To make it not suck.

1. Set Intentions

Start the year by setting clear and achievable intentions for yourself. This is one of the ways that’s helped me achieve some goals rather than give up at the first failure. I “intend” to drink a gallon of water every day for the month of January. Yesterday I got to 90 oz. I still feel real good about that and I’m not throwing in the towel today. It’s a hell of a lot more water than I drank last year.

Reflect on what you want to accomplish in various aspects of your life, such as health, career, relationships, and personal development and set an intention for improvement every day.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
— Chinese Proverb

2. Prioritize Self-Care

Above all else: self-care. And HONEST self-care. Eating Doritos chased by a bottle of wine in a bubble bath screams self-sabotage not self-care. January is an excellent time to establish or revisit self-care routines that contribute to your physical, mental, and emotional health. This could look like regular exercise, proper sleep, healthy eating, mindfulness practices, and spending time doing activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of yourself sets a positive tone for the rest of the year.

3. Organize and Declutter

I Marie Kondoed my house in December (I wonder if she knows her name is now used as a verb?) and it feels so good to have less clutter piling up. Use the cold, dark evenings of January as an opportunity to declutter and organize your living and working spaces. A tidy environment will have a positive impact on your mental well-being and productivity. Donate or discard items you no longer need, organize your belongings by finding a place for everything, and create systems that help you maintain order throughout the year. This process can provide a fresh start and a sense of control.

4. Invest in Yourself or Your Business

Stimulate your mind by learning a new skill or joining a group of like-minded people. Whether it’s a language, a musical instrument, a form of art, or a practical skill related to your profession, acquiring new knowledge can be fulfilling and empowering. Consider enrolling in a course, attending workshops, or finding online resources to expand your skill set. Learning something new can bring a sense of accomplishment and excitement to your life.

Remember that the key is to set realistic goals and incorporate activities that bring you joy and fulfillment; why else are we here? January is a great time to establish positive habits that can set the tone for the rest of the year.

Anxiety. Burnout. Unproductivity. Sleeplessness. Overwhelm.

I’m certain that every entrepreneur and business owner has undoubtedly encountered these emotions while managing their business ventures. I can definitely admit I did. Consequently, as a seasoned entrepreneur, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is the significance of establishing boundaries to shield myself from these emotions and to savor both my personal and professional life. Here are the most important boundaries I’ve set that have made the biggest difference in my business life:

Scheduling time to check (and not check) my email and socials.

This one is real tough for me but believe it or not, it was the game-changer when it comes to me getting stuff done and staying sane. I had a bad habit of obsessively checking my email and scrolling through Instagram for the tiniest whiff of something new.

The problem is that, not only was this an extremely distracting habit, it also left me feeling anxious all the time. It left me not wanting to respond to an email, make a call or talk with someone right away and then thinking about it for hours, or days, until I did or required me to leave something else to do it.

I tell my staff all the time, “we’re not saving babies here. Our work does not require an immediate response from me. Checking and responding to email once in the morning and again in the afternoon easily fits in to an acceptable response time. And Joanna and Chip are not going anywhere on Insta.

I also have a killer auto-responder that stops people in their tracks, makes them think about their own time management and gives me some grace. Contact me if you’re interested and I’ll copy and paste it for you.

DO NOT DISTURB

This boundary is basically my way of enforcing the first boundary. In an ideal day I enjoy a super focused, productive work time. I finish everything on my to-do list in the scheduled work time and have spare time to do whatever else I’d like. The only way that’s possible is by avoiding distractions and focusing on the task at hand. 

Keeping notifications silenced and temptations away from me is the only way I can accomplish this. The days that I end up giving into distractions I feel like I spend the whole day trying to get work done that could’ve taken half the time.  

Working in my office or in a designated area

This is a real adult move on my part. I WANT to work under the covers, in my warm cozy bed but I know I can’t. I am self-aware enough to know I need to remove myself from my house in order to get in the right headspace to be produtive. When I’m at home I just don’t have the same level of attentiveness. When I’m in my office or a coffeeshop, I can limit to the amount of time I want to spend there so I need to wrap up my work before I go home. And that time limit is key. 

Knowing my most (and least) productive work times.

I am not creative or focused in the afternoons.. And when I try to be I end up just wasting so much time and hardly getting anything done. So now that I can set my own schedule, why am I still trying to force creativity to happen in the afternoon? In the morning and night I’m so inspired and excited to create, whether it’s on paper work or a personal project. So when I allow afternoons to be filled with fun, to get outdoors and/or take a nap, the day flows much more smoothly. Don’t fight your natural tendencies. Embrace them. 

Taking all of my meetings on one day of the week.

This is a new boundary I implemented this year and it has been the most effective change I’ve made. I love batch-working, but meetings were the one thing that got in the way of that. It felt so hard to get into a creative zone when I had to break for a meeting. 

I do love me some meetings, but sometimes meeting with people can drain me. Having a meeting in the middle of a Monday left me not wanting to do creative work the rest of the day. Having all my meetings on Thursdays lets me get in the right headspace and stay there for a single day of meetings

I’m always learning new ways I can improve my mental health, creativity, and productivity and these have been the best I’ve come up with at this point. Of course I’m not perfect at keeping all of these boundaries, but it’s so noticeable when I do.

What boundaries do you set for yourself?

Let’s break it down.

How is coaching different from therapy? Isn’t that the same as mentoring? What does a consultant do?

The more we understand the similarities and differences of these professions, the more likely we can make sure you end up working with the right practitioner for your situation. The post is dedicated to untangling the intricacies of each, so that we can ensure you’re getting the best care.

Coach vs. Therapist

The biggest difference between a coach and a therapist is that a therapist is a licensed health professional and a coach is not.

Note: Although there are many accredited coaching programs, the coaching industry is not regulated by a governing body so anyone can just decide to call themselves a coach. It’s important to do your research before hiring someone, and asking about any certifications and trainings that they might have. (I am currently working toward my certifcation by the International Coaching Federation through the ICF accredited Mind Rebel Academy.)

While it’s common to work with a coach an extended period of time, sometimes for years, a therapist will typically work with someone for an even longer term. Therapists focus on healing and resolving past traumas – coaches are much more future-oriented, and focus on getting clients to a successful outcome or goal. As a healthcare professional, a therapist is also able to diagnose patient conditions, whereas a coach cannot.

Coach vs. Mentor

A mentor can work with a client for a prolonged period of time, sometimes for a lifetime! Mentors can have a more informal association and communication with their ‘mentee’, and are likely to meet in public places like coffee shops and office settings (a coach would not, as public places would break confidentiality and might prevent the client from digging deeper and really opening up).

One of the defining features of a mentor is their first-hand experience. You might look up to a mentor and want to know how they got to where they are. Mentors will share their guidance, insights, lessons learned, and wisdom. A coach, however is able to work with clients in a variety of domains and industries, even without having personal experience themselves.

Whereas coaches are future-focused and therapists are past-focused, mentors are usually present-focused. They will direct, advise or teach on ‘in-the-moment’ problems that the mentee is currently experiencing, and the present will often determine the topic of most mentorship conversations. Coaching and mentoring can be done together and can be quite a beautiful relationship between the practitioner and client.

Coach vs. Consultant

Consultants are clear experts in their field, and are called on for their professional or technical advice. They work to understand the problem and offer solutions. They might share their process, method or system with you. They will aim to give you the “right” answer, or at least several possibilities. They will provide a short-term answer to a very specific problem.

Which one is right for me?

Of course, his depends on what you’re looking for.

Are you looking to heal past trauma? Are you interested in reaching a specific goal, either personally or professionally? Is your issue directly related to a specific subject or field of expertise?

A coach is flexible and able to coach on a variety of topics and challenges (even if they haven’t experienced it themselves), because they’re not there to give advice. They’re not there to fix your problems for you. They’re there to work with you, the client – to help you grow and develop. As a result, they empower you to take control of your life and actions, so that you can reach your goals. They get deep into the root of your struggles and discover what’s truly in the way. A coach is your partner, your equal, who will guide you to discover your own solutions that are best for you. They will assist and encourage you, but also challenge you – that’s how the growth happens.

In addition, if you’re looking for a partner to also give advice, pull knowledge from their experiences and nuture your dreams and passion, the coaching/mentoring hybrid is the perfect option.

I love me some shelf-helpery.

I have a thing about listening to only self-development books on Audible and also reading them in print simultaneously. Many of the books below I’ve listened to or read multiple times. If you have other suggestions, please let me know!

  1. You’re a Badass by Jen Sincero

In this refreshingly entertaining guide to reshaping your mindset and your life, mega-bestselling author and world-traveling success coach Jen Sincero serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilarious and inspiring stories, sage advice, loving yet firm kicks in the rear, and easy-to-implement exercises to help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want. Shift your energy and attract what you desire. Create a life you totally love. And start creating it NOW. Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before. By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand how to blast past what’s holding you back, make some serious changes, and start living the kind of life that once seemed impossible.

2. Go Giver and Go Givers Sell More by Bob Burg and John David Mann

The Go-Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success. Joe is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be. And so one day, desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees simply as the Chairman.

Over the next week, Pindar introduces Joe to a series of “go-givers:” a restaurateur, a CEO, a financial adviser, a real estate broker, and the “Connector,” who brought them all together. Pindar’s friends share with Joe the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and teach him how to open himself up to the power of giving.

Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving—putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives—ultimately leads to unexpected returns.

Imparted with wit and grace, The Go-Giver is a heartwarming and inspiring tale that brings new relevance to the old proverb “Give and you shall receive.”

3. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind.

The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in?

In this revelatory new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning.

Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.

4. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

This is the 8th Anniversary Edition of the popular book that outlines a way of thinking and a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire. Learn why some people make DREAM after DREAM come true, while others just continue to spend their lives building dreams for someone else. It’s not just another self-help motivation tool or methods you must learn in order to travel the path to success.

The Slight Edge shows you how to create powerful results from the simple daily activities of your life, by using tools already within you. This new edition is completely re-edited, line by line and word by word. The authors took a few bits out, and added a whole lot more bits in. There’s an entirely new chapter called “The Secret of Happiness” (its core message is that success doesn’t lead to happiness — it’s the other way around) and another on the business of creating ripples on the pond of life and leaving a legacy. “We had the chance to say a whole lot we hadn’t quite said the first time ’round,” says John David Mann. “It was like getting to have a massive do-over. (How often does that happen in real life?!)It is, in other words, the same book … and at the same time an entirely new book.”

This edition of The Slight Edge will show you how to create life-altering dynamics—how a way of thinking, a way of processing information, can impact daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire. The Slight Edge is “the key” that will make all the other how-to books and self-help information that you read, watch and hear actually work.

5. Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money

If you’re looking for practical information to answer all your “How?” “What?” and “Why?” questions about money, this book is for you. Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money covers the A to Z of Dave’s money teachings, including how to budget, save, dump debt and invest. You’ll also learn all about insurance, mortgage options, marketing, bargain hunting and the most important element of all―giving.

Because this is the handbook for Financial Peace University, you won’t find much new information here if you’ve already taken the nine-week class. It also covers the Baby Steps Dave wrote about in The Total Money Makeover, and trust us―the Baby Steps haven’t changed a bit. So, if you’ve already memorized everything Dave’s ever said about money, you probably don’t need this book. But if you’re new to this stuff or just want the all-in-one resource for your bookshelf, this is it!

6. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember twenty years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?

This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth.

Readers discover how brief experiences can change lives, such as the experiment in which two strangers meet in a room, and forty-five minutes later, they leave as best friends. (What happens in that time?) Or the tale of the world’s youngest female billionaire, who credits her resilience to something her father asked the family at the dinner table. (What was that simple question?)

Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.

7. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?

In the #1 New York Times international bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.

The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful. Updated to reflect the complexities of relationships today, this new edition reveals intrinsic truths and applies relevant, actionable wisdom in ways that work.

8. Atomic Habits by James Clear

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:

  • make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);

  • overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;

  • design your environment to make success easier;

  • get back on track when you fall off course;

…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

9. Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas

Can you learn to be lucky? Don’t wait for the stars to align or until you ‘deserve’ outrageous success. Get ready to explore the infinite possibilities life has to offer and unleash your inner ‘Lucky Bitch’. In Lucky Bitch you’ll discover fun strategies behind the Law of Attraction to manifest the wealth you want, the love you deserve and the courage to go after the life of your dreams. Learn the inspirational story of how life coach Denise Duffield-Thomas used these powerful tools to attract more than half a million dollars worth of free travel, scholarships, prizes and bank errors in her favour. Lucky Bitch reveal the secrets of effortlessly successful women that can change your life forever, starting today!

10. The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins

How to enrich your life and destroy doubt in five seconds.

Throughout your life, you’ve had parents, coaches, teachers, friends, and mentors who have pushed you to be better than your excuses and bigger than your fears. What if the secret to having the confidence and courage to enrich your life and work is simply knowing how to push yourself?

Using the science of habits, riveting stories, and surprising facts from some of the most famous moments in history, art, and business, Mel Robbins will explain the power of a “push moment”. Then, she’ll give you one simple tool you can use to become your greatest self.

It takes just five seconds to use this tool, and every time you do you’ll be in great company. More than eight million people have watched Mel’s TEDx Talk, and executives inside of the world’s largest brands are using the tool to increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement.

In The 5 Second Rule, you’ll discover it takes just five seconds to:

  • Become confident

  • Break the habit of procrastination and self-doubt

  • Beat fear and uncertainty

  • Stop worrying and feel happier

  • Share your ideas with courage

The 5 Second Ruleis a simple, one-size-fits-all solution for the one problem we all face – we hold ourselves back.

The secret isn’t knowing what to do – it’s knowing how to make yourself do it.

Top 10 Self-Development Books

I did it. I posted the S word to my social media accounts. SOBER.

I’ll be honest, I waffled with this one for days; riddled with anxiety. I spent days from Thanksgiving morning drafting, saving, drafting, saving, drafting and saving posts until finally on Sunday I was like, “OMG Fuck This Shit. This is ridiculous. Beth Dutton your ass.” SHARE.

And so I did. I posted a before and after photo of myself and a collection of sobriety hashtags that had even me cringing a little.

My anxiety was not totally unfounded. It’s a big deal “coming out” to a world of drinkers; especially since for so long (so long) drinking has just been part of my identity. And, shall we recognize the elephant here? We do own a wine bar, which ironically was dreamed up and put in to motion during my first 90 days of sobriety a few years ago.

I waffled because I was scared. There I said it.

But in the end it was more important to me to be authentic and honest than it was to keep this clean little secret. (Ha)

Here’s a list of some of the fears I had about first, getting sober and staying that way (and by that I mean not just doing a “time-sensitive” challenge, i.e. Sober October, NO-vember, 90 days, one year, etc) and secondly, sharing it publicly:

  1. What will people think?

  2. What if I fail?

  3. What will I do?

  4. What will I drink when I’m stressed, sad, depressed, frustrated, happy, celebrating?

  5. What about the glass of champagne I won’t be able to have at my kids’ weddings?

  6. What about my friends?

  7. What about Dale (my husband)?

  8. What about my job?

  9. What will people say to my face? Behind my back?

  10. Who will be supportive?

  11. Who will I lose?

  12. Who will be weird around me?

  13. Who will want to hang out with me?

  14. Who will be my friend?

In the end it was clear that the majority of my fears were rooted in other people and ultimately, their opinion of me. And it’s just none of my business what other people think of me.

This isn’t about anyone else. It isn’t about my family or my friends or customers or acquaintances. It’s about me and my health and the way I want to live my life.

And alcohol-free it is.

I shared this publicly for a couple of reasons: I mean, let’s be honest here, I am an oversharer AND I wanted to help if someone was out there feeling alone.

‘Cause this shit can be lonely.

I so badly WANT to share all the amazing things sobriety has given me in the past 3 months however, while definitely never intended, these things can be perceived as righteous or somehow “judgey” to the drinker. So, please, keep in mind, if you’re a drinker (and by all means DRINK AWAY) I really, really, really, really don’t care about your drinking habits. I’m not counting how many you’ve had, what time you start or end, or whatever rule you’ve set for yourself.

You do you. I’ll do me.

There are some of you out there that have asked me how. And if there’s the six that reached out, I’m guessing there’s a few more out there that didn’t but still want to know.

The short answer, that no one wants to hear, I definitely did NOT for years, is that I just decided. I stopped depending on willpower, counting the days, white-knuckling it through events and embraced that my life is just “better’ without it. Everything is better…and I mean everything.

The other question I have gotten is how much I was drinking. Again, short answer was too much…for me. And also, one was just never enough. Ever. I sort of don’t see the point in just one. (Maybe I’ll get further in to detail going forward with this blog but for now I’ll leave it at that. There’s really no reason to compare.)

And I was honest when I said in my post I just couldn’t “do” my life anymore hungover with an ulcer. My life is busy and packed with goals and tasks and people that depend on me. For years I have thought there’s something bigger for me just waiting out there and the only thing holding my back was my drinking.

I’m pretty sure I’m right.

Update: On March 28th, 2024, I am currently 941 days sober including these 90 days posted in November 2021. It’s so refreshing to look back on these posts. I had 1000 day 1s before it stuck.

I’ve recently found an app I love; STREAKS.

Well, in all honesty, I’ve had this app downloaded on my phone since…wait, let me look…June 20, 2020. Apparently I was looking for a way to get organized and be healthier then too.

I love a good game and a competition with myself is even better. I have a ton of apps that track progress, give me points and badges, send me little notifications of a job well done or a reminder to get my ass up…pretty much everything.

However, this also can set me up for a real bad day if I don’t acheive them all. Yesterday I forgot to take the 1 minute cold shower (I know, Dale thinks I’m crazy, but there’s science behind this) and I actually considered getting in a freezing cold shower while my hot bath was running. I didn’t, but I really thought about it.

All of these little tasks and subsequently acheiving, or not acheiveing, them brings up a concerning conversation I had with my therapist a few weeks ago regarding perfectionism.

I always thought perfectionism was actually being perfect at something so when she asked my point-blank if I identified as a perfectionist my immediate answer was a “Fuck No” through a throaty laugh. “I’m not perfect at anything,” I told her.

Which, as some, or maybe many, of you know, that’s not actually what a perfectionist means; getting it ALL right ALL the time.

>
a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.
— Oxford Dictionary

I can get onboard with the above definition but she needed to explain it to me a little furtner in detail. And it didn’t take long. “Are you a black/white, all/nothing, balls to the wall/nothing at all kind of person?”

Shit.

I’m not really in to labels, which is probably I don’t throw my fist in the air and scream I’M AN ALCOHOLIC. I don’t like to be called anything really because I think we’re all just so much more than a few labels. It’s true, I’m a mom, and a wife, and a business owner but I’m also a walker, reader, writer, napper, eater, breather, coffee drinker, driver, dreamer, bather, teeth brusher…you see where I’m going with this. So to be labeled a perfectionist, which let’s all agree this isn’t the most attractive way to be described these days, bothered me.

Progress just isn’t enough of a dopamine hit for me. Little steps are just so hard …I want to be good at everything immediately and if I’m not, I don’t mind throwing in the towel. And some of those things I don’t necessarily consider failures, just not in the cards for me.

Unfortunately, there are a few things that I return to over and over again; beating my head against a wall. The big three; weight loss, financial freedom, sobriety.

I have to be perfect in one of those things in order for the rest to fall in to place and for me, that’s sobriety. I’ve written these words before…more than once and twice and three times. If I had to guess on a number of Day 1s I’ve had, or wanted to have, I’m guessing it would be in the hundreds, probably thousands. There are 8395 days in 23 years and I’m pretty sure I started questioning my drinking habits before it was even legal for me to have one.

‘No’ is just so much easier than ‘maybe’ for me; none is better than some. Sobriety is probably the only thing us perfectionists (which by the way, most ACOA are) will truly ever succeed at if we abstain forever.

Wrapping my mind around forever is difficult, I won’t lie. However, I do feel a little more confident these days when it comes to romanticizing that one glass of champagne at one of my kids’ weddings. That’s easier when you literally have a physical reaction to thinking about it.

A couple of months ago, after a particularly soaked weekend, I laid in bed for two days with the most painful (what I thought was) heartburn of my life. I thought I might be having a heart attack. I Googled every single thing I thought it could be, including an ulcer, and low and behold that’s what this girl ended up with.

For years I have been starting my mornings with 3-4 ibuprofen every single day. If the hangover was particularly bad, I’d pop 3-4 more in the early afternoon. All this with wine still sloshing around in my belly I’m sure.

Alcohol + NSAID + decades =

Thank the fucking lord that was my only wake up call. Whenever I get sober I think how horrible a different rock bottom could have been. A few days of burning stomach is a far cry from killing someone in a drunk driving accident or something equally as horrible.

I literally can’t think of alcohol right now without my chest burning physically. While I am sure that reaction will fade, I’m sort of hoping it doesn’t, it has gotten me through these first 10 days quite easily.

Here’s the lucky thing about having so many attempts and subsequent failures where it comes to getting sober. I know what’s coming. I know I’ll be resilent until about Day 50ish when I’ll start to feel it’s unfair, or that I can just have one or two, or I’ll make rules. And more than anything I’d love to think this time is different, and maybe it is, but likely it’s not.

I’ll either dig deep and ask for help, or I’ll persevere. I have faith that the Universe knows what’s best for me and will give me anything I need when the time is right.

In the meantime, I’m going to earn all the points, all the badges, take the wins and plan the future of my dreams.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that help me combat my perfectionistic tendencies:

1. Acknowledge Your Perfectionist Tendencies: The first step in overcoming perfectionism is recognizing when it rears its head in your life. Take a moment to reflect on situations where you might be striving for unattainable standards or feeling overwhelmed by the need to be perfect.

2. Challenge Your Inner Critic: That little voice in your head constantly whispering, “It’s not good enough”? Yeah, it’s time to show it who’s boss. Challenge your inner critic by questioning its unrealistic expectations and replacing negative thoughts with self-compassion and kindness.

3. Set Realistic Goals: Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on setting realistic and achievable goals. Break down big tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate your progress along the way. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the ultimate goal.

4. Practice Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself, darling. Perfectionism often stems from a fear of failure or rejection, so it’s essential to practice self-compassion and remind yourself that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend.

5. Embrace Imperfection: Repeat after me: Imperfection is beautiful. Embrace the messy, imperfect moments of life, and see them as opportunities for growth and learning. Allow yourself to make mistakes, take risks, and step outside your comfort zone – that’s where the magic happens.

6. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection: Shift your mindset from striving for perfection to valuing progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and recognize that each step forward is a victory in itself. Remember, life is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the ride and savor every imperfect moment.

So there you have it, friends – six simple steps to help you overcome perfectionism and embrace the beautifully imperfect messiness of life. It won’t happen overnight, but with patience, practice, and a whole lot of self-love, you’ll soon find yourself dancing to the beat of your perfectly imperfect rhythm. Cheers to embracing imperfection and living life authentically, one beautifully flawed step at a time. ✨

**Update 5/21/23: I am currently 629 days sober.

**Update 4/2/2024: Currently 946 days sober. Seems this is the one that stuck.

“Hello?”

“Is this Katy Ripp? Yes, hello. This is your wake up call.”

This is the call where we tell you that you cannot continue this way or you will die. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but slowly and painfully, you will die…without ever actually living.

You’ll continue down this path, which inevitably leads to no where great, slogging along until one day you can no longer walk. Then, you’ll crawl on your hands and knees the final distance to your end.

So, we’re here, as your friends, the Universe, your physical body, spirit and mind, to wake you up. We’re sorry we’ve had to do that in dramatic form but the decades of weight gain, insomnia, headaches and hangovers didn’t seem to be working.

We’re glad you picked up.”

I wrote this back on September 6th, 2021. It’s hard to go back and read it now, I was only a week in to sobriety then, but the truth often stings a little.

As I sit here on Day 56, I have so many thoughts running through my head. The most intense one at the moment is about this blog.

I want to stand in my truth. I want to be proud of where I am and where I am going and I want other people to know it. I want the accountability. I want my mess to be my message and I truly believe that the obstacle is the way and in my case the obstacle is alcohol.

Period.

I’m SURE I’ve written this before (that’s what happens with the truth, it gets repeated because it’s the only story you actually know and remember) but drinking has been my only roadblock and it’s blocked everything; my physical appearance, productivity, spirituality, health, wealth, everything. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to go in to details about all of that soon.

If you’ve followed along here at all you’ll know I took a 90 day hiatus from drinking back in 2019 but the truth is I’ve had many, many more Day 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, even 50s since then and well before. I’ve tried a THOUSAND times to quit drinking and I just can’t unknow what I know. I’ve googled and read and researched and listened and read some more. And after years of Day 1s and self-loathing and hangovers and fights and crying, I’m just done.

And it’s going to be fucking awesome.

I want to write again. It fuels me; helps me process my thoughts. I didn’t know I loved to write, or that I was any good at it, until I started this blog in 2018. (I mean, that’s one of the coolest things about sobriety…this list is endless of the things you learn you never knew you loved) Unfortunately, when I started drinking again two things happened:

1. I felt like a failure.
2. I didn’t feel like I had anything worth writing about.

After all the reading and research and listening and googling I’ve come to realize that “failure”, and the thousand before that, is exactly how I got here: sober.

I wouldn’t be here without the decades of Day 1s…yes, decades. I have felt like shit after EVERY drinking episode (not all of them horrific) since I was in my early 20s. Every. Single. One. Not just hungover, sure, the headaches and fatigue sucked and definitely got worse as I got older, I mean the self-flagellation.

The knowing.

I knew I shouldn’t be drinking. I knew it wasn’t good for me, the people around me, my life. It just didn’t make anything better. So, it just had to go.

Ba-bye.

Someone asked me the other day, “How do you do all of this? Aren’t you scared?” with a sweeping arm motion. I’ve been asked it before but the answer that came out that particular day almost knocked me on my ass: “I just trust myself. I know that I will do whatever it takes to make it work.”

I have never even had that thought before and there I was saying it out loud.

I spent the rest of the day struck by it. I think because it’s the first time in my adult life I have trusted myself and the reason I’m starting up the engine on here again.

I had fears that I would “fail” again. I would claim sobriety only to fall off again. And then where would I be? Stuck with a blog about sobriety where I would go radio-silent (see absent blog posts from April 2019 – now).

But I trust myself.
This time it’s different.

And I don’t really care if someone doesn’t believe me.
I believe me..for the first time ever.

We’ve entered week 2 of homeschooling. Let me tell you, we’re feeling all the feels.

I think I talked about those adored text threads we all have in my last post (if you don’t have a thread that makes you laugh, cry, be empathetic to others, etc. please let me know…you can join mine); still true today. It’s amazing what you can learn from those three little dots waving.

People feel liberated to share their actual feelings when there isn’t a grimmace, an eye roll (I am the queen of eyerolling by the way) or snicker in their face. Emojis aren’t quite as involuntary as our body language.

It’s fascinating.

We bought the ticket and found our seats again on the Struggle Bus today, but for different reasons. We woke up on time, sort of, and signed on where we needed to; I say we because, again, I was again tethered to both kids for the entirety of the school day. But unlike last week we had some major technology issues.

Now, I consider myself sort of a Jack of All Trades, Master of None, but technology is sort of my jam. I can troubleshoot just about anything if it lends itself to common sense:

  • Glitching? Turn off the wi-fi feature on your phone, iPad, laptop and smart TVs.

  • Audio Issues? Unplug your headset.

  • Zoom link not working? Try a different browser.

  • Poor Zoom connection? Use your iPhone, iPad or MacBook instead of the Chromebook. (Which I’d love to kick, with my boot, across our flower field. #appleproductsforever)

  • Seesaw sucks? See above.

Now, most of these things work(ed).

Until today.

I won’t go in to the hairy details of the day, you can probably deduce what happened from the bullet points, but something interesting came out of our frustrations.

While we keep pretty low expectations of our kids/family, not in the way of we don’t want the best for them, the opposite actually; we want them to know that there is a whole world of things for them outside of school and sports and pleasing other people. But, we also need to fit within the societal norms because this Mama just can’t embrace a homesteading commune just yet. I mean, I could provide the flowers, yoga and wine? Nah…not yet.

In any case, within the aforementioned text thread I had an epiphany.

School life, which in my case, teachers can attest, was equivalent to social life in it’s entirety, is different on screens. No one knows what it “might” be like because we’ve never been here. There’s no doubt that adults are struggling to grasp the concepts, learn a new style, parent and teach, and then parent some more. And you just don’t know what you don’t know.

And when we don’t know and we can’t find the answer in the moment of frustration, we freak the fuck out. All of us, in our own little ways, freak out. And while I’m totally ok with that, because it’s my norm, it’s quite an uncomfortable place to find yourself in.

Eleven years old is tough. I remember being eleven. I remember my mother’s 40th surprise birthday party (I might be the only one ) and now I’m staring down the barrel of 42, but I still remember with great clarity when tween appearances became important, those tumultuous friendships were everything and while I still wanted to be around my parents, I also started pulling away, testing my independence.

What I noticed today was that when “a friend’s” kid was annoyed with technology, embarrassed he came in and out of the wrong class and wanted to cry because he couldn’t get on the right meeting, he did.

He let his frustrations escape in the form of tears. No video, no audio, no classroom, no bullies, no attention, no need to please.

Just the freedom to feel.

He let them flow because it’s always been safe to do that here. But more importantly, he didn’t stuff them down, lower than a daughter’s acceptable stuffing place, mind you. He let them out. And, after “my friend” let him do that, he was free to “shake it off”, troubleshoot and persevere.

Which he absolutely did.

If you know me at all, I’m absolutely NOT a fan of homeschool/online learning, but I am a fan of a good silver lining and if this allows our eleven (tween) boys…scratch that…if this allows ALL OF US to feel our feelings in a safe space surrounded by people we love and those that love us…

I’m in.

And, by the by, if you don’t have that space, it’s right here.

How appropriate those two words are this week.

This week was a struggle for most of my community. I use the term“community” because it’s the only way I know how to encompass it, even though I don’t love the word.

I happen to own a couple of businesses in a small community; one brick and mortar, one in an open field and I am also employed at a family-run/loved athletic club.

In case youre wondering what my next venture in life will be its to make enough money so I can provide fresh flowers good wine and a real hug to everyone I know that is struggling..jpeg

All of these “work” avenues allow me to follow and reach a lot of people through social media, but also like most of you, I have a number of different text threads on my phone that I keep close to my heart ( ❤️ you know who you are).

Let’s talk about virtual/homeschool for a hot minute. (Just FYI…right this second, as I type this, the district is calling my phone, which will likely be followed up with a call to our land line, an email to me, my husband, our son and daughters’ accounts, a text and maybe a telegram by Pony Express (if so, please Jamie Fraser in a kilt on a big horse).

COMMUNICATION…ugh

While mostly the Ripps have kept their blonde/gray heads above water, we all exhaled a sigh of relief when we shut our Chromebooks down and cleaned up our respective desks (not like us) for the weekend.

My MacBook is still very much open.

And even though I’ve thought about writing this all week, it wasn’t until I saw my daughter’s third grade teacher(s) sharing, yes, their struggles, but ultimately, their gratitude on video for the patience of parents and caregivers.

Be still my heart.

Humans are resilient. Every single day I experience the true capacity of care, respect, kindness and acceptance…mostly in my own home, if I just step back for a minute. My kids are adapting and accepting, and dare I say, thriving. My partner in (lots of) crimes cleaned the kitchen and scratched my head ‘til I fell asleep last night.

I am winning.

Although it sure didn’t feel like it when I woke up at 7:55am for an 8:00am 3rd grade morning meeting today. ‍♀️

And, I don’t know what “this” is, except that my empathetic heart yearned to do something:

  • I cried for those 3rd grade teachers that did their best all week by my kiddo.

  • I laughed with my 6th grader when, on a 15 minute break between classes, he threw blackberries at my mouth. I didn’t catch one but challenge accepted for the entirety of the 20-21 year.

  • My heart breaks for the frustrated, for the overwhelmed, for the sad.

  • I yearn for a real hug; for physical connection with my friends without fear that I might kill them with my touch.

  • A break from the solitude; I’m really starting to notice all the things I hate about my house.

But here’s the thing, we will wake up tomorrow.
We will persevere. We’ll push through.
Will we feel better? Maybe. Maybe not.
I guess that’s a choice.

I was so impressed by so many people in my community this week.

I know it’s hard.
I know we didn’t sign up for this.
I know we feel overwhelmed.

But what I’m sure of for sure is that nothing lasts forever.

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i write therefore i am.

Hi, I'm Katy.
Your lifestyle designer and business mentor.

Writing is my way of unwinding and letting my thoughts roam free. Every so often, in the midst of this creative chaos, something clicks, and I'm like, "Hmm, maybe someone else will dig this too." So, I toss it out into the world, hoping it lands with someone who gets it.
I hope that's you.

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In a world that continually celebrates the achievements of women breaking through glass ceilings, climbing corporate ladders, and excelling in their chosen fields, it's easy to assume that these high-achieving women have it all together.  Read more.


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