Awake Curious

Sober Curious
I’ve read two articles about being “sober curious” in my hometown paper in the past month. As someone who chose to stop drinking in April, I feel buoyed by the fact that there are others who are curious about living this way. At the same time, I feel as thought I’ve caught the latest fad, like Whole 30 or mom jeans.

In April I was working with the concept of “awake” in my classes, asking my students to be fully awake to their experiences – not to push them down, deny them, numb them. To meet anything that came up in their bodies, mind and spirits as a gift – a ground – in which to find a path to calming the fluctuations of the mind.

Meanwhile, each weekend, I drank alcohol. Monday morning classes were hard. By Wednesday, I felt better, slept better, had more energy because I didn’t drink during the week (and that was hard!) But then I systematically dismantled this sense of well-being with each glass at Happy Hour on Friday, cocktails on Saturday, and glasses of wine with Sunday dinner. It was a pattern of behavior it took me quite some time to recognize and then even longer to stop.

Each sober curious person has a story about how well they feel when they finally stop drinking alcohol. Mine is this: When my diagnosis came, I received my news with the equanimity that comes from being awake. I’m already practicing letting go and being honest and these practices are really handy in  the face of challenge. I am comforted that my intuition had already started me on a path of healing.

To prepare for healing through art-making post-surgery, I have been practicing with watercolors, something I’ve never quite liked to do. (Kind of like those nemesis poses we hate to do, but those are the ones we need so badly.) With watercolors, you have to plan for the light before you start. A good practice for healing — find the light then work with it as your focus.

When I saw this picture by Tom McCorkle in the in the Food Section of The Washington Post on Wednesday, I wanted to paint it because of the light.  I didn’t want to drink it.

All is well.

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