. I have repeatedly overindulged throughout the last decade and I have always paid the consequences. Entire days were wasted lying in bed, vomiting, eating junk, and nursing myself back to health. I have sworn over and over I’d never do it again, and yet I find myself falling into the same trap. Don’t get me wrong, my party days have waned over the years, and my overindulgences have dwindled. Still, once or twice a year, I tell myself to loosen up, and I have one or two too many. These days I have accepted my limits. Like it or not, I’m a light weight. I’ve also come to the realization that with two little boys and a life that I love, I’m not interested in sacrificing an entire day.

Armed with new intentions for my trips, I decided to plan out my week. I put exercise and mediations into my calendar. I decided what nights I would drink and how much. Sure, it may seem like overkill but it resulted in an amazing trip. I didn’t follow the plan to a tee but I did find time to exercise and meditate. I didn’t drink the night of the rehearsal dinner and despite being at the bar until 1:30 am, I only had two drinks the day/night of the wedding. I felt like myself. I had meaningful conversations. I had fun. I can recall the details.

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The bachelorette party was slightly more challenging. I ended up drinking four nights in a row (the first with my family in Ohio, the other three in Nashville). Although this was never the plan, I made conscious decisions when to drink and when not to. At one point, I found myself with 14 other girls in a noisy bar. I felt out of sorts, uncomfortable for whatever reason, and I had the fleeting thought that I should get hammered. Luckily, I realized that wasn’t the best solution. Instead I picked off all of my nail polish. I nursed a drink. Shortly after, we headed to another bar where I felt much more at ease. I danced. I hung out. I enjoyed my friends. I forgave myself for not being the life of the party.

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The next morning, feeling pretty normal, we went on the Sprocket Rocket, essentially a party on a bike. Our driver and party starter, Adam, informed us all to “drink, don’t think”. As I walked around Nashville that day, I realized that’s what I had been trying to do for so many years. Over indulging allowed me to numb my mind, to ease my discomfort and insecurities. Did I have more fun? Sometimes. Although I have blurry memories of these times so it’s debatable. More importantly though, today, I am someone who is challenging myself to be more comfortable in my own skin, to live in the moment, to be aware of whatever I’m feeling- even if it is uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up drinking. It simply means that like everything else in my life these days, I’m practicing doing so mindfully.

Changing tides

If you are reading this, thank you. I know it’s been months since I’ve written. I’ve meant to write. I’ve sat down and tried. I fell flat. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. The past four months have been challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, scary, and insightful. Our year started with water damage through two stories into our kitchen. Less than a month later my husband got fired from the company he started over ten years ago, by his two partners. We had months of sick children. I was convinced that our house was making them sick. We’ve had months of our home being in disarray…plastic separating the first and second floors with zippers to get through them. Construction workers have been in and out, in and out. Meanwhile, we have been doing some soul searching and asking ourselves some real questions. We’ve had the luxury, and sometimes the curse, of deciding our future. We’ve wrestled with whether or not to move, and then whether we go to L.A. or San Diego. We’ve traveled to Miami (twice), L.A., San Diego (twice), Ohio. Chris totaled his car and thankfully walked away unscratched. He went to Peru for two weeks on an amazing, life-changing journey. Meanwhile, I over-flowed the bathtub and caused even more water damage to our house. I started journaling again; a practice I’ve done since I was a kid, and have abandoned in the last few years. This year has been a whirlwind and we are still in the midst of it. Yet, through it all, I’ve so grateful. We are moving in June to Encinitas. Our boys are heathy. My marriage is growing. I’ve gotten to know myself a little better. I’ve learned to lesson my grip on things just a little bit. I’m reminding myself that being imperfect is my right as a human being. I’m learning to speak my mind instead of biting my tongue. I’ve been reminded of what is truly important and that stuff is just that. I’ve met and connected with old friends and new. I’ve forgiven. His partners. Myself. Chris. Family. I’ve meditated. I’ve reminded myself again and again that we are all doing the best we can. I’ve decided to make myself a priority. After almost five years of being a mother and wife first, I feel something being stirred inside. I feel a growing purpose to use God’s gifts to do other things in this life. Our boys are almost two and four. They are wonderful and exhausting. My love for them has only grown but my view of them has shifted. I don’t want them to be my whole world and vice versa. I’ve always thought that it’s so interesting to raise children to spread their wings and fly. Instead of holding on with all of my might now, I’m working on allowing them to spread their wings so that they don’t leave me with a giant hole in the future. I’m learning what unconditional love really means. I’m learning that in this life, we are all on our own journey. I have been so blessed to have such amazing people to hold my hand along the way, but in the end, it is only me who will ever walk in my shoes.

I’m still in school. Our home is still currently under construction. We are moving in 6 weeks. My family still comes first but with all that being said, I think that my blog may need to undergo some changes. My life isn’t only about dumb bells and rattles anymore.  Sure, it’s about being a mom to two silly boys, but it’s also about increasing my awareness, connecting with others, new adventures, and healthy living. In the months to come, I hope that my blog will be able to showcase all of this.

Thank you again for reading. This blog feeds my soul and I hope in some small way also touches yours.

As always, if you like what you read, please share.

Much love,
Melanie

Embracing change

As Maddox and I were out walking this morning, I noticed that the leaves are changing colors. Summer is officially over. Fall has arrived. Brooks started school over a month ago. He was so excited to start school. I, on the other hand, had some major reservations about it. I worried about the fact that it was 5 (half) days per week. I wondered if we were starting him too early. I worried about missing him while he was away. Change has always been a bit challenging for me. Last week, I went to a mediation class at The Wicker Park Buddhist center. The teacher first taught us a lesson about loving everyone and everything and then about celebrating change. He talked about how many times we get anxious about change but really we should be excited. After all, isn’t everything and everyone constantly changing? When I reflect on this, I know this is true. Brooks and Maddox are growing and changing each and everyday. Chris and I are also working on our own spiritual and personal transformations. Although ours may be slower and less obvious than the changes in our boys, I know that we are constantly changing as well. With change comes new opportunities to grow. Brooks is loving school. I see small changes in him daily. He’s more open to talking to strangers. He seems more patient.  It also gives Maddox and I an opportunity to spend some alone time together. He’s never had the luxury of having me to himself. I’m enjoying our morning walks and the extra snuggling time. I also look forward to Brooks’ smiling face at pickup.

About a week ago I finished reading Michael Singer’s newest book called, “The Surrender Experiment“. It is a powerful story about how through meditation he let go of his own personal desires and enjoyed the life he was meant to live. Since I started reading it a few weeks ago I have tried to meditate more and manage and control my life less. I can’t say that I’ve been wildly successful at this practice, but I can say that the practice itself is liberating. Managing and controlling come from a place of fear and bring on feelings of anxiety. Letting go, on the other hand, comes from somewhere deep inside and brings feelings of peace and calm. I know that I will spend the rest of my life working on letting go. This is not something easily mastered. But, I also believe that my life is in God’s hands and if I can relax and let go of the reins a little bit, and trust God a whole lot more, I will enjoy this amazing journey even more than I already do.

If you are curious about meditation but not sure where to start, I encourage you to try Headspace. I have no affiliation with them but Chris and I have both found the app to be really helpful. Meditation is something that seems like it should be easy but it is actually really challenging. Recent Harvard studies have confirmed that meditation creates lasting change in our brains. On a personal level, I can see a difference in myself and in Chris on days that we meditate. Carving out 10-20 minutes everyday can seem challenging but it’s time well spent. I’m currently doing a mediation package on change. Little by little I’m learning to embrace change. Someday I hope to learn to celebrate it.