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.

Welcome 2019!

I spent a lot of time offline, and felt the shift in energy BIG time this week, with my daughter back at school yesterday and me with regular office hours again.

One of the tenets of Redefining Sobriety (and redefining your relationship to alcohol, to your body, to yourSELF) is that YOU get to decide your path.

Yes, YOU.

And that’s exactly why setting powerful and personal intentions is so important!!

If you’re feeling “behind” or didn’t have the mental or heart space for setting clear intentions on New Year’s, I feel you! In fact, I started writing mine on the 1st, and then didn’t really feel connected to sitting down with them again until last night!

I went and watched the sunset, then came home, lit a candle and some palo santo, and got to writing.

Apparently, this New Moon and Solar Eclipse were stirring up some stuff. It may just be that some of what you’ve experienced in the past week or so is giving you even more clarity on what you want and need in terms of boundaries, stability and creating the foundation from which you can strongly spring into this next year.

Remember, intentions GROW with the light of the moon. So, this week’s waxing moon (growing towards a full moon) is the perfect time to get clear.

However, as I mentioned in my New Year’s post, it is not enough to only set intentions.

It’s essential that you put energy and action into the intentions.

What is one small shift you can commit to for daily action and to create the discipline to go for your dreams?

A small shift I’m committing to this week is to start getting up an hour earlier and writing.

This was a practice I had committed to a few months ago and I would wake up naturally slightly before sunrise.

Over the holidays and with a change in schedule (and more late nights) I’ve been sleeping in longer and as such, have had less time for writing.

This “small” shift also tied directly to one of my bigger intentions this year, which it to become even more prolific in my writing and to publish my second book.

I’ve also committed to some BIG shifts by way of what I am focusing on work-wise - which also favour some of my bigger overall intentions of more connection and quality time.

For that reason, I am collaborating more and creating more opportunities for in-depth 1-1 AND group work, work as well as in-person events.

I have opened up a few more spots for 1-1 coaching and have a very special offer for you if you sign up this week! Please schedule a call ASAP if you are interested because once these spots are filled, I won’t be offering more 1-1 coaching for awhile.