364 days…

A year ago today, I had my last drink. I did not know it at the time and I honestly can’t remember what it was. Only that I went to bed drunk as usual, woke up probably still drunk and began that Monday morning as usual- getting ready for work, not knowing then that I had already had my last drink. On Monday November 8th, 2021, my sobriety journey began.

Let’s back up a bit so that you, dear reader, can try to understand how I had lost myself so completely to alcohol. Like most people who find themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole of addiction, I didn’t wake up one morning and say hey, I’m going to drink to excess everyday and ignore my problems. It was a slow process, a learned coping mechanism to deal with physical and mental heath issues.

As I have written about before, I suffer from chronic migraines and stage 4 endometriosis. I’m in pain most days. Alcohol numbs that pain. It is an escape from the mental and physical exhaustion of dealing with chronic pain. So what began as a glass of wine to unwind and relax when getting home from work slowly became approximately 2 bottles of wine a night.

It wasn’t always wine either, I had a penchant for whiskey, amoretto, and had gotten into white claw and the like. I wouldn’t get sloppy drunk. I was actually a very high functioning alcoholic. Most people had no idea -mainly, I think, because it has become so common place for mom’s to have wine time. I worked a full time job as a chemist and volunteered for years in the world of musical theater wearing various hats like director, producer, set designer, etc… and had a successful wellness consulting business all while drinking too much.

So how could I possibly have a drinking problem?

It took me a while to realize my drinking was out of control. Excessive alcohol consumption has become so normalized in our culture that the line is seriously blurred. Perhaps my first clue was that whenever a doctor asked me how much I drank, I lied. Who is going to admit to their doctor that they are have 5-6 or more drinks a night? I knew it was too much but hell – I still got up and went to work, took care of my family, volunteered so again; was it really a problem?

Maybe I realized something was up the day I locked my keys in the car. They had fallen out of my pocket as I hid scrunched down in the backseat slamming 2 small bottles of pumpkin rum. …or maybe it was the mornings I woke up to multiple empty bottles wondering who could have drank all of it? Or slurring my words at a wedding reception as I overindulged at the open bar?

There were so many signs, yet I ignored them all. I flirted with stopping or cutting back. “Only drinking on the weekends” would last a week. “I’ll use a smaller glass” means more refills.

This went on for years and years. So what finally happened that made me stop completely? A terrifying experience that I was unable to handle appropriately because I was drunk.

One year ago, on November 5th, a Friday; I was preparing for night two of three of the high school musical I had directed and produced. I had pretty much been absent from my home for the previous weeks if not months from 6:30 am until 8pm or so most days. Of course, the drinking commenced as soon as I was through the door (or occasionally first thing in the morning). The days prior to the show, my husband had come down with food poisoning, however I left him to fend for himself. I had a show to put on. In my head- he was an adult who could handle himself. I wasn’t paying attention to how sick he was.

So Friday night, I didn’t get home until 11pm or so and immediately downed a bottle of wine. Hubby was in bed and our son who was 18 at the time was playing video games. I unwound with my bottles of wine for over an hour. Finally, exhausted and pleasantly buzzed I went to bed.

About 2 hours later I awoke to a crash in the kitchen. It took me a few seconds to come to and realize where I was. I rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen. It was dark and I could see my husband stumbling towards me. He made it around the corner but collapsed onto our sons baby grand piano just outside our bedroom door. Now panicking, I reach to grab him but was not strong enough. I grabbed his face yelling his name and his eyes glassed over.

That is about when I probably should have called 911. However, as I was 2 sheets to the wind, I left him lay there and went to wake up our son. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to wake up an 18 year old at two o’clock in the morning but it’s virtually impossible.

Long story short- finally managed to wake my son- there was yelling and freaking out- of course all me; and we managed to get my husband back in bed.

In the morning, hubby had no recollection of what had happened. I left my son in charge of him and prepared for closing night of the show. Drinking started before noon.

What I managed to get out of my slightly incoherent husband was that due to the food poisoning he couldn’t sleep so took Benadryl. He was so dehydrated from being sick at that point, that he forgot he took Benadryl and took Nyquil on top of it and pretty much passed out. But he’s an adult right!?! Why did I need to be home with him?!?

Closing night of the show was a success and I didn’t get home until after midnight. Hubby sleeping and no more issues- or so I thought. Sunday morning I’m up and into my lovely alcoholic gifts from the kind parents of thespians. Then it off to school for clean up. 3 hours at school and all I could do is count the minutes until I was home cracking open a can of spicy margarita!

Once home I enjoy the margarita and copious amounts of wine. While hubby rested in bed. Did I ask him if he was drinking enough water? Probably not- I was too busy drinking and relishing the last 3 days. I asked him if he was feeling any better. He thought so. I left it at that.

Monday morning the alarms goes off at 5:20am and an I am up and out of bed. I start the coffee and get in the shower. As I exit the bathroom I see my husband waiting for me in the kitchen. He looks awful, pale and weak. He says I think I need you to take me to the hospital.

And off to the emergency room we go. He was severely dehydrated and needed 2 full bags of IV fluids and was out of work another 4 days to rest and recuperate.

And that was it. No more drinking.

Seeing how I completely ignored the situation with my husband because of my alcohol fog scared the shit out of me. Could the situation have turned out worse- you bet it could have. I was one lucky drunk! Upon returning home from the ER, I collected every drop of booze in the house and threw in the garbage. Done.

Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying stopping drinking was easy. It sucked. I struggled every day. But I wasn’t beating myself up everyday with a guilt ridden pity party because I downed multiples bottles of wine the night before. This was a different kind of struggle. I was anxiety ridden for a few weeks, then it would rear its ugly head if I had a social function to go to. How could I go out and not drink? What would people say? What would I say if that’s asked why i wasn’t drinking? Holy shit! Cycles of anxiety, fear, shame but ask me if it was worth it?

Now I sit here, a year later, a year to the day of my last drink.

I am still an alcoholic by definition. I am still in recovery, but I am SOBER.

So hello. It’s nice to meet you. If you knew me in my drinking days, I am sorry. Allow me to reintroduce myself; My name is Kristen and I am 364 day sober.

Need help with your drinking?

Visit Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Beginning Practice

Practice.

Beginning a meditation practice can be daunting. I have heard so many times “Oh I stopped because I couldn’t stop thinking” or a similar statement. It’s a challenging stigma to overcome — meditation doesn’t mean your mind is blank. It means we are able to lose the attachment to the thinking mind, we release the attachment to the thought.


The easiest way I found, when I was first dipping my toes into the meditation pool, was to view my thoughts as just something happening.


Like this: When you have a thought (doesn’t matter what it is!) say to yourself “there goes a thought” and I guarantee you’ll have another one following right behind-“ oh look, more thoughts”


Thoughts come and go all day long. It’s not the thoughts necessarily that cause us the stress but the attachment to certain thoughts. Replaying stressful situations or worrying about the future are both forms of this attachment.

Meditation allows us to learn how to find space and release our attachment to constant mind chatter. Over time, with consistent practice, we are able to sit with a calm mind. Outside of meditation the chatter quiets down, loses its hold on us and we begin to live more mindfully with less attachment, stress and worry.

If you are just beginning your practice, I recommend guided meditations as they provide a focal point for the minds eye. I have some short guided meditations, perfect for beginners or seasoned mediators available on Insight Timer, for you to explore.

Once comfortable with guided practice, try sitting for 1 minute. Yes only 1. Trust me. Set a timer. It’s longer then you think if you are not used to sitting quietly. The first time I attempted this I lasted about 35 seconds before checking the timer!

Patience. Practice. Perseverance.

Namaste.

Well-being

As summer begins to wind down, I notice that I haven’t been as mindful with regards to what I am taking in.  As the days get shorter, they also seem to get busier, more hectic, less intentional.  I notice this shift in awareness about 4 times a year, usually prior to the solstices and equinoxes. This shift in awareness indicates time for intentional change.

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I have been aware of my natural cycles for most of my adult life. This is in part due to being diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis in my mid 20’s in addition to suffering from debilitating migraines. I had to become acutely aware of my body’s cycles such as sleep cycles and how my eating habits affected my day to day pain levels. It was during this time that I developed a more holistic approach to my life.

I became a vegetarian. I started practicing yoga and meditation. I shifted my life from pain and anxiety to fulfillment and joy. Learning how to relax, find peace during difficult moments, and how to heal from within. I then studied with Usui Reiki Master Christine Brown. I completed my training and began practicing as an Usui Reiki Master Teacher. This experience allowed me deeper insight to the mind body connection. I thrived; up until about 4 years ago.

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During my 30’s I was able to manage the endometriosis with diet, exercise, and acupuncture. What I perceived as the downward spiral of my health began slowly over the course of months in my late 30’s, with symptoms such as increased pain, heavier flow, and more migraines. Suddenly, how I’d been managing my symptoms wasn’t working anymore. The endometriosis had reached my diaphragm and I began having a hard time breathing at night and was forced to sleep sitting up. After a trip to the ER for what my doctor thought was appendicitis, it was found that I also had Degenerative Disk Disease. After getting the results from the ER, my doctor decided to run a ton of blood work. I had to go back on the IUD to control some of the symptoms. It was also found that I had Mono. Due to the mono diagnosis, I could not continue with my normal workout routine of Pilates, yoga, and weight training for 8 months. My pain management routine was out the window.

Fast forward to summer of 2020. Mono over with. Fitness regime back on point and still debilitating pain. I was using a cane to walk off and on for almost a year. Getting up was a struggle. Going to the gym require Motrin and stubborn dedication. I had found a new OBGYN a year earlier and she was(is) amazing. Tons of information regarding symptoms and treatments. After many months of research and discussion, I decided to try Lupron in addition to the IUD. Lupron puts you into a menopausal state. It is also used to treat various cancers, so not to be taken lightly. I was very reluctant but could no longer mentally deal with the pain. It was affecting my day-to-day life. So, Lupron. Where to begin. It’s a 3-month dose. the first month is rough. I wound up with having about 6 weeks pain free. Amazing. Then I was due for the next shot, and the cycle begins again- a very rough first month followed by 6 weeks of minimal pain, but the MIGRAINES…

At the time of writing this have been off of Lupron for 4 months. After the second shot my migraines double, then tripled. I was experiencing multiple migraines a week and could not get out of bed.

The side effects are more than I can deal with. Although my pain has returned, I can at least, slowly get out of bed.  I also KNOW that all my pain is from the ENDO! So now I can focus on shifting my diet towards less inflammatory foods and shifting my mindset back towards ease with practices which foster flow.

So here I am. The beginning of a 21-day Chakra Cleanse. By getting back to basics of my personal energy I can reestablish healthy habits. By taking the time each day to sit in stillness, feeling the flow of energy though my being, I notice subtle imbalance.  Over the course of 21 days I can shift this energy, releasing what no longer serves me and experience atonement (at-one-ment).

“I am rooted, but I flow.”

Virginia Wolfe

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If you would like to join me in the 21 day chakra cleanse, please follow @bliss_awakening on Instagram.

Namaste

Midsummer Magic

The harvest is upon us as the days slowly shorten and we begin to prepare for cooler, darker days ahead. Yet now we are in the midst of abundance, a time of plenty as traditionally midsummer was the first harvest of the year. This is a time of gratitude for the nourishment which has been provided by Mother Earth. A time to appreciate the seeds (bija) we have planted in the fertile valleys of our mind which have come to fruition. It is a time of gathering with family and friends and breaking bread.

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In Celtic lore, the god Lugh was associated with the harvest, and a celebration bearing his name, is celebrated to this day. Lughnasadh (midsummer; August 1st), was celebrated as a harvest festival which included athletic games, ritual ceremonies, and bountiful feasts. It is celebrated today with feasting, songs and fresh baked breads and fresh picked corn can usually be found on the menu.


So many of are are blessed with abundance and have never known need or want for food, shelter, or LOVE. We can make this a time to practice gratitude for our many blessings. Break bread with friends and family; express you gratitude to someone who made a difference in your life, share your good fortune by donating time or money to a local charity, find some way to give back. Harvest time is a time of plenty and thanks.

Live simply so that others may simply live.

Ghandi

So now for some Midsummer Magic! I would like to share with you a simple Lughnasadh Chakra Clearing to help you feel the soul filling gifts of abundance and gratitude.

In case you are new to Chakras or need a refresher I am happy to oblige!


CHAKRAS

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Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel.”  These “wheels” are the energy centers of the body. They are spinning vortexes of energy situated in a column along the body from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.  There are seven major chakras and each corresponds to various glands of the endocrine system and governs the energy of certain organs.  Each chakra is associated with one of the seven colors of the rainbow and seven specific musical tones (harmonic resonance). They are the embodiment of spiritual energy on the physical plane.

Energy created from emotional responses to physical stimuli run along the chakras and “feed” our cells tissues and organs. Like our unseen breath, which nourishes the body with life giving oxygen, the unseen energy we create can nourish us or deplete us. 

Try this:

                The next time you experience a strong emotion, take careful note of how your physical body responds.  Does you heart rate go up? Do you feel warmth in you arms, face etc? 

This is the emotional energy manifesting as physical sensation. Prolonged emotional responses such as anxiety will manifest physically as ulcers, headaches etc.  This is why it is important to be aware of your body’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states.

Having balanced, unblocked chakras, assists in keeping the rest of the body in balance. Based upon the location in the body, the chakras relate to certain states of consciousness, emotional function and philosophical constructs.  Lower chakras govern the more practical, physical aspects of our lives like survival, stability, trust; while the upper chakras govern spiritual aspects, symbols, and concepts.  Together, they provide the body-mind, physical-spiritual connection.


Midsummer Chakra Clearing

Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths to relax yourself. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly while completing the following exercise.

Root Chakra

While visualizing the color red, say to yourself, “I am grounded, my roots grow deep absorbing the fertile life giving Earth energies.”

Sacral Chakra

Visualize the color orange and say “As Mother Nature creates this bountiful harvest, I too, create my life every day. The Universe supports my natural creative state.”

Solar Plexus Chakra

Visualize the color yellow and say “As the sun shines its life giving light, I to radiate light. My souls shines with sacred universal light and love.”

Heart Chakra

Visualize the color green and say “My heart is full of abundance. My life is full of abundance. I am part of the Universal cycle of unconditional LOVE.”

Throat Chakra

Visualize the color blue and say “I honor my voice. I nourish myself with the divine enenergies and release what no longer serves me.

Third Eye Chakra

Visualize the color indigo and say “I honor my intuition. I know I am part of something greater than myself. I am energy in form. I am abundance.”

Crown Chakra

Visualize violet light bathing you from above. You are surrounded by an ethereal radiance. You feel deeply connected to everything. Repeat to yourself “The Universe supports my BE-ing. I am LOVE.”

Take a few moments to breathe slowly and deeply, feeling yourself settle back into your body. Feel the flow of breath and the calming, balanced energies created during the meditation.


If you would like more information about Chakras or energy healing please contact me.

Blessings, Love, & Light on this bountiful Midsummer.

Namaste🙏