End of summer update

Can you believe it’s almost September?

Is it just me - or has this year flown by for you as well?

I wanted to pop in here really quickly to give you the heads up that we’re planning something super special for you. 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember that every September, I host some kind of September Reset/recharge. It’s the perfect time to get back on track after the holidays, travel, and what might have been a season of relaxed intentions and possibly over-indulgence.

As I like to say, September is the new January… why wait to get aligned with your "best yes?" 

You might also be thinking about starting a Sober September month - awesome!!

I’m sure you can probably guess - but we do Sober September a little differently over here at Redefining Sobriety… You get to decide what this month means to YOU, on your own terms!!

If any of this sounds interesting to you, make sure to check your inbox early next week as I’ll be sending out the info and sign up for our FREE September Reset challenge. 

In the meantime - let’s talk about reverse engineering this last weekend of August.

Reverse engineering is a tool I use to support my clients to get clear on what they want the outcome of their weekend or even a certain night to be, and then working backward, aligning the actions that will help them follow through.

It is so powerful to get clear on the vision of how you want your evening, or weekend, to unfold.

For example, I was just encouraging a client of mine who was a little apprehensive of how this Labour Day weekend would unfold, to picture the “best-case scenario” daily and also over the weekend. I asked her to create a clear mental movie of herself during the day, socializing during their weekend waterfront getaway, then another of herself getting into bed each night and then another of how she wanted to feel sitting down to send an email to me, checking in about how the weekend went.

Based on this mental movie (which is more than just a “picture” - it actually gets inside the feeling), she can align her actions and choices with the outcome that she desires.

Another example is that I’m going to be officiating a wedding this weekend. About 10 days ago, I started having anxiety dreams about how it was all going to go. This is my first time officiating a wedding, it’s obviously a HUGE responsibility, and I’m going to be doing it in both English and Spanish.

What helped for me what to start visualizing exactly how things would go… not only the actual ceremony but the day of the wedding, the preparation, the reception, the conversations after the ceremony, the party, the Sunday morning brunch etc.

I’ve also done a bit of research and I know that in the house where the wedding party will be getting ready is stocked with coke, diet coke, sparkling water, champagne, beer, and tequila.

If I want to enjoy pre-wedding beverages while we’re getting ready, I need to bring my own. I’m planning on picking up some fancy flavors of kombucha and fresh coconut water, for both effervescence and hydration, which will help with my energy and focus leading up to the ceremony.

(If you want to know more about how to apply the Redefining Sobriety tools to a potentially booze-filled event like a wedding, make sure to follow me on Instagram where I will be going live during the day and night and sharing tips!)

I'm so excited to "see" you this weekend on Instagram and to send you more info on the reset next week!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear how you will be using reverse engineering this weekend!


Summer Update

How are you? How's your summer going so far (if you are in this hemisphere, if not, how's winter break?) Whether it's winter or summer vacation, chances are you're experiencing changes in scheduling, travel, family visits etc, which all have the potential to make daily habits and self-care a bit more challenging.

I was speaking with a client last night, and we were scheduling our sessions for the next 3 months, and as I was reviewing my calendar I mentioned - "Luna's back in school in two weeks, thank god!"

My client burst out laughing and said, "you're the first mom I've heard say that! But I feel like the other moms I know just don't feel like they can be honest about what it's like having kids home all summer."

You know me, always keeping it real with my commentary.

It's true! I'm excited for Luna to get back to school and for us to be back in a routine.

Don't get me wrong, I've had an amazing summer. Luna and I traveled around the West Coast of Canada, visiting family and friends, and I just recently returned from a work trip to Mexico City. Next week we will be traveling with another family to Oaxaca City for 5 days. However, in the midst of this, I've also maintained my client sessions and last week had to move houses (the boxes remain unpacked). We've been sleeping in different beds and in different time zones and interruptions to schedules. It can take its toll!

Despite all of this, I'm proud of how I've handled my self-care this summer and wanted to share a few things that have really helped me stay on track.

Sleep
Seems so basic but it's really easy to get off track. I've made getting enough sleep a priority which has made absolutely everything else more manageable.

Morning routines
I try as much as possible to stick to a morning routine. This isn't always easy, especially when I'm traveling, however - it makes a huge difference!! Even a reduced morning routine sends the signal that YOU are a priority and YOU matter and are worth making the effort. A sample summer (reduced) morning routine for me includes: putting my phone on airplane mode (or turn off notifications if you can't be completely unavailable), taking a few minutes in bed before waking up to set my intentions for how I want to feel during the day, journaling if possible (the daily 3 takes 5 minutes and is a great way to start your day with gratitude, celebration and connecting to your desires), water and lemon, then my supplements and then a green juice. This takes between 5 and 15 minutes and makes ALL the difference in my day! (message me if you have any question about this!)

Say YES to LESS
I don't know about you, but I used to have the tendency to pack a lot in during the summer. I wanted to do ALL the things!! I've dialed way back and focused on quality connections versus the quantity of activities. I've noticed that sometimes I need to step away before making a decision or committing to something or someone, and ask myself if this is really what I want or is in most alignment with how I want to feel this summer? It's not always easy. For example, I really wanted to be in San Diego for a training this week. I would have also had the opportunity to spend time with some incredible souls whom I love. However, being in the middle of a move and needing to have some stability for Luna and I was also really important for me/us. This also a client week and I would have had to reschedule everyone in order to travel, which I realized was causing me stress when I thought about it. Previously, I would have ignored all of these signs or not taking the time to check in (cue morning routines as a great way to do a self-inventory... it's all connected!!)

Follow the 50/50 rule if drinking alcohol
This isn't the one to one that we usually hear about (which refers to drinking one n/a beverage for every alcoholic one). This means ordering TWO drinks at the same time (one with alcohol one without) and alternating as you drink them both OR if making your own drinks, cut down the amount of alcohol by adding more of something non-alcoholic, ie making a wine spritzer instead of pouring a full glass of wine. This slows down your drinking, spaces out your alcoholic drinks and also ensures that you are hydrating. Psychologically, it also puts your non-alcoholic beverage on the same level as the alcoholic one.


Pictured on left, one of my favourite n/a spritzers made with turmeric, ginger, orange and honey (they also have a version with gin) and on the right, a summer sangria and a glass of sparkling water, which I kept adding to the sangria - both from Coastal Cookery in my hometown of Powell River)

Follow the 80/20 rule for LIFE
I was speaking with another client last night and she was sharing how she was so proud that she'd been able to ease up on herself. In the past, she would push herself super hard and also pendulum swing back and forth between work hard/play hard, and then elimination diets and no alcohol, then fall "off track" again and the cycle would continue. Now she follows what in my Nutrition School we refer to as the 80/20 rule. Following the best nutrition plan for you (taking into consideration your physiology,  digestive health, energy levels etc - it varies from person to person) for 80% of the time, and allowing yourself to ease up for the other 20% of the time by choosing the less healthy options for food and drink. If you're someone who likes to enjoy ALLLL the things that summer eating and drinking have to offer (as I do) - this can be a really great general guideline to follow. Again, let me know if you'd like more information about this!!

What are your favourite tips for the season? I'd love to hear!

I also wanted to give you the heads up that I will be opening up a few more spots for private coaching (Luna goes back to school in two weeks, yyyaaaayyy) so please set up a time for us to chat and see if it's a good fit for you. 

Once these spots fill up, I won't be taking new clients until the new year as I have a busy fall with different events planned!

So if you want to experience a powerful change NOW, get in touch!!


Brave Visibility

I was so excited when Kimra and Yasemin reached out to me to me to be on their podcast! It went live last week but because I was on vacation with my family, I was only able to share on social media (if you aren’t following yet, click the icons below to follow on Instagram and Facebook).

Brave Visibility is a platform to prioritize and de-stigmatize mental health within the entrepreneurial space. Healing any kind of trauma, loss, grief is a major step in showing up bravely.

I loved this conversation because we talked about mental health, and the social pressures to drink, and the importance of really understanding the “need” underneath the desire to drink. We talk about how you can reframe what sobriety means to you and how you can give yourself permission to take breaks from alcohol to transform your relationship with yourself.

Last week I was on vacation with my family and also my computer started shutting down randomly and today won’t start at all (I think it wants me to stay on vacation ;) so this update is short and sweet because I’m currently using my mom’s iPad to type this.

Since I’ve been home in Canada for my annual summer visit, I have had the opportunity to reflect a bit on what it means to be authentic and brave and VISIBLE. I forget sometimes that people here read my blog or follow what I’m up to on Facebook. So there’s been a few instances where I’ve shown up a people’s houses, or my friend’s restaurant, or an impromptu boat tour, and I’m immediately offered a selection of non-alcoholic drinks. I appreciate it and it allows me to then decide without any awkwardness what I want to drink and if I want it to have alcohol or not.

This is a very different experience than what happened to one of my clients recently. She was on vacation with her mom and a close friend (amongst others) and she didn’t let anyone know about her intentions or the fact that she was trying to drink less. She went over the limit she had set for herself and ended up feeling really bad physically and also disappointed by her choices.

The thing is, learning new behaviour and habits is challenging and we will often default to what feels comfortable and familiar. That’s where the BRAVERY comes in! It’s brave to share about making changes, it’s brave to have those conversations and let others know your intentions. It doesn’t mean you need to start a blog or broadcast all over social media like I do, however, choosing one or two people you can speak to about the changes you hope to make and articulating your intentions to someone else will really help you choose the new behaviour over the old one.

Remember, the people that really care about you want to support you. Be specific in your requests, and make it about YOU and not them (ie no judgement if they don’t want to change their own drinking).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the podcast or one way you can show up bravely for yourself this week.


Summer lovin' and find your happy

Summer’s in full swing! (Unless you are one of my Australian/NZ readers, in which case I hope you’re having an amazing winter break!)

Either way, I hope this season brings some time for yourself, to slow down and, be present and connect.

If you do find yourself with a bit of extra time, I wanted to share my latest article with you: Is dating better without the booze? We asked the experts. 

I was super excited when my editor from Mind Body Green reached out to me with this as a story idea. Whether you are currently single and dating, or not, I believe this article is really important.

Why?

Because it talks about something we all crave but often struggle with - authentic connection. So whether that’s connecting on a date, or connecting in any social environment, or at work function, many of the principles are the same.

Being asked to contribute to this article also gave me the nudge I needed to finally ignite a project that has been on the back burner for a while, so to speak.

Can you guess which one of the chapters of my book has been the most popular?

Chapter 8!! The one all about sober dating and sober SEX. Many people have told me they’d like to see this chapter turn into an entire book!

So my dear - things are aligning for this desire to come to fruition.

Of course - I’d love to hear from YOU - if you could have any question answered, on the topic of dating, sex, relationships, communicating with your partner, etc etc... What would it be?

In other news, I had an incredible conversation awhile back with Veronica Ebu-Isaac, for her podcast Live Your Happy. Then, with the end of school year activities and getting ready to move houses and countries for the summer, I forgot to share it with you!

The overall theme of the conversation is about finding your own path (apt for what we do here at Redefining Sobriety, of course) but we covered a whole bunch, including:

How can you choose what works for you regardless of others expectations?

What does it mean to re-define sobriety?

What powerful question can help you let go of what happened in the past?

What is radical self-care/self-love and how can you practically apply it to your life?

What magical universe would I like to create for my young daughter Luna?

What is my special mantra this year?

And more!!

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this special podcast!

Finally, I thought I'd share an article that I wrote a couple of summers ago titled 7 easy ways to keep your summer boozing in check. The title is pretty self-explanatory so I'll leave you with that - but I'd love to hear which tip you'll be implementing or if there's another strategy that you'd like to share!


Ghosting and facing fear

I wanted to share something that I haven't written about before, and you'll understand why in a minute. This isn't about making anyone wrong, to the contrary, I hope this is useful for you and can help you understand yourself more (which is always my intention with this newsletter!)

I get ghosted!

If you’re not familiar with the terms ghosted, it refers to a phenomenon that has become more common during this era of online dating (and online communications in general). According to Wikipedia, the term first made its way into popular vernacular in 2011 and refers to "disappearing from someone’s life mysteriously and without explanation."

While it’s typically referred used in reference to online dating and romantic relationships, ghosting can happen in any type of relationship.

Fun fact about me - I’ve NEVER had an online dating profile nor have I dated online (and gratefully I’ve never been stood up on a date IRL) - so no, this isn’t what this newsletter is about.

The ghosting I’m referring to is what happens when someone reaches out to me, we have an hour-long conversation and sometimes a follow-up conversation, and usually multiple email exchanges. The person is excited and inspired to make a big change in their life, and wants to sign up for private coaching, and then… poof. They disappear.

Ghosted.

Thankfully, I understand this disappearing act and don’t take it personally. At all.

As Jennice Vilhauer writes in Psychology Today, people who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort.

I know this.

I know that it is a form of self-protection, because of… fear.

I’ve also spent years studying psychology and neuro-transformation and I know that fear is quite literally a mindf**k…

In my last newsletter, I introduced this topic because it is so important and such a common theme for people who are trying to make a change around their drinking (or any big change).

And while I can listen to someone share their hopes and dreams and visions for themselves and believe wholeheartedly in the change I know they are capable of making… I’m not the one feeling as though I’m risking everything by changing my relationship to alcohol (though I was, at one time, more on that later).

Our brains don’t like change. Remember- this is our biological imperative. Our primitive brains cause us to fear change because it could equal danger. And our survival instinct would rather bet on the possibility that we are avoiding danger rather than avoiding something that is beneficial.

Our fear invents a story of deprivation and loss… to do so, we look for evidence of all the things that could go wrong: The time we tried and failed... The time we made a change and it resulted in a fight with our partner... The discomfort of trying something new and feeling awkward…

This is called a negative confirmation bias.

This is fear trying to keep you the same. Remember, it is just doing its job.

Trying to keep you safe!

And remember - what could pretty much guarantee our ancestors safety during tribal times?

Being a part of the tribe!!

We crave connection (love) and security… and we need it to survive!!

That’s why these changes and the fear associated feel like such a big deal.

Because while on the surface it might feel like fearing rejection or having a disagreement with our partner over plans for a Friday night, but on a deeper level, our brains and nervous system experiences this fear of rejection or loss of love as a potential threat to survival.

Understanding this, and being compassionate with ourselves (and our fear) is critical for making any kind of significant change.

So, have you avoided something or someone because of fear?

If so - go easy on yourself.

You can even take it a step further and forgive yourself!

The last thing you need is to pile on more shame and self-criticism.

What you can do is try to understand what made you so afraid, and to give yourself what you need in order to grow and do differently next time.

If you are trying to make a big change - KNOW that resistance is normal!

Also, know that this is exactly why coaching exists.

Facing our fears and making a big change isn’t easy... that’s why loving, supportive accountability can make all the difference.

So let’s connect. This week is International Health Coach week and yes, I'm a certified Holistic Health Coach.

To celebrate, I’ve opened up more time in my calendar this week and next.

In addition to everything related to neuro-transformation (which I'm also certified in), positive psychology, and reducing the harms associated with alcohol and drugs (also my career for 12 years before becoming a coach)... I can support you with everything from nutrition to sleep to anxiety to healthier habits...  and guess what? IT'S ALL CONNECTED!!

REACH OUT.

And if we’ve been in touch before, I want to hear from you again!!

Yep, that’s right, face that fear.

Instead of feeding it with isolation and shame, shower it with love, connection, and compassion!!  (If you’re feeling lacking in that department, there’s another reason for us to talk! My cup overfloweth right now and I can pour love and compassion into you even when you’re not feeling it for yourself).

Use this link to set up a call!

I can’t wait to speak to you!!


Mid-Day Cocktails And Memorial Day

I flew to Mexico City last weekend for a medical appointment, to do some errands and enjoy a few child-free days before a long stint of mostly single parenting. Tuesday, which was the last day there, felt almost like a vacation day. I arrived Saturday night, both Sunday and Monday morning were filled appointments and errands, and I worked Monday afternoon.

We had "nothing to do" until our evening flight, and so we spent Tuesday morning at my favorite bakery then wandering the streets of La Roma Norte, one of my favorite neighborhoods, poking around bookstores and galleries and laneways filled with interesting stores.

By early afternoon, it was getting hot, and my companion spotted some delicious looking fruit piled on a bar counter across the street. We quickly decided now was the time for a refreshing drink and beelined for the street-side bar stools.

We ordered “aguas frescas” which quickly quenched our thirst. As we sat there, we realized we had happened upon a restaurant that was named one of the best new restaurants in Mexico City, but that hadn’t had any tables available the evening we tried to make reservations.

As we sat at the bar for what appeared to be the lunchtime rush, we watched the bartender whip up amazing concoctions, both with and without alcohol. I perused the cocktail menu out of curiosity and didn’t see anything that jumped out at me for that time of day. The bartender saw me looking and asked what I wanted. I said something not-too-sweet and not-too-strong as I don’t usually day drink. He asked if he could try out a new cocktail on me, and I said okay.

I watched as he chilled the glass, squeezed fresh orange juice, muddled pineapple, mixed in a little cinnamon infused syrup, and shake with a light pour of gin and Aperol. He then charred a cinnamon stick before stirring it into the drink.

It was an expertly made cocktail and it was delicious. Not only that, I could have sat there smelling it all day. My partner, who doesn’t usually order cocktails, was inspired to order one as well and had another (different) custom-made cocktail with his favorite ingredients.

We then decided to order some appies and salad, and ended up each ordering one more drink.

This is the kind of afternoon many of my clients dream of when they first contact me - but it often feels like a faraway somewhat impossible dream that they don’t quite dare have - lest it never becomes reality.

I get it.

6 years ago, those two afternoon cocktails (which likely would have been at least three at the restaurant) would have led to another drink or two at the apartment we were staying at (there was literally a top shelf of excellent quality alcohol that we had access to and hadn’t touched a drop of all weekend)- instead he had coffee and I had water when we got back to the apartment.

It would have meant a frantic dash around the apartment and scrambling to get the airport, wondering if I’d forgotten anything (I likely would have) and then hoping to get to the airport on time for another drink at the bar - instead, he bought a bottle of water and I found a cafe and ordered a matcha latte.

It would have meant drinks ON the airplane even though it’s only an hour long flight and possibly keeping the party going once we got home since I didn’t have any responsibilities until 9 am the next day… and once upon a time, it might have even meant shirking or showing up late for those responsibilities, or at the very least, having to slog my way through a hangover to accomplish anything.

Instead, I felt great, hydrated, unpacked, washed my face, had an amazing night’s sleep, and woke up feeling refreshed and also celebrating the fun and spontaneous last afternoon we’d had in the city.

It hit me.

THIS is why I did all of that work! This is part of the vision I had for myself, 6+ years ago. Why I wanted to REDEFINE my relationship to alcohol - not eliminate it completely.

Sitting sipping craft cocktails, chatting with the bartender and my partner, learning about a new brand of natural fruit juice sparkling drinks as the provider did a demo for the GM of the restaurant, sampling new foods and a new line of fruit-infused sparkling waters made locally. I learned about jocoque, a Lebanese dip that apparently became quite popular in Mexico due to the large Lebanese population. I knew none of this history and the combination of fried baby artichoke hearts and jocoque was amazing (see pic below).

Did I “need” to drink alcohol to experience all of those things? Of course not. I could have had a similar experience by asking the bartender to make me craft mocktails (which I have done in other places in the past). But I loved this particular experience and was grateful for it. It felt like a treat and also an affirmation of where I’m at right now and how far I’ve come.

I had consultation calls with three women last week who thought they needed to go completely alcohol-free. Because they were afraid. Because they thought that was the only option for them as “problematic drinkers.” Because they had tried to moderate before and “failed.”

And yet they were facing extreme resistance to making a change because they didn’t want to cut alcohol out of their lives completely.

More importantly, there was a little intuitive voice saying to them - there is another way!

When we can moderate in some circumstances and not others, our inner wise woman knows that total abstinence must not be the only option for us. So we face resistance to making a change because we think that it means no alcohol forever or choosing something that isn't in total alignment with what we actually want for ourselves. (Let me be clear, I’m all for total abstinence if that is what your inner wise woman wants. However, I don’t think any decision should be driven by fear or lack of options.)

These three conversations reminded me so much of where I was at 6 years ago. I knew I needed to make a change. I knew I was having a really hard time controlling my alcohol use in certain situations. Yet I also knew that I didn’t have a physical dependency. I knew that my alcohol use wasn’t always out of control… but that there were certain situations that were the “recipe for disaster.”

That’s where the real work really began. Understanding the difference. Learning about what needs alcohol was fulfilling. Exploring how to meet those needs in other ways. Digging deep and healing the part of ourselves that feel “less than” and that we need alcohol to be a certain way.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this article, coming next week.

As always, I'd love to hear from you!! Do you feel fear/resistance around making a change? Is your intuition telling you one thing but the people around you/dominant culture/status quo (or your fear) limiting your options?

I'll do my best to address your comments, questions, and concerns in the next installment!

For now, if you're celebrating the beginning of summer and/or Memorial Day in the USA, or just want some inspiration, here are three of my favorite mocktail recipes (with amazing health benefits!!)


Mother's Day 2019

On Friday it was Mother’s day here in Mexico, and yesterday it was celebrated in Canada and the USA.

At the beginning of last week, I spent 3 intensive days in a healing retreat with 7 other women (8 of us total). The healer/guide was from Spain, and the participants were from Mexico, Italy, Canada, and the US. The focus was on healing the heart-uterus connection, and it was probably the most profound and insightful healing process I’ve ever experienced over such a short period of time. We held space and held each other as we healed years of residual pain/trauma/fear/abuse, release unfelt and unexpressed anger, and forgiving ourselves.

As I mentioned in my last email, I’ve been healing from some serious health issues, one of which is an infection in my uterus. Ever since being pregnant, which was high risk and stressful with multiple stays in the hospital and ended in an emergency cesarian at 33 weeks, I’ve had a slow journey back into loving myself wholly.

My recent retreat experience once again affirmed for me the importance of coming together as women. It was also very timely, with the impending celebration of Mother’s Day in various countries of those participating.

We were an interesting group, not only in our diversity from countries represented, languages spoken and life experience but also in our relationship to having children. Some were mothers by choice, others by accident, another by force, and others not mothers not by choice (ie they wanted to have kids and hadn’t been able to have them yet) and one without child on-purpose.

What was fascinating to me was that after one of the visualization sessions and debriefs, the childless on-purpose person, a woman from Italy, exclaimed, I just realized something - “it’s really true what they say - we [women] are ALL mothers!”

You would be hard pressed to find a woman who isn’t or hasn’t been some kind of caregiver at some point in her life, therefore embodying the “mother” archetype even if she doesn’t have any of her own biological children.

It is in that vein that I am sending this love note and a gentle reminder- to all the caregivers and mothers.

Feeling the responsibility of looking after another life is tiring. It doesn’t matter how much we love it or whether we chose this life, being a caregiver requires energy.

This is why it is CRITICAL to commit to our own self-care.

WHY is this so important? Because when we push ourselves aside and don’t make ourselves a priority THROUGHOUT the day and week, one of two things happens. Either we consistently numb out from the pain of self-denial, or we have a blow out because we are looking for escape, permission to turn off/shut down/or need a “reward” for our good behaviour of being good and taking care of everyone else all of the time.

When we are not consciously and consistently making sure our own needs are being met, we are more likely to reach for or resort to the try-and-true and often unconscious choice of alcohol, food, or some other habitual form of numbing out.

Does this sound familiar << Test First Name >>?

A theme that came up recently amongst my clients was how self-care sometimes feels selfish.

During one of our group coaching calls, it was inspiring to hear my co-coach Matthew encouraging us as women to shift the story from self-care being selfish to selfFULL.

Here are some examples that clients have committed to this past week: (names changed to protect privacy)

- Robin is going to be loud and proud about how good things are. Her training has been to shrink and downplay her accomplishment or adventures. As a mama of 3 and successful entrepreneur, she’s decided to step fully into celebration mode after a recent divorce and separation from her husband of 18 years.

- Lara’s husband often comes home from a stressful and demanding day at work resistant to connect and needing alone time. Lara, on the other hand, has spent the entire day at home and is longing for connection. She has committed to asking for a connecting hug and kiss hello from her husband before he retreats.

- Megan is going to YES to annual company concert that she’s wanted to go to for years but hasn’t because she didn’t want to leave her daughters (who are now 6 and 9)

- I committed to a three-day healing retreat last week and then traveled to Mexico City this past weekend to meet with another healer and do some "me things" in the city. I did have some "mom guilt" come up - should I be away twice in one week? But ultimately, I am healing myself and prioritizing myself and I haven't really done that in a long time, and I KNOW that this is necessary to continue with both my work as a parent and coach.

Other examples include:

  • Getting up 30 minutes earlier to prioritize self before taking care of the family needs
  • Stocking the fridge and pantry with healthy and tasty treats to indulge in after a long day (because you DO deserve it)
  • Doing something mid-week that you would usually reserve for the weekend

I can promise you something. When you start to take more control of your own well-being, of taking breaks, of treating yourself, of meeting your own needs, of clearly communicating to those around you how they can support you or what your boundaries, you are much less dependant on others to meet your needs or become mind-readers to somehow know what it is that you want or need. Which also means that there is less room for disappointment and frustration.

So tell me << Test First Name >> how do you commit to being more self-FULL?

What is one shift that you can commit to this month?

I know that Mother's Day can come with a whole mix of emotions. Be gentle with yourself.

Remember - you are LOVED!! You have support. By being here, you are connected with a sisterhood of other women committing to ourselves and by doing so, each other. This is no small thing. There IS strength as we collectively shift and stretch and grow.

 


An Update - What I've been up to!

“There’s so much to write about that I’m having a hard time narrowing it down.”

Those are the words that I typed to a friend this past weekend.

She asked what I was doing, and I replied that I was sitting on the patio, writing. She asked if I was writing a blog post and I said no, I’m writing copy for a new retreat launching soon (more details in the coming weeks).

Her nudge helped me set aside the time to sit down and write to you.

Truth be told, I’ve really enjoyed the break from being online and feeling the need to be connecting online all of the time. 5 years in my business and equally as long on this journey of redefining sobriety for myself, I needed an opportunity just to “BE” with myself and my life and my healing and growth without having to figure out how to process it or share it.

(I was able to release myself from the "shoulds" of how often I should be posting, what I should be writing about, which social media channels I should be posting on... there are so many shoulds that consume us online service providers!)

Through the fall/last quarter of the year, I was also DEEEEEEP healing around sexual trauma that I experienced in my teens and early adult years, while at the same time working to heal my co-dependency and finally learning how to truly be on my own. I was writing a lot about what I was going through, writing almost every day, but it felt (and still does) too personal to share.

That being said, I think about you and my community a lot! While I haven’t been as active online, I’ve had the opportunity to continue working with some incredible people, privately and in groups, so believe it or not, the work continues whether or not I’m sharing about it online ;)

Here’s the brief summary of what I’ve been up to since the new year:

In January, I mostly focused on friends/family and two fundraisers for my daughter’s school, as well as a writing an organizational review for the non-profit I founded 10+ years ago and for whom I still serve on the board of directors (if you’re curious about that work,you can check out Youth RISE here!)

February was the month of LOVE and I organized another fundraiser/Valentine’s day party, practiced a lot of loving myself through the beginning of some health challenges (I’ll share more about this at a future date), and co-hosted the Sensual Alchemy Retreat with Tatiana Dellepiane, which was powerful and transformative beyond words.

In March, I curated and helped host another retreat for my friend Chantelle Adams. It was a super fun, very creative experience, and I was so grateful to have been able to support this group of incredible entrepreneurs to show up and be of service through their business.

My amazing collaborator and co-coach Matthew Hayes and I started our second round of The Discovery Room, an intimate group coaching experience where we support participants to make a BIG shift in their lives, quickly.

Through the first 3 months of the year, I also welcomed 5 new incredibly aligned clients into my private practice and felt deep gratitude that these women found me on the internet and decided to change their lives through diving deep into the work with me.

You might be aware that last year I bought land, 30 minutes southwest of where I live now in Mexico, in a tiny town called Puertecito. The goal is to build a wellness/retreat center, and in the past few months and with the help of my incredible client turned friend turned business partner, we began working on the incorporation and development of our corporation (first step to being able to have land ownership and run a business here) here in a more dedicated and focused way.

All of this was happening and then mid-march, I got sick. Really sick. And have spent the past month slowly recovering. Not being able to get out of bed, having to ask for help with my daughter, re-evaluating my work-load and priorities, have all been humbling experiences. I also plan on sharing more about this soon too :)

So that’s the quick and dirty update. Each one of these topics could have been expanded into its own blog, and maybe they will.

I’ve set another intention for myself to write every day for the next 30 day, and I would love to hear - what would you like to read about? Are there things that you are curious about?

I’ve also started a list of topics that have come up recently in private sessions and group work, and I’m considering writing more about. Here’s what I have so far:

  • The purpose of triggers and how they can help you
  • The fact that you can’t selectively numb (if you numb/push away the pain, you’re also pushing away the love and joy)
  • Noticing the old stories and consciously choosing to write a new one
  • How to stop being so damn hard on yourself
  • Understanding your unconscious motivations (basic fear/avoidance, basic desire) and what they have to do with your choices around alcohol
  • Why changing your relationship to alcohol is just the tip of the iceberg

Which speaks to you? Which topic would be most helpful to you right now?

With love and a ton of gratitude,


Valentine's Day

It's "that" time of year again when a certain Hallmark holiday rolls around. Yes, the one that is potentially really triggering whether or not you are partnered.

I wanted to pop in here real quick to remind you about how loveable you are. How deserving of love you are. How perfect you are. How proud of you I am! (because you're here, you're doing the work, you've shown up - you're reading this email!)

I was interviewed for a podcast a couple of days ago and we spoke a lot about the concept of Radical Self Love. Because really truly loving ourselves for exactly who we are IS radical. It's something not many of us are taught.
It takes practice.
It takes intention.
It takes showing up.

Sometimes, it requires having friends and supporters around us to remind us when we forget or feel like we've somehow F-up again.

Sometimes, Radical Self-Love is about what we do for ourselves (ie Radical Self Care) because connecting with that feeling of self-love can be hard sometimes... so we commit to actions and rituals to SHOW our love for ourselves.

What are some examples?

Well, of course, drinking less or not at all.
Taking good care of your body.
Getting enough sleep.
Moving in ways that feel gooooood for your body and not like punishment.
Giving yourself permission.
Setting clear boundaries.
Communicating honestly.
Alone time.
Morning and/or evening practices.
Connecting with your desires and honouring them by writing them down.

Which of these self-care/self-loving practices do you want to recommit to?

What can you DO for yourself today to SHOW yourself LOVE?

Just over a week ago I was sitting with a friend and we slipped into complaining and feeling ambivalent about Valentine's Day and the options available to us.

Gratefully, we were able to switch gears and turn our frustration into fuel to create the exact experience that we wanted. So today I'll be celebrating with fresh juices, and mocktails and we've created love-themed cocktails though I've set my intention not to drink at all, and tasty healthy treats, and my favourite local band and dj, and a dance party and pool party with all of my favourite people and raising money for a good cause (the vets who provide free sterilization and education campaigns for street dogs and low-income folks in our community to get their pets fixed or to receive medical attention). Basically, most of the things I love doing all packed into one evening.

Now, I'm not saying that YOU need to go out and become an event planner ;) however, I am sharing this example of how getting clear on your desires and taking action can be a form of loving yourself AND being proactive about getting your needs met.

Also, if you're feeling really down - altruism has been shown to activate the same part of your brain that receives pleasure from social attachment and bonding - so get out there and be of service if you're feeling low about your relationship status this year (again, that goes for whether or not you're in a relationship!)

Something I love about where I live in Mexico is that the 14th is celebrated as "El dia del amor y la amistad" = the day of love AND friendship.

I will definitely be taking time today to let me friends know how much they mean to me because really, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the incredible, strong, intuitive, open-minded and hearted, inspiring humans who have repeatedly shown up for me and loved me even when I was having a hard time loving myself.

On that note, sending YOU lots of love and endless gratitude for being here.


10 Year Challenge

You may have seen, or already participated in, the “10-year challenge” that is circulating on social media (or what may have started as the #HowHardDidAgingHitYou challenge which thankfully was re-dubbed the “#GlowUp” or 10 years later challenge).

I hesitated posting about “10 years ago me” … and NOT because ageing “hit me hard.”

I definitely, proudly and gratefully fall into the “Glow up” camp - ageing has been good to me in so many ways.

And that’s exactly what it was hard to look back.

I have very few public photos of that time of my life. When I scrolled through my Facebook albums last night (many of which I now have set to private so that only I can see them), I noticed two distinctly different sets of photos.

There were the “look at me doing my global consultant thang” photos of me overachieving (and yes, doing important work) around the world as a human rights and public health advocate and policy consultant.

And then there are the photos of my partying around the world.

You can guess which ones are set to private.

What I find interesting is that at the time, I didn’t realize I was living this double life that was so drastically different. I was just me. Just as being plagued by anxiety, and eventually insomnia, dealing with stress-related acne and skin problems, living in chaos and drama, and never feeling like I was doing or being enough (whether that was in a conference room or on the dance floor) was “just me.”

I had also forgotten that I had made those albums private. I guess at one point early in my healing journey I had wanted to distance myself from that version of me.

Now, I’m loving and accepting of that woman I was 10 years ago. I have a lot more compassion and understanding of her, though I’m a lot happier inside the woman I am today.

And for those reasons, I decided to jump into this retrospective. Here's my 2009-2019. The picture on the far left was my profile picture for part of 2009. The picture on the right is one my most recent pictures that I truly feel represents how I feel right now, heading into 2019.

10 years ago I had a tough exterior. This was the protection I had used since I was a teen. Nobody knew how much pain 10 years ago me was living with, much less myself.

10 years ago, I was what you might have described as “overtly sexual.” I used my sexuality as a tool, for approval and validation, for (what I thought was) connection, for escape.

10 years ago, you would have seen me clutching a drink, as I was in one of the pictures from the series of pictures that evening in 2009.

I remember the morning after the night shown here more vividly than I remember the evening (the pictures help me piece it together but I can’t tell you where we were or what music we were dancing to).

I had to catch a flight the morning after this photo was taken (ok realistically, probably a few hours after this photo was taken)

I’m sure you can probably guess what comes next.

Yep, missed the flight. I remember pulling myself out of a murky sleep and through the hangover fog and realizing that the time on the clock was the time I was supposed to be checking into my flight. And I was faaaarrr from the airport.

My life was fairly chaotic and always a whirlwind, this particular morning was no exception.

(I thought of it as a whirlwind; my youngest sister described me as a hurricane.)

10 years ago, I was receiving accolades in my work, was travelling internationally and getting ready to move to Cambodia, where I would spend the next couple of years working throughout South East Asia.

10 years ago, I hadn’t reached my lowest point yet. I had taken a 1.5 years off of alcohol and drugs slightly prior to this photo being taken. But that was it, just a break. Not really doing the inner work necessary to make any kind of sustainable inner shift.

It would be a year or two after this picture was taken that I crashed.

I was drinking myself to sleep every night, and combining alcohol with a dangerous mix of sleeping pills, and blacking out from binge drinking almost every weekend. I was also using sex as an escape, heartbroken after my marriage was dissolving and hellbent on keeping the loneliness and feelings of brokenness and unworthiness far far away from me.

In the past 5 +  years of redefining my relationship to alcohol (and other drugs), I’ve also been redefining my relationship to my body, to my sexuality, to work, to “accomplishing,” to all the things I used to numb and distract myself … from myself.

This past year, I went particularly deep, and actually reached a new low point. Yet this low point was different. This was really going deep, intentionally. Deep into the pain and trauma that I had been hiding from for a lifetime. It was raw, at times anxiety-fuelled, and so real.

This past year has been one of the most empowering and transformative years and I am so grateful.

I know now that I am softer, calmer, much more grounded and self-loving… I feel like I’ve reached the place where I know can say “oohhhh so THIS is what they were talking about.” I get it now… not intellectually so that I can fake being it, but I’m actually embodying it, without having to think about it.

A deep knowing in my soul, comfort with my choices, a less-shakeable belief in my worth (still not completely unshakeable but I don’t know if that’s possible).

One of the things that has caused such tremendous growth and healing possibility has been my work in neuro-transformational coaching. I have been a student and also a participant in several programs, and the results are what I was seeking in years and years of therapy.

I'd also love to hear - have you participated in the 10 year challenge? How did it feel for you? If you're comfortable and would like to share, I'd love to see your before and after.