Post Break-Up

It’s January 30th, and I can count on one hand the number of drinks I have consumed in the last 30 days.

Four. That used to be the number of days I drank during a “good” week; not the number of drinks, mind you, the number of days.

I am 28 days drink-free in the last 30. According to the app I’m using to track my progress, I’ve saved $210 and cut roughly 6,500 calories from this month. Apps cannot, however, track everything.

I have gained clarity. Focus. A more positive mindset. Control. Strength. Motivation. Energy. Empowerment. Time.

I wake up, sometimes even before my alarm in the mornings, feeling well-rested (I was a dedicated four or five time snoozer). I have one or two cups of coffee in the morning (rather than four or five). I have little trouble hitting my water intake goals (there were many days where I existed on caffeine and alcohol alone). I have time in the evening to write or read, and the clarity and focus I need to do those two things, which I truly enjoy. I have absolutely no trouble falling, and staying, asleep. My food intake is more focused around food as fuel versus food as a crutch or a “base”. I’ve gone out with friends, and have had absolutely no discomfort around my orders of club soda with extra lime. Neither have they.

There are times, like tonight, where stress creeps in and I would like nothing more than to crack open a beer or pour myself a gin and tonic. I recognize, however, that what is bothering me is not going to be chased away by having a few drinks, and I wouldn’t be any better for it in the morning.

We are closing on our new home tomorrow – a house on the lake, where the sunsets I have photographed so many times over will be the constant backdrop to our everyday lives. I will be raising a glass to that; not because I need alcohol, not because I can’t celebrate without alcohol (because I have) but because I want to, I am choosing to, and I know that I can and will stop at just that one glass; that glass will represent more than any of the glasses before it, emptied over the course of whiling away hours.

Alcohol became a part of my daily routine unconsciously. I continued the habit unconsciously. It prevented me from being fully present in so many ways. It took a much more conscious and concerted effort to retract this habit; it wasn’t without its difficult days, but they seem to be fewer and further between now. I saved myself a couple hundred bucks, and a few thousand calories in 30 days, and I gave myself so much more.

Unlearning

Habits. Thoughts. Ideas. Perception. Subconsciously, we “know” things. A set of rules, a culturally accepted behavior, a way of doing things. We’ve learned them all from someone along the way.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday that was speaking to how we define financial security, how we identify with the term “work”, being paid, and putting in the time. It was one of those “aha” moments where I was smacked with something that was so obvious – that my perspective about work, how it is done, what it means at the very core is so deeply rooted in what I saw growing up in my parents’ careers. Work meant constantly being available, it meant doing work that wasn’t always recognized but you showed up regardless and did your damn best even when no one was looking. You had a personal standard that you set and that was the bar. Financials revolved around the paycheck hitting on the same day each week; work was tied to a time clock, a schedule, a boss to dictate what you did during your days – or, you just did your work even without having someone dictate what you did on a daily basis because you knew your job inside and out.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, but holy shit, that describes me, my work ethic, and my career now to a damn T. And it triggered me to start thinking about other areas in my life that I carry preconditioned notions, without thinking much about them.

We have so many preconceived impressions, ideas and subconscious beliefs about the way things need to be. Not just tied to work and careers, but money, family, raising children.

I’m going to work on unlearning a few things this year. I’m going to start asking why. I want the fundamental reasons of why I am doing what I am doing speak to my reasons, not a predefined subconscious reason, especially in the areas that matter.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m unlearning my drinking habits. I’m also working on unlearning what I believe our evening schedules need to look like, my physical fitness identity as I have previously defined it, and generally just deconstructing the things I do out of rote habit that aren’t serving me any real purpose.

What areas of your life could you benefit from unlearning in?

Point A to Point B

FullSizeRender_SmallI was talking with a friend today and we happened to get on the topic of mind maps. She was curious as to what I was referring to; I dug into my notebooks so that I could share with her, and decided to share it with you all as well. This particular page was a notable step in getting to this point, where I’m sharing my thoughts on a platform like this one.

This 1-year vision map was created while I was reading Pivot by Jenny Blake, and it wasn’t the only type of mapping that was discussed – there is a mapping based on values that I found interesting as well, but I digress. This was helpful specifically in its vagueness, in starting to pinpoint the areas that were truly important to me at the time – goals, ideas, feelings, thoughts, searching for the pieces that really stuck out, that I could lean into and grow upon.

Before committing pen to paper, I was still working on trying to discover what exactly I was passionate about, those things that I enjoyed doing for myself that I might be able to evolve in outside of my husband and my children and their respective hobbies. Before this particular exercise, writing wasn’t something that I did. It was something that I used to enjoy, a long time ago, but it found its way onto this mind map, and an idea took root.

It’s funny how that can happen; you can have a real appetite for something and yet can completely forget about it when you envelope yourself in the “busyness” of life, having a career and raising a family. Others’ priorities become your own, and that’s alright, so long as there is a piece still left for you.

Knitting is on here. Twice, actually. I have always wanted to learn to knit, and the idea behind that lies in the Christmas stockings that my grandmother has made for each member of our family – what an amazing piece of the heart to pass along. My desire to learn how to knit was rooted in my desire to create something meaningful.

It’s all about the process, and finding what sparks joy, what sparks passion, what is instinctively you. What innately calls you back time and time again, what you think about while you’re driving or in the shower, what you spend your energy on that doesn’t feel like a labor, what you anticipate and look forward to. What you make time for.

I know a woman who started a business with her passion for knitting – she’s damn good at it too, so I’ll just leave that to her. We don’t all want the same thing; our mind maps would all look very different side by side.

I need to update my Mind Map for 2018. Writing will be on it, in a much more meaningful way, but perhaps I’ll discover something new in the smaller details as well.

Cheers

I’m going for full transparency this week and I have to admit, I have some reservations about opening up on this topic but I’m going to take a deep breath and share.  There’s power in sharing the hard things (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Dry January posts have been mixed in with my daily news feed since the 1st, the topic of several podcasts I have perused through, and it’s been top of my mind for awhile now.

I joined a sober/semi-sober private Facebook group last week.

Sober. Semi-sober. Not drinking.

Who the hell would want to do that?

That’s what I used to think.

I started cutting down on drinking a few months ago.  I have been conscious of the absence of alcohol in my life every day that I haven’t consumed any since then.

I never really had a reason to look too deeply at my relationship with alcohol; drinking is something that is deeply woven into the culture of my family and my community.

I have an addictive personality, and I’ve used alcohol as a medication for many years; to treat stress, to dull the feeling of self-consciousness at social events, to help with coping, to soothe loneliness and unhappiness.

It’s not just my crutch during the low points, however.  Every celebration calls for a few glasses of wine or a 4-pack of double IPA.  The best days on the lake, my favorite place to be, always involve summery cocktails.  “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Drinking has become a widely celebrated ritual for women, and for moms; a badge that we earn at the end of a long day, whether it be at work, or a day at home with the kids, we deserve that damn glass of wine, that vodka soda, that gin and tonic, that beer, and however many follow afterwards.

A few months ago, I was at an NHL hockey game in Montreal.  It was my youngest daughter’s first NHL experience. My husband and I celebrated that with a few rounds. I lost count of how many.

I got sick.  Really, really sick. I spent the majority of that night in our hotel bathroom.  I couldn’t function the next morning. I ruined our plans to have breakfast out in the city.  My daughter, age three at the time, wasn’t really aware that her day had been altered in any way, but I was so extremely disappointed in myself.

Since that night, I’ve been focusing on being conscious of my consumption. What I found wasn’t pretty.  I was drinking every day. I was getting home at the end of the day and simply cracking a beer or pouring a glass of wine out of habit.  And I never stopped at one.

I haven’t quit drinking, but I have realized that it was affecting me – it was hurting me – every single day.  The mornings that I hated to get out of bed, the sloggy feeling I attributed to just not being a morning person, the lack of energy, the lack of clarity.

I still have an affinity for booze.  I have to make a conscious effort to not open the fridge when I get home every day.  I’m not necessarily looking to give up drinking, but am  focusing on curbing my daily consumption and gaining control.

Every morning that I wake up with a clear head and the ability to roll out of bed easily is a day that further enforces my resolve.  I have been nailing my water intake goals.  I look forward to sipping my warm turmeric milk with honey and cinnamon at night.  I’m loving the effect on my overall health, well-being and wallet.

Cheers, from my steaming mug.

Checking Boxes

2018. A New Year. What does that mean for you?  Last year was probably the first time that it meant much of anything to me.

Discovering that I didn’t have much in the way of direction, hobbies, dreams or goals when 2017 came around was disconcerting.  It was as though I had been underwater for some time and was just resurfacing – and in a way I had. I had become very, very good at making sure that everyone else’s needs were met.  I had just gotten through one of the more challenging seasons of motherhood, the season where each new stage is something new and different, where the demands are ever-evolving and it feels as though you are constantly working to meet the new dynamics that a newborn-turned-infant-turned-toddler brings to the table. My role as a mother was constantly being recreated and that, justifiably, took as much energy and creativity as I could muster.

In December 2016, looking forward into 2017, I found myself on the precipice of my youngest transitioning from toddler to preschooler, and I was met with a strong feeling of lack.

“What I discovered…was that I harbored a mix of discontentment, frustration, dissatisfaction; I felt unfulfilled in an area that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.”

Not that my marriage was failing to fill any void, not that raising and connecting with my three daughters didn’t still have demands, not that being a wife and a mother was not rewarding, not that my relationships and my career didn’t still take up the majority of my time and emotional energy, but lack on a very personal level.  I couldn’t quite have told you who I was, or what I wanted, outside of those roles.  Outside of those roles, I didn’t quite exist.

I spent some time in 2017 working through all of this. Now, I’m ready to move on to purposefully planning, focusing on and building who I want to be.

My inbox, social feeds, podcasts and conversations have been inundated with discussions about the New Year.  Through the myriad of messages, sales pitches and memes, one really hit me – instead of focusing on what I want to do in the New Year, why not focus on how I want to feel?

Perhaps this resonates because listing out the many things I hope to accomplish in 2018 feels overwhelming.  Another list of To Dos isn’t necessarily aspirational. The question of how I want to feel, however…there is something there. Because doesn’t having goals really mean that you’re chasing the feeling that attaining those goals will give you?

I want to feel (in no particular order):

Energetic, joyful, present, calm, growth, optimistic, grateful, creative, fulfilled, accomplished, successful, strong, confident, worthy, compassionate, loving (and loved), connected (to the things and people that matter), disconnected (from the things that don’t), committed, comfortable, cozy, nourished, joyful, inspired, challenged (in a positive way), knowledgeable, prepared, abundant, secure.

And hydrated. I would like to feel more hydrated in 2018.

By focusing on how I want to feel, my action items then become “How can I feel more insert-your-word-here?”  They aren’t limited to just one action, to one goal; they can cross into every facet of my life.

If I want to feel these things, there are steps I will need to take to get there, but I gain much more buy-in if the end result is any one of the feelings above, versus a check-box on yet another checklist of things that I need to accomplish.