Wait a Minute, Has It Really Been a Year?

One year ago today, I made a decision that changed my life. Life-changing decisions don't pop up every day. What was my decision? I’ll tell you this: My decision didn’t involve anyone else. Just me. I didn’t ask anyone to help me make my decision, and I didn’t ask anyone to help me stay with my decision. I just did it.

This Sunday, Feb. 20, I will be 42 years old. I can honestly say that I've never been prouder of myself for what I have accomplished after making my decision. Mind you, I am very proud of my accomplishments – I graduated from Texas A&M University, and then I earned my master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin. I started (and stopped) a few successful companies. I’ve helped other people’s businesses make lots of money. I’ve given birth to three beautiful children and somehow managed to keep them alive for almost 10 years. I’ve kept a marriage fresh for almost 19 years. But this year – these last 12 months – they have been eye-opening. What I’ve learned this past year has been much more than I could have ever imagined, and I am the proudest of myself than I have ever been before. So what was this life-changing decision I made a year ago that I’m so proud of?

In a year, I've dropped 3.5 pant sizes...that's been the best part of it all, if I am being honest.

I stopped drinking alcohol on Feb. 17, 2021, and I have no plans to start drinking alcohol again.

A year ago today, I made the decision to stop drinking based on a series of events. I didn't even talk about it for months. I am not exactly sure why I made the decision. I just know it was a deep, very personal decision. I don’t have words to explain it. I just know I made this decision for me and only me.

The one fear I had the most about not drinking alcohol was that I wouldn’t have as much fun. But that’s what’s really funny – I have not stopped having fun. I do not stay home on a Friday night or skip the brewery tours with friends. I do not impose my sobriety on anyone else, and I am fine when my friends and family take part.

But I have to tell you – these last 12 months? Well, I have learned who "Janell" really is. What’s surprising is it hasn't been that difficult for me to stop drinking- at all. College, having children and staying married is difficult. It's not like that. It actually has been much easier than I imagined. I'm proud of myself because for the first time in my life I did something for myself, by myself. The benefits I’ve received from not consuming alcohol for an entire year has left me astounded - it’s been a powerful feeling.

Most of us go through life trying to figure things out. Learning as we go. Absorbing as much information as we can. But for me, I wasn't fully experiencing those moments. I often had a glass of wine in my hand and whatever was happening meant I wasn't fully present in my memories. In fact, I now have the most vivid dreams, thoughts and memories I have ever had since I made my decision.

I sleep better. I have more energy. I think more clearly – and I can honestly say I have more fun. I do NOT say any of this to put anyone down who chooses to drink. That's not what I have learned this year. My friends and family are a hoot, and I am not condemning or comparing myself. I am only realizing that for me to be the person I am truly supposed to be, I am meant to be sober. That is an incredible statement. A year ago, I shied away from saying that. Now, I embrace it.

The benefits of being sober have outweighed any of the doubts I had about whether it would be worth it to give up alcohol. Would I still be able to have fun dancing the night away, laughing till I cried or relieving the stress of the day when my kids went to bed? Yes. Unequivocally YES. I can still dance on tables. I can still laugh, tell jokes and cry. I can still find quiet moments to relieve the stress of being a mother. AND I can do all those things while sober.

I have no plans to return to drinking. My 42nd birthday might just be my favorite one yet.

My kids are my biggest reason I want to live life more present. This is Nolan-9, Sydney-7 & Brooks-6.

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