Saturday, 25 November 2017

Shining Without The Wine'ing

I was just writing my bestie an email, and came up with this most excellent title for a blog post!
Yes, I'm talking about drinking again! (rather, about not drinking).
106 days ago, I took the conscious decision that I would not drink anymore.
Yes, it coincided with my second pregnancy, so naturally, it's a time when I wouldn't be drinking anyways.
That helps.
But that's not the reason for my decision, either.

See, I spent many, many, many years drinking. And not just having an occasional glass here and there with friends or family. My drinking might've started out that way, but it quickly evolved into an all-too popular epidemic called binge drinking.

I would drink fast and furiously.

My tolerance for alcohol, towards the end, was so high that I regularly "shared" 3 bottles of wine on any given night with my hubs, and that wasn't shocking to me.

Now it is.

The thought of consuming 750ml x 3 / 2 = 1125ml of wine! For one person. A standard bottle of wine contains 5 servings, so that means I was having like, 7.5 servings of wine on a regular 'ol night.

(I didn't drink like this when pregnant with my first son, FYI, there was just a "relapse" period 2 months after he was born that lasted about 1.5 months and reminded me of why I hated this cycle!!!)

But that's another point. You know, sometimes I would do these major pauses in drinking. Like, do a detox for 15 days, with the hopes that I would come out on the other side and finally know how to drink moderately. But, it doesn't work like that.

I'm sure that some people can successfully "cut down" on their alcohol (these people usually fall into a different category, where alcohol is not necessarily problematic in their lives) but for me, it's really all or nothing.

Now that I am not drinking, I am in the phase of mentally processing all of the time I wasted drinking.

All of the times that I wasn't present when I was in the company of friends and family, because all that I could focus on was the booze surrounding me.

All of the dangerous situations I put myself in for the sake of getting loaded.

All of the harm I did to my body and mind because I would drink excessively and make myself sick.

It just makes me sad.

It's like I need to go back and take care of that girl, now that I've realized how happy I am without alcohol.

How living life sober, aware, present and vulnerable is more meaningful that anything I've ever done.

I think back on the nights I would drink alone in my old apartment, missing my long distance boyfriend, lonely out of my mind.

How I would stumble to the local bar, already drunk, and stumble back, drunker.
How none of this ever made me feel better.
How it only made me feel lonelier, more insecure and less grounded.
How almost all of my anxiety and fear was alcohol-induced.

It's kind of like mourning a dead relative.
I have days where it's hard to live with the memories, because the clearer my mind gets, the more I realize how sad and empty drinking made me.

I know that the life I lead now would not be possible if I was still drinking. I could not possibly enjoy the grounded, calm and deeply satisfying life that I have while getting loaded.

My choices to quit are my own. I don't need to fall into a category, be a statistic or scale myself on an addiction meter. I don't need to go to AA. I don't need to call myself an alcoholic, because I really don't like that term and it doesn't resonate with me. 

It's not about labels, or descriptions or explanations. 
It's not about having everyone understand my journey, or my reasons for not drinking.

It's definitely not going to turn into me judging other people's habits, because those are none of my business, even if they are harmful and toxic.

I take care of my side of the street. That's all that I am responsible for, and it's enough!

Now, when I see my hubby, my baby and my growing baby belly (21 weeks, what?!?!)...I just feel so grateful. I have all I need, all I could ever want, right next to me.

I don't need to escape that.
I don't need to rush that.
I don't need to run away from it.
I created this.
I overcame that.
I evolved.
I stopped choosing fear.
I believed I was worth more.

And that's where we're at!
106 days.
I am proud.
Life is good when you're not battling hangovers on the reg.

Alright, now here's some inspirational quotes in line with this topic! Off to play with my baboo and eat some soup on this rainy but perfect Saturday <3

I decided I was not going to stay at the bar, and on my knees vomiting up Kraft Dinner every Sunday morning!

And the right things are pretty beautiful. Meaningful relationships all around, babies, success, self-worth, health,gratitude...the list goes on and on

Nope. There isn't

Monday, 13 November 2017

Finding Happiness In A Balanced and Relaxed Lifestyle

Happy Monday Peeps!

The last several months, I've thought a lot about how my life has changed over a few short years.
Most of the changes happened super holistically and gradually; meaning, I didn't wake up one day and say "this needs to change!" and go out and make efforts to shift things.

Instead, my journey unfolded one piece at a time, each block leading me to a more comfortable and happier existence.
For years and years, I binge read self-help and personal development books (who am I kidding? I still do this!).
After a decade, I feel like I have found a personal blend of methods that work really well for me- that keep me happy, that keep me grateful and that keep me living a blessed and blissed out life.

It wasn't always so easy to tune into higher frequencies and vibrations; it took me quite some time to really understand that the key to happiness and bliss was always within me.
It's not this big secret.
It's not complicated.
It's as simple as choosing thoughts/feelings/emotions and activities that make us feel good.
Following our EGS (Emotional Guidance System, or intuition, or gut feeling) will always lead us to the right place. Sometimes life takes us on detours to get there, but the destination is always readily available to tap into.

Here are just some of the major shifts that I've made that have significantly made a difference in my day-to-day life.

Putting Myself First (Radical Self-Love)
This is really important. Really, really important! For years, I existed on shaky ground, seeking outside validation and approval to feel good about myself.
Not focusing enough on self-love and confidence manifested itself into a number of unhealthy patterns.
Codependent relationships, binge eating, anxiety, alcohol dependence, the constant rushed/unrelaxed state that makes you want to "escape" reality because things are just uncomfortable as they are.
Nowadays, I put myself first (in an unselfish way) because I know that I can't give from an empty cup.
I find that I am naturally following my intuition more, trusting my emotions, enjoying moments in life without rushing them, not getting overwhelmed by nerves and genuinely feeling like everything in my life is a blessing. I
've created the reality that I WANT to exist in, because it is pleasant, filled with loving and supportive people, and inspiring.

Slowing Down
I used to be surprised when people told me that they suffered from anxiety.
Back in the day, it seemed like I was the only one. When people opened up about their struggles, I would think to myself, "Wow! They GET IT!".
Nowadays, sadly, having anxiety and panic disorder is almost as common as having a Michael Kors purse.
It's just a normal part of life (it isn't normal, but it's normalized).
We glorify working to the bone.

We equate success with having a million responsibilities.

We think that having a jam-packed calendar somehow makes us more special that the next guy.

We go and go and go and never actually enjoy the things we are doing, because we are too busy, stressed and tired to live in the moment.
Then, often, we escape by drinking wine/beer/booze and talk about how we "deserve" a break. Let's get drunk because life is so busy cause we're trying so hard to have a fun-filled life, but it's exhausting, so we're tired, and now we need to drink to escape it for a little while, then tomorrow we'll feel like shit and repeat, and repeat and repeat.

It's like an anxiety-fueled rollercoaster that no one really enjoys, but it's so status quo that few stop to say...wait a second. Is this really the formula that I want to live by?

It's not easy to get off the merry-go-round, because everyone is on it! (not everyone, I know that now). But, a very large percentage of everyone that you know is very likely living something similar to this schema.
And, I did too. For a long, long time.
I understand how we get there. I understand why we stay there.
I am just glad that I found the EXIT sign.

Not everyone lives their lives to the excesses that I did, I'm very aware of that, but I know that slowing down for me was absolutely essential.
Getting pregnant with my first son was really the Universe sending me a wake-up call.
There is more to life than racing through.

Now, I really, genuinely feel good because my emotions, hormones and mind feel balanced and calm (with some exceptions, naturally!).
I'm giving myself the best gift by staying away from substances that make me feel nervous, frenetic and irritable.

I don't overwork myself.

I take time for myself when I need it.

And because I tap into this calming energy, my family and circle of friends benefit.

We are peaceful and loving in our home.

We rarely argue, we laugh, we show affection and gratitude for each other and we are always aware of the blessings that surround us.

Focusing On Doing The Things I Love
These points ended up being longer than I had anticipated, so I'll wrap it up with this one. Do what you love! Oh ma God, it's the most important thing. Why would we go through life, day after day, just doing things that don't bring us much joy? I have been stuck in this rut before: working a job that I thought would bring me power, security and prestige, only to wind up burnt-out, discouraged and under-appreciated. It wasn't a great feeling, but it was a wonderful lesson.

 *side note: read Elizabeth Gilbert's BIG MAGIC for more reasons to do what you love

Leaving the office setting (even though I was great at my job, and enjoyed most aspects of it) to follow my dream of writing professionally has been the most rewarding thing I have done, career-wise. Nowadays, I work my own hours, have lots of time for my family, and enjoy the balance that my day offers. I can still enjoy doing something that stimulates my mind and creativity, while not giving up the pleasures and wonders of being a stay-at-home mom, which was always my dream.

At first, I was worried that I wouldn't make much money, but I feel more prosperous now than I did with a full-time career and salary. We have zero debts, enough money to enjoy life and still safe for the future. Tapping into abundance was as easy as saying "I will do what I love, and the money will sort itself out.". Take the risk! Do what you love. If you're open and trusting, the Universe will always match your frequency and provide you with what you need to live a happy and blissed out life.


Friday, 3 November 2017

A Trip To The Land Of Poutine

We have been back from our vacation to Montreal for just over a week, and I'm only getting around to blogging about it now.
 I've really been enjoying being back at home and getting back into our little routine. 

A week filled with long walks, swimming, healthy eats and lots of friend and family time!
As much as it's great to be back home where we have settled into our little family life, the trip to Montreal was nothing short of amazing.

We had so many incredible moments with friends and family.
We walked everywhere, we ate everything, we shopped a ton and we had amazing weather.

Theo was really, really good on the plane (and train, and in the metro, and on all of the buses!).
This little guy is super adaptable to travel and it's really the perfect age to bring him everywhere with us. So far he has been to England, France and Canada- and all of that within his first 6 months.
Hope to add one beach destination to that list before the next baboo arrives (dreaming of a babymoon!).

We were all a little bit affected by the jet-lag (both ways, but mostly coming home) but other than that, the experience was really, really good.

So, instead of listing out all of the things we did, I'm just going to post a ton of photos with summarized captions. Much easier. More fun to look at and look back at in the future.

Tomorrow's another full moon and I don't feel like I need to release anything this month cause I feel so darn good!!! So grateful that the second pregnancy is going so well- 17 weeks in and feel better than I did pre-preggo. (which was also post-partum. My hormones are getting pretty used to the "pregnancy" state!!! But I always feel amazing pregnant, so bring it on.)

We're flirting with the idea of moving, so we're keeping our eyes peeled for a bigger place with a backyard, but also not in a rush cause we are pretty happy and comfortable where we are. Not sure if it's best to wait a year or so and buy our forever home, or just expand into a larger place if we find one that fits our criteria.
Time will tell! Not rushing, the perfect place will come to us when it's the right time. And even if that's a little bit after the next baby comes, that's totally OK too.
I even thought that if we revamped our balcony and added a kid-safe play area, we could totally stay here for another year or more. Lots of options!

Cousins! My beautiful nephew Xavier was so helpful and hands on with Theo. It was so cute to see them bonding during the trip. 

Had some really nice moments at my sister's place. She's such a wonderful Auntie and Theo absolutely loves her

My mom had plenty of KD for me in a box full of "treats". I brought 9 boxes home, and have actually only eaten one so far! Gotta ration that shit.

Nicolas is one of my oldest friends. We met in preschool when we were 3 years old and have been besties ever since. It was really nice to introduce my son to him <3

My girls! These ladies are the truest friends I have. We've been friends for years and years and I love how time passes and nothing changes when we get together. Truly blessed to have them in my life.

I forgot how beautiful Montreal graffiti is. Walking around on the Plateau is like visiting an outdoor museum. Love this colourful piece (Picasso inspired?) on Prince Arthur St. 

I only had two poutines in 11 days. But they both delicious.

Sadly, my Theo tattoo will have to wait until next spring when the second baby is born (I'll just get one for each babe at that point!!!) but hubby got this cute Taurean hommage to our babs. Done by my friend Angus. Love it. 

I guess posing in front of a dumpster and Port-O-Potty isn't the classiest move, but I was really just trying to show off my Tim Horton's coffee cup and "poutine" t-shirt. Embracing two Canadian stereotypes in one. (three if you count the construction in the background!)

Theo got his first taste of taking the bus to Chateauguay and dealing with one lane opened on the Mercier Bridge. We were on that bus for almost 2 hours! Another reason I am OK with living in suburban Swizzy. 

Riding the metro with this guy. It was so romantic and nice to revisit so many places that we went to together, so many times. A big part of our love story unfolded in Montreal, so it's a very special place with lots of great memories. 

Mandatory group shot, posing like sillies

Theo and his granny! I find they look alike in this shot! Similar silly personalities, too!

OMG my heart. This is my favorite photo from the entire trip. These two little cousins are just the cutest duo I have ever seen. 

Granny and her two grandsons, and sista pants.

Amazing lunch and view at Les Enfants Terribles on our second to last day in Montreal. This was on the 44th floor with panoramic views of the entire city and both shores.

Here's my kissin' cousin Paul and his bf Daniel with a very happy Thee-Thee. I was so happy to see these two gems during our visit, too!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Love Is A Place, Home Is A Person

Prelude to this post, the best vegan sandwich in the world at Aux Vivres, Montreal (veggie pate)

We're getting ready to fly out to Montreal!

Going home is so nice, but it also makes me realize that over the past 15 months, I have really made Switzerland home, too.
It's OK to have two places that are home, right?

The truth is, home for me has become less about location, and more about where my heart is. For two years, Thomas and I were nurturing our relationship long-distance style, and it gave us both such an incredible appreciation for each moment we have had together in one place. 
For some, it might seem like just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill life, but to us, it's extraordinary.

We really value what it means to have a home and a family together, because for so long we had to rely on seeing each other every 3-4, I don't miss those days, but I'll always be grateful that we had the experience of being apart; it makes our love so much stronger. And, even nowadays, when we're apart for longer than...2 days, we go pretty batty!

So, all this to say, we are super excited to go and visit everyone in Montreal, introduce Theo to our Canadian friends and family, shop til we drop and eat some delicious and unhealthy snacks.

It's also crazy to think that the last time I went to Montreal (last November for 10 days alone) I was:

-5 months preggo with Theo
-Didn't know Theo was a boy yet
-Had only been in Swizz for 3.5 months at that point

Now, we're going back with a 6-month-old and a 4 month baby bump! Crazy how much can happen in a year. We've had a pretty productive 2016 and 2017 (and 2018 will follow suit, with second baby arriving!!!)
I never posted photos from last year's trip, so here's some photos (mostly of food) to kick start this little adventure!

Classic diner club sandwich. 

Remember that time that they sent my suitcase to Los Angeles by accident? Well, this was after my suitcase was returned, and I could switch out of mom's clothes and feel like myself again 

Two of my favorite women: my mom and my sis. This was at my surprise baby shower that was supposed to be Ashley's surprise birthday party. One day I'll get her dammit!

Baby Thomas and Baby Ariane on sticks for the baby shower games. Blondes have more fun

Amazing squirrel cake for the shower. When I  lived in Montreal, I was obsessed with squirrels, and now I have none in Swizz :( One major downfall.

This makes me so damn hungry. I swear the minute I get into my sister's house, the first thing I'm doing is making an entire box of KD 

Mixed feelings about this! I love the snow, in moderation. I don't miss the freezing, icy cold mornings, the never-ending winters and the dark gloominess that plagues the city for 6-7 months.

And this amazing little guy is one full year older. I miss my nephew so much, and can't wait for cuddles. It's going to be amazing to see the cousins meeting for the first time.

And these beautiful people! Two of my absolute besties, Stef and Natasha. These girls have known me forever and being with them definitely feels like "home". Can't wait for nonstop laughs with these two (and not pictured, my other besties, Ashley, Erica, Michelle and Nicolas)

When I got to Montreal my baby belly started to push out...must've been all the KD and poutine. Snapping a selfie to share the moment with hubs.

Delicious, dirty poutine

Had to have hubby's favorite - maple glazed donut <3
And then we were reunited, and life was good. Back when we were just 3! Now we're almost 5!!! My heart. <3

So that's it. I'm looking forward to a little vacation from working, the last month and a half has been crazy with freelance work, and I want to come home and do more creative writing.

I need to finish up my book and get it published!

So off we go, to the land where people smile and say hello in the streets, where I can afford everything I want to buy, where I can eat poutine and Thai Express and vegan sushi in one day, and then walk it off on the Plateau.

Ah, the more I think of it, this is gonna be damn good.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Full Moon Musings

Happy Harvest Moon lovely people!

I'm really excited about this full moon.
Not only will it be huge and beautiful (hope I can see from my balcony, or at least behind our apartment!) it's also one of the most powerful astral phenomenon's of the year.

This full moon, which is the one nearest the autumnal equinox, is a time to reflect on our feelings, emotions and spiritual "state of affairs" and to release any negativities that have been accumulated.

Feeling frazzled at work? Not getting along with a friend or partner? Feeling like you are holding too much in and need to express yourself? THIS IS THE TIME!

Let the mystical, magical moon do all the dirty work for you tonight! Then...have a beautiful and deep sleep to rejuvenate and restart!

So, the nice thing is that there is no right or wrong way to do this ceremony. As with all things spiritual, you really have free range to follow your own path of what feels the most healing to you. The most important thing is to get in touch with your inner self and to offer love, acceptance, peace and forgiveness (to yourself, to others, to the planet, the Universe!) 

I have often read that writing out our intentions by hand is suggested, because you put so much more of your personal energy and thoughts into anything that is created by hand. Makes sense, right?

You can do something as simple as writing out one intention, for example, "I let go of the need to control outcomes".

Or, you can go balls deep and write out a summary of many different areas of your life that require your attention and might need a little more moon power.

I know this month is a biggie for me, because I had one particularly upsetting fight that left me feeling not so great.

Another reason I am having a big month is because I am taking care of my body AND the body of another baby (more on this soon!!!) and I really do need to focus on all the positive, magical and unicorn-filled loveliness in the world

And a final reason, is that despite feeling a little bla from the recent events, I am still super grateful for all of the wonderful things I have in my life. I am celebrating that  as I grow older, setbacks slow me down but don't debilitate me.

I really, truly use these rare moments of shittiness to try and grow and learn, and I have gotten a lot better at forgiving myself for my occasional slip-ups.

Moon magic, stuffing my bra with quartz and black tourmaline and sending blessings, love and heaps of understanding and forgiveness to all.

Oh, and this song!
So good.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

100 of My FavoriteThings

Often, as I am lying in bed drifting off to sleep, writing ideas pop into my head. Usually these ideas relate to my upcoming memoir self-help book, but sometimes they are other random bits of information that come out of the woodwork.
The words flow through my head and soothe me to bed like a lullaby, and I get the sensation that I am reading and writing at the same time.

It's pretty cool.

Sadly, I don't always wake up (I rarely do!) to jot down these ideas, so the next day they aren't quite as fresh. But last night, something came into my head that was a pretty cool idea.

What if you were asked to name 100 of your absolute favorite things in the world? This could be anything from an activity, a natural phenomena, an animal, a food...the list should be as unique and personal as possible.
The only thing you should avoid is listing people, cause then the list risks becoming just a long collection of names ("I love my momma, my grandmomma, my daddy etc;" We all do, try to focus on specifics events or activities with people if you want to add them!)

This concept was not invented by me, actually. I must've been distantly thinking of The Book of Awesome, written by Neil Pasricha. Remember that one?! Neil made a comprehensive list of often overlooked, but amazing things. 

If you don't want to make your own list, get this book and enjoy Neil's!

So, essentially, the idea is to focus on what we love, what we appreciate and what we value. In this crazy and unpredictable world, sometimes it's easy to lose touch with that magical high-on-life feeling that is our birthright, and we have to make some pretty serious efforts to take care of our happiness.

Tomorrow is a very special Full Moon. The Harvest Full Moon is a great time to let go of any negativity, sadness or bad feelings with a little moon ceremony!

Leading up to it, I'm working on busting out the major gratitude, to tune into the positive flow of energy and get my vibration back to where is should be (took a little dip this week with some dramatics that I'd like to move far away from!)

So this is an exercise that can be done anywhere (and you don't need to list 100 things, start with 10 if you don't have the time for so many!). Many of these have already appeared in my gratitude journal, and are in no way in order from best to worse...just things I love :)

Here we go:

1.Bubble baths
3.The feeling when you've ordered a bunch of new books and they are delivered to your mailbox
4.When you've been out for a long evening/event/vacation and you first step back into your home. Ahhh!
5.When you make lasagna and the proportion of cheese, sauce and spinach is just perfect
6.When my baby is sleeping and cooing and I give him his pacifier and he looks like a little lamb taking it from me
7.The feeling after a fresh hair job (dye,cut)
8.When you open your eyes in the morning and you see that the sun is coming up and the sky is this amazing pinkish colour
10.The feeling of bliss I get after a long Skype chat with my souls sister Sally.
11.When you're deep in conversation with a friend (or group of) and you realize that you really are invested in every word they are saying
12.Orange Crush or San Pellegrino Orange when you're not feeling well
13.The way the sound of the waves can zen you out instantly
14.Having breakfast with my mom and chatting with her about everything and nothing
15.The feeling of rejuvenation I get in the fall
16.Going to dinner at my in-laws place and realizing that my mother-in-law made my favorite meal (poulet au vinaigre)
17.Pugs (particularly Milo)
18.Organizing things
20.Making various lists
21.The fact that I have several 30+ year friendships that are still going strong (shoutout to Michelle and Nicolas!)
22.LUSH shopping sprees
23.When my hubs is telling a story and he's super into it and animated
24.Binge watching a really good TV show
25.Going for long walks 
26.When it's my birthday 
27.Fluffy and ridiculous housecoats
28.Chatting with Ashley about silly and ridiculous things
29.Swimming in the lake
30.When I predicted Theo's birthdate (that was cool and I felt so in tune with the numerological Gods hehehe)
31. Crystals and pretty rocks
32.Good coffee
33.Planning vacations!  (and also going on them haha)
34.Quitting the corporate world and following a more creative work path
35. Counting change (have always loved doing this! Especially Canadian dimes)
36.When you actually let money sit in the bank and don't spend it frivolously 
38.Going on a date to the movies with hubs
39.Trashy reality TV shows
41.When you have a week where the calendar isn't too busy and you can totally enjoy your home and little family
43.How good it feels to not drink
47.Listening to reggae on the beach
48.Going to garage sales/yard sales or farmer's markets
49.Spending time with family (especially the Canadian gang because I don't see them as much!)
50.Chatting with my sis and realizing more and more how similar we are!
51.Getting into a super powerful or inspirational book
52.Baby snuggles
53.Thinking about how life fell so perfectly into place when I met Thomas (despite almost two years of long distance)
54.Getting pedicures/massages
55.Playing "20 Questions" with Thomas every time we go swimming (silly pool tradition)
56.When you mutually decide that it's a good night for pizza
57.Wine Gums
58.When you hang out with old friends that you have so many memories with (Stef/Ash/Erica/Natasha <3 )
59. Finding a perfume that is just perfect (so far the best for me is Carven, Le Parfum)
60.Chatting in bed with hubby before falling asleep
61.Sitting on a terrasse on a sunny day
62.Exploring a new city for the first time (in the last year we saw Milan, Troyes, Reims and a few new places in Swizzy)
63.How cute it is that my mom is the only person who ever calls our house phone, or leaves us voicemails
64.When one of my articles goes viral and I make way more money than expected for the week
65.Cooking while listening to music
66.Going on train trips
67.Walking around Montreal
68.When hubs has a day off and we do everything together (today! Yippee!)
69.Learning new things
70.When you meet someone and you just click perfectly (Salllllllllllllly!!! <33333)
71.New lip gloss
72.Getting obsessed with a topic and doing a ton of research on it
73.Apple pie
74.Hanging out with my nephew
76.When you get into an exercise routine and enjoy going to the gym (this is not the current state of affairs, but hopefully I get my drive back soon!)
77.Discovering new music that you really like
78.Giving baby a bath
79. When husband says adorable things to me during his sleep, kisses my cheeks and hugs me close <3
80.When you chat with super happy old people
81.When you tune into synchronistic events and realize that everything is completely connected
82. Reading anything by Abraham Hicks and totally "getting it"
83. Looking at photos of stars, planets and far away galaxies and just realizing how small we are
84.Also, realizing that the odds of us being alive, in this moment are so slight that we must have a bigger purpose
85.Finding that purpose
86.Following your intuition (your emotional guidance system is rarely wrong!)
87.Some cats
88.Good movies
89.Going to a new restaurant 
90.Wearing super comfy clothes that are also cute
91.When you go to Montreal and feel so rich cause everything is cheap so you can shop and buy everything you want
92.Giving people gifts
93.When you give someone a genuine compliment and their eyes light up
94.Listening to a friend/family member who needs an ear and doing your best to help them feel better
95.Giving up our egotistical ways (even if this is sometimes a struggle, every bit counts)
96.When you forgive yourself, and others for wrongdoings
97.When you release things to the Universe 
98.Salt and vinegar chips
99.Songs that make you cry cause they are so beautiful
100.Realizing that you are always living in the "now" and making every second count

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

There Is A Way Through Every Block

I'm pretty sure that one of my earliest blog posts was titled this.

There is something so reassuring, so calming and so poignant about this Yogi Bhajan quote. 

Let's face it, life isn't always a bouquet of daffodils and roses. I am really happy that I've found a balance in my day-to-day life that keeps me in the "high on life" range for at least a good 80%-90% of my time, but that doesn't mean that I don't suffer from some human-level bullshit from time to time!!!

The truth is, without the darkness, we can't appreciate the light, right?

I used to live most of my time with my shadow, and only a small amount of time with my shimmer. Over time, with vigorous self-love practices in place, I was able to get rid of a lot of the dark layers; clean out the cobwebs and the dirt, and learn to love living in the shiny spots.

But, I still have moments that test me.

Just recently, I found myself caught up in a moment that tested my patience, my practice and my values.
For just a sliver of a moment, I went dark and engaged in immature back-and-forth banter with someone who shares different views from me.

Why did this person get under my skin so much?

Why was I allowing her ignorance to dim my shine?

In the moment, while she was using anything to hurt me (attacking my sobriety, mainly) I caved and became a little girl again, defending myself and spewing out nasty insults.

After a night of reflection, I realized, whoa, whoa, whoa.

This is a test.

There will always, always be people in the world with whom we don't see eye to eye.
There will be haters, naysayers, skeptics.
There will be those that don't see your value and worth.
Those that don't appreciate your story or your struggle.
Those that are unhappy and want everyone else to be, as well.

But those are not my people.

Not anymore.

You know that famous quote by Michelle Obama, "when they go low, we go high"?

That's who I am.

I don't need to prove myself to someone (anyone) who doesn't understand me/know me/care about me.

I don't need to stoop to levels of baby la-la ness to prove my points.

I don't need to tell a million people how you are not that nice/not genuine or not authentic.
That is not my story to tell.
And honestly, my point of reference is shaped by my own journey, so who am I to judge yours?

The bottom line is, my true heroines are the ones who were brave in the face of adversity.

Oprah. Maya Angelou. Brene Brown. Gabrielle Bernstein. Glennon Doyle Melton. Laura McKeown. Elizabeth Gilbert.

These ladies that I adore, respect and look up to faced challenging times and did not stray from their truth.
They held their ground.
They knew who they were.
They apologized; not for the sake of the other, but for their own peace.
They persevered.
They found their tribe.
They were not silenced.
They didn't let the world dim their shine.
They constantly "checked" themselves, forgave themselves for their mistakes and committed to seeing love over fear, no matter what the costs.

For a nanosecond I lost touch with my inner greatness and my ability to stand on my own two feet, unassisted.

But that's not something I am surrendering, now or ever.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Rise Of The Drunk Mom: A Dangerous Epidemic

The rate of alcohol-related illnesses amongst women is at an all time high. Women are turning to alcohol to soothe their stress, to take the edge off after a long day, and to escape the pressures of motherhood and marriage.

But how much is too much?

Of course, some women exercise moderation while consuming alcohol, but statistics show that these are the outliers. Most women overdo the recommended 1 drink per day guideline, established by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, which keeps drinking in the "moderate" zone.
So think about it.

One drink per day.
Seven drinks per week.
That is moderate.

Is this the behaviour we want to be modelling for our young girls?

Binge drinking for women comes into play when four or more alcoholic units are consumed in a two-hour period. Accumulate 5 instances of bingeing per month and you are in the heavy alcohol use category.

My first thought? That's everyone I know. Well, almost. I have some very close friends who are super responsible drinkers, or who don't drink at all. When I was a heavy drinker myself, I looked at them with awe, as if they were mystical unicorns or in possession of a super power that I couldn't tap into.

The truth is, many women (sadly, lots of young moms) will continue to drink at dangerous levels without understanding the physiological, physical and emotional repercussions.
Alcohol abuse is a slippery slope, which often starts off as "fun" and social.
Mimosas at brunch! Then a glass of wine or two for lunch! Why not have a few beers on a hot sunny day?
See, drinking is not inherently problematic, IF you aren't abusing it.
The problems start when people are abusing with blind awareness.
The people who, deep down, know that they shouldn't be having that much wine tonight.
The ones that keep telling themselves that next Monday, or on the first of next month, they will detox and the problem will be under control for awhile.
I know this type all too well because it was me.
I kept myself on the hamster wheel for a long, long time.

I come from a pretty booze-free family. Growing up, there was rarely alcohol at home. My parents would buy a big bottle of vodka or rum to make cocktails with at Christmas, and that bottle would sit, for months, for years, in our liquor cabinet, just a few inches emptied from a glass or two of eggnog.

My Dad would have the occasional beer; usually amongst friends when we had a summer BBQ, or when he invited his pals over for a chess match.

And then there was me.

I started drinking at 14, and quickly developed a problematic, chronic binge drinking habit. Drinking was a big part of my life for close to two decades, until I decided to call it quits for good when I became a mother.

So, my concern and interest in the rate of drinking problems among women hits close to home. It is my personal experiences that have inspired me to do research about this epidemic, and try to raise awareness about it's dangers.

Women are being hospitalized for alcohol-related issues at a rate of FIVE TIMES that of men. Yes, my friends, this is a WOMEN'S ISSUE.

Why are we drinking so much? What are we trying to escape? To run from? To cover up?

Why are we glorifying drunkenness?

Why do we brag about our drunken blackouts, our epic hangovers, and how much booze we were able to guzzle the night before?

Why is drinking a "hobby" for so many?

Why are we putting ourselves at risk of a number of unpleasant side effects, namely doing things we wouldn't do sober?

Why are we covering up our awesome, naturally amazing selves with poison that dulls our shine, causes us emotional instability, hormonal fluctuations, heart, liver and brain damages, and not to mention increases our cancer risks?

And why, why, why are we tearing down women who decide to not drink? As if they are "lame" or "boring"?
Why is our reaction to an informative article about how marketing influences women to drink more, "this author needs to calm down and have a glass of wine?"

Look, I don't blame those that have these automatic reactions.
We're totally brain-washed by clever marketing and drinking culture.
Furthermore, I'll never leave out the parts of my "story" where I was the drunkest person I knew. 
I was.
And it's those experiences, in contrast to a life of sobriety, that inspire me to speak out.

I know there are women out there that need to have these conversations. Because I did. And I won't shut up now, cause it's important that we raise awareness about this dangerous epidemic.

P.S. I can't be the only one who is actually enjoying motherhood and raising a child so much that I don't want to be drunk anymore?! Cause he's a better high than wine? How are people not just high off of baby laughs and snuggles?!

Big love and big glasses of sparkling water to all

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Dealing With People's Perceptions of You During Early Sobriety

I've made the choice to not drink.

Well, let me clarify. Not drink alcohol. I will still be drinking lots of water, sparkling water, the occasional Diet Coke (harder to quit than booze!!!) and vanilla soy milk in my coffee.

It's a personal decision I've made after having struggled with alcohol mis-use for close to two decades.

My longest stretch "near-sober" was when I was pregnant with my first son. Although I would have the occasional glass of wine with dinner (and usually wouldn't finish the glass), it really was the first time I had gone close to a year without any type of alcohol-induced buzz.

Fast-forward to a month after my son was born.

I had a glass of wine with dinner, once I had stopped breastfeeding.

It felt weird.

I didn't love the taste anymore, and I was hyper aware of how the wine was making my head ache and giving me a weird spinning/out of body feeling.

It didn't feel good, so I didn't have a second glass.

But then, something happened in June and July of this summer.
We had weeks of back-to-back family vacation, where copious amounts of wine and cider were available.
I fell into the "it's vacation! It's OK to have a few!" mentality.
But after a few weeks of this, I remembered, with a longing, aching feeling, the way I had blossomed when I wasn't drinking.
The pride, control and sheer happiness I felt.
The clarity.
The health benefits I enjoyed.

Unless that's pure motherfuckin' Diet Coke, get it outta my face!

I wanted that again.
I still want that.
I am sober, now, for real.

No "just one drink" or "it's the weekend" nonsense.
That shit just doesn't work for me!!!

To be honest, almost 20 years of drinking is/was enough for me.
I (hopefully) have another good 50+ years to pump out, and I don't wanna waste them being all, slurry and ridic.

 I've gotten off topic, because this post is not about what brought me to sobriety, it's about how other people don't always know what to say to sober people.

And why do soberistas have such a hard time validating their choices not to drink? It's not about the "others" it's about us!!! If we don't wanna drink, that should be totally coolio and not pose any problems to those who are drinking.

Here are some examples of what you'll hear when you say NO to a drink:

"But what about all the great wine/spirits/beer in (enter city where you're visiting/vacationing next)?" (What about it?! I would be losing more by actually drinking it than by abstaining)

"Just have one!" (ummm, no asshole, I can't)

"It's not like you're an alcoholic" (maybe not, but I have problematic drinking patterns, otherwise I wouldn't have spent so many precious hours trying to wrap my head around this unhealthy relationship that I have with booze, right?!)

"I could never give up beer/cider/wine!" (that's OK- I'm not asking you too! My choices are for me and I don't judge you for yours)

"Don't you find it hard when your husband drinks?" (No. His relationship with alcohol is his responsibility, not mine. His drinking doesn't make me feel tight-chested like my own did)

"So what do you do for fun?" (The same things that people who drink do? No drinking means that I can enjoy my body, my mind and my emotions purely and naturally. I don't have to hide away in bed on Sunday mornings, recovering from embarrassing fuzzy memories from the night before and waiting for my hormones to regulate and my blood to detox)

"Aw, you're no fun!" (I get it. You'll miss the "fun" party girl I used to be. And I really was fun. I was flirty and silly and open. I probably paid you a lot of attention, even if you were boring or lame. But guess what? I'm more fun sober. I make better jokes, I'm naturally high on life and I can still dance without booze- even if not very well)

AAAANNNNDDD big news. My book, which will be self-published by the end of 2017, will be about recovery and self-love. A lot of other anecdotes/personal stories will be included, but I know that what I need to do is write about these struggles and how I overcame them. For me, and for all of the people who have had similar experiences 

Oh, and here's something I wrote last month that I found on my phone and really like:

When you wake up and remember that you didn't drink the day before: now that's the best feeling in the world to anyone with alcohol problems.
It's a nice combination of pride, real happiness and clarity that makes the day shine bright - even if, like today, it's raining.
A natural high of real, home-grown  endorphins flooding your system saying 'this is better than the dark stuff-stick around a bit'
Patient. Calm. Grounded.
No anxiety.
It's gonna be a great day
One day at a time you CAN slay this beast.
Be a warrior for your beautiful self who is shining from the inside out, gently cradling you in security and flooding you with love.
Saying thank you.