In previous years, I celebrated my birthday with boozy celebrations and ignored my health. Whether sailing through Croatia, partying in Mallorca, or a girl’s weekend partying it up in Montreal alcohol was involved. This will be different celebrating at the gym, getting lunch with a friend, and working on plans for my future. Also I will travel again this weekend to New England to see family, friends, and a bit of exploring the outdoors!
The past few months have been an interesting journey for my health amongst other things. Over the last 8 months I have also done a lot of traveling sober. I learned to be grateful for everything I have.
It is my birthday, so I did some reflecting on my health and happiness. I figured I’d assemble a little list of some of the most important things I’ve learned this year:
Leave expectations at the door, and open the window to gratitude
I used to have high expectations for people and events in my life. Often I was let down or let myself down. Becoming more realistic about certain situations, relationships in my life, and what I expected from other people, I became a happier person.
We have all been there when we make unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. One cannot help but feel a little resentful when one drops the ball.
Gratitude is something that I am practicing daily. Earlier this year I lost a friend who was killed by a driver under the influence, she was a 23-year-old nurse and embracing a sober life. It was a hard time and it is easy to go down the rabbit hole of “Why is life so unfair, why do bad things happen to good people, etc”. However, I learned that there is no point to make expectations of having a fair life, because there is no such thing. We are given a life and it is up to us to make the most of it. Bad things do happen it is just how we face them that matters.
I looked at her short, but significant presence in my life with gratitude and it helped me through that difficult time.
Also, I have become more grateful for even the smallest things when I travel. Often, we take things for granted: having a roof over our heads, clean water to drink, free access to WIFI, amazing grocery stores, and the clothes on our backs and the shoes on our feet.
Recently I went to Cuba, Mexico, and Panama, in varying degrees each place I met people that were not as fortunate, struggled to get water, needed clothes, and had limited food. But for the most part many seemed happy in their daily lives. If they can be happy and grateful, why shouldn’t I. I decided to write or at least think of what I am grateful for daily and it has made me happier and more aware.
You cannot change people
This is one of the hardest things for me to do, let go of things that are out of my control. For many years I have tried to control situations whether that be with friends, family drama, and the relationships in my life. Obviously, this didn’t work. Trying to change people or control situations into something they aren’t is pointless and a waste of my breath. People will change only if they want to change, otherwise people are who they are. Accepting things, situations, and people as they are has made me feel freer.
I recently reconnected with my father after not speaking to him for over 6 years. When I changed my mindset of not trying to change him. I decided to accept him for who he is, I started to forgive him. This lifted a weight of resentments I had been holding against him for most of my life for not being there for me and now I am grateful for having him in my life.
Overall health is where it’s at! (Not diets)
Well a year ago I was 30 pounds heavier, drinking, and eating unhealthily. Now I am sober, in the best shape that I have ever been since high school, and working out daily. I traded happy hours, for early mornings at the gym. Late night munchies, for fruit and protein bars.
Since embracing a sober life: I sleep better, my skin is amazing, I have an abundance of energy (helps at the gym), better eating habits, and I am happier and healthier all around. When drinking you often don’t make the best decisions and surround yourself with sometimes lackluster people. However, now my decision making is better and this has helped me surround myself with good people, find actually nice guys, and develop better friendships.
If you want something reach out and get it
No one is going to hand you anything in life. I may get a ton of freebies on my birthday, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. If I want something I need to jump up and grab it.
Creating this blog, freelancing, and finding a remote job has always been something I wanted to do. However, I just expected it to just happen UNREALISTIC I know. Now I am hustling to gain the skills I need, revamp my portfolio, and networking to get the help to achieve my dreams. The hardest part to starting something new is getting the courage to just do it.
I found the courage as a result of my healthy journey, personal growth, and reigniting my childhood curiosity. Again, I found my love to learn new things and I am not afraid to ask for help.
Don’t worry about things out of my control
Worrying gets you nowhere. It just takes away from your peace of today and shifts your mind’s focus to something that is in the future, which is often out of my control. Worrying just gives me anxiety, fear, and an emotional hangover I do not need in my life. Letting go of worrying has allowed me to not overreact at bad news, focus on the present, and approach situations with an even head.
I love this saying “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gets you nowhere.” Don’t know who said those wise words, but I wish I heard them ages ago. It would have saved me a multitude of anxiety and stress. The fact is not worrying so much improves not only your physical health, but also your mental health.
I am sober, not boring
When I was drinking, I used to think people not drinking were boring and party poopers. It’s pretty sad when you come to think of it that almost all social interactions in our twenties and college circle around booze. I am still tons of fun since I stopped drinking. You can still see me on a karaoke stage (even though I cannot sing), dancing when no one else is, and going out with friends.
I do not let others define what is fun to me. I am free. So many times, I hear my friends say they cannot go on a date without wine, or dance without being drunk. I no longer need these permissions to do things. I will flirt if I want to flirt, dance if I want to dance, and just read a book if I want to for FUN. Even the recent New York Times article “The New Sobriety” agrees I am not alone in my search of having fun, sans the booze.
Rekindling my childlike spirit and doing things that I actually think are fun has opened my world. In terms of traveling and not drinking. I have been able to save so much money participate in experiences that actually matter to me. Also, I have the energy to do them. I love to wake up early and get a full-day of sightseeing, get outdoors, and never have FOMO. (Fear of missing out)
And finally, …
Personal Growth can be painful
Personal growth whether mental, physical, or spiritual can be painful, but is necessary for overall your overall health. I won’t see results at the gym if I don’t feel pain. Pain = Gains am I right?
However, other areas of personal growth can feel draining at times, but I know that I am a better version of myself every day I work on it.
Tragedy, death, illness, and certain life events do not wait for personal growth. Also, personal growth is not a destination it is a journey. When something happens that we do not like it is easy to run away from it in fear. Or we avoid things that cause confusion or uncertainty. But not running when the going gets tough is the first step to personal growth and makes you stronger.
What makes someone strong? Resilience. This year I have become more resilient, empathetic, caring, and responsible. There is no end to this journey I am on. While I cannot tell you what the future holds, since I live in the present. I can tell you I have no fear in my heart and the tools to grow in my health and happiness.
These are things I am working on, on a daily basis and don’t claim perfection. I need daily reminders and I am not preaching. It just helps me to write this down as a reflection. Remember to do what works for you. I just wanted to share my experiences so far on this journey.
What would you add?
Want to learn more about me, check out this article of 26 things about me here.
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Great article post. Really Great.
Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.
My twitter is @sarahvilleneuve
Proud of you! Am sober too.