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On Being A Snake. And A Whisky-Loving Identity Flip-Flopper.

I’ve always been a Maker’s Mark girl. And by “always” I mean, ever since my senior year in college when I decided that whisky was cool, and a fancy kind of whisky was even cooler. And I’ve worn this label like a badge of honor all these years. And consequently, it’s become a part of my identity. Another item in the bag of “things that make me, me.” Or rather, “things that make me able to tell you something ABOUT me, without having to actually say any words.

Like “Hi, I’m Sally…I like guns and drink Maker’s, so therefore I must be tough and a bit rebellious, but I have refined taste.”

So you can imagine my surprise, as I’ve been undergoing a bourbon taste test lately, to find out that I do not, in fact, think Maker’s Mark is the best bourbon anymore. I’ve found that there are better ones out there. And I just never knew that, because I never questioned it.

And as I’ve been pondering all this, it occurred to me that we all have so much wrapped up in the identities we’ve created for ourselves so long ago. We go along, day by day, accepting these self-imposed identity rules, without ne’er a question. That just because we decided something about who we were, back in the day, that we must uphold these constructs, because essentially, if we don’t have them, we don’t know who we are.

And this becomes a problem. Because inevitably, we all change. Things change. Ideas and desires change. Wants and likes change. What we thought we wanted life to be like in our 20’s might look very different than what we want life to be like once we get to our 30’s. And so on.

And so if we believe that we must always stay the same, the second we actually want something different, we question ourselves. Is it ok to want a new type of whisky? Is it ok to not want whisky at all anymore? What if I suddenly start wanting gin…what does that say about me? If I’m no longer “Sally Hope, who likes Maker’s Mark,” who am I?

We all know that snakes shed their skin. They slough off the old, to create way for the shiny and beautiful new. It’s not considered weird, it’s considered part of life. And that’s what I’m proposing here for each of us. That we get to be our snakey selves. And slough off old skin that doesn’t fit us anymore. So we can try on new skin, and then DECIDE which skin fits us best, at this point in time. To really look inside and evaluate which colors we want to keep. And which feel like old news.

There is nothing wrong with wanting and liking things that are indicators of identity. The message more here is that it’s ok to not like, anymore, what you used to like. Or to like something you never thought you would. Sticking to what you’ve always believed about yourself isn’t mandatory, and in my opinion, it’s a wall to personal growth and discovery. The goal isn’t to always stay the same, but to question, evaluate, and always be learning about yourself and improving upon the skin that came before. To add colors when needed. To remove scales when necessary. And to completely leave behind everything previously known, when called to do so.

So tonight…it’s a gin and tonic for me. What’s it going to be for you? What “old skin” might you be wearing? Where in your life do you feel you could leave something behind to make room for the new? Leave a comment below, fellow snake, and share with your snake-like peeps.

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17 Responses to On Being A Snake. And A Whisky-Loving Identity Flip-Flopper.

  1. Dana Leigh says:

    Absolutely love this Sally! Definitely been dealing with a lot of this the last couple years but more intensely the last few months and am actually working this idea into the short stories I’m working on. It’s funny to me that we spend so much time rebelling against labels and yet ultimately embrace so many thinking we are defining ourselves when really we’re letting outside things define us and ultimately limiting our exposure to all the wonderful things that are out there. Labels, like many things, can make you feel so set and steady and yet they’re so confining, with every label I’ve let go of, I’ve felt my limitations slack away. Excellent one my dear, xoxo.

    • Sallyhope says:

      Wow lady…I love what you’re saying about labels. It’s so true. We are so resistant to being put in a box by other people, and we’ll fight tooth and nail to not go in there, but yet we place the biggest box around ourselves. We’re the kings and queens of our self-imposed boxes and without even realizing it, create chains for ourselves. I love your musing on this and I can’t wait to read what you are writing. Also…wanna see that new skin of yours soon!

  2. Diana says:

    Well, I have been a Chivas gal for a while. But I like a lot of others, too, Maker’s Mark being one. When I’m in a whiskey mood, that is. Sometimes, I’m in a bloody-mary-for-breakfast kind of mood!! I am hearing Jeremy singing in my head, now. (You know I come with my own background music =) We ARE all evolving.

  3. Vanety Fabrick says:

    i have saved this quote: “The goal isn’t to always stay the same, but to question, evaluate, and always be learning about yourself and improving upon the skin that came before. To add colors when needed. To remove scales when necessary. And to completely leave behind everything previously known, when called to do so.” . . . so well said. and it will be a reminder to me. i needed this post exactly now. thanks for sharing! xox

    • Sallyhope says:

      Wow Vanety…thank you so much for your comment and I’m so glad that that quote spoke to you. What resonated the most? Where in your life are you noticing this?

      Thanks so much for your comment love.
      Have an awesome day

  4. I think this affects me professionally a lot, as it does for many in pro wrestling and/or mixed martial arts. Change is inevitable. In pro wrestling, for so many decades, it was such a hush-hush secret about the “worked” nature of wrestling that when someone came to try out, the promoter would place you with an “enforcer” to beat the crap out of you to “prove” it couldn’t POSSIBLY be “fake”, since you got the crap kicked out of you. That happened to some schlub by the name of Hulk Hogan, who got his ankle broken when he first was being trained.

    Now, not only is it more open about the sport being a “work”, but it’s openly called “entertainment”. The athletes involved now have to adjust from talking in terms of their match as a contest to talking about “entertaining” the audience. Some of it kind of takes you out of the moment, but it’s evolution of the sport and the business.

    In Mixed Martial Arts, you went from the days of it being considered “bloodsport” and “There Are No Rules” to a legitimate sport recognised by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as well as several other states, and even the military has come to recognise it as a sport. The rules are now plentiful, and mirror boxing, to some extent.

    Even with what MessyWorks promotes, you show that you can take something that most people would likely frown on, and with the right “message”, if you will, behind it, you turn it into fun entertainment that women of all ages and shapes enjoy.

    Personally, everyone changes as you get older. Your taste in liquor, your taste in clothing, your taste in the opposite sex, even your taste in the people you hang out with or the entertainment you like. The world doesn’t stand still, so we as people also change.

    • Sallyhope says:

      Wow…this is such a great metaphor for what I’m talking about. And you’re so right. Everyone changes, everything changes. I remember when I first left music, I struggled with this a lot. I wasn’t quite ready to stop being Sally Hope, the bass player from Poets. I felt less cool and less interesting without that title being attached to my name. But I stood behind my decision and knew that there was something for me to discover. And that is, who we are, at our core, is what matters. That shines whether or not we’re playing bass on stage, or sitting on the phone at home coaching someone. That our value isn’t in our “title” but rather in the merit of our character. Which doesn’t change whether we’re the “enforcer” or the “entertainer” or just the guy in the stands watching. Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. I always find them so rich with wisdom.

      Devil horns,

  5. Ah, identity – one of those things that reminds me that “ego is not evil” but rather, this beautiful construction that we’ve formed over the years to live and operate in this world.

    Our mind becomes SO resistance to changing what we “know to be true” – even when it’s something as simple (or not so simple!) as what kind of bourbon we drink (or don’t drink).

    I’m sloughing off the old perfectionist me – she was a lovely layer that truly got me far, but I’m embracing the quirks (gray hairs and all) that make up the NOW me.

    Thanks for inspiring the reflection Sally! Love you!!!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Miss Sabrina…thank you so much for your comment. I love how much appreciation and gratitude you have for these things about yourself that on one side of the coin, you may have been more prone to judge. Like perfectionism. And ego. But instead, you’re appreciating the beauty in them, and looking at them like a teaching tool. So cool! I love your perspective on this. And girl…I hear you about the gray hairs! I found my first two this year and they’re like INCHES long and I was all like “how the F did THAT happen??” But now I like them and think they’re beautiful. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Andrea says:

    I looove this post Sally! It is amazing how much we become ‘accustomed’ to our way. Even when it holds us back and we don’t even realize it is holding us back until it exhausts us to the point we have to try something different. For me it is Vodka. Never cared for it much however since it is a purer distillation and contains less sugar I’ve grown to like it more than the others (on occasion of course). Thanks for the reflection!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Hey Andrea…thank you so much for reading and commenting. It’s always so much easier to feel like it’s someone elses fault when we feel held back. It’s much scarier to realize that we are the ones holding ourselves back, as you said. That’s where self-responsibility comes in. Thank you so much for your thoughts and this. And I hear you about vodka. Better for the waistline. :)

  7. Tabitha says:

    I’m constantly shedding my skin and then forgetting that I’ve shedded it! I find that some habits are hard to break. Even when I’ve decided that they are no longer part of my identity. I stopped smoking years ago and I’m happy being Tabi the non-smoker. Yet I get to Spain and am around people from years ago and because they remember me as Tabi the smoker I take one (or two) and smoke them? I trying to analyse what it is that makes me do this – and I could give you a list! That aside I think the next thing I need to shed is the fear(?) of being who I truly am and of speaking my truth in the present!

    • Sallyhope says:

      Oh girl I totally understand this! It’s like a constant area for us to explore and learn. Who am I…really?? And is it ok to change some of those things based on the circumstances? What feels most in alignment with my values? I imagine that since we, as humans, are always changing, that these questions will always be appropriate. I love what you said about shedding fear. That’s quite an impressive shedding!!! I love it. Keep in touch and let me know what continues to show up for you.

  8. Lisa C. says:

    I’m a week late to this (whiskey) party, but boy did this reach out & grab me by the the throat, Sally. Being a little older than most of you, I’ve gotten to the point of “live and let live” and “I really don’t care what anyone thinks”. As a result, despite unemployment right now and some family struggles, I’ve never been happier.

    Your words above speak volumes in that we are all changing daily, but some resist that change. Do we have to be cool? Do we have to popular? Must we impress? Do we have a social or work-related reputation to maintain? Believe me…as you get older you evolve away from all that…but only if you accept it.

    A year ago, I was a Chardonnay-drinking vegetarian sitting around like a bump on a log, wondering why I’m gaining weight and so unhappy. Today, I’m surviving on unemployment checks (no more Nordstrom sprees, dammit!), went out for prime rib and whiskey sours last night and am madly in love with the guy I dated when I was in 11th grade. He, a man who hunts, fishes, wears t-shirts and jeans every day and has convinced me to go to his ranch near the Oregon border (20 miles from the nearest town and no internet!) and spend a romantic week.


    When I decided I wanted to give change a chance. I will probably never hear him speak the words “let’s go try that new hipster restaurant in Oakland” or “let’s spend the weekend at a Calistoga spa”, but I have heard “I’ll never let anything bad happen to you” and, when making a plum tart this week, “you’re the only tart I need”…hahahaha!

    Open your mind, be happy, be TRUE TO YOURSELF.


    • Sallyhope says:

      Oh girl…I so love all your wisdom in these posts and this one, as I’m sure you can imagine, hits close to home. I love what you said about giving change a chance. I think once we let go of what we “think” life is supposed to look like or be like, then life can actually happen in a way so beautiful it’s more than we can imagine. And also, when we think about what are true values are, and our true priorities are, we might realize that the Calistoga spa doesn’t matter all that much after all. I’m so happy for you. And thank you for being in my life.

      Love, infinity

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