Grace

What if we were able to view our struggles as Grace?

I know that might seem like a crazy question to ask. You may be thinking “How could she ask me to look at my struggles my pain, my suffering as grace?”

…and 15 years ago, I would have agreed with you.

My perspective has shifted. It did not happen overnight but through a process shedding the ideas, beliefs and constructs I had learned to believe about who I actually am.

From where I’m standing now I can look back at every perceived struggle, every bit of pain and suffering; whether it was spiritual, physical or mental, and see it has been Grace. Every decision I’ve made for good or ill has led me down the path my soul required I walk in order to learn the lessons needed in this lifetime; to live with an open heart and not one filled with fear.

When I release the need to view my struggles through the eyes of victim-hood, and instead, the through the eyes of a student being guided by a master teacher, I am better able to release my attachment to outcomes and remove my expectations from situations of which I have no control over; moving through my days in a state of flow, not constriction.

Photo by Man Dy on Pexels.com

In doing this, I am also better able to forgive others. When we forgive ourselves for misguided judgment it becomes easier to forgive others. We learn that we are not perfect and neither is anyone else. We are each learning day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.

I am not the person I was yesterday. You are not the same person you were last week . Each new choice opens us to the pure potentiality of our experience.

We begin to hold ourselves and others to a standard of GRACE, not perfection.

Namaste

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

Mindful Beauty

Since we usually tend to focus on what we put in our bodies, I thought I would share a little about being mindful about what we put on our bodies.

The health and beauty industry thrives on promises to remove cellulite, wrinkles, blemishes, etc… But at what cost to our health and that of the environment. Numerous ingredients in cosmetics, shampoos, and lotions contain possible toxic and carcinogenic ingredients. In addition, some exfoliators, which contain tiny plastic beads, are polluting our lakes, rivers and oceans.

The majority of these beauty products are packaged in plastic as well. Plastic is cheap and convenient. As we all know, plastics containing BPA and other harmful chemicals are used routinely for beauty products. Even some organic and natural products use plastic packaging.

It seems almost impossible to get away from using plastic. We have eliminated quite a bit in our house, but still feel the little we have is too much.

Hence learning to make my own products. I strictly use glass or cosmetic grade metal containers, which are reusable.

It is also more cost effective to make things like lip balm and body butter. You can buy a pound of raw Shea Butter for less than the total cost of product(s) that contain only a small amount of the Shea Butter. The next time you are in the store, take a look at the unit price of your favorite face cream, then take look at the ingredients. I guarantee you are over-paying for your 2 ounces of serum that contains barely 1/2 ounce of argan oil. You are paying for packaging and the label.

Not into making your own products but want peace of mind knowing you are getting a product that is safe for you and the environment?

Check out Environmental Working Group to see how your current products rank as far as ingredients goes and maybe you’ll find a healthier alternative for you and the Earth.

Also check out Grove Collaborative for reduced plastic and more sustainable options. I love their new fall scents- 🍁Pumpkin Spice!

Being mindful of what we put on (and in) our bodies allows us to not only take better care of ourselves, but of our loved ones and the environment.

Namaste

For more information on plastic pollution follow link:

Find Pleasure in the Simple Things

By 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦, I mean natural. We are inherently surrounded by elegant simplicity. The delicate fold of a new leaf unfurling; the gentle decent of that same leaf, months later, as it is released by the steadfast deciduous of its birth.

We now live in an unnatural world of concrete and plastic; imitation flora decorating the interior landscape of our homes and offices; completely removed form the 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘺 parts of actual life such as the slaughter of meat for constant consumption.
Would you eat meat if you had to kill and dress it yourself? I wouldn’t. So I don’t eat meat.

Our modern trappings have so removed from being able to actually take pleasure in simplicity.

Go outside today. Learn the names of the tress in your immediate space, smell a wildflower as it struggles for sunlight through a crack in the concrete jungle.

What wonders can be found just outside your doorstep, waiting to be cherished for the integral part of existence that it quietly is?

Slowing Down

I’ve been starting some of my mornings sitting in my backyard gazing off into the woods

Listening to the birds crickets and other insects are cacophony of silence nature in its splendor

The gentle breeze stirs the leaves on the tree as sunlight infuse them with such a verdant green color that has begun to shift towards amber- scarlet hues

I feel the gentle breeze on my skin; a hint of coolness, subtleties of autumn

I see delicate spiderwebs shimmer as the sun catches and reflects in each droplet of dew

I hear a hawk, more near now searching for prey in the morning sunlight

There is so much promise in the morning light