I flew to Mexico City last weekend for a medical appointment, to do some errands and enjoy a few child-free days before a long stint of mostly single parenting. Tuesday, which was the last day there, felt almost like a vacation day. I arrived Saturday night, both Sunday and Monday morning were filled appointments and errands, and I worked Monday afternoon.

We had “nothing to do” until our evening flight, and so we spent Tuesday morning at my favorite bakery then wandering the streets of La Roma Norte, one of my favorite neighborhoods, poking around bookstores and galleries and laneways filled with interesting stores.

By early afternoon, it was getting hot, and my companion spotted some delicious looking fruit piled on a bar counter across the street. We quickly decided now was the time for a refreshing drink and beelined for the street-side bar stools.

We ordered “aguas frescas” which quickly quenched our thirst. As we sat there, we realized we had happened upon a restaurant that was named one of the best new restaurants in Mexico City, but that hadn’t had any tables available the evening we tried to make reservations.

As we sat at the bar for what appeared to be the lunchtime rush, we watched the bartender whip up amazing concoctions, both with and without alcohol. I perused the cocktail menu out of curiosity and didn’t see anything that jumped out at me for that time of day. The bartender saw me looking and asked what I wanted. I said something not-too-sweet and not-too-strong as I don’t usually day drink. He asked if he could try out a new cocktail on me, and I said okay.

I watched as he chilled the glass, squeezed fresh orange juice, muddled pineapple, mixed in a little cinnamon infused syrup, and shake with a light pour of gin and Aperol. He then charred a cinnamon stick before stirring it into the drink.

It was an expertly made cocktail and it was delicious. Not only that, I could have sat there smelling it all day. My partner, who doesn’t usually order cocktails, was inspired to order one as well and had another (different) custom-made cocktail with his favorite ingredients.

We then decided to order some appies and salad, and ended up each ordering one more drink.

This is the kind of afternoon many of my clients dream of when they first contact me – but it often feels like a faraway somewhat impossible dream that they don’t quite dare have – lest it never becomes reality.

I get it.

6 years ago, those two afternoon cocktails (which likely would have been at least three at the restaurant) would have led to another drink or two at the apartment we were staying at (there was literally a top shelf of excellent quality alcohol that we had access to and hadn’t touched a drop of all weekend)- instead he had coffee and I had water when we got back to the apartment.

It would have meant a frantic dash around the apartment and scrambling to get the airport, wondering if I’d forgotten anything (I likely would have) and then hoping to get to the airport on time for another drink at the bar – instead, he bought a bottle of water and I found a cafe and ordered a matcha latte.

It would have meant drinks ON the airplane even though it’s only an hour long flight and possibly keeping the party going once we got home since I didn’t have any responsibilities until 9 am the next day… and once upon a time, it might have even meant shirking or showing up late for those responsibilities, or at the very least, having to slog my way through a hangover to accomplish anything.

Instead, I felt great, hydrated, unpacked, washed my face, had an amazing night’s sleep, and woke up feeling refreshed and also celebrating the fun and spontaneous last afternoon we’d had in the city.

It hit me.

THIS is why I did all of that work! This is part of the vision I had for myself, 6+ years ago. Why I wanted to REDEFINE my relationship to alcohol – not eliminate it completely.

Sitting sipping craft cocktails, chatting with the bartender and my partner, learning about a new brand of natural fruit juice sparkling drinks as the provider did a demo for the GM of the restaurant, sampling new foods and a new line of fruit-infused sparkling waters made locally. I learned about jocoque, a Lebanese dip that apparently became quite popular in Mexico due to the large Lebanese population. I knew none of this history and the combination of fried baby artichoke hearts and jocoque was amazing (see pic below).

Did I “need” to drink alcohol to experience all of those things? Of course not. I could have had a similar experience by asking the bartender to make me craft mocktails (which I have done in other places in the past). But I loved this particular experience and was grateful for it. It felt like a treat and also an affirmation of where I’m at right now and how far I’ve come.

I had consultation calls with three women last week who thought they needed to go completely alcohol-free. Because they were afraid. Because they thought that was the only option for them as “problematic drinkers.” Because they had tried to moderate before and “failed.”

And yet they were facing extreme resistance to making a change because they didn’t want to cut alcohol out of their lives completely.

More importantly, there was a little intuitive voice saying to them – there is another way!

When we can moderate in some circumstances and not others, our inner wise woman knows that total abstinence must not be the only option for us. So we face resistance to making a change because we think that it means no alcohol forever or choosing something that isn’t in total alignment with what we actually want for ourselves. (Let me be clear, I’m all for total abstinence if that is what your inner wise woman wants. However, I don’t think any decision should be driven by fear or lack of options.)

These three conversations reminded me so much of where I was at 6 years ago. I knew I needed to make a change. I knew I was having a really hard time controlling my alcohol use in certain situations. Yet I also knew that I didn’t have a physical dependency. I knew that my alcohol use wasn’t always out of control… but that there were certain situations that were the “recipe for disaster.”

That’s where the real work really began. Understanding the difference. Learning about what needs alcohol was fulfilling. Exploring how to meet those needs in other ways. Digging deep and healing the part of ourselves that feel “less than” and that we need alcohol to be a certain way.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this article, coming next week.

As always, I’d love to hear from you!! Do you feel fear/resistance around making a change? Is your intuition telling you one thing but the people around you/dominant culture/status quo (or your fear) limiting your options?

I’ll do my best to address your comments, questions, and concerns in the next installment!

For now, if you’re celebrating the beginning of summer and/or Memorial Day in the USA, or just want some inspiration, here are three of my favorite mocktail recipes (with amazing health benefits!!)