Hi my friend!
It’s 11am and I’m sitting here under a pink Frangipani tree with a neighbouring squirrel knocking bits of nuts down as it eats. All around is green garden beauty, pots of Bougainvilleas, stone carvings of the Divinely voluptuous Feminine, lizards scamperin, red hibiscus flowering and the Balinese sacred offerings of flowers, grains of rice and incense being carried on a gentle breeze. Birds are twittering and the sound of water is cascading from a feature in the pool. Idyllic.
Still, in front of me, in the pool, are three Australians drinking beer and floating in rubber tubes. The conversation revolves around last night and pool races between long breaks of nothing. One guy is now asking the waiter at the swim up bar, “Do you get in trouble if you go and buy Bintang and bring it back here to the pool?”
This is the reason that some people I know from back home don’t like coming to Bali.
But I love Bali!! I love doing Bali my way most of all, which means health and wellness and adventures and creativity and long breakfasts where I sit and stare into the void. And receiving, so much receiving. I feel so joyful anytime I step into an airport and onto a plane actually. This is the way it has always been for me. I feel at home when I travel.
This morning at breakfast I received inspiration to write about how I manage to not drink coming from the culture where I’m from. It was not always easy.
In Australia, amongst the majority of the population, if you don’t drink you are an anomaly. Our whole culture revolves around food and drink. Both of which we do really well and really badly!! So at Christmas we don’t have traditions like Mistletoe and sticking cloves in oranges and the like, but we do have friends, family, food yes, and alcohol.
And if you’ve never felt the need or desire to not drink and you’re from a culture like mine, you may not even realize how accepted it just is that you will drink.
It’s not even that I don’t drink! I do drink. I love good wine or a cold beer I can appreciate, or my favourite of all, vintage champagne. I very much enjoyed drinking spiced rum on New Years and on the beach at night with the French and Germans on Australia Day. I appreciate the culture and art of wine. And sometimes, especially when I’ve been in my mind and haven’t drunk for a while, I love how it can immediately make me relax and focus on socialising and having fun rather than being a serious working spiritual person all the time.
So when I say I don’t drink I mean, by Australian Standards. Once upon a time though I was that drunk Australian floating in the pool scheming how to sneak the cheap alcohol in. That was when I was 19 and in Bali with my friends, the same year that alcohol started to lose its appeal to me.
Before that I wanted to drink a lot and now I see this as my rejection of the feminine. I wanted to be able to drink like a man. To keep up with the boys. Who can relate? Sounds so off-putting now but I only realised today lying under this beautiful tree and drifting into sleep that it was the rejection of the feminine.
I was rejecting the mother, my mother.
This is something that women often go through when they align with the masculine, the gatekeeper of power in our society. The mother is seen as weak and is rejected. Maureen Murdock writes about this in The Heroine’s Journey.
I know my own mother experienced this massively when the pea she had in her pocket (me) started to pull away as a teenager and get all secretive and shady. I remember shaking my head when she said she’d only been drunk once in her life and didn’t like it. How silly! I couldn’t imagine being so straight, given that I related to others, my peers and those older than me, through drinking.
In writing about how I don’t drink, the major difference now is that it just doesn’t appeal to me that much. I don’t find it fun to get really drunk, although I have done some epic stuff while drunk, like being on stage with Metallica. I’d never have jumped the VIP fence and got up to dance on stage if I hadn’t been trashed. At the time.
Now I reckon I would.
This is the thing. I believe most Australians drink so much or feel the need to to express their wild and free self. We have to be so contained otherwise, with all our work stress, consumerism and responsibilities. All our fun is curtailed by rules and fences too (often because we can’t drink or do drugs responsibly). So drinking is a way of saying “Fuck you I’ll do what I want!” to society. We are raging against the machine.
But most of our fun curtailing comes from ourselves, believing that the answer is to be found in a pill or a bottle. What would happen if alcohol or drugs weren’t involved? Could you still dance all night, have super interesting conversations verging on the ridiculous, climb trees, rip your clothes off and go night swimming, talk to strangers and jump fences?
My answer is YES.
I used to run off through the field and climb the farmers fences during my lunch break while working as an English Lecturer at the Hotel and Management University in Switzerland. I felt I had to be so contained in that job.
Tresspassing too can be a lot of fun.
Wild and free!!
That’s how I felt.
A simple little action.
Expressing my child-self.
That’s what many people want to do when they drink.
Just be a bit silly. Not so serious. Take off the masks of the “Adult Self”.
I mean, that’s what’s so appealing in these adult colouring in books, right?
Personally I don’t like them.
Have you seen the tiny spaces we’re meant to colour in?
Fun, still so contained and disciplined!!
And with a purpose!! It’s good for you! It’s like meditation. When did everything get to be about meditation?
No wonder people drink!
How about colouring because it’s fun to boldly streak a vibrant colour across the page in a disordered or ordered way? Making your own decisions! Going with what feels right?
How about colouring out rather than colouring in?
Colour your serious adult self out!!
Don’t worry society won’t fall to pieces. She’ll be back.
So anyway, as I was saying…
How I don’t drink.
Not drinking can feel like being kicked out of the tribe. If your tribe just likes to drink to excess and you don’t at all find it fun, then yes, maybe a new tribe will have to be found. It may not be forever. People change all the time.
But if your tribe’s social activities revolve around drinking but they’re still interesting people, all you have to do is get comfortable with their disappointment in you choosing not to drink. I find that, like with everything, the more you love your decisions, the less you need other people to love them.
The more you love your decisions, the less you need other people to love them.
When I was healing from breast cancer, I used my liver as an excuse (which is actually true because the body processes hormones in the liver). I remember once in Switzerland (another land where people get really disappointed when you don’t drink and the feeling of having to accommodate the group is strong), someone was trying to coerce me into having spirits after dinner and would not even accept my liver issue. But I persisted in saying no until she dropped it. She couldn’t force feed me Amaretto. She had to let it go!
Get comfortable with another person’s disappointment or you will end up living your life according to someone else’s needs and desires. You will end up leading a life that doesn’t feel like your own.
Know that everyone is on their own journey. Get comfortable with other people being uncomfortable and not accepting your choices. Now when I get the disappointed vibe (which used to be the “What? You’re not drinking!?” but is now a more subtle “How are you getting home?”), I say “But I’m so much fun when I don’t drink!!” with plenty of enthusiasm. I really mean it. I am.
And if you have gotten to this point of this article and you’re still thinking, “No, but really, how?” and you really want the how how because you do love to drink but want to cut down or I dare say, quit (don’t worry I said cut down too no need to freak out). Then I would say to ask yourself what you are getting from it. What do you love about it?
What’s the feeling it gives you?
Is it… Rebellion? Relaxation? Connection? Presence? Freedom? Silliness? Creativity? Confidence?
Then look for new ways you could experience this feeling that doesn’t involve drinking.
And do it.
Do it now.
Do it before the urge comes in to drink.
Fill your life up with so much fun and fulfilling stuff that you don’t even miss it.
This is what we practice in eating for pleasure on the Healthy + Powerfully Feminine course too. It’s actually a really effective way to transform and release any of the habits that are holding you back.
The early bird special for the upcoming online program end this Friday, so if you are sitting on the fence and are curious, now is the time. Click here for more details.
Whichever way you are going, it’s time to jump!
From my wild heart to yours,
p.s. My creativity and wondering is flowing and I’m inspired to write more on health while I’m here in Bali so if you enjoyed reading this and would like to receive more on the way I do health, sign up above or below to hop on the Museletter list and get ready to receive Divine Goddess.