Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Comes to an End...

...but I am thrilled to see what 2011 brings. Happy New Year friends! First and foremost, thank you for following my blogs, supporting me, and laughing with and at me for a whole year. 2010 had its rocky moments, its trying times, lots of tears, more than enough laughs, lots of love, and most importantly...2010 challenged the hell out of me...and from that challenge, I am stronger, wiser, happier and excited for the future. And more than anything, I wish YOU all the best for 2011. I hope that you learned something valuable from 2010, found love, fell out of love, bounced back from love, laughed, gained money, lost money, ate, slept, exercised, traveled, and enjoyed every day....and if you missed one of those, here's to 2011!

Tonight I am celebrating NYE with my boyfriend, his family, and my parents. I can honestly say that I never would have guessed that (in my mid-twenties) I would be inviting my parents to spend NYE with me. Now I love my parents dearly, BUT NYE is usually filled with things that you don't want your parents to witness and you usually hide your hungover face from them all of New Years Day. But, I am SO looking forward to a relaxing but fun NYE party with good food, delicious sparkling cider, and loved ones. I know YOU have to be amazed at this past paragraph, because I sure as shit am! Who would have thunk it? Well...I think I have enough wild NYE adventures filled with bar hoping, champagne, $50 cover charges, Montreal nightlife, and such to last me a lifetime :) Change is good.

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed my friends reflecting on my drinking days and saying that they loved fun, drunk Erica....and they love fun, sober Erica. And I think a year ago that comment would have bothered me and made me question my decision to quit...thinking that everyone liked drunk Erica and that's who I should be...or it would have made me dislike my friends. But I think that as I have become more confident in my decision and confident in myself as a whole, I actually really appreciate that statement. To me that means that these individuals have seen all different sides of me, and love me...and I have a variety of sides to me for people to love. I think being multidimensional and always keeping people entertained and happy is a that I am proud of. And I appreciate the love I have received from everyone who has enjoyed and been happy with every side of me. I think (and maybe I am one of the last people to join the group but..) everyone has finally come into their own skin....everyone has finally figured out who they are, what they like, what they what to do, and who they want to be friends with...and the relationships that are created between people who feel that way about themselves are based on truth and whole hearted love and appreciation for one an another....and THAT, my friends, is what it is all about. One Love :)

Lastly...for the new year I've decided I am going to post some workouts, as I create them, on my blog for people to use if they wish. The first one is a circuit and only needs some light weights and an exercise ball. If you have any questions on the exercise moves just ask me!!

Circuit: (45 seconds for each exercise)

1. Push-ups
2. Ab Roll (knell behind the exercise ball, place forearms on ball and lean forward...roll body back and forth using abs)
3. Squats
4. Back Extensions on exercise ball
5. Lunges with overhead extensions (w/ weight)
6. Ab Ball Exchange (lay on back with arms and legs extended, crunch to exchange ball from arms to feet)
7. Shoulder press
8. Hamstring curls with exercise ball
9. Burpies
10. Standing rows
11. Leg lifts (lay on back, legs in the air, crunch lower abs to lift hips off the ground)
12. Bridges
13. Jumping lunges
14. Mountain climbers
15. Bicycle sit ups (rotate legs like on a bike while doing sit-ups)
16. Plank

Repeat 3x total


Monday, December 13, 2010

One Year.

One year ago today I made a rash and life changing decision to never have alcohol again. When I made this decision I had no idea how it was going to work out, if I would really stick to it, and if it would make a difference in my life...and I most certainly did not expect to learn any of the things I did about myself. I will say that whatever your idea of quitting drinking is is incorrect. Yes I am sure you can all picture your life without alcohol and can imagine that it would be difficult, maybe boring, maybe impossible, maybe stupid, and maybe some of you think it would be easy. But the things that I have realized about myself, about my friends, about society as a whole, I never would have expected and I do not believe anyone can understand these things until they are in my shoes. The act of drinking now completely fascinates me (instead of controlling me)...the rationale behind it, the fact that it is the focal point of all social gatherings/celebrations/vacations/stress relief/etc etc. And please don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with it...but it is so interesting that across the entire world, all nationalities, all ages, and all social economic statuses...drinking alcohol is a part of your life. And because of that (the fact that it is so hugely ingrained in all cultures) it is quite tragic that I have cut it out of my life...but...I am sure that I am not the only person that shouldn't drink and I wonder if more people sat back and looked at drinking and why they do it and what it does to and for them, if this social/religious/celebratory activity would change. But anyways...less about my deep thoughts on the world and alcohol...and more about ME (that is why you read, right? haha...kidding...sort of.)

This past year has been life-changing. I know I say it all the time, but I cannot think of a better way to describe it. Recently I have realized that some of these profound developments and new feelings/actions are also derived from simple I believe that the combination of maturity (not "getting old"...but rather- "maturity"...note that.) and sobriety have created the strong willed, confident, and happy girl you see before you (virtually, if you will). I have realized that I defined myself socially by alcohol...and this may be in my own head, but I believe if you asked some surface level friends about me (a year ago), they would have said I was a small girl that would try to drink you under the table. And I find it incredibly interesting that I have completely changed that persona that I created...and hopefully now, the persona that I have created actually has some substance, something more than a drinking buddy or a crazy party girl. I am interested to run into some people back in the day who knew me strictly as a partier and see how confused/surprised they are. I will say this has been the best year of my life...enlightening, positive, productive, holistic, and empowering.

So far this year I have attended (and most importantly, enjoyed!) parties, concerts, bachelorette parties, weddings, vacations, and holidays sober. Most recently I was in Jamaica on an all inclusive trip where (again) I realized how drinking is a commonality across all nationalities and to not drink is weird and can be socially isolating. I even had a bartender tell me I should drink and question why I didn't (which stung...I won't lie). But at the end of the day I have to remember everyone is different and what makes others happy isn't what makes me happy. And fortunately, and most importantly, my social network supports my decisions and is always there when I start to doubt myself or feel alone/weird/lame. Having someone (specifically my amazing boyfriend) tell you they are proud of you and support you and don't judge you makes all the mental dissonance go away...and helps you stay confident and at peace. I will say that is another huge point I have realized over the past year...the value of the people you keep in your life when times get tough. Those that stick by you when you are going through hard times are crucial, those that support you when you do something they may not completely believe in are valuable, and those that love you for the authentic/moody/quirky/sober you are irreplaceable.

Me and alcohol broke up one year ago and I'm still reminded of him from time to time and I still have some of his things in my home and my friends are still friends with him...but I'm better of without him...we are still friends and I feel no resentment towards him. I don't care if another friend wants to date him ....but he was never good for me...I deserve a better life and he deserves someone who will appreciate and not abuse him.

Last point- everyone (including random people in line at the grocery store) would always tell me I looked sad and ask me what was wrong and tell me to smile...and I realized the other day that that has decreased immensely recently. I can't actually remember the last time a random person told me I looked sad. That is priceless. Finally, (this is so cheesy but I am saying it anyways...) my inner beauty has poked its little head out :)

And so my friends...I started this blog one year ago...telling you that I made a decision to change my life. I am sure most of you doubted me (hell, I doubted me), but here I sit. I only hope that while you have read my blogs you have taken some insight out of it that could pertain to your own life...I hope that you have been able to feel my happiness and experience my changes with me, because I have felt your support. And I hope that you will continue checking in on me :)

Raise a glass (preferably of water, diet soda, lemonade, or sparkling cider) and toast with me...toast to health, happiness, change, reflection, inner peace, friends, family, and strength.

All my love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Stages of Change

It is interesting (and probably telling/meant to be/stars aligning/etc) that most of my graduate studies have consisted of behavior change ideas, concepts and theories. In all of that work, however, you never learn how to change your own behavior (maybe it is an assumption that being in the field of public health you might practice what you preach...ha!)....but, I do think it has been quite interesting and informative to be able to see, first hand, how behavior change plays out and what struggles come about in the process....but I digress...

The actual point of this blog
I've noticed, over the course of this journey, some stages/mind sets that I have experienced along the way. I think the first month was easy (anyone can change a behavior for a month) and maybe my rationale for not drinking was more surface level. Then once I passed that three month mark I began to realize the benefits, the positive changes on my life, the changes in my personality, and really started to believe in my decision. And for about 5 months after that I strongly believed in my decision, received a TON of support from friends and family, and each day confirmed why I was abstaining from alcohol. Now, and for the past couple of months, I have continued to stick to my guns and have noticed that my thinking process has changed from being an internal process to being a comparative/external process. In other words, I have been comparing myself to others more, whereas before I felt confident and independent and successful and sort of unique (in a good way).

As I have mentioned before, humans rationalize their decisions to match with their actions. So since I have retired from drinking, I have had to change my view on alcohol to coincide with my behavior. Which I have been able to do quite successfully. Now, I believe, the issue is for me not to push these new found views on others. I have said before that a wise man once told me to remember that "just because I have a headache, doesn't mean the whole world needs to take an aspirin". Which I strongly believe. Just because I decided to quit drinking, in NO way, means that others need to do the same. BUT, I will say that keeping my mind in check on that notion is difficult. Think about it...if I have told myself that my sobriety is great, and I feel healthy, and I am no longer making stupid decisions, and I don't use it as a crutch to make life easier or relieve stress...then imagine how difficult it is to hold onto those feelings, AND not view others differently for going against them when I see those close to me drinking. I think on the positive side, I notice these thoughts (my questionable views about other people, my interpretations on their use of alcohol) as soon as they entire my mind, so I am able to refocus myself and realize that they are them and I am me and everyone is different...and to realize that I quit because alcohol was in no way, shape, or form benefiting my life....I didn't quit because I drank socially/healthfully and was able to control myself.

But I will say that I can see why behavior change for drug addicts, smokers, etc is very difficult when your social network are users. And while this might be somewhat of an exaggeration, everyone I know drinks...regardless of what level of drinking they engage in, bottom line is everyone does drink. So when doctors, social workers, therapists tell recovering drug addicts to remove themselves from the unhealthy environment and find different friends- that works for them....but for me to remove myself from an environment of alcohol use is basically impossible. And I don't really believe that anyone will understand this social and mental conflict until they have experienced it...but it is hard.

And I don't say this to make anyone always, this is my decision, my battle, and my life. And I want to continue to live and be social in this environment which will require me to work through this mental battle...and in the end (silver lining) make myself stronger. But I just wanted to share this interesting mental process I have been going through. Each day is different...full of different thoughts and views, different interactions with alcohol and sobriety, and different levels of affirmation and questioning of my decision.

Oh you never cease to challenge me :)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maybe it's not just me?

As I sit here about to watch "What's Eating You?", an eating disorder special on E!, I can't help but think about my own issues. Recently I've realized that a large majority of my friends/peers in high school had eating "issues" (I call them "issues" because it sounds less like a mental health disorder, which is not generally socially accepted...). I can easily count 8 people close to me that dealt with some form of eating/body image issues growing up. This HAS to do with the culture we were brought up in. While we were growing up, so was Howard County (our home town). Howard County was growing to be more affluent and welcomed more upperclass individuals...which is all fine and dandy, until children start comparing themselves to one an other. Things such as wealth and possessions were sometimes out of the hands of teenagers; body, however, was not. Many people struggle with body images because they long to control something in their life, and this is that thing. I am starting to believe that the youth in Howard County struggle so much to control their popularity and their appearance/appeal to others, leading them to strive for the perfect body. Because these pivitol teenage years are full of comparing and modeling, girls can't help but compare and compete with others to work out more, eat less, weigh less, and wear smaller sizes. And yes, I understand that eating disorders are everywhere and Howard County isn't the only area that has a high population of girls suffering from this disorder....BUT, I think the pressure that is put on youth from this area to be the most popular...and the modeling that they see from their mothers and older sisters who are also competing for acceptance among their peers truly influences this issue.

Luckily, for the most part, the girls that I know with these issues have been able to move forward and be strong, gorgeous, successful women. But I have even heard people say that coming home generates those unhealthy behaviors/thoughts again. Which I can completely agree with...there is a fear that the people that knew you as being small will see you bigger and not approve or gossip about that fear causes you to want to make sure you are as attractive and in shape as possible. It is really quite sad. It is sad that an area that is so affluent and breeds some highly intelligent and successful adults, can also pressure young adults to strive for perfection when it is completely unneccessary. hope is that with time, education and societal changes that the next generation in this area won't be so focused on their appearance and perfection. Granted, that is probably impossible because kids will always compare themselves to each other...but I hope that the focus is not on body image. I hope that being active and healthy is the lifestyle that youth aspire to live. It is very interesting that an area that prides itself in having such a wonderful school system and producing such smart and successful kids, doesn't realize that it is also cultivating mental and behavioral health issues that carry on into adulthood.

Be happy. Love yourself...because, at the end of the day, you are the only one that matters.


Monday, November 8, 2010

A Motto to Live By

"It's never too late for change"

A lot of things recently have made me assess how I am viewed by others. Things such as meeting new people (what kind of first impression do I make?), a radio discussion on what defines sexy (how do I carry myself?), trying to get ahead at work (do I appear to be an intelligent 'go-getter'?), and then lastly the damsel in distress persona that I've so carefully crafted for myself (can that be changed?). And all of those things led me (as usual) to a self evaluation and analysis.

As I have grown in the past year, I have internally gained a strong sense of confidence and in the past couple of months have worked to make that more externally apparent. I think the insecurities were led by a mixture of hiding behind electronic forms of communication and alcohol. I remember in middle school being quite confident and vocal and self assured, and then somewhere in high school I can remember this going away. Part of the reason (I believe) was my desire to please others. For some reason (probably stemming from some childhood incident, as all things do) I became somewhat apathetic and decided it was easiest to go with the flow...this way more people liked me because I rarely disagreed with their ideas and opinions, and I didn't have to struggle with making decisions for myself. I think this is best exemplified in the fact that I applied to all of the colleges my friends were going to and didn't even bother doing research or visiting any to make a decision for myself.

So after developing this laid back attitude, I started using letters, emails, and texts to vocalize any discontent that I felt. So basically I was able to be a hard ass on paper but once someone tried to talk face-to-face I completely caved and went back to agreeing with everyone. And then, of course, I used alcohol as a crutch but I think I've discussed that enough :). Now, ultimately I don't think this attitude choice that I made really affected too much because, for the most part, I enjoyed what my friends did and didn't like arguing anyways. And I do believe that if I was strongly opposed to something that I did say something. But I have realized that this attitude has left me with this helpless, indecisive persona. As I have said before, I have always made fun of myself as a way to deal with (ignore) the serious issues in my life. So by never making my own decisions and continuing to make stupid ones (and make a joke of it) when I do, I think that a lot of people view me as being pretty a little child that needs guidance or something awful will happen. Now granted, this may have been true (and sometimes still is) BUT through all of these adverse experiences and rude awakenings, I have learned a lot and am a lot more knowledgeable than I think people make me out to be.

I don't always state my opposing opinion if I know that the topic is near and dear to someones heart or they are a little self conscious about the issue, because I don't really see the point in bursting someone's bubble if the issue isn't a serious one. And I sometimes let people help me out when I really don't need help, because I think it makes people feel good to help others...and it really isn't hurting me. BUT, I would just like to say that for the record (haha) I am a pretty smart cookie, I always learn from my mistakes (even if it takes a while to sink in), and deep down I kind of know I am pretty awesome and a force to be reckoned with ;)

And to circle back around to the first line...I don't believe it is ever too late for a change. As I have said before, my current view on drinking has changed from "why not" to "why do it"...and it keeps me in check. I believe that also applies to this lackadaisical attitude I had before..."why not just go along with the crowd, it won't hurt anyone" opposed to "why do it? how will being helpless and apathetic help me?". The hardest mind to change is always going to be your own. And your perception of yourself will always be the hardest, most critical one. I believe that once you have YOUR mind focused and have a confident perception of yourself, the views of others will fall into place. And coming from experience I think that developing external confidence is just as hard as developing internal confidence, after living a life of being quiet, timid, and looking unapproachable. But I think, as always, that acknowledging your "pitfalls" is the first step...and nothing is impossible, and it is never too late.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolution of Alcohol

I decided to research the history of alcohol...why? (you might ask) Why would I want to spend time reading over something I am abstaining from? As if it is some cruel punishment or test? Well...a wise man once told me that knowledge is power. And after retiring from drinking and seeing the affects it has on our youth, I hope to have some public health impact on drinking based on insight from my own experiences and knowledge. I don't believe that I can be a true advocate and truly make a difference without being aware of the history. Anyways...what I found was that alcohol has been around for as long as history has record of humans cooking, eating, and developing culture (I am talking B.C.). I really wish there was a record of the first drunkard experience and how people reacted to the feeling,etc. But anyways...all of the earlier cultures used alcohol for mainly religious purposes (ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.)...and then it evolved into being a celebratory drink. However, all most cultures welcomed drinking but frowned upon being drunk and considered it a sin (wise...). Then once people were consuming it in mass quantities and being belligerent, came prohibition, and yada yada yada. Ever since prohibition it has been viewed differently...with laws saying you cannot have it until you are 21 years old, it becomes stigmatized to be "wrong"...and it is rebellious to drink it underage. And there lies the problem. Once it becomes wrong and illegal the act of drinking as fast as possible to get rid of the evidence becomes habit...and through that developed binge drinking. Okay let me stop-- Binge drinking is multifaceted...people drink for depression, genetics, poverty, escaping reality, the list goes on and on. But I believe that one notion is the change from drinking as a cultural, ceremonial, celebratory, daily wildly binge drinking because it is wrong and you're a bad ass. There are a number of people I know that do not have issues with binge drinking because they grew up with drinking and were taught how to drink and how to appreciate alcohol throughout their lifetime. I truly believe this is a positive thing and should be reintroduced to parenting. In high school I got alcohol poisoning because I chugged vodka and whiskey...having no idea about either, other than "Say no to Drugs", left me with no guidance as to know when to stop. Maybe this scenario would have been different had I know what vodka and whiskey were and how to drink safely.

I also think that children are taught that alcohol is gross and is an adult opposed to being taught that different types of alcohol are enjoyable (wine, beers, etc) and can be paired with different food items and enjoyed on different occasions. So..if you are taught that something is gross, you will not be shocked when it is gross, and you will tough through it to get to that goal result. Therefore, if children are taught that alcohol is disgusting, when they chug straight vodka for the first time they will think that the taste is normal and they need to continue drinking like adults do to get "drunk". However, if children are taught the differences between alcohol beverages and how to enjoy them, they will hopefully be turned off by straight vodka. Obviously kids will still get drunk and do what they parents tell them not to do and so forth, BUT I do think that maybe a little knowledge and experience could be beneficial. Throwing a child into adult scenarios (college) and saying "if you are going to drink, only have 3 drinks" is not helpful at all.

I will stop my rambling...but I think the cultural advancement of alcohol in our society is unfortunate. But, any sort of change in the social culture of drinking (much like obesity) is going to take decades to change if ever. If nothing else, maybe we can help our kids to be healthier and make better decisions and not continue with the norm of blacking out every night.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Indefinite Goals

Many have asked me when I was going to drink long this was going to "last"...what my timeline was for this new decision. Any today, while thinking about the concept of anniversaries, I realized that if I had made an end date, this entire experience would have been different. My train of thought would be different...instead of embracing a new decision, I would be waiting for that wonderful date where I could get back to my life. For example, I tried to stop drinking for 30 days. Never in those 30 days did I discover the things about myself and others that I have in the past 10 months...why?..because all I could think about was how many days of non-drinking I had left. Even if I would have made exceptions in my decision, like weddings or birthdays or whatever, then I believe the experience would have been different...I would have awaited a wedding or birthday as an excuse to engage in something that I was trying to stop. Okay...I think my point is that...over the past 10 months I have become confident in my decision, I have accepted it, found positives in it, grew stronger from it, and supported my stance. However, if I made an end date or exceptions then I would clearly not be confident in my would not be a whole hearted life change...and I believe, that it would leave me angry/anxious/whatever during that time frame that I wasn't "allowed" to drink. I believe that this is one of those issues where there is little gray area. I can not advocate for my personal decision (mind you--a decision for my life only, not anyone else) when I am keeping track of the days till I go back on it. Does that make sense?

So, as I was thinking about this (and self approving my decision to have not made any end dates or goals or objectives or timelines or exceptions) I realized that this idea could apply to most things in life. Take exercising, for example. Many people exercise right before an event (vacation, summer, wedding, reunion, birthday, etc), so I believe that if you tell yourself "Okay I am going to exercise every day for the next four weeks", you will be begrudgingly counting down the days until the four weeks are over and you can end the exercise madness. And so I guess it depends on if this decision is something that really means something to you...but if you wanted to stick with exercising and find enjoyment out of it (even just for those four weeks), I would say not to create a timeline or end date, but instead to take the time to discover what activity you like and whole heartedly embrace that decision and roll with it...let things play out on their own. I guess I don't believe that you can effectively/enjoyably go into a decision/activity knowing and planning on the fact that you are going to stop it at some point. Having an end in sight cannot help for happiness in the present.

So my advice would be..don't make end dates for changes...just explore, alter, modify, start and stop..but do not predetermine the end.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Retired Drinker

Definition of RETIRE
intransitive verb
: to withdraw from action or danger : retreat
: to withdraw from one's position or occupation : conclude one's working or professional career

So I was thinking about the perception of not drinking (which, as you know, I have struggling with and debated on for a while now), and I think I like the label "retired drinker". [Note- the first definition is pretty self explanatory and completely appropriate, so I will not explain that one] As opposed to saying I quit drinking or don't drink anymore. Obviously in an ideal world no one would pass judgments on other people's decisions and I know that in order to embrace individual change and stick with it, I need to be confident in my decision and my actions...BUT, I also need to understand that people do judge and make their own ideas about people, and first impressions do mean a lot. (Note- this is not stemming from anyone judging me, that I am aware of, this is just me over-analyzing what other people think about me)

I think that saying "I quit drinking" gives a sort of negative vibe to my views on drinking...which could be perceived as me having negative views on drinking all together, which I don't...I just don't think its a good idea for me. And I think saying that "I don't drink" could lead someone (who clearly didn't know me haha) to believe that I am opposed to drinking all together and never have drank...and that is not true. I think retired is a lighthearted term...and really more true for my life. I sometimes referred to myself as a professional drinker (I guess to rationalize to myself that blacking out was prestigious and I got hammered just because I was THAT good at taking shots...ohh life...), so you could view my drinking as somewhat of a career/hobby/sport for me. And over the years I've become tired from the game, I have gone as far as I can with the career (milestones include getting arrested, blacking out, getting in car accidents, getting alcohol get the idea..), I've held various positions as a professional drinker (beer drinker, liquor drinker, drunk party girl, sad emotional mess, sick girl, beer buddy, drinking companion, peer pressure-er, etc), and I have trained those around me to be as knowledgeable on drinking and efficient as I was. And in December, I decided it was about that time for me to retire. To hang up my shot glasses and put away the flask, and relax for the remainder of my life. I put in a solid 10 years of work into the sport/career, perfected some areas of it, learned as much as I could about most of it, and completely gave my social life (and well-being) to it. In fact, I think alcohol around the world should thank me for the dedication I put in towards their livelihood, and the passion I conveyed in my execution of the job.

So I hope this puts into better light my views on drinking...and my comfortableness towards the activity and everything about it.


Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Me, What You Get Is What You See

(I believe I may have mentioned this notion before, so forgive me if this is a repeat blogs. But the odds that you have memorized my entries are very slim, so I should be okay haha)

Prior to my change/growth, if you will, I had a very "deal with me" mentality. I embraced who I was as a hardcore drinker, gossiper, emotional, and passive girl. Knowing that a good number of my qualities (most important being the drunk one) bothered a good many people in my life, I continued to stand by my "that is who I am, learn to deal with it" mentality. It seems strong and self assured. It seems like you are being intelligent by only wanting to surround yourself with people who can tolerate you and appreciate you, regardless of what negative/distructive behaviors you engage in. But in reality, all I was doing was rationalizing these behaviors. Knowing that my drinking negatively affected my friends and family forced me to (deep down) know that my behavior was not right. But saying F everyone else, this is me, and I am proud to be me, is a lot easier than trying to change. I think for a long time I forced myself to believe that this drunk girl was who I was, it was all I would be, and it was what I was good at. So protect myself and my pride, I created a tough girl image that was proud to be who I was, and assumed that if people really loved me, they would love me no matter what.

Yet, I changed and I am still me.

My point is that accepting change is okay. Dropping your guard, and allowing yourself to test out a new side of you, is okay. You will not lose yourself, and as long as you are doing it for yourself than you can maintain pride and self assurance throughout the change. I think more than anything, it is a mature way of thinking. At some point you realize (not everyone, but some people) that maybe their way of thinking or behaving isn't exactly correct, and maybe change wouldn't hurt. And I found out that being the real me, is a lot easier and less stressful than being the me that I thought I was and wanted to be for everyone else. I am not saying that everyone should think of something to change about themselves, because a lot of people have got it right already...I am saying, do not be afraid of it.

Sometimes we head down the wrong path and it is okay to turn around and change directions. You are still you. And as long as you carry your pride with all of your decisions, and make your life changes based on your own needs and wants...maybe you can keep the hard ass "deal with me" attitude, but for better reasons.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You are your biggest critic

"You say your dropping 10 lbs preparing for summer, and you don't do it for the man, men never notice, you just do it for yourself, you're the fuckin coldest"- Drake

I love that line because it is so true. You are and always will be your biggest critic. Yes people will notice changes in you, but the small "imperfections" that you notice and critique will most likely never be noticed by anyone else. I realized that over the past 10 plus years I have looked in the mirror with doubt. I have looked in the mirror and thought of all the things I could and should change about myself, and ways that I could improve my appearance. I think that we are trained to use mirrors as ways of viewing imperfections instead of viewing beauty. If you think about it, why do you look in the mirror? To fix things, to fix make-up, to fix hair, to make sure something looks okay, to assess an outfit. Do you ever look in the mirror to admire yourself? I doubt it. To me, mirrors are so you can fix. Therefore each time I look in a mirror I think of something that needs to be fixed. I noticed myself doing this the other day, and thought- what a terrible mind set. What a depressing way to start my day. At the end of the day you are your biggest fan and your biggest critic...and when the world shuts you down, you need to have yourself on your side. So looking in a mirror and picking out imperfections with yourself is not the route to become the most supportive of you. So here is my challenge for you (and myself)...each time you look in the mirror, note three things that you think look good (one is not enough). This can be anything from a standard body feature (eyes, arms, etc) to a changing aspect of your appearance (the way you styled your hair, the way your legs look in the pants). It may seem silly but there is no possible way that this exercise could hurt you, it can only benefit why not try.

If you go out into the world doubting yourself and dwelling on the small things that could be changed, the rest of the world will doubt you too. I may be alone on this, but using the mirror as a tool for admiration is a foreign concept to me but one that I am very interested in learning.

You're beautiful...and don't let yourself tell you otherwise :)


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Constant Battle

Think about your favorite activity...think about a holiday activity...think about a social activity...think about a weekend activity...think about a relaxing activity...think about..well think about anything...does it involve drinking? I am not talking about getting hammered...but does it involve a drink? A beachy frozen drink, a warm winter drink, a fall pumpkin flavored drink, a chilled beer? I am going to guess that it does. Now, take the drink out of the equation...does that change the situation? Does it seem weird? This is what I am currently struggling with. Our society does not cater at all to non-drinkers. Actually the only non-drinkers that anyone ever considers are children. And it's not just college kids or post-graduates that I am talking about...its everyone...coworkers, family, restaurants, people who are married, people with kids, people who are happy, people who are sad...everyone. Therefore, this decision of mine will never get easier. Everyday is a constant struggle...everyday I have to remind myself why I made this decision and why I am sticking with it. Anytime I hear about a drink that I used to actually enjoy (frozen drinks, mimosas, pumpkin beers, etc), I remember how much I enjoyed the taste and I start to doubt what I am doing. I wonder, well it has been 9 months, that's good enough right? I am happy now, got a good thing going, right? Maybe I am all better? This lasts for maybe 15 seconds, and then I snap out of it. I think, what would I gain from doing this? Well..I'd be "normal" again...I'd enjoy the taste of whatever drink it is...mostly, I'd be normal. I remember that with these delicious drinks comes being drunk...something that I have never been good at and have struggled with and has negatively affected my life for years, and most importantly...something that I am happier without.
So then I get my head back on straight and I stay my course. But I am currently just frustrated with the lack of options for people that don't drink....water, soda, iced tea, coffee....that's it. And I am sure that me bitching about not having enough drink options at all social events seems absurd...but think about it, when you are trained to look forward to turning 21 so that you can order all of the fancy drinks, and when you walk into a bar or restaurant and there are pages and pages of alcoholic drinks...and then you are left out, it is no fun. Unfortunately, I have entered myself into a battle against society. This is no longer a battle within myself...I have accepted my decision and am happy with it...this is me versus the world. This is me versus basically everything in our society...and all societal norms...this is me versus the concept of being a grown up.

Fortunately, I think that this doubt and frustration is normal. If we didn't doubt decisions about our life and have to reevaluate and remind ourselves why we do what we do, then something would be wrong. Being forced to deal with these things will help me to continue to stick with my decision and will, in the end, help me to realize the benefits of my decision. I don't think you realize how prevalent something is until you stop doing it. I am actually surprised how much of an outsider I feel like now that I have quit drinking. I don't know a single other person like me. And in some ways I feel like I am a rare form of sober person because I don't mind drinking around me, I don't avoid drinking events, I still support other people drinking, and I think I am quite laid back about it all. I think before I thought it was myself that brought drinking into every activity I did (which is true), but I brought drinking into everything in mass quantities...the fact is, that drinking actually is involved in everything...not to a serious degree but on some level. I wonder why. Coming from being sober and no longer feeling out of control and no longer regretting my actions...why is a mind altering drug incorporated in everything? Why is everyone always trying to escape reality and why does everything have to seem more fun if you are drunk?

And so it continues...9.5 months later and I am still realizing things about myself and the world. That's a good thing though...I recommend you never stop questioning yourself and growing and learning...because knowing that tomorrow you will be stronger and smarter than you were today is a wonderful feeling.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who I Am, Not What I Was.

All The Above
Really what do you see
When you looking at me?
See me come up from nothing,
To me living my dreams
I done been to the bottom,
I done suffered a lot,
I deserve to be rich,
Headed straight to the top
Look how I ride for the block,
Look how I rep for the hood,
I get nothing but love now
When I come through the hood
Getting this fortune and fame
Money make all of us change
The new benz is all white,
Call it John McCain
How the hell could you stop me?
Why in the world would you try?
I go hard forever,
That's just how I'm designed,
That's just how I was built
See the look in my eyes?
You take all of this from me,
And I'm still gon' survive
You get truth from me,
But these rappers gon' lie
I'm a part of these streets
Till the day that I die
I wave hi to the haters,
Mad that I finally done made it
Take a look and you can tell
That I'm destined for greatness

Tell me what do you see
When you looking at me
On a mission to be
What I'm destined to be
I done been through the pain and the sorrow
The struggle is nothing but love (nothing but love)
I'm a soldier, a rider, a ghetto survivor
And all the above

Well that is just a great song that I heard this morning on my way to work and I felt like I resonated with it more so now than before. Granted I didn't grow up in the ghetto or experience the hardships that Maino did, BUT, I have had struggles, I have been to the bottom and suffered a lot, I believe I deserve to be rich and I know I am headed straight to the top :)

This blog is in response to the blog I wrote earlier about the domestic violence and my view on the phrasing and denial of the severity of what I experienced. I realized that I have conveyed the same emotions when discussing my drinking (or thinking about it). Meaning I tend to make things seem casual because I am worried about what other people think...if I give a neutral response than depending on my audience, my reaction can conform to their beliefs. For example, if I was with someone that thought I was a terrible drunk, then my action of quitting would make sense and they would agree I had a serious program...if I was with someone that didn't think my drinking was an issue, then my casual attitude would work with them and they would view my decision as a personal choice and not really stemming from deep seeded issues. Then I realized that there is always going to be someone who has had it worse than you...there will always someone that will make your experience seems less traumatizing, but that doesn't make them any less significant to you. Just because I wasn't beaten and bruised doesn't mean that I wasn't hurt in every sense of the word, and allowing another persons experiences to define your own is just stupid. There are always varying levels of hardship, but they are all hardships. I debated all of these definitions in my head, and decided on how to "term" myself and how to explain my decisions and what I experienced...I decided, who cares? Who cares about what I WAS? All that matters now is what I AM.

I am first a foremost a survivor. I survived college, graduate school, car accidents, robbery, emotional abuse, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, fights with friends, fights with family, and LIFE. Everyone is a survivor and that, in itself, is an accomplishment. I am happy with my life. I am successful in that I can sustain living on my own and have found a job that I find rewarding and challenging. I am healthy. I am funny. I am witty. And I will never let anyone tell me otherwise. An alcoholic or victim of domestic abuse I am not, maybe I was..maybe I wasn't...but I AM a survivor of both.

So I highly doubt that anyone else was debating on how to define ME, except my darling self. But if you ever care to define where I come from or why I do what I is because I went through some shit and I survived it...and because of the changes I made I was able to survive. It is kind of the greatest feeling in the world :)


Monday, September 13, 2010

9 month anniversary with myself

Happy Anniversary to me :) And I would say it's an anniversary of me and myself, because nine months ago today I reunited with the real Erica, and her and I have had quite the wonderful relationship ever since. So I said on my 8 month blog that I would use the anniversary as a time to reflect (as opposed to treating myself to something since I am not exactly rolling in the dough). So here we go...

It has been nine months since I decided to quit drinking. It has been hard, rewarding, difficult, cost me friends, caused tears and embarrassment, but all in all has made me a stronger person and I am still 110% committed to my decision. I still think that a lot of people think it is a phase and maybe I give that impression as to not be even more of an outcast then I already am...but to be honest, nothing is certain. For right now, for where I am in my life and what my goals are and how I feel about myself, my decision is perfect and it makes me very happy. And I honestly do not expect anyone to understand where this decision has come from or why I am so serious about it. Maybe my thought process is the same as with the abuse in that I don't think people will understand because my problems with alcohol were not ones of a severe alcoholic....but let me tell you, even if I wasn't waking up every morning with the desire to drink or hiding alcohol around the house, or being controlled my the substance all of the inability to handle myself and drink responsibly is severe enough. Maybe hitting absolute rock bottom isn't the only justification for rash change. Well, nevertheless, I am still very happy with my decision and am continuing to learn things about myself each day, continuing to grow more confident, and continuing to find new interests and activities that don't revolve around drinking.

And I think one of the most important things I've learned (and acted on) is surrounding myself with people that don't care and that appreciate me regardless. You will always be your own worst enemy and your biggest critic, so I will probably think worse about how people view my non-drinking than how people actually do view it, BUT having friends that further those ideas makes things 500 times worse. And to make it even better, the relationships I have formed are not just "drinking buddies", they are true friends that I can go to for anything and that will enjoy sitting with me watching TV as much as they enjoy going to happy hour. And that an amazing feeling.

Fortunately I think in the past nine months, I have disproved all of the bad outcomes I predicted from not drinking...I found activities, I found a guy that likes me for me, I found friends, I don't feel left out, and I am happy.

Cheers :)


Peer pressure working in more ways than one?

So I have yet another view on the non-drinking and "having one drink to be normal" concept. Here is my thought...why do you drink? Maybe you drink because you enjoy the taste, you appreciate the combination with foods, you enjoy relaxing after a long day, you enjoy the refreshing beverage on a warm day, its part of your sports watching ritual, its a social component that you enjoy...this are all wonderful reasons that make perfect sense to me and I agree with. Now...for arguments sake, why do I exercise? I appreciate the views while I am running/biking, its a good stress reliever, I use it to clear my head, it keeps me stronger and able to do more physical activities, I enjoy the competition, its rewarding, it improves my health and well being. Again, all good reasons. So, if you think its bizarre that I don't drink because you know all of those reasons above and those reasons alone should be enough for me to want to drink, plus its just abnormal...then why couldn't I counter your "one drink" comment with "run one mile". I see a variety of benefits in it, I know PLENTY of people that run races on a regular basis so I could argue that in this area it is normal, but I know enough people that dislike exercise and I completely understand all of their reasons for disliking it so I would never push someone to do it or make them feel guilty. Does that make any sense? I hope so...I am not sure if I explained myself well.

This whole idea came from me thinking about childhood obesity. Because if children are somehow taught that drinking is the norm, and cool, and social, and makes everything more could we use that train of thought to encourage healthy eating and exercise. I don't think we can because of the "breaking the rules" and rebelling component of drinking. BUT, in European cultures drinking is taught at a younger age and children learn to appreciate the taste (and many could argue, don't end up abusing it because of that) and view it as a social part of a meal, evening, whatever. So if there was a way to somehow teach children that exercise/healthy eating can be appreciated and viewed in a happy, enjoyable light as opposed to a task or something you don't want to do but you have to, then maybe these healthy behaviors could become learned as well.

But, I guess all of these ideas and actions have stemmed from years and years of cultural growth and demise and everything to change the train of thought would take years and years. Hmm...well, if nothing else, I can start with my kids haha

Friday, September 10, 2010

Slow down

(that's actually my ringtone...the Wyclef song :)) thing I really love about this job is the pace. In so many organizations they make it seem like EVERYTHING is urgent and I would argue that 99% of the time that is false (depending on the industry). For my field, the only time that something would really be urgent is if you were bidding for money and had a deadline, BUT most of the time you can get an extension anyways. I really appreciate that there are tasks, everyone has a to-do list, but none of the items need to be done in rapid fire or we will all die. It is actually kind of a hard adjustment to get used to, but I think I am adapting quite well.

I don't want to repeat everything that the comedian I heard said because then I am just being a copy cat. But, a comedian I saw earlier this week talked about how ridiculously negative Americans are. And it is so incredibly true. I have actually noticed myself doing it and I am going to try and work on that. It seems second nature to give a negative response when someone asks you a question, it almost seems like you are being cocky and arrogant if you say your life is going well. For instance, someone asks you how your day was or how the metro ride was to work. Naturally something probably wasn't perfect, but was it the worst thing ever? No. BUT we are trained to respond with something mildly negative..."eh it was okay, it was miserable as usual". I am going to try and start saying how lovely it was...wouldn't you be pleasantly surprised if you asked someone how their metro ride was during rush hour this morning and they said "great, I finished this wonderful book and listened to some of my favorite music". And if this new wave of positive responses carried over, then think of how much happier everyone would be! (and happier conversations for that matter). It seems like everything is hard (this coming from the girl that says "Life is hard" on a regular basis...but that's okay because I am cute, right?), and no matter how much you luck out on something, or how great your life is compared to someone elses, there is ALWAYS something to bitch about. Example, Question: How was work? Normal response: Ah it was really hard, boss was a dick, but whatever its almost Friday. Happy response: It was great, I got a lot done and I am just so happy to have a job given the economy.

Note the change. Embrace the change. Slow down and enjoy the little things: sunrise, sunset, blue skies, strangers walking around, good breakfast, warm hug, smile from a friend, good music...its quite easy. Life is never really that bad, promise. Be happy.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Time to get a little deep

For some reason I am compelled to discuss something I haven't yet discussed in my blog...the abuse from my past relationship. (so if you are looking for something light and cheery, you should probably stop reading now...sorry!) I think I have been thinking about it more because I offered to review and provide input to a Domestic Violence proposal that my company is writing to bid for a new contract. My issue with this is not the writing aspect, it's not the indulging of my life (because I offered this up on my own) is more so the internal battle I have with myself over whether or not I could consider myself a victim of domestic violence. Which could very well be a symptom of someone that was abused...but anyways. I think it begins with the worry that I don't want people to think I am crying out for pity or attention..and then if people do move past that, I don't want them to think I am making a big deal out of nothing because I don't in fact have any serious injuries. (Mind you, while I am typing this I am becoming more and more aware of how ridiculous it sounds...but that's okay...I will continue). All of this clearly stems from being self conscious of what other people think of me. And I would venture to guess that if you are willing to self identify yourself as being abused (even for a minute), that you probably were abused. Maybe it is the harshness of the word "abused". Maybe I don't want to admit to anyone (actually, more likely, myself because no one else thinks all these ridiculous thoughts) that I actually allowed myself to be abused...maybe I'd rather keep believing that it wasn't all that bad. Hmm...I think the embarrassment that comes along with this entire ordeal is another huge side effect. It is embarrassing to know that countless people told you to get out and you stayed...and why did I stay? Because I convinced myself that it wasn't that bad. I convinced myself that all the fighting was normal and tolerable and the emotional abuse would stop eventually and I could handle the physical abuse. That is ridiculous. I convinced myself that a lot of it was my fault and that I probably didn't deserve anything better. And the only reason I got out of it was 1. deep down I knew that that wasn't true, deep deep down I have always loved myself, and 2. I had friends and family that appreciated me (furthering the notion that none of the put downs were true).

I guess my point is that on any given day (when thinking about this part of my life) I am completely lost in competing thoughts...first being that I endured awful, life changing, pain staking, emotional and physical abuse that I hope no one else ever has to go through, second being that well maybe it wasn't all that bad because I never had a black eye or broken bone and I somehow I came out of the situation more confident then when I entered it, and third being I don't want people to think I am using this life experience for attention or pity (hmm, actually another symptom of the abuse). if you talk to me about this stuff (which I am more than willing to discuss) please remember that I may seem kind of casual about it but that's because I think part of me is still in denial, part of me is scared to embrace the shame, hurt, anger, hatred and embarrassment, and part of me doesn't want to make a big deal about something that is maybe nothing.

THANK YOU to every single person that helped me (even if I argued with you and didn't listen and you felt like you weren't being heard). On a more positive note, somehow I managed to come out of it a changed person for the better and remarkably self assured (sometimes haha), and hopefully my input on the proposal and future work on the project (if we get it) will help someone else.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I still heart you Eminem...

If you know me, you know I love Eminem...but sadly, I have come to notice that I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music :( This honestly breaks my poor little heart. I usually listen to music based on my mood, and with this new found happiness and a lack of anger towards the world, Eminem's songs bring me down and I don't want that to happen! The other day I actually tried really hard to listen to one of them (off his new CD) and I can sometimes relate to his lyrics about being sober and stuff but I just can't find that anger hood rat in myself anymore! I knew this day would come...damn growing up and finding happiness...damn you!

On a totally unrelated note...I read this article yesterday (thanks to the people that sent it to me!) "My Not Drinking Bothers Friends":, and it was awesome and perfect and everything I have ever thought. I really resonated with this section in particular "Anyway, as adults, shouldn't we make decisions based on our own preferences, strengths and weaknesses rather than allowing social norms to dictate our behavior?". I have noticed that people are cool with my decision but view it as sort of a phase and "hope" that one day I will have one drink, just to be normal. I actually heard someone say to me that it's good that I thought maybe one day I could drink again because people that cut it out completely are taking it too far. Now what in the world does that really mean? So if I accept one drink back into my life, one bottle of craptastic Miller Lite, I will be considered normal, but if I decide never to indulge in an "adult beverage" then I am being too rash? I guess it is once again just a rationalization for their behavior, but I just do not see how one drink divides normalcy from extreme weirdness. The article also talks about how the "alcoholic" issue should be reason enough to get people to back off. And it should. For example, if you pushed someone on the Atkins diet to eat a slice of bread, they wouldn't drop dead (not that you should do that, because whether or not you agree with it, they have decided to make a decision that they believe will improve their health and in no way affects you...but I digress...); however, if you push someone who quit drinking to drink they could potentially slip back into old habits and head down the unhealthy/unhappy path they'd be avoiding until you. Why would you do that?? BUT...while the "alcoholic/alcoholism" route should get people to back off, it's not the cop out approach I'd like to take because that is not why I quit and that is not why I have continued to stick with my decision. Why I stuck with my decision is easy (and reiterated at least 450 times in my blog entries haha), and I prefer to be confident in that decision then guilt you into believing that if you push me to drink, you will cause my life to go down in flames.

Now I am not 100% sure where I was going with all this rambling. But I believe my point was that there is no point in one drink (when that one drink could cost you your well-being). There is no normal. "Normal" is something that changes every year and "normal" is based on what you believe and who you surround yourself with. And besides, who wants to be normal? That's just plain boring. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cleansing, Renewal and Happiness.

I am happy. For the first time in a very long time (probably as long as I can remember) I am completely happy with where I am in life and do not feel that urge to search for something more or change something. For as long as I can remember I have longed for something (new place to live, new job, more friends, more money, better material items, a guy), and I can 100% say that I am happy and content. That's not to say that I have reached all of my goals and am ready to call it quits BUT I have accepted where I am in life, who I am in this world and am beyond happy with what I am doing and the decisions I have made. That, my friends, is an amazing feeling :) I think what is even more amazing is to feel this way literally every day. To feel like this day was better than yesterday, and to know that tomorrow has the potential to be even better than today!

On a different note, last week I attended a suicide and methamphetamine prevention conference for Native Americans (focused on youth) and I have to say it taught me a lot and reaffirmed the feelings I've felt and decisions I've made regarding sobriety. Regardless of the substance, the abuse of anything (drugs or alcohol) is life altering and to hear children speak about how they've seen their friends and families crumble because of it was incredibly sad. On the other hand, the awareness that those experiences had given the children was better than any education campaign could ever provide. There was one topic that really stuck with me: water. For Natives, water is used in many ceremonies and is a sign of cleansing and renewal. It is used to wash away the bad and allows for a fresh start. I have always been attached to the water and have always felt a sense of peace when I am around it, that's why running/biking along the water is my favorite thing to do. So when the Native speaker was talking about how she used water to wash away the depression she felt and the hardships of drugs and start anew, it really resonated with me. I feel as though maybe deep down that is why I love the water. It is peaceful and cleansing and through everything I have endured, maybe I feel like being around it gives me a chance to start other, to feel refreshed and pure. Water can seem embracing when you are in it, sort of comforting (in relation to being in utero), and also a release for all of your baggage to be washed away in. My advice, if you are struggling with something, guilt or baggage or hardship, go to water, place all of those feelings on a rock (or another object) and throw it in the water. Allow all of those negative feelings to wash away and allow yourself to be cleansed :)

And on another note (so many random thoughts today!), I love the anti-drug commercial where the kids are puppets and they ask if you aren't in control of yourself then who is? Some could say that another part of you is in control (maybe your subconscious), but personally for some of the stupid things I have done while wasted, I'd be embarrassed to say that any part of me was in control of those actions. So if you don't think that YOU would have done what you did drunk, then who is in control of you? And if you would never want anyone else to control your life, then why would you allow a substance to do it? Why is that okay?

And for my last and final note...sober dating (I said I'd keep ya updated!). It's wonderful. Ladies, shockingly enough real men still exist that take girls on dates and do wonderful things (and I have been lucky enough to find one..and if writing that in a blog just jinxed it then I will quit my amateur writing career). And I think the sobriety aspect is nice because it allows you to grow naturally and feel those feelings that may be masked by alcohol. Maybe we are supposed to feel anxious and nervous on a first date, and maybe the butterflies are good...instead of having a drink to calm the nerves, maybe having those feelings and fumbling through decisions on whether to touch or kiss as opposed to going on instinct cause you are drunk, is a way better idea. Feeling feelings is definitely worth it. Oh and not drinking makes you quite the cheaper date and leaves more room for ordering dessert and appetizers :). And like always, I am not preaching or judging, I am just telling you how life in this different world is working out and hopefully giving some confidence to those who like to take the edge off of dating.

Okay I guess I will get back to work.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pretty hair

I think not drinking has made my hair healthier. Just wanted to share that bit of information.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Control & Rationalizing

So yesterday on my drive home along the Potomac River, gazing at Georgetown (definitely the only thing that makes my hour commute totally worth it), I realized something. I was trying to figure out why I am so overwhelmed with happiness at this whole sobriety thing, why I feel free and in control of my life, and why I keep reiterating that I am now responsible for my actions. Then I realized that it was because for the past year (and probably longer), I have been controlled and manipulated by my drunkenness, but not by myself but by others. The prime example is an incident that happened where I was accused of doing something while blacked out drunk, something that had a huge impact on another person's life, and something that truly made me reevaluate everything about myself. HOWEVER, who is to say whether or not what that other person said is really true, I was blacked out so I have NO idea what happened. But regardless, the person used arguably did (or did not) use this situation to their advantage, skewing the situation to put them in a good light and make me out to be the drunk, out of control, worthless individual that I began to believe I was. It seems like forever that I have heard things like "well you do that when you are drunk and it's annoying", or other negative things about myself that (in my opinion, because I am blacked out) have no control over. BUT now I do. So now, if that person was lying about what happened or if anyone has ever lied about what I have done while blacked out to be used against me and made me to feel ashamed and like a bad person, they can't do it anymore! Now (good or bad) I can justify my actions and defend what I have done because I am completely aware of it. I am no longer a victim of manipulation or being taken advantage of. And that, my friends, is why this is so important to me.

Second realization has happened over the past couple of weeks. I have noticed that everyone has to rationalize their actions with the actions of others. Which is understandable. You want your decisions to be the best decisions, and if someones decision counters yours, you want to be able to rationalize that your decision is still the best. However, there is NO need to vocalize your rationalization. Some of it has been associated with drinking...for example, people rationalizing to me why they drink and why its not okay that I don't drink. And it is completely fine that you drink, but do not put me down to make yourself feel better. But also just with daily activities...for example, I was at a meeting and was talking with a girl who woke up at 4:30 in the morning to catch a train into DC to get to work by 7:30, and I was just saying that I had driven in from Arlington that day. And before even asking if I hit traffic (which I didn't, it took like 10 minutes), she started justifying why she took the train to avoid the mess of traffic that I clearly had to of endured to get into the district. Now honestly, it is fine and dandy if that is your choice of lifestyle and transportation but do not assume that in every situation your decision to wake up at the asscrack of dawn to take the train is always better than driving. Be self assured people! Be confident in your decision to do whatever it is that you do. And if you aren't...then maybe you need to reassess your decision. And be mindful!! It is unnecessary to put other people down because you need to make yourself feel better.

Now I am done with my realizations for the day :) Hope they made a little bit of sense.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Dating Without Liquid Courage

So I have had some dating/hooking up experiences sober, and I am happy to say all went well! I really think that this entire process has made me more confident and, I believe, down to earth. I know it may seem odd to be perplexed or nervous at the thought of dating sober, but think about it. When is the last time (post age of 21) that you have gone on a date and not ordered a drink? Hell, half of dates ARE going out for drinks. And personally, I would have a drink while getting ready FOR the date. And I think I sort of trained myself that that is the way it was supposed to be. That I had to have a drink or the date would be awful and awkward and I wouldn't say anything. Or that not drinking on a date was stupid and childish. (yes, all of these thoughts are ridiculous...but nonetheless..) I won't go into detail about the dates, in case one of these lovely men happen to read this blog and view my big mouth as a turn off :). But I will state a couple things. One...I feel like the waiter feels more confused then my date and I. I think ordering a drink at a nice restaurant is pretty much standard, unless you are preggers. So I think my paranoia with the opinion of the waiters is something I need to gain some confidence on. Second, the guys must be happy that I am saving them at least $10, and that's if I only got one drink. And third, it is so easy to blame things on alcohol (like I have said over and over), and if a date goes bad because you were too drunk, OR it goes really well, but you were drunk so who knows if he likes the real you...the luxury of not drinking is that you don't have those doubts. You are just you. And I think for me, and always having this idea that people liked me more drunk- and that idea being reinforced by past boyfriends- this experience has been huge. Also, I thought it was incredibly sweet when a guy ordered a soda. I honestly would not mind if the guy was drinking when I wasn't, but I think it is very thoughtful and mature to pass on the drink, at least one time :)

And as I said before, I was very concerned that the whole not drinking would be a turn off or weird guys out...but thus far, I have proved myself wrong and have found nice guys that could care less. So...yet another milestone in this wonderful, interesting, life changing journey. Another drinking myth/assumption debunked and ANOTHER positive found :)

I will however try to do something more interesting for my next blog, so you guys can have a funny story instead of me rambling about happiness and the meaning of life...haha.


Friday, August 13, 2010

8 Months!!

Today is my 8 month anniversary of being sober :) Also Friday the 13th but I will ignore that. I've decided I need to think of something to do on each anniversary. I would say treat myself to something but I am broke, and I don't want to necessarily reward myself for it...this isn't like a reward type of an accomplishment. More like I should do something that I couldn't do had I still been drinking...or reflect on how wonderful the past months of sobriety have been. I guess this morning I had a good workout, which I wouldn't have done had I been drinking with my friends last night. And now I will reflect :)

So the past 8 months, I have not had one regret of my decision, not a single one :) I have had just as much fun, if not more fun!, at every thing that I have done (involving others drinking or not). It has made me realize a TON about myself, a ton about my friends, a TON about society as a whole. I've experienced a concert sober, Las Vegas sober, beach trip sober, tons of bars sober, hooking up sober, Weddings sober, bachelorette parties sober, holidays sober, and the least goes on and on. ALL of these things are things that some people could never imagine doing sober nor would they ever want to. But in all honestly, everything was still just as fun! I know things would have been different had I been drinking but other than people getting a tad annoying by the end of the night, nothing was different. Over the past 8 months I have struggled to find new hobbies since everything I did before involved drinking and I felt kind of lost and like a loser. But I have realized that I have always had hobbies and those hobbies have actually stayed the same...some of them have a different appeal to them, but they are still the same. I have always enjoyed being active, I have always enjoyed my friends, and I have always enjoyed music...and I still partake in all of those activities..I just have the luxury of remembering everything the next day (sometimes, my memory still does suck!). I guess now I am to the point where I don't realize that I "don't drink", but I realize that others do. Like, it is no longer a concern to me that I don't drink when I go somewhere and I am not really thinking about how I am the outsider when I am at a bar or something...but, I have noticed that others are still distracted by it or concerned by it. So trust me, I don't feel weird, I don't dislike you for drinking...just do you because that's why I like you and am hanging out with you :)

In conclusion (yea 8th grade English class writing techniques!), I am very happy about who I have become and what I have learned over the past 8 months, and I am even more excited to figure out more things about life and about myself in the next 8 months. I have realized that while my friends are aware of my decision, the rest of the world isn't...and this decision is never going to go on the back burner of life. I will be confronted by my decision forever, at social events, at my wedding, meeting new people, when I have kids...and at all these moments I will have to reassess why I made the decision, decide how to explain my decision or defend myself, how to explain instead of preach...and I hope that at each of those moments, I reflect on this moment and remember how happy I am and remind myself that the life I lived prior to December 13, 2009 was stressful, unhealthy, unhappy, and dangerous...and the life I live now is none of those things (well maybe stressful because that is life and maybe dangerous because I am a bad driver..haha).

Cheers :) Life is too short to be anything but happy. Do what makes you happy and those that love you and like you for you, will continue to stick by your side.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blue's Clues

The title is kind of irrelevant to the subject of this blog but I just thought it sounded cute. (actually that title has inspired me to make a list of my recommendations/advice on life and I will title it "Blue's Clues"...oh how cute!) So I have two topics I'd like to discuss that I could break into two blogs, but I won't cause I am crazy like that. First of which being evolution and obesity, and second of which being alcohol and my health. Not exactly funny topics but hopefully mildly insightful!

So I am reading a book about evolution and I got to the section describing the "Survival of the Fittest" idea...that over time those that have the strongest cells and are most healthy, live on and reproduce, thus passing their healthy, strong genes along and continuing the creation of fit beings. Those that are unhealthy are weeded out and die, and are unable to fight for survival. Now...which one do you want to be?? If you think about it, at this point in time we are the fittest of the fittest...our ancestors have struggled through life, fighting off diseases and growing over time mentally and physically to create the society that we have now...made up the fittest of the fittest with the knowledge to survive. HOWEVER, we knowingly hurt our bodies. We knowingly take advantage of this body that has been given to us and abuse it by eating poorly, not exercising and smoking. If you really think about it, it makes no sense. People have struggled to survive...have searched for food, have longed for cures for diseases...and here we are sitting pretty, and eating our daily McDonalds and smoking our pack of Marlboro Lights knowing that what we do can and will end our life. Why has the mind shift changed? Why are people more focused to "survive" based on money and lifestyle and "things" as opposed to "surviving" based on actually surviving each day by being alive. Another example is drug addicts...they are given a body...and body that can survive, and they abuse it and become addicted to drugs, and become pregnant and give birth to a baby that is addict to drugs and eventually dies...portions of are society are no longer surviving as the fittest...they are dying off as the weakest. Please don't go down that route. Take care of your body because you only have one, and when you leave the world, wouldn't you rather leave behind a strong family that is healthy and will continue to live a long happy life when you are 100, rather than leaving behind a mansion or some nice cars at the ripe age of 50?

Now on to my second point...hopefully by now you are just enthralled with my intelligence and philosophies on life and cannot wait to here what other insightful things I have to say. Or you are taking a dump and need some light reading to pass the time...either way...thanks for joining me today.

Okay, so since quitting drinking I have noticed that my stomach has basically become sensitive to everything, literally everything. Now I do not think that all of these illnesses have been hiding for years and/or that alcohol has been the protecting factor for lactose I do think that (much like with personalities) alcohol has altered the reality of my body. I used to drink White Russians all the time, and I am guessing that they always hurt my stomach but I assumed I was just drunk or had a bad drink or was too drunk to care. And unfortunately I think that replacing alcohol with diet coke at the bars has made me super sensitive to the overload of fake sugar, and now that is hurting my a good lesson to live by is EVERYTHING IN MODERATION. But anyways...I just think that it is interesting that when I quit drinking all of these things about the real ME came to surface...physically, emotionally, mentally, and ever other -ally. Just food for thought :)

Hope some of this was mildly entertaining....or it helped you get through a boring work day or painful poop.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Squashing the Chatter

Hey friends,

Okay, so I have heard a ton of different things about me recently and some assumptions on why I am doing it or how I feel or, I am going to make some finalized statements and hope that people can just be happy for me instead of trying to find some negative aspect of everything.
1. I am NOT anorexic. I did not quit drinking to lose weight. I did not quit drinking so I could workout more. I eat. And if you have known me over the course of the past 5 years, you will realize that I eat more than I have before and am I less worried about what I eat, etc, etc. Please understand that I am small, my family is small, and by cutting out drinking (a HUGE consumption on weekends and some weekdays) I lost excess weight. As for the exercising, I am doing a bunch of races and I am training for them like every other person that does races trains for them (probably even less). And I love boxing. Again, if you have known me over the course of the past 5 years you will realize that I am not as OCD about exercise and I do not do two a days or hurt myself for it. I ENJOY EXERCISE. Maybe that is hard to believe for some people, but I find a sense of happiness from it (read previous blog!). I am healthy, people...
2. I do not care if other people drink. I am not judging anyone, and you don't need to watch what you say or do around me. If I leave somewhere early it's either because I am tired or people are kind of not making sense anymore...but I am not judging them! Like I have said over and over again, I am jealous of people that can handle themselves...but that's not me, and I am happy with my decision, and I am aware that it is MY decision and no one elses.
3. I am happy. This is not a phase, this is not me trying to get attention, this is not anything else you can think of. This is me changing something about myself that I have struggled with and dealt with the consequences of for years and years...and I am HAPPY. Honestly very happy with my decision. And I have no idea if I will ever drink again...for now, probably not.

So please, just trust me on all of those things. If you want, I will eat a lot of food in front of you or something. Although I am lactose intolerant so that limits a lot of stuff anyways...haha. But seriously, I am fine, I am healthy, I go to the doctor and if they tell me I am too small then I promise I will do something about it.

Just be happy for me...that's all I ask :)


PS- When I was anorexic my mom sat me down and had a talk with me and said she was worried about me and I looked emaciated, etc. My mom has seen me like 100 times since I quit drinking and has never said anything except that I am in good shape. So trust me, if anyone was going to recognize I had a problem, it would be my mother.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Exercise....for more than your love handles.

Good morning friends,

The following rant is inspired by the media. First, the Jenny Craig commercial with that shitty actress from MadTV. She talked about how she lost so much weight by just eating and occasionally walking. Then, the Too Fat for 15 show starting on the Style Channel. Both of these things irritate the crap out of me. I don't think calling people fat is a good idea at all, nor is telling teenagers that suffer from eating disorders already, that being fat is bad and wrong. And I despise Jenny Craig and stuff because minimizing calories with crappy processed frozen food is not how to get healthy.

So anyways...this is all leading to my point that exercise is fabulous and can be fabulous for everyone. You don't even have to consider it "exercise" if that term bothers you, consider it an activity. Do you realize how many different types of activities and exercises exist? Do you know why all of these activities exist? Because there is something for everyone. I promise you that if you go out and explore all the different types of active things to do you are bound to find something that you like. Maybe not running, maybe not organized sports, maybe not lifting weights....but maybe something like dancing or swimming, basketball, tennis, creative, just be active!

Okay my second point...and probably most important, is that I believe people need to look beyond the weight loss aspects of exercise. Once you find an activity that you enjoy (or even if you aren't too thrilled with it but you push yourself to your limits), you will reap the additional (and more important) benefits= happiness, relaxation, stress relief, sense of accomplishment, better sleep, better immune system. For me, exercise is the one part of my day where I am by myself (usually), its just me and the road, or my bike, or a boxing bag...and I am able to think clearly or clear my head completely. For me, it adds structure to my day, it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment before the rest of the world has woken up or when the rest of the world goes home to couch it after work. I believe that once you can see all of the other benefits of exercise, then you can learn to love it and make it apart of your daily routine and then you will naturally see your body change and become healthier. If you are constantly striving for weight loss, you will consistently be will be constantly weighing yourself and becoming discouraged. But if you can go to your favorite Zumba class at the gym, or go for a nice bike ride in the morning, and enjoy yourself then you will be ENCOURAGED and stick with it. Exercise can also be largely a social thing. You can go for walks in the morning with a friend, you can take classes together...and then you are helping yourself AND improving your relationships with others.

I could rant about this for hours and honestly exercising is different for everyone and everyone enjoys different things. My point is that you don't have to run races or do spin classes to is a unique interest to everyone, but it is super important for sooooo many reasons, reasons beyond losing weight. Now I challenge you to try out a variety of new activities or exercises next week and see if you can find one you enjoy, something you can stick with....and then I challenge you to focus on how you feel after you exercise. Notice the relaxation, notice the sense of pride, and watch how your mentality changes over time. THIS will keep you committed and THIS will maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run.

Best of luck :)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Exercise, Relax, Do

(my interpretation of Eat, Pray, Love....for any female who hasn't read that book, read it!)

So while reading Eat, Pray, Love, I realized I shared many of the same characteristics as the main character, mainly in my emotional connection/devotion when dating. When I date someone (whether they realize this or not) I tend to give my entire self to them, which may not necessarily be an awful thing but it is when you lose sight of yourself and your needs. And the issue isn't that I do it because I feel like I have to, the issue is I do it because I want to, because when I have a boyfriend, fulfilling their needs is more important than my own. Well...that is just no good...and it's incredibly exhausting. And prior to my boyfriends, I did this same thing with my rarely has my life been selfish and purely for my happiness.

Also, in the past couple months of being sober and in the past couple weeks of being single, I have realized the pleasure of living my life and fulfilling my needs. Soo...given those two realizations I have decided to begin a year of Me...a year of exercising, relaxing and doing.

Exercising for me is integral for my longer having anything to do with weight loss, it has to do with mental relaxation, feeling of accomplishment and overall well-being. So in August I have a triathlon, October a half marathon and a full marathon! So I plan to devote my time to training...properly and actually setting goals. (in another blog I discussed how I refuse to train or set goals because of a fear of failure). Then after the races are over, I'd like to focus on my kickboxing and actually work on fighting in the ring.

Relaxing is more of a reminder to me that I cannot please everyone and shouldn't please others while sacrificing myself. So I plan to relax when I want and not commit myself to everything when I do not necessarily feel up to doing it. I also have started to turn off my computer because I read that more women are checking facebook first thing in the morning and right before bed, and I refuse to continue to be that person. And lastly, I am trying not to carry my phone on me at all times so my attention can be focused on the people I am with or focused on myself when I want to be alone.

Doing has more to do with sobriety. As I have stated before, I want to do more things and find more hobbies unrelated to drinking activities. There are tons of things to do in DC so I'd like to venture out and explore (while keeping a healthy balance of exercising and relaxing).

Well no where in here does it say love, because I know myself. And I know that the second I seriously date someone, I will succumb to their world and put aside these goals that I have set for myself. And while that is not bad at all, and marriage takes compromises, and doing things for others is fulfilling, and all that...I think it would be very good for me to leave that element of life out for a while. Since college I have been dating and regularly bending over backwards for another person (training from DC to Bmore, driving from EC to Rockville, and being in a relationship since I moved to Arlington) I think this is a good decision.

Now, a key thing to making promises (much like committing to being sober)is not making it public because then if you fail you have more people to judge your failure. not criticize if I do not follow through with this for an entire year. BUT, I want to. And if I meet someone, then if hes a good person, he will wait.

That is all for now. Back to work :)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SSSF seeking SSSM??

Single, Sober, Sexy Female seeking...a single, sober, sexy male?!? I wonder how this will play out.

So being recently single and the first time single since I have quit drinking, I am a tad scared on how it will be perceived by guys...guys my guys. I have been asking around and so far the consensus from my guy friends has been that if a guy thinks it's a turn off or weird that I don't drink, then I probably wouldn't want him. Which seems correct, BUT are they just saying that to be nice? How should I approach this? Clearly I would avoid "going out for drinks" as a first date. But once the situation arises where drinking is a factor (basically everything in the world other than exercising...scratch that, hashing involves yes, everything in the world), what do I say? "Um I am just going to have a water, I am not drinking tonight".(then what do I do if there is a second date??).."Um I am just going to have a diet coke, I don't drink anymore". Then the questions arises, why? Because I can see saying something along the lines of, well I am getting older and thought it would be a good time to cut back...that makes sense, BUT that is cutting back, not cutting off. I feel as though, cutting off completely is obvious that I couldn't handle drinking and quit cold turkey. So do I say that up front, "Um I quit because getting drunk wasn't really working out for me anymore"...still, cutting back would work in that situation...sooo basically the response would be "Um I quit because I couldn't handle drinking anymore and felt it was best if I just didn't have alcohol period." And THAT, my friends, is a red flag for someone with a drinking I don't know if guys think this way, but do you want to start a relationship with someone that right off the bat has issues and could pass alcoholism on to your children??

I think I'd prefer if I dated someone that already knew my deal. Maybe if I friend explained what I was doing with my life so that I didn't have to. Or I guess I really need to own my decision. I think that their perception on my decision will be based a lot on my execution of the reasoning. So if I own my decision and say confidently that drinking wasn't working out and I didn't want to do it anymore but I am fine if other people drink casually (not heavily) and that it has worked out really well for me thus far, that could go over well and show some signs of independence, maturity, blah blah. BUT, if I awkwardly say that I quit because I was just not handling myself anymore and made some bad decisions and am weird about it...theeen that doesn't come off super great. And I am quit fearful that my dumb, awkward ass will do the latter.

Also...considering what alcohol has done to my family, myself and people I care about, I would honestly prefer a guy that HARDLY drank. Maybe a couple beers at tailgates, parties or whatever. But not someone that even drinks every time we go out to dinner. I feel like this is going to be a VERY hard thing to find.

So...for my trusty followers...get excited because my blog will hopefully take an exciting turn into the world of sober dating and I can fill you all in on the trials and tribulations. :) And I haven't even touched on how AWKWARD dating will probably be without that lovely alcoholic cushion!! But alas another day, another blog my friends.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Survived Vegas Sober!

That should deserve an award. I went to Vegas for a whole week last week and managed to stay sober. I feel that is quite the accomplishment considering the entire time you are gambling people are offering you cocktails. I will say I probably hurt my body with Diet Cokes but thats okay. I guess sobriety sort of changed my agenda in Vegas also...I didn't go to any clubs and hardly went to any bars just to party. And I actually didn't mind. I used to miss clubs because I thought I loved dancing...but who really loves being fondled by gross dudes and getting all sweaty? Well maybe I like getting sweaty...but in the comfort of my own home. It was also kind of nice to wake up at a decent hour and have an entire day to really enjoy'd be surprised how much there is to do there other than the clubs. Anyways...I felt that was an accomplishment and I am happy that I did it. I don't wish I would have drank nor do I regret going there.

(Also, I am sorry for anyone who read my last blog post. I was really upset about the loss of a lot of friends and I said some things I didn't mean. I take responsibility for what has happened and I miss and love everyone)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change is good...confusing and complicated...but good.

Haven't blogged in a while and I am bored as hell at work since I gave my two weeks notice, so I figured I'd write :) Things are going VERY well. I got a new job with an organization that I believe I will LOVE doing something that truly interests me. I will start that in two weeks. Next week I am heading to fabulous Vegas for a week long, much needed, vacation with the man. I will say that Vegas will probably be a pretty good test to staying sober but I am pretty confident in myself. All I ask myself is "will that make my experience better?"...and my answer is always no. I am also trying to do that with my daily life...and activities with others and I am finding out that it is kind of hard. I've realized that going from someone who was incredibly social and always planned stuff and always wanted to be out, to someone who is pretty content just relaxing has been not only a shock to my way of doing things but a shock to others. I've noticed that when I don't want to do something that others are doing, it is perceived in a way that makes it seem like I am bailing for all the wrong reasons (because I am shy, because I am depressed, because I am trying to please someone else), but really I am doing it because I honestly don't want to. For years I have done what other people wanted to...and yes I had a TON of fun doing it but in doing what everyone else enjoyed (making me pretty much enjoy everything), I lost who I was. And in an effort to find myself, I am saying no to things I genuinely will not find enjoyment in doing. Another thing I am realizing is that I have always pushed to do huge social events with tons of people and crowded bars and all...and I have realized (which may be a growing up thing) that I really just enjoy a few of my favorites and hanging out and having a lot of good laughs. It is easy to have a good time and doesn't require a lot of effort at just have to find the right people to do it with. And as we are growing older and having a thousand and one obligations it is getting harder and harder to get those groups of people together...but when you do, it is always a fabulous time. So I am quite content relaxing and enjoying me until those times come around. I think I am totally rambling whatever I am thinking at this point but hopefully it is making a little sense. I guess my point is that I am very happy right now...and it feels as though things are beginning to fall into place and my life is reaching the closest to normalcy that its been in a long time. I do think I need more sleep though. I think with the amount of exercise I do, I really need to make it a priority to sleep more. task...sleep.

I hope you are all fabulous as well and are having wonderful, hot summers.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Potential for the Positive vs. Negative

Luckily I have calmed down and brightened up since my last blog :) And today I came to some, not answers but lets say..., responses to my issues from last blog. I realized that my fear of failure is because I focus on the potential negative outcomes of my actions instead of the potential positive outcomes. And this stems from also being a "people pleaser" aka pushover and wanting others to view me in a positive light all the time. So for example...with drinking, when I would try and stop drinking I would think, "Well, what is the harm in one drink?", and the answer is "nothing", and "I'm worried if I don't drink then I will upset my friends and let them down". But instead I want to have an outlook of, "Well what is the positive impact of having one drink?", "nothing", and "If I do not drink then I will be happier with myself". I think this is a really good outlook for people who are trying to stop drinking and HAVE seen some positive results from it...because many times we are faced with situations where you just want to have one drink to relax, or fit in, or join in the fun, or because you feel socially pressured..and instead of thinking "what is the harm?", think "what is the good?". When I ask myself what good will come from drinking I immediately think "nothing" because the drunk me is out of control and does regretable things and that is not the life I want anymore. It is an interesting way to look at things (and chances are the rest of the world already does this haha, but my negative nancy ass is a step behind the rest) and I think it is putting my world in a brighter light.

So related to work...instead of saying "If I try to work on this project alone I might fail and be embarrassed and disappoint the bosses"....say "If I try to work on this project alone I may succeed and it may lead to a promotion". Get it? Fun little exercise, huh?

So now I am going to go off into the world with this, hopefully ever lasting, since of positivity and challenge myself to be more than I am. There will always be an excuse for everything but I believe that its when you overcome the excuses that you are really accomplished. Life is all about taking risks, and for 25 years I have avoided them...I have known deep down that I have the potential to conquer the risks, but the fear of public failure has always been to great. But I think that by quitting drinking, which is the one thing that everyone in our society does, I have already embraced public failure by fearing that I would potential be viewed as a loser or lame (which maybe I am to some), but overall that risk was a success in the end and that in and of itself should hopefully give me the strength I need to carry that confidence into the other weak and scared parts of my life.

Focus on the positive and don't be scared..because even if you fall and hit rock bottom, you can always get back up.