No One Can Define My Sobriety (Or Life) But Me

It’s no surprise to most people when I tell them I don’t drink.

Whether they’ve seen me out of control in the past or have read my articles, I am finally open about being sober these days- and that’s a breath of fresh air.

I’ve made mistakes, though.

There have been many relapses (or “slips,” as some may say) since deciding to get sober in 2011, including a full two and a half years where I went back to drinking consistently.  I damaged relationships and racked up many, many new stories during that period of time, yet I learned a lot about myself- and what I do and don’t want out of life.

I went back to drinking several times while living in Boston, racked up even more stories, and learned that a structured recovery program gives me more anxiety than it does comfort and strength.  Although community helps many people, I am more of a one-on-one type of person.  I believe in therapy, working on yourself, and taking responsibility for your actions.

This may be controversial, but this is my truth:

I don’t want or need entities or other people to determine the quality of my sobriety.

I’m the only one who has to determine what is best for my life- and I want people to judge who I am based on my character, not my sobriety date.

I have a serious issue with groups who judge or push others to open up about things to they don’t want to.  There is no “one size fits all” method for anything in life, and putting down the booze is no different.  I have put so much pressure on myself over the years and have had immense anxiety about what other people think of me- but I am done with that.  

I’m honest with my family, good friends, and even strangers online- and that works for me.

There are several friends of mine who aren’t “in recovery” who have told me the same thing- that I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. “You don’t drink now,” two of them said. “That’s all you need to say.”

Below is something my friend of 22 years texted me yesterday:

Amen.

It’s also no one else’s business if I am on a prescription, if someone has Medical Assisted Treatment, or what “date” someone put down the drink.

It’s my life, not theirs.

People have the option to do what works for them.  For me, it’s connecting with people who are healthy and aligned with my spirit.  It’s nature, writing, and self discovery.  It’s mediation and mindfulness.  It’s been open and honest about who I am and what I stand for.  It’s living in my truth, and living a spiritual life of reflection and growth.

I hope my own journey can inspire someone who go on their own journey, no matter what way it may lead.

Never let anyone make you feel bad about choosing your path- you know what’s in your heart and in your soul.

Mindfulness in Everyday Life: Why I Meditate

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I’m a person who once desperately needed to incorporate mindfulness into her life.

It’s strange to look back on how I used to act, react, and think before I learned to sit still, breathe, and relax.  I learned the value in mediation, and the biggest value wasn’t the sitting meditation itself- it was the way I reacted to the world around me afterward.

Meditation is a practice, and not something that can be perfected overnight.

I hear a lot of people new to mindfulness and meditation tell me they can’t do it, or that they can’t shut off their brain.

Hint: this is why you do it!  This is why you practice!

We are the ones who complicate our lives.  We are the ones who try and predict tomorrow.  The present moment is all we have, and without mindfulness, we’re letting it slip out of our hands.

There are always things we don’t want to do in day to day life, from sitting in a meeting at work to being stuck on a crowded train.  Mindfulness makes these mundane or uncomfortable situations more bearable.  Why?  It’s because due to your practice, you’re learning to be comfortable sitting still within yourself!

Several years ago I used to be go-go-go- manic, even.  I didn’t understand the point of sitting still, and thought I was missing out on something if I wasn’t moving.  All of these thoughts were wrong; even when I was sitting and relaxed, I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment because I was constantly thinking about the past or the future.

I used to use other things to distract myself or calm down my brain, such as drinking, but today I can close my eyes, listen to the birds, and soak in the sun while embracing the now.  I don’t have to make up fantasies or disasters in my mind to fill the blank spaces.

I can just be and live in the flow.

The Best Things in Life Are Free- Looking Within

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They say the best things in life are free, and from my experience, that is absolutely correct.

For years I looked everywhere I could to fill the void in my soul- I was addicted to shopping, I sought out approval from others, I moved from city to city, and I tried to slow down my brain by drinking excessively.

I went from bar to bar, boyfriend to boyfriend, job to job, and handbag to handbag- yet whatever I had was never enough.

Sitting still wasn’t even an option- and back then, I didn’t realize how amazing stillness could be.

When I started Mindful in Style, I had just left my fashion copywriter life in New York City.  I dated actors and Wall Street attorneys, bankers and startup entrepreneurs.  I mingled with designers and screenwriters, fellow fashion bloggers and alcoholics.  I justified my behavior by associating with people in the same circumstances as me, for better or for worse.

What I failed to do was look within to improve myself.

Battery Park, 2014. Photo by Rik Parker

I thought that if things looked okay on the outside, they must be fine on the inside.

I couldn’t have been more misguided.

Although I seemed to have everything, that hole in my soul was still as deep as ever.

What they don’t seem to teach you as you grow up is that life doesn’t have a “happiness” finish line or an invisible box to check in order to reach fulfillment.

Living a beautiful life doesn’t mean grandiosity, status, or material gains- living beautifully is about living in the now, embracing life’s simple pleasures, and making the most out of what is right in front of you.

My best days now are strolling through the city, enjoying my coffee by the river, or sitting quietly with the cat.  It’s the peace I have found within that makes my life so beautiful- and although I still enjoy a great handbag, true happiness is found in the mindful moments that I used to take for granted.