Got a Dream? Which of these 3 Choices will you Make?

Your desires/dreams are a clear sign of who you really are.

I used to keep telling myself I wanted to write a book, start a business, live in a warmer climate, lose 30 pounds, get fitter etc. Periodically, I did take action to work toward those goals, but like many of us, the urgency of my desires faded and they took a back seat to my life.

Which is sad.

Why?

When we keep coming back to wanting to do the same things, it reveals the fact that those goals or dreams mean something to us. It means they’re part of us in some way, or that deep down, we feel drawn to them.

Your desires/dreams are a clear sign of who you really are.

To clarify here, I’m not talking about goals we know we should go after, or that we feel we must do; uuggh!

I’m not talking about your To Do list or things like:

  • Getting finances in order
  • Organizing your paperwork
  • Learning a new skill
  • Decluttering your basement

I’m talking about goals that would deeply satisfy you, make you feel good about yourself, and lead to you having a big smile on your face when you’re 90 years old and looking back on your life.

Only you know what those dreams or goals are. If one doesn’t come to mind at the moment, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the things that keep coming up that feel like deep desires to you?
  • What is something you’ve been talking about for years that you want to do, but you haven’t done it yet?
  • What are the things that light you up when you do them or think about doing them?
  • At the end of your life, will there be anything you regret not doing?

For me, I’ve always wanted to write a book. In the last few years, as I crept past the age of 50, it really hit me that I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a teenager. 

That means that for the last 40 years, I’ve NOT been working toward a deep desire and dream of mine. Until now.

I’ve finally achieved that dream. I’ve written a practical book to help women find more calm in their life and that will help them identify and reduce much of the stress in their life. It’s finally finished and edited. Now, I have to work at the next stage, which is getting it out into the world, so those that need it can find it! 

Writing the book/guide didn’t happen overnight, and it’s completion is based on many varied attempts along the way. However, once I realized how long I had wanted this, and once I recognized that I needed to nurture that desire so I didn’t lose me,  I was in. I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to accomplish something that’s been a burning desire for 40 years! Stay tuned. 🙂

Back to you…

What is one thing that you want to do or accomplish? What is one goal or dream that’s tied closely to your heart and soul? One thing.

Believe in yourself and your dream

So, now what can you do with that precious desire/dream of yours? Wait… let’s take it one step further before we move on.

Say your dream out loud to yourself. In the car, at home, in the washroom. Wherever.

“My dream is….”

If you can’t figure it out right now, I’d encourage you to journal or talk out your ideas with someone you trust. Dig deep and find it. It’s in there somewhere.

If you’re aware of your dream, or at least have an inkling of what your dream might be connected to (art, travel, etc.), then you’ve got 3 choices when it comes to what’s next.

  1. Do nothing and don’t go after your dream/goal.
  2. Make attempts to go after your dream/goal.
  3. Go after your dream/goal, no matter what.

Choice #1-Do nothing and don’t go after your goal/dream.

If you have a desire that you’ve already confirmed lies deep within you, burning for attention and recognition, you might still choose to NOT go after your dream.

You might feel you could never accomplish it. For whatever reason or excuse you give, you just don’t think it’s possible. Only you can really know if this is really true.

Here are some common reasons/excuses people give for not going after their dreams:

  • It’s too late.
  • I don’t have the money.
  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I’m too busy.
  • It’s just not the right time.
  • I’m not smart/expert/talented enough.
  • I don’t have enough education/credibility.
  • My spouse/family think I’m incapable of doing it or that it’s a stupid idea.
  • Nobody else gets it/understands my dream.
  • I don’t have enough support.
  • I’ve already chosen a path; I can’t add more/make a change.
  • I tried it before, and it didn’t work/failed.
  • I’m carrying issues from my past/childhood.
  • Life is fine right now.
  • I don’t deserve it.
  • I have to focus on my family.
  • I don’t know where to begin.
  • I’m too introverted/shy.
  • I doubt my ability to do it.
  • I’m afraid of failing.
  • I’m not motivated.
  • I’m too distracted.
  • I’m not ready.
  • I’m too old.
  • I’m too young.
  • I’m too tired.
  • I’m too fat.
  • I’m too sick.

There might be a genuine reason for you in that list, but before you decide to NOT go after your dream/goal, ask yourself if you’re willing to give up on your dream.

Before you choose to NOT pursue your dream. I urge you to reconsider because if you squash the burning desire inside you, you are killing a part of yourself. If you kill a part of yourself, you’re not fully living your life, and you may end up like many people who have a regret of not living a life true to themselves (#1 regret in people from the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware).

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

One final thought. There may be a legitimate reason you do not go after your dream. Only you know if that’s the right decision for you, and you can be proud for making a decision that fits you best.

Choice #2 Make attempts to go after your goal.

If you’ve made this choice, you should pat yourself on the back.

Why?

Because it takes courage to go after what you want. Whatever your dream is, it’s likely not something easy, or you would’ve done it by now.

If you’ve decided to make attempts, that’s terrific because you’ve decided to not give up on your dream. Whether you accomplish your goal in the long run, or not, you’ll be able to look back at your life and be able to say that you made attempts.

Even working toward something and not achieving it can be satisfying and a learning experience that helps us grow as a person or that opens paths/doors we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

A few tips while you make your attempts at going after your dream:

  • Avoid overwhelm
  • Avoid perfectionist thinking
  • Start small
  • Work backwards
  • Make a plan
  • Work on it every day (or regularly)
  • Take baby steps
  • Nurture your dream by finding others with your dream
  • Nurture your dream by finding related books/videos to inspire you
  • Don’t give up because you don’t know how to do something; Google is your friend
  • Be resourceful and build your resilience

Choice #3: Go after your goal, no matter what!

go after your dream
image: mohamed_hassan (Pixabay)

Congratulations! I’m excited for you.

If you’ve made the decision to go after your dream, it might be because of one or more of these reasons:

  • You realize that you’ve put your dreams aside because of family or others’ opinions, and it’s time to do what’s right for you.
  • You recognize that your dream is central to who you are, and that damn it, you are worth going after your dream.
  • You’ve had a health crisis (that’s what kicked my ass in gear) or an illness/death in the family, which has made you recognize that life is short.
  • You’ve had an epiphany that you’re the only one who can make you happy.
  • You know now that it just doesn’t matter what other people think.
  • You realize you’ve lost yourself over the years, and reconnecting with the passion inside you feels amazing.
  • You crave something that is just yours.
  • You want to be happy.

Before you dive in to charging after your dream, let me warn you about a few things that could throw you off course or make you think you can’t pursue your dream after all.

Beware:

  • You will have highs and lows. One minute you’ll feel so on top of the world and that you got this!  The next minute, you’ll doubt yourself or face an obstacle; both can squash a dream if you allow it. Expect the ups and downs and ride the waves to your dream. Don’t let the challenges throw you off course.
  • Keep your dream front and center. Even if you don’t work on it every day, keep your dream alive. Find or make signs, posters, a vision board, reminders on your phone, etc. Keep a dream journal.
  • Don’t let the busyness of life or other people’s opinions push your dream to the side. Remind yourself that even if your dream seems weird or unlikely to others, it’s central to who you are, and you will choose to keep it close to your heart.

And remember…

  • You CAN do this.
  • You are strong.
  • It’s a journey/process.
  • It will take time.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • You are worth it.

Whether you made a decision today, or you need to take more time to explore and reflect, I hope you will not let your dream die.

I hope you will love yourself in the best way possible by lighting the spark of your dream and fanning its flames.

Be HEALTHY (Healthy Eating And Living Transforms and Heals You),

Alison Carrey

Wine-care Ain’t Self-care, Girl!

When you hit your late 40’s or early 50’s, you become more aware of your health and the horrifying idea that you should drink less if you want to be healthy.

You’ve just walked in the door, after a long day at work. You’re beat. Your feet hurt. No one’s walked the dog yet. You’ve got ten things on your mind, and now you have to make dinner.

How long does it take for you to have a glass of wine in your hand?

Maybe wine isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s a cooler, a gin and tonic, or a beer.

Whatever your fave booze is, ask yourself if you’re using it to relieve stress, to relax and to just have a moment for you. A peaceful, smooth, tasty moment.

drinking wine for self-care

Is alcohol your self-care? I know it used to be mine.

For me, it was red wine, and I drank it all week long. After a stressful day at work. Celebrating and socializing on the weekends. A relaxing evening with my husband.

Wine took the edge off. More relaxed. More laughing. More good times. Drinking wine was fun. 

Until it wasn’t.

If you’re not 40 years old yet, you may or may not have noticed you don’t bounce back after drinking like you used to. When you hit your late 40’s or early 50’s, you become more aware of your health and the horrifying idea that you should drink less if you want to be healthy.

less wine to be healthy

Speaking of drinking less. Think about what you pour into your glass. According to the serving sizes of alcohol, I was probably drinking 1.5 to 2 servings in each glass!

So, how do you know if you should reduce your intake of alcohol or even consider giving it up? 

Consider two things: 

  1. How alcohol affects you
  2. The actual dangers of booze (especially for women)

Checklist: How Alcohol Affects You in your Life

Read each statement below, and keep track of how many you agree with in terms of your drinking habits.

  • I drink alcohol 3 or more times a week.
  • When I drink, I usually have 2 or more drinks.
  • I usually finish my drink before others around me finish theirs.
  • When I’m stressed, I look forward to my glass of wine/drink.
  • There are times I’ve told myself I wouldn’t drink at an event, but then I do.
  • On more than one occasion, I’ve told myself I should drink less for my health.
  • I sometimes drink more than I intended.
  • Sometimes I drink when I don’t really feel like it; it’s a habit.
  • After drinking too much, I feel awful the next day (whatever your definition of awful is: headache, tired, groggy, hungover, etc.)
  • I often don’t sleep well, and I’ve started to notice my poorest sleeps are after I drink.
  • My hot flashes get worse after I drink.
  • Drinking alcohol leads me to eating crappy food and/or too much food.
  • If I think about it, most arguments with my spouse, family or friends have been when I or we were drinking.
  • On more than one occasion, I’ve forgotten conversations or events from the previous day when I was drinking.
  • On more than one occasion, I’ve said or did something I regretted or that was embarrassing while drinking.

Checklist Answers

Although we’re all different (culture, genes, habits, lifestyle, etc.), and alcohol can affect us in different ways, the following guidelines can help you determine if you need to have a frank, but gentle, conversation with yourself about how much alcohol you’re drinking, and how often.

In addition, although you’ve heard that wine can be good for you, the risks of drinking it regularly outweigh the benefits. Just like running might benefit your health, the risk of harm from running down the center of a busy highway outweighs any benefits you’d get from the actual running.

Here are the answers to the checklist. How many of those statements were true for you? These guidelines are my own. I’m not a doctor or health care expert. Only you can gauge whether you need to look at reducing your alcohol intake.

1-4 It’s unlikely you’re turning to alcohol for self-care. Alcohol is probably not a focus in your life. However, depending on the specific items you checked off, keep an eye on how often you drink, and how much you drink, to avoid future health problems.

5-9 Your self-care habit may lead to bigger problems. Alcohol is impacting your life in more ways than you might have realized. Depending on which items you checked off, it would be a good idea to decrease how often you drink and to consume less when you drink. Try drinking only once a week and limit your drinks to two. Doing so will decrease your chance of acquiring alcohol-related health problems.

10-15 This score indicates that your regular self-care routine of sipping a lovely Shiraz or whatever you like to drink, is going to bite you in the ass, later. You should seriously consider the physical and mental health risks of your alcohol consumption. Try going alcohol-free for 30 days. Doing so will be eye-opening. It may show that you just have a bad habit of drinking, or it may show that you have an addiction that needs to be looked at. Either way, you’ll need to start drinking less if you want to have good health.

After reviewing your results, you may need to look in the mirror (with love and kindness) and have a conversation with yourself about whether your health and overall well-being is really important to you or not. When I say health, I mean the health of your body, mind and even your relationships.

the dangers of drinking alcohol
image: Alison Carrey

The Real Dangers of Drinking (especially for women)

Now that you’ve had a look at the effects of your own alcohol consumption, let’s review some of the dangers. It’s my guess that most women are completely unaware of just how harmful drinking can be. I was one of those people, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. 

Since then, I’ve gone for weeks and months without drinking. I drink less, and honestly, I envision a future life without any alcohol because the World Health Organization has classified alcohol as a carcinogen in the same category as asbestos and tobacco. The organization says alcohol is toxic and that there is no safe level of alcohol.

Since I’ve had cancer already, and a type that has been shown to be (in part) caused by alcohol (see below), it would be in my best interest to abstain from alcohol altogether, for my health. It is my hope that I can achieve this eventually.

The information below is not a comprehensive list of the dangers of booze, but if you want to improve your health or keep the health you have, it will give you a glimpse of how alcohol can greatly impact your health. I’ve bolded the parts that stood out to me. 

“Alcohol is a toxic and psychoactive substance with dependence producing properties. In many of today’s societies, alcoholic beverages are a routine part of the social landscape for many in the population. This is particularly true for those in social environments with high visibility and societal influence, nationally and internationally, where alcohol frequently accompanies socializing. In this context, it is easy to overlook or discount the health and social damage caused or contributed to by drinking.” –World Health Organization

“Cancer: alcohol consumption has been identified as carcinogenic for the following cancer categories (Baan et al., 2007): cancers of the colorectum, female breast, larynx, liver, oesophagus, oral cavity and pharynx. The higher the consumption of alcohol, the greater the risk for these cancers: even the consumption of two drinks per day causes an increased risk for some cancers, such as breast cancer (Hamajima et al., 2002). ” –World Health Organization

  • “Liver Disease: The risk of cirrhosis and other alcohol-related liver diseases is higher for women than for men.
  • Impact on the Brain: Alcohol-related cognitive decline and shrinkage of the brain develop more quickly for women than for men.
  • Impact on the Heart: Women who drink excessively are at increased risk for damage to the heart muscle at lower levels of consumption and over fewer years of drinking than men.
  • Breast Cancer and other Cancers: Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. In women, drinking is also associated with breast cancer, even at low levels of consumption.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“[Women’s] bodies contain proportionately less water and more fat than men’s bodies. Water dilutes alcohol and fat retains it, so our organs are exposed to higher concentrations of alcohol for longer periods of time. Also, women have less alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. At any given dose, our blood levels of alcohol will be higher than a man’s, even taking into account differences in body weight. As a result, one drink for a woman is roughly equivalent to two drinks for a man.” Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School

Final Thoughts

Women are increasing how much they drink, compared to the past. This article published by NPR (National Public Radio) talks about how women are using booze to cope with life, as opposed to using it just for pleasure, and that so many women are completely unaware that their drinking habits need to be adjusted or halted.

Based on my own drinking habits and experiences, and my observation of family and friends’ drinking patterns, I whole-heartedly agree that we’re turning to booze for an escape. Many women are practically in-lust with their vino (ya, that was me) because it helps us to relax and escape our hectic, stressful lives, where we do much more (work and home) than the average man (especially if we have children). 

Do you want to take a closer look at the stress in your life and how you can reduce it? Read “3 Steps to Less S#?@**(Stress)“.

If you want to go deeper into reflecting on your drinking habits, go to Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and your Health.

I’m writing this post because I want women to see that turning to booze for their self-care program is not the way to go.

I’m hoping women will begin to see that we need to make other changes in our life to cope with stress. I want us to see the incredible power we have within, and that we’re not treasuring that power when we reach for our glass of toxins. 

Check out my other post about alcohol, “I’ll have a Cabernet, with a Side of Cancer”.

Be HEALTHY (Healthy Eating And Living Transforms and Heals You),

Alison Carrey

3 Steps to Less S#?@** (Stress)

Regardless of where the stress is coming from, your well-being monitor needs to flag the stresses in your life before they lead to devastating mental health issues (severe anxiety, depression) or even illness.

We all experience stress in one form or another, and it’s a normal part of life.

What’s not normal is the level of stress most of us feel on a daily basis.

Human beings weren’t designed to live 23 hours a day indoors and spend 40-50 hours a week working in a job that makes life seem like a gerbil wheel. We weren’t meant to have such little quality time with our family and friends.

Compound all this with a mostly sedentary lifestyle, as well as financial and relationship pressures, and you have the perfect recipe for stress.

Some people experience waves of stress with peaks and valleys. Their stress levels shoot up high and then come down low. Others experience low-mid levels of stress almost constantly.

what's causing your stress
Photo: Alexander Dummer

Unless you’re living the ideal life which includes being loved unconditionally, feeling fulfilled, not worrying about anything and feeling a sense of calm on a daily basis, you probably endure more stress than you realize.

I believe it’s crucial to keep an eye on your stress levels and not assume they’re just part of life. Your physical and mental health are impacted from experiencing stress on a regular basis. I’m certain that many years of stress contributed to my breast cancer diagnosis in 2020.

An excellent book to learn the tolls that stress can take on your body is called When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, by Gabor Maté.

When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Mate

Before you can figure out how to reduce stress in your life, you need to know precisely what’s causing it. Some of our stresses are from big life events that knock you over (divorce, death, illness, financial ruin, etc.). Often though, our stress is triggered by the little things.

Those smaller stresses are usually just a symptom of the bigger stresses. Getting really angry at the small stuff is a sign of stress.

Regardless of where the stress is coming from, your well-being monitor needs to flag the stresses in your life before they lead to devastating mental health issues (severe anxiety, depression) or even illness.

Step 1

The very first step to living a life with more calm and peace is to identify the things or situations that are triggering your stress.

Think a minute about your life. Is there one area that seems to trigger you more than others?

  • Work
  • Kids
  • Spouse
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Well-being
  • Hectic life

Step 2

When you notice you’re feeling stressed, the second step is twofold:

1. What is the precise situation/tigger?

  • Driver cuts you off
  • Expected package is late
  • Spouse left the dishes for you to do
  • Car repair is a surprising $1200 bill
  • Coworker’s incompetence is affecting you
  • Late for work

2. What is your response (emotions and behavior)?

Are you…?

  • Irritated
  • Impatient
  • Annoyed
  • Anxious
  • Bitter 
  • Worried 
  • Afraid 
  • Angry
  • Embarrassed 
  • Overwhelmed
  • Disappointed
  • Sad

Do you…?

  • Get tense
  • Speak rudely to others
  • Withdraw
  • Yell
  • Hold in your feelings
  • Walk away
  • Turn to alcohol or drugs
  • Turn to food
  • Have thoughts spinning in your head

The next time you feel stress, ask yourself what’s causing it.

If you snap at your kids for not doing something at home, is it really because they didn’t pick up their toys that you’re pissed at them? Or, is there something else going on? Maybe you had an argument with your spouse that was unresolved, or maybe you were feeling the pressure of an unrealistic deadline at work.

Maybe you are exhausted all the time and are running on empty.

Exhausted, running on empty
Photo: Marcus Aurelius

Think about what’s behind your stress as well as how you show your stress.

Step 3

By pausing to see what’s at the root of your stress and how you respond it, you can move to the third step, which is to figure out ways to eliminate, decrease or manage that stress.

I lived with high levels of stress for many years in my teaching job (now retired), but you know what? A lot of my stress came from my own thinking patterns. Discovering that my own mind was contributing to my stress levels helped me reduce the stress I was feeling.

You can utilize a huge array of strategies (physical and mental techniques) to make you feel better when you feel stressed out (exercise, meditation, etc.), but what’s more powerful is to learn how you’re creating your own stress with your thoughts.

Start to pay closer attention to your thoughts.

If you start imagining what will happen in a meeting with your boss, you might start to feel stressed. Your thoughts create that stress. You created the thought, so you created the stress. Powerful, right?

Instead, find out exactly what the meeting is about, so you can be prepared. Then, put it out of your mind. Remind yourself that you can handle whatever happens.

Worrying and stressing about the meeting in advance will not change the outcome of the meeting. Change your stressful thoughts to something else. You could focus on the present, or you could repeat helpful, calming thoughts, like, “Everything will be fine.” over and over.

change your thoughts
Photo by Los Muertos Crew

By changing your thoughts, you can decrease your stress. Conversely, you can elevate your stress by thinking about stressful thoughts.

Can you Actually Reduce your Stress?

When you practice using the three steps, you will..

  • become more aware of your stress triggers and find healthier ways to deal with them
  • notice when you’re flying off the handle at some minor situation, and then reset your thinking and emotions
  • begin to head off some of your negative responses to stress before they even start

As you pay more attention to the daily stresses in your life, you may also find that you become more aware of deep underlying stresses (miserable marriage or highly stressful job). Discovering the roots of your stress can be eye-opening because your awareness will help you to take steps to build a calmer, happier life.

Be gentle with yourself as you observe yourself in times of stress. Changing our habits takes time, so be patient.

If you’re interested in digging deeper and making eye-opening discoveries about the stress in your life and how you can feel more calm on a regular basis, stay tuned for the comprehensive, self-paced guide I’m putting together. It will give you a practical, step-by-step roadmap to avoid living a life stacked with stress.

Be HEALTHY (Healthy Eating And Living Transforms and Heals You),

Alison Carrey
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