Random

:: 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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:: Mid Month Check In – Jan. 2018 ::

We’ve officially passed the midway point in the first month of the new year. Whew.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I was vibrating with ideas, and goals, and plans, and… and then January actually arrived and I remember that this is when I deliberately go into hibernation. It’s winter after all. The days are still short, the weather frigid (well, that is if you live anywhere other than Southern California. We hit the mid-80’s this past weekend.), there are still 11 more months ahead in the year to tackle all of the things I’ve set out to accomplish, and I’m on a serious slow living kick right now. So why rush?

But despite taking it “easy”, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m writing! Freelance projects are starting to trickle in. I’m in the process of drafting an article for an online magazine and working on a second to submit to another publication. I’ve written another chapter for my manuscript.

In other areas, I’m on track with my workout goals. I did four unbroken kipping pull-ups this morning among other milestones in the past couple of weeks. There has been a lot of reading and studying up on a variety of topics I want to explore on a deeper level.  I’ve also been invited back as an ambassador for Sportland Tea Co. which produces a fantastic line of tea blends aimed to help athletes (or anyone who loves good tea!) perform at their very best.

The Sportland Team.

All-in-all, 2018 is off to a great start!

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

‘Tis the season for gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holidays and ring in a shiny new year. The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years are filled with endless preparation… planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning… and celebrating… office parties, family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, New Years Eve soirees… Honestly? It’s no wonder we drink so much this time of year. It’s also not surprising that so many people vow to take a break or cut back come January.

Around this time last year, I was already plotting my exit from the alcohol-induced merriment that I’d grown so accustomed to over the previous twenty-some years. It was my survival mechanism. That is until I realized that I don’t want to merely survive the holidays – or life, for that matter. I want to experience it all fully. I want to experience every precious moment of this beautiful, messy, complex life without it all being dull around the edges.

Me. Not dull. (Oh, and I survived a trip to the mall – one week before Christmas – without a single drop of alcohol! I also left empty-handed.)

I’d wager a safe bet that I’m not alone.

After I “came out” sober, a handful of friends and acquaintances reached out with questions about how I knew I was ready to step away from the vino and go dry. (As a side note, I’ll tell you that coming out to my friends and family was really difficult. In fact, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was up to until I was 36 days in and he was the first person I told!)

As I approach the one-year mark, I’m acutely aware that there are a number of people in my circle who are trying to figure out what their relationship with alcohol is. You see, it’s not all black and white, cut and dry, one-size-fits-all. For those that, like myself, don’t identify with what we’ve been programmed to think of when we hear the word alcoholic or alcoholism, there is a lot – and I mean A LOT – of gray area.

Every single story is different. Every single reason for quitting is unique. Every single person is fighting their own battle. And every single story, reason, and person matters.

The reason I’m writing this post, and let me be frank, I never intended for this website to be laden with posts on the topic of sobriety. However, what I’ve discovered this year is that it needs to be talked about. These stories need to be shared. There is a real need for people to be transparent with their struggles surrounding alcohol consumption so that the stigma is removed and people feel safe to reach out to one another without fear of being judged or labeled regardless of whether they are fighting true alcohol addiction or not.

Besides, I’m a storyteller and the story I know best is my own so I’ll share as I please.

Anyway, a good friend sent me a text message a couple of days ago asking if I had time to chat. A few hours later, over coffee (though separated by at least 1000 miles) she asked me for some tips on going dry in January. I gave her a few suggestions based on a variety of practices that I relied upon during those first few weeks and months. Many of which I still utilize. Later, still thinking about our conversation and reminiscing my own start to the dry life – having no one to talk to, no guidance, no idea that there was a community of support and resources out there, and feeling like I was floating in space alone – I thought that I could offer what I didn’t have to anyone that is considering going dry in January or beyond. 

Therefore, part two of this post will be a comprehensive collection of every website, podcast, and Instagram feed, as well as products I’ve used, practices in my daily life, and tips that I discovered that have been a resource throughout my journey this past year. In the meantime, if you feel drawn to connect, ask questions about going dry in January, or just need to be reassured that you are not floating in space alone, please, please, please shoot me an email at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

::Eleven::

Eleven months ago today was the beginning. A radical decision was instigated which would potentially forever change the course of my life and allow me to evolve into the person I so desired to be. Eleven months ago today was the first day I chose a sober existence. And now, 335 days later, I still choose it. Every single day I recommit myself to my choice and marvel at what I’ve gained on this new path.

I’ve been floating around lately, a little lost professionally, I suppose. My head swirls with ideas for stories, articles, essays, and the like but I’ve had a difficult time focusing my energy and effort on any of them. I thought this week would be a good week to sort through some projects I’ve started over the course of the year. To bring it full circle, I unearthed a folder of essays I began writing in the beginning stages of my new booze-free life. Since I have no plans for the small collection, I thought I’d share one of the short essays I wrote early on.

My intention is not to shame my family, friends, or readers who drink; we are adults after all and I truly believe “to each their own.” I would, however, like to offer some insight regarding my choice to remove it from my life with the hope that it might help someone else who is examining their own relationship with alcohol.

A couple of days ago I had one of those days. Prior to five months ago, it would have been one of those kind of days in which I would have tried to remedy the onslaught of emotions and angst with a glass, or six, of wine. In fact, I spoke with my mother-in-law a few hours after the incident in question and told her what had happened. She said, “Oh, girl, you need a glass of wine.”

The old me would have agreed with her wholeheartedly. In fact, by the time I would have spoken to her, I’d already be half a bottle in. But the new me? The sober me? Well, the last thing this girl needs is a glass of wine.

I’ve spent a number of years drowning my sorrows and coping with life’s challenges and discomfort by self-medicating with alcohol. In fact, my husband and I even shared a hashtag (#needadrinkstat) that we’d send one another whenever we were feeling the need to escape; when everything just seemed too much. Alternately, I’ve also used it to celebrate anything and everything. New job? Check. Made it through Tuesday? Check. Birthday? Anniversary? Christmas? National Haiku Day? Check, check, check, and check.

After a while though, I hated to think that I “needed” a substance to deal. I was very much aware of the fact that I didn’t need to drink but rather chose to. Rather than taking some time to sit with how I was feeling and figuring out how to create a strategy to rise above whatever was conflicting me, I’d try to ignore it by numbing it temporarily. Most of the time, it would make me more emotional and feel worse the next day. For the record, trying to get your shit together seems a zillion times more challenging when you’re hungover.

The lesson here is that I’ve learned what I do need to cope when life throws a bushel of lemons at me. It sure as heck ain’t a margarita. Rather, it’s a hug, a nap, or a hot bath. It’s a cup of coffee or tea accompanied by a small chocolatey treat. It’s a workout, a walk, or a few minutes submerged in a good read. It’s a quiet space to clear my head, light some palo santo, and take a few deep breaths. It might include scrolling through a few inspiring Instagram accounts; especially ones that belong to my sober sisters. It’s learning to let go of the negative shit and remembering that whatever sparked my distraught will pass.

We don’t need alcohol but we choose it above other remedies because it’s what we’ve been programmed to do. I don’t need alcohol to celebrate or mourn or unwind at the end of a rough day. I need to nurture my spirit in the most compassionate way possible, not poison myself with intoxicants that temporarily blur the lines. I’m hoping next time I run into a similar scenario, my well-meaning loved ones will say something along the lines of “oh, girl, you need a bath!” or I shoot a message to my mister that says something like #needsomepalosantostat.

 

 

:: 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.

:: Where did October go? ::

I cannot wrap my head around the fact that October has already come and gone. It’s absolutely, hands-down, my favorite month of the year. I could wax poetic about my love for October for days. However, I’m incredibly busy and don’t have that kind of time right now.

This October was wild; a whirlwind of milestones, travel, and trying to keep my head on straight in the midst of it all.

 Began the month in Prescott, AZ.

Celebrated turning 40 years old.

Got three new tattoos.

Enjoyed kayaking Watson Lake with my boys as a belated birthday outing.

Attended 19 CrossFit classes (in four different states!)

Climbed to the top of the rope at CrossFit for the first time.

PR’d my back squat.

Reached 300 days of sobriety.

➼ Closed out the month in Idaho.

Enjoyed spending time with my daughter, in-laws, and parents.

Savored all things autumn in the Pacific Northwest!

Started prepping for National Novel Writing Month.

November is going to be another crazy month filled with a ton of travel and adventure, work, projects, and challenges. But that said, I’m thankful for this life we’ve created and for the opportunities that have been given to us.

Have a great month!

:: A Look Back at September ::

I realize that we are already a third of the way through October as I write this but in keeping with my self-inflicted assignment to recap each month, I’m forging ahead.

Early in the month, I found myself in a bit of a funk. I had made little progress on the novel manuscript I’m writing, a contract with a client that I was really grateful to be working with came to an end, I wasn’t seeing any significant progress from the time I was putting in at CrossFit, and my 40th birthday was rapidly approaching. Also, my family and I decided to take a new approach to schooling for our son this year and I stepped into the role as “learning coach”. As it turns out, this is a WAYYYY bigger commitment than I originally realized. Wildfires ravaging my home state and the failing health of both of my grandmothers did not contribute favorably to my state either.

For someone who is very “productivity” driven (How much can I get done? What did I accomplish today? How many items on my to-do list did I check off?), I found that I was picking myself apart for what I didn’t achieve and feeling awfully guilty about it rather than patting myself on the back for what I did get done.

On that note, I recently heard a great remedy for this. Instead of focusing on the daily accomplishments or lack thereof, lump everything together weekly. Afterall, there is only so much we can do on any given day with the hours we are alotted and some days it is just going to be easier to fly through the to-dos. However, when you look back over the course of seven days, you typically get more done than you realize. Right? It’s a work in progress but I’m trying to accept what is and do the best that I can.

Anyway, in the end, September finished on a high note.

➼ Attended 24 CrossFit classes and one Olympic lifting class.

➼ I PR’d almost all of my lifts, successfully completed three unbroken toes-to-bar, and made the leaderboard for a WOD that consisted of 7 rounds of rowing 350 meters with a two-minute rest between sets.

➼ Ran 20.25 miles and walked or hiked 21 miles.

➼ Completed ten writing assignments for clients.

➼ Wrote four chapters for my novel.

➼ Survived the first month of coaching my son as we transitioned to a virtual learning environment.

➼ Drove the longest distance (to-date) by myself.

➼ Spent the last few days of the month with my mister in Arizona and got to visit Sedona for the first time where we hunted for vortexes and I fell in love (hard!) with the painted landscape and vibrant community. (This was the highlight of the entire month, for sure!)

:: August was outstanding!::

With the arrival of a new month, I’ve spent much of the morning reflecting on August and all that I was able to experience and accomplish. Over the course of those 31 days, I didn’t realize how much fun and magic I was packing into it!

On a blog I previously published (www.wasntjustthewinetalking.com, which is still active but irrelevant since I’ve shifted my focus from running and no longer drink, FYI), one of my favorite features was my month in review. The practice of acknowledging these little details is such a great way for me to express gratitude and marvel at how awesome this life of mine is.

I’ve struggled hard to keep any sort of regularity with my postings here but I’d love to return to the habit of sharing my monthly reflection and review for the sake of the practice.

August was an outstanding month!

➼ Started the month of August in Oregon and spent a total of 13 days there.

➼ Closed on the sale of our home in Oregon of 18 years.

➼ Celebrated our daughter’s 20th birthday.

➼ Spent some quality 1:1 time with my mister in Cali.

➼ Awesome road trip with my mister stopping in Guerneville, CA, and Ashland, OR, on the way to our destination and Dunsmuir, CA, on our return trip home.

➼ Visiting Autocamp Russian River – an Airstream and luxury tent hotel – and roasting dinner over the fire pit, stargazing, and soaking up time among trees with my mister was a huge highlight!

➼ Spent a lot of time with my daughter, parents/in-laws, family, and good friends.

➼ Witnessed the totality of the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse and saw a handful of shooting stars.

➼ Attended 21 CrossFit classes. (I’m completely obsessed and hooked!)

➼ Ran 16.25 miles and walked or hiked another (approximately) 24 miles.

➼ Attended one yoga class.

➼ Completed 14 writing projects for clients.

➼ Finished reading two books.

➼ Completed writing a chapter for my novel.

➼ Reached 239 days of sobriety.

Happy September!

::Coming Out Sober::

Today marks my fifth month of sobriety. It’s also the day I’ve decided to come out sober, if you will.

Trying to explain why I’ve chosen this path is not something that I can answer with a simple, poignant blog post. There are many layers and facets to the complexity that is sobriety and it’s different for each and every person.

It has been one of the most profound, radical choices I’ve made for myself and the deepest act of self-love I’ve ever administered.

The primary reason I’ve decided to begin sharing this is that I full-heartedly believe in transparency to foster connection. Allow me to explain that first. I had held off in going public for a couple of reasons. For one thing, certainty about anything can be tricky for me; indecisive might as well be my middle name. (Defiant is a close runner up!) I tend to bounce back and forth on things, weighing my options before settling on a final choice. I wanted to be absolutely, 100% sure I was sure before sharing. I also wanted to take plenty of time to process this transition before I had to try to articulate answers to questions that are going to be hard to explain. Finally, I felt the need to make sure that my closest family and friends knew before I blew it up online.

Here’s the funny thing about me and indecision: when I do make a choice, I’m ALL in. So that said, yes, I’m absolutely sure.

To be honest, it’s been a little lonely and I’m craving connection to others who are on this path. I’ve considered a few different options in terms of support but feel that I’m being led to a holistic approach. I’d rather not remain silent and lurk in the shadows of sobriety. Instead, I’m exposing my vulnerability to achieve something greater.

Coming out sober

I guess the bigger question I need to answer is why I decided to quit in the first place. The very best, coherent answer I can supply is that alcohol became a weed.

Weeds are defined as unwanted plants or vegetation, right? Well, have you ever seen a garden bed full of flowers or shrubs that someone painstakingly planted only to become overrun with weeds? These noxious species rob the desired plants of nutrients and sunlight, causing them to struggle for survival. Weeds are not necessarily even ugly or awful to look at. An out-of-place rose bush, even with its fragrant blooms and delicate petals, can be a weed if it is causing damage to the surrounding vegetation.

So as it were, drinking became an unwelcome weed disguised as a rose. It was crowding out my ability to focus on my passions and goals. It was stealing vital nutrients and wreaking havoc on my body that I’ve worked so hard to keep “healthy” despite the toxins I was drinking on a regular basis.

There is more and I will offer it when I’m ready. Writing about my experience has been therapeutic and as I peel back the layers, I will continue to journal my thoughts and feelings as a means to process it all. It has been one of the most profound, radical choices I’ve made for myself and the deepest act of self-love I’ve ever administered. I’m incredibly proud of my choice and feel empowered by my decision.

I would like to add that if you are reading this and find yourself identifying with what I’ve shared, please know that you’re certainly not alone and I hope you’ll reach out to me or someone you trust if you need support. There are a lot of misconceptions and labeling surrounding normal (whatever that means) alcohol use, abuse, and addiction. They are not all the same and that’s why I feel that it is important for more of us to share our stories to expand the sober community.

xo

P.S. Here are a few links to resources that I’ve found valuable if you’re curious.

Hip Sobriety

Laura McKowen

HOME Podcast

Sober Evolution

Aidan Donnelley Rowley

::A Curation of Obsessions 5/26::

Picking up where I left off… since I bailed last week and didn’t post my weekly list… I’ve got a few fun obsessions to share!

Birkenstock’s

I just bought a new pair of Birkenstock‘s as a little reward for a few personal achievements and I’m over the moon! In fact, they’re only the second pair I’ve owned. The first pair I got in high school – my junior year if my memory serves me. I loved them and wore them to death. Literally. I had them for at least 10 years before they were no longer fit to wear. I’ve been wanting a replacement forever. There are a few styles I’ve been eyeing but I went with the Mayari in Black.

Silver Hair

The backstory: I started sprouting silver strands of tinsel from the top of my head at least three years ago. Probably longer. I’d been coloring my hair since high school so I’m not certain when I started the transition. Anyway, a couple of years ago I decided to “ditch the dye” as they say and quit coloring my hair. The experiment ended after 7 months when I cut my hair super short to rid the ends of the old dye job. It was the shortest haircut I’ve ever had and I hated it. I couldn’t have both a haircut I hated AND grey hair. One box of hair color from the pharmacy later and I had black hair. Black.
 
Another year and a half passed before I decided to, again, try to embrace my natural hair color. I last dyed my hair at the beginning of September 2015, by attempting to add highlights that would match my natural hair color as closely as possible. I haven’t looked back. (Though I will note that just two months ago I dyed some of my ends purple because I needed to do something FUN!)
 
Anyway, I really like my hair but sometimes I still need to feel inspired to stick with it. A few years ago I started a Pinterest board specifically to save images of beautiful grey goddesses. It’s my favorite board and it gets more traffic on my Pinterest account than any of my other boards. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to blaze your own silver path or just curious, you can find my board HERE.
Chicks who Make Cool Shit from Wood
I love hand-crafted furniture and art made from natural and reclaimed wood. I recently discovered a couple of chicks that are making cool shit with wood. I’ve spent waaaay too much time scrolling through their Instagram feeds. One day, I’d love to own something like this… perhaps even make it myself!

curation of obsession woodworking

@aleksandrazee

curation of obsession woodworking

@rawrestorations