Today we have a wonderful guest post given to us by a close friend, Jonathan.

In this post he shares with us his experience of giving up alcohol for the month of January.

Buddha between the vines

As a bloke, I’m not sure I qualify as a ‘Beauty’. I’ll gratefully accept classification as a ‘Beau’, if anyone is kind enough (and blind enough) to bestow it on me.

This January, I gave up alcohol for the month. I toasted in the new year with Champagne and friends, and then embarked on ‘Janudry’. Which is now drawing to a close…

So, why would anyone voluntarily give up alcohol for a whole month? Well there’s one really important and obvious reason. If you quietly count the number of times and places at which alcohol touches your life during a normal week, you’ll realise how saturated our modern culture is with the stuff. There’s the after-work drinks, that billboard ad on the way to work, the drunk guy in the street on the way home, Dexter slurping thirstily at a bottle of beer with his steak, Friday night work parties, Saturday evenings at home with mates, quiet Sunday afternoon beers, that bottle in the fridge… As a white, western, thirty-something it’s hard to avoid it. Which is precisely why I’m now trying to.

Now, I love alcoholic beverages; beers, spirits, and particularly wine. It’s fair to say that I’m obsessed with wine. Not in a hands-shaking, empty-bottles-by-the-bed kind of way. And not in a supercilious, pretentious snob kind of way either. I just love the stuff, and almost everything about it. My bedside table is an upended wooden wine box. I have Pinot Noir vines growing in tubs on my deck. Right now I’m sitting on a chair made out of an old wine barrel, wearing a t-shirt with the slogan #winelover. I even work in the wine industry, as Content Manager for one of the world’s largest wine websites (www.wine-searcher.com).

You’d think that someone in my position would have only good things to say about alcohol. And I do have good things to say – lots of them. I spend 8 hours every day writing about the wines of the world, encouraging people to try them. But I can’t deny it – I’m more than a little worried about how alcohol abuse is becoming more and more prevalent in our modern culture. Even now, in my 30s, I find myself at parties where men compete to see who can consume the most beer. And, oddly(?), young women are now overtaking men as society’s hardcore binge drinkers!

Here’s the happy bit.

My ‘Janudry’ is a conscious effort to bring a little peace and health to my life. It’s a little bit of Conscious Beauty. I do it every year. It feels good. Just like the Buddha statue between my vines, it’s a token of balance and awareness.

It reminds me that alcohol is both a luxury and a poison – to be treated with respect, and not consumed in excess. The time off sharpens my senses – I smell things more acutely in January than at any other time of the year. It also rejuvenates my appreciation of wine, and my respect for how special and complex wine is (and how expensive). My average spend on a bottle of wine is over $30, and I fork out several thousand dollars a year on the stuff. With that volume of wine (and that amount of money) disappearing down my throat, I really need to be appreciating it.

I’ve really enjoyed this year’s Janudry. I’ve found more time to study for my diploma (in wine), I’ve paid more attention to my girlfriend, gone out running in the evenings after work. The most measurable result is that I’ve lost several kilos (now down to a trim 82kg), and there’s $500 more in my bank account than at the end of any month last year. Good, good, good, good, good.

There’s a sixth ‘good’ to add to the list: sharing a bottle of top-quality wine with my winemaker friend Duncan on his birthday this Friday (yes, my Janudry will be ending a few hours early). This final ‘good’ is not at odds with any of the others. It’s born of conscious moderation, a deliberate awareness of how to keep wine ‘good’. That’s a lesson I’ve neglected in recent years, and something I’ll be focusing on closely for the next 11 months.
[left] Jonathan Reeve headshot photo

[/left] [right] Jonathan Reeve – a linguist by training – moved into the wine industry in 2006, bringing together three key passions: wine, language and travel. In 2009 he accepted the challenge of writing and maintaining Wine-Searcher’s online wine encyclopedia, which now covers more than 3500 wine regions and 1000 grape varieties and blends.

You can find more of Jonathan’s work on Wine-Searcher’s FB page.


a conscious beauty

This post was co-written by Katherine & Ruby, the co-founders of A Conscious Beauty.

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