Today is November 3, 2016 and it’s been 100 days since I stopped drinking and I want to celebrate this. I’ve been taking a picture like this every ten days or so, literally capturing my “self” and then sharing it with the following caption: “X days. Zero drinks. Zero hangovers.” It’s a fun little way for me to acknowledge – to myself and to the those around me – my continued commitment to living – and loving – my life without alcohol, and the pride and joy that comes with this commitment, this choice.
A nice chunk of time and yet I fully embrace my rookie status when it comes to this different life. Because, guys, it is different. It is simpler. Sweeter. Hard at times, but hard in a way that is welcome. All the static and shame that came with drinking – even drinking a little – is gone. Poof. My anxiety has plummeted. I’ve been having so much fun with my sweet girls – on their soccer sidelines, at the kitchen island as they nibble on breakfast, at bedtime as we snuggle and talk and laugh about their days. I’ve been devouring “life design” (yep, self-help) books at an astonishing clip. I’m not sure what this is about, but I’ve chosen to see it as a good sign, as admittedly cliched evidence of my own belief that life is mine for the making – and editing.
But an interesting thing, a thing I’m grappling with: I’m quieter. I think I’m actually an Introvert who’s been masquerading as an Extrovert for decades. (Susan Cain’s groundbreaking book Quiet helped me realize this.) I love people, I’ve always loved people, but I need solitude too; I need time to stop and think and recharge. Alcohol makes us feel extroverted, but who are we when we take it away? This is what I’m finding out.
Another interesting thing: I’m feeling compelled to pause and truly think about what’s next for me writing-wise. I have several projects in the works, projects I’m super excited about, but I’m figuring out what I want to fully commit to next, where I want to put my energy. I have so much faith that being thoughtful like this is exactly what I should be doing even though it sometimes feels like I’m spinning my creative wheels.
Anyway: I am here. Writing. Writing because I own every tiny bit of this story of mine. Because I’m making decisions that are right for me and for the life I want. Because writing is part, an important, beautiful part, of the process for me. What process?
Living my life.
Living my best, most meaningful life.
I stayed up so late last night watching the World Series. The night was deeply meaningful for me because Dad, Chicago-born, was an enormous Cubs fan and as a little girl, as a resolute tomboy, I inherited his love for the Cubbies. I collected baseball cards. I wore jerseys. So many nights, I lay in bed in his childhood home in Libertyville, Illinois, listening to Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and Andre Dawson play. In middle school, in wood-working class, I made a Cubs logo lamp. On the night, Husband proposed to me – October 11, 2003, we ran over to my childhood home and Mom was traveling, but Dad was there, glued to the TV because the Cubs were in the playoffs. Dad dug up a good bottle of champagne and handed it over to us lovebirds, and pretty much ignored us to watch his Cubbies.
My passion for the Cubs has faded over the years, one of those things that has been lost in the aftermath of childhood, in the shuffle of growing up, but last night I was back in it, amped up and thinking lots about Dad, about just how over the moon he would be. I stayed up late watching the game, feeling that familiar electricity of hope, and when it went into extra innings, I turned off the television, to get some sleep. When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was check my phone. When I saw that the Cubbies won, their first World Series in 108 years, my eyes welled up with tears. Oh the sweet sweet joy of witnessing a long-held dream come true, of thinking of the smile that would have taken over my father’s face. My tears were welcome; they were happy tears, tears of absolute joy.
The Cubs, Dad!! The Cubs!!!
And I’m not going to lie: this election is affecting me. I think it’s affecting many of us. It is sometimes hard for me to believe that this is all really happening, all this surreal negativity and spectacle. Normally, I’m a bit (okay, a lot) head-in-sand about politics and current events, but not with this election. I find myself reading everything, following the tiniest minutiae so closely, too closely. I’m not sure any of this is helpful or healthy, but I understand why I’m doing it. I care. I care so much. I have three little girls. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that someone who displays such little regard for women and who has such little respect for so many people and who has such little to say about anything of import is so close to the Presidency. At the core of my worry is confidence that Hillary will win, but this uncertainty is pretty yucky. I know I’m not alone in feeling this.
In the past, I would never have written about politics so publicly, but this matters too much to stay quiet and safe. On Tuesday, I will take my three daughters to vote. They will stand with me and watch their mom vote for the first woman who will become President of this fine country. We will all remember this day. And, yes, this is positive thinking, but I believe in positive thinking.
These words are all over the place, but so is life. We are all doing our best to hold it together in this unnatural time for our country. We are all clinging to hope in the face of ugliness and fear. We are all making choices in our lives to make those lives better. We are all in it together, evolving.
Signing off on this fine fall day with a clear, happy heart, a big Cubbies smile, and fingers tightly crossed that by this time next week, Hillary will be our President and this nonsense nightmare will be behind us. A girl can only hope.
Hope all is well with you guys!! Get out there and vote!!