Dry February

At the beginning of the month I committed to giving up alcohol for February in order to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and kick start some healthy habits. I’m just over the hump now, and with two weeks to go only$25 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $250. It feels really good on many levels.

I started experimenting with sobriety in the later half of 2017 as a means for managing my depression without anti-depressants (I’m no longer insured). I quickly discovered the hardest part was to be able to be social and sober. There are only a handful of people that I have strong enough relationships with to interact in a non-booze related setting. Everything from business networking events to opening receptions to my grandmother’s 85th birthday party feature conspicuous alcohol consumption. My mom pointed out that it’s easier to avoid coffee because people often ask “would you like coffee or tea?” Where as when offered an alcoholic beverage there is often no easy alternative that is not immediately met with scrutiny or ridicule. I’ve been dry for 18 days, and it’s got me thinking more about the role alcohol plays in my life.

Alt Alt DIY Fest was a huge success on many levels, but it would not have been as financially successful without operating a cash bar. It’s hard to say whether it would have been as socially successful either. I would like to think that the quality of the work would speak for itself, however on a frigid weekend in Saskatoon I do think drink specials play a huge role in whether people feel that it is worthwhile to venture out. Is there a profitable model for operating a venue sans-bar sales? What about fundraisers that don’t feature pushing booze on supporters? Can we normalize creative and social spaces that are not centred around liquor?

I love sipping at an event as much as the next twenty something, but if I’m honest with myself about how often I’m actually enjoying the booze and how often I just want something to do with my hands it makes me appreciate a good glow in the dark fidget spinner! I’m not a church-going person, I don’t like practicing yoga at a studio, I don’t watch sports, and I can’t keep up with a book club. My main connection to community is through arts events. If all of these arts events also feature alcohol that is a lot of spinning.

There have been times in the past when I would not have committed to going one month sober because of this. If resisting temptation is met with risk of social isolation often a drink is the lesser of two evils. Which is what I’ve found managing my depression. Maybe someday I will be ready to dramatically alter my social habits enough to cut alcohol out completely, but for now I’m more interested in looking for ways to minimize it’s centrality. There have been so many wonderful conversations on creating a consent culture cropping up in the wake of #MeToo movement, and I think the natural extension of that is to the role alcohol plays in our lives. Not in a limiting the number of drinks women consume way (looking at you Stanford), but in a creating space for people to opt into alcohol culture without having it shoved down their throats. Particularly in creative spaces.

Creative events are offer the opportunity to experience something bigger than ourselves. They are sexy, they are cool, they are intoxicating. Let’s normalize creating creative spaces that are just as intoxicating to inhabit sober in 2018.

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Sober September

Last night at midnight I had my first beer in a month. It tasted good, but not as good as I remembered. It helped pass the time as we visited after a night of music & dancing, but it didn’t improve my enjoyment of the night noticeably. 

I didn’t want to make a big deal about committing to sober September because I didn’t want to come across healthier than thou, but also because I wasn’t sure what kind of statement that would be making about my life. Part of me was also a little afraid I would not be able to do it. I’ve never attempted a complete cleanse before. what if I really was in denial about how much I drink? What if I had become dependent without realizing it? What if my social life evaporated? What if I realized I didn’t like myself without the alcohol?

In short: it was fine.

Nothing really dramatic changed. I was still depressed, still thought about death too much, still had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, still went out to see shows at bars with friends and danced and had fun, still said wildly inappropriate things over text, I even tried to date and flirt a bit. In short it was a pretty average month except I was a little more acutely aware of the pain of existence, and I saved a couple hundred dollars.

 It also allowed me to admit that I am actually sick. I am deeply depressed & anxious. Drinking certainly doesn’t help alleviate my depression, but it isn’t the source of it either. I need to seek separate support for my mental health beyond just making healthier choices. It did reassure me that I am in control of my life. I might live on the edge occasionally, but I accomplish the goals I set my mind to with ease.

Over all I think it was a successful month. Not a lifestyle change I can imagine subscribing to in the long run, but a practice I plan to maintain awareness of going into the long winter nights.

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5x immunity

I’m lying in my bed, sick as a dog, thinking of how to get better. Dreaming  of all the things I’ve left unsaid I awoke with a frog in my throat several days ago. A suppressed immune system & overactive nervous system. My body is setting its own rhythm as seasons change. Unable to speak, a mandatory period of bed rest & reflection at the start of a voluntarily sober September. This is what I am musing on in my sick bed.

Enjoy

  1. Hunger Makes Me via my dear friend Charlie Peters, a poignant reflection on female appetite 
  2. For Men* Who Desperately Need Autonmy via Nora Samaran
  3. Legendary Ballerina Sylvie Gulliem Performs Sacred Monster via the lovely Ann Connors
  4. Dr. Gabor Mate – How Stress Causes Disease a talk from his research for When The Body Says No which I have been thinking about as my immune system & nervous system go haywire 
  5. The Real Reason Women Drink via my charming friend Sarah Etter
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5x

I’m lying in my bed, sick as a dog, thinking of how to get better. Dreaming  of all the things I’ve left unsaid I awoke with a frog in my throat several days ago. A suppressed immune system & overactive nervous system. My body is setting its own rhythm as seasons change. Unable to speak, a mandatory period of bed rest & reflection at the start of a voluntarily sober September. This is what I am musing on in my sick bed.

Enjoy

  1. Hunger Makes Me via my dear friend Charlie Peters, a poignant reflection on female appetite 
  2. For Men* Who Desperately Need Autonmy via Nora Samaran
  3. Legendary Ballerina Sylvie Gulliem Performs Sacred Monster via the lovely Ann Connors
  4. Dr. Gabor Mate – How Stress Causes Disease a talk from his research for When The Body Says No which I have been thinking about as my immune system & nervous system go haywire 
  5. The Real Reason Women Drink via my charming friend Sarah Etter
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