Girls’ Night Out

I have a new friend, Kim. We met this summer at a wedding, but just finally connected a few weeks ago over breakfast. She invited me out with some of her friends last night – what a nice time!

We went to a wine bar, had yummy rosé and sandwiches, then walked a couple of blocks to the local live theater. It was a lovely evening. Good to meet some women my own age – finally! Up until now, I’ve known one or two women who are in my age range – most of my female friends here in VA are older or younger than me by 10+ years.

I realized, as I arrived and took off my coat, that I haven’t really been out with a small group of girl friends for almost three years. When I first moved to VA, I was invited to a woman’s house for a discussion of a particular cookbook and eating plan, but I felt out of place and self-conscious in that group – I didn’t know anyone, not even really the hostess, though we’re friends now. Before that, there was once in FL, just before I was moving, when my neighbor ladies took me out for a goodbye dinner.

Prior to that, I went out many times with women my own age, while living in Wisconsin. I was friends with women who had children my kids’ ages, so that automatically brought common companionship. I was in weekly Bible Study and prayer groups with fellow women at the same stage of life as me. I suppose that’s expected – we had life in common.

Besides those groups, and the wonderful team of women with whom I worked daily, I’d get together for breakfast or coffee with a few friends on a pretty regular basis. Then there’s my dear friend with whom I shared many dinners over the years. And let’s not forget my weekly call with my best friend!

I remember many years ago, when my dad was leaving for almost two weeks on a mission trip to Africa. My mom and I had multiple conversations about what she was going to do while he was gone, and she had made plans with several female friends for activities while he traveled, to help offset the potential loneliness of him being away. And we talked then about how important it is to have female friendships!

I think I’ve complained here on this blog about being lonely, longing for nearby relationships with women my own age. So I was excited when my schedule opened up last night – I usually have a Tuesday evening commitment. It worked out beautifully that I was free last night to join this “new” group of ladies. I had just recently bought a new dress, and thought how cute it would look with boots; I’d get dressed up for Girls’ Night – a nice change from my regular sweater and jeans.

But yesterday afternoon, I almost backed out. I had returned home after running errands, and I thought how nice it would be to stay home and make dinner with my husband, share a bottle of wine, and watch Netflix together. But he told me to go, and said that I needed some female companionship. He knows me so well!

I’m glad he pushed, and I’m very glad I went. And the dress looked great with the boots!

It’s Easy

The thing about depression is – it’s easy.

No, depression itself is not easy – it’s actually a very hard journey. But descending into depression is a cinch. Easy-peasy.

All it takes is several days of feeling alone, using first-person depression language or beating myself up, poor diet and/or sleep, ongoing physical pain. A few negative components, and depression is within reach.

Of course, wellness should be reaching toward the positive, toward mental health, not illness. But sometimes, mental illness feels closer to my grasp.

This should make me fearful, or at least cautious. The problem is, it all feels so familiar. So it’s not scary; it’s almost comforting.

Which makes me scared. And that’s healthy.

I’m realizing that I’m often so close to the edge of the cliff – to the precipice of depression’s chasm.

That means I need to fight really hard for mental health. For mental wellness.

I need to initiate my ladder – the steps my therapist told me to put into place to help me when I find myself in this darker place. Step one – sit with the tears. Well, I don’t have any of those right now. Just a familiar sadness.

Step two – Tell my husband and best friend. My husband will be home shortly, after having been out-of-town for a few days – I hate to admit that this probably contributed to my current emotions. I’m okay with him being gone until about day five – then it gets hard for me. So that piece will improve soon!

Ok, time to be really honest here. Let’s back up a few minutes. Drinking wine does not help depression. I suspect that if I hadn’t had a couple of glasses of wine – which is a depressant! – I wouldn’t be feeling so negative right now.

I’ll write more about my ladder of self-care another time. The steps really don’t matter for this particular post. What matters is to illustrate that depression can be only a few choices away.

So I need to make wise choices. Initiate my ladder of self-care. Get good sleep. Eat a healthy snack, healthy meals. (Too bad I had to throw away that salad mix due to the recall – that was my healthy meal!) Get regular exercise. Be careful with alcohol.

Ultimately, I must remind myself of God’s truth about me, because that’s what really matters. He loves me no matter what. I am a new creation, because of Jesus’ grace. Depression is not who I am; I am a precious daughter of the king of the universe, the king of all creation.

Reminding myself of these truths are keys to fighting the familiarity of depression. Keys to fighting the lies of the enemy. Keys to my mental health.

A Wine Tasting Party

Last Saturday night, my husband and I hosted a Wine Tasting Party for five guests. It was supposed to be Wine and/or Beer Tasting, since we assumed that not all of our guests would like wine. But only one couple brought beer, and everybody agreed to just drink Pinot Noir for the evening.

My husband had made a delicious spinach/artichoke dip, and we served it in bread bowls. I also brought out a variety of cheeses and artisan breads. A bit carb-heavy, but delicious! The Parmesan cheese was particularly good with the wines.

Everyone got a scorecard and a wineglass, plus their plateful of goodies (which we later brought to the table for easy reach). We did not hide labels, but instead recorded the name and year of each wine. My husband poured a little of one wine into each glass, and we all studied our goblets. (We repeated the process for each wine.)

We examined the color – ranging from clear red to deep garnet. We learned about legs – the viscosity of the wine, which also indicates the alcohol content; those of us who had the cut-crystal goblets had a tougher time seeing the wine cling to the glass. We stuck our noses in deep, and inhaled the bouquet – did we smell grass or oak or mushrooms? We read the label to see if we could tell. Everybody took a sip with a mouthful of air, and let the wine wash through our mouths – we tasted jam and cherry and once tasted licorice. We commented on the aftertaste. Some left our tongues feeling dry, and some stayed on the palate a long time. We all finished our glasses and sometimes had a little more before starting the process again with the next bottle.

Next to each of these categories, we wrote down scores – for color, bouquet, taste and finish. Some recorded only numbers, while others of us wrote long explanations. When all of the wines had been tasted, we each totaled the scores and ranked them. We tried five different wines (one we tried very cold vs room temperature to see the difference). We all agreed which was our least favorite, but the rest of the results were mixed.

We ended the evening with champagne and chocolate fondue and dippers (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, Nilla Wafers). And the beers – locally brewed – were tasted and evaluated by several guests.

A fun time was had by all. And the leftover bread made great French toast this morning!