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A world I didn’t know existed

26 Jul

Three weeks ago I decided to step into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I admit that I didn’t really want to do it. I think that I thought that I could do it alone or that somehow I would find an easy community here online.

As I was reading Unwasted, though, I started to see that not only did I need to surround myself with a community of people who understand what I am going through, I need to change the way I relate to the world. I have become comfortable in being with my family and getting to know people through my business. My connections haven’t been very deep, and I’ve been avoiding those vulnerable connections.

Time to do something different. So I attended one meeting. Then another the next week. Then I went back and exchanged information and decided to follow through on those connections. I can already say that I am changing.

This other world of alcoholics is one of encouraging one another, listening, showing up and being present for each other, and I am floored by it. Each time I go, there is a different group of people – people who don’t look like me & people who have lived very different lives from mine. Every time, though, I am surprised at the richness of their stories, of their struggle, of their encouragement, and I am grateful for their words. It is a world I didn’t understand and one I judged and feared all at the same time.

What an amazing new world.

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We cannot do this alone

12 Jul

I run. Maybe 20 miles a week when I’m training for something serious. Two or three times a week. When I run, I feel fully alive. Even when my legs are heavy weights or I struggle to go the speed I want, I love to run. It’s that feeling of accomplishment that comes from having followed through with my plan and done my best in the moment.

My favorite running moments are from the marathons I ran. The marathon is the most challenging race I have ever participated in and an experience I will forever cherish. My most powerful running moments during the marathon came when I found my dad amongst the crowd, cheering for me. When my then boyfriend surprised me and cheered me on. When my friend joined me for the last mile.

I have failed to stay sober. Really, I haven’t tried all that hard. The desire has waxed and waned. Getting to where I am right now has felt like a marathon, but one where I have been dragging my feet. Thankfully, I have people around me – both people I see and artists/writers/life living inspirations who influence me.

In my last session, my therapist encouraged me to think of myself running at the moment I wanted to take a drink. The healthy me. The faster, in tune, me. This image has planted itself in my mind and bloomed into something tangible and effective.

Then last night, when I read this…I felt something click into place.

In Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety, Sacha Z Scoblic ends her book talking about running.

Nowadays, I see my sobriety as a path I am running along; it is lined with people cheering for me. Sometimes I am running by myself, but sometimes I am running with Spencer, the Sweathogs, or with the WolfPack. And if I ever drift off the path — where the road gets sticky, where one is all alone, and where each step feels like moving through molasses — the crowd will smile and gently nudge me back to the center of the path. As I run along the sober path, nimbly and happily, I will pass milestones instead of mile markers, I will lose my fear, I will find my peace.

And sometimes, when even the sober path gets difficult and the road feels long, I will close my eyes and think, I choose to run. 

I choose to be sober. I choose it and want to continue to choose it. I also choose to build a community around me – one of non-drinkers and people who will cheerlead me along this sobriety path filled with mile markers. Even though it has taken me much longer than I wanted to get here, I am excited to have found an image that has inspired me to take the biggest first step. I will not be able to do it alone.

I will do this

4 Jun

Based on the Peloton coach, Christine D’Ercole’s, system of Wordshopping the phrases “I am, I can, I will, I do,” I commit to this tonight:

I AM taking one step on this journey

I CAN find a community to surround and support me

I WILL not buy a bottle of wine tonight or take a sip of my husband’s beer.

I DO this to stay true to myself and my greater purpose.

This is my intention.

This cannot happen alone

3 Jun

alFrom Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain, strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself,  I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.  You must do the things you think you cannot do!”

I started seeing my therapist because I wanted to quit drinking. It took me a few sessions to be brave enough to bring this up. And I lied when I talked about how much I drank. Not much, just a little. Three glasses a night was really more like one bottle.

Since I’ve started talking about quitting, I’ve also started hiding more. Shame, probably part of the equation from the very beginning, is ever present, and more thickly each time I talk about it and do nothing. I used to drink my wine openly. But in the last couple of months, I’ve taken to hiding the fact. I don’t want to deal with my husband asking me why I’m not doing what I set out to do. I’m embarrassed that I keep doing the thing I know is holding me back.

I KNOW a lot. I know that alcohol is a poison. I know that women who drink heavily tend to suffer from dementia and die earlier than men. I know my body and my mind will feel better once I stop drinking. I know that I am an alcoholic; conversations with other women about the way they drink has revealed to me how my daily habit is more than just a habit. It’s a problem. I know that I feel guilty. I know that I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what I’m teaching my children about the world.

I know that I’m entrenched in a deep hole. It’s really deep. And lately, I can see how deep it is more clearly than ever before. I’ve gotten used to the hole. I’m a little bit afraid of what I’ll find on the outside. At the same time, I’m sick of it. I want out. So now I’m reaching out for help. First step, writing this blog. Second step, being honest more often with my husband. Third step, asking for help. Maybe you can help me.

Honestly, I wanted to build a community outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. The reality is, I need the community of others who are telling their stories, remembering why this is not good for them, and Alcoholics Anonymous is the best place to start. Maybe you’re in the same boat? What is your story? Help me by telling it!

My therapist is part of my help. But she reminded me that quitting drinking is just a dream without action. Even though I have a hundred excuses for why Alcoholics Anonymous is not where I want to go, it’s time. I have so many excuses for why I’m drinking. Excuses are NOT action. They are NOT looking fear in the face.

Quick story. I was at a conference recently with a huge group of like minded women. We were asked to partner up, stand across from each other and look into each other’s eyes. No words. No movement. Just gaze into the depths of the other woman’s eyes. The leader of the group asked us to speak to our partner through our eyes, telling her what we needed to hear without words. My partner and I came to tears as we did this. It was raw, deep, uncomfortable.

Then we were asked to join another pair, and then another and look at the person across from us in the eyes. I was surprised to see that a few of the women continued to wear their sunglasses during this exercise. So as the group came together and grew, there was some unspoken pressure for them to take their sunglasses off, but there was one woman who could not stand to look in the eyes of the other women. She gazed at a diagonal, clearly avoiding the eyes of the others in the group. I wondered what was happening for her. This looking into each other’s eyes was a very vulnerable thing. Maybe there were some cultural issues. But for me, it was about allowing yourself to be seen and open to the possibility of vulnerability. My excuses are me diverting my eyes.

It scares me to no end to just put this out into the world. I am afraid of looking you in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking myself in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking at my judger (me) in the eyes. Yet, I’m putting it out there. Community is part of the answer. I’m starting with you, my husband, my therapist and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Testing out the birthday suit

15 Jan

I’ve heard stories about toddlers running around in the buff . Even though I halfway expected it, when C pulled her pants down, tugged her shirt up around her shoulders and requested, “Off,” I was amused and a little worried. I thought I’d give it a week or so to see if it was just a quick passing thing.

The reader, all dressed up! Jan 12th.

Nope! As long as we’re home, or at someone else’s home, for longer than an hour, C begins to request help in getting her clothes off. At home I figure, why not? Although this does mean that my un-potty-trained toddler could pee (or poop!) anywhere. I’m grateful that she feels comfortable enough at other people’s homes to take her clothes off, but that has become the sign that it’s time to go. Potty training has suddenly become a priority. But is she ready? Am I ready?

It feels like all sorts of issues are piling up – getting her to sleep on her own, toddler tantrums (oh yes, I was the lady at the mall with the screaming baby..sorry guys!), and now potty training?? It is all happening so quickly, and I feel like I barely have the time to figure out what to do next.

Top that off with the fact that I’m trying to run a small business, grow as a fitness instructor, and fit all of that into the 45 minute nap that has begun to evolve and an hour of sanity in the evening after dinner, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed!

What stands out to me, though, is that I need to enjoy that cuddly and spirited little girl who loves running around in her birthday suit as much as I can. This time will be gone in a blink and what I will remember most was her joy in exploring the world in utter abandon and freedom.

The Chair Photos

13 Jan

One day, when my daughter was about four weeks old, I posted a picture of her propped in the corner of our glider/rocking chair on Facebook. A wonderful, inspirational mom commented that one of her friends had taken a picture of her children every month for as long as they’ve been alive in the same spot. I decided then and there that I would take a picture of C in the chair once a week for as long as I could.

Nearly 18 months later, I have a large collection of photos of C sitting in the chair. Many bring back memories of the week that I took them. Because infants and toddlers develop so quickly, each week really is quite unique!

May I introduce you to the collection? 

I make this introduction so that you have some familiarity with where I’m coming from as I begin to post a weekly update on what is happening with C, the joys and the challenges!

Do Fun Stuff!

30 Aug

It’s hard not to admire people who seize every opportunity to do something meaningful and beautiful.  Ryan Marshall, blogger of Pacing the Panic Room, has done just that.  Marshall made the choice to love his stepson fully.  And then he and his wife learned that his stepson, who he refers to as his Little Buddy, has a rare genetic disorder, Smith-Magenis Syndrome.  Upon finding out that there is very little known about this syndrome, Marshall and his wife decided that they would set out to inspire more research.

To raise money to create awareness and a larger knowledge base about SMS, Marshall got a number of very cool artists to donate their time and energy to create a “kid’s record for parents.”

I bought the album not only because I wanted to support the cause, but also because I really enjoyed the music and knew it would be appropriate for my little one sometime in the near future.  Honestly, it’s a fun, positive album, and many of the songs are so low key kid songs that the tag line Marshall adopted is spot on.

You can learn more about SMS and the project that Marshall is endeavoring upon by clicking HERE. If you are inspired, you can link to the widget in your blog or send the link on to your Facebook friends!

Here’s to learning, contributing, and doing fun stuff.