Books

:: Looking back at January ::

After several sessions of wondering (i.e. overthinking) if my little monthly review is worth the time and effort, I’ve concluded that it is a nice exercise for me to reflect on the highs and, if I’m being honest, omit the lows, from each month. If you’ve been following along, I completely skipped over December, which was unintentional but c’est la vie. (In spite of the holiday, it was a pretty quiet month. We didn’t travel home to the PNW and enjoyed our first Christmas in Los Angeles.) Anyway, I’m just going to pick it back up with a fresh recap for the first month of 2018.

Before I proceed, I will say that January is a hard month for me. All of them are difficult, not just the current one. In the span of days between Christmas and New Year’s, I get caught up in the energy of goal setting and planning and creating a number of unrealistic expectations for myself and my life.  Then, usually about two weeks into the new year, I get bitch-slapped by reality and return to regularly scheduled programming: feeling overwhelmed by too many ideas, paralyzing procrastination, and an existence that doesn’t quite measure up to that vision board kind of life I desire.

So, yeah, the year is off to a great start.

BUT, there have been some of those aforementioned highs and that’s where I’m trying to focus my energy!

➼ I celebrated my first full year of sobriety on January 5th.

➼ I worked out. A lot! I did a combination of four types of Crossfit classes (including regular classes, Olympic lifting, mechanics, and cardio conditioning) totaling 40 sessions. I also ran 15.75 miles.

➼ I set new personal records in the power clean and front squat (3 rep max.), and saw significant improvement in my pull-ups, handstand/handstand walk, and rope climbs.

➼ We welcomed the new year in the company of my brother and his family.

➼ I experienced my first red carpet.

➼ I was welcomed back by Sportland Tea Co. as an ambassador for another year.

➼ I submitted queries to two online publications. I received a response back from one of them and they will be publishing an article I wrote in the near future. Yay!

➼ I finished two books (one I started in December) and began a third. (My goal this year is to read a minimum of 20 books. Hopefully more!)

➼ I wrote alot too. My manuscript word count is currently up to 67,280.

 

I hope your year has started off with a bang – in the best way possible – and that trend continues into February and beyond!

 

 

 

 

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:: DIY MFA Book Club ::

As a writer who aspires to become better at my craft, I try to regularly participate in activities that are in alignment with that goal. Reading and studying various texts by seasoned authors and authorities on the subject is a prominent piece of the puzzle. One such book that I picked up last summer and have been slowly making my way through is DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira.

For the sake of full disclosure and transparency, I do not have a college degree. In fact, I dropped out of community college when I was 17 years old before completing the first term. (Honestly, I don’t think I even made it a month!) While that is another story for another day, I will say that on many occasions over the years in professional settings especially, I’ve allowed the lack of a certificate to make me feel less than enough. Now, 23 years later, I still find myself occasionally wishing that I had followed that path because I would love to have a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. However, at least at this point in my life, it’s not in the cards.

So back to DIY MFA. I was drawn to it because Ms. Pereira has created a do-it-yourself alternative to the college experience and teaches her readers how to apply the fundamentals of the MFA program – writing, reading and building a support network – without stepping foot on a campus or going into crippling debt.

In addition to the book, she offers a number of resources and coaching opportunities to help writers refine their skills. One such program I’m currently participating in is a book club that works through some of the concepts in DIY MFA and includes challenges such as writing prompts in which we are asked to write about a specific topic and share our work. Our first assignment is based on the question: how did you become a writer?

I’ll be sharing my response to that prompt in a forthcoming post as well as future ones throughout the event.

DIY MFA Book Club Participant

Participant badge.

 

 

::Dry in January (and beyond) – Part Two::

Thank you for coming back to read Part Two! As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve been working to curate a comprehensive list of resources for anyone looking for some guidance or inspiration. Whether you’re considering going dry in January or giving booze the boot for good, I hope you’ll find some value in the following collection.

*Editors Note*

You’ll notice that I did not include a category for books. There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of great books on the topic. However, I’ve only read one so far (Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sasha Z. Scoblic), barely scratching the surface. If I follow through with my 2018 goal to read more (my recurring New Year’s resolution since at least 2010), I’ll happily add some reading recommendations in the future.

Also, I will update each category as I discover new resources. (I also apologize to any of my Instagram friends whom I’ve omitted in error.)

Sober Sisters

Ivy League Insecurities – Aidan Donnelley Rowley – Author and Creator of Drybe

Momastery – Glennon Doyle – Author and Speaker

Tammi Salas – Tammi Salas – Artist, Writer, and Podcast Host

Laura McKowen – Laura McKowen – Writer, and Co-host of HOME Podcast

Mary Beth LaRue – Mary Beth LaRue – Yoga Teacher, Rock Your Bliss Co-founder, and Writer

Meadow DeVor – Meadow DeVor – Yoga Teacher, Money Coach, and Writer

Gabby Bernstein – Author, Speaker, and Spirit Junkie

Nicole Antoinette – Nicole Antoinette – Podcast Host and Writer

Websites

This category contains a variety of websites that include blogs, courses, rehabilitation options, support, etc. Some of these sites allow you to sign up for a newsletter or be added to an email list if you choose.

Hip Sobriety

Bloom Club

A Girl and a Tonic

The Sober School 

One Rep at a Time

One Year No Beer

She Recovers

Rehab Finder

Alcoholics Anonymous

Podcasts

HOME Podcast

Unruffled Podcast

EDIT Podcast

Instagram Accounts

@thesoberglow

@hipsobriety

@sillylaura

@soberevolution

@thesoberkates

@soberandalive

@hello_its_michelle_

@dianaunlu

@onerepatatime

@hipsobriety

@laura_mckown

@fabulous13

@gloria_blecha

@muttonattacks

@mysoberlife

Instagram Accounts for sober CrossFit chicks – if buff, booze-free babes are your jam (because they’re mine!).

@teamcarleen

@oliviapartington

@fitpinup37

@krissymaecagney

@kelfitz11

Products

Curious Elixirs – Booze-Free Craft Cocktails (I haven’t tried these yet but love what they’re doing and they have recipes you can make at home!)

G.T.’s Kombucha – My favorite brand, overall, and easy to find in most grocery stores.

La Croix – Flavored sparkling water with a cult following and available everywhere.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – The single product that I believe has made the biggest impact on my wellbeing this year! (I drink it in my coffee and add it to smoothies and elixirs.)

Tips

I have compiled a list of the things that I’ve done over the past 350 days that helped me in the preparation of – and throughout – the journey thus far.

  • Make a list of your “why’s” and keep it handy so you can reread it frequently. Why is this important to you? What do you hope to gain by going dry?
  • Set a date. If you’re going to go dry in January but starting after the first, that’s okay. Just designate the 31 days following whatever date you select.
  • Clean out any remaining alcohol stock you have on hand. If it’s something special that you want to save, consider having someone store it for you. Drink what you must but give away the rest or pour it down the sink.
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages on hand. Lots of ’em. If you are partial to your evening drink rituals, you’ll need something to replace the sensation of holding a drink. But make it special. I always have La Croix and kombucha on hand. Sometimes I’ll swap in a good ginger beer or make a crafty mocktail. I’m not afraid to use a wine or cocktail glass either. However, that is going to be different for everyone.
  • Find distractions. Take up a new hobby or revisit one that you’ve put on the backburner. Set a new goal. Sign up for a 5k. Renew your gym membership. Take a painting class. Join a book club. Whatever floats your boat.
  • Plan to reward yourself. If you’re doing a shorter period, say a month, plan a nice reward after you complete your goal. A massage, tickets to a sporting event, a new pair of pants from Lulu, etc. Something big and as extravagant as your budget will allow. For those going longer, consider a small reward every 25 days or at the completion of each month. This was the strategy I used. Every 25 days, I would treat myself to a small reward with an average of $20-$25 (a book, a houseplant, crystals – yes, I’m that girl – to name a few ideas).
  • Connect with the sober community. I’ve given you plenty of rad people to be inspired by.
  • Ask for support from your closest friends or loved ones. As I mentioned in part one, I went at this alone in the beginning and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a very strong sense of resolve. Invite your spouse, partner or best friend to join you and encourage each other.
  • Create a toolbox. I have two. One is actually a small pouch that I carry with me most of the time. In it, I have Liquid Bliss, Rescue Remedy (oops, need to restock) and some other Bach flower essence, a couple sachets of tea, mala beads, a piece of amethyst and other gemstones, a stone with the word freedom carved into it, essential oil, a stick of palo santo, and arnica. The other is a list of things I can do instead of drink. It includes:
    • Make tea, a mocktail, matcha, or an elixir
    • Go get a latte
    • Drink some kombucha
    • Make a smoothie
    • Do some yoga poses or stretch
    • Meditate or practice pranayama (breathing exercises)
    • Light some candles, incense, palo santo, or sage (smudge)
    • Read
    • Write
    • Journal
    • Paint
    • Listen to a podcast
    • Bake or cook something nutritious
    • Nap
    • Buy some flowers
    • Take a bath
    • Put on a face mask
    • Watch a movie
    • Go for a walk or workout
Dry in January

The contents of my “toolbox”.

A Couple of Additional Suggestions

I also carry a reminder to myself to own my decision. It is not a sad consequence but rather a proud choice. It is a very powerful and totally badass act of profound self-love. Additionally, I printed out a small calendar to track my days. There are a number of apps out there that you can download onto your phone to keep track of how many days you’ve refrained from drinking but I prefer to write it down each day. It allows me to recommit to my choice daily and express gratitude for another day feeling clear and completely awake.

Regardless of whether you’re going dry in January or have elected to go for the long haul, take it one day at a time. When you wake up each morning, remind yourself why you don’t want to drink and tell yourself that you are going to choose to not drink that day.

Final Thoughts

There are so many tools out there that are readily available. Don’t be afraid to do some exploration. Go as deep as you’re comfortable; you will likely find that there is a vast spiritual component to sobriety. While I’ve been doing some digging on and off, because it is something that I crave in my life, I will be doing more of that work in the future. But like I said, do what is comfortable for you.

Remember, these are the things that worked for me. From what I’ve offered here and whatever else you find as you begin your journey, you can piece together your own protocols.

If you have any tips or helpful suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. The same is true if you need some support or have questions. You are not alone in any of this – by a longshot – so if you feel compelled, feel free to reach out! Email me at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

:: Mid Month Check-in ::

This morning, after a period of disbelief over the fact that it is officially the middle of November and one week until Thanksgiving (how can that be?!), I started to slip down the slope of self-criticism. For starters, my intention to write a 50,000-word novel as a participant of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) went down the shitter about three days in. I also promised myself that I’d practice my handstand skills every day. And seek new freelance writing gigs. And… I’ll stop there. The kicker is that I also volunteered myself to work behind the scenes on social media content for a film being shot on location in various parts of Idaho. So all of that while traveling and spending several hours each day on set too. Doh.

Almost two weeks ago, a newsletter landed in my email inbox from writer, artist, and fellow sober sister, Tammi Salas, that really hit home. In it, she talks about how, and I’m summarizing here, overachievement is a type of drunkenness. We set these lofty goals and create high expectations and it does feel a little like being drunk; because when we’ve altered our state of being and inhibition has left the building, anything is possible, right?

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

You see, just because I quit drinking alcohol over 1,000 days ago doesn’t mean I still don’t get drunk. I get drunk on ideas and to-do lists sometimes. I get drunk on overachieving and seeing if I can channel my inner-Martha Stewart on-demand. I get drunk on unattainable goals. And, I most definitely get drunk on unrealistic expectations. This, my friends, is when I am most definitely NOT (emotionally) sober.

She goes on to say that we can give ourselves permission to stop the insanity and that it is okay change our minds, our direction, our plan, our whatever. We have the power to quiet that nagging, insistent voice that says we have to do ALL THE THINGS. We don’t. We really don’t.

This has been a recurring theme for me quite some time and I’m so over it! I will definitely be doing some personal work in the coming weeks and months to free myself from this cycle. (In fact, I’ve been trying to read Present Over Perfect for a few months now and it seems fitting that I dive back into that asap!)

I should note that while the past few weeks have been a whirlwind, I’ve gotten to explore Idaho and see parts of the country I’d never seen before. I fell head-over-heels in love with the city of Coeur D’Alene which is now in a heated battle with my number one dream city to live in, Bend, Oregon (or central Oregon in general). I’ve met a number of great people and spent time with old friends. I’ve worked alongside my husband on a film set for the first time and in a few days, will witness my son act for the first time as one of the characters in the film. And, I’ve still got ideas and stories floating around in my head that I am determined to craft into manuscripts.

Oh, and today I practiced my handstand so not all is lost.

If your curious about my behind the scenes work on the film Mischief Upon Mischief, follow along on Instagram at @MUMMovie.

::This week’s obsessions – April 15-21::

::a few of my current obsessions::