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You Are Somebody: Lessons from #MarchForOurLives


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Over the weekend, I (and over 800,000 others!) attended the #MarchForOurLives protest in DC, which is now being called the biggest single-day protest in DC's history. Though I wasn't there long (good ol' anxiety and post-surgery troubles kept me from making it all the way to center of the action), I was present long enough to feel awed and inspired by the sheer magnitude of people, the enthusiasm and determination of those marching, and the fact that all of this was taking place because those who went through a horrific, unimaginable experience decided to take action. 

Whether or not you support the cause, #MarchForOurLives is a powerful movement, a shining example of what can be done when people come together for a common goal. I saw people of all ages, races, genders, and orientations. I saw those with disabilities. I saw little babies and old ladies. I saw people loudly chanting with colorful signs, and people quietly standing on the sidelines in support. There are very few times in life that I've seen so many different kinds of people come together in one place, and that alone is uplifting. But there were a few other important life lessons that I picked up while in the city. Here are just a few of the things was inspired by at the March: 

 

COLLECTIVE CONNECTION

As I wrote above, one of the most inspiring aspects of the event was the astounding number of people, many of which had traveled much further than my 20 minute drive, gathered in one place for one cause. No matter how different these people were, all of them believed enough in one issue to make the effort to attend. And DC was just one of the many cities and towns around the world holding an event. I'm not one for group activities (I generally avoid them all costs), but there truly is something amazing about so many people supporting one single cause. Even I, the most anti-group person I know, was in awe of how it felt to be connected collectively to all of these strangers, both the ones standing around me and those standing up across the globe. 

 

INFORMED INSPIRATION

Of course, it's no surprise that the event was inspiring. The posters alone could keep me motivated for ages! And those speeches...wow. But the coolest part about it, for me, was taking in inspiration in the form of various types of information. From the statistics shown on the big screens to the personal stories bravely shared on stage to the hand-written signs held aloft, every aspect held a bit of information that led me to feel even more passionate and inspired by the cause. More people doesn't always mean more information (and it's important to remember that all information isn't accurate), but something about the way everything came together for the event made me feel not only more inspired, but also more informed as well. 

 

UNITED UNCERTAINTY

One of the most fascinating and aspirational aspects of the March was that, even with all of the voices and all of the people standing side by side, there's no guarantee that change will come. Everyone participating was, and still is, united in the uncertainty of potential change. We don't know if what we did will matter. We don't know what kind of difference it will make. And being united in that uncertainty is oddly life-affirming and powerful. Generally speaking, most of us don't know what will happen for sure in our lives. Part of being human is being uncertain. But to see so many people face an uncertainty head-on, to know they're facing an uphill battle and still choosing to fight, was such a poignant reminder that, when it comes down to it, we're all united in the uncertainty of what's to come. 

 

POSITIVE PARTICIPATION

While I'm sure the event wasn't without some issues, for the most part, it was hundreds of thousands of people coming together to take a positive, proactive action. The words spoken, the signs created, and even the songs played on the loudspeaker provided feelings of hope and optimism. Yes, there was pain and anger, too, but most of what I heard and saw was focused on motivation, inspiration, and a cultivate of ambition and hope. I've never before seen so many people, all in one place, participating in the same activity with the same goal in mind. Positive participation on this level is rare, and seeing it in real life is something I'll forever be inspired by. 

 

There were moments, over the past few weeks, when I thought I wouldn't go to the March. I wondered, as many others probably did, if it was really going to do anything. I wondered, selfishly, if it was worth the time and energy. But I'm so thankful I pushed my selfishness and doubts aside and went. There's something truly unforgettable about being surrounded by thousands of complete strangers who believe in a cause passionately. There's something truly magical about standing among all of those people and knowing that you're not the only one who, despite everything that's happened in the past, believes that change is possible. There is something powerful about being surrounded by people and realizing that, though you're unsure of if and when the change will come, you are somebody and you are standing up for something. 

 

 

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10 Ways Sobriety Improved My Life

  Sobriety-Positively-Present

Having recently received quite a few emails asking for advice on sobriety, I’ve been inspired to think about what advice is particularly useful for someone seeking sobriety. When it comes to living a sober life, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is this: discover what will motivate you to begin ¾ and to keep going. No matter what your situation, the one piece of advice that applies to just about everyone is this: identify how your life will be better sober.

Too often, people contemplating sobriety focus their attention on what they might lose — their daily (often comforting) habits, certain people who will hinder their sobriety, activities that might no longer hold the same appeal, a quick (but highly problematic) escape from reality — when they should be focusing on is all that they will gain from choosing to get sober.

Sobriety, of course, isn’t for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, considering the ways your life might improve can be a powerful motivator when it comes to seeking, and sticking with, sobriety. Below I share a few of the ways my life has improved since I got sober (nearly eight years ago!), with the hope that they might inspire you, too.

 

SOBRIETY HAS HELPED ME...

  1. TAKE CONTROL OVER MY OWN STORY

    Sobriety gave me the incredible opportunity to take control of a story that I thought was out of my hands. Many of the actions, thoughts, and ideas I had while drinking were not aligned with my true self. I was living a life that felt wild and fun and carefree (and also depressing, embarrassing, and exhausting), but I wasn’t living the life I wanted to be living. Addiction takes control of your story, and sobriety puts the pen back in your hand, giving you the freedom to write for yourself.

  2. HEIGHTEN MY COMPASSION SKILLS

    Whenever you address your own personal challenges — whether they are addiction-related or not — you gain a better understanding of the potential challenges others might be going through. Very few people in my life knew what I was struggling with. To them, I seemed like my “normal” self. But getting sober helped me realize that you don’t always see what others are going through, and it opened my eyes to seeing the world through a more compassionate lens.

  3. EXPLORE NEW HOBBIES

    When I was drinking, my attention and time were limited to drinking-related activities. I had to prepare, engage, and recover from all of my alcohol-fueled nights. While I did, of course, still do other things, I didn’t have a ton of extra energy to spend exploring new interests. It was only after I stopped drinking that I started really seeking out new hobbies — like drawing! — and the opportunities these activities have led to has been life-changing.

  4. ENHANCE MY DAILY PRODUCTIVITY

    I wasn’t drinking every day (usually…), but that didn’t mean alcohol didn’t impact me on a day-to-day basis. It was something I spent time doing, sure, but it was also something I spent a great deal of time thinking about. It was an unpleasant distraction on a daily basis, and, much as my productive-loving self hated to admit it, it negatively impacted my ability to get things done. Without alcohol in my life, I experienced much higher levels of productivity, which, as you can imagine, was a huge game-changer.

  5. INCREASE MY SELF-AWARENESS

    Getting sober is an oddly wonderful way to get in touch with yourself. At times, yes, it’s painful (you’ve got to face so much of what you’ve been avoiding in a boozy haze), but it’s incredibly rewarding. Since getting sober, I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’m so much more aware of how the world around me impacts my thoughts and emotions. Not only does this awareness help me continue to stay sober, but it also enhances my understanding of what is and isn’t good for me.

  6. HAVE SO MUCH MORE FREE TIME

    Not only did getting sober give me the opportunities to explore new hobbies and become more productive, but it also gave me the awesome gift of free time. No longer spending my weekends preparing to drink, drinking, or recovering from drinking, I suddenly had a lot more time to do things I actually enjoyed doing. Even the simple act of lying in bed with a good book on Sunday morning is an experience that was once rare to me. Every time I wake up hangover-free, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the day.

  7. CREATE CLEAR BOUNDARIES

    Sobriety taught me the importance of the people surrounding me. They can either lift me up or pull me down, and nothing brings that distinction into sharper perspective than seeing everyone you know through a sober lens. Once I began to see people clearly, I was able to work on developing clear boundaries for who I did — and didn’t — want in my life. The creation of these boundaries was certainly not easy, but it’s been one of the most transformative aspects of sobriety for me.

  8. EXPERIENCE PERSONAL GROWTH

    Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in personal development, and began exploring it more seriously about a year or so before I got sober. Understanding myself better allowed me to grow and change, but it wasn’t until I got sober that the real growth began. There’s something about seeing life — and yourself — unfiltered and raw and real that allows for the most honest, eye-opening personal growth to occur.

  9. AMPLIFY MY SELF-LOVE

    Strongly linked to the experience of personal growth is the amplification of self-love. When you make a choice to get sober, you’re making one of the most self-loving decisions you’ll ever make. You’re choosing to respect, celebrate, and appreciate yourself every single time you choose to say no to what’s not serving you. Self-love, like personal growth, is a life-long pursuit, but I know my own self-love really began when I chose to step away from substances and toward the substance of self-love.

  10. DEVELOP STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS

    One of the greatest benefits of sobriety is creating stronger, more meaningful relationships in my life. No longer are my relationships based on a mutual love of something bottled and poisonous. No longer are my relationships fraught with the tensions and challenges that came with the things I said and did while drinking. The relationships I have now ¾ including the one I have with myself ¾ are built on honesty, kindness, and respect.


Whether or not sobriety is something you’re exploring or embracing, it’s my hope that the benefits showcased above will inspire you to consider what you might gain if you let go of something that is not adding value to your life. Making the decision to get sober is not an easy one, but it becomes easier when you shift the focus from what you’re giving up to what you stand to gain.

Thank you to Seasons in Malibu for sponsoring this post! 

 

Seasons in Malibu Positively Present 3_13_18

Seasons in Malibu is a luxury, world-class addiction treatment center and drug rehab. The experts at this dual-diagnosis, CARF-accredited facility specialize in treating many types of addiction ranging from prescription drug abuse and opiate addiction to alcoholism and cocaine addiction. Known for their 95% satisfaction rate from clients, Seasons in Malibu offers an incredibly high number of one-one-therapy sessions, a multi-dimensional approach to treatment, holistic recovery options, customized aftercare and so much more – all with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean in beautiful, relaxing Malibu, California. If you or someone you know is looking for help, visit SeasonsMalibu.com to learn more about their programs, treatment options, and to get a free insurance check


Years That Ask : 50 Questions for Self-Exploration


Years-Positively-Present

 

The quote above — "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." — has always been one of my favorites. For me, as for most of us, so much of life is about questions. It's about trying to figure out who I am, what I want, what I can bring to the world, what the world can bring to me. It's a daily pursuit of whywhenhowwhere, and who. For awhile now, I've felt like I've been more in the "question" part of my life, not the "answer" part, and it's gotten me thinking about how perhaps the best way to find more answers is not to seek them, but to ask more questions. 

It sounds counterintuitive, but when you don't know something, often the best way to discover the answer is to keep asking questions, particularly about the initial answers you receive. Earlier this year, I wrote 75 Questions for Cultivating Self-Awareness, and not only was it really well-received, but it got me thinking more about what it means to be me, exploring the ways I can cultivate a better understanding of myself (which ultimately helps me bring the best possible me to the world).

Self-exploration, just like self-love, isn't selfish. It's actually selfless. The more you learn about yourself, the more you question your beliefs and the world around you, the more open-minded your mind becomes. And the more you open your mind, the more open you are to new experiences, new people, new ideas. All of that openness leads to lots of goodness in the world. With that in mind, this week I decided to round up some more questions to explore my own life, beliefs, and self-knowledge. And I thought you might like them too! 

  1. Is there a purpose to life? If so, what do you think it is? 
  2. How to you define what is art and what is not?
  3. Do you closely identify with your immediate surroundings?
  4. How would you define the term "a good life"?
  5. Where does your self-worth come from?
  6. How do you feel about the concept of religion?
  7. Do believe that you're completely and truly free?
  8. What's the best way to achieve lasting happiness?
  9. Do you value intelligence or wisdom more highly?
  10. How do you contribute to your society?
  11. What are the standards you use to judge humans?
  12. Do you desire to be in a position of power?
  13. What types of things or topics do you tend to avoid? 
  14. How important is health in your day-to-day life?
  15. Do you often feel jealous or envious? 
  16. What do you imagine your future self to be like?
  17. How much of your life do you spend online? 
  18. Do you believe the future is real? 
  19. What is the best possible way to discover truth?
  20. Does everything have order or is it all random?
  21. How would you define yourself in three words? 
  22. What impact does language have on your beliefs? 
  23. Do you think creativity has a limit? 
  24. Why do we resist doing what's good for us? 
  25. How accurate do you think your memory is? 
  26. Does morality apply to animals, or just humans?
  27. What obligation do we have to improve ourselves? 
  28. How does the concept of beauty influence you? 
  29. When do you label something as "evil"?
  30. How do you measure the productivity of a day?
  31. Would you want to live in another time period?
  32. Do you highly value your personal privacy?
  33. What would the world be like without laws?
  34. How many kinds of love have you given or received?
  35. Is it ever okay to do the wrong thing? When? 
  36. How do you envision your life will end?
  37. What are the best parts of human nature? 
  38. Do you consider your work to be purposeful?
  39. How much money would a year of your life be worth?
  40. Are emotions more positive or negative for us? 
  41. Do you believe in the concept of fate? 
  42. How much does your name impact your life? 
  43. Is it possible to create something completely new?
  44. What would you like to be remembered for?
  45. Do you feel you've accomplished a great deal so far? 
  46. How far do you go to avoid personal suffering? 
  47. Is the concept of "you" always changing? 
  48. When do you feel most alive and present in your life?
  49. What would an ideal world look like to you?
  50. What question would you like someone to ask you?

  

If you feel comfortable sharing any of your answers, I'd love to hear them in the comments below! But, either way, I hope these questions inspire you to think differently, to explore what ideas and beliefs matter most to you, and to consider how the concept of questions — and the act of questioning — can positively impact your life.  

 

 

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