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Friday, March 18, 2011

Did you forget that yellow bird?

For the last two years, my spring break trip to Bowling Green has coincided with St. Patrick's day - and at BGSU, St. Paddys is no joke. Well, by "no joke" I mostly mean an excuse for 24 straight hours of public drunkenness, starting with "kegs and eggs" at 8am and ending with...well in the case of Ben's next door neighbors, yelling and thumping bass at 1 or 2 am. The stamina of BG's undergrad population is quite impressive actually, but seeing lots of excessive drinking almost always leads me to do some self-reflection.

I wouldn't say that I ever drank excessively, but I definitely used to drink more than I do now. In college and, maybe even more so in the 2 or 3 years following graduation, I drank more for the express purpose of getting drunk than because I actually enjoyed what I was drinking. Jager shots were usually the quickest way to accomplish this (I actually struck fear and respect into the heart of a guy I was dating at the time by asking him to buy me a Jag shot as my first drink on my birthday). I just want to stress that I did not have a problem with alcohol - I'm only bringing this up to illustrate the difference between how I used to drink and how I drink now. My very heaviest nights of drinking usually consisted of about 3 drinks.

Over time, these habits just started to change. I became interested in wine and good beer, and was lucky enough to have groups of friends who enjoyed sitting around playing board games or watching movies and chatting as much as they enjoyed going out to bars, so we always had other options. It was a gradual transition, but now I'm really a one beer or glass of wine kind of girl and I like my life better that way.

I had a converstaion with two fellow yogis at the immersion last weekend who had gone through similar transitions, but have a lot of friends where the culture of drinking is pretty heavy. During one of these conversations, we both reflected that when we were younger we were so self-conscious that we drank to feel more like ourselves in social settings. Now that I'm older and feel much more secure in who I am and what I stand for, having too much to drink actually makes me feel more uncomfortable and less like myself.

I'm not trying to be judgemental of people who drink a lot as part of their social life - whatever makes you happy is fine by me as long as you aren't harming yourself, and like I said, I love beer and wine. What really bugs me though is when the culture of drinking is so strong that people make others feel bad for not drinking, or for not drinking excessively. Yesterday afternoon I went for a run and obviously there were a ton of people outside drinking, several of whom yelled things like "Why are you running on St. Paddy's??" or even sarcastic encouragement like "yeah, you go girl!" it made me feel really weird...until I saw a couple of fellow runners going the other way down the same street. Solidarity. But seriously... drinking all day is not good for you. Why should I feel bad about wanting to go for a run on a beautiful afternoon just because it happens to be St. Patrick's day? Is it REALLY that important to everyone that I drink green beer wearing a green t-shirt?

The more I got into yoga, and became more focused on nutrition and living a balanced, healthy life and listening to my body, the less I found I wanted to drink. I just feel healthier when I keep my drinking to a minimum - I never sleep through the morning, which is my favorite time of day, and I am never too hungover to practice yoga or go for a walk in the morning. I also try not to take in too many empty calories, so I feel like I should treat drinking the same way I do desserts and junk food - have a little, enjoy it, but keep it to a minimum because it doesn't add much nutritionally. Plus, drinking is EXPENSIVE! I didn't realize how much it was costing me until I looked back on my bar/restaurant spending from previous years versus now - and honestly, I would much rather spend that money on a new pair of shoes, a few yoga classes, or some good books instead of a night or two that I barely remember.

Even though these reasons make perfect sense to me, If I happen to not feel like drinking one night or if I only want one glass of wine, I feel like I need to justify my decision with a convincing story or explaination. But, if not having another drink or three doesn't bother me, why should it bother anyone else? I'm honestly not trying to be preachy, this is just something that's been on my mind a lot and it seems to be coming up frequently in conversation. I still enjoy a good tequila shot every once in a while, but it's more about fun with friends than it is about the alcohol, and I would definitely encourage people who pressure others to drink more or to drink excessively to really take a close look at why they feel the need to do this.

OK so that being said... here's what we've been up to in BG!

I found a neat organic foods store called Squeakers that sells all kinds of fun stuff - I'd never had vegan cookies before so I gave these a shot, and I honestly could not tell they were vegan! I also picked up a package of Newman's own licorice (unfortunately they didn't have my favorite flavor, Tangerine), and I tried something new....

...yup, that's right I had never tried Kombucha before! I'd been warned about the weird taste, and I think this is one of the stronger/more vinegary flavors but it was the only one Squeakers had in stock so I decided to just go for it. Honestly, it does taste pretty weird but supposedly they are great for digestion and are definitely full of B-Vitamins so I'll take it. I'll probably stop by Whole Foods or The Wedge for some other flavors when I get back to MN. We've also been doing quite a bit of cooking...

I'm so lucky to have a man who trusts me with a giant knife. We made a sesame-ginger shrimp with cabbage that was delicious. The recipe is from Ellie Krieger's So Easy - which is a pretty great cookbook. Everything in it is healthy, fairly simple to make, and I have yet to find a recipe in it that I don't like.
We enjoyed the shrimp with a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...

...and somewhere along the way I learned to smile in pictures like a normal human. This morning I went to the campus Starbucks for coffee and ended up trying one of their new desserts - cake on a stick! Cake on a stick is a concept I can definitely get behind. This is the Tiramasu flavor - I really wanted to try Birthday Cake but they were out. All of the new mini-desserts look fantastic, and this little chocolate-covered gem was quite delicious.
... it did kind of look like an eyeball on a stick though. Here's a picture after I took a bite of it ;)

I followed up my dessert-breakfast with a little fruit and yogurt cup - Fage 2% Greek Yogurt, some raspberries, a sprinkle of oats and honey. Made me feel better about starting my day off with cake :)

Also, if you're looking for new music I highly recommend the new album by The Civil Wars - I've been listening to them a lot and made a mix with some of their stuff, some Bright Eyes (new and old), Band of Horses and Bon Iver.

So that's what I've been up to... anyways, feel free to share your thoughts on heavy drinking. I know some people will probably disagree with me, but I know this is what works and feels best for me in my life. Happy Friday!


  1. As one who used to knock back the aforementioned jager shots with you, I SO wholeheartedly agree with this post. I've felt the same evolution over the last few years. Somewhere along the line, I think we grew up, huh?

    In other news, I can't believe that you lived in Berkeley for a year and never had vegan cookies! I'm with you; the right ones don't taste any different. When I was doing on-call shifts, my on-call kit consisted of the following: the X-Files, Lost, or Friday Night Light on DVD, panda, a huge bottle of water, a huge diet coke, and a vegan cookie from the vegan bakery by the hospital.

    BTW, I just gave away the secret to being a good chaplain. Try and keep it on the DL, okay?

  2. Yup we grew up, but I definitely know people our age and even older who still drink like they're in confuses me.

    I'm also pretty sure that were I ever to be on call for any reason, my on-call kit would look almost exactly identical to yours (especially Lost and the X-Files... I think it takes a special kind of person to want to watch suspenseful shows alone in a hospital at night...luckily you and I are nothing if not special :) ) and maybe coffee instead of DC. I can totally be a chaplain right? It's only like, several more years of school?

    Don't worry your secret's safe with me ;)


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