This past recent weekend I took a trip to beautiful Austin, Texas. I wanted to get out of town and away from everything that felt the same. It was as if my days had all been rolling into one.
This was the first trip I’d taken since the beginning of the lockdown. During that first trip, I brought my kids to help create some excitement. This time my kids were at their dad’s place and I traveled with my best friend.
We decided on Austin, where they like to keep it weird!
We got there late Friday night, and neither of us were able to get a workout in that day. So we decided to hit the hotel gym. Not a single person was in there, which was great, because we were still trying to adhere to social distancing as best as possible. It felt great to lift some weights and continue to feel myself getting stronger.
After our workout we changed and set off to eat some delicious local food. By this time it was around 8:30 pm, which is the time I’m normally getting the kids and myself into bed. But this was a special weekend.
I work hard and I deserve to change things up a bit and play hard too (not in a sense the world thinks today). We found a local sushi place within walking distance and had a fantastic dinner. I was able to delight my senses with food that I love, and which is also full of nutrients.
As we walked back, I couldn’t help but notice the poor souls sitting at their outdoor dining tables with alcoholic beverages. It was almost as if they were in a whole other world; one that is limited because that’s what alcohol does, it controls you.
I felt the opposite way. I felt limitless and free. I felt like I could take on the world and do anything that I set my mind to.
Before bed, we made our way to the pool deck, where we found a comfy oversized outdoor chair to rest ourselves. Staring up at the stars and dreaming wonderful dreams, I was overcome with calm and gratitude.
How had I gone from spending so many nights wasted away in the dark clouds of drunkenness to now living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment? Every moment, including this one where I get to gaze at the wonders of how amazing and complex this world and our universe are.
This thought filled me with so many emotions. It was almost as if I had been locked up in a dark dungeon with nothing but water to drink and crackers to eat; and then been set free to see day and night, to see nature, to eat real food with taste, and to feel love again.
Waking up Saturday morning refreshed and ready for another day, we headed out to the pool balcony for some quiet prayer and meditation time. Now, I must note that this kind of morning never happened for me while I was living that alcohol life.
Let me walk you down that road for a minute, as I remember it vividly. Normally on Friday night my main thought would be, “Where can we find a fancy restaurant with fancy cocktails!!!” I would have felt butterflies of excitement while anticipating the liquid warming my stomach, but it would have been short lived as I would have woken up the next day desiring just to function normally.
Dinner would have just been an excuse to drink, as I would not have been there to enjoy the food, but instead to drown myself in alcohol.
Let’s face it, alcohol dulls our senses and makes the foods we eat less palatable. So much for all of that marketing that “this drink pairs well with that meal” BS! I know the truth now, big advertising companies!
Back to my sober life vacay Saturday morning. As we sat on the pool deck, with our coffees and breakfast, we couldn’t help but feel extreme gratitude for the perfect weather, beautiful views, wonderful company and feelings of peace and tranquility. There would be no reason to miss this wonderful opportunity to praise God for our blessings and delight in our life.
As we moved through the day it felt as if time was standing still; we enjoyed every single minute of it. We got to ride electric bikes around downtown Austin, which was awesome! This was my first time ever on an electric bike (and if you haven’t been on one you need to find one immediately and cruise around). We took it up and down streets, going into little shops and checking it out all of what Austin has to offer. (All with our masks and practicing social distancing.)
After all of that cruising around, we were starving and found a unique little taco place that ended up being the best tacos we’ve ever had. My best friend is extremely generous, and he provided tacos and water for a guy digging in the trash for food.
This life is not all about us, and we need to remember that. It is important that no matter what we do, we are thankful and generous.
After our lovely bike ride and amazing tacos, we set out on Ladybird lake to do some Stand up Paddling. As I said earlier, the weather could not have been any more perfect. We had to wait almost two hours to get out on the water, but you know what? It was ok. We enjoyed great conversation while we waited, and being outside was a plus.
If I had been living that alcohol life still, my blood sugar levels would have been dropping incredibly quickly at that point. I would have been shaking and sweating, I would have been anxious and dizzy, and I would not have waited. And I would not have enjoyed the adventure.
We got on our stand-up paddle boards and set off. Stopping here and there to just lay and be, and to get wet. This was not only a great workout, but also great relaxation.
We passed by groups of people connected by their boards, drinking their beers, and passing their joints. I remembered how that used to be me.
With full resolve I delighted in how powerful I felt. My body and brain felt strong; my mind was clear. I enjoyed that day more than any day I ever spent drinking. I laughed harder, I loved harder, I remembered better, I made decisions that came from who I truly am and not the person alcohol turned me into. I was proud to be myself.
After a vigorous day of activity, we got to our room and took showers, ordered in salads and crashed on the bed. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but in a way that made me feel like I was living to my full potential. I felt grateful to be alive.
Sunday was our day to head home. We had one last day to break away and enjoy the adventures of life. We stopped in Bastrop, Texas and experienced the longest zip line in the state! With breathtaking views of the Hill Country and Colorado River, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our Sober Life Vacay.
Our guides harnessed us in and connected us to the zip line where we took that next step off the ledge and flew! The ride only lasted between 28 and 35 seconds but the thrill I felt during those short seconds will stay with me for a lifetime.
We are fearless and we test the limits. Want to know why? Because we can. Not just in adventures. Also in our careers, our relationships, our workouts, our prayers, our faith.
No more living small for me. That kind of life is for people who drown themselves in alcohol. And I am no longer that kind of person.
George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” You don’t need alcohol, my friends, you just need to find that curiosity again.
This little guy landed on me and hung out for a long time during lunch on the deck at Neighbor’s Kitchen overlooking the Colorado River. Looks like he was enjoying his Sober Life Vacay too!