Img 0483This is soooo 2005

Well things have really gotten real lately. It seems like the news is coming in every minute with information and closings and schedule changes for pretty much everything.

I have a close friend who is a chef and restaurant owner who, like me with the Eat Fit Alcohol Free for 40 challenge, was not drinking during Lent. Faced with the city mandated restaurant closing and the prospect of having to furlough staff, she decided to have a feast day, or two. Likewise, and here is my mea culpa, I also have indulged in a feast day, or two.

Working from home hasn’t been a problem, and I am so grateful to have the chance to continue doing what I love from home. My kids are safe, although bored. Navigating online classrooms has been a challenge, but manageable.

For me, one of the main problems is the sheer lack of information on how long this will last. For Hurricane Katrina, we prepped and evacuated and sheltered. The eye of the storm passed, and we had an almost overwhelming uphill battle to face. But New Orleans faced it. We got together and we rebuilt, for the most part. It changed all of us.

That old feeling is back again. We’re pros as buying canned goods and toilet paper and, yes, alcohol. But this time, there is no eye that will pass. There are no storm warnings. The sky is blue. Everyone looks, at least on the outside, to be OK. But here we are.

My new normal is getting up, going for a run, getting dressed and starting my day on my computer. I work all day, with breaks to do laundry, vacuum the floor, monitor my kids’ online classes and get snacks from the kitchen.

What I don’t have is my old, normal routine that kept me focused on, well not drinking. I could distract myself with picking up a new flavor of kombucha or going to a fitness class. Now, stress and anxiety and sometimes the monotony of routine follows me from morning to evening. And when the time has come to socialize, these days via Zoom conference call, I really, really, really want to mix up that cocktail and relax and chat with friends. To this, I finally caved.

I guess I just wanted to participate in the “normal” habit of enjoying that glass of wine or cocktail with everybody else. A return to old comforts, so to speak. And I didn’t want to have to fight it or come up with an alternative. I just wanted to give in.

But, this doesn’t mean I have to give up entirely. I have seen so many benefits from this experiment. I am comfortable with cutting way back to one drink every so often. I have seen my sleep become so much better. I am feeling lighter and more in control, which is great when everything else is definitely not in control.

I am not sure I have a lot of advice this week, other than, you are not alone. If you are sticking with it, fantastic! Keep up the good work. You got this thing! If you are struggling and have given in, it’s ok. You don’t have to give up completely. Or if you choose to call it, that’s OK too. We’re all in this together, and we got your back.

If you are feeling like you need to talk, reach out to a family or friend, or call one of the many help lines that several agencies and organizations have set up. It doesn’t have to be a crisis to talk.

That uphill battle? We can face it once again and, together, we will recover.


Here are some resources you can bookmark if you need a little extra help:


Calm through Covid Hotline:
Trained counselors available 24/7, all calls are confidential: 866-310-7977


Center for Hope:
Telehealth services for stress and anxiety: 504-241-6006


University of Holy Cross counseling:
Telecounseling: 504-398-2168


Stay tuned when my intrepid co-challenger Melanie Warner Spencer will be back with her take on staying alcohol free during a pandemic.



Melanie caved too, in a way, and when the mayor issued the citywide social distancing order, she broke into the bottle of Rock Grace alcohol free rosé she was supposed to share with Ashley. This is her mea culpa. Marketed as a “beauty and wellness drink designed as a wine alternative” Rock Grace (which was shipped to us complimentary for taste testing), is made with adaptogens ( which are non-toxic plants believed to help the body “resist stressors”). It is sugar and calorie free, with “with a youthful and delicate nose, hints of fresh raspberry and floral aspects,” according to the website. The packaging is feminine, clean and modern and we are nothing if not suckers for pretty packaging. Melanie says it is refreshing and she could definitely taste the berry and floral notes. Though she isn’t sure if it was the Rock Grace or the neighborhood walk she was on while sipping it, Melanie says she did feel more relaxed after consuming a glass.



To learn more about the challenge, which runs until Easter (April 12), visit Ochsner’s #AlcoholFreeFor40 page. If you are participating and posting about it to social media, use the hashtag #AlcoholFreeFor40 and share your progress in the comments. For questions about the program, email Kimball at or follow her on Twitter at @mollykimballrd.

Follow Melanie’s stone cold sober bon vivanting on Instagram at @melaniewarnerspencer.

Follow Ashley’s NOLA somewhat sober, aka sober curious, swizzle trip through mocktails and more at @taraashleymclellan on Instagram.