What Teapots and Birkenstocks Mean After 120 Days Sober

In less than 6 months, I will be turning 50.  For the first time in 30 years, I will celebrate sober.  A little over halfway through the journey, sometimes I feel regret that I waited so long to discover inner peace but also many days I feel upset that I can’t party like a rock star anymore!  Maybe that feeling will fade as 120 days rolls into 200, 365 and more.  More time of living in the present and fully engaged.

In many ways, my newfound sobriety has brought me back full circle to the things I have always loved, especially COMFORT.  I am a homebody (though this is surprising to many) who loves my couch, family, warmth of the sun or a roaring fire, homemade meals and simple pleasures.

I think the bare-boned honesty it takes to admit one is powerless over a person, place or thing brings with it comfort and liberation – so really, I have just come “home.”

I choose comfort over cuteness
I choose comfort over cuteness
I want my tea, not my Malbec
I want my tea, not my Malbec

I realized I had accepted my “lot” as a “recovering alcoholic” when I found myself daydreaming about having a pair of Birkenstocks and a good tea kettle.  Chuckle and snort, though I may about this, the darned truth of the matter is:  I AM HAPPY WITH MYSELF!  

There are messes our family must deal with left behind from my years of selfish self-medicating, at the top of which, of course, is my habit of overspending.  But, my God!  4 months ago I could not have stayed clear-headed long enough to even research where our money was going much less devise a plan to resolve it.

A good friend is helping me re-vamp my resume, too.  THIS would never have happened when I was drinking.  She cannot believe I don’t have any “professional” self-esteem.  I can’t believe there is someone out there that sees something I can’t see, but I am willing to dig further, to consider some truths about myself and put myself in the ring of competition for whatever rewarding career awaits me next.  I must do this, not only for myself and my family, but because things are going too well to just sit on my couch (as much as I love it!) for the rest of my life.

Push Push Push.  I think I can until I know I can – the Little Engine that Could.  This is me at 49, a little war-torn and rough but loving the journey and thanking God every day I wake up sober.

120 days sober looks like this when you are 49
120 days sober looks like this when you are 49

Redemption Slushies and the New Year

1222141156Lately my new part-time job has me pondering my parenting style and life in general.  I sell high-end fashion to women of all ages and, like the trusty “potty training” and “chore charts” often used to train toddlers and youngsters to do the right things consistently, my new employer recognizes achievement in denim sales on a weekly chart that I see every time I go into the break room for more lipstick or a sip of Diet Coke!

As you can tell, my sales are D-O-W-N!!!  I haven’t mastered the art of romancing a customer from the front of the store to the dressing room filled with clothes I have personally selected for her body type.  It remains to be seen whether I ever will.

But this much I do know:  I make every single person I interact with feel good and want to come back!!!

How does this translate to my parenting style?

I guess it goes back to the old “punishment-reward” theory that caused me so much consternation as a parent of lively toddlers.  I never could manage to completely punish bad behavior but rather relished in the opportunity to praise and reward good behavior.  Many other parents along the way criticized my form of “discipline.”  (I don’t even like that word!).  However, I could not help noticing that the children my children played with who were consistently punished for the same erroneous behavior never seemed to be motivated to change through punishment alone.  Hence, my Cosmically Cool invention of the “REDEMPTION SLUSHIE” behavioral modification system.

One very long, hot, windy summer on the Kansas Plains I endeavored to enforce a daily routine upon my children – both to punctuate the endlessly long days and also to provide a sense of “accomplishing” something during the summer as so many of their peers seemed to be able to do.  It never went very well.  My kids know me inside and out.  By the end of the summer, the only routine I had managed to successfully imprint into their bright minds was the afternoon slushie break – many times, an offering of forgiveness for previously bad behavior and a covenant for better behavior in the future.

At the end of the day, I decided I did not care whether the children were “getting” a larger lesson in discipline.  What mattered to me was that they understood they could be forgiven – and that they had the power to forgive others and establish new terms for playing together more harmoniously in the future.

Thus, the “Redemption Slushie” both metaphorically and in actuality has become a mantra to me in my attempt to help form my children’s character as well as my own professional performance.  What it feels like in practice is something like this:  “I promise to push you as far as I can push you in pursuit of living a life of kindness and purpose – and when we falter, as surely we will – we shall re-negotiate the meaning of what is good and share  Redemption Slushies.”

It is my parenting version of breaking bread together.  The relationship model I want with my children fits in a circle of love and trust – not on a hierarchical chart with ugly black dots.  Ultimately, this is what I strive for in all my relationships, so if I ever invite you to share a slush with me know that this request comes from my Source of love – not just my appetite!

Happy New Year and I raise my Slushie to You!!!