By the time I decided to quit drinking for good, my body had taken a beating. There was no part of me that wasn’t malfunctioning. NO part that hadn’t been affected by years of abuse. I knew I needed a complete overhaul, and I was ready — ready to feel better, look better, and be better than ever.

I figured once I put the bottle down I’d simply tweak a few things in my diet, jump back into an exercise routine, change a few behaviors and voilà -back on top.

Uh, no. And… no again. “What rock did I just crawl from under?” In real time, my body wasn’t prepared to push. It couldn’t handle another obsession – even a healthy lifestyle one. It was done. “No!” it screamed. “Hold up Sparky, nothing too transformational until you address the basics”.

I needed a whole lot of love and a steady dose of nurture.

This is where I started:

First – I looked at my surroundings. I treated my place to a complete spring cleaning. If you don’t feel up to it, hire someone (that’s what I did), because you can’t begin to heal until the space is clean. After this, I cleared out as much negative energy as possible (with sage and positive affirmations) and lit some candles. This became my daily ritual. My old routine of making a cocktail as soon as I got home was replaced with tidying up, burning sage and lighting candles. These three steps reaped immediate benefits.

Second – I evaluated my external stimuli and began to control the noise. I said goodbye to The Walking Dead, the cable news cycle and reality TV and said hello to National Geographic. This was not an easy decision, since I was a diehard fan of all three and loved the marathons, but it had to be done. Most times, especially in the beginning, I turned off the set completely and read. I limited the amount of time I spent on social media. I could hardly focus on someone else when I had my own stuff to sort through. And honestly, I didn’t need social noise either.

Third – I started journaling. Most of what I was thinking and feeling I didn’t want to face. But I wrote anyway. Nothing too deep, just lists at first: a gratitude list, a task list, and an accomplishment list. Each day, these three. In this way I was able to unload my thoughts and chart my progress.

The nourishment I needed came from looking farther than what I physically consumed. I had to examine what I was mentally and emotionally consuming as well. When we nurture ourselves we begin to take notice of all stimuli.

We become better gatekeepers.

Today’s Challenge: Look at your surroundings and let the cleaning begin.

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