written by: Karin S. Bannerot, RN, MSN, CAC-II
New Beginnings- Where will they take us? What’s on the other side of that opened door? How am I supposed to DO this? So many questions, and when it comes to making a new beginning to recover from drug or alcohol addiction, an individual may feel overwhelmed. It does not have to be this way.
Recovery happens one day at a time. It is possible, it can be done.
Getting sober is rarely an easy task, but it is simple. Anyone can recover. There are three basic tenets to successful beginnings on the road to recovery: willingness to let go, a desire to lead a healthier life, and most importantly trusting that recovery is achievable. No matter where you are in this new phase of your life, keep moving forward in your recovery. There is always hope. The process takes courage, time, and patience. Recovery is sometimes measured in minutes and hours which then add up to one day at a time.
Keep in mind that recovery has to begin with you. It cannot be for someone else or an outside cause. Getting sober to placate a loved one or to get a job back is an exercise in futility. A person has to reach a point where they are ready to take actions. Recovery begins with the smallest of surrenders: letting go of “the old you” has to happen before a “new you” can begin.
You’ve probably heard this quote: ‘A ship in the harbor is a safe ship. But that is not what ships were built for’.
I’ve learned that early recovery can be a bit uncomfortable at times. Yet, it is through this learning process that we grow. Try to shift your perspective from attempting to be perfect all the time and instead look for where you are making healthy progress. When new in recovery, we are incredibly sensitive and easily disappointed. At these times, it’s good to remember that you are not inadequate, you are merely inexperienced. It is OK to be new. It takes time to learn recovery behavior and time to grow into your improved self! Breathe, find some balance, and breathe again. Recovery is a gift. It sometimes comes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it does come. Stay the course today!
Recovery does not happen in a vacuum. Letting go of our past behaviors entails making positive changes like learning to ask for help, then being open to receive support. Do not despair. These might be new skills for you. Initially it may seem difficult to reach out, but as time goes on, this becomes a source of strength. It gets easier. With the guidance of a counselor, a 12 Step group, like-minded friends or therapy, we can begin to make traction in recovery- and get our first solid foothold. This is the start of a new and wonderful life.
When I was growing up and faced with a challenge my Mom would ask me, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “in very small bites”. Recovery happens in small bites. In the fragile and seeming fog of early recovery, be gentle with yourself. Take small steady steps. Delight in the progress of each 24 hours sober. As you put together your first few days of recovery, begin to gather your tools: remain willing to learn, trust the process, ask for support.
Don’t forget to welcome the new you! Each day sober brings a new strength, a new light, and newfound joy. Perhaps instead of asking what the future holds, ask yourself: How much do I want to be free of this addiction today? How much do I want to feel a sense of ease, and serenity in this moment? And how is my “now”? Chances are, if you are making a new beginning into a recovered life, your ‘now’ will feel good.
You can have it. Recovery starts with you making a decision to change then taking action. Open the door…you are worth it. There is hope in every sober day, and this hope becomes a wonderful beginning into your new life…recovered.
OUTGROW THE OLD AND EMBRACE WONDER
One of the first things I told my husband is that I would never marry him. Yep that’s right. Great first date material. I felt that wonderful, butterflied anticipation in my belly and then…boom! Awkward bomb dropped. He smiled at me, looked me squarely but kindly in the eye and said, “OK.” And then continued with our conversation without skipping a beat.
I tried to put a cap on our relationship before it even began. Not because I didn’t have feelings for him. I did. Like, big time. And it wasn’t because he was a bad guy. In fact, quite the opposite. He’s open-hearted, loyal, observant, and tender. I knew right away he was exceptional.
The thing is, I was terrified. I felt really comfy in my world view and in the direction I thought my life was headed. Opening up my world to him felt like a drastic departure from what felt familiar. We had different backgrounds, different beliefs, and came from different cultures.
Meeting my husband initiated a major personal and spiritual growth phase in my life. Which was exactly what I needed.
Because as humans, we’re wired for growth. We’re wired for change. Change toward something bigger and more expansive- especially when it comes to our mindset, the way we’re experiencing our lives, and our capacity for connection.
the old life. is an old life. one you have
already lived. one you do not have to
keep living. you are too wondrous. for
OUTGROWING THE OLD
Like a snake regularly sheds its skin, we humans crave and deeply need opportunities to outgrow things that no longer serve us. Like old mindsets, limiting beliefs, unhelpful habits, stagnant relationships, disconnection from our bodies, meaningless work, or busyness crowding out the magic in our lives.
It’s not that the old skin is bad. It served a purpose, and often met our needs quite well for a period of time. It helped us arrive to where we’re at today. But then, eventually, we outgrow it.
Cultivating a willingness to change is one of the arts of living well. To leave behind what sometimes feels familiar for something wondrous: the potential for richness, fulfillment, and wellbeing beyond what we ever thought possible.
We’re always changing–whether we mean to or not. Our bodies continually change. Our hopes and aspirations change. Our needs aren’t the same this year as last year. What helps us feel connected and supported in our relationships fluctuates. What we need to feel whole and fulfilled shifts as we live more life. And thankfully, the way we view ourselves can always grow and evolve too.
So how do we embrace change with all it’s discomfort? How do we midwife ourselves through these big and small transformations?
It begins with pausing to get an overhead look at your life. Carving out a bit of space to take stock of yourwellbeing in the important areas of your life. And honoring your natural need to keep shedding old skins in order to grow into the wondrous life you’re born to live.
When you take this closer look, it’s not so much about focusing on what you need to fix about yourself. It’s more about getting curious about what you want to be moving toward. Curious about who you’re becoming. And then, choosing wonder as your mindset – rather than focusing on fear, judgement, or scarcity. This’ll set you up to better identify the changes you need to make to move closer to what’s most important to you. Closer to your true nature.
That night over 15 years ago is one of a few major turning points in my life. I’m so grateful to my younger self for being willing to embrace the discomfort of change. Meeting my husband helped me move closer to the woman I am today. A woman I deeply wanted to be at the time, but wasn’t yet. Someone who now loves vulnerably, without judgement, and with generosity.
CLARITY BEFORE ACTION
The beautiful part of welcoming in the New Year comes from embracing hope and allowing yourself to begin for the first time, or to begin again. Allowing yourself endless do-overs and re-starts. It takes courage to believe that the changes you hope for are possible. That wellness is within your reach, and that you have the power to influence your life for the better.
Before you dive into taking action in this fresh New Year, you need a clear picture of what’s currently happening with the most vital contributors to your health and wellbeing. You need a sense of the big picture–what’s already going well, what needs more support, and if there are any parts of your life you’ve had on the back burner for too long.
Our New Year Reflection Guide will give you an opportunity to kindly evaluate the current state of affairs in your life. It’ll give you important information on where to invest your time, energy, resources, and attention. So you can make powerful plans for your wellbeing this year.
Wishing you wellness in the New Year. And wondrous living.
Cara Maiolo, LPC
P.S. As you know, being open to change is only the beginning. You’ll also need a few important skills to have lasting success with making change. If you’re ready to truly get off the sidelines of your life and finally make those changes happen, join us for Cultivate Change. In 8 weeks, our step-by-step framework will show you how to cultivate long-lasting shifts that turn your most heartfelt hopes into reality, and YOU into a powerful change-maker.
Written by: Lady Fuller
The clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, you kiss a loved one, take another sip of champagne or, if you are me, you put yourself to bed happy you were able to stay up this long.
Then, the next morning, you wake up and “Poof” you are supposed to be a new person. A new iteration of self. Someone different than whom you were yesterday: maybe this new self is heading to the gym, planning to eat right, not drink for the month.
And, maybe this new self is even following an “intention”, a platitude you’ve told yourself you must follow: Be nice. Or don’t gossip. Don’t curse. Do sixty sit-ups each morning. Look people in the eye. Discover my passion. Whatever it is, you have convinced yourself that you are supposed to force this new beginning, supposed to wrestle it into submission because of the calendar – that date on a piece of paper hanging on your wall.
Silly? Totally. Realistic? No.
So what the hell is a new beginning? I would argue New Beginnings are experiences that usually hit us on the side of the head, or in the gut, when we least expect it. The shit that happens to us is not the shit we plan for.
Think about that for a second.
New Beginnings usually happen to us when we are worrying about something else. We think if we worry enough about our fears they are unlikely to happen (or at least this is what I’ve been telling myself for 40 plus years) and to some degree we are right. But, to repeat myself, the ugly truth about New Beginnings is that they are the hard stuff, the curve balls that knock the wind out of us and leave us face down in the mud; those are new beginnings, the real ones. They happen when we least expect it and are situations we never see coming, dates that cannot be anticipated or planned for or marked off on a calendar. Certainly not months where we can set an intention for or buy a gym membership in advance. No, no … these beginnings seem to fall out of the sky like messages, nudges, opportunities for change.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I have had a lot of these “New Beginnings” throughout my life, my Mother committed suicide when I was nine: A New Beginning. I lost a business at age thirty-nine that I had worked on for ten years: A New Beginning. I chose to give up Alcohol at forty-one: A New Beginning. And countless others that I won’t bore you with here.
I am sure that you can tick-off many of your own. And you know what? The tricky part is that we usually think of these things as endings, but endings I assure you, they are not.
New Beginnings have always been a favorite topic for philosophers, teachers, writers, and thinkers throughout history. Brene Brown famously said in her book “Rising Strong”: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
Joseph Campbell wrote: “We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”
Or my personal favorite: “The Beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato
What I have learned humbly over and over in my life is that New Beginnings are never pretty and they require two basic hard and simple truths:
1. Ability to leave the past in the past
2. Faith that the unwritten future will be better than the past
Both of the above points above require a combination of living a life mixed with moments of Strength and moments of Surrender.
And maybe that should be our new year’s resolutions after all.
Maybe January first we wake up and think to ourselves, “I don’t know what is ahead, and I know I have zero control over it. But I trust I will be able to surrender to what is in store for me and have the strength to have a say in the ending.”
After all, maybe this New Year is not about a New Beginning. Maybe it is about a New Ending.
Lady Fuller is a serial entrepreneur, and currently CEO of IGC (International Gifting Co.). Lady has contributed to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” blog and is currently writing a memoir. Lady has an MBA from University of San Francisco and has a passion for entrepreneurs, traveling to remote places in the world, and the environment. Lady lives in Woody Creek with her husband and two children.
Holding her breath used to make her anxious. Today she counts to four on the inhale, holds for 12 easy counts, and exhales for 8. Her brain, used to puzzling over endless thoughts and fears, lets the breath take her into a pleasurable, deep body-awareness that is starting to become familiar. Weekly breath coaching with Intrinsic in Roaring Fork Neurology is training her to regulate her nervous system from the inside out.
The breath is a doorway to managing your nervous system, and how you breathe determines a lot about your mental health. This isn’t just about relaxation, it’s about how you handle the edges of breath and the chemical story your brain is dealing with as a result.
When you hold your breath, your brain pays attention. Try holding at the top of an inhale, then recover for a few breaths and compare it with holding after an exhale. Which one feels better? Most people prefer holding at the top. The bottom hold is harder because the brain isn’t worried about oxygen, it’s focused on carbon dioxide (CO2) build up in the blood. CO2 is the waste product of all metabolism in the body, and the only way to rid its accumulation in the blood is to exhale. When you can’t exhale any more, it starts building up again to the brain’s irritation.
If you have a low tolerance for this gas in your blood, you will breathe in a more shallow, rapid pattern to get rid of it. You will then have less oxygen to use for managing your mood, appetite, sleep, and focus on a cellular level. Your body’s systems will compete for energy.
If you are already in a stressed state, this means it will be harder for you to regain balance with a low CO2 tolerance. The double-edged sword here is that if you are living a stressful life, struggle with chronic pain or mental health challenges, your tolerance for CO2 will be innately lower than if you were regulated. This is simply because you’re operating in a more fight/flight dominant, or sympathetic, mode which tells the main systems in the body, including your breath, to move quickly and focus only on systems used in survival. In short: low CO2 tolerance can become a vicious circle. You’re stressed, so you breathe stressed. You breathe with stress, and you become more stressed.
The only way out is through the same doorway of breath that is revolving you around and around this stressful circle. Unlike the rest of your autonomic nervous system causing reactivity during stress, the breath can be controlled, and you can train yourself to have a higher CO2 tolerance. When you turn on the power of this Intrinsic Skill*, you have an incredible ally in managing your mental health.
You can train your threshold for CO2 first by learning basic breath tools for regulating your nervous system and then doing specially guided apnea, or breath-hold practices to expand your skill. This is a delicate edge. If you try it alone without support, you could be creating more anxiety and dangerous patterns in your nervous system. Because our brain’s love routines and form pathways to repeat actions that are practiced, with guidance, you’ll start using the breath to manage your state of mind and body without even thinking about it. The circle of stress creating stress switches to breath creating presence and calm.
Roaring Fork Neurology’s Dr. Brooke Allen understands the value of training the brain to breathe with ease from a higher CO2 tolerance. She has partnered with Intrinsic to provide breath training to her patients and the public in a new mind body space at her spa-like clinic in Willits. This partnership is enhancing the clinical care of those with MS, migraines, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and chronic pain with an empowering tool that is free, portable, and is customized with use. The breath is a singular advantage for those with the access to our training. Come learn more at a quarterly Intrinsic workshop, weekly class or private session with us.
*Intrinsic is owned by Brian and Emily Hightower. We disrupt limiting patterns then empower people in healing with evidence-based training in Intrinsic Skills like breath, nutrition, somatic movement, outdoor play, and sleep therapy. We work with Fire/EMS, the military, veterans, trauma recovery and athletes in our studios in downtown Carbondale, at Roaring Fork Neurology and at 4 Winds Farm.
Learn more at:
Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.
Tessa is a curious, fun-loving little girl that loves all things little girls her age love. Tessa was born with Down Syndrome which is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in the US and the world. Tessa’s mom enlightens our understanding of Down Syndrome and guides us in sharing that understanding with our children.
Their story will change you.
To the mom I saw in the store,
My family is a chaotic mess when we shop together. We are a tornado… so it’s no wonder that your daughter noticed mine. “Momma, look at that girl’s face!” You were very sweet, “Oh, isn’t she pretty?” Your daughter persisted, and you stayed positive. “She has such a pretty smile!” If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering if you handled our interaction well. You might be thinking about your little girl, like I am mine, and hoping that you helped her see the beauty in what is different. I wanted to thank you for not scolding your daughter. She’s so young, and curious. If I had been less frantic, and more brave, I would have smiled back and told her that Tessa looks a little different because she has Down syndrome. It is OK for you to use the words “Down syndrome” to explain one of the things that makes our girl unique. While it does not define who Tessa is, it helps our little ones understand why she is a little bit different. I hope you know how happy it made me to hear someone speak so sweetly about my daughter. Thank you.
How can we educate children so they are comfortable with differences?
Join the conversation at www.valleylifeforall.org voiceability BLOG
Read Tessa’s full story at www.valleylifeforall.org
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at www.valleylifeforall.org or #voiceability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.
Tessa’s Story is brought to you by:
Gratitude is the expression of being thankful.
Who are you thankful for and how can you show it?
Gratitude is an attitude of appreciation.
What do you appreciate and how can you show that appreciation this holiday season?
Gratitude is allowing yourself to feel awe.
Who are you in awe of and how do you show your inspiration?
Practicing gratitude can:
A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that people who regularly expressed gratitude reported feeling healthier than their counterparts; a correlation that was mediated by psychological health and an attitude to seek help for health concerns.
In a 2013 study, Dr. Robert Emmons, a leading authority on gratitude, noted that: “Gratitude is a key, underappreciated quality in the clinical practice of psychology, its relevance deriving from its strong, unique, and causal relationship with well-being, as well as its dynamic healing influence on the therapist-patient relationship.”
Acts of kindness (public expressions of gratitude) can be linked to an increase in life satisfaction, according to a study published in The Journal of Social Psychology.
Researchers who looked at the role of gratitude in asymptomatic heart failure patients found that “patients expressing more gratitude also had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers,” as well as better sleep and mood, and less fatigue.