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.

In a Word

Here it is. The last Tuesday of 2017.

Next week, we’ll be two days into a new year.

I’m not one for making resolutions, however the New Year can be an impetus of change.

This week I’m working towards completing my 2018 portion of the YearCompass. I’m a bit hung up on picking a word to symbolize and define the year ahead. The word I would look at if I need extra energy, to remember to not give up on the goals I am setting forth in these pages now. The word that encompasses how I want to feel this year, the kind of experiences I want to have. A word that is a commitment to positive change and growth.

A word is defined as a “single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing.”

A distinct meaningful element.

If you had one word to describe 2017 for you, what would it be?

What would that word be if you were thinking about 2018? What can you do today to ensure you are on track with all of its possible meanings in every area of your life, starting as early as next week?

 

Green Light

I’m forging ahead as if today is Tuesday. We’ve had two nights of back to back holiday concerts, lingering but thankfully temporary illnesses, work commitments and project deadlines. Coupled with last minute Christmas shopping and hours of cutting, taping and wrapping, I felt completely OK letting go of my Tuesday posting habit last night, but only for a day.

The 2018 Year Compass launched two weeks ago. I started working on the first portion of the workbook last week, reflecting on 2017 (you can, and should, download a copy here).

Last year, I remember being a bit fixated on the reflection piece of the workbook. I wanted to understand how, in an entire year, I hadn’t personally accomplished – outside of raising my daughters and all that goes along with being a mother and wife –  something substantial, something tangible, something of value. Something for myself. The honest answer was that I simply hadn’t been intentional on making it happen.

This year, I’m almost dismissive of 2017; I’ll complete that section, because I believe there are important pieces in the review, in the questions asked in it. I’m not, however, lingering on what I didn’t do or spending an unnecessary amount of time looking back; I’m anticipating looking forward at what more I can make happen. I know that I started in a much different place, and the fact that I simply decided to start really is enough. This might only be due to the simple fact that now I know I can.

I’m more interested in focusing on creating bigger intentions for 2018. The word “goals” keeps popping up, but that word feels too limiting, too finite. I’m not referring to New Year’s resolutions that I want to attain and be done with; I want to create sustainability in growth. As a mother, I am constantly recreating and redefining what that means. Each day, each stage, each child requires something different from me. I’m determined not to limit those spaces of growth only to the roles that I have, but to the woman that I am at the heart of everything that I am to everyone else.

Think about the next 365 days. Think about what it could mean for you to build off of the momentum that you can create. Just one idea, one spark. Envision where you could be a year from now, where you would want to be a year from now.

Think about the things that you would do today, tomorrow, next week if you had no fear, no resistance, no hesitation, no time to plan or procrastinate.

And go do them.

Envision all of the versions of you that you wish you could be.

And go be them.

 

 

 

It’s All in Your Head

IMG_6852.JPGA friend who is working late this evening shared over this message from her tea; I found it to be a perfectly timed reminder for me.

I have been focusing on a few phrases to get me through the times when I am not in the mindset that I want to be; where I might not feel as energetic, calm, composed, level-headed or open-minded as I am striving, in my more intentional moments, to be.

If you had suggested taking up a mantra practice to me a few years ago I would have likely laughed, and certainly would not have taken you seriously.  I used to associate mantras with meditation, and although I enjoy listening to the Headspace and Calm apps once in awhile, I haven’t yet been able to get on any sort of meditating level.

I was introduced to a different form of mantra and affirmation practice through Cara Alwill Leyba (author, life-coach, blogger, podcaster); in this powerful post, she explains how she uses mantras and affirmations.  I was inspired to create my own variation of her practice after reading.

Rather than dwelling on challenge, on stress, on lack, on guilt, on weakness, on the negative, certain phrases have helped me get to a better mental place, not just in the moment but overall, with almost any situation I find myself in.  They make me more aware, and remind me to be intentional.  As Cara mentions in her blog, it helps to remove the power and energy from whatever thing or person that is driving imbalance and gives it back to you.  The phrases that I try to use daily are:

“I am not available for struggle.”

“What is meant for me will not pass me by.”

“When I take care of myself, everyone around me benefits.”

“The way that I speak to my children will become their inner voice.”

Tonight, I’m adding that message I received by way of my friend’s teacup to my list, this one specifically for when I need a more positive direction in where my conversations are going.

Do you have an affirmation or mantra practice?  I’d love to add a few more to my arsenal.


P.S. An easy way to find Cara’s mantras and affirmations is on Instagram; she’s @thechampagnediet if you’re interested.

Lowering the Bar

The past few weeks have been nothing short of sheer chaos and disruption.  We sold our house, packed up our belongings, stored a large majority of them, and temporarily moved in with my parents (every 34-year-old, married-with-children mother’s dream).  I came down with the flu while packing over the last weekend before our closing, and I’m still not quite sure where half of my clothing or any of my jewelry is.

The next few weeks will likely be more of the same. Holiday parties, school concerts, family commitments; coupled with the demands of a career in the ski industry, I am feeling some strain.  OK – a huge amount.

I’ve decided I’m going to give myself permission to lower the bar.

This December, I am going to resign to the fact that if I can meet myself half-way, I will consider it a win.

I’m going to focus on activities, rituals and habits that fundamentally make me feel the best, those things that give me energy and put me in the best headspace. I’m going to allow myself to accept that these things might not necessarily line up with the expectations of others.

I’m going to place emphasis on experiences, and being a part of those experiences rather than just creating them. I’m going to commit to those activities and traditions that mean the most to myself and my family, and decline anything that doesn’t align with those priorities. I’m going to do so without guilt.

What level do you hold yourself accountable to, and for what? Why?

Better yet, for who?

 

Consistency

I have written fourteen blog posts since launching this site.  Fourteen.  Not such a large number, but significant in ways that count.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, I have put my thoughts out in this space for anyone to read, absorb, retain, reject, agree with, or challenge.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, I have shared pieces of my story and created connections.  I have had conversations that stemmed from what is posted in these pages that were meaningful and relevant.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, and perhaps one of the most significant pieces for me, right up there with connecting meaningfully with others, I have sat down, written, and hit Publish.  I have had weeks where I could have said “I don’t have enough time.”  I have had weeks where I was traveling, where I was tired, where I didn’t feel well.  Weeks where there was probably something a bit “more important” that needed doing.  And of course there was the self-doubt; that what I had to say was small, was unimportant, was unoriginal.  But there was something bigger than all of that.

I found a spark in writing the words that became posts, in the posts that became content, in sharing.  I am passionate about writing, about communicating with those who take the time to read what I post, about connecting with each of you in the comments and in passing.  I am passionate about creating something that adds value.

When you find your “thing”, chances are it won’t feel like the rest of the “things”; activities, expectations and commitments that you’re trying to force, another check mark on the To Do list for the day.  I could have easily shrugged off writing tonight; I have two more sleeps in this home that, come Monday, will no longer be ours, I am surrounded by belongings packed up in boxes, I have more belongings that have not yet found their way into boxes, piles of laundry to wash, more piles of paperwork to sort and file, two kids who are down and out with the stomach bug, work emails that are waiting to be answered…but yet it didn’t cross my mind to not write, to not hit Publish, to not remain consistent.

What can you create that makes you feel this way?