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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sly like a fox.

Remember how a few weeks ago I said I would quit drinking? 
No? 
Well, I did and I lied.
Or maybe, I can rephrase it as...I changed my mind.
Is that just sly word play? 
Maybe but the reason for this flip-flop isn't because I can't live without alcohol but because it's not the drinking that's the problem...it's my 'all or nothing' attitude. 
I am either going to be Straight Edge or I am going to be a Lush.
I've worn the badges before:
I'm going to be Vegan for 23 years and then I'm going to eat so much flesh that I get sick.
I'm going to have sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then give it up entirely.
I'm going to be a HOT MESS for years and then remake myself as a Yogini Goddess.
Ughhh... eye roll, please.

But, this behavior was learned or should I say happily embraced from my parents.
Especially, my father.
He needed to be the best at everything but also fluctuated between his extremes of consumption.
He was an expert at Yo-Yo dieting.
One month it would be nothing but bee pollen and wheat germ on tuna salad and then it would switch to nightly grilled peanut butter sandwiches and ice cream drenched in honey.
It was all or nothing...back and forth which is a terrible cycle, for me, anyway.
In spite of this well practiced habit of pacing the edges of sweetness and disaster, I have actually come a long way from gleefully wearing the perfectionist crown but now and then... 
The Sparkly Queen of Perfectionism stops by and starts knocking at the front door with all her distractions of jewels and prizes right when I'm in the middle of something or I'm tired and not properly dressed.
It's annoying.
So what do I do?
Do I say "not now, I'm busy" or "I'm sorry, but I wasn't expecting guests today".
Nope.
I panic and fall into an 'oh my gawd, where's my perfect outfit, how can I appear like I have it all together, am I bowing correctly?' inner dialogue and I begin panting at the mouth to get that pretty crown back where it belongs...on my too small head where it can then slip down my face and become an akward collar that makes it difficult for me to turn my neck and shift perspective.
It's a obnoxious little scenario.

So, what has got me all up in a tizzy this time?
Why did I decide I needed to quit drinking?
For one, I was finding myself thinking about having a beer as soon as I walked in the door instead of wanting to hug my son and boyfriend.
That's a problem.
I was feeling as if I couldn't possibly be good company without it and I've been abusing alcohol that way since I left my Ex-husband almost 4 years ago.
I made no apologies for becoming a manic drunk right after I left him...in fact I made it my mission to overindulge in everything.
Beer. Whiskey. Men. Candy. Clothes. 
If I wanted it...I was going to have it.
I could have handled myself with more grace but I didn't and that's ok because I learned a lot about myself from those experiences:
sex doesn't equal love, sleeping with all your friends is fun but it always creates drama, eating sugar all the time makes me moody but drinking? 
Well...I just gained an unhealthy routine and when your son begins lecturing you about drinking too much beer you can't NOT stop and pause and go 'oh, shit...there's many things I hope my son will carry as memories but watching me open a beer before sitting down to ask about his day shouldn't be one of them'.
So, I berated myself as a failure and decided I would remake myself as Super Mom...super yogini, super woman and a model of Sattivic purity and I hit the reinvent myself button and the lies began....
Lie #1. I am a "happy go lucky, anything goes" type.
Lie #2. I'm a bad person for drinking, especially since my job is to teach people moderation and self-acceptance.
Lie #3. The new me will love every sober minute of my life.
Awwww...Fucking Hell, already.
What a bunch of crappola.
Seriously.
I'm a girl who needs stability, moderation and self acceptance not a bunch of 'throw the old me away and be a shiny new version of the girl I used to know' so I decided to put the brakes on all of it.

My practice is moderation and awareness not attachments to perfection and adversity to being human.
I'm human. My hair is greying. My face is showing the signs of loving sunshine, beer and smoking cigarettes when I was younger but I have grown up. That's all. So? I'm not going to quit drinking, I'm going to eat meat now and then when it's offered to me and sometimes I'm going to buy crap I don't need but it's fine.
It really is.

I have spent the past few weeks looking at why I want what I want.
What benefit will I gain and the reality is it's freakin hard to live with awareness and I'm not going to do it well ALL THE TIME but I do enjoy challenge and I know it's good for me.
That's how I grow...when I have that inner impulse that says 'just chug the damn beer' or 'buy the Long Johns with pictures of foxes on them and do it right now'...it's a challenge to pause before just going for it but it's also a habit that's actually easy to embrace.
It really is simple.
Stop. 
Breathe.
Easy.
I just forgot for awhile.
So, I'm back to practing what I preach and doing it before the temptations raise their jazz hands with a 'look at me' exuberance.
So far so good.
The loved ones are loved first when I come home and if I want a beer at the end of the day...I might have it.
It's ok.
I am ok.
And the Long John's with the foxes on them...well, they are nice and cozy in my closet.



Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm the Dragon Lady.

Why do we think it's so bad to be angry?

A few weeks ago, I shared my anger regarding a young man who was standing on the corner with a sign that said "You deserve Rape" on one side and "Whore" on the other. I was angered that as I was just trying to make a left turn to go grocery shopping I was suddenly confronted with a huge sign that said I deserved to be raped. 
I was also angry that a woman who was also just trying to walk to class was suddenly visually assaulted with a peer holding a sign sending her the same message. I was angry that parents would have to explain the "what is rape, Mommy" to their kids so I FBed about it.
I didn't expect it to make this guy's sign disappear by posting about it but instead of quietly putting my anger to the side and saying he doesn't deserve my time...I decided that indeed he did. I received a lot of feedback and it was all helpful for me to process my unexpected emotions but my anger wasn't consuming me or causing me torment. It was anger. I stated it and I had no ill will against him however not everyone interpreted it that way.

I have practiced Lovingkindness and Forgiveness for several years now but it really has only been a recent thing that I can honestly say that my heart is a forgiving heart. And when I say recent...I mean like last month.
I forgave all of my sexual predators years ago. I've forgiven myself for many of my mistakes.
However, the person that I allowed to hold my heart captive has been my mother and even though I have been trying to forgive her since I was a child...it wasn't until I fully embraced my anger regarding the experiences that I was able to get through it. 
I had to sit with the rage, the disappointment and sadness first and then to heal...I had to confront it and her  directly and I did. Not with violent words or an amped up heart rate but with honesty and love. A shitload of love and deep breaths.
It was extremely terrifying for me because as a child my defensive mechanism was to make excuses for her and blame myself but it wasn't until I looked at her with compassion and simultaneously hated her actions that I was able to grieve and move on. 
So...I have no fear of anger but it seems to be the big bad wolf of the yoga and "enlightened" crowd in general.
My perception is that if I am not quoting peace, love and rainbows then there must be something broken in my heart but to me I see it as a freedom from resistance because it's going to be there.

I recently met with an incredibly sweet and kind woman who met me for a consult at work to discuss ways she could be more present in her life. I asked her in what way did she want to practice and she talked about the usual desire to notice the beauty around her, to eat with more awareness and do things more slowly which was all good but then she said she didn't want to get angry at her husband when he won't help her around the house. She didn't want to be angry that he said its her job to cook and clean even though they are both retired. She didn't want him to think she was a mean person.
Well...needless to say I told her there was NOTHING wrong about feeling disappointment, unappreciated and angry about being disrespected.
She looked at me as if my face had suddenly morphed into the head of Yosemite Sam.
How could her meditation teacher be telling her she can be angry and it's ok?
That's not what she wanted.
She didn't want to experience anger.
It's unpleasant. Or is it?
After her mouth closed and she took a breath I explained that what she was really looking for was tools to navigate that anger in a way that isn't so reactive and emotionally charged and by all means...I get it. 
I work on it EVERY DAMN DAY.
Once she understood that anger isn't a bad thing she actually seemed relieved.
Now, Is it going to fix her issues with her mysogenistic husband? I have no idea.
Anger and sadness are inevitable but we all seem to want to push it away OR wallow in it. 
I guess we do the same with joy and love. We either run from our feelings or cling to them just as we do people, things, sensations and thoughts.
We want things to be concrete and clear but in order to have clarity about anything you have to pause and have the patience to consider both sides of the coin first. We want joy but we must also experience sorrow, isn't that correct? If we are angry or sad it just means we care passionately about something or atleast this is a lesson I have taken from a dear friend and unintended mentor.
(Speaking about you, MG).
I don't think expressing anger in a nonviolent way is anything to be afraid of. I don't think it lessens my desire for a world filled with understanding and compassion and I don't think it negates my daily practice of Lovingkindness.
In fact, when I share my anger and outrage about something repulsive, I find that it inspires me to be better person.
My heart doesn't harden when I FB status that someone is being a jerk. Their behavior was awful.
I also understand that 'the jerk' will always suffer more because they must live with themselves and with hearts that are lacking a relief from their own suffering.
As a friend responded on the day that I expressed so much sadness and anger on that funny public forum "hurt people, hurt people". 
It's not an excuse but just some insight so that my heart doesn't lash out in a violent way to perpetuate the cycle.

Of course, the real work begins with taking that anger and using its inspiration to create change and inspire others not to wish violence on someone else. 
We "deserve love". 
That boy on the street standing with his sign deserves love. He doesn't have it right now.
I don't think I am the one that will change his heart but I can teach my son that when he's angry nobody needs to pay for it. 
He can be angry but find a way to learn from it, to be with disappointment and rejection so he doesn't grow up thinking that others deserve pain but not to hide from his anger because it's going to be there and it's not a bad thing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I will drink to that!

This is the year I quit drinking.
Seriously...it may be the only thing George W. Bush and I have in common and I hope to actually beat the "quit drinking when I turned 40" mark by a few months. 
I told my son that for his birthday (which is actually next week despite his party being last Saturday) I would quit drinking.
He didn't ask directly but he has been monitoring my beer consumption and has brought it up multiple times during our morning commutes to school "you know beer isn't healthy, soda isn't healthy, candy isn't healthy! If I can't have it then why should you? ".
Good question, young man.
So why now?
I didn't wake up hung over this morning. 
I didn't drink too much yesterday but almost everyday since December 16th, 2008 I have had a daily drink or two or four.
Why do I remember this date?
Because...
It was the first beer I had after my son was born and before that I had gone almost 2 years without any alcohol except for a shot of whiskey on New Years Eve 2006 in Bisbee, Arizona.
Am I an alcoholic? 
I don't know.
Maybe?
Do I meditate every morning, practice yoga, exercise and eat an almost 100% plant based diet? 
Yep. 
I do all those wonderful things but...
I used to be a strict Vegan who chain smoked Marlboro Reds so my history with balancing the good with the bad is something I've been mastering since I first started stealing wine and watering it down from my father in High school.
I was saving him calories and if you knew my Dad you would know he was a calorie counting wheat germ eating health nut...a few months of every year, anyway.
So...me drinking his wine meant I was actually helping him, right?
Of course.

Here is the question: 
How am I gonna do it? and why? 
I love beer. 
I've got a pretty good appreciation for it.
I worked in breweries for years and I can tell you that a fresh pour from a nitrous tap is heaven.
Ambers are my current favorites but the Vanilla Porter at Borderlands is pretty amazing (thank you, Zack for letting me get a taste of it) and so far Tucson's Dragoon Brewery has not disappointed me, yet. 
So...it's not easy. 
I'm not some "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" type that gets crappy at dinner parties or an "Old E" swigging slop fest but I drink every night and depending on the time of the month I can be a pretty mean spirited drunk.
No doubts about it.

For almost 6 years I have been thinking "maybe, I don't need to quit, entirely. If I give myself rules, I can cut down considerably. I will only drink when out and about or I will only have 1 beer after work and I will have to also drink 3 glasses of water with each beer". 
I used to do this kind of bargaining with cigarettes and with sugar and with flavored non-dairy creamer (that addiction may be most embarrassing one) but the reality is I have to do it Cold Turkey which sucks.
Cold Turkey? Just stop? It's shittty. 
I get shitty the evening of and then what happens? The next morning, I wake up and feel great except then I get nervous because most of my social interaction outside of work involves drinking and despite knowing that I am freakishly charming when sober, I still get anxious when I am out and about with my peers or family so I drink.
It feels like a stress busting sigh...that edge is softened and my internal story that says "everyone thinks I am an idiot" quiets a bit and I forget about it for awhile until the buzz wears off and it starts again so then I grab another and another.

Of course, it's not just social situations...it's my end of the day reward for driving an hour home and walking into a home that is never as clean as I want and immediately hearing 2 barking dogs that even after a year have yet to get used to eachother.
Instead of getting mad...I walk to the fridge and grab a beer.
I start to chug it before I look around and begin to feel annoyed. Unfortunately, after an hour or two I am suddenly too tired to deal with the evening needs of motherhood and partnership so I become short and impatient.
This cycle sucks and it's sucking me dry so it has to stop.

Every morning when I wake up, I meditate. 
I love it and I can't imagine waking up and imbibing to escape reality.
Even when I know my day is super packed I would never consider drinking first thing. 
My mornings are the most pure and beautiful part of my day because I am 100% awake so why do I have to drink and escape every night?
Everyday... I try to help others and I try everyday to be a better Mom and be a better partner but the reality is I want to have some silence and to have more than 3 hours to myself any given week but because I'm asking for more than most ever get...I feel guilty hence reason #7 million on why I need another drink.
Oh me and my messy ego.
So?
Today...I am going to go to a family BBQ and I will have a beer and probably a few more.
I love my brother but I don't fit in with his social circle so I will drink and hope I don't start any liberal leaning arguments.

Fuck.

When will I stop?
Here it is...here is the date:
November 16th.
There it is.
Why that date?
I dunno.
Will it be forever?
I don't know that either but it can't continue the way it has been...I deserve better as does my son and my boyfriend and my friends and my family.
I am missing out and I don't have anymore time to lose...
So here's to 40 and may it be sober.