“Naturally, there is an obstacle to all this wonderment. Alas, it turns out that the process of unification requires saying ‘no’ to actions that do not support dharma–saying ‘no’ to detours, and to side channels of all kinds, even to some pretty terrific side channels. It requires snipping off all manner of ‘other options.’ The root of the word ‘decide’ means, literally, ‘to cut off.’ To decide for something means at times to decide against something else.” -Stephen Cope
Powerful, right? I love how Cope talks about achieving unification through singular purpose. Taking one path. Achieving one goal first. Literally cutting off all options until you’ve achieved your goal or finished down the path you’re on. How relevant is that? I feel like I am constantly being enticed down a million different paths. I love the singularity of achieving just one. What is your dream? Your goal? Your dharma? The ONE thing that is SO important to you, that you are willing to say no to other things…awesome things, awesome paths, but not the thing or path that leads you to the completion of your goal?
A strong desire coupled with clarity of purpose is a strong piece to this puzzle. It is hard to make decisions when you are unclear of your end goal. What is it that you want? And more importantly, why do you want it? Without understanding those two answers, motivation becomes weak. Choices are hard to make.
The clearer the goal, the easier it is to work backwards: to define the steps you need to take in order to achieve it, to visualize the person you must become, to acknowledge the amount of suffering you are willing to withstand, to have the strength to face fear and self-doubt head on, and then to feel confident in the path you choose. No one is ever going to understand your why, so it is important that you understand it. Engrave your dharma in your soul. Don’t let what is comfortable or easy or pleasure-filled creep in and change what you want. Pleasure is a much easier path. It distracts us. It helps us feel good in the moment, but we can forget who we are and what our soul desires.
One of the the obstacles I removed from my life six months ago was alcohol. After years of trying to make it work for me, I realized it wasn’t helping me achieve my goals. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Mentally it made me a depressed wreck and physically I felt rundown, inflamed, bloated and had a hard time digesting food. Since I am world’s best at being all or nothing :), I just took it completely out of my life.
I came to the conclusion that it is okay to not be addicted to something, but still feel a need to take it out of your life if it is not serving you. Until I completely removed alcohol, I had no idea just how much of a pleasure source it was for me. It was something that felt really good and fun and acceptable, but it kept taking me further away from what I ultimately wanted.
I felt compelled to re-evaluate what was important in my life and what I was willing to give up in order to achieve it. Date nights, bachelorette parties, weddings, hanging out with friends, football games, stressful nights…all sans alcohol. It was tough! It’s still kinda tough, if I’m being honest. It had become a central part of my social life and I had to relearn what my life looked like without it. I started going on more walks to de-stress, having more purposeful conversations, mindfully eating, sleeping better and spending more quality time with my hubs. Best husband award goes to Jarrod for also going sober to support my lofty goals. He’s pretty amazing.
Honestly, it made me feel so much better almost immediately. My skin cleared up, my fluffy body slimmed up, and the best part…I had SO MUCH free time! I started thinking about ways to fill the time that got me closer to what I wanted out of my life…insert becoming a spin instructor. I honestly do not think I would have made the team if I was still drinking, nor would I have had the courage to try out. I needed the sleep and recovery. The workout was challenging enough without being on a podium, talking, inspiring and leading a full 45 minute class on a bike. I needed to feel confident. I needed to feel like I was living a life I was proud of so I could get up there in front of 45 people and not only be the best version of myself, but be confident in being a leader up there. Those lights are very transparent! It has helped me grow and be 100% responsible for my actions. It has helped me show up, for myself and for others. It has helped me take a risk I would’ve normally not taken. And it’s just the beginning of the path, and only a small part of my journey.
I also started to feel authentic in who I claimed to be, who I wanted to be and who I was becoming. For some reason alcohol has always made me have a weird feeling. I don’t really like who I am when I drink. I don’t like the things I say or do. I like being purposeful in my actions. Plus, I swear my body hates it. I don’t know if I’m allergic or what, but I feel miserable after drinking, so I have always felt like I shouldn’t be doing it. I have a hard time moderating alcohol. I’ve made bad decisions, emotionally hurt people, missed opportunities, and put myself in dangerous situations. It’s not the same for everyone, and I am definitely not against people drinking, but for me, it was a big weight on me that I needed to deal with. It’s like wanting to lose weight, but still eating cake every night :). I wanted to feel healthy, authentic, and be the best version of myself, but I was still drinking and feeling miserable. I kept telling myself, I don’t have a problem, everyone else does it, I should be able to manage it too, but it weighed on me and I needed to free my mind of that weight.
However, this subject is tough to talk about without sounding judgmental. Drinking seems like the one thing people don’t like to talk about giving up. It’s a non-negotiable. I see some of my clients at the gym work so hard and eat so well, but say they would never give up alcohol. “Life is too stressful.” But then they are unhappy with themselves, want to lose weight, be healthy and feel confident. And the funny thing is, I was right there with them. I was a leader, a coach, and a fitness professional who also struggled with feeling confident, losing weight and finding energy. I too didn’t want to give up anything that created balance in my life or made me feel normal or happy. Honestly, this isn’t just about alcohol, it could be anything. Should my next post be a blog on sugar or carbs? 🙂 Goodbye, readership! But it’s true, people don’t like to talk about giving up things that make them feel good, even if it’s just for a moment.
I struggled knowing that taking out alcohol made me feel better, but I wondered if it would be worth it permanently? If I gave up alcohol, would it be worth what I was missing out on, for the path I was walking down? Would people judge me? Would people think I had a problem? Could I just use moderation instead? Were any of my health problems related to other things? Did I REALLY need to take out alcohol?
After six months being alcohol-free, which is so small in the scheme of things, I can honestly say, I’m thankful I had the courage to just try it. I didn’t let the questions, fear and self-doubt paralyze me. Do I have any regrets? Not really, but I definitely miss a good Tempranillo at my favorite Texas vineyard, wine dates coupled with heartfelt conversations with my friends, celebratory tequila shots with my LOVE Cycling crew, a mexican martini with my hubs on date night, and the de-stresser drink after a hard day. For sure.
But I’m so enthralled with my life now. I feel confident. I feel authentic. I feel healthy. I feel purposeful. I feel radiant. Everyone has something different in their life. It’s definitely not always alcohol. But there may be someone or something that could be holding them back from genuinely showing up in the world. One of mine just happens to be alcohol. I know I have more obstacles worth tackling as well.
I also know that I can’t do the same things I’ve always done, and expect results I’ve never seen before. I have to change it up. I have to let go of something in order to gain something else. Slowly removing the obstacles and self-doubt to become the woman I so long to be. To show up everyday. To radiate. To be positive. To accept that life is short. To live each day purposefully, knowing it could very well be my last. Deciding what that life looks like and then taking action to purposefully achieve it.
Thank you for allowing me to be transparent. This is all a walk on the side of love and not judgment. Acknowledging my own struggles and showing you part of my journey. Helping me become clearer on why I do what I do and what is important in my life. Challenging others to ask meaningful questions and look inward. To feel confident with ourselves, our choices and the path we are walking down. Head held high. Heart bursting. With a skip in our step. Until we reach the end of our road and head down another.
Today’s Daily Affirmation: No matter what path I am on, it is the right path for me. I believe in my journey. I am stronger than my desires. I am authentically showing up in the world. I am creating opportunities. I am better today than I was yesterday. I am healthy. I am courageous. I can go through challenging times and come out stronger. I am learning from my mistakes. I am important. My life has meaning. Today I will show up. I will serve others and I will be the best version of myself. I am already perfect, beautiful and whole.