BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, MY TRUTH, TIME FOR CHANGE

It’s All in the Numbers – Turning 38

01/18/2019

My birthday is rapidly approaching – only 11 days away as I post this article. I will be turning 38.

It is not a milestone birthday, merely another trip around the sun, but I do have a thing about numbers and I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year.

I was not necessarily looking forward to 37, as the numbers just didn’t feel right to me. It’s such a wonky thing to say and I have a hard time explaining it, but 37 just didn’t feel right. I’m not into numerology as a study, although perhaps I should start looking into it, but for whatever reason that number seemed jarring to me. Perhaps it was because it was an odd number? Although 33, 35, and 39 don’t bother me. But there is something about that seven. It seems like a sharp, free floating object, not anchored down or tethered to anything, ready to hurt.

And 37 did hurt.

This year brought a lot of pain and sorrow with it, but it also brought a lot of growth. I was able to adopt some really great new lifestyle habits and focus on a lot of personal development. As I think about it now, 3 and 7 are both prime numbers and prime numbers are the building blocks of whole numbers.  Perhaps I unconsciously knew it was going to be a hard year – one of challenge and self discovery, but those building blocks allowed for a year of growth that I am forever grateful for. So as I finish up my last days at 37, I look onto this year of growth with gratitude and closure and walk humbly towards 38 – a number that insights joy and vitality in my heart.  

As I started thinking about the number 38, the first visual that popped into my mind was the plumpness of the 8.  I write my 8s as two balls stacked on each other in a snowman like fashion. When I first started visualizing the number I saw a 3 and a plump little me. Well, that’s not going to happen. No sir, no ma’am – this woman has these lifestyle choices on lockdown and I’m not going backwards.  That couldn’t be it. I had to explore this some more. I had felt all year that 38 was such a strong and powerful number. That it was a year of change and empowerment. It was not the year of a dumpy little me.

Then, last night when completing some personal development worksheets on finding your hourly value, the number I got was $333.33. With the randomness of the 3 repeating I went ahead and looked up the significance of the number 3 and was shocked when I read that three, biblically signified divine wholeness, perfection, and completion.

In addition to that, there is a thing called the “Angel number”, in which  333 signifies encouragement and aid. It noted that the angels are close by, reassuring you that your plans are going well, that your prayers are answered, and that what you requested is in route to you.

Wow.

So 3 was more powerful than I realized. I closed my eyes and meditated some more and as I visualized the number 38, I saw the number 3 pushing down the 8 and knocking it right over – and with this motion, the infinity sign appeared.

Double wow.

This was it. The image which matched my feelings around this number. Yes. This is the year where great things are happening. Where I will stretch and grow beyond measure. The year I push myself outside of my comfort zone and see what happens.

Thirty eight. A year of wholeness and infinite possibility.

When completing the recent development workbook yesterday, one thing I really took away was that at this point in my life, I am less fearful of what others will think of me and more fearful of the regret I will feel if I keep pushing aside my dreams and goals in fear of other people’s opinions. I’m still not sure what my end goal is – or if I even have one. Right now I am just enjoying the journey of self discovery as I focus on vitality. Some days I still feel like a 17 year old girl trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Grow up – what an idea. So instead of focusing on this end goal of what I want to be – I’m just focused on being. I am challenging myself in ways that make me feel more alive and more connected to this universe and all those within it now. That’s what I am working on and I am so excited to see what the next chapter brings.

And if reading this article left you thinking “Man, this is one quirky chick, trying to find signs and meaning behind all things” well, you may be right – but hey, that is just me.  And this year is all about me embracing me. So, cheers to that, and cheers to 38!

 

BEST SELF, HAPPINESS, THE SIMPLE THINGS

Cleaning House

01/11/2019

I have read Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy several times. I first came across it about three years ago shortly after we moved to DC. I had already done a significant amount of purging as we had to par down our belongings about 75% before heading to DC to live in in 850 square foot apartment, but her process takes everything to a whole new level.

There is a lot of intentionality behind what you hold onto.  Everything serves a purpose in your home, with the main purpose being that it brings you joy. If an object in your home does not bring you joy then it is to be thanked and removed.

I love this concept and I try to hold true to it, although being an American, I do think that consumerism still runs very strong through my veins.

Although I love the act of organizing, keeping things organized is a challenge. And as I age I prefer a clean house, I also know that my default is mess. I was honestly the child growing up who never cleaned and where you could barely step foot into my room because it was that messy! My siblings didn’t call me Messy Jessi for nothing.

If I am left to my own devices, I can end up reverting to that behavior very quickly, so for me I know that it has to be a continual grooming process.

I am a definite empath and as a result I have a lot of emotional charge around objects. Disconnecting from that can be a challenge, but I find that the Kondo way is helpful in our condo way.  Do you see what I just did there, LOL. I crack myself up. The objects are allowed to elicit emotions, but the motion must be joy – just holding sentiment is not enough.

Perhaps it’s because of the New Year or the lifestyle changes I am making an other aspects of my life, but I have been on a bit of a kick this past week organizing my home and decluttering. We always have a donation box in our closet so that as we notice things are no longer being used, don’t fit, or don’t have any purpose, we put them in there and about once a month I drop them at Goodwill or another donation spot. That said, I think it is wise to do a quarterly cleaning to make sure that we are being intentional about what is being kept and that’s what I’m focused on at the moment.

Though the idea of a minimalist life sounds enticing at times, I don’t think we are at a place where we will be minimalists anytime soon, but I do think adopting some of the mentality around minimalism is important.

My husband and I watched a sermon about 5 years ago focused on creating breathing room. And one of the main aspects of this is decluttering. When you have so much stuff around you it is hard to feel like you have room to breath. Clutter makes your life feel cluttered. There are more things to attend to, more things to feel out of place, and more things to take up your precious time.

I don’t know if in a past life I had to deal with the great depression, but I am definitely someone who again, left to my own devices, could be quite the hoarder. I share this because the minimalism movement goes against the grain for me. But I am learning quickly that new behaviors are able to be learned and that I have a more fulfilling lifestyle  when I focus on the tasks that may challenge my status quo. It may be hard, but once we have adopted a new behavior, life is so much more divine.

I have done some recent grooming of our books, and reorganized the kids room and family room, but I haven’t done it full on Marie Kondo style. Today that will change. I am starting with me though.

Today I’m emptying MY closet of all the clothes and intentionally putting back the ones that spark joy. I’d rather have six items that I absolutely love and adore than 60 that create stress in my life. We will see how it all turns out, but I am optimistic that a world with less stuff offers more room for a life of more living. Wish me luck!

Have you completed a Marie Kondo style cleaning? Or an organization real? I’d love to hear your experience!

BEST SELF, HEALTH, NUTRITION, RECIPES

Ten Whole30 Meals to Start the New Year

12/31/2018

With the New Year right around the corner it is a time of reflection. We often take stock of the past year and evaluate what has worked for us and what hasn’t. As a result people often vow to make changes and let the fresh year work as a trigger for these changes, hence we create New Year’s Resolutions.

While I believe there are many positive aspects to these resolutions, we often bite off more than we can chew, or in terms of losing weight and changing habits, perhaps we bite off less than what will actually satisfy us. It is important as we work towards our goals for the new year that we make sure they are SMART goals. Yes, the old acronym we learned in grade school – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. It is also helpful to create macro and micro goals. The micro goals are smaller goals that work towards your larger goal.  For example, your macro (or larger) goal may be to adopt a healthier more active lifestyle, but your micro goal – or goal of the day may simply be to put gym clothes on first thing in the morning. Conquering smaller goals that establish healthy patterns and habits can be more efficient, achievable, and maintainable. These then build upon future goals. I like to look at what my year end goal is and then reverse engineer my steps. If we are truly resolving to make changes in our lives then we need to make sure we are setting ourselves up for success. Unfortunately, most people have given up their resolutions by Groundhog’s Day, where they revert to doing the same old behaviors again and again.

One of the behaviors I changed within 2018 was my eating habits. I took on the Whole30 Challenge and completed it in three sequential rounds. Doing 30 days at a time was a SMART goal and I was able to achieve it and then follow up with secondary and tertiary rounds. I am now in a maintenance phase and it has simply become my new way of living.

I’ve already had several individuals reach out to me to let me know that they are going to be starting their own Whole30 challenge in the new year, so I figured I’d help out by posting some of my favorite, quick & easy, go-to meals. I’m always here for encouragement  and support – so don’t hesitate to reach out or to comment. The more community you build, the easier it is to follow through. You have people that support you and are rooting for you – just make sure you are looking for them!

Alright, here are some of my top ten favorite Whole30 meals:

1. Coconut Curry Shrimp with Zucchini Ribbons and Peppers

Wash zucchini and bell pepper.  Use spiralizer (with ribbon attachment) to spiralize the zucchini. If you don’t have a spiralizer you can either use a general peeler or just thinly slice with a regular knife. Add one tablespoon of olive oil (or coconut oil) in the frying pan and heat on medium.  Add zucchini to pan once warm. Cut bell pepper in half and removed seeds, stem, and interior flesh. Slice thin strips of bell pepper and add them into the pan with the zucchini. Cook on medium for 6 minutes, then add one cup of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of curry, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 2-3 shakes of Adobe Salt (without pepper).  Mix all together and then add a handful of de-veined, de-tailed shrimp. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until shrimp are pink. Put into a bowl and top with shaved coconut and a handful of pepitas. Dig in!

2. Italian Style Potato with Egg

Wash, dry, and place 3 baby potatoes (or a small regular potato) in the microwave for 3 minutes.  I do not pierce the skins – I just put them on a microwavable plate or paper towel. Place a teaspoon of olive oil in the frying pan and crack two eggs into pan once heated. Add salt to taste and cook eggs thoroughly, flipping as needed. I usually leak my egg while cooking that way it incorporates into the white a bit without making them scrambled. Once cooked chop up the egg.  Place cooked potatoes into a bowl and smash. I sometimes use a knife to help out in this process. Add a cup of Whole30 compliant pasta sauce. I use Rao’s or Victoria’s basic marinara. Add in chopped egg, and top with 1/4th a cup of hemp seed (for extra texture and nutrients), and 1/4th cup of sliced natural black olives. Enjoy!

3. Baked Potato with Sunny Side Up Eggs and Roasted Onions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash baked potato. Add a little olive oil to the exterior skin and one crank of the Himalayan Pink Salt.  Wrap it in foil and throw it in the oven for 45 minutes. Finely dice an onion. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and throw onion on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until edges are browned. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a frying pan and let pan warm. Crack two eggs into pan and let them cook, flipping once.  I like my eggs to be slightly runny so that it gives moisture to the baked potato, but you can fully cook if you prefer. Once the potatoes is finished cut into half. Add the two eggs on top and pierce the yokes. Then add the roasted onions on top and enjoy!

4. Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Peppers with Guacamole

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Wash sweet potato and bell pepper. Slice sweet potato long ways into thin wedges, first cutting into half or thirds, and then cutting into 4-6 strips (depending on size of potato).  Cut onion in half and then into sixths and leave layers in tact. Cut the bell pepper around the stem, pulling out the stem and seeds. Rinse to make sure all seeds are out. Leave pepper whole and turn on its side and slice in small strips creating rings. Pour about one tablespoon of olive oil on your hands and massage into the potatoes and onions.  Put bell peppers onto one side of the baking sheet and the potatoes and onions on the other. Season the potatoes and onions with either Himalayan Pink Salt or Adobo Salt (without Pepper). Cook for about 35 minutes, checking periodically. While veggies bake, slice avocado in half and remove pit. Scoop out avocado into a bowl and add two shakes of the Adobo Salt (without pepper).  Mash up. Once veggies are done, plate veggies and add a side of the guacamole. Enjoy! Also, really good with a sunny side up egg – or if you eat meat, feel free to add meat to the dish!

5. Roasted Potato Medallions & Baby Carrots with Sunny Side Up Eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash baked potato. Slice the potato into thin slices creating small medallion looking slices. Place on baking sheet.  Add about a cup of washed baby carrots to baking sheet. Pour about one tablespoon of olive oil into your hands and massage into the vegetables.  Add two to three crank of the Himalayan Pink Salt. Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, add a teaspoon of olive oil to a frying pan and let pan warm.  Crack two eggs into pan and let them cook, flipping once. Once veggies are done add them to plate and top with the two eggs, piercing the yolk and letting the warm liquid flow over the veggies.

6. Salmon with Roasted Balsamic Green Beans & Brussel Sprouts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Clean Brussel sprouts and green beans.  Slice Brussel sprouts in half. Put in bowl and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and one tablespoon of coconut aminos.  Place on baking sheet. Throw washed green beans into bowl with leftover oil, vinegar, and aminos. Toss around and then add to baking sheet. Throw in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Lightly cover the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil and place salmon on baking sheet skin side down.  Pour about one tablespoon of olive oil into palm of your hands and massage it into the top of the salmon. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Cut one lemon in half.  Slice one half into quarters and the other half into round slices. Squeeze the two quarters onto the salmon and then place the round slices on top of the salmon. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. Ideally you will put the salmon in once the vegetables have cooked for about 20 minutes so that all the food will come out hot together. Plate and serve!

7. Sautéed Shrimp with Zucchini Ribbons and Mushrooms

Clean one zucchini. Use spiralizer to create thin ribbons of zucchini.  If you don’t have a spiralizer you can simply use a mandolin, a handheld peeler, or just slice up the zucchini thinly with a basic knife. Slice up mushrooms into thin slices. Add half a tablespoon of olive oil on the frying pan and throw veggies on once warm. Sauté veggies for about 5 minutes and then add a cup of de-veined, de-tailed shrimp.  Add two cranks of black pepper and two cranks of Himalayan Pink Salt. Gently stir veggies and shrimp to make sure all get cooked. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Pull of stove and pour into bowl or plate and serve!

8. Shrimp Stuffed Peppers

Clean one large bell pepper. Cut in half and removed seeds, stem, and interior flesh. Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Empty avocado into a bowl and add two shakes of Adobo Salt (without pepper) and mash up.  Fill bell pepper halves with guacamole. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil into the frying pan. Once heated add a handful of de-veined, de-tailed shrimp. Add 1-2 light shakes of the Adobo Salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until shrimp turn pink.  Remove from pan and place on top of the guacamole! Eat up!

9. Roasted Veggies with Fresh Rosemary

Preheat oven to 425. Wash eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Dice up eggplant and onion into very small cubes. Place diced vegetables in a bowl and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix together with your hands, massaging it into the vegetables.  Add two cranks of the Himalayan Pink Salt. Spread veggies out onto baking sheet. Throw a handful of cherry tomatoes on top. Roast vegetables for about 30 minutes. Finely chop one sprig of fresh rosemary. When veggies are done, throw them in a bowl and add rosemary.  Mix up and serve. Feel free to add a protein to this by adding egg, meat, fish, or nuts & seeds.

10. Smoked Salmon with Cashew Cream on Sweet Potato Toast

When you purchase smoked salmon, make sure to look at the ingredients – a lot of companies add sugar, so make sure to get one that doesn’t! Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Wash sweet potato. Cut the ends off and then stand it up tall. Cut downward into thin sheets (about 1/4 of an inch thick) to make slices of “toast”. If you are preparing ahead of time, soak a cup of cashews in a cup of water overnight, if you are making this meal in the moment, then you can simply microwave a cup of cashew in a cup of water for three minutes to soften.  Drain cashews and blend in blender with 1 tablespoon of herbs de provence, and two cranks of Himalayan Pink Salt. Blend until creamy. When the sweet potatoes are done cooking let them cool for about 10-15 minutes, or throw them in the fridge to speed up cooling time. Once cool, spread the cashew cream on top and add a slice of the smoked salmon. Enjoy!

I hope these recipes are helpful! I’m always here for tips, tricks, advice, and encouragement!

Wishing you and yours the happiest New Year full of love, laughter, and lots of adventure. I’d love to hear what your goals are for 2019, so feel free to leave them in the comments. You’ve got this – just make sure you are set up for success – preparation is key!  

BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS, GRATITUDE, HEALTH, MY TRUTH

Breast Implant Removal Surgery // Two Years Later

12/19/2018

As I sit here getting ready to write an update about my breast implant removal surgery, I am in such a state of gratitude.

Two years ago I was lying in bed struggling with the decisions I had made in regards to my life choices and overall health. The surgery proved to be complicated and the recovery process even more so. They had a challenging time bringing me out of the anesthesia, I had secondary issues with draining, and got an infection which resulted in a need for a follow up procedure.

I was in a dark place, wondering what I had done to myself and wondering whether I would ever be able to function normally again. I questioned my reasons for getting implants in the first place, berading myself about the selfishness of the decision. I could not get out of bed easily and was relying on others to help me with everything. This included friends of only a few months. The pain was just barely tolerable and my body looked botched. My motion was limited and I feared that I would never regain full use of my arms and shoulders again. I felt broken.

I truly questioned whether this was the solution. Would my symptoms go away? Or were they unrelated and there was some deeper underlying issue that I was dealing with?  Did I have an autoimmune disorder that had not been identified. Was all this pain and suffering for nothing?

For years I had been dealing with symptoms including chronic fatigue, with bouts of extreme fatigue, dizziness, lethargy, chest pain, hair loss, mood swings, depressions, weight gain, and inflammation. I followed a group of women online who were going through similar journeys, and before my surgery I found the group to be immensely helpful.

But after the surgery, the group became painful to engage in.  Everyone seemed to be healing much quicker than I was. Some were even up and about days after the surgery, where for me it took about 8 weeks. There were some that looked better after surgery than I had even looked with my implants – and here I was with one tiny breast adhered to my chest wall in a puckered position and the other, slightly larger, but droopy with extra scarring due to the infection. What had I done to myself?

Lucky I learned that those who seemed to be healing well tended to have the energy and excitement to post more readily their success stories, where as the rest of us who had alternate paths of recovery were a bit more reluctant to share.  After I posted about my own struggles, I got the love and support I needed – with a lot of mirrored stories. This was indeed helpful, but the journey of recovery was long and mine to walk.

Fast forward two years and I sit here in the peak of my physical health.

What a dichotomy.

For the first time in my life, I am treating my body with love and compassion. I am fueling it with clean foods and focusing on strengthening it through moderate exercise. I am no longer using and abusing it, or taking it for granted. I even completed the Marine Corp Marathon this past fall, without any injuries or excessive soreness after the race. I’m constantly amazed at the healing process of the body and am positively pushing the limits of what I thought it could do, daily.

But it was not an overnight process.

It took time, it took patience, and it took change.  

I have cut out processed foods, sugars, and alcohol. I use my body and challenge it in new ways – staying active. I stretched and worked with my body increasing the demands I put on it, slowly and mindfully.

Yes, my body has pretty much healed itself.  And yes, the symptoms of Breast Implant Illness have all seemed to go away as a result of having my implants removed, but it took time and it wasn’t without work, and I think that is a very important point to understand.

Just as getting implants did not solve my poor self esteem overnight, it didn’t take removing them to heal my broken body. It took love and nurturing.  It took compassion. And it took time.

In my case, I am talking about a surgery to remove implants – both elective surgeries – but for others struggling with recovery, it may be an injury, a health related surgery, a weightloss journey, or a chronic illness you are dealing with. Regardless, of what your journey specifically entails or where you are in the process, I have three pieces of advice that will help you immensely in your process:  

You must be patient with yourself in your healing process. It takes time for the mind, body, and heart to heal. If you move forward a little bit each day, you will eventually get to where you are going. If you try to rush the process, you will only frustrate yourself. I try to look a year out at all times. Where will I be a year from now gives me a lot more of a realistic timeline of the healing process and gives me adequate time to make gains. Take things in small steps so they don’t feel overwhelming, and before you know it, you too will be discussing your story two years later.

Secondly, you must be intentional about what you do. Be an active player in your healing process, don’t just let it happen to you. Do any exercises or stretches you are supposed to do. Push yourself a little each day. Fuel your body and mind with positivity – consuming healthy foods and optimistic outlooks is vital. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and in your healing – and if you don’t have those people currently in the physical sense, find communities online and engage there. Be the captain of the ship and steer the boat where you want to be. There are always elements of the recovery you cannot change (for me the aesthetics of my body), but there are plenty of areas to focus on that you can control (i.e. strength and outlook).

And lastly – but perhaps most importantly – BE COMPASSIONATE. Treat yourself as if you were caring after your young child. Forgive yourself for the mistakes that may have gotten you into the position you are in today. You can’t change the past, you can only focus on the present. A very wise aunt of mine once told me that focusing on regret is a wasted emotion – and she is so right! You can’t change it, so forgive yourself and move forward. If you treat yourself with the compassion you’d treat others with you’ll be able to move past a lot of the mental roadblocks that hold us back or arrest us in our development. So make sure you are coming from a place of love with all you do – especially in regards to how you treat yourself.

I hope the takeaways from my experience can help you with your own personal journey. If you have your own advice or stories to share – please join in on the comments – I love to hear from you.

Interested in learning more about my surgery or healing process  – here are the links to my previous articles, discussing my journey:

Thanks again for taking the time to read my words. Wishing you all the best.

BEST SELF, HEALTH, TIME FOR CHANGE

Cutting Out Alcohol

12/11/2018

 

Imagine this scene.

A woman wakes up in the morning hustles to the kitchen after nudging her kids awake and makes breakfast and lunches for the entire family.  She argues with the kids to hurry and dress, despite the fact that the morning routine hasn’t changed in years. She finally rushes the kids off to school just in time to make it as the tardy bell rings.  When she comes home she switches her focus to cleaning the kitchen, which is a disaster after the meals she just knocked out in a frenzy for her family. She then walks around her home picking up dirty clothes that were left lying around, despite her nagging reminders to her children to put them in the laundry bin.  With arms full of dirty clothes, she treks down to the laundry room to start a few loads, trying desperately to stay on top of the mess. She comes back and throws on some mindless Netflix show for ambiance in the background as she cleans up the house and knocks out the remainder of the laundry. In between loads, she proceeds to check emails and work on a few volunteer projects that need to be completed, scattering in a few dog walks in between. She completes all the laundry just in time to look down at the clock and realize that school is being let out, so she literally runs to the school to pick up the kids, albeit a few minutes late.

Rather than greeting her with hugs and kisses, the kids complain that she has forgotten a snack for them and on the walk home they bicker with each other.  They drop their bags at the front door and proceed to drop garments of clothes all over the freshly cleaned home as they start to unwind after school. She lays out snacks and reminds the kids to get their homework done and pick up their clothes.  

The kids beg for television and she continually says no, encouraging them to get their homework done.  The table is left full of dirty dishes from the snacks and she finds the kids in their room playing with toys, no homework complete.  The nagging begins.

She finally gets the kids to complete their homework and after some considerable arguing, they clean up their mess.  She gives in and allows them to watch some television.

She looks at the clock. It’s a few minutes before 5 pm.  She decides to get dinner going.

She feels frazzled, under appreciated and exhausted.

She opens a bottle of red wine and pours a glass for herself.

The smell of the wine lets her know that soon she can unwind. She feels the first sip warm her insides as she swallows.  A few more sips in and she notices herself letting go of the tension.

It is going to be alright, the day is almost over.

Can you relate?

This was my 2017.

And for me, it was not okay.  

It had become apparent that I was using wine as a crutch to help me unwind at the end of the day.  The only problem was that the end of the day, had become dinner prep, and one glass became two or three over the course of the entire evening.  Now, it was not nightly, but it was enough to add some unwanted padding to my body and to throw off my desire to get up early in the morning and be productive.

I knew that coming into the new year I had a lot of goals I wanted to achieve, but that it was unlikely I was going to be able to reach those goals unless something changed.

I had given up alcohol for a year once before a few years ago and found that my productivity went up significantly. So, I set the challenge for myself.  One year without drinking.

Three hundred and sixty five days of pure sobriety.

I am now almost complete with my year and I am so grateful that I made the decision.  2018 brought on a lot of personal challenges with loss being a common theme. I know that had I not made this personal commitment to myself that I would have drowned my sorrows in wine, but instead I was able to focus my grief in positive ways such as advocacy.

That said, I’m always intrigued by people’s reactions to my choice not to drink. I think it makes people uncomfortable. Perhaps they don’t want to look silly as they let loose and worry about judgement, but there seems to be a large desire for you to drink with them.  

I typically try to hide the fact that I am not drinking as to help other people with their discomfort around it. I’ll order a sparkling water with lime and sometimes a splash of cranberry. I don’t lie when asked what I’m drinking, but people just generally assume it’s alcohol.

Although I have plenty of friends who could also care less if I’m drinking or not, I do often have to explain my decision not to drink.

I think people fear that I will judge them. This is not the case.

My feeling is – You do you, I’ll do me, and at the end of the night, I’ll be your DD!

I’m worried about the effect of drinking on me, not on you.

And I have for far too long used it as my crutch and my reward at the end of a stressful day.

My kids and I would joke about how I liked my wine to help me slow down and relax, but I realize that I did not want my children to think this is how it is done. That they need alcohol to destress.

What I do not like about alcohol is that for me it is consuming. I rarely have only one drink, which means that hours are spent clouded by the judgement of alcohol. It may be minimally, but it is still an impairment and unfortunately alcohol is a depressant – so I can easily get into a woe is me mentality, which does me no favors.

I struggle with depression and am easily led into that path, but know that I am also a person who thrives on light and positivity. The problem is that I know I need to intentionally flood myself in the light in order to combat the pervasive darkness and I can’t do that if I am drinking. It just doesn’t work for me right now. This may change as I get older and as my self care habits evolve, but for right now, I am a better person without alcohol.

I know several of my friends have been looking forward to the year ending so that we could enjoy some libations together again, but I don’t think that days going to happen just yet.  I am still working on becoming the best personal version of myself, and at this point, I just can’t do that with alcohol. And to be totally honest, I really don’t miss it. I’ve crowded it out with other good things and I just don’t have room in my life for it at the moment.

There is a lot I have learned about myself through engaging in this personal challenge, and I’d like to share Five Quick Tips and Tricks to Not Drinking I’ve learned this past year:

 

 

 

1. Make a commitment to yourself!

Whether it is one month, one year, or a lifetime, be clear with your commitment to you. This decision is for you and only you. We need to be able to follow through with the promises we make to ourselves about anything else. 

2. Be accountable

Announce to your friends, family, coworkers, etc. that you are taking on this challenge. Putting it on social media can be a good way to publicize your efforts, create accountability, and also gain support.  Using hashtags such as #notdrinking #hipsobriety #focusingonme #mocktailsonly can help you tie into a group of likeminded people who can offer you extra support.

3. Take it one day at a time!

I found that the first month was the most challenging because I still craved a glass of wine. So I focused on one day at a time and before I knew it I was 11 months into my challenge. It can be challenging thinking about a timeline in it’s entirety. If you have a greater struggle with alcohol, you may need to take it hour by hour, but I promise you – it gets easier with time.-

4. Have a game plan

Know what you are getting into and create a game plan. If you are okay going to events with alcohol, then just be wise for how you will order your own drink. There are tons of great mocktails for you to enjoy, or do as I do and grab a soda water with lime! Also, be prepared on how you will handle questions from others about your decision not to drink – especially if not drinking is atypical for you. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing all the details, you could just simply say “I’m on a cleanse”. Don’t let other people’s insecurities about you not drinking derail your efforts.

5. Ask for support

Reach out and gain support from friends, family, loved ones, or a dedicated support group such as AA if you need.  You do not have to do this alone. The more you struggle with alcohol dependence, the more support you may need. That is okay! There is a lot of strength in knowing when to ask for help.

 

Have you ever thought about or successfully completed a time period where you cut out alcohol?  I’d love to hear your story! Thanks for listening to mine!