A year ago I decided (admitted!) that the Booze Bitch was influencing my life in ways that were not beneficial. My entire adult life had included enjoying (or imbibing anyway) some form of alcohol on a very regular basis; primarily wine, but I was also a adept at creating delicious herbal infused and unusual, interesting cocktails. I followed an obligatory “should” of occasionally interrupting my intake of alcohol with breaks from drinking here and there to prove to myself that I didn’t have a “problem”, but for the most part it was an integral (I thought vital!) component of my life. Before a year ago, I never even contemplated the notion that I may quit drinking someday. NEVER. I could not imagine having to give it up. I loved wine, I loved booze, I loved partying, I loved the whole entire romantic world of intoxication. I had never landed in any major messes due to my personal intake of alcohol, no serious disasters had damaged my life, so I truly thought I was off the hook.
I knew I needed to take some serious time off from drinking during Shelter At Home orders recently, because I was experiencing increasing anxiety and stress, waking at 3AM in a panic, and my body was feeling lethargic. I experienced periods of time throughout recent years in which I was unproductive and unable to motivate myself to do much of anything. I found myself in a worrisome financial situation last year. I was struggling to pay all my bills and my debts were burying me. I had to get a job. I chose the wine industry because of my hospitality background, even knowing I would soon be fully immersed in the wine world. That meant booze would be all around me and I undoubtedly would drink. I knew wine would be constantly tempting me, calling out to be consumed. Cognitive dissonance was already in place in my mind – that struggle of knowing one thing, yet doing an opposing thing, creating conflict of integrity, my actions and my knowing- out of alignment.
So here I am now, during a global pandemic having sheltered at home mostly in isolation and lonely, on Day 63 of not drinking. Me! I cannot imagine my life any better, or happier, or more magnificent than it feels right at this moment. Life begins to blossom in outrageous ways once we are willing to take the necessary steps to become our very best selves. It’s all about integrity for me. When I walk my walk and talk my talk, the Universe supports me. I have outrageously big dreams and visions for my life. I may be in my third act of life with many chapters behind me, but I am just getting started! I figure I have at least 30 more years to contribute my best self, and I am choosing a sober lifestyle for my final act. 63 days ago, I decided I would do whatever it took to feel better and experience true inner peace again, even if that meant (gulp!) giving up my beloved booze. Honestly, I was completely attached to the idea that I would always be a drinker, that it was a wonderful part of my life. I just had no way to imagine myself, my life, without it. If I could have told my younger self that being sober would bring me more happiness, vitality, integrity, and pure joy than anything else I could envision for my life, I don’t think I would have been able to believe it. Now I am LIVING it!
My greatest hope in sharing my vulnerability and authenticity through this blog is that through telling the book of my life on these pages, by opening myself up completely to you chapter by chapter, no facades, no secrets, I can help others who are currently struggling. I truly hope I can reach someone who might be swirling in their self induced, painful inferno, crying out for a life jacket to save them from drowning in their mess. If I can reach just one person who is desperately seeking a way out of their personal booze-induced hell, if I can contribute to changing a life, then I will know supreme satisfaction. Deep happiness comes when we know we have changed a life for the better. It brings a delicious sense of inner peace that fills every cell. If I can make a difference, I will have done what I was born to do. I will have become an Influencer. If I can make people question their choices around drinking, if I can prevent a destructive falling down the cliff of despair that results in tragedy, then I will know I have become the person I landed here on Planet Earth to become. Grace embodied. Always there, grace.
Things sometimes change in our lives without our permission, and that’s what happened to me in 2014-2015. I went through a divorce – number 2 for me, after 13 years together. I found myself once again single. My business partnership came to an end as it was not working, not serving either of us or the business after over 7 years of trying. My life continued to be mostly happy despite all the changes. Until it wasn’t. Financial challenges can cause intense stress, and despair set in as I realized I needed to turn away from my business world which was such a part of me, and hunt for work, a J O B. I deeply love my business but after investing the majority of my savings to support all the many aspects of it, it wasn’t where I needed it to be concerning profitability and I felt overwhelmed trying to solve the puzzle on my own. I was at a point where I either needed to figure out how to reinvent my business as solo owner once again, or I would have to let it all go; all my investment and love and passion and hopes and dreams. I knew the urgency, but I faced a great big brick wall in front of me, blocking any forward movement. I didn’t have clarity about just what I wanted to do with my business, how I wanted to proceed, and what it would take to get there. I needed a revenue stream to support myself while I figured everything out.
Since I live in the heart of amazing wine country in San Luis Obispo County, CA, with wineries practically in my backyard, I decided I would focus my search in that direction. Twenty years of experience in restaurants and wineries followed by 10 years running businesses (previous to starting my new one) including employees and substantial growth / profitability made me a highly desirable candidate. I landed employment at a very classy and highly revered winery in the heart of perhaps the world’s most amazing wine country, Paso Robles, CA. I started working there in August 2019. I was super excited that their focus is heavy on fine customer service, my greatest strength. I also have known, respected, and admired the company for decades. Working at the winery was my first return to being an employee in 15 years. I was “The Boss” for all those years, building teams, acquiring customers, and making big decisions. I emphasized and supported each team members’ best talents with encouragement and appreciation. I was never a manager who considered myself above any task-I got my hands dirty right there with the rest of the crew. It was hard to adjust to my new role as “just” an employee. I witnessed behavior and cattiness by a few coworkers that was painful to be around, that made me cringe and wish I could disappear. I was very uncomfortable at times. I was bothered by the lack of professionalism from some of the employees and thought often of how differently I would do things.
Re-entering the work force at a mature age has advantages and disadvantages. I know what it means to give great customer service. At the same time I don’t have the hustle I had in my younger years. I do not have the authority to make the rules, but I sure as hell do have the choice to be the best ME possible. I can be a role model, an example, just by making choices not to engage, not to feed gossip, drama, and other negative behavior. It reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Touche’! Now that I have taken up residence in Sobersville, I am peaceful and happy and I know my happiness emanates outward. Others can do what they will do, I will be living in integrity with myself. I will focus on the best qualities I can find in each person and remember not to waste my energy wishing things were different. It’s a great job and company, and I am very fortunate to be part of it. I like and respect the majority of my coworkers and managers very much. Every job has its positive and negative aspects. This one is overwhelmingly positive and brings me a lot of happiness and financial ease, so I choose thankfulness and appreciation. I strive every day to be an outstanding representative for the company, to be a bright and shining lighthouse and guide, to the best of my ability. And I repeat The Serenity Prayer to myself often.