Mexico 2004

On The Wagon Wednesday–OTWW

…answering the call of “The Nudge.”

Every Wednesday, we’ll do some deep thinking and challenge ourselves. The weekend looms on the other side of Wednesdays and it’s important to plan ahead for stumbling blocks and challenges that might present themselves in the weekend ahead. Let’s link arms and lean in…

OTWW

For some reason, hummingbirds love our garage.  We have 2 giant, un-openable windows in our garage that look out onto the valley behind us. If our garage door is left open for any length of time, at least 1 hummingbird will fly in and then beat himself against the windows, trying to get out, while the open garage door is just to his right, leading to freedom. 

I would think that by now, you know me well enough to know that I’m a huge animal lover. So, when yet another hummingbird is stuck in our garage, I have to drop everything that I’m doing and rescue it. I can’t just rest on my laurels and hope that it figures things out itself and escapes. 

After a little trial and error, I’ve finally figured out how to best help our trapped hummingbirds out of the garage. The ceiling in there is super high, so I use our tallest push-broom and I hold it up–as high as I can–up to the hummingbird, who’s typically throwing himself fruitlessly against the window, and gently nudge the bird on his backside with the broom, until he exhausts himself and lights on the broom. Then, moving very deftly, I have to slowly move the broom toward the garage door, guiding the bird to freedom. 

hummingbird

However, time and time again, as soon as I begin moving the broom, the exhausted bird will sense the movement and fly off the broom to resume his flinging of himself against the window again. It’s terribly frustrating for me. I want so badly to somehow communicate with the bird that I’m trying to help and for him to just trust me–even though for a few moments, it’ll feel like he’s going in the wrong direction to get where he wants to go–I know what’s best and I can help. 

This reminds me of how sometimes the Universe (or God, if you wanna take that route) nudges us–just like a push-broom to the butt–to do something; to change direction; to show us that our current path is fruitless and possibly dangerous. But, we often ignore it, because, just like the hummingbird, we’re looking out the window and can see where we want to be, but don’t understand that the way we’re trying to get there is a dead end. Sometimes, literally a dead-end, as we’ve lost a few hummingbirds who’ve exhausted themselves from banging against the window and died either in the garage or right outside the garage, after I’ve guided them out.

For a long time, I felt the Universe nudging me about my drinking habits–telling me that I needed to change my direction and poking me in the butt to turn around and change direction. It took a long time for me to finally give up and trust that, lighting on the broom and being guided to a different path was best for me. Otherwise, I likely would’ve continued to throw myself against that closed window until…God knows what happened.

It’s never comfortable to change your course. Sometimes it feels wrong and scary and it’s tempting to go back to doing what you were doing before. But, trust your gut. Take a chance. Trust that the Universe or God is holding the broom and giving you a safe place to light and rest while guiding you in the right direction.

Do you feel the nudge of the Universe or God in your life? What are they trying to tell you? Where are they trying to point you? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Meet the pets–Stewart

IMG_0199

Meet Stewart. Stewart came to us, along with his companion, Tino (bio coming soon) from a family member who wasn’t able to care for them anymore (another way that alcoholism ruins the life of everyone <and creature> that it touches). Stewart is a fancy-pants, Himalayan boy with crystal blue eyes and a raging snaggletooth–anyone know of a good feline orthodontist?

Stewart is friendly and playful and elicits a SQUEEEEE from everyone who sees him. And, he IS really cute…until he jumps up on the couch next to you and begins enthusiastically making sweet, sweet love to the blanket. Then it gets awkward.

Aside from being terminally randy (and yes, he’s been neutered) Stewart is a fan favorite in our house.

Stewart
Stewart’s whisker-game is strong, bro.

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

4 ways to stay busy during happy hour

In other words…ways to keep your mind off of drinking during the most tempting parts of the day.

4 ways to stay busy

Early on, I struggled with filling up the time (that I used to enjoy a drink) with more-productive activities and thoughts.  Happy Hour is such a huge thing in our culture that, if you’re not partaking in it, you can feel pretty lost. Here are some things that helped me to fill up the Happy Hour and keep me focused on goals.

  1. Exercise: If you belong to a gym, try a class that meets in the evening. Bonus points: try a class that meets on Fridays at 5pm! But, even walking the dog in the evening counts. And trust me, your dog will appreciate a walk way more than having to sit there, watching you drink your face off on a Friday afternoon.
  2. Get Dessert: If you’re going out to dinner, plan to get dessert after your meal. When I was drinking, I never, ever got dessert. I guess the alcohol had so much sugar, that I didn’t crave anything sweet after I ate. Now though, I study the dessert menu beforehand and plan my dinner out around that. I also sometimes will get a decaf coffee to go with my dessert, that way, it feels like a real treat–something I’d never get at home.
  3. Run Errands: Plan your errand-running for later in the day. If you’re out and about during the “witching hour,” doing things like returning library books, picking up air filters at Home Depot and the like, you might can fool yourself into forgetting that you’re missing Happy Hour.
  4.  Plan a playdate: If you have kids, schedule a playdate at your house for late in the day. Be the responsible parent who doesn’t drink when you’re the caretaker for other children. (Although, some might argue that hosting a playdate might drive one to drink…) Plan a craft or something to do with the kids that forces you to be engaged with them.

What are your tried and true ways to stay busy during Happy Hour? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

I’d heard about Rent The Runway in the past few years but never felt like I had enough fancy events to attend to warrant looking into it further. Then, last year we got invited to a last-minute gala, so I absent-mindedly headed toward my favorite shopping “wubbie”–Nordstrom. I bought a “little black dress” for $150 that I do love, but may or may not wear again.

RTRtxt

Then, this year, another last-minute gala invite. I didn’t want to wear the same dress as last year, but I also didn’t want to spend another $150 on a dress that I wouldn’t wear again. That’s when I remembered Rent The Runway and so I started investigating.

Rent-the-Runway

Rent The Runway is a simple idea, with a iron-clad delivery. You choose a dress from millions online (ok, probably not millions, but thousands maybe?)  and then you can request the dress in two different sizes (second size is FREE), that way you can try on at home and decide which one fits the best. You can rent for 4-day or 7-day rental periods. These are expensive, well-made, designer, fashion-forward dresses that come in all different sizes.

When I ordered the first time from RTR, I went ahead and paid a little extra to become a “Pro” member, which entitles me to free shipping and insurance on all future rentals, 20 % off all of my orders and a free dress on my birthday! Since my birthday is in December, I figured that this might come in handy for a nice Christmas party dress.

I’ve rented from RTR 3 times now and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them. My rental rates have ranged from about $70 to $30.

Here’s what I’ve done, that I think has been the secret to my RTR success:

Once you rent a dress from RTR, they highly recommend that you submit a photo of yourself wearing the dress, as well as a detailed review of the dress. You can also share your build and age (height, weight, body shape, etc). I positively poured over the  reviews of every dress I browsed on RTR. This helped me to narrow down the dresses that might work the best for me and my occasion. People are great about including helpful tips in their reviews, such as, “you’ll need a backless bra for this dress” and “I had to use fashion tape to keep my boobs from falling out.” Also helpful advice like sizing, “this dress runs really small so size up at least 2 sizes.”

All of my RTR dresses have arrived earlier than expected, giving me a little extra time to try them on before my event. When it’s time to return the clothing, you simply wad them up (or perhaps hang them nicely) back in the bag that they arrived in–no dry cleaning necessary– and stick the pre-paid shipping invoice on the outside pocket. You drop it off at any UPS location and go about your day. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Here are the three dresses that I’ve had from RTR so far:

Free People
Free People for an outdoor wedding in June

 

RTR2
Carmen Marc Valvo  for a Kentucky Derby-themed gala

 

RTR3
Slate and Willow plus Kendra Scott earrings for a fraternity alumni gala

 

The most valuable aspect of RTR for me is the non-commitment of it all. I feel empowered to try dresses that are out of my comfort zone because they won’t be hanging in my closet forever. Also, the retail price of these dresses is way, way out of my usual shopping budget, so it’s fun to be able to wear a dress that I’d normally never be able to afford otherwise (coincidentally, I’ve now discovered the appeal of wearing well-made, expensive clothing–oops).

RTR also has an “unlimited” membership option, wherein you select 3 items that you keep as long as you want and then exchange them whenever you’d like. If I had a job where I needed to look my best all the time and attend lots of events, I’d be all over this option. Alas, the life of a sober-lifestyle-blogger-mom isn’t that life. Yet. 

I have an event in October and, for the price of buying a less-exciting dress at a department store, I can rent something unique and fun. In my spare time, I’ve been browsing RTR already. Did I mention that you can also bookmark favorites on the site?

Here are some things that I’m loving for this event in October:

Rent The Runway collage

Additionally, you can also rent accessories from RTR.  I rented the cobalt blue Kendra Scott earrings to match the Slate and Willow striped dress for $10. I’d contemplated buying those earrings a few times and, after wearing them for a whole night, I was sure happy to return them. They are way heavier than I’m normally feel comfortable wearing. So, for $10 to rent, I dodged a shopping bullet on that.

I’m in love with Rent The Runway. I highly recommend it if you have any events coming up–from fancy parties, weddings to even just a date night. Rent The Runway has everything from formal wear to casual and makes shopping for special clothes fun again.

Have you ever tried Rent The Runway? Tell us about your experience.

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

On the Wagon Wednesday–OTWW

Every Wednesday, we’ll do some deep thinking and challenge ourselves. The weekend looms on the other side of Wednesdays and it’s important to plan ahead for stumbling blocks and challenges that might present themselves in the weekend ahead. Let’s link arms and lean in…

OTWW

 

This morning, I took Angie for a long-overdue, much-needed walk in our neighborhood. What is typically a quiet walk on an early Saturday morning, wasn’t so quiet today. Somehow, we got mixed up amidst a running club who was following the same path we take on our walks.

As runner after runner passed us, poor Angie couldn’t focus on her usual joyful business–sniffing deer poop, checking crumpled wads of aluminum foil for left-behind breakfast taco morsels and taking care of her “morning constitution.” Angie loves her morning walk. It’s her chance to burn off some steam but also to sniff around everywhere and look for wildlife (I rather enjoy it too).

Today though, as soon as she’d begin the task of going about her business, another group of runners would approach from behind and she’d have to turn around and watch them, while I trudged forward, dragging her by the leash. Angie spent more time looking behind her today, than looking forward.

This got me thinking about how, just like Angie, we are often so wrapped up in what’s behind us (our past) and what other people are doing, that we lose sight of taking care of our own business and the tasks right in front of us. I know how easy it is to get caught in a trap of comparing yourself to others and worrying too much about what everyone else is doing. It’s an abusive trap for sure.

In fact, on this walk, as I watched the other seasoned runners flying past me, I questioned my own fitness and if maybe I should be running instead of walking. Instead of being secure with my own fitness journey, I questioned if I was doing enough…are my legs as muscular as hers? Would they be, if I picked up the pace?

An important thing that I’ve had to remember on this journey is not to dwell in the past and only to focus on what I can do today to become who I want to be.

dont-look-back-youre-not-going-that-way

Are you focused too much on the past or what other people are doing? Are you missing out on the good stuff right under your nose (like breakfast taco morsels)? Tell us all about it…

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

Meet the pets–Gary

Gary

Meet Gary. Gary is Thunder’s brother and was the runt of the litter. He’s always been tinier and more timid than Thunder and I probably say “he’s just a baaaby” 11 times a day, because he is. He’s just a baaaaby.

Baby Gary
When Gary really, and truly was “just a baaaaaaby.” One of my favorite photos of him ever.

 

Gary is the sweetest thing in our house. He’s loving and cuddly and has the teeniest, most adorable little “Mew” on the planet. Although Gary is technically a “dumpster cat,” people always mistake him for a highly-bred Russian Blue, with his round face, eyes and beautiful gray-blue coat.

Gary

Gary has recently decided that Brook, the Betta fish, is his new best friend and Brook humors Gary by letting Gary drink out of his fish tank…Mmmmm. Fish-flavored water.

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

5 times that I miss drinking

I know that it looks like it’s all rainbows and kittens up in here–with my non-drinking self–but I won’t lie: There are times that I miss it. As the years pass, and I’m further and further away from the last drink I took, it’s gotten easier for sure. Also, I can step back and really think it through and realize that I didn’t have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that things would very likely spin out of control if I let it. I’m not willing to let it, so I shake it off.

But there are consistently times that I still yearn over the idea of alcohol.

5 Times That I Miss Drinking

  1. Patio dining. I’m not sure why, but there’s something about nice weather and the allure of restaurant patios that make me miss drinking. That “I’m outdoorsy; I like to drink on patios” meme was written for me.
  2. Girls’ Night Out: There’s something very unfair-feeling about going out on a rare evening with my friends and not being able to unwind with a drink (or 7). What a perfect way to truly kick-back and relax than to share precious gossip time with your best girlfriends over drinks. Letting inhibition fly out the window for the night and pretending to be unencumbered by life for a moment. But, I’ve learned how to do all of those things without alcohol and here’s the post to prove it. 
  3. Date Night: Again, a rarity in our house, but when my husband and I get an opportunity to go somewhere and have an uninterrupted conversation over dinner, I do miss alcohol. Alcohol always seemed to remove my inhibitions enough so that I felt braver bringing up topics of discussion that I wouldn’t have easily discussed with my husband sober (like, finances, for instance). These days though, a Date Night for sure includes dessert and sometimes a coffee after dinner for me and that’s almost as good as wine. Almost. 
  4. Vacations: Again, with the “it’s not fair” whining, but vacations are for escaping your everyday life and indulging, right? Being sober on a vacation feels just wrong. But, waking up clear-headed and refreshed, ready to explore and take on the day in a new locale is worth its weight in gold–gold, I tell ya. Don’t knock it until you try it. 
  5. Football season: There’s something about those first few NFL Sunday games that make even this non-football-fan want a drink. Call it habit or muscle memory, but the NFL theme song gets me every time. 

All of this to say….yes, I do miss alcohol occasionally, but I don’t miss what it did to me or how it made me feel in the long-term.

It’s very similar to a past relationship. After it’s over, it’s easy to forget the bad stuff–how his breath was so bad after he drank a Starbuck’s espresso; how his mother was cold and condescending–and to instead focus on the good things, as if the whole relationship is bathed in Barbara Walter’s blurred, fuzzy camera magic. It’s the same with alcohol. Luckily, I know that life is so much better on this side of the glass. 

If you’re a non-drinker, when do you miss alcohol? 

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Mexico 2004

Friday Favorites

…because I like stuff. A lot.

Friday Favorites

I’ve had a favorite brand of jeans for a few years. I can’t even be sure how I discovered them, but I do know that I buy at least one pair every time that Nordstrom has them in their half-yearly sale. My favorite jeans are Kut From The Kloth.

kutfromthekloth
“Cameron” distressed
“Diana” Skinny

 

I’m funny about jeans. While I know lots of people who wear their jeans all the time–wearing them to run errands then, coming home and lying about in the house, napping in them. I’m not in that camp. Yes, I wear jeans to run errands but as soon as I get home, I rip them off like some kind of janky, low-rent male stripper with velcroed seams. I immediately put on my “house clothes” (i.e. pajamas or otherwise comfy, ratty loungewear. Be very jealous of my husband because he gets to live with this sexy beast).

But Kut From The Kloth jeans have been a game-changer for me. Yes, I still tend to change out of my Kut jeans when I get home but I have found that, on occasion, I’ll forget that I’m wearing them (this is HUGE, people) and go about my business at home, with my PJ bottoms sitting right there–within reaching distance. My Kut jeans are just that comfortable.

I have several different styles of Kut From The Kloth jeans and they’re the most comfortable jeans that I own. They’re the jeans that I reach for time and time again because they out-perform my other jeans over and over. They don’t stretch out after a few hours of wear, the waistband is consistently non-binding and doesn’t give you an unwarranted muffintop. The denim is also soft and washes beautifully.

The good news is that the price point is very reasonable, for such good quality denim, and I’ve found Kut From The Kloth jeans everywhere from Nordstrom Rack to TJ Maxx and even Thred Up–making them a designer jean-look without the designer jean pricetag.

What are your favorite jeans? Ever tried Kut From The Kloth? 

cheers-jenny

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Mexico 2004

On the Wagon Wednesday–OTWW

Every Wednesday, we’ll do some deep thinking and challenge ourselves. The weekend looms on the other side of Wednesdays and it’s important to plan ahead for stumbling blocks and challenges that might present themselves in the weekend ahead. Let’s link arms and lean in…

OTWW

 

Today, my refrigerator broke. When I opened the freezer, I found mushy ice cream. When I opened the fridge, I found room-temperature milk. This is the day after the air conditioner went out upstairs. My initial reaction–a knee-jerk of sorts–was, WHY ME? Why does life suck so bad? then, I flipped the script and thought, “How lucky are we to have an extra fridge in the garage, where we can store food until the main fridge is fixed?!” also, “I needed to clean out the fridge anyway, so what better excuse?”

Inviting optimism into your life is a game-changer. It’s a matter of changing your hard-wiring a bit but it’s an important one.

Quote about Optimism - Shawn Achor

What good things are happening in your life? What not-so-good things are happening? Can you find the positives in any negatives in your life?  Tell us all about it…

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Mexico 2004

Meet the pets–Thunder

Thunder

Meet Thunder (AKA: Captain Thunderpants). We adopted Thunder (and his brother, Gary) in 2013, after our last remaining kitty, Molly passed away. The house felt so empty without a cat in it for the first time in 14 years. Thunder and Gary were left on the doorstep of the local vet’s office in a box, along with their mama. They were the wee-ist, wittle things ever when we got them and we love them so.

Twee, baby Thunder on the day that we met him. I could've squeezed the yellow guts out of him that day--so sweet.
Twee, baby Thunder on the day that we met him. I could’ve squeezed the yellow guts out of him that day–so sweet.

Thunder gets to go outside during the day and (unfortunately) he fancies himself quite the hunter (hence the giant bell on his collar). He has made friends with the herd of deer who live near our house and Angie (our dog) is his best friend. Thunder drools when you pet him–which is a little awkward, if you’re not totally on-board with cats–and is friendly and smart as a whip.

cheers-jenny

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