Hello fellow humans,
I offer you a vulnerability and transparency alert! What you are about to read is raw, real, and not so pretty.
During the the month of October, for 31 days, I took the "Sober October" challenge. What does that actually mean? Translated: do not to drink alcohol for one entire month. It was an incredible experience to say the least. I was not perfect (gasp ;) yet the teachings and wisdom I gained, though bitter pills, were profound.
Did I drink? Did I fail? Yes, twice. Once was at a picture perfect, epic wedding in mid-October. I toasted with champagne (2 glasses actually ;) celebrating love, an exquisite fall night, the fullness of the moon & life while overlooking a gorgeous valley with the Sonoma Mountains rising majestically. The event was a joyful celebration and choosing to drink came from a conscious place of asking myself, if I died in my sleep, would I be sad I didn't toast the event. My answer was yes. I woke up feeling good about my decision and did not miss a beat. I thought I had Sober October no problem!
The second time, my experience was quite the opposite. On Sunday, October 27, in the midst of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, Sober October had me. We had lost power and friends who still had the lights on invited my family over after church to charge our phones, computers, play corn hole and have some food & drinks. Feeling like I was sliding into home plate, bloody, fearful & exhausted, I said to myself ' to heck with it, I am having a drink.' I rationalized with myself that I deserved it after all the stress, sleepless nights of worry, having to cancel my trip back to Michigan to ready for our own evacuation, all the while the fire was growing and the winds howling. I simply wanted to let down for a moment, forget about the fire, and basically numb out. BAD idea. The perfect combination of fried nervous system, lack of sleep and food, compounded by a foggy brain and oodles of cortisol & adrenaline pumping through my veins was not optimal. One drink led to two and then the bubbly came out. I kept saying yes even though it was clearly not in celebration. I consciously remember asking myself the same question, if I died in my sleep would I be disappointed. My reply to self... 'shut up and have a drink.' Sparing you the rest of the details, I woke up feeling 100% like total garbage. Unhealthy, exhausted, ashamed of not listening to my inner voice, and thus even more afraid of what was to come with a fire at 0% containment. Needless to say, it set me up for a much harder week to come. During a time of natural disaster where I needed to be ready, this thoughtless choice knocked me down and I struggled to pull myself back up each day. I felt sorry for myself. I did get up everyday to volunteer in the shelters and distribution center, but it was SO hard. I had lead-filled bones and brain fog. It felt like depression mixed with the flu where I had to battle simply to get out of bed to get down to the important work that needed to be done. I was not a warrior, I was an injured soldier. I was not prepared, I was exhausted.
But I did get up and at it day after day. It took one full week to feel back to normal. Seven days were lost for three hours of indulgence. Was it worth it? Absolutely not. Yet, I decided I could continue to punish myself for a poor choice. I had to remember that though I chose to drink two days in October, I still chose my healthier self 29 days and counting now into November. Sober October has turned into a new way of viewing alcohol and its place in my life. I am not choosing sober as a badge of honor or to elevate me above those who drink regularly; not at all. I am simply realizing that I must choose wisely my moments of indulgence and couple them with celebration. For me, drinking for any other reason than joy is not helpful to the life I strive to live each day; one of vibrant health, meaningful life and passionate purpose overflowing with love, freedom, and abundance.
What is the moral of this story: When life hits and knocks us down, we need to be prepared body, mind and heart. And that is the work... for it's not a matter of if, it's only a matter of when. Being ready doesn't simply happen by thinking it so. It takes day in and day out conscious choices of healthy food and drink, sleep, positive relationships, meaningful work, movement and mindful reflection. Conscious, healthy choices keep us clear, alert, vibrant and ready to meet life's challenges with response, not reaction. That is why the people who show up during a time of natural disaster are called First Responders, not First Reactors. And thank goodness for that. The last thing we would want during a fire or any other disaster are fire fighters, paramedics, or police not ready to do the work they are trained to do, fully prepared and running on all cylinders. Thus, my lesson. Choose to be a responder to life's challenges, large or small; be ready, not reactive. And remember it's about practice, not perfection. Fall down, get up. Chop wood, carry water. Life falls apart, put it back together... and carry on. Over and over. I am here doing the work right alongside you. Thanks for being with me on this journey called life.
"If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them."
“The EmbodyGR community embraces and supports, says ‘yes you can’ when the noisy inner voice says, ‘no you can’t’ – Kari Wilson, Community Member