The Best Days of Your Life @ Our Good Vibes Table – Webster

It happened. I have been paying careful attention to the mornings and flipped my routine as well as started a little bit early. It made a big difference and (along with virtual school on Wednesdays so no high school drop off) I am sitting down – without any necessary housework – a little yoga planning and prepare my questions for the publishing director I am talking with later today.

I have a cup of coffee, I have a kind of gross but necessary smoothie and I have that new expansive feeling in my chest that tells me things are aligned and good in my world.

There were times, at Ellen and Lucy’s soccer games, I would be in a ball cap and sunblock, rag tag jeans and a v neck with a smell of things to do at home on me. I would sit back in the sun with my planner and thoughts and notice the moms who had clearly blow dried their hair that morning. I imagined them waking up a little bit earlier than their kids, tending to the things, then get ready for the day in a nice, clean bathroom; putting their hair and face on.

It is not that they were done up. These are down to earth moms who are really genuine in heart. They just looked a little more prepared for the day than I felt. I had mad respect and was determined to have that same level of togetherness.

Needless to say, the fact I rose a little earlier than the house to shower in my nice, clean bathroom is a sign of personal evolution.

***

About a month ago, David and I were falling asleep. I had my head on his chest when a clinch of grief came up.

I paid attention to it: cancer, early death, uncertainty.

In my lifetime, I have had personal relationships end an earthly state due to disease and early death. Kristi, Cheri, Mary, Sharoddi and Mark – each relationship was in active, fruitful stages when passing in the night, brain cancer, cervical cancer, rear end cancer (I can’t remember the name and honestly, I think she would get a good laugh at that), heart disease-ish attack came and the physical life of that person ended.

To say I know when grief rises in my chest is an understatement. I can smell grief. I can taste it. I know days ahead of time that I am starting to process loss and I know to start to paint, write or pray. I know when I am grieving something that isn’t gone yet. I know the importance of recognizing sunsets. I grieve like I breathe: letting the full breath go, trusting more will come.

I squeezed David upon that clinch of grief. In the chaos of deciding to expand and grow our 1700 sq ft house for our family of 7 instead of going for something bigger, in the mental game of parental assessment and responsibility for supporting each of these 5 kids’ needs, and in the constant sheer & subtle nature of the under current of concern induced by a pandemic, I said, “You know, these may be the best days of our life.”

You know, these may be the best days of our life.

I meant that. And I got a little choked up.

My friends that passed? Mid to late forties, fifties. I am 39, David 43. For all but Mark, I was with their families in the unwinding. Familiar with the worry and the adjustment required of disease, I recognized the absence of that worry in our lives. I inhaled and we both shared gratitude for the health of our families and commitment to doing our best to maintain it.

This morning, I split the smoothie into two, stirred his men’s probiotic in and brought David his to his office along with a multi-vitamin. When I was working I may have had to take a call while doing my morning routine and a smoothie would not have happened. I would have needed to speak, making a blender a non option. I would have needed to screen share, requiring me out of the kitchen. I would have felt torn and had to cut my losses and be less committed to this intention of giving it our best shot than I wanted to be.

In recognizing this dedication of my time and energy to the emotional and physical health of my tribe is what is keeping me busy, I am realizing this full bodied act of love we all have opportunities to express. We all should see the foods we eat and serve to others, our time in nature, and our time with each other – playing Go Fish (which we did last night – in our holiday decorated dining hall) as an expression of our gratitude for our health and ability.

Tired care givers “whipping up dinner” shifting thought to slowing down and creating a meal laced with benefits. Quiet time in the mornings spent writing notes albeit for lunch or mail boxes to remind the ones that grate us the hardest that we are so constantly there for them and to reinforce to the ones that give us the obvious constants to be grateful for that we cherish them. We thrive because of them.

I am not feeling regretful for years of feeding my family horse shit for dinner. (I didn’t, actually – I just thought that was funny to say.) Though I have not always used spirulina, I have been as intentional as I could be in the respective season of my evolution and my resources.

<sigh>

<smile>

These may be the best days of your life – how will you celebrate and show gratitude today?

Morning Table

new days @ a few feet from where my husband is playing guitar, post dinner, webster groves

Times are a changin’, that is for sure.

Changing so much so that it can be hard to sit and check in with myself on here and sort through the nuance for the themes. Not only is there wild variety in what to write about: the teens, the towels (it has gotten more mental on that front), the *parenting strategy* (I am writing a 2021 Family Handbook) or just the personal effects of retiring from corporate life, where my identity was intertwined for 16 years. But there is wild contradiction in my thoughts.

For example: I planted some garlic a couple of weeks ago. Just the other day, I noticed a little bit of green poking up and I thought to myself “shoot, maybe its too warm” and I was disappointed to see the pokes of green. Moments later, I assessed the bed where I dunked this huge hunk of mint root that had been bound in a yellow pot and wondered “well, why aren’t you poking up?”

I am being very, very kind and patient to myself in all the change; recognizing all of this as a proverbial salad dressing shake up. My life has changed a lot this year and I am just now through what feels to be a final major identity shift. I got married, blended my family, retired from my work. My last name is different. I am officially transmuted, no longer transmuting. Now it is time to see what I became.

I heard from my work best friend today, Keyur. There was a sting of loyalty (pun kind of intended – we worked on our company’s loyalty programs together) that came up. It had been well over a week since we spoke. We were daily sounding boards, sanity checks and life lines. Deciding to leave Enterprise came down to a couple key thoughts and “whether or not I could do that to Keyur” was for sure one of them. When he heard of my plans and expressed sincere support and told me “no way, Erin, you have to go”, it helped. It still was not easy. But it helped.

When Keyur texted to say hey, I was baking some fish and watching my daughter, Ellen’s, basketball game on a streaming service. Ladue played Rosati Kain tonight in their season opener. I absolutely loved it. I am drinking this peanut butter chocolate stout out of a wine glass and am thinking about how I need to be a little thoughtful of my new life wardrobe so that I don’t live in a revolving door of cleaning pants and sweat pants. I had a successful Cyber Monday and have done a little decorating amongst little hints of time to “write write”.

Like, write like I was born to write.

Last week being Thanksgiving week, I was on my feet daily for 8 – 10 hours in the kitchen. It was a great vibe and there were a couple of cameos from kids that wanted to help and be a part of the creation. I was insanely proud of myself for throwing down a complete feast as Queen de la roost. I was proud of my family, for how it was grown. I was humbled at our fortune in life and cried blessing our meal, knowing folks out there may not have been able to go all out this year, not be able to do a turkey.

By Thanksgiving evening, my body was utterly sore. David and I decided on Friday morning I was to do nothing. I propped my legs up with a bolster and got comfortable and found my first opening of space for some of my writing work. I am not entirely comfortable yet sharing the details but I am really, really excited about my creative projects. Getting the house in a good, consistent place (hence a Family Handbook) and learning my new roles and establishing presence in each of my people’s life are all making way for a routine and for opportunity.

I am busy all day and much more relaxed.

Even when there are half a dozen dirty washcloths in the basket with the clean ones and no dirty washcloths in the laundry basket. #drama

Closing thought: what I know to be in true in life is things are rarely final. Even death can be transformative. Behaviors and patterns and cycles can be rewired or broken. Things you think will never change – someday – you will be looking straight at a situation and it will just be different. It will just feel different. Your one next step will be different or something about you will be different that you take the one next step that was there the whole while. So while I am in a season of settling and change, taking stock of everything I hope to see transform as fruit of what I am able to do thanks to my transformation, I know from the course of my life to offer a ton of grace and patience to the mix.

I know to be intentional and honest about my yes and my no. I know when you’re not it causes blips that are distracting from the big picture.

What else do I know… <stream of consciousness here>

Oh, yeah – to put your Amazon orders in before it gets intense. :)

That’s all for now. Hi to all of you. I hope you are all feeling good about your holiday planning.

This post is about drinking alcohol and also kind of about self control.

Part of the reason I am up writing this is because the alcohol in the giant… wait.

Not giant.

Monster.

…the monster margarita that was served to me is metabolizing. And so now, I am awake.

But I am also aware of the continuity of the daily blog and the point of telling a story, post to post, about the themes I run into in my life.

So what I am going to do is be really honest about the fact that I have struggled with alcohol being the center of experience (instead of my own health and happiness) in my life. I want to offer a little more context to my recent comments about not “drinking too much, too fast or what I don’t want to”.

True to my life:

I have made the shift to drinking tea instead of wine on girls night at times where I want to see my friends but don’t feel like drinking.

I have decided to not drink, or to drink just one glass of my favorite wine or beer, on weeks I have the girls out of respect for the fact they only get me every other week.

And I absolutely do not drink more than two drinks at work happy hours.

I have decided to be OK with not finishing a drink (or a chimichanga, for that matter) even if that means I “am wasting it”.

I pay attention to when I start to drink fast, and slow down and enjoy it.

Aside from the work happy hour thing (Enterprise management training drilled that into me), these were not and are not always easy things. But, for me, they are necessary because it is in my nature to lose self control in this area, and so I take extra precaution.

Additionally, because I feel called to care for and guide others into healthy relationships with their body and footing in their spiritual lives, I do take it to heart to live above reproach. It doesn’t mean sinless. Nobody can do that. But I don’t want to lose my personal footing. Nor do I want to give power to something, claiming it makes me more willing or able.

I will have a dance party in my living room, birthday margarita or not.

I will be the first one on the dance floor, drink or not.

I will make a new friend when out on the town, drink or not.

It took me a long time to fully wrap my head around who I was without drinking and be secure in myself. And then it took more time to feel like I could confidently talk about my boundaries with alcohol. I feel like a lot of people don’t set boundaries with alcohol because they don’t “think they are an alcoholic” and they don’t want to stop drinking completely. But boundaries with anything are good and necessary and OK. You need to feel good about the decisions you make in your life, especially in regards to your body.

For me, this is not me being perfect. This is about me being who I am and refusing to let alcohol take over my experience because of the culture norm that puts alcohol in the center.

I have friends who don’t drink at all. I asked one of them about it, and she said she has simply never had alcohol and she has always been happy. She says she can see there are not direct benefits for her. So “Why,” she says, “would I potentially make myself sleepy or not understand the things I understand when I like how I feel and how I think?”

Fair point.

In reflecting on this, I have thought about not drinking at all. But that isn’t what I want. There are experiences that I do enjoy. The delicious red zinfandel. The birthday margarita. The summer hard apple cider and homemade pizza. The hot cocoa and fireball when walking my dog and shopping an outdoor market with my sister on a winter night. << very specific

For me, I needed to create boundaries with alcohol. And, if you do too, I offer you encouragement because it isn’t always easy. And if you do blur the line, use the experience – whether its the money you ended up spending or the way you ended up feeling – to validate the boundary you want. And if you need help, get help.

Just start being honest about what you want. Don’t do things just because it’s how you have always done them. Be aware of habits and patterns. And don’t be a slave to the cycle. 

Whether it’s alcohol or food, pot or pills, notice when substance is a shortcut to the experience or feeling you want.

Just the other night, I texted my sister and said “I just need to tell somebody that I am really feeling an impulse to drink and I know it is not what I want. I know it is from an emotional place”. She was great. She asked me where I thought it was coming from. In the moment, I just knew I wanted to feel different. I knew substance was a short cut. And I knew I needed to hold the line, roll out my mat, pump up the music and stretch out the kinks, and treat my body well.

My preacher prays that God, “remove the taste of alcohol from people who are struggling”. And I really like that prayer. I prayed it over myself and then prayed gratitude as the blood and breath moving around in my body and the stretches had their effect and started to loosen the tension to where I only wanted water and to go to bed.

So – there you go. And though it was, in fact, hilarious to hear the table hoot and laugh about this margarita as large as my head – and how they were going to post a picture of it in the comments of my last post where I mention about not drinking too fast or too much – it was also convicting: that I should share more context about my boundaries with alcohol and my commitment to being proud of my decisions; able to share what I do with my daughters and confident in the example I am setting for them.

If you struggle with alcohol or drugs or self control, and need help, here is a link to the National Helpline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health. Know you have my encouragement. It’s okay to make those little shifts. Get help if you need it. Draw boundaries and honor them. Don’t take short cuts. Get the experience you want in other ways. Live above reproach. Live to your calling. Shed the views of the world. Live your life proud of how you care for your body.

Peace.

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^^^ ME AND MY MONSTER MARGARITA