8 Things I Learned From My Alcohol Cleanse

September 13, 2014

janice glassesMore often than not, I am the one in the requisite photo on Facebook clinking wine glasses with friends or “liking” that Veuve Cliquot photo. I’m the textbook social drinker who loves me a good happy hour, a glass of wine with dinner, and a libation session a few times a week. I put my drinking routine to a serious test last month with a close friend who was doing his first alcohol and sugar “cleanse.” I took on the alcohol portion (let’s not get carried away with the deprivation thing). So for the entire month of August, no alcohol touched my lips, and with that came delightful surprises and sad realities. Here are my biggest takeaways:

There’s a Reason They Call it a Habit My calendar is dotted with events revolving around alcohol—the obvious ones like happy hour, dinners, or networking events —and then there are the spontaneous get-togethers. Sticking to the plan meant giving advance notice to friends that I wasn’t imbibing, and in certain cases, opting for another type of outing to avoid the temptation altogether. Even though I knew of cheats like ordering the adult equivalent of a Shirley Temple—the mocktail—or sipping water from a wine glass, I “roughed it” without the crutches. Bold me.

I saved boocoo bucks News flash: You have to throw down some serious cash to drink in a town with more bars per capita than any other in the U.S. Tallied up, the amount I would have spent on booze came out to roughly $200 for the month, or a new outfit, pair of shoes, or weekend getaway…talk about a buzzkill. With all that money-hoarding, I never did solve the etiquette riddle for ordering that fancy club sodas at a bar (Do I tip? Does it cost more than tap water?). On the other hand, I felt like I was getting away with something at happy hours, noshing on low-budget snacks and sipping water without having to pay for a drink. Score!

What is “normal”? Beyond some friends asking “Why are you doing an alcohol cleanse?”, I noticed sidelong glances at the clear bubbly liquid in my glass from acquaintances. I felt the compulsion to explain why I wasn’t drinking. I tried to avoid the word “cleanse” so I wouldn’t be branded the San Francisco cliché, but I wasn’t always successful. The most insidious peer pressure turned out to be from a waiter: Before ordering dinner one evening, he asked me no less than three times if I wanted a drink. On the third inquest, I said emphatically “No and please stop asking me because I’m not drinking!” I felt the pain and anger a reformed alcoholic must experience. During dinner, I bit down on a piece of wire in my ravioli and wondered if it was a kitchen mistake or if it was nefariously placed by my waiter. (side note: the whole evening was so stressful, it made me want a glass of wine).

Life is a test. Only three days into the no-alcohol pact, my “clean” friend and I went to dinner at a restaurant where he knew the waiter. As a gesture of kindness, our server pulled out all the stops: free appetizers, a dessert, and yes, aperitifs. I felt a sense of dread as I heard the glasses hit the table and the smell of alcohol fill my nose. My friend and I gave each other knowing looks as we scrambled our brains on how to handle the impromptu test without offending our kind server. After discussing the pros and cons, I dutifully gave my friend a pass to drink both his libation and mine, with the understanding that it was strictly in the name of politeness. He was more than happy to “take one for the team”…what a trooper.

Power networking discovered I went to four networking events during the month and noticed that my laser focus on meeting people and exchanging cards was sharper than normal (and did I notice people were slightly less interesting?). Not surprisingly, a wine-filled glass wields the power to relax during those awkward hand-shaking moments, the requisite “What do you do?”, and breaking into a group to make an introduction. Alcohol might keep me engaged for longer, but the reason I go to these events is to find potential leads. So, the revised game plan was: get in, get out, save the $10 on the drink (but I’ll still probably forget the names of those I met).

Ladies: Don’t expect to drop the lbs.  This is a double-edged sword: I was hoping to drop 10 lbs. on my cleanse, especially as I now had better discipline around eating temptations (alcohol seems to justify that next pile of french fries). The good news/bad news is apparently I don’t drink enough alcohol to make a dent in my weight. Bad news? I won’t be getting into size 4 jeans anytime soon. My male friend, on the other hand, lost almost 20 pounds at the end of his cleanse (now we know why it’s always guys that get the “beer belly” label).

Life experienced in a new light I went to a jazz festival and enjoyed the music note for note and heard it more clearly than ever. A trip to the baseball game included a sports tutorial by friends instead of chatting and drinking (Confession: I’m still not interested in b-ball but I learned a few things if I ever need them). At a tiki-style house party where I normally would head to the bar, instead I filled my cup with bubbly water and made like the resident wallflower in a corner chair. But I also had the best seat to watch all the party theatrics. Which reminds me of my last takeaway…

You become more observant My eyes were more open than ever when I wasn’t drinking. I might feel nervous. I might be happy. I might feel a lot of things but they were experienced with more clarity. Instead of saying that something on the tip of my tongue, I held back; instead of purchasing that cute scarf in the window after a few drinks, I kept my credit card firmly in the wallet. I noticed that friends drank less around me when I wasn’t imbibing (and they were surprised too). I could tell when people were buzzed (and it made me wonder how I appeared to the world when I am drinking). The term “beer goggles”—or wine goggles in my case—was more apt than ever.

Now what? I smoked cigarettes for years. Giving that up was the most difficult thing I’ve done and it took me several times to kick the habit. (Confession #2: I’ll have a cigarette occasionally with a glass of wine if it’s handy). Excising alcohol from my routine is a reminder that our lifestyles sometimes rule us more than we think. By understanding my drinking habits and patterns, I stayed committed to my goal. Partnering with someone else going through the same thing helps not just to be mutually supportive, but to hold each other accountable. Last but not least, life is about moderation. Sure, I am back to the happy hours and other libation-infused activities, but it will be through wider eyes and the knowledge that if I don’t want to drink, I won’t. And who knows, I might do this elimination thing with other areas of my life: sugar or salt for a month, technology Shabbats, or eliminating TV. But for now…a toast to finishing this alcohol cleanse. Read the rest of this entry »


Country Mouse Gets City-fied

September 4, 2010

Alert the media; I just spend my first week in San Francisco full stop!

It’s been a mixture of fun, excitement, surprise, scariness and anticipation. Spending my first night on an Aerobed and hearing my downstairs neighbors clopping around on the hardwood floors at 1am did not inspire happiness, but I digress. That said, I woke up the next morning full of enthusiasm for my move to the Big City as I dramatically opened the window curtains to reveal breathtaking, panoramic views of San Francisco. The money shot is outside my bedroom window – ca-ching- downtown SF! Awesome! (I hate that word but it really does fit here) And at night the city turns into this magical, twinkling array of lights – like Oz. The coolest was seeing AT&T Park lit up the other night. I think I even saw the Wizard!

But back to reality…and outside the confines of my lovely apartment in Potrero Hill. As most dreams go, one of the many things I didn’t think through thoroughly about San Francisco was driving. The first part of this equation is that my car barely fits in my garage. Often times I close my eyes and pray that I don’t hit the side walls. There is a cement parking bumper in the back of the garage to help, along with school lockers on the side, but that’s another story. The best way to describe driving here is every time I turn the ignition on I feel like I am in a video game called “The Streets of San Francisco” – dodging other cars, cyclists, and pedestrians (don’t worry, I don’t close my eyes while driving but I do often pray, and I don’t even believe in God but maybe I should start).

Speaking of God, there is an ungodly traffic roundabout near my house that I avoid like the plague now, even going other routes to avoid it! It involves 4 converging streets and counts on the politeness of drivers and stop sign to bring order to this planned chaos – you can imagine how well that works out. Whatever City design engineer came up with this intersection should be promptly fired – maybe it worked when there were horses and buggies around but not so much now.

Along with driving comes…paid parking. Another thing I was completely unprepared for even though I have been coming to San Francisco for years…you’d think I would remember this little factoid. Everywhere you go you, no matter how small an errand, you have to open the wallet. Of course I never seem to have any change when I need it. And one quarter gets you five minutes. I finally caved and got the requisite rolls of quarters to have handy. Oh and speaking of rolls of quarters…there is laundry!

For the first time in my adult life I don’t have laundry facilities. I have hook ups for a washer and dryer but have yet to use them (been a little busy) not to mention my moving boxes are taking up the entire utility room. That notwithstanding, I was running out of many needed items so either had to go to the laundry mat, go to Dad’s (but he had out-of-town company), or wait…I could…have someone else wash and dry my clothes – what a novel concept. In my mid-40s and with my busy schedule, I cannot envision sitting in a laundry mat so checked out the cleaners a block from my house. But besides costing almost $20 for a week’s worth of laundry, I have a more compelling a reason to get my own machines: when I got my clothes back from the cleaners, I discovered my favorite jeans were not in there and grilled the proprietor about it. When I found that that the pants never even made it to the cleaners, I called him to apologize and he said “You hurt my heart” and hung up on me. (revised song title? “I Hurt My Heart In San Francisco”) So apparently I really do need to move washer and dryer up the priority list.

One of the many joys I’ve discovered here is the close proximity of so many great places that I can walk to (and will be. See paragraphs on driving). Grocery stores. restaurants. Coffee joints. Bars. Stores of all kinds. You name it. All in walking distance! That is such a thrill for me given that I spent the last 11 years in a neighborhood that was not fun to walk in, unless you consider El Camino Real charming. The only challenge I have is walking the (Potrero) hills but wait until you see how great my legs look in a year!

One word: DOGS! There are canine companions everywhere! And anyone that knows me knows I love me my doggies! And for some strange reason I have seen more Beagles per capita than ever before. I am not sure if Chili is calling out to me to remind me of him but I do enjoy seeing them walking around the neighborhood pulled by their owners. Unfortunately I cannot have a pet here but there is an SPCA right down the street where I plan to volunteer to get my dog fix.

Also everywhere, but not as welcome, are crowds. I always enjoyed my suburban grocery shopping on a quiet weekday afternoon..it’s one of those small joys I have relished for years working at home. Well it turns out that in San Francisco, there is no such thing as a lazy Monday afternoon when it comes to commerce. Every store has scads of people, So that is another adjustment. Dressing like a slob for errands won’t work here – must do shopping outfit upgrade.

Last but not least, it turns out I need a tattoo. At my new gym (well at least for my 7 day pass) I think I am the only one that doesn’t have one. It’s like going to a clothing-optional beach and wearing a bathing suit. Can I get one of those fake ones or do you think that will be too obvious?

But you know, all these observations and feelings are part of my new life here. I know I will get used to the faster pace, different styles and eclectic mix that is San Francisco. I can’t wait to explore all the nooks and crannies as a newly-minted city mouse!


Confessions of a Paleface

June 16, 2010

Ok it’s once again time for that cloistered group of alabaster women that are in serious need of a tan to take a collective deep breath of irritation, sigh, and realize once again, for the umpteenth time, no matter what lengths we go to, we’ll stick out like a sore thumb this summer – and not in a good way.

Every year I go through the same late-Spring “light” depression when less clothes are on the body, sandals come on, and everyone starts to looks gleaming tan-except me. Call it Tan Envy (TE as it is known by its diagnostic term). Over the years, friends have outwardly sympathized with my plight, though I think they were snickering inside. But as we all know, misery loves company, and there is no other that understands the pain and embarrassment of moontan legs than another equally white woman.

I hadn’t realized how much this pale bunch hid in the shadows until I was talking to an extremely-caucasian colleague the other day. Somehow summer heat and tans came up and we discussed how I got burned over the weekend and tried a new faux tan product that liked. Suddenly her eyes lit up with recognition and I felt like I connected with an old friend – dear old whiteness I will call her.

Discovering another TE’er, we launched through the laundry list of products to deal with this annual affliction…from self-tanners, to moisturizers with self-tanner, to bronzers to spray tans (the one time I did this I was so grossed out in the shower watching the brown water go down the drain that I vowed to never do it again) and heaven forbid, the sinister tanning bed! I did this a few times before a vacation and I actually got burned. Seriously.

And if I added up how much I have spent on different types of tanners, it would be a small fortune that I could have actually used for something useful. I could develop a matrix with the pros, cons and summary for many of them on the market. (spoiler: none are great)

Well, at least some of this past pain was numbed by the uplifting conversation, dare I say therapy session, with someone who new exactly what I go through. Her strategy for Summer 2010 was testing fake tan products before she went hog wild on the rest of her body. I thought that was a good plan to follow given all the post-tanner occasions I’ve looked like a human chess board with varying shades of tan and brown. I end up trying to cover up the mistakes half the time with..you guessed it – self-tanner corrector. Yep, they actually make that too.

Getting a golden tan has always been an important part of a good ole US of A summer, but if the explosion can be pinned on anything it would be self-tanners. The granddaddy of them all, Sudden Tan, was a hideous orange mess and the resurgence didn’t really occur until about 7 years ago with better quality products made from everything from caffeine to colored caramel and God knows what other chemicals. Further refinements included color matching (fair, medium, dark, really annoyingly tan). Tans reached another peak about 5 years ago with many celebrities showing up at events toasty brown or deep orange that look completely unnatural.

And that’s the key: natural. If your skin does not look good in a 7-layer deep tan, don’t do it. If you are from Brazil and have that beautiful dark skin already, you don’t need to get a fake tan (and I also hate you by they way).

But then I think about the other extreme: there is nothing worse that getting a burn, which I have done on several vacations, dates and various other events, so I am sure to slather on sunscreen of 30+ even when it’s pouring rain out (bonus: I hear it staves off wrinkles yet I have yet to be proven on this).
Speaking of which, gotta run – I hear there is this great new tan product that also has SPF. I’ll report back on that.

Note to GW, Sr: I agree this could be an entry in “Stuff White People Like”


Men’s Personal Ads: The Search for Romance or a Robot?

April 14, 2010

The stigma of online dating wore off as quickly as fears of the Y2K bug on January 1, 2000. What single person has not tried at least one of the gazillion online dating resources over the past 10 years?! They have grown in popularity so much that there are dating sites for the most micro of interests, such as pet ownership, religion, exercise preferences, oenophiliacs (if you don’t know what this term means, it is not a disease but could cause liver issues long-term).

As someone who has been viewed, profiled, winked at, favorited and more on some of the well-known sites like match, matchmaker, eHarmony, and even JDate at one point (my parents were happy about this), I have become an expert at dissecting the language of personals – at least for men anyway. And I’ve seen it all: men that sound too good to believe, too bad to believe, too cool for school, geekier than a pocket protector, horrible spellers (OR CAPPERS), those with the laundry list of “should haves”, 45-year-olds pining for a woman 10 years his junior. And those are the good ones – I kid, I kid.

There are actually some great guys in the online dating crop but one thing I’ve found in common with many is the language that is used. Sometimes it appears that looking for a mate has been reduced to purchasing a product. So from a woman’s perspective, here are some examples of personal ad vocabulary that should go buh-bye.

Does this mean I have 3 ex-husbands, 4 children from different men, and just got out of rehab, or does it mean I’ve recently retired from the local community theater? Whatever it is, drama-free has this harsh quality, somehow hoping that his date’s life is as simple and flat as an online profile. Of course this is ridiculous. Which leads me to my next biggest beef on men’s personals…

“Low Maintenance”
The only other time I ever see this term is referring to..wait for it…a car. How do you create a person that is low maintenance? That you only have to give a tune up once every three months? Or that she says “yes” to everything the man wants/says/does? Never asks “Do I look fat in this?” I know what the opposite means: high maintenance is whiny, demanding, self-centered. How about somebody medium-maintenance? This will ensure that the woman is actually human.

I have always been appalled by this word to describe divorces, kids, or anything of the human experience. It sounds so…reductive. (Note: the word baggage is often used in conjunction with low-maintenance and drama-free). Sometimes the guy will do a witty add-on like “your baggage should be carry-on size”. It makes me want to bring a huge suitcase on a date and spill all that baggage right then and there.

“Comfortable in a Tuxedo or Jeans”
Could there be something less cliché than this statement? Have most guys even ever worn a tuxedo? Maybe if they had a first wedding. But they’ve probably worn a lot of jeans. I do appreciate a man who enjoys dressing up but for most women this is not nearly as appealing as: “Comfortable communicating about deep issues or the latest hair products.” Now that’s hot.

Overuse of Acronyms
Think: HWP, FWB, SWM. We cannot be reduced to acronyms unless we are texting or have to pay per word, which we do not. If you have a nice body, say, “I’m 5″11 and stay in good shape by playing basketball”. But instead HWP means “Height Weight Proportionate”. it sounds so sterile, not to mention that I have to remember what it means. I usually go to Hispanic or Herpes and then I forget the rest – this is not good. Communicating with real words is much more impressive to me than reducing personality to an acronym IMHO.

So the net-net of all this? I am glad there are personal ads out there and give guys kudos for trying, but take my tips to communicate clearly and you’ll be sure to snag a real woman.


Our Relationship With Animals: “It’s Complicated”

March 10, 2010

I have had a trifecta of timing the past few weeks that has caused me to once again, squarely examine how I feel about animals, their role in my life, eating them, petting them, having cognitive dissonance about it all. I watched the HBO film about Temple Grandin, the animal rights advocate that redesigned slaughterhouses to minimize cows’ pain and awareness of their impending death, read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, a compelling history and critique of industrialized food industry, and saw the documentary “Food, Inc”, a frightening review of where our meals come from, farm to grocery store. And to top of the week, there was the “incident” at Sea World where a killer whale shook the life out of a trainer. Somehow all these intersecting experiences meant something, like signs pointing to something bigger…

Even if you don’t give a second thought about eating a big, juicy steak or the look of joy on a child’s face at his or her first circus, or putting on your leather shoes, it is the human condition to have a complicated relationship with animals that we share the earth with, view from near and far, have on our dinner plates, in our wardrobe, and in our research labs.

My feelings about animals have always been deep love, amazement and entertainment. As a kid, I wouldn’t eat lamb – I pictured a white fluffy lamb skipping in the meadow, a soft “bahhhh” from its cute little mouth. I thought people who wore fur were evil (actually, I still do) and my sister and I wrote an angry letter to a traveling zoo owner whose caged chickens did tricks – we were horrified. As an adult, I struggle with the instinctual pull of loving animals, having had a dog myself, yet also eating cow and wearing leather – how can I be ok with this hypocritical behavior and at some level it seems a bit crazy. Or is it?

It all starts with this: No matter what your view of the earth’s creation is, whether two by two off Noah’s Ark or evolution (or some other theory), the variety and amazing beauty of the animal kingdom is stunning and fascinating – a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors, sounds, habitats – nature at its most grand. Humans are not the largest creatures on the planet by any means, but we are certainly the most dominating intellectually and in brute strength. From the beginning of time, we’ve found a way to live side-by-side with animals but also use them for our own needs with a complete disregard for their well being or feelings (if you think animals have feelings). It is akin to something like the term “frenemy”. Animals are our friend, but at times, we treat them like the enemy, without any care about their lives.

It is one of those great conundrums we live with every day, We integrate societal norms about having dogs as pets (not as a food source like some other countries), eating hot dogs at baseball games (how American is that) and wear our stylish leather jackets without a thought. We make it work because… we have to, either by a thread of denial, lack of awareness, or no thought at all.

For instance, we know animals are killed so we can eat them, but we don’t like to think about how those neat and tidy meat packages at the grocery store got there – We know that $2.99 a pound of ground beef came from a cow but we don’t want to know more than that. Some religions kill animals with ceremony in the most “humane” way, other folks only eat faceless creatures like scallops, or insist on “grass-fed” beef. The fact is though, we are eating animals no matter how you slice it (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Vegetarianism and veganism, no longer fringe movements, is a lifestyle chosen via moral or health reasons and has become more and more popular. I myself was a Pescetarian (only fish) for over a year and went on the premise that fish are not a “four-legged creature”. Again, we all have our moral code and change it based on our circumstances. But since going off meat and back on, I have struggled with this dilemma even more. Those questions come back to me…Michael Pollan asks: How could it be such a thrill to hunt an animal and be disgusted by it hours later? Temple Grandin asks: What would happen if we didn’t slaughter cows? Where would they all go? And if that killer whale were in the ocean instead of the San Diego Sea World, would it care about “dolphin safe” tuna?

I think the author John Berger puts it best: “Humanity sees itself as something emerging from animality, but it cannot be sure of having transcended that state completely, the animal remains too close for us not to feel mysterious communication with it.”

I am both humbled and respectful of the animal kingdom and don’t mind struggling with these issue. After all, it means I am human.


Yes (Wo)Man!

January 28, 2010

I saw that funny Jim Carey movie called “Yes Man” recently. It’s about this guy that always says no to everything, is a downer and just a sad sack in general. He attends this self-help “Just Say Yes” seminar under pressure from a friend and ends up being a convert and saying “yes” to everything. I mean…everything (even the granny in his apartment building who takes out her dentures to pleasure him…ewwww). Anyway, his life totally changes with one random event boucing off the next and ultimately by they end of the movie, he’s very happy with lots of friends and change in his life (and even a girlfriend, of course who is 20 years younger than him – remember…this is the movies).

I thought it would be a fun experiement to try this for a week (note: I am not telling friends for fear of them asking tons of favors like they did in the film). Here are my rules: 1) It must be within my normal ethical code (yes I do have one) 2) It must be within my budget 3) It must not conflict with other plans. Now this may sound like a lot of rules but I think they are fair, and in the movies, there are no rules. Yes (Wo)Man starts…NOW!

Day 1: January 20
Things haven’t started off well. Dad and I might go to New York City and he wants to stay at a place with a high-speed elevator that wreaked havoc on my ears and caused a problem for about a year (Hmm…I didn’t make a rule for this but bodily harm comes under Rule #1 ethical code). A friend called me to tell me she needs a place to stay – her cottage got flooded out with all the rain – yes to this.

Day 2: January 21
I have a job interview and the weather totally sucks (see friend’s cottage flooded entry). Have confirmed interview so yes to that. Supposed to meet a friend on the way home but the weather makes me reschedule (I didn’t say no initially, I rescheduled. Does that count?)

Day 3: January 22
The first time comes late in the day, when I am visiting a client site and a colleague asks if I want to go for a drink. I have to help my flooded cottage friend move but…one drink won’t hurt! (In fact I’ll probably need it!) Have a great time and then proceed to Los Gatos to help said friend move to her new place.

Day 4: January 23
Friend wants to see Avatar in 3-D. Have heard 3-D causes headaches. Instead of saying no, I look this issue up on the internet and see that most people get headaches because they are not focusing on the front objects on screen. Just say yes! Enjoy film and 3-D experience. Said friend wants to go for drinks and snacks after-but of course! (is that really ever a difficult decision?)

Day 5: January 24
Another bad start to the day: going on a trip to Connecticut to meet up with old friends, might go to Washington DC for one night to see another. Find out it’s much further a drive than originally thought. We have to scratch plan for that due to short time available and others’ schedule (Conflicts with Rule #3).

Day 6: January 25
Not too much activity today except until late afternoon… Break off key in front door lock (seriously people, don’t get a key duplicated that has flames on it at OSH). Call an ex with my lock woe, he offers to help me, but not until tomorrow (maybe this is why he is an ex). I do have a deadbolt but still… Say no to $85, $100 locksmiths (Rule #2, budget) , say yes to $50 locksmith with smaller Yellow Pages ad. Having girlfriends over for The Bachelor (yes, guilty train wreck pleasure) One friend is on low-carb diet but part of her birthday gift is home made caramel corn from other friend coming over. Should be moral quandary to tell her not to bring it but diet be damned, I wanna try some of that! (screw #1 my ethical code- and it was so worth it!)

Day 7: January 26
Someone is having birthday party this Saturday (great) but wants everyone to dress up in 50s, 60s, or 70s (not so great) ah! Found a saving grace in the email: “if you are ambitious enough to dress up…” (whew!) I am so not ambitious this week. I have nothing here that works and don’t want to spend money on this (Rule #2). I mean come on, this isn’t Halloween!

..And The Result?
OK, my week is up and I’ve realized several things: 1)I made a lot of rules that I used and even broke several times 2) My life did not turn into one big exciting hot mess (damn!). It’s actually pretty boring. Maybe I need to do this longer to feel the effects 3) It’s really easy to say no without thinking, so learning better negotiating skills, there are ways to say yes but still get what you want.

In a nutshell: Life imitating art is not all it’s cracked up to be, but maybe saying yes to this blog entry will lead to something more interesting…


Swapping Out New Years Resolutions for Life Aspirations

December 20, 2009

For more than 20 years, I have exchanged new years resolutions with one of my closest friends and we update the list every month – that’s right, we check ourselves. It’s usually a list of 10-12 items, like the express lane at the grocery store. And like those shopping trips, filled with items from the last time, or more appropriately, last year. These carts, though, are filled with fluffy dreams, lofty wishes and concrete plans that may or may not come true. The majority of them, as with many of us, tend to be “cut and paste” from prior years. Think: losing pounds, gaining more patience, grousing less, reading more. Each one is still worthy in its own right no matter how many years it’s repeated- we should all get a medal for persistence.

For 20-10 or 2,000 and 10, whatever you prefer to call it (start thinking about it people), instead of making my requisite list of resolutions, I am shaking things up by attempting to live by some quotations that have struck me over the years. And unlike my resolutions, I will keep expectations low by keeping the shopping cart to only 3 items.

So let the quoting begin…

This Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal
I heard this years ago and its simple truth made me smile but was immediately followed by a frown with the realization of how mundane my life was. I found this quote so inspirational, I purchased a plaque with these words at an art and wine festival. It is country artsy (so not me!), replete with cursive writing, a ceramic butterfly with heart and other adornments, and yet it sits perched on my lamp on my desk and stares (or more like glares) at me every day as I work. Let’s face facts, in the routine of life it is often difficult to feel like “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” or “Time means the most when you live every day like your last.” It sounds good in theory, but practicing that quote in reality is tough: You will have fun days, intense days, boring days. You will have to go to work, come home, rinse, repeat. You may not be able to go to Machu Pichu next week. But you can be spontaneous, move out of your comfort zone by trying those tall, sexy red boots (not recommended for men), biting into that spicy chili pepper you were scared of, trying on a new friendship with someone you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards, changing careers, or heck, if you’re feeling really bold and spiritual, try a new religion – all depending on your interests and comfort level of course. If you have been thinking about doing something for a long time, it’s about time to try it, whether small or large. The old rhetorical question “What are you waiting for?” definitely applies here and don’t forget a shout-out to FDR: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”!

We Make Plans and God Laughs
Also known as “Life happens when we are busy making other plans”. Ain’t it the truth. May I strive to be more flexible and adaptable in an uncontrolled world where anything can happen – be it positive or negative. It’s true that sometimes our highest expectations lead us down a path of disappointment, and those unchartered territories that unfold before us can bring us more joy or learning than we can imagine. But whatever happens, we can’t control it so we might as well throw up our hands and yell “weeeeeee” on the rollercoaster of life. There is something both scary and exciting about not knowing what will happen day after day. Wanting to control our environment is part of being human, but we can also accept the flip side of it. This also brings to mind a cherished gift my Mother gave me: alternative thinking. If you can’t find a solution to a challenge you have, turn it upside down, shake it up and you’ll activate fresh ways of looking at the situation. But when that doesn’t happen, the famous quote “Go with the flow” takes precedence (someone from Woodstock probably made this up I’m guessing).

When You Love What You Do, You Don’t Work a Day in Your Life
You may have thought this was plucked from a sage book of sayings, but I heard it on a Sam Adams beer TV commercial – seriously. (Turns out this quote is actually from Harvey MacCay, a motivational speaker/businessman best known for the book Swimming With Sharks.) Watching the commercial’s montage of Sam Adams Brewery founder Jim Koch lovingly caressing the yeast between his hands, eyes widening as he scans the bronze bottles on the store shelves, talking passionately to his employees about the pleasures of owning a brewery, I honestly didn’t know anyone could feel that way about making beer (not quite the same as drinking and appreciating a well-crafted libation). Doing the work you love and are passionate about is very important in this life yet how many of us can say we feel this way? Most of us at least like our work or maybe even love it at times, but may not have the luxury of switching jobs or careers. That said, we can make the most of our interests and passions by trying to integrate them into our jobs and ultimately our lives. Hey, even super-career-happy Jim Koch still has to do mundane tasks, like file paperwork– but he probably does it with a smile on his face and a Sam Adams in his other hand.

And with that, let us toast to a quotable 20-10 (I mean 2,000 and 10). oh crap. still deciding.