The Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton

Recently I found myself sitting in the Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

For those that don’t know me, I love coffee, the ocean, sun, sand, fashion and movie stars! When I was young my baby sitter was often, Good Morning America, Matinee Movies, Soap Operas and Entertainment Tonight.  This hotel was filled with Starlite Movie Star energy of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the like.  It was spectacular and I was so excited!

It was Friday night and I was attending a conference.  I arrived early, found a row with a good view of the podium and settled into an aisle seat.  As I sat in the empty room, I followed my breath as over 500 women spilled into the cool, quiet room raising the temperature and volume.  I knew I was about to hear something I could bring to my clients, but I didn’t expect it to touch my heart as it has.

The speaker, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough to name a few, was introduced and walked on to the stage.  All these titles I own and purposefully did not read, I had no knowledge of her nor an expectation of the talk.  I was excited to meet her.

Cheryl started to share her story and within ten minutes the tears were streaming my face.  Cheryl’s share of her own recovery of the death of her mother and drug use touched me deeply and broke open my heartbroken heart.  The loud voice in my head screamed, “its been over 40 years since mom died, why is my heart breaking again?”  Today I understand why the tears streamed and why my pain was felt so deeply.  Deep love creates deep sorrow and at times I will experience this and miss her like I lost her yesterday.  I needed to write and share.

As Cheryl shared about her relationship with her mom, she asked four questions,

“How is my recovery intertwined in my Mom’s story?” (as I remember) 

“What was it like for me?” 

“How did it feel being trapped in a cycle?”

“What did it take to escape?”

I’ve been pondering and journaling about these questions for more than a week.  Struggling to revisit The Story.   Wanting to revisit the script of The Story.    Praying for the strength, words, and vulnerability to take the risk to write and share.  My intention is understand my feelings, be authentic and to move just one person the way I was moved.  Its time to re-write my story from this perspective.  That cold January night my mom died completely altered my life.  I had lived many years ruining myself because of my pain and my broken heart.  Today I choose to live my life living out every dream to honor her.  On my 39th birthday, I thought I’ve out lived her and today I think she’ll never live to half a century as I have.  I will carry this pain and loneliness and I’ve accepted to recover with intention about becoming the woman I’m intended to be.  The woman that she would be honored to have as a daughter.

 

How My Recovery is Intertwined in my Mom’s Story (as I remember) -

Mom was a loving, funny, resilient, and fearless woman.  She had many other amazing qualities, but these stand out.  During my last 11 years of recovery, these characteristics are helping me change and transform.   

Love for myself and those around me.  Unconditional God-like Love!  That love that has no judgement, just acceptance.

Humor, as my Handsome Husband Hal and I have shared several times this year “let’s throw our heads back in laughter” as we walk in our beloved Calgary and with fur baby Ollie.  Deciding not to take life so seriously, but more importantly, ourselves.

Resilience, keep putting one foot in front of the other, do the next right thing, even when I don’t feel like it.  Even when my heart was breaking.  Even when my dreams and expectations had been shattered.  Why, because I had to survive, just like that cold January night she died.  When Hal and I suffered our sixth miscarriage, I had to surrender, let go of the expectation I’d have our children.  The good (I can say that now) was in the extreme pain of our fifth miscarriage, it brought me to my last drunken alcoholic bottom.  I witnessed my Mom’s loss of children and it almost killed her as my losses almost killed me. 

Fearlessness, I say “fear, you can come along, but you can’t drive anymore.  Your seat is in the back of the car, stay there and be quiet.”  As a child I saw moments my Mom was fearless and even free to be herself.

“What was it like for me?”  and “How did it feel being trapped in a cycle?”

Looking back with a healthy perspective, she was trapped by her own pain, her own broken heart and possibly in a cycle of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.  I saw alcohol become a coping tool for her that kept her in isolation and shame.  Ironically, I did the very same thing when I couldn’t cope, turned to alcohol to numb.  Feeling shame, not enough, alone and trapped in all that heart ache and pain just as she was.

“What did it take to escape?”

A spring morning in 2007, Hal looked at me with tear filled eyes and said, “I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what happens to you, I won’t watch you do this any more, I’m done and I’m out.”

Hal’s emotional bottom was not the first, but it was the last.  I had a moment of clarity and I heard Hal with my heart.  That day was the beginning of the journey to escape the grips of my alcoholism.  To escape my isolation, my shame.  This was my deepest bottom that allowed me to touch the Power that resides deep within me.  Is was scary to risk being this vulnerable, but the truth was, I had so much relief.  In the relief, was fear but is was in the back seat and this Power had the stirring wheel.

So, when the conversation in your head says you're not enough, when the shame is unbearable and you’re full of fear, how can you remind yourself to…

Be Love

Be Humorous

Be Resilient

Be Fearless

Professional Coaches Exposed

This week I gathered with my tribe of professional coaches to discuss a bouquet of topics.  One of the topics was to educate and expose the public to professional coaching and as a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) that's one of my responsibilities and acts of service.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines professional coaching as:

"partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."

The best way to experience coaching (if you haven't already) is to have a session.  I'd be thrilled and honored to introduce you to and expose you to how professional coaching sounds, feels, and looks like.  Let's connect!

 

 

Bullies are not only children...

Middle school bullies and mean girls grow up and become adult bullies and mean girls.  Grown up queen-bees and bullying behaviour remains the same as back in the day: it systematically targets people with the intention to intimidate, undermine, or degrade.  The same tricks get recycled too: gossip (lies), sabotage, exclusion, public shaming and many more deliberate behaviours.

According to www.bullyingstatistics.org "The goal of the adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult and try and humiliate victims, and "show them who is boss.""

"Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others." - Paramahansa Yogananda

Being bullied is very painful and truly a tragic experience.  Having thought once we grew up into adulthood we would no longer have to experience (cope) with mean girls, group clicks, gangs, gossips and liars.  These people who need to feel good or worthy at the expense of another is horrific.  People who bully are acting in premeditation and deliberate cruelty.

Adult bullying is very serious and very real.  I have personally experienced adult bullying and would love to share how working with my coach has helped me move through the pain, heal and find a more courageous and graceful self.

Are you a victim of bullies, mean girls or boys?  Plese reach out, I'd love to listen.

From People Pleasing to Choosing to Serve

People pleasing is something I grew up practicing.  I thought people would like me if I did what they wanted.  I did things for people hoping it would make them include me, accept me.  I said, acted and dressed just to please.  I did things people wanted me to do even if I hated it or knew it wasn't right.  This people pleasing developed into an enormous mask for not meeting myself.  I was all tangled up in what I thought people wanted me to be and I never got to know myself.  I never met the real and authentic me.  This people pleasing got me mixed up in making bad decisions,  choosing wrong people doing risky things in dangerous places.  It has taken me a decade to "meet" myself and understand my thoughts, emotions and actions. 

Today as a recovery life coach, I choose to serve others. I serve myself by being honest with myself.  I'm meeting myself where I am and knowing who I am.  I set boundaries.  I've learned to say "Yes" to myself more.  Today I discern.  I listen to my instincts and don't allow others to talk me into or out of what I know to be true and right for me.

How can you say "Yes" to yourself more?

Snapshot of 2017

Just can't believe I haven't written this year, apparently so busy with all this deep internal work I've forgotten to write.

This year I've been consciously practicing living into my values. Believing in love, kindness, honesty, peace, joy and courage - then living into these beliefs daily by consciously being that!  By being lovingBeing kindBeing honest.  Being peacefulBeing joyfulBeing courageous

Of course life and the ego likes to throw curve balls and I get off track.  Getting myself back to centre by daily reminding myself of who I am, what's important in my life, and consciously thankful.

Along with values, I've been practicing one of the most important spiritual principles ...Humility.  

A few quotes I love..."A clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be." Bill W.

"Humility allows us to be one of many, to know that we are wondrous and enough just as we are.  When we practice humility, we have a strong sense of our own intrinsic worth that isn't dependent on anything we do, have, or own." from the book "We" by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel.

Humility provides me with a spiritual defense against my ego.  I get rightsized and know I'm not the worst, I'm not the best, I'm just me and that is wonderful!

What spiritual principals speak to you?

What are your core values?

What 50 Looks Like....

Its a Sunday morning in December and I begin this story on a plane from the fidget cold of -34 celsius in Calgary, AB, Canada heading to British Columbia to visit with a treatment centre.  As a recovery coach, I'm visiting to learn the centre's culture and philosophy and to share my coaching services with their clients and staff members.

The sun is beating in through the aircraft window and the amazing Rocky Mountains are directly below, I'm so blessed, grateful and happy.  This is my second flight in less than ten days.  A week ago, I flew home from the glorious Maui, Hawaii. 

I celebrated my 50th birthday and my 9 years of recovery from alcoholism over 12 joyful days in one of the most special places on earth - Hawaii!  Some people say I'm lucky...lucky to have a handsome, loving, supportive husband.  An amazing home and fun fur son.  Loving family and friends.  A rewarding coaching practice, the most special clients a coach for ask for.  I say I'm blessed and all I needed was hope.  The same hope that was foundational in my journey of recovery from addiction.  

Nine years ago November I was hanging on by a very thin thread.  Alcohol was killing me and stealing everything I loved.  That handsome, loving, supportive husband had packed his bags.  My fur babies hid from me.  My family and friends weren't taking my calls and my home was going to be sold.  I had a glimmer of hope that just maybe I could redeem myself.  Maybe just maybe I would not drink today. Maybe just maybe I could be normal and function like others do.  Well here I am at 50 and sober functioning in the world as others do.  Putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing.  Staying present in today.  Growing and stretching as a human and uncovering who I truly am.

I'm not lucky.....I'm blessed!  I'm so excited to be 50 and to see what the year holds for me.  This journey of recovery has shown me why I did what I did, why I made the decisions I made and how to create a life that my heart has always desired.  I've learned how to accept and forgive myself.  How to change my thoughts and create new healthy thoughts.   Recognize expectations of myself and those around me and identify when they are realistic and unrealistic.  My journey of recovery is so much more than I could have ever imagined.  I had no idea what I was getting into, but am so grateful for that little bit of hope I had for a different and new life. 

I pray those who are struggling with addiction to hang on to that small bit of hope.  You too can recover and create a life you've always dreamt of.

 

A Horror Story

Living in addiction was A Horror Story!

The darkness, isolation, hiding, sneaking, and constant fear.  Constant trembling skeleton, shaking sweaty hands, heart fluttering, jumpiness and profuse entire body sweats. Days of living in this state until I could drink again, to escape the horrors of my life.  The traumas, problems and situations I knew no other way to deal with or handle.  The issues that were too big I didn't know any other way to cope, so I hid in bottle after bottle of alcohol.

I lied for alcohol.  I hid alcohol.  I justified alcohol.  I made excuse after excuse for alcohol.  I down played my relationship with alcohol.  I wore so many masks to keep my secret of alcohol.....scary images of my life flashed before my eyes.  My relationship with alcohol was digging my grave and death was creeping closer and closer.

I escaped the alcoholic death! 

I learned how to deal with the traumas, problems, and situations using recovery tools.

Today in recovery, I live an Adventure Story, a Comedy Story and a Love Story!

How badly do you want to change your Story?

Please join me in my FREE Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/mindfulrecoverycommunity/

 

What Are My Options?

Since the beginning of my coaching career, I've been educating the public about what services a Recovery Life Coach provides.  I've blogged here the role of a Recovery Life Coach.  Also written about the differences that a Recovery Life Coach provides vs. a 12 Step Sponsor.

This article is amazing and presents a clear description of the differences of a Peer Recovery Support Specialist, Addiction Counselor, and a Professional Recovery Coach.

Its my hope that you find this article helpful to you and those you love.

 

Thousands of $$$ Spent on Booze....Addiction is Expensive

While walking my sweet dog Ollie today, a memory of an exercise I did during the first weeks of sobriety came flooding in.  It was such a strong memory, I could feel cigarette smoke in my throat.

From November 11 to November 26, 2007 I spent my days at a government day treatment program.  Here I learned about addiction.  They asked our group to write down the amount of liquor drank on a daily basis and calculate the monthly amount of money spent. 

I was so shocked to learn I spend over $1,000.00 a month in secret!

This $1,000 did not include when my husband and I went out for dinners, to friends parties, had people in to our home, Saturday afternoon cocktails at the neighbors and in our local pubs.

Frequently I speak with people who are wishing to make changes in their lives and to create a new lifestyle for themselves and they're families.  Some see the value in getting sober and creating a new lifestyle and some don't.  I was willing to spend whatever it would take to get sober and stay sober!

What value do you put on your transformation from addiction to recovery?

Is today the day you decide you're worth saving?

My First 12 Step Visit and the Hugs

Lately, I've been thinking about the very first time I walked into a meeting of a 12 Step group.  I was greeted outside by a woman who had met with my husband and I previously.  She walked up to me with a huge smile and arms wide open and asked "can I hug you?",  I quickly said sure.  This was the first of many hugs.  I didn't expect that and honesty wasn't sure how to take it, but I went with it and walked up the stairs into an all ladies meeting.  The butterflies where wild in me and I was shocked at what I saw.  All kinds of women, laughing, smiling, chatting, making coffee, organizing books and binders and chit chatting away.  They were so foreign to me, is this what 12 Step looked like?  Is this what alcoholic women sounded like, happy, joyous, alive, free and beautiful?  Safety comes to mind.  I felt safe in a very strange way.  I felt like I oddly fit in.  Geeze, I didn't want to belong here, but every instinct within me screamed I did! 

Quickly the buzzing, chatting women sat down, more came in and the woman at the head of the room, with all the books and binders in front of her, spoke.  My sweet new friend, touched me and said "the meeting is starting".  I was excited and fearful all at the same time.

Women began sharing and talking about their relationship with alcohol.  What it was like, what happened and how they came to a 12 Step Group and what their lives where like in sobriety.  I have no idea exactly what they said, but I do remember how I felt, safe.  I felt love.  I felt hope.  I felt relief.  I felt apart of.  I felt here was my answer to my drinking.

The close of the meeting was announced and we all stood, took hands and shared in the Serenity prayer.  My sweet new friend hugged me again and said "keep coming back".  More women came up to me and hugged and welcomed me. I was so overwhelmed by love.  I left with a new book and a two page list of women's names and phone numbers I could call at any time.  Their love, honesty and hope shocked me.  I wanted what they had, so I kept going, in spite of myself.  In spite of my ego and fear, I kept going.

Are you willing, in spite of yourself, to have your first 12 Step visit?