Please don’t slap your label on me.

I can have a story and a past without labels. After almost 2 years of sobriety I decided I am finally in control. And that was the whole point of this “getting sober” thing. I needed to know that I was not defined by the label.

I don’t want the short period of time where alcohol masked trauma to define me for the rest of my life. I want the story of my sobriety to inspire, and give others the strength to take control of their decisions and make smart ones. Not everyone has the same story, or the same relationship with alcohol. Some of us fall down the rabbit hole without really noticing. Society allows over drinking to label itself as “stress” or “celebration” or “life of the party” and make the problem part of the solution. How many times has someone said to you in a difficult situation “let’s go get a drink” like it would make everything all better?

When I started this journey I didn’t know where it would take me. I just knew I needed change. I couldn’t control myself when it came to alcohol. I wanted that reality-altering numbness that comes along with “drunk”. I over drank EVERY day. Some people don’t realize the amount of alcohol I consumed because it was in private, those same people didn’t understand why I decided to live sober. It’s ok, I didn’t do it for those people. I didn’t do it for the people who supported me every step of the way either, although those people helped me more than they could imagine. I didn’t do it for my husband, who probably would have left me if I continued to drink the way I used to. I know he wishes he was “enough” of a reason for me to get sober, but it wouldn’t have worked if I did it for him.

I did this for me.

When faced with the question “What is holding you back from being the best version of yourself?” It was all too clear. So many times in my past I had said “I’m gonna stop doing this, I’m gonna have a couple glasses of wine like a normal person” and every single time I woke up with a massive hangover and that gross, regretful feeling when you know you did something stupid and you just can’t remember…those are the days I never want to revisit.

Those labels no longer define me. That’s what I did, it’s not who I am. I can have a healthy relationship with alcohol. I can have a story and a past without labels.

Labels are dangerous, they lead people to believe that I AM a problem, not a person.

Quit shaming people that recover differently than you.

Blogging from the back of a Hog πŸ·

Good Morning and Happy Sunday! I’m writing this from the back of a Harley, cruising at 75mph down 95 South, on our way home from Daytona Beach Bike Week. I’m wearing far too many layers for my liking. Beach should equal bikini, not State Puff Marshmallow Man. But we’re lucky πŸ€ on the St Paddy’s Sunday because we aren’t driving in the pouring rain that we prepared for! Ahhhh the silver lining. Always makes its appearance right on cue.

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best, because in the end we have ZERO control over the outcome. We can only control the way we react and respond. That’s why last night, at our last dinner in Daytona before we started our journey home, I had to remind my friend of this. He sighed heavily and said “Hell ride tomorrow.” Already anticipating cold, rain, and misery for 4-5 hours on a motorcycle. I had to poke him and say “Hey! Don’t do that!” Don’t ruin your last night, this delicious dinner, and precious time with friends, by stressing yourself out over something that may or may not happen TOMORROW! He immediately got it, and checked himself. (I want to add “before he wrecked himself” there but I won’t) 🀣 We had an awesome dinner full of laughs!

This is everything in life. You can prepare, you can react, and respond. Those are the things you can control. These are the only things you get any say about. Tomorrow’s outcome will be….what it will be. Be ready. Be bold. Be ready to roll with the punches.

So it’s raining now 🌧 Not a lot, but we’re getting wet. And again I’m grateful for my 17 layers under the “one size fits most” rain gear. I’m prepared… and as the morning sky grows lighter I hope to catch a glimpse of the sunrise, or a rainbow. Those are the little rewards for looking on the bright side.

You can’t have breakthroughs without breakdowns!

Wow.

It’s been awhile! I was in a black hole, and I’m climbing out.

Here’s the thing.

This journey is a rollercoaster. Ups and downs. Just when your on top of the highest high, you can plummet to the lowest low at record speed. Twists and turns you don’t see coming and your head is just rattling. Until you don’t know if your upside down or right side up. So much has happened in the past few months, including my 1 year of sobriety milestone. On January 20th I celebrated my sober birthday, but it did not come without some serious soul searching, resetting, pain, and personal growth!

It was alllll good when we got down here to south Florida in October to spend our winter. Quick stop in Orlando to spend time with family was awesome, then home sweet home! Thanksgiving was great! Surrounded by family and friends, alcohol removed wine in hand, I was like “I got this!” I can’t say exactly when things got bad… but it was shortly after this.

It’s crazy how your brain will worry about , stress over, and create anxiety and depression in response to things YOU HAVE NOT EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT YET! Suddenly I was just sad. I was just worried. I was feeling anxious about something but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something was looming in the back corner of my mind, I could feel it, I could sense it, but I did not know what it was.

December came in with a bang! The anniversary of my father’s suicide and my husband’s father’s death are days apart in the beginning of December. I got scheduled at work for doubles on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day! The one year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s passing was looming on the calendar in January. Our first holiday in South Florida without our boys was more difficult than we could have ever imagined. We were in a tighter financial situation than we are used to, all the while I could not turn to my BFF Tito because…ya know…SOBER!

I learned the hard way but just telling yourself that “you got this” and ” you are strong” is not enough. It’s a start, but it’s not everything! There’s so much more you need to do. And I’m not that great at juggling 57 imports things! 😫 So here’s what I’m doing…

I figure out what balls are glass, and what balls are rubber. Glass balls are the ones you can NOT let hit the ground. The important stuff. Family, kids, relationships that mean the most. Those are your glass balls. They deserve most of your focus and energy. The rubber ones are droppable. They will bounce back into the rotation when they can. And girl do you look spectacular when your juggling ALL THE BALLS πŸ‘―β€β™€οΈ That’s when you are in beast mode! TA DA I’m amazing πŸ˜‰

But not all the balls will stay in the air 100% of the time. So when you have that feeling of the world tilting on its axis, and your focus is suddenly shifting and unsteady, remember that all you need to do is keep those glass balls from hitting the ground and shattering. Everything else will bounce. Promise!

I was TODAY years old when I realized this…

I have spent the last couple of years trying to grow. Not in height obviously, I’m pretty sure I’ll be 5’1″ for the rest of my life. But to grow spiritually, to grow mentally, and maybe grow this booty!

Growth is an important part of our daily lives. When you stop growing, and you stop learning, you die. I’d like to think that I grow a little bit every day in someway. That doesn’t come without some effort, however.

I’ve been blessed to have some amazing leaders in my life and in my business. I’ve learned so much from each and everyone of them and I’ve tried to implement a little piece of what I’ve learned from them into my life every day. That’s a lot of days and a lot of pieces! And today I realized that if I add a small piece every single day that sooner or later I’m going to have way too many pieces.

Now what?! What stays? What goes?

This is the point where you need to quiet your mind and listen to your heart, your soul, and your intuition. Don’t let all the pieces cloud your mind, and distract you from your goal. Your purpose. Finding my purpose has been the #1, most important tool I’ve added to my “self love” tool box. Realizing that all my pain, every struggle, each and every “bad” thing that I have endured, has all been for a purpose and gives my story meaning. When you decide to make the mind shift from victim to victor and use the struggles and the pain to help others you will begin to feel the glow of purpose shine through the clouds of pain. You will understand and accept that IT HAD TO HAPPEN.

A very strong, successful woman said that to me on my first day of sobriety. I announced to her that “Today I have decided that I will not allow my past to define who I am. I am my only problem, and my only solution.” And I thanked her for helping me reach this incredible place with her wisdom and guidance. Her response was brilliant and I still near her so clearly in my mind “It had to happen.”

These important pieces, the ones that lead you closer to the purpose of your pain, the purpose of your journey, and the purpose of your life….don’t drop those. When it’s time to take inventory of the pieces you’re juggling and decide what stays and what goes, the most important question to ask yourself is “Does this serve me?” Decide what your purpose is and keep the things that compliment that journey.

We’ve all done a little “spring cleaning” in our closets. You look at those jeans that don’t fit anymore, but you’ve worn them so many times. They are so easy to hold onto, because they are familiar and you’ve been through so much together. Those are the jeans that you were wearing when you did that thing!! They are your favorite! I know there’s a huge hole in the knee but they were expensive! But! Do they still serve you? When’s the last time you wore them? Can you even fit into them anymore? Have they served their purpose? It may be time to let them go.

Take inventory of your life every once in awhile. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the pieces you’ve accumulated. Decide what’s moving you closer to your goal. What has served it’s purpose and what needs to be set free. Make room for new and exciting ways to grow! Besides, you can always go shopping! πŸ’•

Have you ever met a sober bartender? πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I’ve been a bartender, at least part time since I was 17. That’s 21 years, if your doing the math. For as many years as you need to have lived to legally consume alcohol, I have been mixing and serving it up to the general public. I’ve worked in the hood, on a mega yacht, in a dive bar, and at prestigious country club. I can definitely say I AM a bartender. And I love it! There’s so many incredible connections and friendships that I have cultivated through these bartending jobs. The kind of friends that, even if you haven’t seen them in months, will come rescue you when your stuck on the side of the side of the road at 2am. These people got me through some difficult times in my life. Transition periods, the part where you don’t know what to do… these friends were right there with a shoulder to cry on and a couch to crash on.

This summer was my first time bartending sober. I didn’t think twice when I started applying and interviewing at different places. I love this job. I’m good at it and it’s fun! I didn’t think twice until a very wise and sober friend asked me “Aren’t you worried that being around alcohol, and serving alcohol will be a trigger for you?” I didn’t even consider that. In fact, I was so new at this “sober thing” that I had no IDEA what my triggers were! What if I was asked to try the wines so I could explain the difference between a full bodied Merlot and a light, buttery Chardonnay to a guest? What if I had to sample the beer selection so I know exactly what “hoppy” means! What if the temptation to pour myself a drink was too strong? And I failed?

Slow your roll girl. Let’s think about this. For 21 years I have stood behind that bar and poured drinks, popped beers and blended cocktails without abusing alcohol while I did. Not to say I NEVER drank behind the bar, for many of those years a couple shift drinks at the end of the night was the norm. But one had nothing to do with the other. Serving, pouring, mixing. Those things are part of a job. Sitting on the other side, drinking. That’s a different place for me. And somehow the two don’t seem so close in my mind. But that’s me.

I prepared myself for the feels. It’s not unheard of for those babies to sneak up on you. Was I a little jealous that Angry Orchard decided to come out with their RosΓ© flavor after I got sober? Absolutely! Was I envious of all those lucky ladies enjoying wine flights at my bar? You bet! Was I mad? No. I was envious. Jealous that they COULD enjoy alcohol and I couldn’t. They could control it, instead of allowing it to control them. But I couldn’t. But I own that. I could drink if I wanted…. but I choose not to. This is my choice.

You have to own it. The good the bad and the ugly. All of it. Because the moment you play the victim and blame someone or something else, you will lose. This is my choice. I have to own it. I choose to live sober. No one made me do this. I did this because I want to be better, do better. It’s like the person on a diet watching someone enjoy cake. For a moment you are sooooo jealous and then you remember you have a goal that’s more important to you than a few moments of delicious decadence! Ughhhh but whipped cream frosting is amazing! I feel ya.

Empowerment comes when you own your circumstances and stop playing the victim. When you realize you have complete control, when you truly believe that, everything becomes easier. I’m strong enough and have enough discipline to be surrounded by the thing I can’t control and stare it down. I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I’m so grateful for that strength. I never take it for granted and I know it’s something I need to work on daily. Like a body builder with a goal, we work that much harder everyday! If we stop working, those muscles slowly get weaker. Then before you know it your back to where you started. Weak. Don’t let YOU (or anyone else) tell you that you can’t do something.

You are strong πŸ’ͺ🏼 And so am I. 😊

Sometimes you have to turn it off, wait 30 seconds and then hit restart.

Slump. It’s like a slimy lump. Bad. Bad bad. Right? Maybe not….

Life has been ever changing since… well, since we sold our home and became snowbirds Last year. If you’re not sure what a snowbird is, imagine Blanche Deveroux living in South Florida in the winter months but spending the summer up north in New England. That’s me!

Routine and consistency of routine is what I thrive on. When my brain automatically knows exactly what WE do and I don’t have to put much thought into it, I feel completely in control! I got this! I’m doing the do. I’m exercising, meditating, affirming my dreams and goals, working my business, daily self care, checking off the daily TO DO’s like a Boss Babe! My inner monologue is “You go girl! You’re a Rockstar!”

Then, my environment changes, my daily routine is disrupted, and I find myself in a slump. Then my inner monologue becomes “You suck. What happened to the Boss Babe? She was so awesome and YOU…you’re not her.” Wait just a minute… that’s not cool.

Self talk is incredibly powerful. Negative self talk especially!! When I tell myself I’m a Boss Babe Rockstar, I believe it! I work harder, I want to continue to impress myself with my progress and my wins! But when I beat myself up for stumbling, and falling I begin to question whether or not I can actually DO THIS! I doubt my success, I tell myself that I CAN’T consistently juggle all the balls without dropping a single one. Well guess what? Even the most well trained professional jugglers drop a ball or two once in awhile. It’s part of the process when mastering anything! It’s the people who pick up all the balls and RESET their mind to start again that succeed. The balls all stay in the air a little longer than last time. And you get a little closer to the end goal, mastery!

Think of a runner. The first time they laced up their sneakers and hit the pavement, they did NOT run a marathon. They may have only made it around the block before huffing and puffing their way back to the couch. But the next day they laced up those kicks again and went a little farther. Until one day they decide to challenge themselves and run the 5K, the half marathon, and then the 26.2 miles. That feeling, of crossing the finish line is the euphoria we are all chasing. Stumbling and falling is part of the process. It HAS to happen.

So when I’m faced with hurdles, and find myself falling down, I’ve decided to hit the reset button. Like that amazing piece of technology you’re holding in your hand right now, sometimes we need to shut it down and restart. Start again. Reopen each app (or intention) and breeze thru the beginning stuff that you’ve already mastered once before and push a little farther this time. This is what I do every time I find myself frustrated that things out of my control derail me. I remember the promises I made to myself and start again. Not start over, all the work I’ve already put in has made me better! Taken me a bit closer to the finish line. And do other people fly past you and finish before you? Obviously. Your not Usain Bolt! But his journey is not yours. Other people’s struggles are not yours. Their stories are not yours.

Yours goes just like this…

Only YOU get to own your story!

You’re not an addict.

This is what people say to me when I tell them I’m 7 months sober. They think that the person they see, drinking socially, enjoying a few glasses of wine with dinner, ordering frozen margaritas on the beach, and consuming what they consider to be an acceptable amount of alcohol doesn’t have a drinking problem. The person they don’t see is a person that no one got to see. For me, my habit was hidden from most. And the closet drinking was hidden from everyone. Mr Forever didn’t even know how much I was drinking. Only me. That’s a dangerous place. It’s a very difficult to own… because you don’t have to. No one is seeing that person, and most don’t see the half of it. You know who does though? That’s correct! The people closest to you. The people that mean the most. Spouses, parents, best friends, siblings. They see you at your “almost” worst. But the real rock bottom, only you can see.

No one knows your truth but you.

People don’t like to acknowledge the your issue because it forces them to look at themselves in a way that they may not be interested in at the moment. If they see you as anything but a respectable member of the drinking society, it may cause them to question their own drinking habits. But here’s the thing, we are all very different.

Person A has 7 alcoholic beverages per week, one glass of wine each night with dinner. Person B has 7 alcoholic beverages per week. All on Saturday night from 8pm-1am. Which person is an alcoholic? This is not Jr High school arithmetic and the answer just isn’t that simple.

There’s lots of reasons why people will tell you that you don’t have a problem. This WILL cause you second guess your choice. Easily convince yourself that you can control this… and relapse.

Romanticizing the idea of being able to control your addiction one day is a slippery slope.

Return to the moment that you stepped into your truth. Admission, realization, and humbleness. Remember that strength. Remember why you made that choice. Remember the loved ones that you’ve hurt, disappointed, or lost. Remember how far you’ve come before you decide to go back. Back to zero.

Only you get to determine your breaking point, your rock bottom, your “enough is enough” moment. Only you get to decide your path. And ONLY you get to decide what your future looks like. Choose carefully. πŸ’•

Funeral For a Stranger

I attended the funeral of a woman whom I never met recently. A friend’s sister who lost her short battle with cancer at the age of 54. She left behind a daughter, mother, brother and sister, as well as an entire Catholic Church full of other family and friends who loved her deeply. Going to a funeral is never a joyous occasion. However, being unattached to the deceased completely, I found my mind wandering into some interesting thoughts.

I’m a people watcher. I like to look at people and imagine who they are in this world, how they may be connected to this woman, and what their life has been like with her in it. I see her elderly mother in the first pew, completely devastated by the loss of her child. Someone sitting next to her consoles her and embraces her as she silently dabs away the tears rolling down her cheeks. There is a young girl in the first pew as well, I assume it’s her daughter and I wonder what life will be like for her now. Who will care for her. How will this effect her future. I find myself wondering what my life would have been like without my mother.

By now we are half way thru the 1 hour catholic funeral mass. I’m feeling all the feels because I’m not mourning the loss of a friend, I’m mourning the possibility that I too could be in everyone of their shoes someday. Saying goodbye to my friend, my mom, my loved one. And someday, I’ll be the one in that box, watching as people come to pay their respects and give my family condolences. Who will be there to represent my life that day? What will they all say about my life and the time I spent here on earth?

Leaving the church and stepping out into the bright summer sun, the funeral goers gather in front of the church to discuss the plans for the day. It’s like a trance has been lifted and Saturday rolls on. It’s over. The funeral, the crying, the hymns, the mourning, her life here on this earth…. it’s over. Just like that. Will they speak about her later over lunch and laugh remembering some of their silly memories together? Will they take turns telling their favorite stories and vow to keep them fresh in their minds? To never forget? It’s interesting how a funeral for a stranger will bring you to very real question. What will it be like when I die?

One thing I know for sure, I’m living every second of my day for me! The infinite time of our “entire life” seems to be endless. The end is no where in sight. You’ve got plenty of time… right? Wrong! Make it count! Make it good! Live without regret, without fear of judgment, and without limitations! Your last day could be closer than you think.

Finding other vices

It’s crazy what we tell ourselves we NEED when we let go of a habit. We tell ourselves that we need a crutch, something to help take the edge off. We can’t possibly do this without something else to lean on, another vice to satisfy the spark in our brain that tells us we need a mind altering existence. Whether it be caffeine or cocaine, your brain can convince you that it’s OK to pick up another habit when you’re dropping one of such significance in your life.

Since I’ve gotten sober I started smoking again. I told myself that it was OK because I was making such a huge life change by getting sober. I would just do it for a short time until I didn’t NEED it anymore. It certainly isn’t the worst thing I could be doing! My built in, pre-disposed defense mechanism kicked in and said “you need this! You’re not going to get through this without it!” And so I made it my excuse.

5 months later, I’ve decided to flip the switch… same way I flipped the “drinking switch!” And it amazes me how crippling our own thoughts can be. I believed I couldn’t get through the first steps of my sobriety without smoking because I convinced myself I wasn’t strong enough.

I realized I was creating this block in my own mind. How does this help me reach my goals? How does it get me closer to the goals I set for myself and ultimately closer to living my best life? How can I tell people that THEY are strong enough to live a sober life after abuse when I can’t even kick a smoking habit. It was so clear to me that this, like anything else, was all created in my own mind as reality. And therefore I believed it. It was so simple to change the script, change the story, and tell the words I wanted to tell. Tell my truth. I do NOT need this. Or any other vice. I am good.

The key is not “trying” to not drink (smoke, or whatever your thing is). The key is changing your story. Rewire your conscious mind! It tells YOU that your an addict, a weak minded person, your out of control, you need this.

Get real!! Get strong!! Knowing that you are in complete control of the storyline. Today is the day you flip the script πŸ˜‰ What’s your story?

Trusting after Abuse

Love yourself so love will not be a stranger when it comes-Jenifer Lewis

Letting someone in after years of sexual abuse is a huge wall to scale. It’s hard to understand that someone wants to GIVE love and affection unconditionally. Not for the pleasure they will receive in return. I didn’t know how to trust anymore. I knew how to love, but I didn’t know how to receive love. I was afraid to expose myself to those emotions again. How do you know that you won’t be betrayed? How can I expect someone to understand me, when I don’t even understand myself and I can’t find the words to explain this.

The hardest thing I’ve had to learn is that there is no way to turn back time and prevent the abuse, or transform myself into a person without this painful past. It’s part of me. It’s one of the many threads that makes up my soul. It’s deep, it’s dark, and it’s not beautiful, but it’s me. Trying to change that is a waste of time and energy.

When I met Mr. Forever, I immediately felt something different. A new emotion that I was not familiar with. He fought to win my trust, and proved he deserved it by being supportive, understanding and caring. There was a peace and a comfort that I’ve never experienced. I knew I could be vulnerable, and a small part of my wall came down.

He chose to walk this difficult path by my side. With my heart in his hands, he committed to me with nothing but love, devotion, understanding, courage and bravery. He taught me how to experience passion without feeling guilty, and how to just enjoy the feeling of being loved and loving someone in return with all of my heart and soul. I thought it was impossible to open my soul to someone who would love me for who I am and accept me with all my personal baggage and painful past.

It’s not easy to love me. I had a hard time loving myself, and I’m only just now learning to do so. My knight in shining armor is extra strong, and extra brave. Enough for the both of us. In this way, I am the luckiest. It’s his birthday tomorrow, but he is my gift. Everyday πŸ’ž