The Upside of Situational Sobriety

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When you look at the picture above – do you see a glass of water or a vodka on the rocks?  Very telling, kiddo!

Never one to shy away from skepticism, I thought I would do a little digging on the potential benefits of going Dry for a month.

After all – there must be a point to this walk through the dry desert in January, this Ready to be Thirsty challenge.  I ain’t doin’ it for the good of my health, right ??  Oh, wait….

Check out this article from Good to Know. You’ll see that the potential benefits of going dry for 31 days are numerous and huge:

  • reduced sugar intake
  • weight loss
  • improved sleep
  • increased clarity (or reduced ‘brain fog’)
  • better hydration
  • heightened sex drive
  • enhanced mood

All in all, there are 15 listed benefits.  So if it’s even half true, you’ve got seven-plus reasons to give this a try.   Thirsty is as thirsty does, folks – I’ll be liver-deep in benefits and invoking my sober spirit after Christmas, drinking tea and watching my spleen get leaner by the minute.

Join me on the journey and reap what you didn’t soak.

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A Dry White Season Reason

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Once again, not against my better judgement but actually using my better judgement, I will attempt to GO DRY this January.

Yep – January this year.  Like the Brits, doing their Dry January

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Or an amalgam of Canadian charities doing their Dry January

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Or a British Columbia charity, BeYouPromise.Org, hosting their Dry January:

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Seems like everyone is doing this sober thing in January.  Makes sense.  In December you’ll be doing some serious indulging.  You’ll be gorging yourself on butter tarts and beer, turkey and tequila, whiskey, wine and wasabi.   You’ll be engorged with the Holiday Spirit(s)!

And then you’ll be spending time whooping it up on New Year’s Eve, either at a party or parties, or strangely alone on your couch.  Any which way, you’ll have tied it on, soaked it up, drank it down, ate the roast beast and otherwise heard the Whos who-whoing down in Whoville.

And maybe, just maybe… you’ll need a break from the boxes and soxes, the drinking and slinking.  If you do pause from boozing, it’s weight you’ll be losing.  If you break from misbehaving, it’s money you’re saving.  And if you stop getting wetter, your sleeping’ll be better…

Don’t make me steal the sobriety alone.  Go Thirsty this January.

 

Pondering Imponderable Challenges

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In last evening’s sleepless semi-coma, I began to think about alcohol as a means to temporarily transform.   After all, that’s what drinking is – an adjustment of our headspace.

George Carlin once said that if we lived in a world with no drugs, people would spin around on their front lawns until they fell down.  Such is our relentless desire for altered consciousness.  At times, we want to change how we think, what we think, if we think.  Who we are.

Many people use alcohol to compensate for stress – a lubricant for relaxation.  Personally, that’s not my thing.  Alcohol generally either ramps my emotions, or…numbs me.  Depends how much energy I have, going in.  If I have good energy, then watch out…I perceive myself to be bloody hilarious.  If I have low energy and then I drink, watch me become somber, contemplative and perhaps a bit melancholy.  A boor or a poet. That’s who I become.

Whatever a person’s reaction to alcohol, it’s about some kind of escape from the current space.  A key to a door, leading to somewhere else.  Yet, for the month of February, I’ve been taking the Ready to be Thirsty challenge.  Dry for 29 days.   So instead of transforming, I’ve just been…myself. Heading into the last weekend of the challenge, I am still just me.  Tired, cranky, restless.  Content, energetic, collected.  Joyful, thoughtful, ponderous.  The whole beautiful mess of human feeling.

In some ways, then, a dry month is like holding up a mirror to the true self.  With 72 hours to go, I can say it’s been interesting getting to know that person a little better.

 

 

Overhaul the Alcohol !!

Here at Thirst, we look at alcohol from all the angles.

Big Picture:  A new plan just unveiled is changing how wine is being sold and distributed in Ontario.  Akin to how beer entered grocery stores in the past few months, we are about to see wine do the same, and be more available than ever.  This is another change in the overhaul to our alcohol distribution system.

That’s big picture stuff , systems at work – and maybe you’re happy about it – maybe it will save you a trip, I don’t know.

Small Picture: You and your community.   More access to booze means more consumption and more problems…not necessarily for you (okay, maybe you) – but perhaps for your daughter, your neighbor, your friend…and then, maybe for the cops, the jail, the hospital. You see, when you care about your community, you’re actually caring about yourself, and those you love.

When you look at both pictures…and maybe your own consumption, your own health, it starts to meld into a larger sense of knowing.

Figure 5

Exactly how Thirsty ARE we?

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Sometimes, there are things that feel contradictory.  Sometimes, there is an awareness of irony.

To tell the truth, I was looking forward to the Ready to be Thirsty challenge. I was feeling low energy and overweight, and I wanted a chance to ‘dry out’.  In twelve days, I’ve already lost weight and I feel really good.  No kidding.

And there are a bunch of people out there doing the challenge at the same time, and we are working – individually, collectively – to stay alcohol-free for the month of February.

Yet, this morning read an article about wine in grocery stores from Martin Cohn in the Toronto Star, and I feel like the mountain grows taller as the climber is upon it.  Like trying to ice-skate uphill.  Like swimming a bunch of pineapples out to Hawaii.  Like an oil-field worker in Alberta, perhaps.

There’s no denying that alcohol is a business, and this is just another in a series of decisions to stimulate the alcohol industry and create growth in Ontario.  I don’t know – perhaps Ontarians are happy (or indifferent) to see beer and wine in grocery stores.  But we know that increased access equals increased consumption and harms and costs.  To the health care system.  To lives – you know, like…people, children, us.

It seems ironic to me that we can be working hard as individuals to control, or learn about our own alcohol consumption…and we have an industry working hard to shove alcohol to the top of the shopping list. Even though the risks of moderate to heavy consumption are massive, well-known and being broadcast farther.

Alcohol causes cancer.  So does tobacco.  If we were seeing the same work to expand access to cigarettes, there would be protests and outrage.

 

Photo by Robert Terrell via Flickr.  Creative Commons.  No changes. 

From Shadow, into Lightness

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Why go booze free this February ?

  • Lose weight (alcohol is like drinking liquid sugar)
  • Save money (booze costs big bucks)
  • Gain some energy (a metabolism and hydration thing!)
  • Lose the fat off your liver
  • Sleep better (alcohol gets you to sleep, but it doesn’t keep you asleep)
  • Enliven your mind, invoke your spirit

I think that last one means the most.   For sure, there are articles out there, talking about the resounding and amazing health benefits.

Since these sober months are becoming pretty popular elsewhere in the world – there are many articles written about their virtues.   Some focus on the sense of accomplishment.  Some focus on survival.

But what about what you learn about yourself?  I didn’t realize this was an outcome until I did the challenge last year (and perhaps I am particularly sensitive about matters of the spirit these days).  Maybe it’s because when you have to stave off a craving, it’s a test of character.

Perhaps you love alcohol so much it’s absurd to think you’d give it up for a month on purpose.  But then, maybe it goes deeper…deep, deep down in those parts you don’t look at very often:

  • ‘It’s what I need to get by’ (or is it?)
  • ‘It’s such a joyful thing in my life’ (or is it?)
  • ‘It’s half the fun at curling night, or after pick-up hockey…'(or is it?)

Those ideas are exactly why you should try to get Thirsty.

A sober month can be a mirror to your soul, a look into the shadowy corners.  You might be scared to look there.  But it could also be a joyful explosion, a shining light, a revelation, an epiphany.

You won’t know unless you try.

Photo by manfred majer via Flickr, Creative Commons.  No changes.

The Social you in the New Year

Social drinking can be very enjoyable.  It can also be a bit of a trap. 

Like anything, there is a need for balance.  Social drinking can walk a very fine line between enjoyment and overindulgence…between adding to a good time and undermining relationships.  

I was looking over an article from a website called Bustle that listed several signals, or warning signs that we might have reached the ‘tippling point’.  

Let’s look:

  • You look forward to coming home to have a drink

  • You consume alone

  • You friends and acquaintances joke (or maybe simple make remarks) about how much you drink

  • You can’t really socialize, successfully or comfortably, without alcohol

The issue is often that we’ve entrenched alcohol into our lives, and we can’t really see the beginning and the end – often we aren’t consciously choosing to let it loose or play it straight.  

But then we have that occasional moment of clarity where we become self-conscious of our drinking, and who we become when we do.  Even if you don’t care about physical consequences or risks, perhaps you care about social consequences.   

Maybe it’s when you made that bad joke, or abrasive comment, or when you lost your temper, or that time you were embarrassed.    Maybe it was when you felt anxious, or depressed, or your kids saw something in you, of which you aren’t exactly proud.

Whatever the reason, there is always a chance to reexamine your choices.  A great opportunity might be Dry January where you’ll have a chance to go off the booze for 31 days, and maybe even raise some dough for a great cause, lose weight and feel great. 

Or, if happen to miss that boat – you can get Thirsty in February in our local, Simcoe Muskoka ‘dry month’ – Ready to be Thirsty !