Phase 3. Pickle purse. Bonus bat. I hate making up titles.

I don’t want to alienate male readers, but I think maybe women do midlife crises better. Or at least slower.

Phase 1 of my midlife crisis was Excess and Debauchery. It lasted nearly two years and was a heluva blast – occasionally and from what I remember. Actually, I wish I could forget.

Phase 2 was Getting Sober. I dropped the spirits and a funny thing happened in that my spirit came back. Slowly. This has been a nearly 3 year process. I was late getting the blueprints and some of the necessary permits, but I’ve heard from others this sort of timeframe is normal.

I am now entering Phase 3 and very excited to see what it’s called. Early peeks indicate it might be about Letting Go, though this might also be because of some recent influences and the fact that I’m embarrassingly suggestible. If you were to casually say “you know, you’d look pretty good with a purse made out of pickles” I’d probably have one next time we bumped into each other. (You would probably get pickle juice on your new blouse, so we would be even in my book.)

I discovered Leo Babuta of Zen Habits through Jill Kelly of Sober Truths (who Christy at Running on Sober turned me onto some time ago). The thing I love about Zen Habits and Sober Truths right now is how simple and to the point they are. This is where I am right now. I only want to want what I need.

It is probably no coincidence that I am craving simplicity after an extended family vacation at Disney. It was a great trip. Probably my favorite one there and I’ve been a lot.

Our last visit to Disney was in August of 2012. It wasn’t a great trip for me. I was a little over a year sober and while I was past the point of craving a drink, I recall feeling raw and trapped in expectations. I distinctly remember being on a ride and noticing a patchy paint job and feeling any hint of magic sucked away.

This trip was so different. My youngest daughter just turned 6, so that probably had something to do with it. Six year-olds are pretty magical, or at least the way they see the world is. When we arrived at our destination airport, we continued at breakneck pace and picked up the rental car in record time and were on our way before noticing she was uncharacteristically quiet in the back seat. Her older sister noticed first and asked what was wrong, to which she replied “I like this car, but I’m kind of sad that we stole it.” First time in a rental car + first visit to the most magical place on earth that she was old enough to appreciate = pure magic.

A key difference between this family trip and the last one is that this time I felt better able to let go of expectations and attachments to the good and the bad. Shit still went wrong on this trip. It wasn’t perfect. There was solid rain the first two days. I got a weird rash on my legs from sun or sunblock or standing in too many lines. My hip hurt from all the walking. I still noticed all the folks around me enjoying vacation cocktails. Oh, I also noticed that same patchy paint job in the same ride this trip. It all just felt real, it felt right.

That’s all from a little more sober time. Every day is a precious gift that keeps on giving. It sounds quaint and corny but it’s true.


Here is a picture of a bat hanging out at disney’s animal kingdom. Related: I want a pet bat. Kind of.


26 thoughts on “Phase 3. Pickle purse. Bonus bat. I hate making up titles.

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  1. Crazy, crazy timing. I am delaying my morning exercise, and I think, “I should email Kristen, I wonder if she’s back yet.” Then I think, well, let’s just look at WP first. Open it up, and here you are… YEAH!!! Missed you much!

    I cannot imagine even entertaining for a moment wanting a bat for a pet, although I applaud your courage for doing so. Just thinking about that picture you posted gives me the heebie geebies.

    You WOULD look good with a purse made out of pickles. (There, now let me see what happens).

    I am so glad you are back and that your trip was a good one. I agree, the longer I am sober the easier things like vacations, or anything out of the ordinary schedule-wise, seems to be.

    Letting go of expectations, however, tends to still be a struggle for me, although I am behind you in sober time. Maybe this time next year I will be “expectation-less?” One can always hope!

    Alright, no more procrastinating for me. I am, by the way, on my strict exercise regimen with a certain date looming, so let’s communicate soon to see if we’re really doing this!


    1. Josie, I often wonder if the changes I see and feel are on some sort of more or less normal timeline for being sober. I know I wouldn’t have any of this if I drank. Now onto the 5K. Can’t wait!


  2. I love that your daughter thought you stole the rental car! We just rescued a puppy and my son said he was glad we have her but we shouldn’t steal puppies. It is truly magical when the ins and outs of life feel normal instead of something we need to drink away. By the way, my son is suddenly into bats, which like to drink from our pool at dusk. I’ll show him this picture!


    1. Love love love this. Stealing puppies. It sounds like a lovely thing, actually, but only the way you did it. Tell your son that bat was as big as a cat. He seemed cuddly.


  3. There is some point in recovery when your life stops being totally about you and more about others esp the significant others and you enjoy time with them doing what they want to do. It stops being onerous, a chore, an impingement on your time and your life. Well that is what happened for me at some point I believe.

    You want a pet bat? Have you seen the mess those suckers make on cave floors?

    I’m not sure what phase of my mid life crisis I’m at. First bit was like you drunken debauchery, send was early sobriety, third was rebirth of music career (and subsequent quick death…. well significant life support needed anyway), fourth was redundancy, fifth is current career change… My wife keeps moaning I’ve had several and she as yet hasn’t have one at all! 🙂


  4. Hey, I have a pickle purse, do you??? 🙂 So glad your enjoyed your trip and letting go of expectations is huge and my number one problem. I am learning a bit to try to eliminate expectations b/c if you do you won’t get disappointed if its not perfect or doesn’t go the way you want. I always wanted that in my life and i think that made me miserable. Mothers Day was a huge one…. Everyone wants great meals in bed, flowers, cards, spa trips, well behaved kids, great memories and really is that all necessary? If you get it, awesome, if not and your expecting and hoping and don’t get it your down & depressed. Is that worth it? I am really embracing the care free, let it be attitude.

    Pet Bat? Really??? lol


    1. Yeah, I don’t think a carefree attitude is in my wiring, but definitely have noticed it’s easier to accept and roll with life’s little up and downs. It has come over time and goes out the window on certain occasions. Mother’s day and birthdays are tough ones.


  5. Ha! If I was your kid, I’d equate stealing cars with trips to Disney, and there’s no telling how that would end.
    Glad you had a good trip, and hope you get the quiet downtime to recover from it.

    (That purse made of pickles would go quite well with shoes carved from zucchini.)


  6. Love the post and the stolen car. I got sober waaayy past midlife crisis time but my debauchery phase wasn’t until I was 50. So I’ve moved rapidly into phase 3. Maybe because of my age I skipped a lot of the raw stuff and moved into the enlightenment phase, whatever the reason I’ll take the fabulousness of sober living. You don’t really want a bat, I agree with Futheron. They make an awful mess.


  7. Okay, you can’t put out that “women do this better” thing and then not substantiate it! Is Mr. BBB buying sports cars and looking at young floozies? lol. Anyway, great post. I do like Leo’s site there, and I wish I had his determination to let things go for a whole month or more and how he organizes his life. I’d like to see his house. Or not. I’d get depressed.

    Glad the trip was great. My wife talks about going there, and all I can think of is line ups. And money we don’t have. I laughed at your daughter’s comments, as my oldest is 6 yrs old as well and he comes up with some zingers too.

    Great post!


    1. I thought about doing a ‘buy nothing’ month but I’m tired of 30 day trials, at least right now. I’d rather try adopting a stop-buying-so-much-crap lifestyle. He wrote about moving overseas and limiting every member in his family to one box and one backpack of belongings. Something about this was wickedly appealing.


  8. Love the post…..except the bat picture. Sometimes I wonder if in fact it is too late for me to “go sober.” I keep stumbling. I also keep picking myself up and trying again. BIG birthday coming up next week, and I am determined to face it sober.


    1. It’s never too late. If only I’d been blogging each time I tried unsuccessfully to moderate or reign it back in. Does anyone truly get it on their first “try”? You keep picking yourself back up, you have heart. Happy BIG birthday to you…I hope you get what you want.


  9. I love that you daughter was stewing over the morality of stealing a car while on the way to Disney. So cute.

    And letting go of expectations/getting comfortable in my skin/etc. is all something I look forward to very much. It’s good to hear that it took you years, not months. Sometimes I’m affected by a case of the want-it-nows, so remembering to be patient helps.


    1. Before, I thought everything should take a few months. Grief, getting over cravings, staying in the moment, letting go. It bummed me for a long time, this idea that it shouldn’t take this long, that it would never come. And I sure hope I didn’t make it sound like I have expectations in the bag. It was a great trip, there has been a change. Like everything else, it ebbs and flows. Always something for me to work on and I feel grateful. 🙂


  10. Yay! I’m so glad to have some “me” time today to read you! Your words flow so easily, I can see your adventures all in my head and find myself thinking, “Where can I get a bat and a pickle purse??”
    Loved this!!


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