Wed, 31 January 2018
For the month of February, I will be producing daily podcast episodes. You read that correctly ass-kickers - daily episodes are coming! The episodes will be shorter than the typical podcast format you are used to hearing. Emails with short lessons will accompany them. If you want to be notified each time a daily episode is released in the month of February, sign up here. Okay, now let’s jump into this week’s episode!
I am so excited because my friend, Erin Stutland, joins me on the podcast this week. Erin and I have known each other online “for-eva”! She is a mind, body, wellness and fitness expert and the host and coach of the new weight-loss transformation television show Altar’d on Z Living. We talked about getting unstuck, over-analyzing, how to stop being comfortable with feeling crappy, self-care practices and more.
In this episode you’ll hear:
Tue, 30 January 2018
This week, I am rounding out the recovery series with one final episode. I have been so blessed to have nine amazing conversations with women in recovery. You can catch up on all of the episodes here.
In this episode, I read two blog posts I wrote on the 2nd and 3rd anniversaries of my sobriety. Plus, I include some new insights along the way.
I want to start this post by telling a story that is really hard for me to tell– and I tell it in hopes that it helps someone else.
In May of 2011 I made my first attempt at sobriety. I made until September 26th of that year. I was active in my recovery, but in hindsight, a few things happened that were slowly chipping away at me. I kept hearing the voice that “I wasn’t that bad”…that I wasn’t like “those people”. Those alcoholics that told their stories, that had been arrested, had DUI’s, etc. The voice whispered that since that wasn’t me, surely I could moderate and drink like a normal person.
On September 26th, 2011 I got into an argument with my husband. We don’t argue often, so when we do, I can tend to slip quickly into this-is-it-it’s-over-he’s-going-to-leave-me land. It’s one of those really vulnerable places for me where I feel I’ve lost control over a situation– a situation that is very important to me.
In that late afternoon, he left the house to go for a drive. I sat at home alone and desperately wanted to drink. I called a friend in recovery. She talked me through it. I sat again alone in my glass case of emotions. I didn’t want to drink because I didn’t want to break my sobriety and have to start over. Plus the shame of relapse was too much to bear. But, I remembered hearing that if you drank enough NyQuil, you could get a buzz. And since it’s not technically “drinking”, it’s like a loophole, right?
10 seconds later I was in the bathroom chugging a bottle of cherry NyQuil.
A few minutes later the buzz hadn’t reached me yet. I then remembered hearing that Vanilla Extract could do the same thing. I went to the pantry and took a drink of putrid tasting Vanilla Extract. I looked closely at the bottle to see that not only had murky sediment gathered all along the bottom, but it had expired in 2005.
And to think I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic.
As I type this, I’m embarrassed to admit this. But, now I understand just how cunning, baffling, and powerful alcohol is to an alcoholic. I didn’t think clearly and rationally at that time. I remember thinking, “Okay, I’m an educated person. I’ve done YEARS of my own personal development. I’m in the helping profession for pete’s sake”. And the reality is that none of that matters at all if you are truly an alcoholic. You don’t get extra credit for that. I don’t care how smart you are. We can’t think our way out of it.
I truly believe I needed that short relapse to prove to myself that I truly am an alcoholic. If the whisper ever comes back that I’m not that bad and maybe not a “real” alcoholic, I think back to my Vanilla haze (as my friend Courtney so lovingly puts it) and I’m back to reality.
And if I’m being really honest, I don’t want to drink like a normal person. I don’t want just one glass of wine. I want at least three. In a big ass glass. And if there’s white and red, I just can’t decide, so I’ll have a few of each.
This is insanity.
I tell my story not for the pats on the back or congratulations, but to show others that even people like me are alcoholics and that there is hope in recovery. I tried to quit by myself back in 2011. I strung together 6 miserable days. It wasn’t until I reached out for help and started a recovery program was I able to not just stop drinking, but stop obsessing on alcohol and being able to feel my feelings without resorting to drinking. <— That is a fucking miracle.
So, if you’re that person who thinks you aren’t that bad like I did…you may very well be right. You’re not that bad right now. But alcoholism is progressive and I can assure you, if you keep drinking, you’ll be that bad. I don’t know how long it will take. But, for me, I didn’t want to wait and find out. I left the movie early because I was SURE the way it was going to end. And if I left and chose another way, I could change the ending.
On Saturday, September 27th, 2014, I celebrated 3 years of sobriety.
I considered not writing about it this year, thinking to myself, “Well, nobody needs to hear about it anymore. They know you’re an alcoholic in recovery.” I wrote about it on my 2 year anniversary and thought maybe that was good enough. And then on Friday I got an email from a friend that needed to talk to me about her drinking. And a few weeks before that another friend asked me if she could give my contact info to her friend who needed support. Both of these women are moms, both of them needed help. And neither of them would have known I could help them if I had never come out with my story in the first place.
So, I speak again.
A couple of weeks ago I was at meeting at my son’s school. We’re brand new to this school having just moved to this state in late August. He’s in first grade and has high functioning Autism. I sat in a conference room with his teacher, the special needs coordinator, and school principal. It was nothing new, I’ve had these meetings before. But, this being a new school we had to go do the typical paper trail, have witnesses, and sign papers.
The special needs coordinator led the meeting and was reading parts of his file aloud, and as she read his report given to us the year prior from the psychologist she got to the part about his diagnosis and family history. “Colton’s mother was diagnosed with Anxiety and Panic Disorder in 2002 and has a history of substance abuse”. She continued with other facts that had nothing to do with me and the meeting continued as normal.
But in that moment I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. “Has a history of substance abuse.” Instant shame washed over me. chalk that up to a please-let-the-floor-open-up-and-swallow-me moment. I immediately wanted to interrupt her and explain myself to these people– these three women I barely knew. The principal with a PhD, my sons teacher, and the pregnant special needs coordinator that just 20 minutes before laughed with me as we exchanged funny pregnancy stories. I wanted to tell them, “Well, ‘substance abuse’ doesn’t really describe ME…I mean I wasn’t a drug addict or anything, just wine. And beer too. Oh, and I’ve been sober for yeeeears now, and I was never like ARRESTED or anything like that. Yep, just too much wine. So, see? I’m good. Not bad at all.”
Which at that time would have been a bit weird and uncomfortable.
And I’d love to tell you that since I do what I do for a living, and because of all the work I’ve done on myself and continue to do, and because I speak publicly about my journey that now I’m immune to the shame. But, I’m not. I don’t know if I’ll ever be. If she’d said, “Colton’s mother has a history of high blood pressure” I would have felt no shame. But, to be outed as an alcoholic in front of people you don’t know, where you worry you’ll be judged, or whispered about, it’s hard stuff. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to be known in my community as “the lady with a history of substance abuse”. I know it’s not really who I am, I know this in my heart. But, still after 3 year of being public with my story, I still feel fear and shame.
You might be wondering if it’s gotten easier. Yes, it has. I think in that conference room the shame was so visceral because it took me by surprise and I already felt vulnerable not knowing anyone in this new city. Plus, we were talking about my son, so it was the perfect storm. As the last few years have passed it’s gotten easier to talk about, but it certainly depends on the situation. And I think that meeting reminded me how painful it can be for people new to sobriety or thinking about getting sober.
And that’s really what I wanted to talk about today. That intense shame can keep people drinking for years, decades even. Can pull them back into drinking after years of sobriety. Of course other factors come into play, but shame can cripple us. Years ago had I felt shame like that I would have just drank it away. Went and hid in a bottle of wine where the shame would have been suffocated for a few hours that evening, only to wake up again the next morning so the cycle could continue. Same shame and fear and thoughts revolving around drinking. It was the same feelings every day.
And when you’re an alcoholic thinking about getting sober, you have to weigh those two painful things out: Quit drinking PLUS deal with asking for help, going to “those meetings” where “those people” are and actually talk about it all (scary), or continue to drink when you’re pretty sure that it’ll get worse and continue the cycle you already hate (also scary).
For me, I had to reach a point where the latter was scarier. Lucky for me, I only stayed active in my alcoholism for a short time and I was blessed to have people in my life I trusted to reach out to for help. I knew where I would end up if I kept drinking and that scared me more than anything. I knew alcoholics only go one direction: worse. I knew I had to quit.
Does the shame hit me every day? Certainly not. But, I know I can do hard things. You can too. I survived. And I’ll be okay. And I hope if you’re reading this and you think you need help, you ask for it. Shame will keep you sick. It won’t go away, but you can walk through its shadow and ask for help.
Wed, 24 January 2018
You may have followed my work for a bit now and know that I talk about courage and confidence. And maybe you think “Well, I get it, and this whole ‘courage and confidence’ thing sounds good in theory, but how will my life be different if I learn to be courageous and confident and will it even work for me!?”
Let me tell you what I was like in my 20’s. I was actually a really happy girl. I had great friends, a family that loved me, worked at good jobs, and was in a long-term relationship. Outside, everything seemed great and on a surface level I was happy.
But, underneath I was struggling. I was unfulfilled with my life. In my relationship there was no trust and no real connection, and my friendships were good, but nothing deep and intimate. I struggled fiercely with perfectionism, comparison, and control. I NEEDED to control. I thought if everyone would just act like I thought they should act, my life would be so much better.
When shit hit the fan for me in 2006, I isolated to the point of not checking my email for weeks. I screened all my calls, and barely even talked to my parents. I hardly saw my friends and once had lunch with one of my long-term friends and she said to me, “Well, with the divorce statistics, it was bound to happen to one of us.” That’s not to blame my friend...none of us knew what to say to each other. None of us knew how to truly connect. I was lonely when I was alone, and I was lonely when I was around people.
During that time of struggle I made decisions that 100 percent went against my values as a human being. I said yes to men when I really didn’t want to. Just because I thought I should or to try for one shred of connection. I would meet new people and either unload my whole story (what Brené Brown calls trying to “hotwire a connection”) or completely shut people out. What I came to realize was that once I hit adulthood, my soul became unconscious.
Fast forward to now.
Anyone that knows me well will tell you I’ve always been an assertive person. I’m an Aries, ENFJ, Type 8 on the Enneagram. But, all this personality stuff does not automatically mean that I was born with courage. I had to learn it, and still do every day. What it looks like in my life is this:
These are just a few things of what practicing courage looks like. All of the things above still sometimes make me really uncomfortable and/or are scary. I’ve accepted that and it’s necessary.
And that’s what I want for you. You can choose to be like I was— happy on the surface with an unconscious soul— or you can choose to make the decision to wake up your soul, step into an uncomfortable life that is full of imperfections, messiness, and uncertainty. But, I promise you, my dears, that this same life will be full of truth, grace, and insurmountable beauty.
Tue, 23 January 2018
Welcome back to another episode of the recovery series! If you are new to the series, I’ve been speaking with women about their addiction and who are in recovery. We cover topics such as alcohol addiction, codependency, and even food addiction. You can find all of the episodes here.
This week I welcome back my friend and colleague, Amy Pearson. You may have heard Amy and I talk about being addicted to approval and feeling like a fraud back in Episode 118. This time we talk in-depth about her addiction to alcohol, her obsession with seeking approval and using blame as a crutch.
Amy is a master certified life coach, a coach mentor, and founder of LiveBrazen.com. She is currently writing her first book, a memoir called, “Forgiving Amy,” where she shares her experiences with self-forgiveness. Amy has been sober for four years. Today, she shares how grieving the loss of her mother and feeling shame around not being the person she thought she should be led to her downward spiral into ”self-medicating” with alcohol. And, then later, she shares a poignant story of what made her turn everything around and led her onto the path of recovery.
In this episode you’ll hear:
Wed, 17 January 2018
As promised in the podcast episode, a quick (1 min) video explaining how roller derby is played is here. Also, the Whip It trailer because I love it when Bliss says, I am IN LOVE with this.” (which btw, many of the hits in that movie are highly illegal to the game, but I think they captured the culture of derby really well.)
At the end of 2012 and early 2013, I played roller derby for the Junction City Roller Dolls in Ogden, Utah, skating under the derby name, Veronica Vain. A shoulder injury took me out and I retired from the game.
There I am, on the right with hair flying like Medusa.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about going back here in North Carolina (more on that later), and it got me thinking a lot about the game and it’s similarities with life. Derby taught me a lot about fear, and other things, and in no particular order, here’s 6 ways roller derby can teach you about life.
I remember the first time I realized I was getting better as a player. During a practice scrimmage, I realized I was the smallest and least experienced player out there. For a second, I was scared. Then out of nowhere I pushed that voice aside and tried my damndest to knock another player that had at least 6 inches and 50 pounds of an advantage on me. I can’t even remember if I succeeded or not (I probably didn’t), but that was the shift I needed. Just trying. Just feeling the fear and doing it in spite of it.
In life, there’s a lot of fear. We all have it, no one is immune. The difference between people that go after the badass life they have, is that they went up against their fear. They were scared when they went after that awesome job, or broke up with that person that they just weren’t happy with, or went back to school after 15 years of being out. You’re not unique in your fear. Just do it anyway.
How many times do we fall down in our everyday lives? We screw up, make bad decisions, and just plain fail. Everyone eats shit from time to time and doesn’t necessarily feel great about it. Instead of beating ourselves up for the mistake or quitting altogether, what if we just took two seconds to get back up and keep trying? Life goes on, just like the jam does. The world doesn’t stop spinning just because you took a tumble. Don’t quit, just get up and keep going.
And yes, in life there are those moments. We get heartbroken, disappointed, or are in a crisis that just plain sucks and is painful. We can’t push it aside and keep on going just yet. We need help from our friends and loved ones. We need time to heal. To cry, to grieve, to kick and scream, to whatever. Acting like we’re “okay” or “fine” does nothing but eventually make things worse.
When faced with a life obstacle, do the same. The obstacle might be fear, criticism from others, your own lack of self confidence, anything. But, for you to sit back and give up when faced with an obstacle is basically giving up on yourself. And you’re too awesome for that.
In life, it’s the same. Don’t surround yourself with assholes. Don’t keep reaching out to people who continue to disappoint you. Choose people to spend your time with that support and encourage you, that believe in you and help you shine. If you choose people that constantly let you down, or disrespect you, honey- that’s on you.
You can watch other people live their lives and wish yours was like theirs. You can make up what you think other people have that you don’t and feel badly about that. You can sit on the sidelines of your own life and want more for yourself. You can want a better job, a creative endeavour, a partner...whatever your dreams are. And maybe your hopes and dreams excite you and scare you at the same time. (Because let’s face it- if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough). But, if you’re not going after it, you’re missing out. Consider me that teammate who tells you to get in the game. Gear up, warm up, and go out there and kick some ass.
Because you, my friend, and your life are worth it.
Tue, 16 January 2018
Welcome to another recovery series episode, and as we near the end of this season for these shows, our guest today, Lara Frazier, is sharing about her addiction to alcohol, pills, and love.
Wed, 10 January 2018
Ok, I don’t even have a word to describe how much I’m looking forward to having you hear this episode. Terri Cole is a returning guest who appeared on the show way back on Episode 76, and this time I wanted to make sure we talked about codependency.
Why codependency? If you’re a listener of this podcast, you’ll know codependency is something that I’ve struggled with and talk about often. In this episode we look at what it really is and how to deal with realizing that it may be part of your life.
Tue, 9 January 2018
There’s still time to sign up for the free book club! We start January 22nd, giving you enough time to read my new book, How To Stop Feeling Like Shit. Click this link to purchase the book and sign up-- if you already have your copy (Audiobook or e-reader counts too!) click “claim bonus” to sign up for the book club.
This show is another recovery series episode, and as always, I’m so grateful to have these amazing conversations with women in recovery. Today is no exception, as I’m talking to Carly Benson. Carly has been sober from alcohol and cocaine since August 17th, 2008, and in this she shares her own path to addiction, and eventually her recovery.
A big part of what she talks about is the need to truly open up and be willing to do things differently, but first you’ll need to be honest with how you are feeling inside. This will allow you to process the things that are happening, but you’ll hear how we all wear addiction differently and it’s up to each one us to learn how to live an intentional life.
Wed, 3 January 2018
MY BOOK IS OUT! To celebrate, I’m giving $10 to Best Buddies International for every Amazon review from now until January 9th. (Scroll down for instructions on how to do this). Best Buddies is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
If you haven’t purchased the book yet, it’s in bookstores NOW (front tables at Barnes & Noble!) or you can purchase online. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to join us for the free book study I’m hosting starting on January 22nd (click “claim bonuses’).
If confidence were easy, it would have been bottled a long time ago by Big Pharma and somebody would have more money than God right now. However, gaining confidence is not that easy.
Years ago when I saw women with confidence, I thought a few things that turned out to NOT be true.
Confidence is not something you’re born with, or something you get just by faking it, or something you automatically gain when you turn 45. It’s something that’s built piece by piece over time. It’s something you try, mess up, try again and again until you see progress, and then keep practicing for the rest of your life.
The way to gain confidence is by practicing courage.
And courage can look like many different things. They don’t have to be big, sweeping events that shake you to your core with fear. Even practicing small acts of courage will likely evoke fear in you, but all of them add up to a courageous, confident YOU.
I’ve broken it down into some steps for you…
Step 1. Decide. And I don’t mean just decide you’re confident. You can certainly do that, but I think your brain will spike the bullshit alert and the whole “fake it til you make it” thing is tough with this one. When I say “decide” I mean decide you will start practicing courage. Decide you’re ready to step out of your comfortable ways of being and try something else, little by little.
Step 2. Really dig into what practicing courage means to you. Start by thinking of the behaviors you currently do that are making you unhappy. I’ll bet some of them are: isolating, people pleasing, perfecting, believing your inner-critic, numbing out, comparison, approval seeking, and control (Wait– did I just name your to-do list?)
Then, think of the opposite. If you’re an isolator, practicing courage would be reaching out for help and support.The opposite of people pleasing would be to simply stop before you immediately say yes to everything and practice saying no. If you’re a perfectionist, practicing courage would be to lean into “good enough” or start before you’re ready. I think you get the gist here.
Step 3: Keep repeating steps 1 and 2. Over and over again.
This will be scary, I can assure you. But, what’s scarier is looking back on your life and realizing you stayed in a place of fear. What’s scarier is realizing you allowed fear to drive your entire life. What’s possibly scarier than that is that you’ll look back and realize you modeled fear for the people you love. I’ll tell you something I know for sure. I am immensely proud of myself that I can practice courage in my life, but what makes me even more immensely proud, is that I model courage for my children. Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see”. If you’re a parent, I KNOW you want your children to grow up learning how to practice courage. And if they see it in you, they’ll know how.
Tue, 2 January 2018
Happy New Year Ass-Kickers! Before we jump into today’s episode, a quick announcement: From today until January 9th, I’ll be giving $10 for every Amazon review about my new book, How To Stop Feeling Like Shit, to Best Buddies International, which is a charity close to my heart. Best Buddies helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. You can hear more about it and why it’s important to me in the episode. So, if you’ve read my book, please help me help them by leaving a review. Thank you in advance!
Today is another recovery episode with guest Arlina Allen. Today she shares how her career aspirations eventually led to issues with alcohol, how everything came to a head for her at age 25 and then how she was introduced to a 12-step program paving the way for her recovery.
Arlina has been clean and sober for 23 years and in her own journey, she was able to see the patterns that were holding her back. Along the way she’s discovered she wasn’t a victim and did indeed have the power to make the decisions that were best for her. Arlina now helps others as a host of her own podcast, The ODAAT Chat, and in this talk she reveals how she’s now able to pay it forward to help others battling addiction.
Like the other episodes in this series, even if you’re not struggling with addiction or in recovery, you probably know someone who is. That’s what these stories are for; it’s about shining the light on addiction and recovery and telling our stories. You’ll find out why quitting drinking is just a small part of the equation though, and that sobriety and recovery are two very different things.