Creating Space for New Possibilities

Updated: Jan 13

There is a new(ish) approach to beginning a new year and it is one that has truly resonated with me. It is the action of choosing a word for yourself. Just one word that resonates with you, inspires, motivates, commits, comforts, and speaks to you.

In 2019, my word was Grow. I wanted to stretch out the branches on my tree of life, reaching into the skies above. I applied this word to both personal and professional development. As I approached each opportunity, the soft whisper of growth echoed in my ear. In 2019 I pushed myself in business by trying to expand a branch of Women Hike Wild. This push was quick and messy. It didn’t end with the success that I envisioned, but it didn’t fail either. I grew and learned that my quick-to-act nature would benefit from a bit more process and preparation.

This lesson of process and preparation would present itself over and over again. As I fumbled around, launching a life coaching practice, developing powerful and fun wilderness adventures, and going back to school in my late thirties, the importance of creating space for process and preparation was paramount.

There were some growth decisions made that benefited from my quick-to-act nature as well. In January of 2019 I began two journeys: the first, a public journey, I committed to spending more time outside each day. I posted about this challenge on social media and was surprised to find others who wanted to join me! The second journey was a personal and private one. I didn’t want to advertise as I didn’t know what would happen and I was attempting to not set goals around it. I wanted the process to be and feel as natural as it could. After spending years or decades (shudder at the thought) of living an ‘alcohol-full’ life, I decided to take some time off. This relationship was akin to a love affair, sometimes full of fun and adventure, and other times needy and dependent.

Although I was in a place where this relationship was on the healthier side, I sat back post-holidays and tried to remember the last full day that was alcohol free. Essentially, the after dinner beverage was a frequent visitor. Sadly, it was further back than I had wanted. The decision was made to step back, take some space. It wasn’t the alcohol, it was me. Something had changed and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I approached each day with only the day as a goal. I wasn’t committing to a full year (was I?), I wasn’t making it a big deal. A good friend happened to be pregnant at this time and so I aligned my sobriety with hers, nothing to it. The first month sort of went by quite quickly as did the second month. I found that I was checking in frequently with myself to see if I noticed anything different about my being. As though I would feel something profound, immediately.

Interestingly, it has been through the small adjustments made along the journey that have resulted in a profound feeling. As an example, I found that by making a quick transition to club soda or ginger ale at the pub was really easy for me. In fact, it tasted really good! One thing became clear, when drinking club soda or any other non-alcohol beverage, I only really consumed one. In contrast, when I was consuming alcohol, it would be no big deal to spend an evening with three or four beverages...sometimes more.

As time went on, I noticed more and more that I thought about alcohol less and less. When I was working full-time, it would be common for me to come home from work, sit on my balcony and enjoy a glass of wine. There was a moment in particular that I remember quite vividly. I was cycling home from another work day and felt pretty sad. I had had a tough day at work and physically felt sad. Once I got home, I poured a glass of wine and settled into my favourite seat on the balcony. The view was quite spectacular actually. After a few sips, I noticed that I physically felt myself feeling better. I could actually connect the numbing effect of the wine on my emotions. This was a growth moment for me. Until this point, I had never really connected the dots. I intellectually knew the effects of alcohol and what I was probably doing when I over consumed, but I never really experienced these effects in this way. After this moment, it would take another 4 months before I stopped drinking, but this moment continues to reinforce a huge lesson for me. I began to open myself up to a greater awareness of my emotions and how I was interacting with them. I began to learn how to sit with my emotions.

As the time progressed, I recognized that I wanted to replace alcohol with something positive. It was at this time that an ad for a free class in kickboxing came across my feed. I didn’t even question it, I registered. Once in the gym, I received gloves and hand wraps and felt instantly hooked! I registered for the full package that day and never looked back. The intensity, physicality, and community were the exact tonic that I needed to channel the emotions that were being numbed previously. The impact was so large, that even when I moved out of province, I located a Muay Thai training gym, joined and have been practicing four days/week ever since. To be honest, I never thought that I would be living so close to the infamous George St. in St. John’s and not be consuming alcohol. I had believed that life wouldn't be fun without alcohol by my side. As a child at heart, I have actually enjoyed events, activities, and adventures more fully. I have become a better version of myself.

I am closing in on the one-year anniversary of being alcohol free and it feels really good! I continue to not place goals around it, I am just living within each day. When my feelings bubble up, I have learned to take a mental step-back and assess what’s happening. I find myself saying to my partner “it’s ok to be sad for a little bit” or “I am just really frustrated right now, it’s ok”. Trying to live happy, excited, and fulfilled every day is simply not sustainable. It is through the rainbow of emotions that we experience from moment to moment that enables us to learn and grow.

This year I have chosen the word Realize. I am ready to realize through learning, realize financial stability, and realize how powerful sharing stories can be!

Xo Jess


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