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30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should know…
23. Where to go—be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat—when your soul needs soothing.

Something I’ve noticed many of these List items have in common is self-awareness. After nearly three decades of life, after all, you’ve likely learned a lot about yourself: what you like, loathe, want, need, crave, and so on.

Something I’ve struggled with, though, is asking for help. Or even admitting I need help. I’ve fumbled through school assignments, rarely daring to wave the white flag and request another’s perspective. I’ve drowned in work assignments, only to learn how much asking for help would have benefited me (and my sanity). I’ve considered independence a surefire sign of maturity and looked down my nose at those who allowed themselves to be vulnerable or lean on others for anything.

I spent so much time flailing solo, I didn’t learn how to fly with support.

And then I moved to a new city.
And my dad died.
And I moved to another city.
And I got dumped.

And through all of those experiences, I couldn’t possibly fight the icky feelings off on my own. I couldn’t cope with my tried-and-true combo of sad playlists and movies, sponsored by comfort food. I couldn’t shut myself away and refuse to face my fears.

I needed help.

I had to admit I didn’t know it all, nor could I handle it all by myself. I had to be OK with not knowing the perfect solution right away, and instead try different approaches until I found one. I had to accept (gasp!) that I’m not always right.

Courtesy of OdysseyOnline.com

Now, I know where to go when my soul needs soothing.

If I had a tough day at work, I call a friend.
If I need unequivocal love, I FaceTime my nieces.
If I just got dumped, I go to a friend’s… and then to a bar.
If I need to zone out, I meditate.
If I want to feel good, I go to the gym or read a book.
If I need fresh air, I take a walk outside.
If I want to laugh, I watch baby videos.
If I want to cry, I watch puppy videos.
If it’s Friday at 230pm, I see my therapist.
If it’s Friday at 330pm, I call my mom. 😉

Sure, I still have my sad soundtracks and shows, and comfort food on deck as needed. But I’ve learned how to be vulnerable and open and allow people other than Papa John’s and Mark West to console me.

It’s a work in progress, but I’ve even had new friends and co-workers comment on how open I am. Gone are the days of closing myself off from others, for fear of judgment and persecution.

Getting closer to 30 has given me a lot more confidence to be unapologetic for my range of emotions. We’re all human, and if we can allow ourselves to show more compassion, humility, humanity… I think we’d all be a bit more forgiving of ourselves and each other.

Courtesy of Viralscape.com

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On Being Sober for a Month

My last sip of alcohol was at the stroke of midnight on January 1. I drank the champagne, thanked my hosts and summoned a car faster than you can say “Cinderella.”

I knew going into this year, I wanted to challenge myself to what I lovingly call “No Fun January”: no caffeine, no artificial/added sugar, no alcohol. For a month. “Maybe more?,” people asked. “HA!,” I’d reply. Let’s get through a few days before we start talking crazy.

I was fortunate to have a support group in my mom, my sister-in-law and one of her aunts. The accountability of having others go through the same thing was a huge help for me personally. I also have a handful of friends who are sober and my guardian angel of a grandfather — who led countless AA mentees and meetings — to lift up my spirit without the use of spirits.

mynewfave

Protein shakes = my new happy hour.

The first few days were, admittedly, much easier than expected because I was sick with a nasty sinus infection. I couldn’t taste anything anyway, and the last thing I wanted was a cocktail. (OK, maaaybe a hot toddy sounded amazing, but I wasn’t giving in that easy.)

Then I returned to work. A co-worker’s farewell lunch was my first real test. Could I sit through an entire hour with 20 others enjoying drinks while I just sipped water like a poor sad, sap? The answer is: Yes. And TMI, but “treating” myself to a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon was a terrible mistake, given my new clean eating plan.

I started realizing that first week just how much alcohol is a topic of interest: in TV shows, in movies, in music, in conversation. I sometimes wanted to scream and shake people: Didn’t we have anything else to discuss?! But I also knew I was hyper aware (and sensitive) because of my challenge.

The second week — mostly recovered from being sick — I realized how much time there is in a day. I found myself taking on freelance for the first time in a while, working on my killer digital portfolio and cooking with more excitement than ever. If I come home from work without hitting happy hour first, I have about SIX hours to do what I want! Can I get an “Amen!”?

I also got back into a workout routine that week and tried some new activities, too. Barry’s Boot Camp kicked my ass (and abs) the first time back. Reformer Pilates was my first-ever attempt, and I fell in love. I left classes excited about how hard I worked and didn’t feel the need to celebrate with a drink.

Going into the third week, I was nervous. Not only was it a long weekend, but Inauguration Day loomed large. Would I be able to stomach it all without a cocktail in hand — or at least my boyfriend, Mark West, by my side?

I faced the third week, which was also particularly painful at work, like any normal person would: I hid. I holed up in my apartment as much as possible, canceling plans and staying away from social media. I binge-watched shows I swore I’d never see, read some books and avoided all forms of reality as much as I could. #healthy

After emerging from a cocoon, I felt a little rejuvenated but a LOT proud for making it through emotionally and mentally draining scenarios without needing a drink. I coped while staying sober, something I will perfect over time without having to be a complete recluse.

After such roller-coaster weeks, I didn’t think it could get any tougher. But the fourth week brought two very big tests: a girls’ getaway to Santa Barbara and my Gasparilla Invades SF party.

I made sure my traveling companion didn’t “feel weird” if she wanted to enjoy drinks at dinner or on the beach or from 9–5 if she so wished. I was learning, after all, how uncomfortable other people can get when you’re sober. My friend was great, though, and indulged as she wanted without feeling guilty.

As for Gasparilla, I had a great time dressed as a pirate on the streets of SF. We got funny looks, unfunny comments and had a whole lot of seafaring fun, and I did it all without the aid of alcohol. I was tempted, as friends offered to buy drinks and shots and “just one” wouldn’t hurt me. But I’d already made it through 27 full days and wasn’t about to ruin it.

gasparilla

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a sober pirate’s life for me.

Along the way, I noted a few lessons I encountered while being sober for 31+ days:

  • I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and an excuse. From happy hours to post-workout dinners and everything in between, I didn’t realize how often I’d reach for a drink. And it wasn’t always a glass of wine for the night. I’d throw back three or four ($15) cocktails “just because” it was a hard day at work or I was stressed out with politics or it was a day ending in Y. Any excuse was good enough for me to indulge in the alcohol I so love. 
  • Clarity can be frightening. In razor-sharp focus, I started seeing how many hours I’d normally spend in a week, not doing much else besides socializing over drinks. I wouldn’t think twice about hanging with a group of friends and having a few rounds, because that’s the norm. What’s abnormal is being the one who’s not drinking, and then everyone wants to know why and how and “OMG I could never do that!” The truth is, people: You can. You just have to push yourself to understand it’s not a priority anymore. And if you have friends who enjoy socializing while working out or volunteering or doing other sober activities, well that’s just the bee’s knees.
  • I became THAT person, who often talked about being sober. To be fair, I’m now also that person about how much sugar is in everything… but I could hear myself in conversations, constantly talking about my challenge. Maybe it was a defense mechanism — people wanted to know why I wasn’t drinking, and it’d make them feel weird, and so I’d get on a soapbox to explain. And the more I talked about it, the less I wanted it.

So, that’s my story about how No Fun January taught me a whole lot more about myself than I ever imagined. I’ll likely indulge this weekend, for a friend’s birthday, but I don’t see myself ever returning to my old habits. Have you ever challenged yourself to something like this? What were your results?

friends

Real talk on February 1

WO: Weekly Obsessions

Between GRAMMY Awards, the pope resigning, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, it’s already been an eventful week! Oh, and VD Day is tomorrow. Joy of joys — I’ll be celebrating this Galentine’s Day with my truest loves: Mark West and ’90s rom-coms.

Image Credits Listed Below
  1. This Article: Many thanks to Thought Catalog for providing “15 Things to Keep Doing In Your 20s,” an undeniably selfish manfiesto for my generation to follow. Because we only get this decade to use “figuring it out” as an excuse.
  2. Macy’s Go Red: Use hashtags for good and tweet, pin, post or share something red with #MacysGoesRed. Macy’s will donate $2 to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women cause every time — up to $250,000.
  3. “Bossypants”: Of course, Tina Fey is synonymous with smart humor. I finally got around to reading her much-celebrated book and devoured it in two short sittings. If you haven’t already, treat yo’self to it!
  4. Kid Weatherman: Just try to make it through this delightful forecast without bursting into laughter. My personal favorite? His enthusiasm for the upcoming Cub Scout winter camp weekend.

Images courtesy of: Forbes,  The Mom BuzzEntertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed

WO: Weekly Obsessions

It’s been a hellish few days of crap-tacular catastrophes, but I’m still standing. I know, I’m surprised too. What better way to celebrate than with a Yankee, milestone, bottle of vino and scorned-woman anthem? Let’s get to it:

  1. Raúl Ibañez: My hero, my muse. Though he struck out last night to end a nail-biter against Detroit, the Yankees wouldn’t even be in the ALDS without him. I still believe in you, champ.
  2. Blogiversary: I’ve been so wrapped up in the MLB playoffs and FFL and insertacronymhere, I totally missed the 2-year birthday of Wittyburg.com! I’m gonna make a great parent. Thank you, a million times over, for taking part — whether you’re just joining or have been here since day one.
  3. Mark West Pinot Noir: I couldn’t quite believe I’d never nodded to the best Red of all time,* but I double-checked through my billions of posts.* Smooth, rich and slightly sweet, Mark West has all you need for a perfect boyfriend.
  4. “You Don’t Own Me”: Thank God for countless replays of “The First Wives Club” on Oxygen, so I could be reminded of SJP’s second-greatest work. The closing scene with Midler, Keaton and Hawn belting this jam gets me every time.

Doesn’t it just make you want to buy a white suit? No? Weird.

*This may be a slight exaggeration.

Images courtesy of: Bronx Baseball Daily, Beantown Boogiedown, Chicago Foodies, L.A. Times Blog