As I am doing a lot of research these days on women and alcohol, I learn more and more about this topic and as I go along, it scares the hell out of me. I wonder if all of this silent judging, shock, and worry is adding to the solution or to the overarching problem.
I was looking for a list of the ten most controversial topics and much to my surprise, I found several lists and this topic was not even in the top 10! According to The Quad, gun control, abortion, religious freedom, animal rights, vaccines, privacy rights, free market capitalism, global climate changes, evolution, marijuana legalization, capital punishment, and marriage rights are the top 10 controversial topics. This probably applies to the USA. Which makes it even more surprising, as research shows that AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) amongst women is dramatically on the rise in America. As in other parts of the world…
But what does controversial actually mean? A controversial topic provokes emotions because usually people have very strong opposing opinions that conflict with their values and norms. Hence, most of these topics are sensitive. When entering a discussion on a controversial topic, you are challenging yourself to formulate sound opinions and you have to support your ideas with valid evidence. You might find yourself in the position of the devil’s advocate and you become familiar with the arguments of the other side. Which is very useful for your own critical thinking and for understanding all points of view.
And let’s face it…
Women and alcohol is a very controversial topic. Especially these days, when alcohol is totally accepted and available for everyone. Everywhere we look, we are overwhelmed by advertisements of beautiful attractive women, sipping from a cocktail, an elegant glass of champagne, or a ruby red French wine.
And there is nothing wrong with having a drink on occasion with friends or family or at a party. The problem is: there is always an occasion. Every day we can find a valid reason to drink. Luncheons with lady friends, drinks at the tennis club, gym, or golf club after the game or the workout (because it is so important to stay in shape and treat your body right, right?), visiting a vernissage, opening of a new shop, birthday party, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Valentine’s Day, break during and after shopping, etc. Fun, fun, fun.
One glass becomes two. And then three. If you don’t stop or switch to a non-alcoholic drink, then… you could be a binger. Binge drinking is defined as men consuming five or more drinks within about two hours. For women, it’s defined as consuming four or more drinks within about two hours.
I used to think that this was ridiculous. Sure, we all know the danger of drinking excessively. We KNOW that it is damaging to our brain and our body. The question is: then why do we drink that much? Why can’t we stop after one or two glasses? Why do we start drinking every day? Or several times a week?
When I look back, nothing could scare me enough to stay away from wine. That is my favorite drink. I was never interested in beer, cocktails, or stronger stuff such as whisky or brandy, or mixtures. Wine is my drink of choice. And when there is no wine, I just do not drink alcohol. Simple.
When I knew it was getting out of hand, I took drastic measures and went looking for help and checked myself into a rehabilitation center in Cape Town. Because I knew I could not do it on my own. It was an experience of a life time but it did not stop me from drinking wine. However, I learned how to handle it and to cut back to a “normal” level. I became aware of when, why and how much I drank. And yes… it is absolutely better not to drink alcohol at all… But somehow it became a very big part of our society, worldwide. I really admire people who stopped at some point and never touched a drink again. For some people, this is the only option. Because if they go on a binge, they might drink themselves to death. For these people, alcohol is absolute poison.
And for people who work in addiction care, it is this simple too. Black or white. Once you are an addict, you can never drink again.
But – and here is where the controversy kicks in – I belief that there is a very large grey area between having experienced a period in your life where you were drinking too much and then brought it back to drinking socially, and being an addict. And in some way, shape, or form, everybody who drinks alcohol, is more or less addicted. Why else do we not stop when we realize how damaging it is to our health?
Again, I do agree that not drinking at all is by far the best thing you can do for your health. But banning alcohol completely is close to impossible in our society. And impossible is a word I usually don’t use. The only thing we can do is create as much awareness as possible among people.
Rehab did not really work for me because to me, the cure was worse than the disease. I ordered the book by Gabrielle Glaser which is called: Her Best-Kept Secret. In her book, Gabrielle also says that AA is not the solution for women. In a way I have to agree with her. Because, alcoholism or addiction is like cancer; every case is different. In rehab, we all were treated in the same way. And every day I asked myself… how did I end up here and what am I doing here? Instead of convincing me that I was an addict, they convinced me about the opposite. Another controversial statement, I know. But this is how I really feel after my experiences.
The Solution Lies Within
Luckily for me, I kept looking for solutions and I have found them. I found my happiness and my drive back and I am building a completely new life for myself. My perfect life. And when I write in my journal, describing a perfect day in my perfect life, it includes one (yes, only one) glass of my favorite champagne, that I drink right before going to bed, while writing down my gratitude list.
Happiness and solutions can be found in small things. If you want to read some examples, I invite you to download my E-Book Change Your World by Loving Yourself for free.
Let’s be gentle, loving, and kind… always. Especially to ourselves.
Retreat in Zeeland
Today, exactly a week ago, I left early in the morning for Zeeland (The Netherlands). I was going to spend two days at The Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin in Burgh Haamstede, together with a group of lovely like-minded women. We met eachother for the first time somewhere around February-March. We are all starting a business and we enrolled in the Business Angels program with Godelieve Tubbax, who is a spiritual business coach.
I immediately felt at home. Most ladies are Belgian and then there is one other lady from the Netherlands. Always an interesting mix, the Dutch and the Belgians. Very friendly and open and supportive…absolutely. But I cannot deny that there are certain cultural differences, and that is totally okay. I felt good surrounded by my Belgian sisters (and my Dutch). So at ease, so relaxed, so connected…
The reason for us being at the Grand Hotel in Burgh Haamstede was a retreat, which is part of the year program. When Godelieve announced the first topic, I was a bit surprised… Hadn’t we already discussed the ideal customer? So why again? But okay… I am always flexible… and perhaps also a little bit headstrong. But boy oh boy, what an eyeopener! It is super important to have your ideal customer very clear. Because if you don’t… how are you going to cut through the noice and get clear? We want customers who value what we offer to them. And we are in business because we are passionate about what we do. And we want our customers to be just as passionate about what we provide to help them and solve their problem.
But okay… I thought I had a clear picture of my ideal customer and when I held my presentation I did not really feel it myself. And nor did the rest. All of a sudden I started talking about a totally different customer than the one I had in mind. Which I now understand… preparation is everything and I have to admit… I did not prepare. I did not plan enough time and when I realized that, I did not prepare all together because I could use the extra time to finish what I was doing. Choices… But discussing with this group and Godelieve, made me realise who my ideal customer is. And how important it is to have a clear picture! If not… you are going to talk to people who you don’t even want to help or even can help! It was such an eyeopener… That… and the blue banana…
The Blue Banana
What is a blue banana? Have you ever seen one? Maybe not, but let me give you a few examples… A broker who sells real estate based on what numerology tells her… that’s a blue banana. A business coach who is also very spiritual… that’s another blue banana. A life coach who has been in rehab and still does not point the finger at moderate drinkers, is a blue banana. An organizing consultant who is also a personal shopper and gives styling advice, is a blue banana. Get the picture? The message here is: be different, be authentic, be special, be unique… be you! People will work with you because they like YOU!
Know – Like – Trust
There is such a thing as the Know-Like-Trust principle. It simply means that people have to get to know you. How do you make that happen? You just get out there, expose yourself, make use of social media, do life streams, tell stories. Everybody loves stories… Don’t hold back and tell yours. The world is waiting for your story. Because other people can learn from your mistakes. Or from your successes. It is great if we can all help eachother.
Once people know you, they either like you or not. And that is just something we have to accept. It is also a matter of chemistry, recognition, emotions, etc. Just keep in mind… you can’t win them all. The people who resonate with you, will come eventually. The ones who don’t, might change their minds later, but if not, that is also fine. Concentrate on the people who like you for who you are and for what you have to offer. And last but not least: trust. Once people start to trust you, the goodwill factor kicks in. If you have the solution to their problem, they will work with you rather than with someone else. Because they got to know you, they like you, and now they trust you.
And that might not happen overnight…
I have three business coaches at the moment. I have Marjo Landsman, who is my dearest business coach right here in my home time. We meet once a week. She is always there for me. When things are tough, or I lose faith, or if I have great news to share… Marjo is always there to support me. She was recommened to me by a mutual friend and it was a match made in heaven, right from the start. Marjo is a former lawyer who now helps people as coach in divorce matters and in business. She also helps me with practical things and makes sure that I am in compliance with the rules.
And then there is Max Van Rooy and his lovely wife Leoni Van Rooy from Orange Funnels in Deventer. They are life savers for starting entrepreneurs or for people who want to grow with their business.
From the moment you take a decision for your own future, things start shifting in the right direction. For me, one of those things, was Orange Funnels. I knew Max and Leoni from a distance through another network. When I saw a video of their Business Breakthrough Weekend, every fiber in my body knew that I just had to be part of that. At the time, I did not have the money, but I knew it was coming. Leoni surprised me a couple of weeks later, telling me that she had secretly reserved my place! And that was the start of a very special journey.
You see… I have been following lots of coaches, inspiring people, business gurus, etc. And most of them are good… but I was looking for someone with integrity. And I really felt it when I interacted with Max and Leoni from Orange Funnels. The way they share their knowledge and support their customers is very refreshing… I have never seen it before… A lot of famous people say they “want to help other people”. True. And they do that. If the person who needs help pays an enormous amount of money.
And sure… Orange Funnels does not give it for free, but they really create a win-win situation. I have been working with the Sustainability Challenge Foundation for 17 years and that was all about Mutual Gains Approach, enlarging the pie, win-win, creating value… Orange Funnels is a natural in doing this.
Max is amazing. He immediately sees opportunities and thinks out of the box. Amazing ideas are born that way. Creativity at its best.
And Leoni adds spirituality in the mix, in a very smooth way. It all comes naturally. Even people who have never experienced spiritual things, are gently guided into the process.
As an entrepreneur, you just need to keep learning and developing yourself. As far as I am concerned, I am going to be around for a very long time working with Orange Funnels. I am creating my own life and I am super proud to be a Legend. And together with the other Legends of the Legacy Program, I will show the world what Legends of Orange Funnels are capable of!
And then last but not least, I am part of the Business Angels of Godelieve Tubbax, who I mentioned before. I had been following Godelieve for a while as well before I went to her Soul Event in February. I had heard about the Law of Attraction before, but Godelieve taught me the practical way of implementing that into my own life.
After the event, it was clear that we just had to work together. What I value the most is being in this group where we all support eachother. There is love, respect, friendship, support and a lot of fun! That is so valuable to me.
So I have this group with my Belgian friends (plus Ankie!), and the Legends from the Legacy Program @Orange Funnels. I feel blessed with so many inspiring people in my life.
So what about the coconut?
O yes… The spiritual significance of coconut in Hinduism is this … Coconut water symbolizes cleansing, therefore, when a preacher or spiritual mentor cracks a coconut, he destroys the egoism of a person! In Hinduism, it can be considered a way of humbling yourself to God.
During the retreat in Zeeland, the coconut was symbol of all the limiting beliefs that we carry around. And so it was smashed outside of the hotel by my fellow Business Angels. I took my coconut home but I am not going to eat it. I will also smash it, and I will smash it hard!!!