I can get lost in it. It’s where I can recharge my soul. And it’s one of my most used tools in my recovery toolbox. I feel better when I spend time outdoors. And when you feel better you are less likely to ‘relapse’. BONUS!
One of the great things about nature is that it is EVERYWHERE. I think that’s important to remember…especially during times such as these…with so much quarantining and isolating. IT’S EVERYWHERE. We are spending so much time indoors and online, when nature can help our brains, our bodies and our recovery.
Just a few of the favorable rewards we can get from nature are:
- Being in nature reduces stress and anxiety!! Hell yes! Better than anything you can find in pill form! And free! Calming nature sounds (even outdoor silence) can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.
- Find yourself feeling a little crabby and cantankerous? Get back to nature! Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy is showing a strong connection between the time we spend outdoors and our moods.
- You will see an increase in your focus, concentration and creativity…which in early sobriety, as your body adjusts to a life without alcohol, is common to see the opposite.
- You’ll see an improvement in your short term memory.
- Less loneliness and boredom….which can often be ‘relapse’ triggers.
One of my favorite things to do outdoors is Geocaching! Have you heard of it? It’s like a treasure hunt. 🧐🗺 And it’s worldwide. I try and do it on all my travels. One of the things I like most about it, other than I just find it a lot of fun, is that it helps me get out of my head and my thoughts. I’m just out in nature looking for that next smiley face. 😊 (If you’re a cacher too, you know what I mean.😉)
I also LOVE to hike.
My husband and I have 3 large rescue dogs…
Acelyn, Bobo and Noggin.
I call them my pound puppies.
When the weather allows it we
take them and go hiking every
Sunday we can.
There are tons of outdoor activities that will help you add a little more nature to your life. Some suggestions…
- Go for a walk, a bike ride
- Create a backyard garden.
- Find a quiet grassy hill, or bubbling brook, and meditate.
- Look up the local parks in your area…and visit them!
- Take a nap in the park.
- Skip rocks.
- Look under rocks.
- Go birdwatching! Another fav of mine that I’ll do for hours in the morning from my very own backyard. I live on a greenbelt and have a creek in my backyard…so LOTS of birds!
- Take up outdoor photography. (This is on my list!)
- Rock Climbing
- Solo backpacking or camping. (Also on my list!)
- Go look for wildflowers.
- Sit and listen to the wind in the trees.
- Find the end of a rainbow.
- Hug a tree! (Like my daughter and granddaughter are doing in this picture! 🤗🌲)
If you can't make it outside then try listening to nature sounds, not exactly
the same but it can have a similar effect.
I love this quote, by Eckhart Tolle, from Stillness Speaks.
“When walking or resting in nature, honor that realm by being there fully. Be still. Look. Listen. See how every animal and every plant is completely itself. Unlike humans, they have not split themselves in two. They do not live through mental images of themselves, so they do not need to be concerned with trying to protect and enhance those images. The deer is itself. The daffodil is itself.
All things in nature are not only one with themselves but also one with totality. They haven’t removed themselves from the fabric of the whole by claiming a separate existence: “me” and the rest of the universe.
The contemplation of nature can free you of that “me,” the great troublemaker.”
That last line nails it…”The contemplation of nature can free you of that “me,” the great troublemaker.”
“Free you of that “me.”
On top of all the benefits I listed above getting out and being one with nature can help you get out of your own head. To just be yourself.
Do as the deer and the daffodil, do.
I’d love to learn how you spend your time in nature. 💚
Until next time, be well.
Kerri Mac 🤟🏽
I stopped making New Year Resolutions a few years ago. As positive, excited and motivated they would make me feel at the start of the year…oftentimes those very same resolutions would bring me down later in the year. It wouldn’t be long and I would feel like a failure for not following through. I would start thinking of myself as someone who just abandons their hopes and dreams. “Kerri, you suck.”, would play on repeat in my mind.
Counterproductive, to say the least.
Then a couple years ago, instead of making resolutions, I tried doing what I was seeing a lot of other people do. I would choose a word for the year. The chosen word wasn’t a resolution or a goal. It was more like a prayer or mantra, and I used it to help guide me in the daily actions and decisions (both large and small) I had to make. It was as if the word was a lighthouse helping to show me the way to a better version of myself.
As 2020 was coming to an end I started thinking about what my word for 2021 would be. I took me a little longer than it had in the previous years to decide on one. 2020 was strange, scary, hard, filled with uncertainty, unfamiliarity and loss. I kept hearing and reading posts and comments from people that just couldn’t wait to move past 2020, that it was a year they wanted to forget. Sorry to burst your bubble if you are in that camp…2020 is a year that will never be forgotten.
For me, if I were to pick a word to describe 2020 it would be WEIRD. And that was ALMOST going to be my word for 2021. Maybe that will be next year’s word. 🤪
This year my word is PEACE. 🕊
Remember…this word is like a prayer or a mantra…I am using it to guide me. I want to create more peace in my life. I want to be more at peace with myself. It doesn’t mean I can just sit back, chant ‘peace’ over and over…and everything will change. I still have to do the work. Below are some of the things that I’m doing to help create and bring more PEACE into my life.
- Clear the clutter! Unclutter your living space, your work space, your mind. Ask yourself, does it bring you peace? If the answer ISN’T a HARD YES…then…get…rid…of…it! If it’s not serving you…get…rid…of…it! Clutter in your physical space, and in your mental space, creates chaos. Chaos is the opposite of peace. That is not what we want my friends.
I cleaned out my pantry and found spices that expired in 2003!! If it’s old and expired…get…rid…of…it!
2. Relax. Find a relaxation technique that works for you. A way to release and to recharge. It could be meditation, breathwork, long walks, yoga, running, music. For me it’s meditation, music and dancing…first thing in the morning. Find what works and do it.
3. Gratitude Changes Everything Every week during 2020 a dear friend of mine wrote down 1 good thing that had happened that week. She wrote it on a little strip of paper and tossed it in a jar. On New Years she read all those little strips of paper. I thought…what a cool idea! She admits that some weeks it was hard to come up with something. I mean think about it…we just lived through our first pandemic. I think that makes the exercise that much more powerful. Find something to be grateful for every week (I challenge you to do it daily.). I’m already looking forward to reading all my weekly strips of paper on New Years 2022!
4. Follow Your Bliss Before you can follow your bliss…you need to know your bliss. What makes you happy? Brings you joy? Brings you PEACE? Listen to your inner guide and take action on what brings happiness and joy into your life. The door to peace and contentment will open. My recent houseplant hobby is opening that door for me.
5. These things here could all be listed all on their own…but I wanted to give you more things you can start doing today to bring inner peace into your life.
- Set limits, boundaries
- Accept and let go
- Slow down
- Be 10 minutes early so you don’t have to rush
- Instead of guessing…ask, we are not mind readers
- Get outside
- Escape for a while – read a book, binge on Netflix
- Disconnect – screens off
- Laugh 😂
Start with one thing and build on it over time. You can do this. We can do this.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Wishing you more happiness and PEACE.☮️
Until next time, be well.
Kerri Mac 🤟🏽
A layered cake. That’s what I picture when I think about the next couple months. The bottom layer is the upcoming holiday season. And during a ‘normal’ year the holiday season can be stressful because…
…because of feeling overwhelmed, not getting everything on your todo list done.
…because family. Nuff said.
…because your vision of what the holidays ‘should’ look like, looks nothing like what yours actually do look like.
…because what once looked so far away, the year’s end, is now right before your eyes…and you are still standing there with a list of unmet goals.
…because you’re lonely. You don’t do well in crowds. You’re exhausted. You’re broke.
Now take all that ‘normal’ year holiday stuff and add on another layer…a big fat layer of global pandemic.
Hold up…not done yet! Let’s go ahead and add one more layer…the “I want to stay sober through it all’ layer.
If you are newly sober, and this will be your first sober holiday season, you may be feeling a little (maybe a lot) nervous and anxious…that’s normal, and you are not alone. Stay with me here and we’ll get to some tips that can help.
For those of you that have some sober time under your belt, you know how good it feels, and what that inner freedom feels like, when you get through a holiday season alcohol free. These tips may help you too.
Self care is a must. You’ve ditched the booze! That’s a grande size of self care!! But there is more you can do in the self care arena, and taking care of your body, mind and soul is important during these stressful times. Healthy eats, plenty of water, enough sleep, physical activity, slowing down, stopping to breath, and making time for meditation. All very important and will help you get through the season. Here is a 5 minute meditation you can do anywhere!
Be mindful of what you’re drinking and thinking. (Not to be confused with ‘mindful drinking’, which is a movement I’ll explore in a later blog.) When headed to a social gathering or holiday party don’t go empty handed. Bring your own NA beverage or, if you know there will be NA options there get one right away. When you are prepared and have a beverage in hand people won’t be constantly asking you if you want a drink. Having a drink in your hand also helps you not look so awkward when you don’t know what to do with your hands.
Plan ahead. There are a number of simple things you can do ahead of time…before you get to the party…that will help reduce your angst. Drive yourself, so you can leave when YOU need to. Arrive late, leave early. Yes you are sober, but no that does not mean you have to be the designated driver, that can be triggering…drunk people are annoying (shocker!) and you may not like your drunk friends the next day. Have a friend or two on standby that you can call or text if needed.
You are going to be asked why, so have your response ready. “You’re not drinking? Why aren’t you drinking? For how long aren’t you drinking? You are never drinking again?!?!” They are going to ask…the questions will come. Because in this backwards society we live in, where drinking is the norm…if you decide to go alcohol free…you’re the odd one. You don’t owe anyone an answer. But not being prepared when this question is thrown at you can make the situation even more uncomfortable. Keep it short and simple if you want. “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Because.” The end.
Out with the old, in with the new…create new traditions. Change the setting. If you’ve always spent Thanksgiving dinner over at Aunt Mary’s…where you would have a little turkey with a lot of wine, then maybe you should offer to host the dinner at your house. Change the time. 4 pm Christmas dinner at the in-laws with all 20 cousins too much, try going over there for brunch. Do something completely different from your familiar holiday activities. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter or to walk the dogs at your local animal shelter. Giving and being of service is one of the best things you can do during the holidays, it helps you get out of your own head and focus on others.
First and foremost, make your sobriety your top priority, because it is. Every morning set your intention..tell yourself that you are not going to drink. No matter what. Eliminate the option of drinking altogether. Remind yourself why you made the decision to live a life without alcohol…and that your ongoing sobriety is the biggest, most important, gift of the season.
And always eat the cake.
Until next time, be well,
Kerri Mac 🤟🏽
In the year 1519, Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, arrived in the New World with six hundred men and, upon arrival, ordered his men to, ‘burn the ships’. 🔥⛵️ His logic behind this wasn’t to go down in the history books as the conquistador loco that ordered his men to destroy his ships. Nope. It was to send a message to his men, a loud and clear message…
…there is no turning back…his men would have to conquer, or die.
Two years later, in 1521, Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec empire. HIs ‘burn the ships’ strategy worked! Although, guys! His men didn’t even really burn the ships, they sunk them! 😱🤯 And that fun fact, my friends, wraps up our history lesson.
But there is a life lesson in this story that I do want to talk about. The story about Hernán Cortés, in its simplest form, is really just about commitment.
Retreat is easy when you let yourself have the option.
On February 15th, 2019, while attending my very first Recovery Elevator event, Nashville LIVE…I hit 100 days sober. I can remember how excited I was when I did the math and realized I would be there on that day. But I was also terrified! Flying across the country, alone, to go meet members from my online recovery community, that I only knew from Facebook…was stepping way outside of my comfort zone. It was scary, I was so nervous I almost canceled the trip. Strangers scared me. People scared me.
At that point in my sobriety, counting days was very important to me. There were days, even weeks, in the beginning, when counting those days was all I could focus on. But that got me to day 100. The first day 100 in many, many years.
Knowing myself, and finally being honest with myself, I knew that I would have to do something more than count days and read quit lit if I was going to make it another 100 days. I needed more accountability and I was going to have to get uncomfortable. So I bought that plane ticket to Nashville. And I secretly made plans to publicly share my milestone of 100 days sober on social media.
It’s not just a coincidence that my 100th day fell 100 days after my (last🙏) rock bottom moment. I’m not going to go into anymore of my story right now, if you’re curious you can listen to my interview – Recovery Elevator Episode 255.
When it came time to press “Post” I was a mess of sweaty, shakey, nerves. Even admitting to the people that knew, from personal experience, of my drinking problem was hard. I was embarrassed, filled with shame and guilt. My anxiety was still at an all time high, almost paralyzing at times.
There is this stigma associated with addiction, and too often it keeps people from admitting they have a problem or from seeking help. The word ‘alcoholic’ brings up images of a person living under a bridge, drinking from a brown paper bag.
I often felt damaged, defective, less than. I knew that in order for me to move forward in life, to break the cycle I had been on, that I would have to do something drastic.
This public post on Facebook was my ‘drastic’. 👉🏽
I have never regretted posting it. As I started getting the notifications from comments and likes I was afraid to go read them. When I finally did I wanted to cry. Happy tears. 😭 Grateful tears. I was overwhelmed and speechless by all the positive, encouraging, supportive and ‘I can relate’ messages that I got. I was shown nothing but love.
This single scary ‘burn the ships’ post 100 days in busted down the door and has made it easy for me to continue to share my journey. Using my story and my voice helps keep me in check, and it helps others know that they are not alone.
Fast forward to today…In the few days before sitting down to get these words out I was doing a lot of thinking about my 100 day post, trying to remember the way I was feeling, what emotions I was experiencing. What quickly came to mind was how scared I was. Putting yourself out there like this, being vulnerable like this, is scary. And once it’s out there…once that ship has been burned…it can’t be unburned! But that’s the point, right? I knew I had no other choice, I had to take action. If I didn’t, nothing would change. Even though I really wanted to get sober and live a life without alcohol, I was too scared to leave the comfortable and familiar. Burning the ships gave me the courage, strength, and the push, to step into a new life.
Have you burned your ships? Or do you always give yourself a way out?
It doesn’t have to be a public blast on social media like I did. That was a level 5 on the Burnometer! 🔥
There are different levels of burning the ships. Start with level 1, work your way up! They all will help establish another layer of accountability for you.
Level 1: Someone you don’t know well. This could be a store clerk, a barista, a friend from book club, but not a stranger.
Level 2: Someone you consider a friend, or who you have regular monthly interaction with. This is an acquaintance from the gym, a neighbor, restaurant employee.
Level 3: This is someone you interact with on a weekly basis. Co-worker, good friend, running partner, or hiking friend.
Level 4: Meeting with a close group of friends, family, spouse, in person conversation. Immediate family.
Level 5: FB Live, Podcast, Social media post, family meeting, airplane with banner in the sky.
I challenge you to pick a level above, find someone that fits the description…and burn baby burn. 🔥
Please come back and share your experience with me!
Until next time, be well.
👋🏽 Hi, my name is Kerri Mac. Some of you may know me, but I’m betting that most of you don’t. I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog, my very first blog.
How did I end up here, writing a blog for Recovery Elevator? Well, I like to think of it as though I graduated. Two years ago I started writing the show notes for the podcast. And now, here I am…writing blogs. I have been a member of Café RE for over 2.5 years and that has changed my life. But that’s enough about me, for now. 😉
I want to talk about the benefits of quitting drinking. And not the obvious ones, like the health benefits or the money and calories saved. No, I want to go a little deeper, and more niche…and I want to make a list…because who doesn’t like a list?
Let’s call our list, The Top 10 Benefits of Quitting Drinking. Catchy, right?!
Here we go…
1 – Your authentic self will begin to emerge. I say begin, because this isn’t a one and done thing, and it takes time. That’s what recovery is, recovering the person you were meant to be and giving the inner child permission to come out and play again. This authentic self fully recognizes that the mind makes life out to be way more serious than it actually is. In fact, don’t forget Rule 22, lighten up and never take yourself too seriously. When you ditch the booze there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself rolling sideways down grassy hills.
2 – You’ll have the chance, the opportunity, to find out why you’re using alcohol to dull that internal discomfort. We’re talking about getting at the roots of this discomfort. No quick fixes or fads, but doing some serious soul work where we make that long journey from living in the head to the heart. This one isn’t so much a benefit, but a life mission and why we’re here.
3 – You’ll begin to find out who you aren’t. Ahhh, you thought I was going to say find out who you are, didn’t you? Nope. And in terms of finding out who you are, I encourage you to rid yourself of this lifelong pursuit because when we quit drinking, the opposite happens. We find out who we are by a series of finding out who we aren’t. Do you dig? Does that make sense? The “who we are” will organically be uncovered by a sequence of revelations of who we aren’t. For example, I’m not a girl who likes to stay up until 2 am and sleep in late, quiet early mornings are my favorite. It’s more common, than not, to find me awake at 4:00 AM…journaling or meditating. You’ll learn you’re a strong person, deeply rooted in this world, who doesn’t need an external substance to feel good internally. Those days will be gone. Hasta la vista, baby! ✌🏽
4 – You’re open to signs from the universe. Whether you believe they are coming from God, Allah, galaxies, the willow tree in your front yard, or your neighbor Tim, you won’t miss them because you’re drunk or hungover the next day. Hooray! 🤸🏽♀️🤸🏽♀️
5- You can see the insanity of the mind. The Hindus called the natural dysfunction of the mind Dukkha, Buddhists call it maya and Christians call it original sin. You’ll also be able to take a step back, become the observer of the mind, and recognize this insanity. Here is what you’ll be able to see. Studies also show that of the 60,000 – 70,000 thoughts we have a day, 90% of them are equal or the same as the day before. 💭
- It’s these repetitive thoughts that always drive you to make the same decisions.
- It’s these familiar decisions that always lead to the same actions.
- It’s these familiar actions that always result in the same outcomes
- It’s these same outcomes that constantly result in the same emotions
- And these familiar emotions give you those familiar feelings.
- And it’s these feelings that always lead to the same thoughts – thereby completing the cycle. You can now recognize this and will be empowered to change your thinking.
6- Your brain will start to produce regular amounts of Melatonin again. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and simply lets your body know that it is night-time so you can relax and fall asleep. There’s an important word in there. It helps us RELAX when our outer environment says it’s time to relax. Studies show that regular alcohol intake drastically reduces the amount of natural melatonin the body produces which, as you can imagine, does a number on your sleep! 💤
7 – Welcome back Oxytocin, or the connection molecule. Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging and orgasm. It may also have benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety and intestinal problems. This is the molecule that allows us to build altruistic relationships with other human beings. When oxytocin is present in the body, we are living more in the heart area and less in the thinking mind. Studies show that pregnant women who have higher levels of oxytocin bond more strongly with their babies after they are born according to a 2007 study in the journal Psychological Science.
8 – You’re part of something MUCH bigger. We all want to feel like we’re contributing to something, that we are adding to a project or goal and making this world a better place. People are ditching the booze more than ever these days and this global movement takes warriors like you. The bigger picture is that we are no longer looking externally for inner comfort. That’s really what is taking place, and you’re a big part of raising the consciousness on the planet. In fact, when we struggle with addiction we think we are in the back of the line in terms of success and achievement, but in reality, we are the ones who are forced to look within and make HUGE life changes. We are paving the way for others.
9 – You stop hoping. Yep, hope is the problem. When we are hoping for something to change, be it our inner emotional state, the weather, or whatever…then we stop denying what is. This incessant hoping for something to be different drives addiction and is doing a number on humanity. The Buddha noticed this 2500 years ago in Lumbini, now modern day Nepal, when he links all human suffering to craving or hoping for something to be different. That guy was so far ahead of his time.
10 – You’ve got a chance to work on the one big lesson you signed up for in this lifetime. There’s a theory that you’re supposed to work on one major issue in this lifetime. Mine is connection. For others this can be letting things go, loving yourself, standing up for yourself, showing unconditional love to others, forgiveness, self-sabotage, facing fear, patience, shame, regret, and the list goes on. When our veins are flowing with alcohol, there’s no chance we’ll build the internal circuits around these issues. And there’s another theory, that if we don’t get to it in this lifetime, then well, you’ll start again next life. So why not get started now and start tackling the number one thing that is holding us back.
These types of lists are hard. It could easily be the top 100 benefits of sobriety. I challenge you to create your own list and then another one when you hit another milestone. Go back and see how they have changed. The first time I did a list like this, most of mine were external, now they are mostly internal. We are constantly evolving and changing as we walk this journey.
Until next time, be well.