3 things you can do when you're feeling sad

Hello,

I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, “For the same reason I laugh so often, because I’m paying attention.” - Glennon Doyle

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll know that this past week I was feeling really sad. The news of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committing suicide and leaving behind young daughters - hit me hard.

Seeing countless follow up posts about friends and acquaintances who were also struggling with mental health, or who had lost someone, really brought home how much we are struggling collectively - in a culture that is making us sick and isolated… and is literally killing some of us. There are some weeks, like last week, where we come face to face with that reality, and I don’t know about you caitlin, I’m left reeling and wondering “Am I doing enough? How can we change this?”

***

A week ago today, on Friday afternoon, in a freak accident, a young construction worker was electrocuted and died on the roof directly in front of my house here in Mexico.

In an instant, so many lives were changed forever.

My friend who heard the cries and saw it go down from her balcony, and called for help.

My other two friends who rushed down from their third-floor apartment ran across the street and up three floors where one performed CPR and the other held the young man's head and prayed and talked to him as his spirit left his body.

The young man's older brother, who was the head of the construction crew and watched his younger brother die.

The neighbour's/owners of the construction site, one of whom was also electrocuted and rushed to the hospital where he remains under observation.

The staff of our hotel, who have been friends with the family for years, one of whom was hanging out on the rooftop during a break, just minutes before the accident.

And of course, the rest young man's family... including wife and 9-month-old baby, and his parents who had to say goodbye to their child.

The grief and shock around were palpable over the weekend. The building site directly across from my patio remains eerily silent and it is impossible not to think about what happened every time I look out my window, as I did numerous times a day.

***

And then on Saturday, I had a consultation call with a guy I had known from elementary and middle school. My initial consultations are usually 45 mins to an hour, and we talked for twice as long.

While a lot of our conversation centred around his experiences, we also talked about mine.

We talked about how we had learned to survive trauma and the culture of extreme and violent toxic masculinity that we grew up with... He became a hockey player, used alcohol to numb and aggression as an outlet for his pain. Though he was a few years younger than the perpetrators of the abuse I experienced, he literally became "that guy" I had to protect myself from.

I held space for him to cry and I could feel him sobbing from across an entire continent.

The conversation brought up a lot for me, it literally so close to home.

I felt deeply sad after. I sat in my office and cried.

I cried tears for the children in both of us, longing to be held and comforted and loved unconditionally.

I wept for the teenagers in both of us, who grasped at all we knew to survive and both resorted to defiantly fighting/fucking our way out... and the resulting, protective shell so thick it is taking years to chip away.

For us as adults and parents, trying so hard to heal and learn to love ourselves so that we can show our kids how to be whole.

***

The layers of sadness felt like a cloud around and inside of me... clouding my ability to think clearly (I kept forgetting things) or move quickly.

I went to see Ocean's 8 on Saturday and was entertained for a couple of hours and yet as soon as I got home, the cloud returned.

I went out dancing for a couple of hours that night and had my moments of joy, but then the sadness would well up in my eyes and my friend/dance partner kept saying "animoCata" ... I felt the old familiar urge to numb/escape creep back. I took myself home and cried instead.

***

I'm paying attention.

I'm refusing to turn away.

I'm also releasing the sense that there is something "wrong" with me when I can't "get over it" or when I feel so deeply

I've felt distracted and can't really concentrate

And I know that this is okay

It's okay for me to be with sadness

It's okay if it takes time

I'd rather be "too sensitive" than tuned out

Learning to show up as I am and truly BE has been one of the hardest and also most beautiful gifts of my life.

***

What can you do if you’re feeling sad?

Be honest:

One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is to be honest about what’s going on. I used to put on a smiley face to try to convince everyone including myself that “EVERYTHING IS FINE” - when of course, it wasn’t.

It still feels unfamiliar to me to answer the question “how are you?” honestly.

Here’s an example of a conversation with a friend on Monday (over text message):

Friend: “How are you?”

Me: “I’m actually really sad right now.”

Friend: 'How come?”

Me: “I’m not sure. Everything. It feels like a lot right now.”

Friend: “What can I do to help?”

Me: “I don’t know… I think I just need to be sad. Keep checking in… give me a hug later?”

Then I posted on Facebook about feeling sad. It was really hard for me to do this, as is sharing this blog. After putting on a mask for so many years, it’s still hard to take it off sometimes, even with practice.

Give yourself time:

I’ve come to realize more and more that the only way out is through. As you saw from my attempts to distract myself from my sadness on Saturday, it didn’t really work. Going to the movie and then out dancing was a temporary escape, however, what I really needed was to give myself the time to experience the range of emotions … and to have a fully embodied experience of my grief and sadness. This took a few days, days where I tried to slow right down and take the non-essentials off of my “to-do” list. If this isn’t possible, for example, you are a caretaker and have to go to your 9-5 job and just aren’t able to turn inward, it’s okay… Be patient and gentle with yourself and know that it might take a little bit more time to work through you.

Support:

It can be really hard to reach out for support when you are feeling sad, and even more so when you are depressed. That’s why I advocate setting up a support system when things “aren’t so bad.”

I have a world-class team of support: an incredibly skilled holistic therapist whom I see every two weeks (currently repeating in my calendar “forever” lol), two coaches, my mastermind sisters, several colleagues who truly understand the unique challenges of being an entrepreneur, friends with whom I can be raw and real, family...

If you've been feeling sad, lonely, isolated, overwhelmed, paralyzed, wanting to tune out or numb... Let's talk. I know it can be hard to reach out but I promise you will feel better when you do. Together, we are stronger. Sometimes, speaking with someone can help you see options that aren't obvious when you're "deep in it." I would love to connect. Click here to set up a time. 

Hugs,

xoxo


How to eliminate the "shoulds" in Redefining Your Relationship to alcohol

Hi!!

How are you?

A couple of weeks ago in the Redefining Sobriety Immersion program we covered the topic of “releasing shoulds.”

This theme is so important that we dedicate an entire week to it!! It provides the basis for what makes Redefining Sobriety so powerful… eliminating the external noise and stories that don’t belong to us, to get clear on and listen to our intuition.

There are a lot of "should" when it comes to redefining our relationship to alcohol:

  • I “should” quit drinking if I have a problem
  • I “should” want to be sober if I’ve struggled with alcohol
  • I “should” be better
  • I “should” be farther along in my healing
  • I “should” do what my family wants
  • I “should” keep drinking because I’m not an alcoholic and my friends/spouse/family doesn’t think it’s a problem...

In Redefining Sobriety, we learn to get quiet and eliminate the “shoulds” that don’t belong to us. 

You can try this too!

Try writing a list of everything you think you “should” be doing.

Once you’ve written a comprehensive list, get quiet with yourself. As you read over the list, you may ask yourself “whose should is this?” Or, “whose story is this?”

Start crossing anything off of the list that doesn’t belong to you.

It’s entirely up to you to decide your story moving forward.

Another reframe is switching to the words “I could” which helps you feel like it’s an option rather than an obligation, or “I can” which becomes a more empowering statement.

During one of our group coaching calls, I shared how “shoulds” have shown up for me in interesting ways since launching my business.

Of course, there’s some of the obvious "shoulds" that come up when we compare ourselves to other entrepreneurs or coaches.

But something interesting started showing up for me recently as I compared myself to the “sober coaches” out there.

There’s a really incredible community of women out there who championing alcohol-free living. They are bloggers and coaches and writers and podcasters and many share super inspiring and powerful content. I’ve interviewed some of them of my summit and have been interviewed on some of their podcasts.

I noticed a question starting to wiggle its way into my consciousness.

Should I be completely alcohol free? 

Many of these women have stories very similar to mine.

They don’t identify as alcoholics.

They don’t necessarily feel at home in programs like AA.

They are finding alternative paths to recovery and that’s part of what inspires me.

Yet, the difference is that they chose to completely abstain from alcohol.

It started feeling to me to that they are part of this cool club that I wasn’t really allowed in because I still drink.

And that was triggering a deeply imbedded high school era desire to be invite to the popular parties and to fit in.

I started to doubt my decision, my path…

Imagine that - my entire coaching practice was built around providing my community and clients with the options to CHOOSE THEIR OWN PATH and empower them redefine their relationship to alcohol ON THEIR OWN TERMS and here I was questioning the very foundation of that for myself.

Talk about existential crisis!!

That’s why “getting quiet and getting clear” becomes so important. 

Because, the truth is... when I get quiet, and can tune into my inner voice, and get clear, I realize that I actually really LOVE having the option to drink when I want.

I LOVE that I’ve learned to moderate when others said I couldn’t or that’s it’s too hard or impossible.

I LOVE that I have an entire toolkit I use so that I don’t turn to alcohol in times of stress, sadness, loneliness or anxiety.

I LOVE that it’s entirely up to me whether I drink or not, and that I can have an experience like the one I had 2 Fridays ago, without guilt or shame.

Last week, I traveled to Miami for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s holistic health coaching conference.

On Friday evening, I had an invitation to join some dear, long-term friends of mine for dinner. They announced in the afternoon that they wanted to treat us to caviar and champagne.

Though I’ve tried caviar before, I’ve never been to a champagne and caviar bar as decadent as this one (ok let’s be real, I don’t actually think I’ve ever been to a "champagne and caviar bar" - ever).

I savoured the entire experience and probably over the course of a couple of hours, drank the equivalent of 2 or maybe 2.5 glasses of delicious high end champagne, while nibbling on toast with chives, crème fraîche and of course, caviar.

It was a luxurious experience and one I was grateful to have.

It was special and I’m so relieved that I don’t have any guilt or shame around my decision to partake.

I enjoyed the taste, the flavours and textures, the effervescence of the bubbly.

I wasn’t chasing a “feeling,” reacting to a trigger, or compromising my alcohol agreement with myself (as you’re probably aware, my personal alcohol agreement includes not drinking when I feel like I “need” a drink, or when I’m feeling triggered aka sad, overwhelmed, lonely, anxious or self-critical, and to stay on the sober side of tipsy and not drink more than 1-2 in a sitting, except for rare and special occasions - this being one of them!)

I still had a great night’s sleep and felt clear and energized for the conference the next day.

The following evening, the conference hosting a “networking “mixer” in a trendy lounge. I navigated an “open bar” with absolute ease, having a glass of water, then one drink and then zero desire to partake any more in the flow of vodka drinks being passed across the bar. I also ordered a martini at the following venue that was so poorly made that I didn’t finish it.

It affirmed for me again that I can choose quality over quantity and prioritize an experience over the effects of alcohol. 

And I did this mostly unconsciously, without fear of sliding back into old ways and overdoing it. Previously, the free flowing booze would have been a trigger, as with the “high performance” expectations of a conference networking event.

What I love about releasing the "shoulds" and stories that don’t belong to us is that we truly each get to decide our own path and are empowered to choose our own experiences. 

Some of my clients and community members choose to live alcohol free because it’s what feels better for them. Others choose moderation, others are very sporadic in their consumption, and others oscillate between the two.

The only “right way” to do this is the way that feels aligned and right for YOU. 

That’s what Redefining Sobriety is all about.

I’d love to hear from you - do you struggle with any “shoulds”? If so, what are they? Are you aware of where the story comes from? I’m happy to help you sift through the shoulds. If you'd like to talk more about how this relates to you, set up your free consultation/call here.

xoxo

ps. As we're winding up this round of the Redefining Sobriety Online Immersion program, I have a few 1-1 spots opening up. If you are feeling ready for in-depth support to discover YOUR unique path - let's chat!! 


7 Strategies For Overcoming Anxiety

Hello!!

This was a really hard blog for me to write. It brings up so many fears - especially around my competence and whether you can trust me as a coach and “leader.” It was so hard to write, in fact, it took me THE WHOLE MONTH OF MAY to get this to you… (May was mental health month and I wanted to send a specific blog on that theme).

However, anxiety can be so insidious and affects too many of us. There is still a lot of shame and stigma around this topic… and it’s one that I didn’t speak about personally for a long time.

Anxiety, simply put, is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is part of “normal” brain functioning and has a very important role - to keep us safe.

The part of our brain that controls feelings such as anxiety is called the amygdala, and it is the part that gets activated when there is a perceived threat. Imagine you are walking down a street at night and all of a sudden, one of the street lights goes off and everything becomes a bit darker. Almost simultaneously, you hear footsteps rapidly approaching behind you. Your breath quickens and your heart rate speeds up. This is your body preparing you for “fight or flight” - which might save your life. Granted, those footsteps could be an evening jogger, or a friend who saw you from a few blocks away and is sprinting trying to catch up with you. However, there is a moment when your brain doesn’t know the difference between a perceived or real threat - and its job is to do what it thinks is best in order to save your life.

Anxiety can be triggered by a number of factors associated with our modern societies and is so common now that it is an estimated 40 MILLION people in the USA who suffer from an anxiety disorder.

For a long time, I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was anxiety. I don’t remember feeling anxious as a child, or exactly when it started.

However, reflecting back… I see the layers of stress that started to pile high on top of each other.

The enormous pressure I piled on myself to be “okay” - after going from getting very good grades to almost failing grade 10 and 11, having tons of problems at home and eventually leaving for a time before I graduated high school.

The alcohol-induced blackouts that started around age 16, where I would wake up in a panic trying to fill in the blank around what happened to me… and lasted for another decade and a half until I got my alcohol use under control.

The sexual molestations and rape that started around the same age I left home, and the shame surrounding my inability to speak up or even really know what was happening to me, let alone do anything about it.

The high-performance coping mechanisms I developed after high school, where I over-achieved like my life depended on it, because it felt like it did.

The accumulation of days and weeks and months and YEARS without enough sleeping, pushing myself hard hard harder… or was it running, fast fast faster to stay as far away from the pain as I could.

(When praised for my accomplishments or asked the question “how have you accomplished so much at such a young age?” I would often answer “I don’t really sleep.”)

The excessive amount of pressure, stress and responsibility I felt at a young age led to some pretty unhealthy coping mechanisms and not surprisingly, panic attacks came with them.

I remember the first one so vividly, I was walking to the Commercial drive community clinic where I had to open up on a holiday Monday and supervise a group support meeting. I had been partying all weekend (my “coping” strategy for a very intense work environment and a ton of responsibility at a young age) and was very short on sleep. I started feeling anxious about the day ahead and realized I wasn’t breathing properly. Before I knew it, I was feeling like I was going to pass out and my hands cramped up so intensely they were paralyzed and I couldn’t even use my phone. I remember shaking uncontrollably and vomiting in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The attending paramedic had to hold the bowl in front of my face while lecturing me about the drugs I had told him I was taking. I was put under observation for a few hours and then sent home with some lorazapam. I had to call sick to work because I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 days… and I was too ashamed to talk about the reason why.

The crazy thing about anxiety is how quickly it tries to convince you that you’re going back to “that place.”

Like recently, while I was sitting on a comfy couch next to someone who cares about me, and I forgot to breathe because we were watching a scary movie, and I stood up to walk outside to get some fresh air and the bright light blinded me and I started to feel dizzy, my body and brain wanted to take me back to “that place” and within seconds I felt completely out of control and terrified.

For me, anxiety can both be a mental trigger or a physical experience that takes my whole body hostage at times.

It’s the shallow breath that seems to get stuck in my throat, no matter how hard I try to breathe deep into my chest.

It’s the dizziness and lightheadedness that follows the shortness of breath.

It’s the nausea that sets in along with the panicked fear that my body is taking me to a point of no return.

It can be triggered by external factors or seemingly “nbd” nuisances like get startled awake by shouting or dogs barking aggressively or any loud noise really… and it’s really hard to explain to anyone else who doesn’t have experience with this exactly how hard it is to climb back out of the spiral.

Or it can be triggered by legit fears or made up ones, and the pressures of being a good mother, coach, business owner, friend, partner, etc..

Sometimes it is literally paralyzing, like the inability to follow through on what should be a simple task or email.

I think I spent so many years running and performing and self-medicating that I am only just coming to terms with my anxiety.

Becoming a mother has brought it even closer to the surface on a daily basis, and becoming a single parent (and single person) brings me face to face with my fears, like, next level.

There are a variety of tools that I’ve been using to help me manage my anxiety. At this point, I’m not trying to be “anxiety-free” as that feels like a lot of pressure, but I am trying to get through the day without a meltdown. Some days that feels more doable than others, and I practice a whole heck of a lot of self-forgiveness on the days that fears and forgetting to breathe spiral into an uncontrollable attack.

REMEMBERING TO BREATHE

This might seem obvi but it’s actually something I have to remember to do. When I realize how shallow I’m breathing and that I haven’t taken a belly breath for a while, I stop what I’m doing (if possible) and place one hard on my heart and one hand on my belly and breath all the way into my lower abdomen. I often to this parked in front of my office, after I’ve dropped my daughter off at school and before I head upstairs to the office, or when I’ve escaped into the bathroom at home trying to get my emotions under control. I find counting my in and out breaths really helps, and gradually increasing the count. For example, if I’m feeling short of breath, I start with one count in and one count out. Then after several breaths, I increase to two, then to three.

GETTING UP EARLY + MORNING RITUAL

My mornings used to be super rushed and chaotic (before having a kid). As I started to redefine my relationship to alcohol, I realized how important it was to start the day calmly and in a way that nurtures my mind, body and spirit. Then I had a kid, and my morning routine went to shit for awhile. I’m now committed to waking up early, doing deep breathing while still in bed and listening to the birds and centering on a feeling of gratitude, drinking my water and lemon and taking my supplements, doing my Thrive Threesome journaling practice and prepping a smoothie because I wake my daughter up. This takes between 30-45 mins. I notice a huge difference on the days I have time to do this versus the days I wake up at the same time as she does or when she wakes up early and I’m immediately in “reactivity.”

RESTING

If I’ve been in a high state of anxiety or have experienced an “attack” - I often need to rest a lot afterwards. “Pushing through” is sometimes necessary (I do have responsibilities outside of myself) however I try to allow myself time to rest as soon as I can… sometimes that’s laying down on the sofa in my office or on the floor for 10 minutes (at this point I don’t really care what anyone else in my office thinks though I realize this might not be possible for everyone) and I plug in soothing, chakra balancing music. Or I simply try to get to bed earlier, especially as I’m prone to waking up a lot. Michelle Cady, a former client and author of the recently released “Self-Care in the City” talks about the importance of rest in our interview about alcohol and adrenal fatigue. Here’s her interview from the Redefining Sobriety summit. 

USING ESSENTIAL OILS and AROMATHERAPY

While I’ve used essential oils off and on for years, I really began to understand their power while I was hospitalized during my high-risk pregnancy, with haemorrhaging and the threat of a mid-term miscarriage. I used “tranquillity” and “serenity” blends pretty much non-stop… trying to calm my fears and adrenals so as to not put more stress on the little one who was fighting for her life inside. The oils used in the picture here are the ones I used most frequently now. I put cedarwood and vetiver on the soles of my feet and use a mantra that “I am grounded/rooted, I am centred, I am safe.” When I feel myself “spiralling” into what feels like an anxiety attack, I used Purify to bring me back to myself. Balance transports me into a feeling of being protected and in the forest, from which I draw strength.

TAPPING AND AFFIRMATIONS

Using “tapping” or emotional freedom technique (EFT) has done wonderings. There is something very powerful about acknowledging what I’m feeling and loving myself through it. Affirmations such as “Even though I’m feeling really anxious and fearful right now, I totally love and accept myself just the way I am” combined with tapping on the meridians that have been shown to help calm the amygdala and reduce cortisol has been super powerful. I’m also grateful to Jackie MacDonald for teaching me about “finger tapping” which you can do anywhere. Here is her interview from the Redefining Sobriety Summit where she shares several really practice tools and takes me through a tapping exercise to deal with overwhelm (aka anxiety trigger).

CHANGING HOW I TALK ABOUT MYSELF, TO MYSELF

I learned this technique from Tree Franklyn. Instead of saying, “I’m anxious” or “I’m stressed,” I try to shift the language to “I’m feeling anxious right now” which shifts the internal conversation from labelling myself to making a statement about how I’m feeling right now, which both separates my identity from the experience and helps remind me that it is not permanent. Another affirmation I use often is “I love you” on the inhale and “I am safe” on the exhale.
I've also included Tree's interview from the Redefining Sobriety Summit.

SEEKING SUPPORT

I see a therapist twice a month who supports me with healing trauma (and who also works with tapping and other emotional freedom techniques and herbal/flower remedies), I have coaches who support me through the fears and pressures of being a healer and a coach, and running a business, and a small group of friends I can call on for support and who help remind me to breathe. I have colleagues who are also people who experience anxiety and can relate without minimizing or dismissing what I’m recalling or experiencing. I’m particularly grateful to Dr Perpetua Neo’s work and our many collaborations on this topic. Here’s an article she wrote that talks about the connection between alcohol and anxiety.  Dr Neo also has a lot of other great articles on anxiety so make sure to check out her profile on Mind Body Green.

I hope the videos and links I’ve included in this blog are helpful. If you’ve experienced anything like what I’ve described here, please know that you can reach out and that there are tools that can help. I’m happy to talk about this anytime. Here’s a link to my calendar to set up a time to chat.

If you want to hear from the other summit experts (several of whom talk about trauma and anxiety in different ways and share a variety of tools), you can purchase the entire summit for $47 and there’s a ton of value. Let me know if this interests you and we’ll send it your way!

xoxo


My entire life has led up to this moment...

Hi,
How are you today?

Popping into your inbox to remind you of something very important.

You have a choice:
stay the same,
do it the way they tell you to,
or carve your own path.

You are NOT powerless, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You are powerful beyond belief.

THIS is the basis of Redefining Sobriety.

It is more than “just another program.”

It is a movement.

It is a new path, one you haven’t been offered before.

One that has been a lifetime in the making.

Did you know that I have 20 years of experience leading up to this?
Yes you read that right. 20 YEARS!

I started as a peer volunteer when I was 15 years old. I was one of the first rural youth trained by YouthCO AIDS Society, Canada’s only youth-led HIV/AIDS awareness and education organization.

That led to a lot of firsts:

I was one of the first youth facilitators hired by a government initiative to travel around the project and do workshops on topics such as celebrating diversity, preventing sexual violence and bullying, at age 17.

I was one of the youngest enrolled in my Child and Youth Care Counselling program (my first diploma). In fact, I had a wait a year because they wouldn’t let me enroll until I was 18.

I was the first Hepatitis C and harm reduction coordinator for YouthCO at age 19.

I created the first youth-led project for youth actively using methamphetamines, at age 21.

I became Vancouver’s first Youth Advocate Mentor, reporting directly to City Hall on behalf of Children and Youth, at age 22.

I co-founded Youth RISE, the first and only global youth-led harm reduction network, at age 24.

This work transformed into several other “firsts” including developing the first regional drug policy reform strategy in SouthEast Asia and Cambodia’s first Drug Strategy for Family Health International.

That was career that you sometimes hear me reference. Yes, the one that led to extreme burnout. But that wasn’t my career’s fault. I grew up in this work from a very young age. I didn’t know how to take care of myself or cope with the huge emotional burden I shouldered by doing this kind of work.

For awhile, I stopped talking about it. It’s as if I was born again 6 years ago, when I left Cambodia and moved to Mexico. And again 4 years ago when I redefined my relationship to alcohol once and for all. I spend a lot of time referencing my recent history, however it’s my 20+ years of work experience that actually lays the foundation of unique approach I take with my work.

All of this work had several key common themes:

  • Being “client” focused, and asking the group most affected what solutions would work best for THEM

  • Outside of the box and nonlinear

  • Explicitly empowering, non-judgement and anti-oppressive

  • Solutions focused - looking at where the gaps in current services are, and creating new ones

  • All about restoring dignity and power

  • All about celebrating uniqueness and aliveness

So you see, in a way, I’ve always done this.

My work is so intuitive because it has lived inside of me for so long.

The specific focus around alcohol and holistic healing was added because of my own journey.

That’s what Redefining Sobriety is all about.

 It’s the umbrella for everything I’ve learned and created and implemented for the past 20+ years.

That’s why it would mean so much for you to join me in the very first Redefining Sobriety Program.
It’s 9 weeks, but you get a LIFETIME of participation.

That’s right - this program will launch again in the new year, at a much higher price point, but you get to join again, for free. And the next time it launches, and the next until either you don’t need it anymore or I stop doing it.

We start on October 30.
No sales page, no frills, no promo right now (all that’s coming in the new year).
This invitation is going out to my current list only and I want to keep the first group intimate.

You will have access to EVERYTHING I KNOW and have created so far.

This will be the playground for testing Redefining Sobriety.
Yes, it will be work, we will go deep, but it will also be a lot of FUN!

There will be LIVE weekly calls and worksheets and Facebook support.

All you need to do is submit your payment of $227 here. 

If you’ve worked with me before, either privately or in a group, you can receive your lifetime membership for 50%!!! One-time payment of $113.

There are only 3 spots left for this lifetime offer.

Will you join us?

xoxo


Me too

Hello ,

Once again, this isn't the post I had planned to send today. I had something else that I wanted to share with you - but it can wait another day. This feels more important.

I wanted to share what I wrote this morning as a response to the "me too" movement you may have seen on Facebook.

Here's what I posted:

***

Me too. Yo tambien. #metoo

About a year ago I started writing and sharing more openly about the sexual abuse, harassment and rape that I have experienced.

I had to... I couldn't stay silent as I watched a man who has a lifetime of celebrating objectification of women and has publicly talked about abusing women run for one of the most powerful offices in the world.

Touched inappropriately in a car by an older guy
Having sex when I didn't want to and just staring at the clock or ceiling waiting for it to be over
Told I was dressed like a slut
Raped while unconscious at a party, waking up to the pain of my head bang bang banging against the wall while he was still on top of me
Drugged and raped, waking up after drinking only 1.5 pints of beer next to a man I'd never seen before, looking in the mirror to see a split lip and finding my underwear stuffed in my pocket
Falling asleep on a train and waking up to find a man's hand grabbing me between the legs

All this (and more) before I'd aged out of my teens

Yes, me too

***

I was told again yesterday that I'm so sensitive, that I cry "a lot"

Yes, it's true

When I stopped numbing and started feeling, I started crying

Sometimes I long to go back.
When my pain was carefully and safely tucked so far away that I didn't have to confront it, where it couldn't reach me.

I used to feel that tears were a sign of weakness.
I needed to feel "strong" to uphold the fortress around my feelings.
I needed this strength to survive.
To shed a few was risking opening the floodgates, and drowning.

Now I know my tears are a sign that I'm awake.
That I'm alive.
And that I am now safe enough (aka truly strong enough) to allow myself to feel.

Yes, I cry.

I cry tears of sadness, loneliness, and pain.
I cry as I carry my grief and the collective grief of so.many.others

Sometimes I crave another person so that I don't have to feel so alone.

Last night was one of those nights.

As I scrolled through my feed and saw the words me too, me too, me too... I just wanted to hand it all over to someone and say, make this go away.

Sometimes having someone else say, "I love you, you're safe, you're going to be okay" is easier than trying to convince myself.

***

I was tagged in a post yesterday about a woman celebrating her sobriety, and likening Trump's election as a call to action/wake up call to the choice to choose "being awake" through sobriety vs numbing.

Someone in the comments challenged her by saying that she didn't see how Trump's election had anything to do with the personal responsibility of sobriety.

Do you know how many of my clients needed extra support as they were triggered by so many of the things he said and represented in his campaign (and continues to)?

It happened for me in a big way as hearing about him brag about grabbing women by the pussies literally brought back a memory that had been buried for almost 15 years.

Because my pussy was grabbed too.

Being forced into a reminder of that painful experience wasn't something I asked for. The shock and the force of remembering had me wanting to run and numb again.

It wasn't even the "worst" of what I've experienced, but it is such a powerful representation of how our bodies are viewed.

Because as I slept peacefully on a train, some man thought he had a right to touch me in my most sacred place. He believed he had more ownership over what happened to my body than I did. He believed he didn't have to ask permission.

I believe that was is happening politically, globally, in Hollywood, everywhere, has EVERYTHING to do with the very difficult decision that some of us make daily to be awake and to allow ourselves to feel.

(and trust me, I have 100% empathy and zero judgement for those who continue to numb. I GET IT. This path is not any easy one and I can choose to walk it because I have a fuck ton of support and privilege - but that's for another post)

***

So yeah, me too.

I'd rather not be reading these words over and over again and feeling such a profound heaviness on a Monday morning.

I'd rather be writing about something else other than this at the beginning of the week.

But.

Together we are stronger, louder.

I am so proud and inspired by each and every PERSON who wrote those two words. Me too.

It takes courage.
For some, it is their first time sharing and releasing themselves from the burden of silence and shame.

I see you. I honour you. I love you.

***

That was what I posted publicly on Facebook.

I'll add more here.

The link between trauma and alcohol/substance use is well-researched. Many of us here have had experiences of pain, abuse and trauma... which lead us to numb (alcohol, drugs, sex, co-dependency, perfectionism, workaholism, etc).

I understand, deeply and profoundly, the courage it takes to look within, to understand and heal from this.

That is why I am so deeply committed to providing the safe space and connection for YOU to feel safe and supported to be with and feel your pain.

If you want to know more about the connection between trauma, pain and connection, please watch this short but super powerful video.

If you are feeling the weight of "me too" or the realization/awareness of where some of your need to numb comes from, please do not continue to suffer in shame and silence.
I'm here for you.

We're here for each other. 

xoxo


Are you getting enough Vitamin See?

Hi,

How are you doing this week?

I’ve been honoring World Mental Health Day and National Coming Out Day this week. Make sure to follow me on Facebook (click the icon at the bottom of the page) to check out my two recent posts on these topics that have both affected my life and many I love very personally.

I also finished reading Girl on the Train this week. I didn’t love the book and wouldn’t really recommend it unless you like a psychological thriller and a lot of writing about alcohol. (It could also be potentially triggering depending on where you are in your relationship to alcohol and whether you still experience a lot of shame around what has happened to you while you’ve blacked out, thankfully I’ve released that).

That being said, something really struck me about the characters. The main character obviously had a problem with alcohol, the entire premise of the book was based on this. However, one of the secondary characters also finds herself drinking towards the end of the book, as she feels her world falling apart.

What did they have in common?
They both felt profoundly lonely.
They both felt unseen and misunderstood.

Alcohol helped soothe the pain of this loneliness and lack recognition.

You’ll notice how this experience also ties directly into the experience of many people who struggle with mental health and those of us living life under the LGTT2BQQII aka "queer rainbow of sexual and gender diversity."

There’s a reason why people with mental health challenges and queer folk struggle with alcohol and drugs at much higher rates than the general population.

One of my first mentors in the self-development space, Dara McKinley, describes our need for “Vitamin See.”

“Vitamin See is a no-brainer for babies and children. They demand it and we pour it on, creating an obvious positive outcome. Then, as we become “rational adults,” our need for Vitamin See is hung in the closet. With no map for guiding us to this critical necessity, we are all left to fend for ourselves. We either become desperate from our hunger for it, which fuels competition and posturing, or we pretend it’s not important, which leaves us drained and depressed.”

For many of us here, a lack of Vitamin See leads us to “supplement” with other substances and behaviors, that attempt to fill the void: alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, obsessive exercising, sex, overachieving, perfectionism, excessive helping etc.

Does any of this feel familiar?

Have you ever been made to feel bad about wanting “attention?”

I feel like there was a shift that happened somewhere between childhood and early adolescence that my want and need to feel seen became a bad thing.

Parents and society reinforced this by reinforcing certain kinds of validation (being nice, academic achievements) over others, such as being a wildly creative, expressive young woman.

I was speaking to someone for her first consultation this past Wednesday and I asked her, “what are the biggest BENEFITS of your relationship to alcohol?”

At first, she balked at the question, and blurted out “wow, that's a good question, nobody’s ever asked me that before!”

However, after her initial surprise, it didn’t take her long to list the benefits of excitement, connection, conversation, loss of inhibitions and self-confidence. It also helped her feel comfortable and open up on dates.

How many of these have to do with being SEEN?

Probably almost every single one.

My own relationship to alcohol was very interconnected with my need to be seen, loved and understood… I just didn’t know how to “do” that on my own. And I learned from a young age that alcohol could “do” a lot of that for me.

Ever since I began this journey of redefining my relationship to alcohol, I realized how important it was to be able to share my experiences with others and how much more powerful we are when we come together to support one another... to truly see and be seen. 

As I mentioned in my last email, I have very few spots available for private coaching. I’d love to work with you now. Remember, that if you sign up with me this month, you can also participate in the Be More Membership for 6 months for FREE.

Click here to set up a time to talk.

Here are a few shares from current clients and members of the Be More members on how they are able to show up and feel truly seen: 

"This feels like a safe space. I don't feel I have to edit my thoughts or emotions to fit what is expected, which is HUGE b/c (as you know) I struggle with trying to show up as "perfect."

"I feel like all of me - including the imperfections, the weaknesses, the struggles - not only have a place here, but are honored in the most genuine of ways. Most self care stuff I've done in the past has felt disingenuous. In my short time here and working with you, I feel a deep sense of being loved no matter what (for real, not just saying it without meaning) and mutual understanding that I have never felt. And that now that I think more about it, I think what makes this group and coaching so special is that genuineness of care gives me strength, courage, and safety to be more vulnerable and open with myself, so that I can begin to deeply "see" myself for the first time."

"When I feel like I have no place to go, I remember that I have HERE to go. Fully, completely ME. Real and raw. And it is welcomed with open arms. There is a support network from our hostess/facilitator/coach but also the incredible support from the group. It is a very powerful experience."

If you would like to experience being truly seen and supported, let's connect.

xoxo,


It's my birthday and I'm gonna...

How are you today?

I want to give you a quick run down of my last 6 birthdays before I tell you how this one will be different

My 29th birthday was so debaucherous that we almost got kicked out of the hotel where we’d rented a suite and I have huge gaps in my memories of that evening.

I woke up the morning after my 30th birthday with a gigantic goose egg on my forehead and I didn’t remember how I got it.

After drinking too much champagne and absinthe during my 31st birthday party I passed out and missed most of the night.

Several weeks before my 32nd birthday was when I had that last big blowout after which I woke up vowing “never again” and so my actual birthday that year was a somewhat sober affair, in all senses of the word.

My 33rd and 34th birthdays I was pregnant and breastfeeding - so alcohol was off-limits.

My 35th birthday I was in NYC for an event and spent my entire birthday weekend sober as I was still building trust in myself when in “Trigger City” at events with open bars and lots of adrenaline.

On October 7th I turn 36.

I was originally supposed to travel to Oaxaca City for the international film festival because the director had gifted me 4 all access passes however the festival was cancelled because of the impact of the earthquake. I was disappointed because I had invited several of my best friends for a “girls weekend” and I was really looking forward to it.

At first, I felt at a bit of a loss as to what to do.

It’s my first birthday as a single woman since I decided to redefine my relationship to alcohol.

I decided to follow the process I suggest to all of my clients: I got clear on my intentions.
I got clear on how I wanted to feel all weekend.
Then I planned accordingly.
And because I am so in alignment, it feels as though everything is falling beautiful into place, in my favour.

I want to dance all weekend.
I want to celebrate my 36th years feeling free, beautiful, strong and healthy.
I want to celebrate with my friends in Puerto Escondido, especially my female friends.
I want to celebrate where I’m at in my life and the fact that I thrived through one of the most challenging years of my adult life.

I plan to go to my favorite salsa dancing night on Friday, and not drink any alcohol.
I want to feel clear and remember that I need to go home as soon as the live band ends, and even a few sips of alcohol seem to prime me to chase “more.”
I plan on getting up early on Saturday and doing a yoga/meditation/movement workshop that includes a delicious vegetarian meal from 9am-1pm, then hitting the beach with girlfriends.
We’ll head back to my place and have some girl time and watch the sunset from my patio as we get ready to go out.
Then I’ll hit up a “salsa social” at my friend’s dance studio, where the focus will not be on alcohol because a lot of his students are underage.
After that, I’ve organized a hip-hop party at my friend’s bar. Though the event is open to the public, I know most of the people there will be my friends. I’ve called the event “where my girls at?” because I wanted to keep the intention of the “girls weekend” that was originally planned for Oaxaca.

I decided on my friend’s bar because of its intimate setting but also because my friend really supports my decisions around alcohol. In fact, she started a whole mocktail menu using really creative ingredients. I plan on bringing a bottle of bubbly to share with my friends and having at the most the equivalent of two glasses of champagne.

I feel completely confident in my ability to stick with my intentions.

This is what redefining sobriety has been all about for me.

The confidence and empowerment to have exactly what I want, without harsh restrictions.
A return to self and to exquisite presence. (To put it another way, I’m really happy to be with myself and don’t want to lose my grip on myself/reality.)
An acknowledgment of my desires and giving myself permission to go after them, in the most aligned and “best yes” way possible.
A trust in myself and creating a supportive community who also helps me uphold my intentions to myself - including my intention to have a lot of fun and dance all weekend!

I’m so excited to be rolling out more about Redefining Sobriety over the next few months. I feel as though my entire life including all of my professional and personal experience are converging in this baby.

It seems fitting that I’m “soft-launching” Redefining Sobriety right around my birthday.

If you feel called to know more right now, then let’s connect. Just click here to schedule a time.

xoxo


I wasn't planning on writing to you today (but disaster happened)

 

I wasn't planning on writing to you today.

Then I woke up to the news of Las Vegas.
At least 50 dead and over 400 injured.
A lot of friends and colleagues were in Las Vegas this weekend for an event.
I have other friends who live there. I began searching their names on Facebook to make sure all were accounted for.
Gratefully, everyone I know is safe.
However, I'm still feeling heartbroken.

I've been wondering recently when I will have a day without crying. A day when I don't feel cracked open, raw and exposed.
Either through remembering my own pain and releasing, or by what's happening in the world, or both. Earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, shootings, nuclear threats, politicians with no regard for human rights... it can be overwhelming.
No WONDER we want to numb sometimes because, well, this shit is hard.

So that's why I'm here today.

Acknowledging that it's hard.
Acknowledging that the desire to numb is totally understandable.
In fact, I wanted to numb this weekend, even before I heard about Las Vegas.

So what did I do?
I spent the day out of cellphone range on Sunday.
I played with Luna in the rain.
In the evening, even though I *should* have been doing work, I watched a movie about a woman who was even more troubled than me (Young Adults) - because, well, perspective and escapism.
I put a ton of cedarwood, vetiver, lavender, balance and forgive blends in my diffuser (all grounding, calming and releasing scents).
I made a bigass bowl of popcorn and drank tea.
I gave myself time to cry and permission to ask for a hug.

And this morning, all I could think was THANK GOD I went through the motions of self-care last night because today, the world needs my light more than ever.

As Brene Brown says, "When we numb the darkness, we also numb the light." Yes, it's important to take break, to self-nurture, even to distract ourselves from our own thoughts or pain for awhile... but please.
Don't check out for too long.
Don't numb the pain.
Feel the pain then fight back with light, with LOVE.

A friend sent me this beautiful "yoga for disaster" video yesterday.
She said she thought of me after the earthquakes and that it would be helpful for me.

This morning as I finally opened the link, all I could think was that Adrienne must have been guided by some divine intuition to send this video yesterday for all those who would need it today.

Even just the first few minutes of the meditation helped me feel soother. Now more than ever, I am grateful that I knowhow to take time for my own healing, to fill my own cup so that I can share, to shine more brightly to help illuminate the path for others.

As Lao Tzo wrote, "If you want to awaken all of humanity, the awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have is to give that of your own self transformation." 

To me, "eliminating" doesn't mean ignoring or hiding or disavowing. It means allowing ourselves to see, and feel and deal and heal all parts of ourselves, without numbing or running or faking.

How can you do that for yourself today?
How can you nourish yourself?
What will help you self-soothe or release?

If you are feeling alone or overwhelmed or unsure of how to cope, please reach out. Now is not the time to suffer in silence.

Sending big big love,

xoxo


I haven't been drunk 4 YEARS!?! (what do YOU want to know?!)

 

Hello ,

September 18th will mark the last day I got drunk.

I woke up the next morning thinking "never again" and I meant it.

Even though I'd said this to myself before, countless times, this time something shifted deep inside of me. Never again (up until now anyway) stuck.

No more blackouts.
No more letting myself down.
No more days wasted hungover.
No more soul-crushing self-criticism and shame.
No more numbing. No more hiding.
No more taking the easy way out (aka the bandaid solution that allows the wounds underneath to continue to fester)
No more losing my grip on reality.
No more straying from my best yes in any given situation.
No more ignoring my intuition.
No more denying my healthiest self. No more abusing my body and mind.
No more feeling like alcohol controlled me instead of the other way around.
No more wondering if moderation was possible for me or just a pipe dream (believe me, I've had more than enough people tell me that once you have a problem with alcohol, it's impossible to moderate).
I could go on and on. But you get the point.

If you'd like to say "no more" to the damaging effects of alcohol in your life, you know that I'm here to support you in any way I can.

That's why I'm recording a very special 4 year not-drunk-iversary video for you.

I'd love to answer your questions. If there is anything you'd like to know about my 4-year journey, I'd love to know.

It takes a lot of courage to step into the unknown.

I didn't have many role models when I started out, and still don't. To be honest, it took me a few years to really truly feel confident in what my intuition was telling me - that it IS possible to control your relationship to alcohol without cutting out alcohol completely (if you don't want to).

So tell me, is there anything you worry about? Feel confused or doubtful about? Any nagging curiosity? As we used to say in the sexual health workshops I facilitate 20+ years ago (!!) - there are no stupid questions, no questions too big or too small.

I can't wait to hear from you.

(the video will be sent Friday, so don't delay!)

xoxo


Flashback Friday and special invitation for September

Hello and welcome to September!

Since landing in Canada just over 3 weeks ago, I’ve experienced a series of flashbacks that have brought perspective to just how far I’ve come in this journey of self-re-discovery and healing.

Flashback to Trashy Tuesdays (7 years ago) when it was a source of pride to get drunk mid-week.

I somehow felt more at home with the misfits who were also out drinking on a Tuesday night. Looking back, the biggest common denominator we shared was a need to escape reality for on a weeknight using alcohol. We were at the local bar sucking back two-dollar highballs like there was no tomorrow. When tomorrow did of course arrive replete with a pounding headache and a stomach heavy with remorse, hump day was even more of a mountain to climb. This flashback hit me as I was dancing at the same bar at the unofficial after-party for our town’s Pride celebrations. I was sober and having a blast dancing in the middle of 6 foot tall drag queens and a medley of the town’s queer folk and allies, without a care of what anymore “else” (ie the bar’s very straight-seeming regular clientele) thought.

Flashback to 5 years ago when I heard the following words. “I need naloxone!”

The nurse shouted as he ran down the hall. “Naloxone? Is my mom having an overdose?” I had come back to Canada to support my mom during the recovery of a fairly routine hip surgery. I had called the nurse as my mom’s temperature had dropped and she seemed to be shaking uncontrollably and the became unresponsive. I knew enough about opiates to know this looked like an overdose and that Naloxone was an opiate-blocker given to those experiencing an overdose. Somehow, my mother’s IV had allowed too much morphine to be administered. I’m really good in crisis, and the nurse used me as his aid as he stabilized her condition. Yet I couldn’t emotionally process seeing my mom almost die (I don't know if she actually could have but that's what it felt like). That night I took the Seabus into the city for a get-together at a friend’s house, which turned into going to a dive bar for more drinks, which turned into showing up at a sketchy afterparty. I made it back to another friend’s house only because that friend had a daughter who was going to need to be up in the morning and she remembered to “be responsible” at 4am. I overslept to see messages on my phone from the original friend I was supposed to spend the night with, worried because I never showed up at her house, and from my sister because I was late arriving back to the hospital to help discharge my mom. We missed a ferry back to our hometown and I felt sick with shame for letting my family down. All of this came flooding back to me as we drove around the neighbourhood and my mom pointed out the hospital where she had her surgery.

Flashback to my hometown's Blackberry Street Festival 4 years ago.

I’d been working at my friend’s restaurant and drinking as much tequila as I could sneak in between busily serving beers and margaritas under a tent barely protecting us from the pouring down rain. My cousin and his partner were visiting, and they bravely faced the elements to come have a beer with my mom and keep me company for a bit while I worked. They were only staying for the weekend. Instead of going home to my mom’s after my shift was over, I went to the local bar (yep, same one that I frequented for trashy Tuesdays) to chase down someone I’d had my eye on. He was super drunk and had a coworker of mine hanging all over him. Me, with everything to prove, needed to feel like the chosen one and charmed him accordingly. We ended up stumbling up the hill to his sister’s house (none of us was fit to drive) and continuing the party aka drinking more. We eventually collided and experienced each other in ways that I’m sure neither of us quite remembered the next day. Waking up, still drunk feeling, and realizing I was in my friend’s daughter’s room and all I wanted was to get out of there. Instead, we went to A&W and I ate something that only enhanced my feeling of wanting to vomit. I got dropped off at my mom’s car, drove home slowly, head-swimming and put on a brave face as I sat down shame-filled at the table where my cousins were having a delicious homemade lunch with my mom. I was a few months into my Holistic Health Coach training program and felt, yet again, that I was living a double life. This flashback return as those same cousins came to Blackberry fest again this year. Instead of going out after the street festival, I couldn’t be happier to crawl into bed next to Luna and get up early to take our kids to the farmer’s market. That night I did go to a party and saw the same friend whose house I had said at 4 years ago (and whose little brother I had hooked up with). I danced without needing attention from anyone and was gratefully the designated driver, dropping off a few friends and waking up a little tired but totally clear the next day and able to enjoy time with family.

There are many more flashbacks but these are a few of the most powerful.

It is with immense relief that I can experience these flashbacks without feeling paralyzed by shame or remorse as I did in the past.

Instead I feel gratitude and compassion for that part of me.

That woman who still didn’t understand or love herself enough to choose differently… who often didn’t even know she had a choice.

I also recognize that I can feel this level of compassion and gratitude because I’ve come so far and have done so much work on myself, so much healing, so much forgiving.

I’m at a now safe distance and have no fear of slipping back to that version of me.

You might not be quite there yet. I get that. It took me awhile too.

That’s why it’s so important to me to keep offering the tools and support to help along the way.

September has always been a month that has brought the promise of change for me.

I love the energy shift as we head into the last quarter of the year.

This year I’m offering a 21-day “September Reset” for anyone feeling that they are ready to powerfully shift into the new season. I’ll be sharing all of my best tools and strategies - for free!

We start September 8th and you can sign up here.

Now I'm signing off to enjoy my last weekend in Canada, at the Sunshine Music Fest, before kicking back into gear and getting ready to reset next week.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend of "being present" and soaking it all in, and hope you will consider joining the reset too.

xoxo