Life Outside the Pillow Fort

It’s been a dense several weeks. Every month, half of my giving budget goes to recurring donations and half I give out depending on what’s going on in the world – it’s getting harder and harder to choose which cause or disaster relief effort most needs my money. Two years ago, before I started paying attention to the world outside of my bubble, I would’ve known about Las Vegas and Houston; I might’ve been peripherally aware of Puerto Rico and Mexico City, but I definitely wouldn’t have known about the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar (one of the causes I donated to last month) or so many other things happening, both in this country and around the world.

It’s insane to think that we’re almost a year out from the election. The scope of my life has changed so much in that year – it had already started changing; I’d already started paying more attention, learning more, venturing out from my virtual pillow fort of entertainment – but the election was the big turning point. The election was when I knew that paying attention and informing myself about what was going on wasn’t going to be enough – that being woke meant nothing to me if I didn’t actually do anything to try to help and make a difference. I believe I would’ve gotten there anyway; I was on that path, but the election sped me down the road in overdrive.

It’s not as if I don’t still spend time on entertainment – I do, but significantly less. I think, for me, just getting to that point where I was ready to truly face and own up to the fact that “hey, I really don’t need to spend this much time on my couch in front of the computer – I don’t need this much unwind time, my life isn’t that stressful, I’m exceptionally privileged, and disengaging this much isn’t doing me any favors either – so time to get off my ass and be more awesome” was the big hurdle. Because yes, I do love curling up on the couch with video games, and that’s an addiction that it’s way too easy for me to give too much of myself over to. I also have a tendency to be a homebody and to want to hole up in my nest with my husband and my cats and get into complete pillow fort mode. I’d been living my life that way, in one form or another, for a long, long time. I made a shift a while back and started spending regular time on physical fitness, which was an extremely positive change that I’ve kept up with for eightish years now, but I still wasn’t doing anything to make a difference to anyone outside of my bubble, or to continue learning in any meaningful way.

(A side note, to also make the point that there is still much I love about the entertainment world, Matthew and I went to see The My Little Pony Movie yesterday and Time To Be Awesome might be my new theme song.)

So here we are, October of 2017, and I’m committed to being more awesome. I also regularly feel like it can’t ever be enough, and have to balance it with the thought that we might all be careening towards blowing ourselves up anyway. Turns out that coming out of the pillow fort also makes it a lot harder to “LA LA LA LA LA” the concerns of the world away – and that’s a good thing. We all should be concerned, and angry, and any other number of emotions that shows we’re paying attention. I’m not letting those feelings consume or cripple me; I’m not letting them ruin my enjoyment of life – if anything I’m finding even more joy in life lately. I’ve met so many incredible people at Centro, I’ve had so many great experiences and fun times with them – and I’ve completely rediscovered an almost childlike level of intellectual curiosity. I am addicted to learning about the world and trying to understand everything that’s happening. (As a result I may have a little bit of a podcast problem … ) Learning Spanish is amazing, too – it’s hard AF, sometimes I can almost feel my brain cells pushing to expand, but I’m starting to see real progress and it’s a great feeling. Last week I went to my third Spanish Roundtable meetup at Centro – gatherings where people of all levels, from beginners to fluent speakers, get together to casually converse in Spanish – and I actually did some speaking as well as following more of the conversation than I ever had before.

I feel like I’m living life more fully than I had been for a long time. I’m not saying I wasn’t enjoying life before, but there were parts of myself that I let go dormant that are coming back now.

I’ve also been determined not to get derailed from my ongoing fitness goals – and I haven’t. I still get up at 5am before work to run. My Fitbit daily step goal is still 15k and I still meet that goal every. damned. day. (Seriously – there’s been one day in 2017 that I didn’t meet it, because the I-meet-my-goal-come-hell-or-high-water approach has been, for me, the silver bullet to consistency.) The shift in my life I made towards fitness years ago isn’t one I’m going to let go of – I’m not going to make progress in one part of my life and simultaneously abandon progress I’ve made in another.

However – with all of this also comes the realization that you can’t do everything, and there are sometimes tradeoffs. My concession has been a re-embracing of my love of wine. Now, I’d never given wine up – god forbid – but for a while I’d cut down to mostly only having wine on Friday nights (date night!) and special occasions. And you know what? Right now? Fuck that. On days when I volunteer after work I get home and I’m wired and full of stories and Matthew and I talk about our days and whatever is going on around the world and for a while I was having trouble getting to sleep on those nights, no matter how exhausted I was; it was just hard to wind down. You know what really helps? Aaaaw yeah. A glass of Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel.

So I’ve put on a few pounds, because wine will do that to you. And I’m good with that, because although I don’t pretend to have somehow magically freed myself from the messed up body issues of our culture, for me fitness has never been tied to my jeans size. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing – I ran 7 miles this morning, the number of pushups I do hasn’t decreased – and if thoroughly enjoying my evening wine helps me to unwind from a day outside the pillow fort and get a good night’s sleep to prepare for the next one, and if being a bit rounder is the result of that, I’m down. You know, I’ve always had a lot of admiration for the type of athletic woman who isn’t skinny and wouldn’t want to be because she loves her burgers and loves going out for drinks but she could totally kick your ass on the field of her preferred sport. Maybe I’mma be one of those. Plus, in case I hadn’t mentioned this part, I really, really love wine. So if wine is going to help me be awesome, well, I think I’ll bear up under the strain.

Local Wine Weekend!

We’ve had a couple of busy weekends – this weekend was the Nine Lakes Wine Festival; we went to the Winemaker’s Dinner last night and the festival itself today, and both were wicked fun. Before I met the Nine Lakes folks I really had no idea that Tennessee wine was thriving – I’d only tried one Tennessee wine and it was from a winery that’s … not very good … and I didn’t realize that there were so many more Tennessee wineries out there, and that so many of them are excellent.

I am now thoroughly enlightened on this matter. The Winemaker’s Dinner last night showcased award winning wines and I enjoyed every single one – there were dump buckets at the table so that you could dump out any wine that you didn’t like, but I didn’t dump a single thing.

Okay, let’s have some honesty here – when it comes to wine I’m really not very picky. This isn’t to say I can’t appreciate truly good wine – I can, and many of the wines I’ve had this weekend were something special. But I’m also perfectly happy with whatever house wine they serve at Cru that’s $5 for a 9oz glass at happy hour, and I usually keep a Bota Box around at home.

I also enjoy just about every type of wine. I generally prefer reds, and I particularly love reds that punch you in the face – a really bold red zin is one of my favorite things – but other than sickly sweet wines I can enjoy just about any variety. We brought home a few things from the festival today that aren’t my typical style – a light peach wine and a semi-sweet white muscadine. I do sometimes get more in the mood for whites in the summer when a chilled drink is particularly enjoyable, and there were some amazing whites on offer this weekend.

But point being, a wine would have to be pretty damned bad for me to pour it in the dump bucket, and there was absolutely nothing bad at the dinner last night. No wine that was poured for me ended up anywhere other than in me. And, um, by the end of the evening it was pretty evident that I’d enjoyed the hell out of the selection.

The festival today was perfect – the lakeside setting was gorgeous, the weather was bright and beautiful and there were so. many. wines. I tried a ton of things that I wouldn’t normally order in a restaurant or commit to a bottle of without tasting first.

In the midst of everything going on in the world it was nice to focus on good food, sunshine and an abundance of good wine for a while. And I’m now officially a convert to Tennessee wine.