It was about two years ago this December when I decided to take a simple break from alcohol. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and wondered: If I eliminate alcohol from my diet, will I reverse the crows feet wrinkles around my eyes?
Yup. My 37-year-old focus on eye wrinkles sparked my curiosity around what life would be like without the imbibing of alcoholic beverages. Though I stopped drinking somewhere mid-December of 2021, January of 2022 was my official "dry" month. I didn't set a goal to participate in a Dry January (as it is commonly named) but I did it. One month quickly turned into five months, and my sober-curious, alcohol-free pursuits took over (and yes, my wrinkles were reduced, too!)
I dabbled with drinking on several occasions in the summer of 2022, but each time I was reminded that I truly felt better when I was alcohol-free. I didn't know how long my "break" would last, and I still don't have a definitive goal or end post in sight. I just know how completely different I have felt these past two years, and I know with certainty that not drinking alcohol has played a major role in my general wellbeing and happiness.
As an educator who loves simplicity, focus, safety and calm, I couldn't believe how long it took me to realize alcohol was adding to my burnout and anxiety, not adding to my connection, peace, joy or health!
Within the first month that I stopped consuming alcohol, I noticed considerable changes in my overall mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual health. My sleep improved. I felt less anxiety and more excitement. Aches and pains in my joints diminished; my gut health improved. I looked forward to waking up in the morning. I was never afraid that I wouldn’t feel good or that I’d wake up groggy. I was calmer with my kiddos, and they were happier with me, too. I felt an immediate free up of space in both my thinking and my emotions. I felt lighter.
While there are more positives to share, and some honest struggles too, what I have learned over these past two years is:
Lowering or stopping my consumption of alcohol is invigorating and fun. The only really hard part was the fear I had around social situations--when I worried a bit about how my friends or family would react to my decision not to drink. The fear of standing out didn't last long in my journey because I realized two simultaneous, juxtaposing truths.
Truth number one: I didn't stand out. There were a lot of people already not drinking.
Truth number two: When I did stand out, and I kinda liked it. It’s fun telling other curious people about the awesome benefits of letting go of alcohol.
I honestly loved learning new information about my body and the health benefits of going alcohol-free. As my mind came alive with new learning, I found myself reaching out to initiate new friendships or conversations with others who I noticed seemed to choose an alcohol-free lifestyle, too. I made new friendships, improved existing relationships, and honestly just got to know myself so much better.
If you are curious about abstaining from alcohol or would like to try taking a break, but you wonder/worry you might be on your own or all alone...please trust me: You are not alone! There are SO MANY educators who either do not drink, barely drink, wish they drank less, would like to cut back, and/or are thinking about taking a break. We are all over, and I think maybe we just need a few more opportunities on how to connect on this healthy endeavor.
Kris Patrick, educator and co-owner of Loren's Alcohol-Free Beverages was the first person I reached out to when starting my sober-curious journey nearly two years ago.
When I was ready to cut-back, Kris and I had participated in probably 1.5 virtual conversations about school projects, and never about alcohol-free living. I just happened upon a few posts of hers on social media that indicated that she and her sister Andee, were organizing alcohol-free cocktail parties and I thought, "Oh! I love and admire Kris--I can ask her for suggestions on books or NA drinks she loves!"
Fast forward to December of 2023, and Kris and Andee are now the amazing owners of Loren's Alcohol-Free Beverages, located at 5790 E Main St Suite 150, Carmel, IN 46033, and online at www.lorensaf.com. One of their core values is to advocate for the mental and physical benefits of choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle, and their influence has created massive waves of success in the central Indianapolis area (where Kris and I both live). In addition to their brick and mortar and online stores, they also provide accessible resources like their Sparkling AF Newsletter and their Sparking AF Blog.
Still, as educators, Kris and I can see a bigger need. There is a current accepted trend in education circles that a great way to burn off steam is to gather together and drink. And while that may work wonders for some, I know from personal experience– it's hurting a lot of us. We believe it's time to normalize another option for ourselves in education, and with a little community and connection--we’re excited to create more alcohol-free engagements.
So, Kris and I are excited to create a simple Dry January for Educators community and You. Are. Invited. (Your friends and family are invited, too!)
If you want to take a break, we invite you to participate in Dry January 2024 (or consider the impact of eliminating alcohol from your life for good!)
We know there are millions of adults discovering the joyful effects of going alcohol-free, and we also know more educators have got to be out there (and we want to meet you!)
Here is what you can do:
Sign up to receive a weekly newsletter this January 2024 to provide support, connection and inspiration for those who want to partake in a dry start to their second semester.
Bring. Your. People. Part of the fun of not-drinking is finding the replacement activities and behaviors...and trying new experiences with your people is So. Much. Fun.
Create your OWN sober brunch for January 5th and send us your pics! We'd love to tag and celebrate you and your crew on this healthy endeavor.
Join us in a virtual check-in on January 31, 2024 at 7:00 pm via Zoom. We'll hop on to share our joys and experiences with a Dry January. Consider it a final celebration of connection at the start of your new year.
I usually reserve space on the blog for helpful leadership tips, strategies, systems and simplifications.
Eliminating alcohol from my lifestyle has been one of the most beneficial leadership changes I made for myself, so I decided to share with you.
If you've ever been curious about what would happen if you removed alcohol from the plan, we invite you to join us. Give your mind-body-soul a lasting, personal gift this holiday season: the gift of community in an alcohol-free January!