Vulnerability is Empowerment

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” -Brené Brown

For the past three years I’ve used this blog as a journal to connect with others and document what I’m going through, what I’ve learned, and to share what inspires me.  Today I re-launched mindfulinstyle.com as a place to empower women to feel beautiful, inside and out. Through storytelling, journaling, and discovering your authentic style, my hope is to inspire others to own their story- no matter what other people may say about it.

I wasn’t always comfortable with being vulnerable, though.

For many years, I played chameleon and hid my insecurities.  I wasn’t open and honest about my fears, my alcoholism, and I certainly didn’t know how to own my shortcomings.  I played the victim and avoided people who hurt me- and those who I hurt, too.

Instead of letting the opinions of others get the best of me, I learned to take back my narrative and take responsibility for my past; for my past no longer defines me.  It’s made me the person I am today- the person who has overcome her challenges and is finally living out the life I always wanted to live.

Mindful in Style has helped me feel content in my own skin, and moving home to Michigan has been symbolic of no longer running from myself. Whether it’s helping women find their voice, their passions, or their personal style, I’m excited to see where Mindful in Style can go.

No, I’m Not On A Diet

Over the past eight years I haven’t quite accepted the identity of being a “sober person.”

Yet.  So, that’s why I’m writing about it.

My thoughts about it have wavered; at times, I was accepting of myself, and at others, I threw the idea of recovery out the window simply to “fit in.”

I couldn’t stand explaining myself to people about why I don’t drink.

As I mentioned before, some people assume you’re defective, problematic, or trouble if you say you’re in recovery.  However, most of the time people are supportive and understand.

So, if people have been supportive, why have I held on so tightly to the ignorant responses of “are you pregnant?” “are you on a diet?” or worse, “are you a mean drunk?”

I simply can’t put mind altering substances into my body.

But why would I want to?  This world is beautiful.  It’s a gift to be present.

A lot of people have questioned why I can’t just have one drink.  “Why can’t you have a glass of wine?”  These people don’t understand that the one drink sets off a switch that isn’t shut off until I’m passed out on the couch of a stranger’s apartment in Brooklyn (true story).  I could write novels about all of my mishaps while drinking- and I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tales.

Glamorizing the good old days isn’t helpful, though.  Today, I can look back and smile at the good times, but remember that the very best days are the ones where I am living in the moment, not looking forward to the next- with a clear mind and open heart.

Learning to Live Mindfully in Sobriety

I was never mindful when I was drinking.

There have been endless examples of my inability to simply sit and enjoy the moment over the years, but one memory sticks out in my mind.  I can vividly remember sitting at a wine bar with a group of girl friends during the Traverse City Film Festival several years ago.  We were on our way to catch the Conan O’Brien movie and started the evening by sharing a bottle of champagne.  As the server filled each glass, I stared at each pour, making sure I got as much as everyone else.  I remember a ping in my stomach; an unsettled feeling, knowing that the glass of champagne wouldn’t fill the emptiness I felt inside.  I felt anxious, out of place, and uncomfortable- but if, and only if, I could numb out my discomfort, maybe I would be okay.

We left the bar after those glasses, and the only thing on my mind was getting another drink.  That “on and off” switch is very real for an alcoholic- one drink is too much and a thousand are never enough.  I didn’t simply enjoy the champagne like the others did, nor did I enjoy the moment.

I wanted more.

That was also the first year I tried to get sober.

My life has been a variation of this experience, from shopping to dreaming about my future.  What was right in front of me was never sufficient; I was always fixated on what was next.

My life started to fall apart three years ago when I was living in New York.  My drinking was getting out of control, my roommate had enough of my shenanigans, and I begrudgingly went to my Fifth Avenue marketing job with the shakes.  My dating life was a mess, my finances were out of control, and I was unhappy within my own skin.

From the outside, it appeared everything was wonderful.  On the inside, I wanted to be anywhere but where I was- within myself.

I bought the greatest outfits and spent my spare time with friends who would commiserate with my sadness over a vodka cocktail and 2016 election news.  I dreaded when the nights would end, for I had to face the day ahead of me.  Plagued with uncertainty and fear, I knew I had to make a change.

I left New York on July 25th, 2016, and moved back to Michigan for the summer.  I may not have stayed sober that time, but I did learn an important lesson: there is beauty in simplicity.  There is comfort in enjoying the moment.  All of the achievements and things on the “outside” may be nice, but those things won’t give you peace.

Only you can do that.

It’s been almost three years since I left New York and eight since that day at the Traverse City wine bar, but today I’m reminiscing on how hard I was on myself over the years, and how I failed to notice the most important thing of all: that if I can find contentment in the moment, the future will unfold on its own.

Each and every day takes practice.  It’s in our nature to think ahead, but today I know that there is nothing a drink or quick fix will remedy- sometimes, you just have to sit by the river, look up at the clouds, and enjoy the beauty around you.