Ray of Light Interview No. 31 :: Mia (aka The Sober Glow)

Every Friday for the entire 2017 calendar year, I will release a new interview + a newly created mixed media piece of art as part of my weekly Ray of Light Interview Series: Women in Recovery. This series will feature brave, kickass, beautiful women who have chosen to embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle. The light was dimmed for these women when they were struggling with alcohol (either a little or a lot).  I wish to honor them for their brave choice to ditch alcohol, rediscover themselves through sobriety + shine bright in the process. You can access links to the entire series by clicking here.

Mixed media acrylic on 4" x 4" hardwood panel using b/w copy of original photo by Matt Hayek www.matthayekphoto.com

Mixed media acrylic on 4" x 4" hardwood panel using b/w copy of original photo by Matt Hayek www.matthayekphoto.com

Name: Mia (pronounced Maya)
My day job: Registered Nurse
My daily passion: Proud Teetotaling Broad
Instagram handle: @theSoberGlow
Website in the works: www.theSoberGlow.com

Do you remember how we first met or came to know one another?
I don’t recall how we met. The Gods of IG brought us together somehow. I just remember being in complete awe of the pictures you posted of the land around your home and your art space. I will say that I had this strange connection with you immediately and you felt like family somehow. I can’t explain it. You were also the one person I was hoping to meet at She Recovers. I wanted to cry when I finally did meet you and later we both cried together. It was scary and amazing how close I felt to you right away.

What is your sobriety date? September 10th, 2015

Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
I counted days up to about 100 and then it became months. I was using the Nomo app which I just checked and I am on day 694. Holy Shit. Now I just have a special quiet moment with myself on the 10th of each month.

What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
Days after I quit drinking, I booked myself a week up at Kripalu in Maine, hands down my favorite spot in the world. Noah Levine, founder of Refuge Recovery and Dharma Punx just so happened to be putting on his Taking Refuge meditation retreat that particular weekend, so I signed up. The time I spent up there was the best thing I have ever done for myself and solidified my commitment to quitting drinking.

Now I am a self-care junkie. I do all the things. I read all the books. I listen to all the podcasts. I am a seeker of inspiration every single day.

Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic? If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
I do not identify as someone who is or was addicted to alcohol. I also do not use the word recovery. I do identify as a women who woke the fuck up. I finally started listening to the voice in my head to become fully sober and choose the bigger life. I literally have my journal entry from my 21st birthday where I scribbled “NO, this is not for you.”

It took me nearly two decades before I finally quit. I had the feeling / premonition of sorts that I would be a sober women at age 40. I just got a head start at age 39 and by a head start I mean 18 years after my 1st journal warning.

I do identify as a Teetotaler and my “Sober for the HEALTH of it” phrase feels right to me because if feels like me.

Sobriety has brought my body to the best shape of my life, my mind to a crystal clear focus and my spirit and heart bigger and more loving than I could have hoped for. I still have a lot of stuff to work out, but that angry, self-righteous little girl inside of me is much quieter these days.

My level of awareness for true health is tenfold. I am nowhere near perfect in my choices (who is?) but you can bet your ass that on a Sunday morning I am not hungover in bed, eating a cheeseburger, skipping my workout and whining unattractively to my husband about how horrible I feel.

Being sober pretty much guarantees me that I will have the energy and discipline to do the things I need to do on a daily basis to feel my best. When I feel my best, the possibilities are endless. It still blows my mind how much my life has changed by giving up one simple thing. Alcohol has no place in this broad’s life anymore.

I fully believe it does not matter how or why one chooses sobriety, what matters to me is that we continue to inspire one another to keep going!

What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?

  1. Meditate

  2. Sweat my Bitch out

  3. Write in my F*ck You Journal.

Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
I just always had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t right for me. I knew that bottle of wine would always be standing between me and my ability to live to my fullest potential.

Almost two years in and I am just getting started.

Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
OMG, yes. I have always been motivated and goal-oriented, however, the older I got, my energy started fading and the nightly wine was really getting to me. I would have epic hangovers from two glasses of wine and even worse on days after a big night out of drinking. I would lose days recovering from a hangover. Now I would run circles around my 30 year old self.

What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?

1. I feel more like me now. I have a real confidence in my self and my capabilities. I was drinking in hopes to have the life that my sober life now looks and feels like.

I now know what self-empowerment feels like and this carries over to all aspects of my life.

2. My relationship with my husband has never been better. We have been together for 15 years and married for 6 and it is hands down the best it has ever been.

We refer to September 10th 2015 as the start of our second marriage.

3. Community! I have found such amazing people online after starting @theSoberGlow. I was just looking to find a couple like-minded people and had no idea how many of them were out there. I started an in real life sober/sober curious bookclub that I could not be more proud of and the women who show up each month are just the best people around. There are no walls, no smoke and mirrors, we are all there to listen, share and be inspired by one another. It is just the greatest thing to be with another woman or group of women who want the best for themselves and for me. We rise by lifting others.

4. EVERYTHING IS MORE DELIGHTFUL SOBER.

Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Find your inspiration. If that is a book, a podcast, a person, a group of people, a new craft, hobby or activity – seek it out and don’t stop until you find it. My decision to quit was based purely on what inspired me to be better, live bigger, and to feel more alive.

Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?

BOOKS:
Girl Walks Out of a Bar by Lisa Smith
When I first read this book I could imagine sitting and having tea with Lisa – I am proud to now call her a friend and she is a huge source of inspiration to me and her book is as real as it gets.

Recovery 2.0 by Tommy Rosen
I love Tommy’s take on holistic self care, it’s not just about quitting drinking, it’s about taking care of yourself as a whole. This is also the first book I read after I quit.

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
I read this book when it came out in 1997 when I was 20 years old. I will say it again – I knew then alcohol was not for me.

BLOGGERS:
Aidan Donnelly Rowley's blog Ivy League Insecurities
I was reading Aidan’s blog for months before connecting with her online. I remember seeing that she was hosting a book reading with Elizabeth Vargas and I reached out to her and pretty much invited myself to her house. She of course graciously accepted me and I have been smitten with her since.

Holly Glenn Whitaker, Founder of Hip Sobriety
How could I not mention Holly’s blog. This was everything. She has a way of connecting with a lot of people with how well she tells her truth. I would recommend this blog to anyone even considering giving up drinking. Plus the amount of evidence-based research she has makes my inner RN delighted.

TEACHERS:
Seane Corn – I consider her my first teacher. She is also a Sober Sister. If you have yet to take her class, please drop everything and go find her. She will bring you to your knees in the best possible way ever! You’re welcome.

Podcasts – are my teachers. I love them all. I listen as I walk to and from work. I listen while working out. I listen in planes, trains and automobiles. I am always listening.

I am also a huge fan of loud, tell it like it is, female leaders. I don’t like my inspiration sugar-coated, just positive, authentic and straight up.

Are you part of a tribe or a recovery community that supports your sobriety? If so, how did you figure out how to find that tribe/community.
Starting @theSoberGlow on Instagram. I love my IG community. I check in everyday, but I do limit myself with online activity.

I also have a group of women who I chat with a lot, on text, phone and IRL. All of this was made possible by putting myself out there and telling my story.

What was your path to discovering your tribe or community?
I speak and write my truth.

However, I don’t share every single thing about my life on social media. I just don’t.  I also like to keep a positive light on my sobriety. Yes, sobriety can be hard, but being drunk, hungover and not living to my fullest potential was much harder. My focus is not on the negative parts of sobriety. There are enough people talking about the hardships of being sober, and I respect that. However, I want to be a source of inspiration that choosing sobriety is a positive choice and one that is not so scary.

Believe me, I have had push back from this. People reach out to me and tell me that I am triggering them, or I am not using the right terminology, or I need to get myself to an AA meeting, that sobriety is not all unicorns and rainbows, that I am just dead wrong in my approach and I will be drinking again soon if I’m not careful.

If I respond to these messages, I do so with as much grace as I can. But I am steadfast in my decision to show the positive side I have discovered by choosing to not drink alcohol. So in my choice of how I want to explore and share my story I have found my people, my community.

Social media can be a dark and hollow place or it can be a source of authenticity and greatness. It all depends on how one uses it.

I am not about just living a sober life. I am about thriving in my sober life and sharing that drive to thrive.

What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
How I show up in the world now. I have found a new softness. I carry myself differently. I am able to give more of myself and I am able to receive more. I can’t say I will never drink alcohol again, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.  This life is just too damn amazing.