resolution

How to drink in moderation more often.

Happy New Year!

Holy shit, it's 2017. In three more years it will be 2020. I never really gave much thought to who I'd be or what I'd do when 2017 hit but here I am living the dream, basically doing whatever I want with my life each and every day. It took a ton of work and sacrifice and sometimes I cry but it's helping me see the world and other human beings in ways I never did nor could have if I didn't go to hell and back. Hey! I'm back. It's nice to be here. 

And what am I seeing about human beings? One thing many, if not most, people struggle with is moderation. When I say that, what do you think of? Food? Alcohol? Well, great! Alcohol is what prompted this blog post. In fact, Cedar Ridge Whiskey is the sponsor of it! Thanks, guys! I'm not kidding. I contacted them with this blog post idea and they sent me free DRANKS. Woodchuck isn't a sponsor, I just love that cider and took this photo of those bottles hanging out together.

 

I had this blog idea because it's January and many people are feeling all excited about resolutions. Ok, maybe they aren't excited but at least mindful of them. And those resolutions often involve drinking less. More than once people have asked me why I never talk about alcohol and drugs in my coaching workshops and events. It's because I've never struggled with drinking in moderation. I don't use drugs at all. All the other things I talk about? YES I'VE STRUGGLED WITH THEM. And still do sometimes! Things such as:

Food (for me it's sugar)

Exercise

Relationships

Negative thoughts

Wait. You didn't know you could have an addiction to negative thoughts? Pema Chodron, my favorite teacher for the past 16 years, calls this "critical mind" about ourselves and others. And OH BOY is this one of my biggest growing edges. The harder I am on myself, I mirror that right back out to others. I may not always say it, but I think it. It's something I see and know about myself and work on every day.

Critical mind is at the root of many other addictions, including alcohol and drugs. I think addictions start with negative thoughts about ourselves or life in general. I sort of tested this theory by studying posts on facebook or listening when I'm out with people and they say, "life is shitty, CHEERS!" or "bad day, here's a picture of my wine." Many people use drinking to escape or hide on the regular and not to celebrate once in a while, in moderation. 

That's because as humans, if something uncomfortable happens, we immediately start telling ourselves stories full of cause and blame. Who did what to whom and why and how it wasn't the "right thing to do". We are often the front-and-center stars/victims of our stories. We only focus on what feels bad and how to get out of that feeling. 

Hardly ever do we consider ourselves the source of the problem AND the solution. If we did, our lives would really improve. 

Instead, we swirl about in negative thoughts and the downward spiral feels scary and gross so some people drink or use drugs to numb out from those feelings. The numbed out feeling is better than the hard feelings and they can escape the negative thoughts for a time. Drinking in excess perpetuates this escapism. Drinking in moderation means sitting with those feelings more often than is comfortable for many people.

Folks are often shocked when they ask me how often I drink. A friend recently asked if I had more than a glass of wine a night. I replied, "um. More like one glass a month." She was shocked. I admit I was shocked to hear how much she was drinking given the many responsibilities she has. I don't know how she does it.

Drinking in moderation is something that comes easy to me but maybe it's because I wasn't raised around it. I also didn't get into the partying scene in college or beyond. Maybe it's for other reasons. But like I said, I have plenty of work to do in other areas. And I can relate to the feelings. I just don't use alcohol or drugs to escape the feelings. I do different things. Sometimes I choose healthy things, sometimes I don't.

But I DO enjoy alcohol in moderation and want that for others too. It's fun to celebrate major milestones and holidays and heck, just kick back with a glass now and then. Funnily enough, I never buy red wine and ended up spilling my first glass all over my couch two weeks ago. My handy cleaning skills solved it, no worries!

So how can you practice more moderation, too? For drinking or critical mind or something else? Well, I've found it easiest to practice moderation when I tone down the perfectionist in my head. When I stop blaming other people for circumstances in my life. When I stop running the tape of ways I don't fit or measure up or compare to other people. When I stop trying to get it (life) right. When I get support from professionals like therapists or counselors. When I don't hide my faults from the world. When I exercise and drink water and practice other healthier habits I also feel better.

Which of these do you do or have you tried? Which worked? Which did you quit too quickly? And I don't think cold turkey is realistic for anyone or anything. Even this past summer when I was smoking (gasp!) I was only having one cig a day and eventually decided that was silly and stopped altogether. But it was moderation all along that helped me stop completely.

I'm going to say something bold here: I don't think there's such a thing as the disease of alcoholism. I also don't think it's true for drugs either. Or eating disorders. I've starved myself to the brink and swung way out to my highest weight and back again many times. I know why and what worked to heal it. I've also known thousands of people personally who use and/or are in recovery and I've heard many stories. One of my long-term romantic relationships ended from my partner's relapse. And I've coached hundreds of clients toward changing these things in their lives. 

I DO think all people need more of the right support and resources in their lives. I think they need to learn healthier coping skills. I think they need to nurture more self-awareness. I think they need more love. I think they need more community. I think they need to build healthier self-esteem and self-confidence. I think these things would help most people overcome the addictions that prevent them from practicing moderation in all the things.

Like or comment or share if you're on board or if you think I'm batshit crazy. Let's talk about this and get a conversation going to bring it into the light.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
— Carl Jung

Why I Pay Others for Their Time and Services (and Charge for Mine)

"I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really..I was alive."

-Walter White

So, I just finished watching Breaking Bad. The main character, Walter White, made a lot of money by cooking and selling meth instead of finishing out his last days as a struggling, high-school chemistry teacher. Whether or not you agree as to Walter's success, I was really struck by his confession in the last episode. After years of justifying his actions for the "sake of his family", he shared the truth.

amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad
amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad

Someone posted a comment on facebook the other day and it really reminded me that this post is overdue. The time to write about the exchange of money for time and services is now, as we enter a new year full of reflections on the past and possibility for the future.

Here are some things I've learned about money, the exchange of it, and the change in perspective I've had since becoming an entrepreneur.

I was sitting around the other day being grateful for the number of friends I have who do excellent things and offer great services, many of which I need for more health and happiness in my life.

I have a friend who created an excellent website for me, and we had a ton of fun doing it.

I have another friend who gives incredible massages. Like iron-out-every-kink-in-your-body type of massages.

Another friend makes excellent food. She runs a restaurant. Wait, I have a few friends in that category and I go to their places of business quite often.

My other friend is my barber.

All these people have chosen careers they love so they can pay their bills and have fun doing it. It happens that I need their services so I pay them. So they can pay their bills.

Before I really chose a career I LOVED (as opposed to doing work I was good at), I didn't really take my money or how I spent it very seriously. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks my first year into my business, when I'd been laid off from my 9-5 job. I'd been making really decent money for a non-profit gig (NP folks, I know you hear me) but I was swimming in debt, had absolutely no savings account and was living paycheck to paycheck.

You read that correctly: I was swimming in debt, had no savings and was living paycheck to paycheck.

Was it also a coincidence that my health was a mess? I had chronic sinus infections, was about 25 pounds overweight, struggled with insomnia and was generally a much more miserable person on a daily basis. After becoming a health coach, I was doing my budget one day, something I had never done before, and I realized I'd been pissing away about $700 a month that year on take-out food. 

$700. A month. For a year, possibly more.

I wasn't living a life I loved, and it was showing up in my food choices and my money choices. The total lack of self-care was apparent and it was costing me. I had money but was living with no respect for it or myself.

Four years later, I am more financially secure as an entrepreneur than when I had a regular paycheck doing work I wasn't passionate about. I loved it, don't get me wrong, and I was very good at it, but it wasn't what I was MEANT to do. I was settling. I was hiding. And so everything else in my life was a compensation for that. No amount would ever have been enough until I became more conscious of how I spent my time and what I was worth.

When I took the leap to do what I actually want to do, I experienced a shift in taking responsibility for my happiness. Was it a coincidence that my health has never been better and that I decided to come out as transgender? Not at all.

I love being a health coach and speaker. It is hard work but there is no greater satisfaction than when I take stock of the impact I've made in the lives of other people. I'm surrounded by a lot of people who are in the same boat. We respect the work and energy it takes to live our lives like this, so we pay each other so we can keep making our dream lives a reality. These are my most joy-filled friends. 

Just having money isn't making me successful. It was the decision to make it on my terms doing work I LOVE that makes me a success. That, and the freedom I feel to pay others for their time because they deserve it and the joy I experience when people pay me for mine so they can have more of what they want. We are loving our lives, we are going after the things we want, we are making the money we need to help ourselves and others live lives free of constraint and full of possibility.

Money won't create success,the freedom to make it will. -Nelson Mandela

Facebook status updates say a lot. I see many, many people who are employed and missing the joy that should come with their paycheck. I spoke with someone on Christmas eve who makes VERY decent money but reached out to a stranger, me, because she was all alone and hated her life in that moment. She feels trapped and isn't doing what she truly loves. The money is not making her feel successful.

Ask yourself what you really want to be doing and if you're using your money to help make it happen. If you don't have what you need, what are you willing to do to get it to live a life you truly love?