“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney
I was born and raised in Louisiana, where food, booze, and fun are the three most important things in most every social situation.
I had my license at fourteen, my first drink at fifteen, and I knew the owner of the local drive-through daiquiri bar by name. (Miss Billy, in case you were wondering.) It wasn’t out of the ordinary. We all drank a lot on the weekends…who doesn’t?!
In college, when my parents were going through a divorce, I discovered boxed wine and how to make grilled cheeses on my roommate’s mini George Forman grill. So, like many college kids, I would come home drunk at three in the morning and eat five grilled cheeses.
Then came the job on Wall Street, where food and alcohol were just part of the territory. Meet clients for drinks. Bond over a fancy dinner. Drink more at the bar after dinner. Eat. Drink. Repeat. Take a load off. Decompress. You get the idea. Life is intense. Period. No question about it.
Life can be overwhelming and scary, and it can feel like too much to deal with on some days. At times, it can feel easier and quicker to pour another glass of wine, or go shopping, or keep ourselves “busy,” or work nonstop, or eat a pint of ice cream than face the intensity of life.
We keep going because we don’t know what will happen if we stop. It can be petrifying to think about how out of sync our lives are sometimes. What would happen if we stopped for a second? Would the lives we have created just crumble around us?
It was a lot easier for me not to feel how out of alignment I was when I was working on Wall Street because everything looked good on paper, and I really liked certain aspects of my job and life.
It was also a lot easier for me not to feel that the business I built last year wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It can be easier to ignore the failing relationship, the friends that don’t make you feel good, the job that’s sucking your soul, and so on.
You might not know what it is, but there’s something that doesn’t feel right. And most of us stay stuck in the dissatisfaction of where we are because we don’t know what to do with those feelings.
We get caught worrying about figuring it all out and having all the answers. When we don’t know how to change things, we convince ourselves that there’s no way, so we ignore the whispers. And in order to deal with the fact that we’ve ignored the whispers and that our lives sometimes feel okay but aren’t totally great, we pick up something to help us feel better.
We process the feelings by not actually processing them at all because we never learned how to feel our feelings. Many of us turn to a “safe” solution like wine or food. I never did drugs; that wasn’t my thing. I never had a gambling problem or a shoe addiction. But I did love wine and food. They became a comfort. They became a ritual.
So this is my story: I was raised Catholic in a Lebanese family in the South. I’m a success-driven, high-achieving woman.
We drink and we eat; that’s just what we do. And there is nothing wrong with any of that…until there is.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking wine, eating chocolate, shopping online late at night, or pouring your heart into work you love. What I’m saying is that these things can be dangerous if you use them to cover what you don’t want to feel, or to fill a void in your soul.
Many of us know there’s something more. We’re ready to feel aligned, purposeful, and driven, but we don’t know how to do that.
We don’t know what the “something more” is, but we can hear it calling to us.
I had to quit filling the void with food and wine last year in order to finally find my “something more.” I had to really look at the range of emotions I was feeling, write about them, and allow them to be present, without making them bad or wrong.
I had to notice my fears and not run from them. I had to learn the difference between thoughts that were helpful and those that were just old programming that I needed to release. I had to learn to notice my thoughts as visitors, not as invited guests. I had to learn that I had a choice in every moment.
I touched a deep, dark, raw, and beautiful place within myself. I have come out on the other side of this journey more aligned, more purposeful, more driven, and more alive than ever before. This is my one life, and I am now choosing to live it with intention.
I have a purpose in this lifetime and I need to be an open channel to do the work that I feel inspired to do.
You can create a sense of purpose too, but you have to be willing to let go of the old and embrace the new.
Are you willing to say yes to your path even if the road is dusty and dark?
You won’t always know the answers. You won’t always know “how.” But if you are willing to say yes to the whispers, the road will rise to meet you and your direction will unfold. You must first say yes.
My life without using wine or food to cover feelings is richer and more abundant and fulfilling than I ever imagined possible. I am free. I am aligned. I am driven. I am in love. I am happy. I am soulful. I am light. I am radiant.
More than anything, I am here to show you how to access the same connection to your true self so you can show up and do the work that inspires you.
Try these five steps to get you started.
1. Ask yourself, “Do my heart and soul feel completely full?”
If the answer is no, are you willing to say yes to finding your “something more” and to walking your path?
2. Once you’ve said yes, become aware of how you numb and check out (wine, food, work, etc.).
You don’t have to get rid of these things, but can you notice when you reach for them?
3. Recognize your fears without stuffing them down or making them wrong.
It’s helpful for me to write down my fears without trying to solve them. Something like “I’m scared of…” and then just write for a few minutes.
4. Remember that the feelings won’t kill you.
You might feel awesome in the morning and horrible two hours later. Thoughts and feelings come and go. Remember that they don’t define you. The real you is the stillness underneath it all.
5. Have faith.
This is a journey. Your path will unfold. Trust that once you say yes, all you have to do is keep your eyes open for the clues. You will be guided if you keep showing up and saying yes.
About Julie Santiago
Julie is a former Wall Streeter turned Women’s Empowerment Coach. She’s a certified holistic health/life coach and yoga teacher, specializing in guiding women to find their life’s purpose. As a modern-day medicine woman, Julie combines her business prowess with her love for all things mind, body and soul to connect women back to their hearts. Visit her at juliesantiago.com.