Do you ever wonder why certain topics just randomly pop up on your Facebook page or on your Instagram account? Why is this in my feed? Why do I keep seeing this? Lord, are you trying to tell me something? Is this a nudge from You? 🤔
That is what happened to me in April 2021. Jenn Kautsch aka @sobersis appeared in my Facebook feed uninvited. I thought what in the world is this? and kept scrolling on by. She dropped in several times so I started to read her stuff. Most times I would skim through and move on to the next post. But, the more I read the more I connected with what she was saying. I liked 👍 her page and followed along for about 5 months. Then in August of 2021, I made the choice to join her 21-Day Reset program.
This program was a 21-day reset from alcohol. I had done several 30 day challenges on my own, so I knew I could conquer the 21 days without much difficulty. And I did. When I successfully reached her 21 days, I joined her AFL program which equipped us with tools to stay on this zero-proof living path. It was during this program I learned this powerful saying, “It takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.” I was so close to 90 days so I decided to stick with the challenge until the 90-day mark. When 90 arrived, same thought… “I am so close to 100 days, I’ll go for that!” December 7, 2021, when I saw 100 days of alcohol free living come and go, I made a bold choice. I decided to ditch the drink for one full year. August 30th was the first day I ditched the wine, and, here I am…365 days later currently living an Alcohol Free lifestyle.
I’m sure you are wondering the same question most others ask me when I share my story with them: “Did you have a problem?” My answer to you and to them is always the same. “No, I did not!”
I was not physically addicted to alcohol. I just enjoyed my glass of wine at nighttime and began to wonder if maybe I was relishing my Clos du Bois Dry Rosé a little too much. After all, I didn’t drink wine to catch a buzz. I drank wine because I truly enjoyed the taste, and because it became so much a part of my life…social events like the University Gala and golf league, colleague outings after work, wine tasting on vacations, and back yard beverages with friends. Many early evenings, I would arrive home from work and, out of habit, pour myself a glass of Rosé which usually led to the 2nd and occasionally the 3rd glass. Yes indeed, it was time to reevaluate my relationship with wine. It was time to break up for a while.
I’ll be honest, though. Have there been challenging days where the crave wave hits? Oh, my goodness, yes! Several! Still! I enjoyed wine. But, as we all know, habits can be extremely difficult to break (just ask anyone trying to give up coffee or sugar or diet coke or whatever the poison…). My cravings for a glass of wine seem to ebb and flow like ocean waves.
For example, my husband and I will drive by one of our favorite restaurants that serves a delightful glass of Rosé and the crave wave might hit me so hard it will almost knock me down. However, when we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in June, I turned and bravely faced that champagne crave wave and stood strong determined not to get knocked over.
During those times when the cravings overwhelm me, I say many prayers! Then I surf the crave wave and cling to my why for doing this. “Knowing our WHY gives us purpose and direction, it becomes our North Star” (Sinek, 2022). And, “You see, I think it’s when we tap into our why and see it fulfilled that we find the motivation to keep moving forward” (Lowe, 2022).
Below are my main reasons why I ditched the drink:
- Obedience. The Lord was nudging me to give it up and there’s nothing in this world that I want more than to be obedient to Christ!
- Overall health. Over the past few years I’ve been placed on two meds…one for atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and the other for high blood pressure. I have no idea how alcohol might be reacting with these medications.
- Alzheimer’s. My parents enjoyed many cocktails throughout their lifetime, and they both had major issues with cognitive decline. Research shows alcohol can have toxic effects on the brain such as damaging the memory center causing short plus long-term memory loss. I certainly do not want to enhance my chances for this destructive disease.
- Sleep. Why was I always waking up around 3:00 a.m.? I was tired of being tired.
- Guilt and shame. Because one side of my family had/has major problems with alcohol, I made the choice years ago that I did not want to be like that. It seemed this decision had faded a little over the years which made me feel guilty. Satan took hold of this guilt and tortured me with it. I no longer wanted to be oppressed by this guilt and shame.
- Choice. We all know alcohol is an addictive drug. It is the only drug that is socially acceptable. It is the only drug that you are questioned on if you DO NOT use it. If I continue to drink, there is that scary risk of addiction. It is still my choice to “burn the plow and leave the alcohol behind.”
Because of my curiosity, I have learned so much about alcohol over the past year. I’ve read books such as Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck, Alcohol Explained by William Porter, and The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley (which is hilarious); listened to podcasts such as Annie Grace’s The Naked Mind; and followed some fun people on Instagram who have shared their alcohol free living journeys.
One “eyebrow raising” fact I learned was this: did you know alcohol is ethanol? I had no idea, and this was shocking news to me! I also discovered it is the additives that make alcohol taste good. Beer is ethanol with hops added to it. Wine is ethanol with grapes added to it (and I do love grapes). Spirits, like whiskey, are ethanol with barley or other grains added to it plus coke or water or whatever. Holy buckets of beer! Just park on that thought for a while. Like I said, it’s been quite a learning year.
A favorite part of my journey has been the drink alternatives because remember, for me, it’s about the taste not the buzz. One of my favorite alternatives to order when out at a restaurant is a ‘virgin’ mint mojito or as it is sometimes called, a mint “NO-hito.” So yummy, but also so full of sugar. If you order one, just ask for way less simple syrup.
During the winter months I enjoyed a “NOT Toddy.” I made it like a normal Hot Toddy but with a Cinnamon flavored Alcohol Free whiskey replacement. Another drink I like to mix up anytime is a Cherry Bomb; add one part tart cherry juice to two parts club soda in a fancy glass full of ice and enjoy the deliciousness. One bonus from this mocktail is tart cherry juice has natural melatonin so it might help with sleep at night.
Important note: I LOVE fancy glasses! I use them at home plus always ask for one when out. One time while at a local restaurant, I ordered a club soda with a splash of grenadine and muddled mint (also delicious, by the way). I asked our waitress to please put it in a fancy glass. Her response was perfect…“Oh, I got you. Everything tastes better in a fancy glass.” 😉
I shared earlier that I enjoyed a lovely Rosé. Well, I have found two Alcohol Free (AF) Rosés that are divine. Yes, both have sugars, but zero added sugars. The sugars are natural from the grapes used in each of my two favorites.
My all-time favorite is the 5-star rated Alcohol Free Bubbly Rosé made by Grüvi. It’s a little expensive but so worth it to me. And, it’s only 60 calories a bottle. Score!!
My second favorite is the Rosé called H2💗 Sonoma Soft Seltzer. There are extra bonuses in this one. According to their website, “Your body will benefit from H2💗’s extra burst of antioxidant Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Potassium and Calcium electrolytes.” Keep in mind that Vitamin B12 gives us energy. I drink this one during the day (day drinking 😜) so it doesn’t interfere with my sleep.
Every now and then I enjoy an ice cold beer…especially during those over 100 degree days. I’ve tried most NA beers and the only one I have found to be palatable is Coors Edge which is similar to a Mich Ultra but with less calories (my hubby’s favorite NA’s are Athletic Brewing NA’s and Sam Adams Just the Haze). Add a few giant sized olives to the chilled glass and you’ve got yourself a refreshing treat (yes, we add olives to our beer here in Minnesota). Or, you could add a little lemon which kind of reminds me of a Summer Shandy.
On those special occasions, like an anniversary or New Year’s Eve, the Fre Sparkling Brut Champagne is my favorite. We recently toasted to 30 years of marriage with this one. 😍
My son celebrated a big birthday this year, along with my youngest granddaughter celebrating 5 years of life. The party invite said “Bouncy Castles & Bourbon.” 😛 My hubby enjoys an occasional bourbon. When we discovered an NA Bourbon, my hubby tried it and gave it a thumbs up to use for mixing. We took this NA Bourbon along to the birthday party and I mixed up a scrumptious NA Blackberry Bourbon Smash. Oh my, yummo!
Now that I’ve reached my goal of one year, I’m sure you are wondering what is next. I often ponder this, too. Maybe I’ll just have a glass of wine on special occasions? Well, today might be 365 days later, but the reality is my WHY has not changed! Plus, I can’t ‘unknow what I now know.’
The benefits I’ve experienced during this AF journey far out-weigh going back. I’ll share those benefits sometime in a future post. For now, my plan is to keep going forward and be like a domino: “It’s kind of like a domino effect: once you are already moving forward with momentum, it’s easier to keep going.” I’ll keep going forward, one step at a time; one day at a time. My mindset is parked on the thought of staying fully present, alert, self-controlled, aware, and clearheaded. Cheers! 🥂
Stay Calm & Take a Break from the Bottle!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.
P.S. If you are wondering about the links I’ve shared throughout my story, please know I get NO compensation, ZERO credits for sharing these. They are just my honest opinion on products I have tried. 😊
P.S.S. If you have any questions for me about my journey, please ask in the comment section found below.