This week at rehab, I felt God. I was completely clean and sober, so it’s not what you think. In fact, this week marked three years since I have touched alcohol. I go to a treatment center for alcohol and other drugs twice a week, because I felt called to bring whatever wisdom and skills I have picked up along the way as a Life Coach, Sober Coach, and Yoga instructor, to people whose collection of choices, whose dis-eased brains and bodies, have brought them to seek recovery. I absolutely love this work. Every day, before I walk in the door, I pray to God: “Please help me get out of your way, so that you can speak through me, so that I may be a bridge for these beautiful people to reconnect with their healthy, powerful selves.” Often, the clients tell me how much they appreciate my coaching - yes, even after they have been grumbling through my planks and hamstring stretches, or after I have in my blunt manner reminded them that it is up to them, today, to rewrite the story of their lives. But in reality, I get as much from them as they do from me.
During each 8 hour shift, I witness first-hand, miracles in the making. It is an intense environment. Underneath the external comforts - a chef to prepare healthy meals, art therapy, private therapy sessions, guided mindfulness, fancy interior decor, loving therapists and other staff - there is the knowledge that this is life or death. And while we can help the clients in incredibly profound ways, they need to make the effort. They need to do whatever it takes. And many of them do. Because I only work there twice a week, I get to see the transformation the way grandparents who only see their grandkids sporadically see the astonishing growth that parents don’t notice as they see their kids every day. Sometimes the transformation is physical, especially if someone was detoxing when they first arrived. That detox phase, especially from heroin, is brutal - I wish everyone could see it, and think of it before popping a painkiller (opiate). The mental and emotional transformation is beautiful to behold, as a client who once was timid is now sharing with the group, or who started off resistant, having been “forced” by a judge or a parent into treatment, has gone from hating the world as expressed verbally and through body language, to “I really want this. I need this.”
This week, as I have reflected on what these last three years of first hesitatingly testing the waters of removing, for a “bit,” alcohol from my life, to now, three years later, having zero desire to ingest a substance that recently was declared by the World Health Organization to be dangerous in all quantities, for every person, I was filled with awe. I have learned the incredible power of transformation that comes by basically just doing the next right thing. It is so simple, not easy, but just doing this, over and over, creates enormous change. And the thing is, everything is changing, Nothing stays the same. And as John Maxwell stated in the podcast I listened to the other morning during my run, if we are not preparing, we end up repairing.
We all have really great examples before us (sometimes in the mirror) of what happens when we live on autopilot. Addiction, depression, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, cancer, chronic pain, the cycle of abuse, financial disaster, Alzheimers - none of this happens in a vacuum. A lot of suffering develops because we don’t know what we don’t know, or we don’t act on what we do know. At this point, we know that we become what we have eaten, drank, smoked, feared, and identified as over and over, for days, weeks, months, years. Our children are a reflection of all of the above too, as they are the canaries in the coal mine. The other day I was hanging out with a young woman who is newly in recovery, and I pointed out that her choices and her mother’s choices and her grandmother’s choices are having a direct impact on her children. I shared with her how, pain that is not transformed is transferred. “You have the choice, today, to end the cycle, by working on transforming the pain. Do the next right thing, today. And if it works, do it again tomorrow. Everything you do has a ripple, a compound, effect.”
I was also talking with another person, who is still in the early stage of change (contemplation), about the proverbial rock bottom that many people wait for before figuring out what the next right thing is and then embarking on their personal transformation. “You do not need to become a trainwreck in order to start to change. You can choose, right now, today, to not drink. You do not need to waste more money, put more poison in your organs, or crash a car. You can choose, today, to try out a new lifestyle that will make cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and further heartbreak far less likely. If nothing else, at least you know you did your best.” By the way, this applies to anything - you do not need to have a diagnosis, a catastrophic health event, a bankruptcy declaration, a divorce, employment termination, etc., to pivot your choices, your attitude, your life.
Three years ago, I had no idea that my “break” from the most popular, glamorized, money-making, addictive, statistically harmful drug in the world would lead to where and who I am today. In fact, if you had told me so I would have run in the opposite direction. Just like when I ran my first 10k, if you had told me that a decade later I would be doing my first Ironman, I would have told you you were absolutely nuts. In fact, I may never have had the cojones to do the 10k. Future-tripping to an Ironman would have been so overwhelming that my “who the hell do you think you are?” part would have taken over. In terms of alcohol, the part of me who is great at justifying the comfort zone, would have said, “you are only doing what everyone else is doing. Do you really want to leave the herd? I mean, nothing catastrophic has happened. You are an athlete, a coach, you have good self-discipline, you just need to set some more limits.”
But then, as I started to learn more about the science, the health effects, and testing it all out on my favorite guinea pig (me), and simultaneously meeting more people who also wanted to live this way, and deepen their self-awareness and let go of their ego as much as possible - I realized that those parts of me that wanted to protect the status quo had given way to the part of me that lives in love, joy, real connection. The part of me that is a rebel, adventurous, risk-taking, is thrilled to be up front and center because she is the one that reminds me every day, “I GET to live alcohol-free. I GET to pause and respond, rather than react. I GET to hang out with friends who work every day on their own self-awareness and therefore show up in a way that is real, accepting, and loving.” As I often point out at the rehab, being clean and sober is the ultimate act of rebellion.
“There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
I witness miracles all around me every day, and in them, I see and feel something that is far greater than me, than us. I am so grateful to be aware of this, and for the invitations I receive each and every day to hit the pause button and soak it all in. We are all invited, every single moment, yet so often we are so busy looking for the wrong thing we don’t even realize the invitation is right in front of us.
Motivational coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.