Because I Keep Saying I Will

And it’s time to finally commit.

Have you ever heard a speech about someone who had something horrible happen to them and it changed their life? Cancer, a car accident, an injury, a fight, a sickness, a relationship ending, being arrested. They get up on stage and start with how it all changed for them. My goal in this life is to never have to give that speech because I was in control of my life being amazing and nothing had to happen to me to change it. One of my other goals is to make sure others are living their lives in a way that they won’t have to either.

I’ve been an insomniac due to my nightmares since I was tiny. My mom would take a nap while I played on the floor of her room since I wouldn’t take a nap myself. Over the years, I’ve tried everything to learn how to sleep — from reading books to working out and everything in between. Nothing worked. Then I started a business. Want to have a tough time sleeping? Do that.

Starting a business is long hours, lots of networking, and very little shut-eye. Growing one multiplies that. Being unsure of how to make payroll or being worried about checking your email or wondering what you’re going to do next — it’s a lot of pressure on one person’s shoulders. Anyone who says it’s lonely at the top is correct. Only you’re not at the top, you’re usually at the bottom trying to dig yourself out.

I was never been much of a drinker. I was always the girl who drove everyone home — high school parties and college wine tours — I was the one everyone could rely on to be sober. Even into my 20’s, I had parties but I never felt the need to keep alcohol around. Mostly because I didn’t know what to drink and my friends weren’t big drinkers. The occasional Saturday morning hangover was a reason not to do it again. And I wouldn’t for quite some time.

10 years ago, I moved to Washington DC — land of happy hours. When you are invited to a friend’s house, you bring a bottle of something. When you go to a networking event, house wine and beer are cheap. When you have a party, alcohol floods in. When you want to meet a friend after work, you grab drinks. When the week is ending, it’s time to celebrate with something stiffer than lemonade. I definitely don’t blame this city for my drinking, but I can see how easy it is to become a part of the drinking culture. How easy it is to escape the pressures of your life.

I met a friend for dinner recently and she said “are you drinking right now?” Another fitness friend mentioned that she’d seen me post so often on Facebook about quitting that she was amazed I hadn’t finally quit. More often than not lately a friend asks if it’s ok if they bring wine over because they wonder if I’m on or off the booze. Which kept bringing to mind the question — How many times have I given up drinking only to go right back to it?

If you follow my life at all, you know how active I am. Not normal person active — crazy person active. I’m either training to run a race or lifting at the gym with my trainer or hiking with my dog or sightseeing with my guy from our bikes. I eat really healthy most of the time to the point that I asked myself “When did a hippy move into my house?” when I looked in my cupboards. I’ve learned about how my body functions, how my blood-type affects my nutrition requirements, how my metabolism works, my BMI, and how to lift and run for my body type. If you looked at my life from the outside, you’d think I was the bionic woman. Motivated, engaged, excited, full of joy, focused.

If you were to look at my life from the inside, you would know my drinking doesn’t fit the rest of my life. It’s slowly killing me and, at 36, I still feel invincible. And every once in awhile I decide I’m going to stop drinking because it doesn’t fit the rest of my life.

But I can’t give it up. It’s familiar now. It’s a part of my life. It’s how I cope and function and keep myself sane. It’s how I sleep. It’s how I decompress. It’s how I enjoy my friends. It’s how I shut off my entrepreneur brain when my to do lists are too long. It’s how I make decisions that are otherwise hard.

Recently I was sharing my struggle with my friend Lindsey. She’s the friend who leaves me long voicemails and I leave her my replies. She talks me off ledges and allows me to yell about the things via text so I don’t say them out loud. She’s been through Al-Anon and AA. She’s struggled with all sorts of things and shares her current life struggles with me — mostly to remind me that we’re all humans. Lindsey listened to everything I was telling her about how I wanted to stop holding onto this booze thing. She was patient and although I knew I was sharing this with her because I truly wanted to quit, she said the normal things like “you’ll do it when you are really ready” but there was one thing she said that hit me the hardest:

“Drinking is not part of your personal brand.”

What she meant was that my personal brand is to inspire others to dream bigger and live a bigger life than they ever imagined. My big huge goal is to speak in a stadium of 20,000 people and give them the words they need to hear in order to change their lives for the better. I have a podcast that inspires people to find themselves. I have a business that inspires other businesses to build incredible brands by motivating and exciting their teams of humans. My personal brand is to be a lighthouse. I write it down every day to remind myself. “My joy brings light to the world.” My brand is healthy and faithful and giving. My brand is growing and loving and full of hope. My brand isn’t one that would try to kill itself slowly. So what the heck am I doing?!

Every day I wake up and say “today is the day I quit for good.” By noon I’ll say that I can quit for 30 days. By 5pm I know I need to pour something into my glass to numb my overworked brain and tired body. By 10pm, I’m wishing I hadn’t poured anything to drink. And the next morning, it starts all over again with a promise not to do it again.

Before you think terrible things of me, let me put a tiny caveat on all of this. I can have one drink and be fine. I like to drink until I’m tipsy. I’ll drink a bottle of wine but it usually happens over the course of 4 hours. I rarely get drunk and if I do, it’s with friends. I truly don’t believe I’m an alcoholic. But I know that if I don’t stop soon, I will end up being one of those people I talked about at the beginning. The one with the speech about the horrible thing that changed their life.

Every time I’ve given up alcohol, I wake up feeling incredible. I want to bottle up the feeling and open it later that day so I can remind myself how amazing it feels to wake up refreshed. I don’t realize how much I live in a fog until it’s been lifted. Without booze I have more energy. More life. More peace. More space. And definitely more focus.

Since this doesn’t fit my personal brand, my goals, and the light I am spreading, it’s time. I’m putting this in writing and making you hold me accountable. I’m even recording my final “Finding” podcast episode about this. Writing it down then audio and video recording it — no escape, no deleting. I’m guessing it’ll be even harder for me to grab a glass of wine with someone when everyone knows what I’m doing.

Part of me wants to do this as a challenge for 30 days. But the rest of me knows I have to give it up for good. And goodness, that’s scary. Even as I write this, I wonder if I should edit. Nope, I have to do this. My big huge dreams will never be accomplished if I’m drinking. And being an overachiever, I have such a hard time just having one glass of wine and being done.

So, today is October 1, 2016. It feels like déjà vu. I’ve been here too many times before. I sit here next to my sleeping dog on a Saturday morning under a blanket with a low-grade headache and the rain falling outside my window. I have a huge desire to accomplish so much today but I know I have to do this first. I sit here making a commitment to myself that it’s time to walk out of the fog and into the light. I’m happily walking away from a foggy life where it costs me more than the booze in the bottle. I am committing to finding new things to do with friends and colleagues that don’t involve alcohol. I am committing to being fully present in my life, my relationships, and my business. I am committing to being healthier than ever before. I am committed to myself.

But wait… I can’t break a habit unless I create a new one to replace it with.

Enter meditation.

For almost a year, I’ve been listening to the soothing voice of Andy on Headspace, a meditation app. With the gamification of meditation, I’ve also given away months of Headspace to friends so they can enjoy the loveliness of meditation knowing how much it’s helped me. Every night before I fall asleep, I turn on the Sleep Meditation. I’ll do another one every once in awhile when I need to feel more focused. But I can tell you this is NOT something I ever thought I would be able to do, being the restless human that I am.

My quest to find meditation started when I read Dan Harris’s book, 10% Happier. It was the story of his life as a news reporter and how he dealt with the horrible things he saw in the world by doing drugs. He ended up having a nervous breakdown on national television and started researching mindfulness. Meditation became a huge part of his life, even if it was tough, because he realized that his goal with meditation was just to be 10% happier. And he quit feeding his anxiety with something that would kill him.

If that wasn’t enough, a nutritionist friend recently mentioned that I should keep a journal of my cravings. She also recommended that when I am craving something, I should meditate on why it is that I want that thing — even a 2 minute meditation — a stop and sit. Although I ordered the rest of the supplements and healthy food she listed, I immediately dismissed the cravings journal and meditation. It sounds nice, and I did it once but whatever. That’s not for me. Ok, it is for me. It’s exactly for me. It’s exactly what I’ve always needed but I’m pretty much crap at being good to myself.

So, it really just comes down to knowing what’s good for me, what’s better for me, and what’s best for me. And knowing that when I have committed, I can do anything. Which means it’s time to commit to this big huge scary thing I keep saying I’m going to do but never actually do. And I’m going to do something very uncharacteristic of myself and NOT give myself a huge list of things to do while I’m getting through this.

I’m going to take it one day at a time.

Here’s my commitment:

  • Meditation as medication. I am committed to meditate when I feel it’s time to medicate myself. Even if that mean I have to meditate 15x a day to make it stop.
  • No booze in the house. I am committed to removing all alcohol from the premises and will not purchase another bottle of anything.
  • Playtime looks different. I am committed to finding new activities that will replace “meet me for a drink” activities.
  • Cravings become writing. I am committed to keeping a journal of how I’m feeling so I can find out what brings on the cravings.

Alright, I’m done with my commitments. Phew. My eyes are a little wider but mostly because this is scary to put out to the world. Nothing has worked until now, so because I keep saying I will, you now see me and I see you.

As much as people like to complain about others oversharing, posting too much, and being narcissistic, we humans need each other. We need to hear each other’s stories, we need to know that others struggle like we do. We need to be there to help each other through these things. I need you. You need me. We can do this together.

Do you have something you need to commit to? It doesn’t have to be the same as what I’m doing.

  • What do you keep saying you’ll do?
  • What do your friends keep asking you about?
  • What are you doing that doesn’t fit your personal brand?

Write it down. Find a replacement habit.
Commit to it. And take it one day at a time. We’ve got this.

Let’s work together to make sure we don’t have to write a speech about the thing we couldn’t give up that almost killed us.