The French Braid

Margaret Ward
2 min readDec 15, 2021


It was never about the chardonnay.

It was always about the French Braid.

6000 times. That’s how many times I watched the youtube video showing step by step instructions on how to create a french braid. It was the video equivalent of french braid for dummies. Every time I’d restart the video, I’d feel the instructors gaze, as if saying, “really, you haven’t figured this out yet?”

In reality it was probably only 10–15 times that I watched the video, but it sure felt like 6000. French braiding was just one of those things I had never mastered. And now, at the age of 47, my brain was rebelling against acquiring this new skill.

Mastering a new skill takes patience. It also takes time and a willingness to fail. Two things I lacked while consuming chardonnay. When I finally let go of my nightly habit I realized a few things. First, I suddenly had a lot of free time in the evenings. Two, perfectionism is an unattainable standard to live by. And finally, I wanted to end my days FEELING, NOT NUMBING.

The first time I successfully french braided my daughter’s hair I felt intensely. I wanted a medal. I wanted a parade. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. But most of all, I just FELT.

I thought getting sober would be about the big moments. What I’ve found to be true is it’s actually about the small everyday moments that for most may seem unremarkable.

My unremarkable moments:

  • morning runs
  • watching the sunrise driving my daughter to school
  • fall leaves
  • full belly laughs
  • real conversations
  • being comfortable in silence
  • hot showers after a cold run
  • watching my dog do anything
  • putting the last piece in a puzzle
  • enjoying the birds coming to our bird feeder
  • my morning cup of tea with sudoku

And yes, finally mastering the French Braid.

It was never about the chardonnay. Just as I’m sure it’s not about the thing you’re numbing with; food, relationships, work, money. Because we all have a thing.

It was always about learning to appreciate the remarkable in the unremarkable. It was always about the French braid.