One of the coolest things I’ve noticed since becoming a non-drinker

Hi! It’s August! WTF?

Where I live we haven’t had much of a summer so far. We don’t usually get a ton of warm and fabulous weather up here on the north coast of BC, but it looks like a streak of sunny days may have finally arrived! Ahhh get outside, ASAP!!

Driving to work today I was thinking about how I just had four days off and now it’s my turn to work the coming weekend, which happens to be August long weekend. Sigh. But, after the initial thought about this not being ideal, I started to observe the ways my feelings toward a situation like this one have shifted since I kicked booze out of my life. Let me explain.

A year and a half ago (or any time prior) if I discovered it were my turn to work over a long weekend I would become plagued with anxiety, victim-like thinking and FOMO. If you aren’t familiar, FOMO is the fear of missing out. In the past, in my opinion a party weekend was hands-down the best thing ever. Like, ever. Since getting drunk and wild was my favourite thing to do, as well as part of my identity, the thought of missing out was actually torture.

POOR ME!!! EVERYONE is going to have so much fun partying without me!! I’m going to miss out on all the craziness and the laughs and the drunk idiotic entertainment! This is unthinkable. What am I going to do? My friends are probably going to forget I exist!!! OMG. It’s so unfair that I have to work! I bet it’s going to be the MOST fun ever had on any weekend, EVER. Legendary memories will be made and I’ll be left out. If I can’t be with everyone, the long weekend should be cancelled!!!

I would feel some resentment towards my then-boyfriend and my friends for “leaving me behind” (lol) and then proceed to mope around, feel sorry for myself, whine about it and worry. Oh, but not without desperately trying to find others in the same “unbearable situation” as myself who might be staying around town and want to get together and “have so much fun” getting drunk while “everyone else” was at the lake, camping, festival-ing, etc. I confess that I’d even feel a little better when another person would tell me that they also had to work over the weekend. Misery loves company. What a dick I was!

Just too be clear, I’d prefer to be off this coming weekend. Duh haha. BUT, here are where things have changed:

First, for the record, if indeed completely free this weekend, I’d likely head to the lake and spend three days the way I prefer to lately, as a non-drinker. This is just a little different (but better) than the past. There is all the usual stuff but with a sober twist. Boating, possibly quadding, fires, maybe some bocce (all more safe and more memorable), going to bed at a reasonable hour in our trailer, which is SO comfortable and peaceful (when one can remember doing so)..then, my Saturday long run wouldn’t suck, because of the absence of cotton-mouth and a raging headache. I’d get back at the time most others wake up, so no missing out on breakfast! Coffee tastes amazing because it doesn’t feel like I beer-bonged hydrochloric acid the night before. The rest of the day in the sun is perfect, because I am not disgustingly dehydrated and don’t have a stomachache or migraine while ripping around in the boat or laying in the heat on the dock. Not forgetting to eat lunch is also great. Sober weekends, holy shit. Unreal. Glad I discovered them when I did, and not later!

So, wait. If I still love a good weekend as much or more than I did when I was a piss-tank, why am I not sad about missing out? First: with some sober experience under my belt, I no longer consider the only way to have fun as drinking a shit-ton of beer and fireball. Second: after I personally realized that there is a plethora of ways to connect with others, nature and myself DAILY that don’t revolve around drinking, I simply stopped caring about missing out on a long weekend or party here and there. Who cares? Try asking yourself that, it’s crazy. “Who cares?” I can extract the same satisfaction and other good feelings from almost any day of this life, it turns out! Who knew?

Day-to-day life without alcohol is filled with so much more energy, motivation and awareness that I don’t really give a shit if it’s a three-day-weekend or a weekday of work. Every day seems to offer me the same opportunity to feel good and capitalize on my free time, however much or little there happens to be. Life isn’t filled with such extreme highs and lows anymore. I don’t plod along waiting for the next super fun party, event or vacation. Having, for example, approximately four hours before and after work to make the most of, is fantastic and I look forward to those windows of time now just as much as I look forward to a full day off. Maybe it’s because I’m more present? Have more clarity? Anyways. A run before work in the sun (or the rain!) when the roads are empty because everyone else is out of town or still sleeping is just as serene as a run on any other day in any given place. And coffee at my kitchen table without a hangover is equally as peaceful as coffee on the porch at the cabin or by the campfire. In my right mind, I know that being away from my crew for one fun weekend isn’t going to result in anyone forgetting about my friendship or our future plans. It also doesn’t mean I won’t have my own amazing weekend!

I’ve come to find, and apparently other sober people I know have similarily discovered, that FOMO becomes minimal if not non-existent when a person takes away the blur of booze and begins to connect in more ways with the wide-spread opportunities of daily life around them. I love fun shit and I love fun people. I guess I just gave myself the chance to learn that my spectrum of fun is far more broad than I ever thought it might be. My appreciation for an hour of free-time now compares with a glorious, responsibility-free long weekend. Quitting drinking happens to be what changed my perspective.

So yeah. Removed booze from life – discovered that pretty much all days are great and have equal potential for good times –  noticed that FOMO isn’t real. Cool!

Of course I’d love to be off this weekend. Hell, I’d retire if I could! Gahaha. Do I predict a lame weekend? Absolutely not! I predict the exact opposite! Will I suffer from the depressing effects of the fear of missing out? Hell no. FOMO isn’t real unless you believe in it. Bring on sunny mornings, way too much coffee, relaxing evenings, sunsets and maybe a random unexpected adventure. Life is fuckin gooooooood.

@jammiekomadina

 

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I don’t allow Alcohol to steal these 4 things from me anymore!

Coming up on FIVE HUNDRED days of booze-free living, I’ve been thinking about the big picture. This is how it is now; this is my life. I no longer worry about what I’ll tell people who ask “why aren’t you drinking??” because I own it now. I’m comfortable and proud of my non-drinker status. I don’t wonder if a social event or adventure might be “lame” the way I used to, because I’ve learned that life is awesome because of what we do, who we are with and where, not because of alcohol! But, even though sober living is pretty much second nature now and no longer something I need to dedicate all my focus and discipline towards, I still reflect regularly on the things that are SO much better after kicking alcohol out of my life. The improvements are so apparent and I notice all the time.

It’s likely I’ll say something along these lines every time I write about sober stuff: I’m not a hater. I don’t judge other people for drinking alcohol, and I FULLY understand that for many people, a negative relationship with booze isn’t a thing. It is, however, definitely a thing for me (and many others) and posts like this one are simply observations of my personal experiences that I think someone out there may relate to.

Even though it’s getting close to a year and a half of sobriety, I need to tell you that not a day goes by where I don’t, at some point, appreciate the positive differences I experience from it. This shit does not get old haha. Booze can be a thief! Here are the four big things I no longer allow alcohol to steal from me.

 

Order!

Order. Structure. Plans. Time management. Harmony. Call it what you wanna call it (I know you’re singing Xzibit right now, LOL) but alcohol has a way of really screwing up the manageability of life. If I was drunk, I didn’t care about my to-do list. If I was hungover, I also didn’t care about my to-do list. Or, I did care but was too tired or sick (or both) to get anything done, and then felt guilty and overwhelmed from procrastinating. Once in a while, I’d do the thing where one powers through the hangover and tries to get on with life as usual, but my brain sounded like a bee hive and I felt like a space cadet. Even a couple of beers or glasses of wine, for me, could lead to things like not having a lunch for work, overspending if I was out, letting laundry get out of control and having no clean work clothes, just to name a few things. Maybe sleeping in a bit because I went to bed later than usual, therefore sacrificing a planned morning workout and then trying to squeeze it into the schedule later or another day, which never, ever happened. It all sounds petty but then it adds up and it’s like life-anarchy!

How likely is it that you’d complete any of these not-super-exciting, time consuming tasks when you’re buzzed, drunk, or anywhere from mildly tired and dehydrated to fully hungover? Be honest. Make a doctor’s appointment, bank, shave your legs or face, get groceries, wash the vehicle, meal-prep, return a purchase, vacuum, do the recycling, mow the lawn, clean the house, change the cat litter, scoop dog shit in the yard, mail a birthday card, do laundry, check emails, finish an assignment, deal with the weekend’s camping gear, walk your pet, study, drop off old clothes to the Sally, blah blah blah! Sorry, that was a long list! But yeah, not very likely!

I am very supportive of a YOLO mindset, don’t get me wrong, but no longer when it creates mayhem in daily life, or when it sacrifices relationships or health. Removing booze from my life has created so much order! Of course there are rushed mornings or evenings I eat dinner at 9pm, but generally everything feels managable because shit is always getting done and I’m pretty organized. Procrastination is at an all-time low! Now, I have soooooo much more time for what I want because I’m never drunk, half-drunk, thinking about getting drunk, passed out, tired and dehydrated with a foggy head, or spinning with nausea and anxiety wishing I hadn’t got drunk. In my experience, sober = efficient!!

 

Ambition!

Ambition. Noun. Strong desire for success, big or small.

Alcohol can steal ambition and it most definitely inhibited mine. It can totally destroy the will to achieve. I know that sounds kind of intense, but seriously. Booze blurs the lines of reality and that’s why it’s so easy to adopt the “f*ck it” attitude when drinking regularly. Ambition is necessary to do anything that takes effort over a period of time. It is also necessary to COMPLETE projects. To care about our health. To care about the success of our community and to be involved. To simply give a shit about more than just our obvious priorities. It can also diminish the initiative to create new habits, like waking up earlier or getting into a new activity. Even to make plans and stick to them. Lastly, it can make things like setting huge, life changing goals like starting a business or running a marathon seem “too hard” and not worth the required effort.

Drinking too often makes everything fuzzy and it’s kind of like this weird comfort zone where everything just feels okay or fine. Making changes or taking initiative can simply feel like too much effort. I’ve come to find that I don’t want okay. I want awesome! Not to just float through life, but to live it with intention. And not just regarding big, cool types of successes, I mean in daily life! Being stoked and motivated feels so much better to me than just feeling MEH and coasting along.

 

Time

Time! This ties directly into the first part regarding order. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I have to do whatever I want with now that I don’t waste it all NOT DOING ANYTHING.

Please, do not get me wrong, I am not telling you that I quit drinking and became this dull robot who only does errands, chores, exercise, eats and sleeps. I love my times with my friends where we hang on the couch and laugh and do nothing but eat junk and be weird, or go out for epic meal time and then lay around being too full to do anything but go on Instagram. When I say I wasted time in my past “doing nothing” I am talking about things like wasted Sundays in bed dying and not seeing the light of day, or a not-even-special wing night gone wild, resulting in skipping all the things I was supposed to get done between dinner and bedtime AND my next morning’s run. Having a great time at softball, but leaving half-cut and not being able to do anything productive afterwards, including drive my own vehicle which is necessary for a lot of shit! That kind of thing.

Thinking about drinking, drinking and the big one: the aftermath of drinking, wastes a hell of a lot of time! Now I have lots of extra. It’s fucking glorious.

 

Sense of Peace

HAHA that sounds so corny. But for real. If you take away the feelings that alcohol has the ability to create, like anxiety, exhaustion, dehydration, guilt and the secondary results like feeling rushed, disorganized, on edge and simply like you CAN’T EVEN, then all that’s left, really, is feeling grounded with a clear head to deal with more important things.

The main things that come to mind when I think about what robs me of feeling peaceful are (in no particular order) an over-packed schedule, a surplus of dirty laundry, no groceries, lack of sleep, lack of physical activity and the inability to concentrate. Interesting that these things aren’t common in my life anymore now that alcohol has been given the boot.

I took away the source of all my complaints. Too busy. Too tired. Too lazy. “Trying to save money.” Life is challenging enough as it is, and now that I don’t lay chaos and overwhelm on top of it constantly, I feel much more at ease and satisfied on a regular basis.

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So, there you have it. Four hundred and ninety-seven days gone by and I’m not dying for a beer. I have zero use for alcohol anymore. If you feel like you’re letting booze F up your life in big ways, or in small ways that are snowballing, I am living proof that you can break up with it and not get back together! Aahahaha. Email me if you want!

 

@jammiekomadina

My Interview with Kate from The Sober School <3

In early 2016, I was amongst the first group of students to complete an online course created by Kate, creator of The Sober School, called Getting Unstuck.  I’ve mentioned this course before, and The Sober School and Kate, and how much participating in the program helped me when I decided I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore.

There are now multiple groups of people who have completed this course and Kate is really on a roll with her program, it’s amazing!!! She is adding a mini interview series to the Getting Unstuck course. Every Sunday, part of the lesson will involve an interview with a graduate of the course, talking about their experience of sobriety. I feel really proud that she picked me as one of the people to interview and it was really interesting answering the questions. Revisiting this stuff was pretty cool after almost 500 days! Here’s what we talked about.

This is Kate!

Kate: How were you feeling about your drinking before you joined the course, and what made you decide it was time to stop?

Jamie: “Before joining the Getting Unstuck course, I felt like I had serious issues with alcohol and I was stuck in a vicious cycle that I wanted to break for a really long time. Over ten years. When I drank I’d adopt a “YOLO, who f*ckin cares” attitude and disregard everything: next-day responsibilities, money, my physical and mental health, relationships with friends, family and significant other. Priorities temporarily didn’t exist. I also had a lot of friendships that weren’t really based on anything except drinking.

Then, when I wasn’t drunk anymore I’d be totally swallowed up by loneliness because a lot of the “fun” I’d been having was fake. I’d experience extreme guilt, anxiety, depression and shame and reality would set in and those priorities that went out the window mattered again, and my life would feel out of control. I would have physical symptoms like nausea, shakiness, acid reflux, dizziness, low blood sugar, irritability, etc and I would tell myself I had to stop treating my body and mind this way. I felt needy and paranoid about the tiniest things when I was hungover and I would research how to quit drinking all the time but never found anything relatable until I found Kate’s blog.

I knew it was time to stop for a long time, but then I basically wrecked Christmas and had to sit and deal with myself for 8 hours at work on Boxing Day and it was actual torture. I finally decided enough was enough and took some action.”

Kate: What was early sobriety like? How did you feel during the first month or so?

Jamie: “At first I was obsessed. I’m like that though, I usually approach new things 100%, not sure if that’s healthy or not, but whatever, it was the way I knew I could succeed. I read Kate and Belle’s blogs all day, every day when I wasn’t busy doing other things, and I went on Amazon and bought a bunch of books. I also went out and did a big grocery shop to stock my new non-alcoholic beverage cabinet at our house. I read every article I could find about non-alcoholic drinks and I was meticulous about planning out the social events I was going to go to and what I’d bring with me to drink. Non-alcoholic beer was pretty much my saviour. I went out sometimes, but I usually went home early when I was feeling awkward or annoyed by drunk people, or if I noticed that the situation was genuinely not that fun..which I’ve found happens a lot!

I made sure my now-husband knew how serious I was about this sober mission. It helped that I simultaneously started training for my first full marathon and I used that as a way to get people off my back when they’d ask why I wasn’t drinking. The first month or so it was a project that I was fully engaged in and committed to. I had to be excited about it or it would be a chore and I’d have failed like I did a hundred times before. Every time I arrived home sober it was a win. And every morning I woke up without a hangover was one too. Once it became more natural, it was a little anti-climactic because I no longer had to focus all my energy on being sober. I had gained some momentum. But I adapted, obviously,, and transferred my focus to the bigger picture of my life and what I wanted to do with it. Hands down, planning what to drink instead of booze was the number one thing that helped me at first and still does.”

Kate: What’s life like now?! What do you love most about alcohol-free living?

Jamie: “Now, I feel like my life is what I wanted it to be like before I quit booze. It’s what I was looking for but never found long-term. I would drink for all sorts of reasons that I didn’t recognize at the time, like to feel confident, free, alive, pumped up, to “give zero f*cks”, be funny, social, etc. Once I figured out that I didn’t need liquor for any of those things it was like a light bulb went on.

Everything is more authentic now. I hang out with people I can have good conversations with, I do my favourite things with a clear head and not feeling like shit, and I’m generally just a way more efficient person with way more time and money. What I love most for sure is that I never ever feel guilty and depressed about being irresponsible the night before and spending too much money and treating my body like a garbage can. And I feel like I’m way more grounded. Life is just really good.”

Kate: What sober tools are in your toolbox? How do you deal with emotions or situations that you might have previously drunk over?

Jamie: “The most important tool I learned is playing out the situation to the end when I feel like drinking. Asking myself, “do you really want to wake up tomorrow dehydrated with all your makeup still on and a smaller bank account, a migraine, nausea, the shakes and on the verge of an anxiety attack all day long?” NO, I don’t. My other tools are non-alcoholic beer and virgin Caesars as my go-to drinks, or soda with lemon. Drink something you like! Another tool is I buy something I want and then remind myself: this costs the same amount as a night out back in the day, but this is useful and will last – not get guzzled away. Rewards are important. It’s also really fun to get ready to go out and wear something new and remind myself that I’ll look healthy, happy and my makeup will be good the whole evening instead of gradually getting smudgy, getting a red face, wine lips and droopy eyes and looking like a trainwreck by midnight and possibly embarrass myself or do something I’ll regret.

When it comes to emotions, I no longer have such extreme emotional experiences as I used to when I was drinking all the time. I feel more grounded and resilient as a whole. But when I do have a shit day or something stressful or overwhelming is happening, I usually just go for a run or have a nap or talk about it with a friend or my husband. Getting drunk and postponing dealing with things is WAY worse than just taking a deep breath and handling it head-on and in my right mind.”

Kate: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to deal with since you stopped drinking? How did you overcome it?

Jamie: “The biggest challenge was initiating the decision and sticking to it at the beginning. Change is really hard. That involved learning about why I thought I wanted/needed to drink.  Nowadays, very rarely, when it randomly feels like summer or I smell campfire and get caught off guard, I get a random urge to start day drinking or “get f*cked up” but then I think rationally about it and I’m like wait, that’s just an old reflex, no I don’t. Gaining momentum at the begining was hard because it was new and different. People question you. I still question myself. Occasionally I have moments where I think, am I missing out and being antisocial because I’m chilling at home on this particular Saturday night?? I have felt unsure and sad for a split second, but then I remind myself of how good my life is and I get over that moment of uncertainty. I socialize in tons of other ways and I still go to parties when I feel like it!

These days I don’t really feel like there are many challenges. It’s simple now because it makes sense. I don’t enjoy feeling like shit! Sobriety is like a secret weapon that makes my life amazing and no one can take it away from me. When people ask me if I’ll ever drink again, I don’t even think twice about saying no. It actually makes zero sense to me now, to drink alcohol. It serves me in zero ways.”

Kate: Tell us about something wonderful that would never have happened if you’d still been drinking!

Jamie: “I wouldn’t have run 3 full marathons (so far!) and be training for my 4th with the goal of breaking 4 hours this time! I wouldn’t have the healthiest, most amazing marriage I can imagine. I wouldn’t have a life that feels good, manageable and organized the majority of the time. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be a role model for other people who are or were in my previous situation. OH and I wouldn’t have taken my best 2 vacations of my life so far; a week long health retreat in the Mayan Riviera, and Walt Disney Marathon Weekend in Florida.”

Kate: Do you have any tips or advice for people taking the Getting Unstuck course right now? What do you wish you’d known, when you were on the course?

Jamie: “My advice is to commit to it fully and even if one of the exercises or discussions doesn’t feel important or relevant to you, just go with it because it’s all valuable. What I wish I’d known when I was doing the course was that one day I’d be proud of what I was doing, and not unsure and embarrassed. But all of that comes in time.”

Kate: a few quick-fire questions:

My favourite sober book is…”Unwasted – My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic”

My favourite quote is … “always changing, but I love quotes about running from amazing female elite marathoners like Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, Paula Radcliffe, etc”

My favourite alcohol-free drink is…. “Virgin Caesars and fake beer! Ginger beer too, and a super easy one is soda with lemon.”

My favourite sober treat is … “online shopping for running gear, fancy baths with candles and essential oils and a good book or Instagram, going on running trips to out of town races!”

🙂

 

WOW!! I loved answering these questions and being so sure about my answers. I remember sitting at work on Boxing Day 2015 wishing that I could fast-forward to a time where everything felt better and I felt healthy and grounded. In about a month it will have been 500 days since I had any alcohol at all, and it seems to have flown by, looking back. If you relate to anything you’ve read here, I encourage you to check out Kate’s website, The Sober School. It is awesome. And if you have any questions or need a hand, contact me!

@jammiekomadina

Sober Project Update: How I get buzzed lately. (I haven’t had alcohol in 444 days).

It makes me sad when I think about the fact that for fifteen years of my life I incorporated alcohol into as many situations as possible, no matter what I was doing or who I was with. This is not an exaggeration. Don’t worry, then I get really happy because it’s not like that anymore. I try all the time to understand why I (and bazillions of others,) feel like alcohol is essential for a good time, or even an “alright” time. It’s so fucked up.

Living is how we learn things about the world and about ourselves, and we all do it at different times and rates and in different orders, but now that I’ve had a significant time away from booze and can see that I used it to blur the lines of life for so long, I have a new perspective and I’m just sharing a piece of it with you in case it’s helpful in any way. I’m not an alcohol hater and I’m not trying to preach, just sharing.

Before I began the sober project at the end of 2015, I didn’t really know I was doing it but I was constantly trying to use booze to feel more confident, care-free, relaxed, funny, adventurous or warm and fuzzy, just to name a few feelings that we are socialized to believe alcohol provides, or enhances. Why? I either didn’t have the personal resources to create those feelings on my own, at the time, or it could just be that I never tried! Drinking, I felt, was fully required to enjoy, succeed at or simply handle:

  • basically any meal with friends, family, acquaintances or strangers
  • work functions
  • meeting new people
  • a day off
  • bike riding
  • catching up with someone
  • time spent at the beach
  • cooking
  • shopping
  • casual walks or exploring
  • campfires
  • flirting, dating, romantic experiences
  • coping with loss
  • being the passenger on a road trip
  • winding down or de-stressing after work
  • boredom
  • watching TV shows, movies or sports
  • playing softball
  • golfing (yes, I’ve golfed a little)
  • riding a bus, train, ferry or plane
  • holding conversation at social functions with people I had nothing in common with
  • cleaning the house
  • enjoying a bath (or sometimes shower)

Okay, that is like the longest list ever. It’s SO EMBARRASSING!!!! (my opinion). I feel like I could sum up it all up by saying something like,

“hello! I have no real hobbies, interests or passions and I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin/head that I partially numb myself to all experiences! I also don’t like my friends or family (or myself) enough to enjoy spending time with them in my right mind!”

HAHAH like wtf!? Okay that’s an extreme statement and I’ll stop being mean to myself now, because that’s not cool. I was just trying to make a point. Most of the things on the list above are really fun, if you actually like the task or activity at hand, the people you’re with, you are in the right mood and have an open mind. It’s so simple now that I have a new frame of reference. Alcohol was decreasing the authenticity of all my experiences and therefore my life as a whole, as well as my future. For real. I feel like I’ve made the discovery of a lifetime!

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Kate is right!

I don’t care if you think this is corny or me attempting to stick up for sobriety because it has a bad rap for being boring and lame. Additionally, I understand that many people do not have issues with alcohol and everything I’m saying might be making you raise your eyebrows. This is just my experience, but the feedback I’ve gotten from previous posts about my counterproductive relationship with booze tells me that I’m not the only person who feels this way about alcohol. So back to the point. Now, I get a buzz by actually fuckin experiencing things in the raw. Undisguised, intense and unedited real-life shit!

Legit conversations with people I like and who I find interesting, vs. what I used to do at social events which was make small talk with anyone and everyone, as many of us created a false sense of camaraderie around drinking alcohol. Instead of sleeping in and feeling like shit, getting up before it’s light out to run, get fresh air, maybe see the sunrise and sweat my balls off with my friends before half the time zone has even woken up. Laughing at seriously funny shit and remembering it clearly later. Being by the ocean, on the lake or up a mountain, and fully experiencing my surroundings instead of chugging fireball and being half checked-out of the moment. Feeling fresh, happy and energetic in the morning, ready to start an awesome day because I don’t have a dehydration headache and I washed off my makeup before bed. Getting to enjoy a coffee with my amazing husband, hangover-free. There is way too much to go on and on about here!

For far too long I made the mistake of believing that booze made things more intense. Woooo let’s get pissed and have the best time! Wrong. Not drinking intensified everything in my life and it’s indescribable. Events, emotions, relationships. Not every intensified feeling is positive, don’t be fooled, but even facing shitty stuff head-on and coming out on the other side unscathed with some new wisdom and no hangover is pretty sick.

So that’s my non-drinking update. Yes, it’s stil going really well, and yes, I’d recommend it. No, I don’t miss having drinks, and no, I’m probably not going to ever drink again. My life is better and more fun and exciting than ever before. Okay, and I’m so sober right now and overwhelmed by how happy I am, I’m like crying. That’s some intense shit man ahahahahah ✌✌

Some reasons why Alcohol is dumb and why/how I stayed sober at our Wedding

The number of people who asked me about booze and getting married, whether it was the curious question, “you’re still not drinking? that’s awesome! but what about on your wedding??” or the more accusational version, “you’re seriously not going to drink at your wedding?” was probably fifty or more.

I do get it, we live in a society that generally believes alcohol is mandatory to any kind of celebration. At a babyshower to welcome a newborn and possibly new parents, at weddings to celebrate marriage, and even at funerals when we memorialize a lost loved-one. It has become second nature that at social gatherings, alcohol is what people drink. I myself bought into all of that bullshit for well over a decade. Now that I’ve moved away from booze and the fake shit it claims to provide, and I have some time and experience as a non-drinker, I like to shed some light on the big picture of alcohol consumption just in case someone reading feels the way that I used to feel, which was trapped. It’s also a form of accountablility for myself. These non-drinking posts are not to preach or to convince you that you need to quit alcohol. Please take what you read and use it in any way that you can, or not at all!

Last summer, as my own wedding day was approaching and the questions about booze on the “big day” (I hate when people call it that) came up more and more frequently, it got me thinking about the specifics of what I’ve learned from Kate & Belle about why we think alcohol is required, and also why it shouldn’t be! Here are some of the main points that kept coming to mind and that helped me realize I definitely wasn’t drinking just because I was having a wedding and getting married to the coolest dude I’ve ever met.

 

  1. Alcohol is not why an event is fun, actually.

Try to think back to one of the most fun times you’ve ever had. For me, my oldest friend’s 30th birthday comes to mind. I believe everyone was drinking, yes, but when I break down all the reasons why this particular experience is way up there with the most fun times I can remember, the reasons are as follows:

  • about thirty of our most fun and hilarious friends were there, most of whom we grew up with and have very meaningful relationships with
  • we were at a really fun place
  • we were doing fun things like being weird af, singing, having a big fire, playing games and being competetive, doing gymnastics, taking great photos, listening to good music, naked stand-up-paddleboarding, and freeing the nipple
  • we had an amazing dinner
  • we laughed to the point of pain all throughout the day, evening and next day
  • we were all together because we wanted to celebrate our friend’s special day with her

Notice how wine, beer, vodka, whiskey or Hey Y’alls are NOT on the list! I planned to have a wicked time at our wedding because of all these types of reasons, minus the naked paddleboarding and freeing the nipple. LOL.

2. Alcohol shouldn’t be necessary to “tolerate” any situation

Some of the reasons we’re lead to believe that alcohol is helpful or necessary include: to relax or de-stress, to numb-out at an event we didn’t actually want to go to, to talk to strangers or people we don’t know or like, to have fun.

The last time I checked, spending time in situations that make me feel stressed, bored, uncomfortable or like I’m wasting my time are exactly that – a waste of effing time. Why put ourselves in these situations in the first place?

Example

I hate baby showers. I think they are sexist, silly and always in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend. I don’t go, get day-drunk, eat too many triangle sandwiches with no crust, pretend to care about stuff that doesn’t interest me and then feel pissed off afterwards because I wasted a day off inside. I just don’t go. If I did risk going and ended up having a good time, it would be because of a good crew, great non-baby-related conversations, and lots of cheese, NOT because I pounded back a bunch of drinks (just like in the birthday party example from point number 1.)

Reverse kind of example

I love my friends, that’s why I’m friends with them. When we go out for dinner, I don’t “need a drink” because I am not in a situation that is boring, awkward or stressful. If I found myself out for dinner and thinking, “Damn I really need some alcohol for this boring/awkward/stressful situation,” I would need to question the who, what, where, when and why of the intimate dinner gathering I chose to attend. Especially the who.

If you feel like you need alcohol to put up with a family member, survive a work function, attend a wedding you aren’t sure why you got invited to, or to sing karaoke, maybe these activities just aren’t actually for you. That’s what I’ve learned, anyway.

At our wedding, we were surrounded with our favourite people in a great situation. Of course we were nervous, but isn’t that a good thing?? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be nervous at your wedding, it’s a form of excitement! If I needed booze at our wedding, what that would mean to me was that we planned a boring, shitty wedding or that I was marrying someone like Hannibal Lecter.

3. Alcohol-induced memory loss can happen regardless if the night is bad or good 

Alcohol doesn’t have the power to differentiate. It doesn’t know the difference between drinking to try to reduce stress or forget about a problem, and drinking to celebrate something positive. Imagine waking up in the morning from what was supposed to have been one of the more special occasions in life, and not remembering some of it! Some people start to have little intermittent blackouts WAY before things like crawling on the ground and barfing start to happen. Looking back, I can’t believe how many fun nights I’ve had (or nights I am pretty sure were really fun..) where I can’t actually remember everything that went down. Booze steals memories and experiences and I am really over letting that happen. I especially wasn’t interested in having blurry parts during the day I got to marry my favourite person.

4. Being sober = being present

Can you recall being at a party chatting with some acquaintance but not really actively listening to what they’re saying because you’re trying to see/hear what’s happening over in the kitchen. Or maybe you’re buzzed and just making meaningless small talk. Or maybe you’re taking drunk pics on Snapchat and not paying attention to what’s happening around you. I am fully aware that all of these things can and do happen to sober people, but it’s far more likely to be disconnected from the present moment when you’re guzzling liquor. With respect to wedding day, I didn’t want a super fun day that took quite a bit of planning and a fair amount of money to flash by and be over without experiencing each part of it fully.

 

Everything above applies to life, not just special occasions. I had eight months as a non-drinker under my belt by the time our wedding rolled around, but I still had to stop and think hard about why I wanted to stick with the non-drinking project. Reviewing these reasons allowed me to confidently say, “No.” when I was asked if I was planning to cave in and drink that day. Thinking about it now, I can’t even imagine drinking that day! I was exhausted, and not because I ran 30km that morning, but because it was an emotional day with a LOT going on. The next day I was able to go for brunch with a crew of my guests who came from out of town and I didn’t have the shakes, a pale face, blood shot eyes, nausea, anxiety or extremely low blood sugar. I got to enjoy a coffee without feeling like I was burning a hole in my stomach and eat my meal and actually enjoy it, and finish it. And I don’t look progressively worse in each wedding photo either hahahaha

If you have an event or occasion coming up that you know is going to be challenging, contact me and hopefully I can give you a few specific tips depending on what you have planned! Drinking doesn’t necessarily  = fun and sober definitely does not = lame. Trust me.

Bye for nowww

What do I drink, then? What do I do at parties??

One of the best things I learned from Kate at The Sober School was how important it is to drink something that you actually like when trying to avoid booze. Whether you’re wanting to take a break from alcohol or get away from it altogether, it’s hard, especially at social events because of the way our society celebrates alcohol like it’s the crucial factor for having fun.

A party or event is usually some kind of celebration and drinking a plain glass of water doesn’t help anyone feel like they’re celebrating. For lots of us, going out and not drinking is like going to another planet. Standing around holding nothing or that boring-ass glass of water is just going to make you feel left out and awkward, plus it increases the chances of super annoying questions like, “What the? Is that water?” or “what are you pregnant or something?

I realize that what other people think doesn’t matter, but give yourself a break. If you decide you want to hit up a party or event and not drink, bring something else you look forward to having. It’s a game-changer; I speak from experience. Again, it’s not about what the other people are asking, thinking or wondering, anyway. It’s about you being able to hang out with your friends, acquaintances and new people and enjoy your “special” drink just like everyone else is without feeling like you’re missing out on something, or like you have “I’M NOT DRINKING” written on your forehead in black marker. Quitting or taking a break from alcohol doesn’t mean you need to hide in your house. I’m not saying it’s easy, especially at first, but here are ten ideas for you when you go out to a house party, the bar or even just out for dinner.

1. The Red Solo Cup

There are drinking songs about them, they are used for Beer Pong and Flip Cup, and they are sitting in a stack on the counter at most parties and functions. Contrary to popular belief, they are not just for beer and highballs. Grab one and fill it up with whatever the hell you want! One time at a friend’s annual Boxing Day party, myself and my equally weird friend drank juice and club soda all night long in red cups and lots of people thought we were pissed. LOL. Nope, just gettin weird and having a good time because it was an actual fun party with sweet people and the appy table of the year. When drunk people started close-talking and repeating their stories, I drove myself home instead of waiting for (and paying for) a cab during Christmas party season.

2. Booze-free Sangria

I made a REALLY good batch of this on my 31st birthday at our place when I was two weeks into the non-drinking project. It was so good that other people wanted some. They may have added vodka, but that’s not the point. It was really good, felt fancy and like something the token birthday girl might want on a special day. That sounds really corny but you know I’m right about wanting something unique to drink on a special occasion. I don’t remember the exact recipe but I used a bottle of dealcoholized red wine (grocery store) a big batch of cold black tea, a bit of Sprite and then added oranges, lemons, limes and strawberries, all in a giant bowl with a ladel. Served in a fancy glass, of course.

3. Wine Glass

Even plain water feels cool in one of these. Or, fill it with flavoured sparkling water and berries, limes or cucumber slices. Whatever you pick, it’s more fun than a regular glass of anything and it looks like a cocktail, which can be helpful for warding off the annoying questions.

4. Non-alcoholic Beer

There are some really good non-alcoholic beers and lots of them don’t have “NON-ALCOHOLIC” across the label in huge red letters. I love the taste of beer, that’s why I like drinking these! You can buy them at the grocery store, if you’re wondering. Last year during Seafest (biggest party weekend of the year where I live) someone said to my cousin, “whoa, look at Jamie, she’s really on step tonight!” i.e. they thought I was drunk. If they looked closer, I was actually double-fisting O’Doul’s because someone bought me another one before I’d finished mine, and I was having a blast because most of my favourite people were there, the music was good and the night was just genuinely fun. But remember from the 373 days of non-drinking post, alcohol is generally a not-that-great tasting beverage that people drink for other reasons. So drink whatever it is that you actually like the taste of and if that’s beer, then fake beer might be the perfect option for you.

5. “Vodka Soda without the Vodka”

My best friend has a very funny way of describing and explaining things. One time back in the day when we were being drunk loons at the cabin, one of the many quotes in our weekend collection was “I made a vodka soda but forgot the vodka!” We thought it was hilarious (it is) but it’s also genius hahaha! I personally love soda, it’s like chugging Coca-Cola but without eight billion grams of sugar. Put some limes (or lemons or grapefruit slices or raspberries, whatever you want) in there and you have your Vodka Soda without the Vodka. Who knew.

6. Homemade Iced-Tea

When I was younger I swear there was only one kind of tea. Red Rose. That was the only kind. Now there is every flavour you can think of and places like David’s Tea exist. Make a huge batch of your favourite tea, stick it in the fridge and when it’s cold (way longer than you want it to take, FYI) add ice and any garnish that suits the flavour and pour it in a fancy glass. Or, put the whole batch in some kind of thermos or jug just like people do when they make Moon Juice (or whatever you wanna call a sh#! mix of alcohol) and bring it with you to the party you’re going to. I bet there will be a red solo cup for you to drink it out of.

7. Virgin Caesar

Have you ever had a Virgin Caesar? I have and guess what it tastes like? Yes. A Caesar. I love Canada. Bloody Mary’s are gross. The Virgin Caesar is high on my list. They’re also fun to make! If you aren’t Canadian and you don’t know what I’m talking about I wish I could see your face when you Google “clamato.” Bahaha

8. Coffee

Sometimes all we want is something in hand at a party because we’re used to always having a drink and it feels weird with both arms dangling at our sides. Maybe you’re tired but still feel like socializing for a while so you want some caffeine, or maybe you just effing love coffee. Bailey’s makes a coffee creamer now so if you’re going to tell me you only like coffee with Bailey’s, you’re good.

9. Hipster Pop in a glass bottle 

They have this kind of thing at the microbrewery, Wheelhouse, where I live and it’s awesome. These days they’re carrying soda from The Pop Shoppe. It’s one of the most fun places in town and even though I don’t go there as often as I used to when drinking all the beer was my favourite hobby, it’s nice to have something else to order and it’s friggin delicious. Oh, and NOBODY cares that I’m ordering a creme soda and not a Gilnetter.

10. Ginger Beer

Not all ginger beer is alcohol-free (I’ll tell you a story about that another day…) but lots of it is. I had a large bottle of Fever-Tree Ginger Beer after the Victoria Marathon and it was SOOOO good I wanted to beer-bong it. At Christmas time when we were in Kelowna at my mother-in-law’s house she had this kind here, Buderim, and it was amazing too. Not for everyone, but I think ginger beer is amazing.

I used to think that if I wasn’t drinking alcohol I couldn’t go out because I’d be bored and awkward with nothing in my hand. There are so many things to drink besides booze if you don’t want alcohol and once I learned this from Kate and Belle and did some experimenting, it got way easier. On New Year’s Eve this year I brought bottles of dealcoholized red and sparkling white wine (“Virgin Brute” LOL) and a bunch of cans of club soda to mix because I don’t like drinks very sweet. It was a really good New Year’s party because of the people, the atmosphere, the conversations and the food of course. When I got home I looked as fresh as when I left the house after getting ready, not like Stu on The Hangover.

Please don’t think that not drinking alcohol = denying yourself of good shit. It might take some trial and error but you will find things that work for you and once you get some practice, going out sober is no longer like going to Mars.

 

I haven’t had alcohol in 373 days.

There is a grey area between being an alcoholic and being a party animal. I think what makes a person fall into this space is how the alcohol consumption makes them feel about him or herself afterwards. I don’t even know how I’d define the term “alcoholic,” I never considered myself one, but one thing I do know about myself now is that for about 15 years I was in the grey area, drinking too much alcohol too often and it was affecting me in all negative ways.

If I were to list off every single shitty situation, short or long-term, that I ever ended up in, alcohol was involved 99% of the time. Risky behaviour, arguments or fights with ex-boyfriends, injuries, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, overspending, ignored responsibilities, sabotaged fitness goals, the list goes on and on.

For lots of people it’s not a problem and they can drink without it interfering with quality of life and physical and mental health. This is not the case for me. Since I quit drinking alcohol and talk about it openly now with lots of people, I’m starting to see that it’s pretty commonplace for a person to fall into this grey area and to realize that they do not want to be there anymore.

Kate at The Sober School taught me (and many others!) about how to see booze for what it really is. A not-that-great tasting dehydrating beverage that numbs everything out and changes the way we feel about situations, priorities and ourselves; a disconnect from reality. For me, the best option is to not drink at all. For someone else it might be to moderate. I don’t want this post to feel depressing so I’ll try to talk about why I like my life better without alcohol and not all the reasons I needed to ditch it.

I have WAY more time

Alcohol actually steals your time. Hangovers and sleeping half the day wastes time. Going to the liquor store takes up time. Not being able to drive your own vehicle wastes time. Being drunk or buzzed disconnects us from the present situation and all of a sudden it’s over! Ignoring chores and errands make the next day jam-packed instead of relaxing.

I feel like I have so much time to do whatever I want now because I do not waste time being drunk, buzzed, hungover or procrastinating. No joke, I never have a to-do list because I know what I need/want to get done, and I do it.

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) isn’t real.

I don’t really know how to explain this one. Maybe it’s because now I know that once alcohol is removed, many parties are just a bunch of random people standing around making small talk and trying to get drunk because it’s “fun.” If there is something going on and I am stoked about who will be there, what we’ll be doing, what will be talked about AND I have the energy and interest, then I’m there. But if not, seriously who cares haha.

I have way more money.

This one is easy. It’s not just the cost of booze that is expensive. Have you ever gotten drunk and thought it was an awesome idea to buy a round for the whole table or the whole bar? Or at 2:30am to buy everyone at 7-11 ALL the taquitos because you love everyone and it’s such a nice thing to do? Taxis. Cover. Snacks you end up wishing you didn’t eat. Shopping after lunch (with drinks) with friends and thinking “YOLO TREAT YO SELF!”and buying $200 gumboots..you KNOW what I am talking about, and it sounds hilarious but when everything is said and done, if there are feelings of regret, guilt, anxiety or worry, that’s a problem. Now I get to spend more money on Oiselle and Lululemon, race registrations, vacations, and dates with my husband just to name a few things. Oh and when I go out for food with my friends the bill is NEVER more than 40 bucks.

I do what I say I’m going to do.

I registered for three full marathons before I actually ran one. Each time I downgraded to the half because I didn’t follow my training plan to be able to complete 42.2km. Don’t get me wrong, I love the half-marathon distance, but I wanted to run a full marathon and wasn’t following through because I really liked drinking a lot of beer or wine (or both) every weekend and many nights during the week! The same week I stopped drinking alcohol I began an 18-week training plan and ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 1st 2016. Boom. Then I did it again. And I’m doing it again in 6 days.

I finally finished my 500-hr yoga teacher certificate that I had ONE project left to complete but didn’t get around to it for over 2 years. I take the freaking recycling to the depot once or twice a month so the bin isn’t over flowing. I get groceries so I don’t have an empty fridge and eat crap (unless I feel like it.) Guess when I get all these things done? Yes, when I am not drinking, hungover or thinking about drinking. Winning.

I look and feel my own age.

Better skin, more energy, looking and feeling alive and not Googling how to hide a hangover with makeup. Work is just fine because I am not exhausted or feeling crappy. Exercising is something I look forward to. My eyes are white and not red. I’m not dehydrated all the time. Everything is BETTER.

I’m mentally healthier than I have ever been before.

I feel happy, confident and grounded 99% of the time. No anxiety. Better sleep. No depression or worries. Minimal stress. Everything is BETTER

If you are finding yourself in that spot between alcoholic and party animal and you’re over it, trust me you’re not alone. Check out www.thesoberschool.com and www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com and you will see that sober life isn’t boring, lame or anthing bad at all, it’s actually awesome. I used to be the person who thought it was ridiculous to go out and not drink. I still go out whenever I want, for how long I want, I drive myself there and back, wash off my make-up and sleep well, and then I get up in the morning and sweat, get shit done and buy new running clothes. Email me if you feel like talking about this more! oxoxox