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People are getting curious. Curious about whether I will reunite with wine in a little over a month's time. And this has made for some really interesting, memorable, and hard conversations. At my holiday party, as I clutched my cup of Coke Zero, a couple friends of mine asked casually what I will do when my Year Without Wine is finished in January and I said I wasn't totally sure, but that I planned to go back to drinking in a more thoughtful, measured, and minimalist way. I explained that I hadn't quite figured out a plan per se.

Why? Why would you go back to something that caused you problems when you've had such a good year, when you look and feel fantastic and you are enjoying increased productivity and happiness in all areas of your life?

These were, are, good questions. I had just explained to these very friends that I felt better than ever, that I'd literally seen every aspect of my life (think: marriage, motherhood, personal and professional relationships, writing, etc.) improve since taking a break from alcohol. After hearing this from me, I think it made sense that they would challenge me on my loosey-goosey declaration that I would go back to sipping.

The slight problem is that the aforementioned questions happened to be asked in an accusatory, borderline-belligerent way. You see, my friend was drinking, and he was heated. He was heated because he cared. A lot. He explained something I knew: this wasn't just about me, and my project, but about him and his family and so many of us.

You are breaking away from something we all struggle with and you are doing it successfully. You are the marathon runner we aspire to be and we just want you to keep running.

No pressure, huh? I told him that this was my project and my decision to make and that I would make it thoughtfully. And I will. I told him that I believe that I have learned a lot about myself over the last year and that I am confident that I can return to drinking in a much healthier way.

But the truth is that I could not stop thinking about our conversation for the rest of the night. The odd thing was that our exchange didn't upset me, but intrigued me. Suddenly, a questioned bobbed in my head, a question I had not theretofore genuinely considered:

What if I don't go back to drinking?

At the end of the night, my friend apologized. He pulled me aside and said it was not his place to get so involved in my personal thing. But I told him it was okay. Because it was. I told him that I wasn't offended because it was true.

Before going to sleep on Saturday night, I asked my man: What would you think if I never go back? And, after the festivities and some intense mopping of our beleaguered white floors, he was tired, we both were. But he answered me. And his answer was quick, simple, wonderful. He just said that it doesn't matter to him, that it's my decision and that my not drinking detracts nothing whatsoever from his life.

Needless to say, I went to sleep after our party thinking about all of this, imagining scenarios, feeling proud of myself that I made it through all these months and this big, beautiful party without that thing I once clung to so tightly. My sister Ceara slept over that night with her kids and in the morning, she and I were up, gulping coffee as the babes played. I asked her what she thought about my not going back and she said that it was up to me and I could go either way, but that she's noticed a real change in me, and a positive one, over the past several months.

And now. Here I am on a Monday morning at 4:56am (I went to sleep at 8pm last night!) thinking about all of this, and what's to come. I am sipping my coffee from my beloved cat mug that the girls gave me, through a bendy straw so as not to ruin the teeth-whitening mission upon which I've recently embarked. Ah, vanity. But I am here, awake, clear, listening to Handel and oddly missing Dad (I think because Mom and the sisters and I we were talking about how he would be so impossibly proud of my cello-playing nephew)... and deep in thought (as Dad so often found himself) about self and life.

I will make my own decision next month. But until then, I will process my thoughts here. My thoughts on why I gave up wine in the first place, what my life without it has been like, why I might or might not let it back into my life in any shape or form. The truth is that I made the decision last spring to tell you all about this project, to involve you, so it is about me but it is also about you. And I care what you think and want to hear your ideas, and your questions. Yes, even if this will ultimately be my call to make.

If I am being honest, I will say that I do feel the pressure (as always) to get this right. To make the right existential decision for myself, for my family, even for all of you. But I also know that there is often no right decision in life, that the best we can do is to dream big and try hard and do our best.

And that's what I'm doing. Dreaming big. Trying hard. Doing my best.

Yes, for me. Yes, for them. And yes, for you.

{Thank you to my friend, and to all of you, for making me think so deeply and carefully about all of this.}

If you are new here and want to learn more about my Year Without Wine, click here.

If you want to read all of my Year Without Wine posts to date, click here.

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Any thoughts or reactions? Do you think I am foolish to even consider going back to drinking - even in a super-moderate way - when this year has been so purely good? Have you ever given up something for an extended period of time and then gone back to it? How did that go? Are you willing to hear a lot more about my thoughts on all of this? Hope so because I want to take this final month and really think through it as much as I can...

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