From the Mailbag

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Since the idea of my New Year’s resolution and this blog came to me rather suddenly over the holidays, I didn’t have time to develop any expectations. It took me completely by surprise that 100 people would actually “follow” me and that dozens would take time to comment here or privately. These messages range from support for my journey, to thanks for offering an inspiring example, to challenges to my assumptions and opinions. Increasingly, folks are asking thoughtful questions about me and this experiment. This “From the Mailbag” post addresses three of the most thought-provoking responses from this past month.

Why did you really start this blog?

My sister-in-law, Martha, asked me to expound upon the other reasons, besides losing weight and running faster, that led to my decision to start this blog.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how saving money was my #9 of 9 reasons for this project. In fact, I have journal entry in my “Dry Year” diary that was written on January 7th titled “Top 5 reasons why I’m not drinking.” The list ran longer than 5, but didn’t quite reach 10. The order below is exactly as written, and may or may not reflect the order of priority.

1. I fear becoming an alcohol abuser, because of family history.
2. I’ve recently done a lot of personal research for my memoir and the theme of alcohol over-consumption is one that is difficult to ignore.
3. I want to see if I can do it.
4. I’ve tried with moderate effort and no success to cut back consumption in the past.
5. I thought it would help me lose weight.
6. I thought I would free up time for more important things.
7. I thought it would be a very interesting topic for a blog and I need one to promote my upcoming memoir.
8. I thought it might make me a faster runner.
9. To save money.

Is it common for someone to quit drinking for just a year?

This question comes from fellow blogger, Terry McCarthy. As he put it: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody quitting for a year. As they say in AA, take one DAY at a time.”

Many more people have written about quitting drinking for a month or even 100 days. And, although I didn’t know this when I started this project, I have found a few people who also tried this for a year and wrote about it, including this guy and this woman. My true goal regarding alcohol is moderation, so I didn’t go into this thinking that I would quit drinking forever. I felt alcohol was preventing some of my other goals, so I wanted to take alcohol out of my life for a significant length of time. On one level, this resolution is a social experiment.

If you achieve your goals during your “dry year,” why bother drinking again?

This comes from my friend Rose, who is a teetotaler herself: “I love reading about your journey and I’m rooting for you! Are you thinking of quitting for good? I mean, after you succeed in losing the weight, and you will, and running so hard that you get your PR, why go back to it? Just a thought.”

This is similar to Terry’s question, but is more direct. Of all the comments I have received, I have thought about this one the most. It is much easier for me to think about this as a one year “project.” Once I’m further down the road, I will have a better idea of what the ideal future should be. No one knows what the end of this year will bring. As I get deeper into this journey, I may come back to this question several more times.

I hope that you’ll keep the comments and questions coming. If so, I’ll do a “From the Mailbag” post every month.

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7 thoughts on “From the Mailbag

  1. I am very proud of your journey so far. All of your reasons are compelling for you personally. For others, some have to consider medical reasons. Such as a newly diagnosed condition or a newly prescribed medication. Many woman who are pregnant chose not intake alcohol for the sake of the unborn child. All of these individuals have to go through the same personal dilemmas that you have written about, except from a different perspective. The views a very interesting reads. I do have a close friend who is an Addiction professor at St Anslem’s College in Manchester.

  2. I was struck that the question — why go back? — has an obvious answer. As you mentioned in your blog, drinking is pleasurable and can act as a social lubricant.

    Why not to go back also has an obvious answer — the impact on your running/fitness goals and finances.

    I guess my point is that I think the question misses the point of the blog as I read it anyway. Your choice not to drink at all for a year was personal rather than prescriptive, and so would be your decision whether or not to celebrate on Jan 1, 2015 with a glass of champagne.

    • Great, comment, Pete. I loved it. I am dreaming up all sorts of crazy plans for New Year’s Eve and also thinking of a 2015 NY Resolution to top this one….Maybe I’ll come up with three ideas and float it by my “followers.”

  3. Molly N

    Hi Sharon,
    Loving the blog so far! I even caught myself wondering the other day why I hadn’t seen any posts from you recently and checked in accordingly. 🙂
    I have a question for the mailbag:
    There have been times when I have taken breaks from drinking, and each time I have regained a level of clearer thinking/lucidity that I dont feel when I am ‘off the wagon.’
    Have you experienced anything similar? Curious to hear your take (if any) on this during your journey thus far.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

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