Monkey See, Monkey Do

I just read a blog by Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post – What parents teach kids
about drinking
. In the 13 or so months since I gave up alcohol as a habit, I’ve noticed a direct effect – at times – on the amount/frequency and type(s) of alcohol my husband consumes. It’s definitely less and less often of everything – and definitely a lot less wine!

monkeySimilarly, a number of other people have told me that I’ve inspired them to begin a similar journey to mine. A few others have begun to look at the people around them with clearer vision and finally see that their once harmless vice may have gotten out of control. It’s clear to me that that my action of giving up drinking – or in the past, in doing lots of imbibing – have had an impact beyond just me, but also the people around me. In some instances, I’m sure it’s been a case of monkey see, monkey do.

I still don’t know if this is a temporary path I’m on, or if it is truly a permanent lifestyle change. But I do know I am so much more conscious of just how closely people watch what I do – and that some people are forever changed, both good and bad, by following in my footsteps.

Whether you’re a parent, business owner, or just a caring citizen of the planet, I challenge you to be mindful of what you’re teaching those around you. Through your attitude, words and deeds, you are helping shape the minds of others. Be they your children, your staff members, or simply your friends and peers, you may be surprised what people are learning from you and the impact your unintended lessons are having on their lives.

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Day 13 – A Small Explanation

When people say they’ve quit drinking, the natural assumptions tend to trend to one of two things:

1) They are an alcoholic

2) They got religion

As I’m reading some of the comments I’ve gotten on Facebook since I went public with my decision, I realize that I probably need to clarify. Or maybe I am just paranoid and I don’t want people to think poorly of me. Regardless, here is the deal…

I am not an alcoholic. I am simply a person who enjoys drinking but have recently – maybe for the last four months or so – been over-indulging a bit more than I would like. I can’t remember the last time I got officially drunk. (OK…that’s not true. I remember way more of it than I can share here. It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and it was A LOT of fun. If you were with me in the wee hours of 1/1/2013 no doubt you can attest to this:-)

Anyway…

On the whole I am a very responsible drinker – a sipper, not a chugger – and know my limits. I generally drink one to two glasses of red wine in the evening and sometimes have a raspberry martini or two instead of wine. When I am feeling under the weather or feel a cold coming on, I switch to bourbon and ginger. I don’t drink much of anything else. I gave up beer for all practical purposes several years ago along with white wine. I don’t do shots or champagne except on very special occasions. And I am often the designated driver when my husband and I go out.

In the past I have given up alcohol for Lent (that’s 46 days for those of you who are not familiar) several times and it has never been too much of a struggle once I got past the first two weeks. The first time I quit drinking for an extended period of time was after a particularly bad breakup with a particularly bad boyfriend and the realization that our entire relationship as well as most of the fights we had were extremely affected by our mutual alcohol consumption. I was not even thirty then and worried that I might be an alcoholic. So I quit drinking for 2 months and tearfully asked a friend to remove all the alcohol from my house in case I had a weak moment.

These times of abstaining from drinking as well as my own diminished use of alcohol in general proved to me long ago that I am not an alcoholic.  In fact, since I got married and have observed up close the effects of long-term alcohol abuse on some of my husband’s older family members – and a few of my older friends –  I’ve become even more watchful of my usage as well as Dave’s.

What is going on here and now is my desire to a) give my oh-so-sensitive kidneys a break b) give myself the space to really see and feel what is going on in my head, heart and life and c) to challenge myself in a way that is different, revealing, “challenging” and perhaps inspiring to myself and others.

Chances are that I will drink again at some point – perhaps when I toast my Aunt Alex and Uncle Bill on their 50th wedding anniversary to help them celebrate in April. Maybe it will be one year from the day I decided to take a break – March 12, 2014. Or maybe it will just be at the moment when I decide that I have nothing left to prove to me or anyone. Who knows?! The important thing is not to worry so much about reaching the destination but instead to enjoy the journey getting there:-)