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

Intention

in·ten·tion
/inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/

noun

  1. a thing intended; an aim or plan.
    “she was full of good intentions”

2. MEDICINE; the healing process of a wound.

I have realized that the power of intention can have a dynamic impact on your life, but never more so than in these last couple months. I have experienced a tremendous shift of energy in my life purely due to my intentions. Over the course of the next month I will share how setting an intention daily has opened me to new experiences and opportunity as well as how intention can help you shift, not only your perspective, but your life.

Now a little about the first definition of intention and in the next blog post we will take a look at the concept of intention as medicine and it’s healing effects.

Merriam-Webster defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way; what one intends to do or bring about; and the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered. I am sure most are familiar with the concept of setting an intention but how does it work?

Manifesting intention has to do with the power of thought. Our thoughts are energy. Every thought we have puts energy out into the world gently influencing the nature of existence and our view of reality.

Here is a simple example. We have all woken up grumpy at some point and decided it would be a miserable day, everything that can go wrong does go wrong kinda day…. that is intention in action. Our first thoughts in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.

I am far from a morning person. Yet, I recognize that if I am grumpy every morning because I have to get up earlier that I would like to, in order to get to work on time, it will be a miserable life. Grumpy mornings lead to grumpy commutes, grumpy work days which turn into weeks, turn into years. Is that really how I want my life to be? Complaints every day because I have to wake up at 5:15?

HELL NO!

So what to do? We make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to be grateful every morning. If we wake up, AWESOME, that means we are still alive! YAY! BE GRATEFUL! That simple.

Waking up grateful does not ensure a perfectly happy day but it is a first step in realizing we can INTEND how our day will go. Try it for a week. As soon as you wake up, before you get out of bed, be grateful for something. Actually say “I am grateful for _________.”

Want a simple suggestion to start with? Try “I am grateful for my breath.” Notice if this allows you to be more mindful of your breath during the day. Do you find yourself breathing more deeply, more diaphragmatic breathing?

Take note of any subtle shift in awareness that may occur.

…and I’ll be back to see how you did and tell you how setting an intention in the morning change my life in 1 short month! Until then…..

Namaste

Fool(ish) Musings

Today we will take some time to think about “the fool’s” journey through life. This theme is represented in literature with works such as “the Epic of Gilgamesh” and ”Alice in Wonderland” among many others. Joseph Campbell, American writer and professor, described it as the archetypal hero story.

These themes are prevalent in our own lives as we grow from child to adolescent to adult, gaining insight and experience along the way. We begin our journey as the uneducated novice, (infant) bound in pure awareness, with no sense of self – hence, the fool.

Our modern language has negative connotations associated with the word FOOL, however, when looked at through the eyes of experience we see that the fool is unencumbered by societal trappings and norms. It is the fool who experiences life in all its splendor, tasting experience for what it is. There is no shame, no guilt – only pure being.

As babies, we have no sense of self (as in self-consciousness), purely instinctual beings. Our whole experience is based upon survival- cry to be fed, changed, consoled. All our energy is concentrated in the root chakra. As we grow, we develop a sense of separation, of otherness. It is at this point our energy moves into the sacral chakra. We experience the separation based upon sex and slowly become aware of the power sex and sexual identification has in our lives.
Like the fool/hero on the journey, we must come to understand that power is limited, controlling and lacking Love.
If our karma in this life allows, we move the into the third chakra, some of us developing a stable sense of self, or we become lost in the anxiety of trying to fit in. Most people are living through the energy of the lower 3 Chakras.

Progress moving the energy upwards becomes difficult due to our physical plane of existence which is constantly telling us we need more to be happy, to be loved, to fit in. Beings stuck here are trapped by instant gratification-always seeking outside of themselves.

The fool/hero, however is able, after some time, to move beyond the physical plane of power. This can happen gradually or some trauma can rend open the heart instantly allowing the experience of the power of unconditional love. This subtle energy allows us to bridge the gap between the lower and upper chakras.

This love can then assist us further on our foolish yet heroic journey through life. It allows us to see the world for what is in in pure love. It invites compassionate speech, action and opens our intuition allow a depth of understanding: everything is exactly as it should be in every moment.

This is the most difficult pill to swallow. War, greed, suffering are all intrinsic parts of human existence. They are the opposite side of the coin of love, compassion, and empathy.

At a point in history we began to see everything as duality (Eve eating the apple/Gilgamesh and Enkidu) and we lost the pure taste of awareness.

Those of us whose karma is ripening for awakening feels the “something not quite right” in how we are told to experience life.

The fool’s/hero’s journey is never straight. It is a crooked path with many missteps and falls along the way.

Take time to look at your life from the perspective of story telling. Can you identify points in early life where energy became stagnant in the lower chakras?

In working with these ideas we must remember that we are most likely not fully awakening in this go-round. We are the fool – just beginning to open our eyes to the light of truth. This is a journey of many lifetimes, unpredictable and long.

It is with this realization ( which cannot be intellectuallized) that we begin to see the face of god in everyone we meet. No one better than us, no one less than us. All god, all one. All beings moving toward the light in their own way, in their own time.

The person that cut you off on the highway is god, the megalomaniac, hell-bent on persecuting other beings is also god. It is all energy in form. All one.
As Ram Dass says “ it is all grist for the mill.”

Everything we meet is the path.

Namaste

Chakra Balancing

As we continue into week two of our chakra healing adventure, we will begin to look at how an imbalance in one chakra can affect the others. We will be working with the Vishudda (throat) chakra because most of us use our voices every day. The vishudda governs communication in all forms. It is how we express ourselves; how we express our beliefs, emotions, likes and dislikes; it shows up in our tone, inflection, and even our body language.

The Vishudda also links our inner true self with the self we put on display for the world. Most of us lead two lives. Our outer persona typically morphs into what others expect of us (or what we THINK they expect of us.) We have a role to play and show up willing to don what ever hat we have been asked to wear. Then there is our inner voice, the voice of our AUTHENTIC self. It is this voice which we need to bring forth. We need to release the fear of being ourselves.

Vishudda (Throat) /Muladhara (Root)

The root chakra grounds us, connecting us to the rich Earth energies. Support, courage, survival are the key elements of the root chakra. When the Muladhara is balanced, we KNOW who we are; we stand tall, grounded and sure footed in our understanding of our place in the world. When the root chakra is suffering from imbalance we become unsteady and can allow others to overly influence our decisions.

The imbalance of the root chakra can lead to issues with how we communicate because the energies of the root will entangle with the energies of the throat chakra. If we are lacking confidence in ourselves it show up in our speech and body language. We essentially have a hard time being our authentic self.

Our speech may begin to be colored with words of appeasement in difficult situations if the root chakra has been weakened. If we are unable to stand up for our truth, we may then have feelings of shame or inadequacy. If the root chakra is carrying an excess of energy, our speech can become clipped and insincere and we begin to dwell in the realm of the ego.

Return to Balance

In order to balance our root chakra and bring authenticity to our voice we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

Who am I?

What do I value?

Do my words, tone, and body language resonate with my inner truth?


Additionally, we can practice energy work to align our root and throat chakra.

Try this: Stand tall, barefoot in the grass. Relax your shoulders and your jaw. Take a few deep breaths and feel the Earth energy flow in to your body. You are rooted to the Earth energy, you are grounded and supported. Breathe in slowly and feel your breath swirl down your throat bathing your throat chakra in healing energies. Exhale fully, emptying the stale breath from your lungs. As you exhale, feel your throat relax and open as all of the stale breath (energy- thoughts and emotions) leave your body. Repeat these slow deep breaths; breathing in strength and truth; breathing out what no longer serves you.


This exercise can be repeated daily, strengthening our awareness of the flow of energy within the body while balancing our root and throat chakras.

If you are interested in deepening your practice or learning more about Reiki training, please contact me.

Namaste.

Reflections for a Sunday

Ideas and opinions change, views on life shift allowing for growth. New decisions and new choices allow new neural pathways to develop, creating room for more growth.


We flow moment to moment on waves of experience.

Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com


We allow our identity to be determined by our views and opinions and sometimes, even more so, by the expectations of others. This ID-entity is an illusion.
This illusion causes the separation we feel from all of creation.


We must learn to release our attachment to the idea that we are separate from our experience. We, along with everything else in the Universe, flow from moment to moment. We are a process of the Universe.

The Universe favors certain patterns (systems) which optimize flow. We see examples of this every day as our roadways resemble the circulatory or nervous systems in animals, the branches of trees, rivers and their tributaries; or the similarity between atoms and solar systems. Within these systems or patterns the flow of energy is optimized.

Briefly, let us think about the systems of our bodies- blood flows thru veins, air flows thru our lungs, hormones flow, thoughts flow- EVERYTHING is flow. Now let us think about the Earth: Rivers flow, air flows, Rock and ice flow. Nothing is static, everything is a process of flow, movement, change within a system (patterns) of energy.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everything is energy. Life is an inter-play of energetic systems, a beautiful dance. We must allow awareness of our dance with the Universe to fully blossom in order to experience the infinite.

Namaste.