Dry February: 2018

Last year I attempted Dry February and failed delightfully
This year, I'm going to give it another shot. 
Heh. Shot.

I've spent essentially the entire month of January without my full voice, sometimes more sick, sometimes less, but after four weeks of this I am SO sick of being sick. 

I finally went in to see the doctor at our company health clinic earlier this week and during the check in process the nurse asked the normal questions before taking my vitals. I gave my standard answers.

"Do you drink coffee or tea?"
Yes, I'm a Flight Attendant. 
"Do you smoke?"
"Do you drink alcohol?"
Yes, I'm a Flight Attendant. 

I often joke about the...intense...relationship that Flight Attendants typically have with alcohol. 
In our industry it's just a known fact that flight crews drink, sometimes to excess. 
I've never really had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, probably because I consistently evaluate my habits when it comes to drinking. I try to be aware of what I'm doing because at the end of the day, alcohol is essentially poison.
Fun, socially acceptable poison, but still. Bad for ya.

At the conclusion of the appointment, the doctor had diagnosed me with "extreme extreme" congestion due to chronic allergies (WHAT?! I've never been a person with allergies in my life. WHO AM I?) and chronic dehydration due to my job ("All of you are dehydrated. All of you.").

While I was relieved to not have a sinus infection that would require antibiotics, I was mildly annoyed to be diagnosed with stuff that will require actual lifestyle changes to remedy.
You mean I have to, like... take care of myself?
And so, Dry February seemed like a thing worth trying again because alcohol is dehydrating and stuff.

I've decided that it's going to be easier this year than it was last year- my life looks very different in February 2018 than it did in February 2017.
98% of those differences are excellent.
2017 ended with some HUGE and painful changes, then suddenly (and possibly miraculously), things got really fantastic just in time for a new year to begin.

This year, I have a real reason to not drink (and no, I AM NOT PREGNANT. Seriously. The weirdest part of being in your late 20's is everyone thinking you're pregnant every time you turn down an alcoholic beverage or gain five pounds.) which is better than last year's vague motivation of "I just want to see if I can."
I'm hopeful that will make the next 28 days easier. Breaking a habit is hard, guys.
Not hard like things that are actually difficult, but not super fun either.

So here we go!

The End of Miss America?

Yesterday, a big story broke that has rocked a community I'm very proud to be a part of. 
The CEO of the Miss America Organization was exposed as having endorsed and/or written offensive and derogatory statements about various Miss Americas. He was suspended and then resigned. 
 More than anything else in this situation, I am fiercely proud of the way current and former titleholders have closed ranks in solidarity with our sisters. 
As I tweeted last night, if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. 
Miss America will survive this as the family that we are.

Which brings me to what spurred me to write this post.

Here's the thing. I agree with Jennifer Weiner about a lot of things, generally. I don't disagree with much of what she writes in this piece. My problem with it is that while she might be a self identified "pageant fan",  she obviously does not know my people. 

This crisis is not the end of Miss America. 

I've written before about how much "That Whole Miss America Thing" has meant in my life, but I want to be as clear as possible right now. 
I would not be the person I am today without having been Miss Vermont. I will forever be grateful for and proud of that experience. For. ev. er. 

One thing that really infuriates me about Ms. Weiner's piece is that she has the audacity to tell other women how they're allowed to express their femininity. 

I enjoy wearing makeup. I enjoy wearing evening gowns. I LIKE expressing myself in traditionally feminine ways- even if it IS "femininity as spectacle". It's FUN. 
Incidentally, I happen to ADORE drag shows and respect the heck out of those queens too- a lot of pageant girls do. Who do you think is teaching us all of our makeup tricks? 
If you're a woman who DOESN'T enjoy this stuff (have you met my mom? Have you met MOST women from where I'm from?) than that's perfectly fine too! Pageantry isn't mandatory. 
I would NEVER assume that what's right for me is right for all women. 

The other big thing about the piece that really grinds my gears is the idea that this is somehow the "end" of Miss America. 
Maybe it would be if Miss America were "just" a pageant. 
Maybe it would be if an organization devoted to empowering women needed a man to run it. 
Maybe it would be if the grassroots of the organization relied on the people at the top. 
Luckily, none of that is the case. 

Miss America is not about a pageant. 
Miss America is not about one woman who wears a crown. 
Miss America isn't about swimsuits, or spray tans, or teased hair. 

Miss America is about genuine sisterhood. 
Miss America is about a close knit community of people who believe in women and because of that they give and give and give and give. 
Miss America is about empowering women to be themselves on stage and off. 

Look, I'm a liberal Democrat. I attended Liberal Arts colleges. I've taken Gender Studies classes and loved them. I'm an outspoken feminist. 
I get that there are many many complex and problematic elements when it comes to pageantry as a whole and the history of Miss America in particular. I truly understand that. 

At the end of the day, this program is about building women up in a society that is constantly trying to tear them down. 
It's about teaching young women that their voices matter, and teaching them how to speak up with courage and skill. It's about developing relationships with women who will be your "ride or die" friends forever. They'll take you in or rush to your side when they find out you've experienced tragedy. They'll dance with you at your wedding. They'll be your army when you need one at your back. 

I don't know what's coming next for this organization, but I do know that it will be driven by the passion of empowered women. 
The end of Miss America? Oh HELL no. 

The Holidays Are Hard

It seems like every year advertisers and our social media newsfeeds inundate us all with images of perfect family holidays, exciting engagements, and fun vacations.  

Reality is very different for most of us. 

With my job, I rarely get to spend holidays with the people I love. I spend them sitting alone in hotel rooms, eating takeout (if I'm lucky) and FaceTiming with the folks back home, which often makes me even MORE homesick. 
Over the past few years I've spent Thanksgivings and Christmases waiting for the phone to ring, alone in strange cities, and wracked with heartache. 

No matter your job, holidays can be fraught with hard emotions. 

Financial crisis. 
A devastating health diagnosis. 
Family discord.

At this time of year it somehow feels like there's more pressure than ever to be living a perfect life, free of heartbreak, conflict, or hard times.

We're "supposed" to be full of holiday cheer and joy but often it can be incredibly difficult to feel the tingle of magic through the sadness of our real-life burdens. 

So for those of you struggling this holiday season, honestly, I'm right there with ya. 

Here are a few of my tips for coping:

1. Remember that a lot of people are having a harder season of life than you are. 
Yes, this is tough, but take a few moments to consider how it could be worse. 
I try to remember that even though I can't be with my family this time, at least I have all of them still and I can see them next week. 

2. Consider how people celebrated holidays historically.
You have indoor plumbing to use on Thanksgiving? Not too shabby. 
You aren't battling bears on your homestead in the wilderness? Good. 

3. Do routine things you would do on any other day.
Get your cup of coffee. Read your book. 
Remember tiny things that you like to do on a normal day, and do those things. 

4. Lower your expectations. 
WHY do we think that a holiday should be a day full of flawless and majestic happiness? 
They're just days, and we're just humans. 

5. Find tiny ways to celebrate for yourself. 
Last Christmas I was alone in Las Vegas for 30 hours. I made my own tiny celebration by doing things I love- eating delicious food and going to a Christmas Eve service at the local Unitarian Universalist church. I was friendly, so I made new friends. I like to sing, so I sang carols. 
It was a little lonely, but I also kind of loved it.