Vulnerability: Weakness or Strength

This month, my intention was set toward sobriety.  I was able to reset, gain awareness and accomplish a sense of empowerment that I never could have imagined. I do feel amazing, but I want to continue the year with the intention of moderate, mindful drinking.  This experiment allowed me to dabble in a place of vulnerability that Had always scared me. Being that open has always been a sign of weakness, risk, or uncertainty for me. Allowing others to see what I consider my short-comings is scary and it makes me feel powerless. This month I realized by allowing myself to be vulnerable- I am also allowing myself to be courageous, empowered and STRONG.

I invite you to show a little vulnerability in these last few days in February. I challenge you to take a risk and show others how strong you are.

Start by Asking yourself this question “Vulnerability is _______”.

When I ask myself this question, I answer it many different ways…

  • singing karaoke
  • dancing
  • running a half
  • saying goodbye to loved ones
  • racing in a triathlon
  • crying
  •  parenting
  • standing in front of a faculty of 60 teachers and presenting professional development
  • apologizing for making a mistake
  • admitting I was wrong
  • confessing that I have an anxiety disorder
  • becoming a vegan
  • admitting that food was the enemy
  • asking for forgiveness
  • teaching
  • coaching
  • talking to a stranger
  • letting someone get to know you
  • falling in love
  • Adulting
  • blogging

When I look at my list of ‘vulnerability’, I don’t see weakness. I see courage,

I see a risk taker

and I see strength .  

I see a list of accomplishments.  

If this weren’t my list, I would admire this person for their bravery.

Now, ask yourself “How does vulnerability make you feel?”

  • like butterflies
  • like a rollercoaster
  • I can’t breathe
  • sweaty palms, shaking cheeks, jaw clenched
  • jumping off the high dive
  • all in
  • fear
  • encouragement
  • where fear and courage meet
  • ah-ha

Every one of these emotions is what truly makes me run and hide from vulnerability.     and brings all the emotions of anxiety OUT in the open.  But when I am witnessing true vulnerability from someone else, I am in awe.  When I watch students perform, present information, or overcome obstacles I am brought to tears because it is in their bravery that they were able to accomplish something so awesome.  When I watch my 2 boys jump into the pool, run on the soccer field or go in for a touch down, I am overcome with emotions.  Their courage allowed themselves to achieve greatness.

Finally, ask yourself “What is worth doing even if you FAIL?”

  • alcohol experiment
    • I wasn’t completely successful, but the coping skills I have learned have been completely worth it
  • running and training for a half marathon
    • My hips hurt, my knees hurt, my arches hurt, BUT crossing that finish line was so worth it
  • My job
    • Every single day I am vulnerable, but every single day I know what I am doing is important
  • Being a mom
    • My two boys don’t have a perfect mom, but my world is so amazing because of them
  • Being a wife/partner
    • We don’t always get it right, but I get to do life with my best friend.

I don’t completely look forward to my vulnerabilities that are in my future, but I will embrace them as a sign of my strength and not my weakness.  I look forward to the challenges, the risks and the uncertainties that they will bring. I am grateful for the tools I have learned already this year.

Embrace your vulnerabilities, see them as your strength.

(This reflection was sparked from Rene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly)img_2716


The last six months I have been struggling with a debilitating anxiety disorder.  The kind of anxiety that suffocates like a tight corset or makes me want to jump out of my crawling skin.

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At first, my coping mechanism was denial, avoidance, lots and lots of Netflix, and drinking.  I have always been the type of person that was able to harness my anxiety as my productivity and drive.  But this past year, it took my breath away.  With 2 panic attacks that floored me- literally, I was laying on the floor in tears, trying to breathe, “Thinking I was having a heart attack” wondering what I had done wrong. At first I was very embarrassed and ashamed- all I could think was “what if people find out?”  I was in denial, there was no way I was going to let my boys, my friends and my family know that I had this “weakness” So, I avoided the symptoms, I denied what was even going on, and I drank to cope.  It became one of my only coping tools. Which, got me very worried. (Hence the sobriety intention for the month of February) I needed to find help. After talking with a professional,  I developed my very own Coping Toolkit and tricks that have helped me manage (and not hide) the anxiety.

If you are dealing with anxiety- I first recommend talking with a professional, don’t let it carry you away – like it did me. (The following tools are those that have worked for me, they may not work for everyone.)

What is in my Coping Toolkit?

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  • teamy tea satchel is in my purse at all times. It contains lemon tea, de-stress, lavender and chamomile and peppermint and my essential oils.
  • lavender and de-stress essential oilin that same satchel, I carry around my lavender essential oils that allow me to drop a small amount onto my lava rock bracelet ($8 at Amazon) that has kept a permanent spot on my wrist for the year.
  • Journal While my mother was on her LOOONNGG trip through Alaska, she picked up a leather journal that I keep near my bedside table.  Knowing that the things I write down are for my eyes only, allows me to put down thoughts that give me anxiety just thinking others would hear. I am able to divulge my insecurities, my anxieties, and even my dreams without backlash from judgement.
  • self-help booksIMG_2871This is one I never thought would be in my repertoire, but there are some really great, talk-to-you straight,  Self-help books out there. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis have both been great reads and very motivating.
  • candlesThank goodness for Joanna Gaines and her candle collection at Target. My favorite right now is the Black pepper and the Tobacco.  Just having the candle lit in dim lighting calms me down.  I also burn my soy wax candle called ‘Restore’ every single night.
  • motivational calendarYou are a Badass, has this great day to day calendar with some perfectly written motivational nuggets of wisdom that I look forward to reading every single day.  I keep it at work, so my co-worker and I can set our daily intention. It is nice to have something to look forward to.
  • bath salts, bubbles and oil Bath time has become an essential part of my life. My mother’s ‘go to’ home remedy for pretty much anything was ‘take a bath’. And I, obviously, have taken that to heart. This is ‘mom’ time. I like to sit and read, listen to music or get lost in Netflix- this is my way of shutting down the day’s stress.
  • water This was not a coping tool until my hydration intention last month.  I am so grateful for the Quench book and all that I learned about the importance of smart hydration.  (link to hydration habits from last month that have helped me cope this month) Downing a glass of water, not only hydrates me but it also gives me a second to breath.  Knowing that I am doing this 1 very simple thing that does so many wonderful things for my body and health- puts my mindset at ease.
  • meditation, Breathing and yogaAaptiv- the iTunes app- really helped me understand guided meditation and its benefits.  Journey Junkie is someone I like to follow (for free) – she sends some great weekly yoga videos as long as you subscribe.  She also sends some great blog posts that are worth the read. Also, everyone’s FitBits have this ‘Relax’ button that assists you with a 2 minute breathing treatment. I started using these 2 minutes while sitting in traffic, sitting in a doctor lobby.  I has even helped my own 2 boys learn to ‘breathe’.
    • Nostril Breathing- When my husband and I were in Costa Rica at a yoga retreat, our yoga instructor walked us through this breathing exercise- It is mean to calm your nervous system, relieve tension and anxiety.  it feels silly, but it DOES work like a charm.
  • cardio and weightsThis has always been a tool in my toolbox, but I had no idea how much I needed a long run or a heavy weight session until my anxiety got away with me. Running, swimming, biking are great ways to either be intentional about your thoughts or just ‘get away’ with you and your music.  This ‘me’ time is very important to every single member of my family. – if you know what I mean.  Plus, when I feel strong, and when I sweat – I feel like I can chase the world and attack just about anything that comes at me.
  • great friends and supportive husband and family that completely gets itThis year, I have truly tested my husband and he has won time and time again! He has been so understanding and so supportive through this very confusing time for me. I have fell in love all over again.  My friends have always been there for me when I needed them.  As I opened up to them I discovered I was not alone, and that some of them have experienced what I am going through.

These are the things I like to keep near me every day as I tackle this uncharted territory.

These coping tools help me …

slow down.

be in the moment

focus my intention on the present

take a breath

think through it

and sometimes, even, STOP thinking so much.

This month, I wanted to prove to myself that there were other ways for me to handle my anxiety other than opening a glass of wine.  This February, I have not only cleared my body of alcohol, I have discovered better ways to cope- more productive ways to cope.

To admit this to anyone near me was and has been very difficult, but to then write this down publicly is something that makes me very nervous. I know I am not alone, I am still working through my embarrassment and shame with this, but the tools that I have discovered have helped me a lot.  Knowing that anxiety affects over 40% of women my age, I thought my story and toolkit could help.

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A Better Coping Toolkit: The Truth About my Anxiety


In the Pursuit of Health: Alcohol Experiment

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Pomegranate Juice and Coconut Water

At the beginning of this year, I dedicated each month to an intention, an intention that would lead me towards a healthier lifestyle.  This month I am participating in The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace. I’m not a heavy drinker, but I do enjoy the nice glass of Malbec or Pinot Noir in the evenings. 19 months ago I decided to make my health a priority in my life, and I adopted a whole food plant based diet.  Most of the decisions that I make are in line with being healthy.  I desire a Quality life when I am older, and I believe it is how we treat our bodies now that will determine that.

Before I explain what sobriety can do for your body, I must make a confession: I gave in on Friday night.  I had a drink while watching a movie with my family.  I had missed that rush when the alcohol first enters my system. But, I will also confess: the moment my blood alcohol normalized again, I felt guilty and mad at myself.  IT WAS NOT WORTH IT!!! Since the rush didn’t last as long as I was hoping for, I felt way worse than I did before the drink.

During this month, I have been trying to guide my intention with actual science-based research and studies. I have not only discovered a lot, but I have also experienced many of sobrieties benefits.

It is not what we are giving up, but it is what we can gain.

better sleep quality

once you stop relying on alcohol to help you fall asleep, your body will begin to do this naturally.  Once you’ve allowed this to happen (probably will take a week or so – once all the alcohol is out of your system) you will also fall in an out of Deep and REM sleep naturally.

eating less-

Alcohol depletes your blood of sugar.  Low blood sugar makes you reach for breads, chips, popcorn or pretzels.  When you consume less alcohol or stop drinking all together, you are able to normalize your blood sugar and control that careless snacking.

dropping pounds

alcohol is more quickly stored as fat in your body than excess sugar, carbs, and protein. Alcohol has 7 calories/gram and it is quickly absorbed and because of its density the liver prioritizes the alcohol over any other food you are consuming with the alcohol – which in turn becomes fat.

better hydration-

(and if you were following me last month, you already know the benefits of hydration.)

your risk of cancer falls-

Alcohol – also known as ethanol- is a known carcinogen. “According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of breast cancer was higher across all levels of alcohol consumption.” (pg. 183)

blood sugar and pressure normalizes

Without the alcohol toxin running through your body, your heart and organs don’t have to work so dang hard.

stronger immune system

When you consume alcohol, your immune system is weaker because your body is working so hard to break down those sugars, ethanol, and detoxify.

So, if you can gain all of these from giving up or consuming less alcohol- guess WHAT?  You lose all of these when you consume heavy amounts of alcohol.

In my own pursuit towards a healthy lifestyle, I have discovered a trick that has helped me out these last few weeks. (minus my 1 set back)

experiment with your hydration 

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1c Pomegranate juice – a great antioxidant and 1/2c coconut water – great hydrator

24 oz citrus water with 2 tsp of chia seeds – great hydrator and fat killer

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Waterloo brand waters – the sparkly adds a little something extra

Kombucha- the fermentation adds a little bit of alcohol, but nothing worth talking about.- great natural probiotic

  • Trick yourself

 

By giving you knowledge, I hope I have given you the tools to make the right decision for yourself.