Each Friday for the entire 2017 calendar year, I 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 features 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.
What's your recollection of how we first met or came to know one another?
We met through Hip Sobriety School (HSS) Winter 2016. I remember you direct messaged me to ask if I ever come up to your neck of the woods in Valley Ford. I think it wasn’t until Stephanie Snyder’s Detox Workshop in January of 2017 that we actually met in real life! Crazy! I feel like I have known you my whole life.
What is your sobriety date? I finally was not hungover on 12/25/2015.
Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
I do but I don’t check it often. I have a knack to look when I am at major milestones: 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 500 days, 600 days...it’s like an internal alarm.
Do you use an app or some other method to do this counting?
I use NOMO and when I say it, I sing like the Phil Collins song…No mo, no mo, no mo. Is that weird?
What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
Hip Sobriety was my first step and has been the foundation for everything thus far. I was deathly afraid of AA mainly because it was the modality of my grandparents, mother, aunts and uncles. I think I have an irrational vision of what it is like and honestly I was scared. When I had the notion that I really could not get sober on my own, I hit google like a beast to see what else was out there and a few clicks later I found Holly’s Manifesto. I read it over and over and over. I then read everything else and signed up for Hip Sobriety School without really thinking twice. Currently, I practice kundalini daily and my mala making keeps my hands busy and my heart open. Yoga and creativity have been my best tools to stay sober.
Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
Yes and no. I know that there is a lot of talk back and forth if the label is correct, if it’s a disease, a condition, brain on the fritz, whatever else, etc, etc. Honestly, this conversation just confuses the hell outta me. If I look at the definition: Did I frequently drink too much and was unable to live a normal, happy and healthy life? YES. Did I drink to cope with other conditions like anxiety, depression and trauma? YES. It is all connected. On the other hand, I don’t say I am an alcoholic. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I need to dig into this more.
If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
I am definitely not shy about my non-drinking lifestyle and I am not ashamed to tell people that I have a problem with alcohol. I’ll blab it to anyone that actually cares to ask and genuinely interested in knowing more. In social situations, I’m just like, “Yeah, I don’t drink.” “Can’t fuck with it.” “No thank you.” I’m done with it, for good. I have been known to sniff people’s wine though and, like Holly, if I am like 80 years old and I feel like smoking a biggie spliff, I might. We’ll see.
What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
Love and support from my husband and my friends, kundalini yoga and making malas for people.
Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
That last time I got drunk, I was so obnoxious, crazy and dangerous. When I woke up I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. It was like a tipping point. It was as I if I knew I had run out of lifelines, get outta jail free cards or extra power-ups to stay alive. The tumble really started seven months earlier and it came to a breaking point just before Christmas 2015. I really did wake up the next morning and said never again and actually took steps to make sure it really would be never, ever again.
Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking? My creativity went into overdrive. I was making jewelry way before I got sober but I had just started to get interested in malas as a tool for meditation and devotion to my yoga practice. It started out just as a personal hobby but then I started to tap into a higher caliber of meaning, love, intention, connection, energy frequencies, crystals and knotting with mantras. The real game-changer was when I made the leap to see if my HSS tribe wanted me to make them a mala to support their own recovery, healing and intentions. THE DOORS QUITE LITERALLY BLEW OFF THE HINGES! I stepped into a whole new realm of co-creating with others to make an adornment that was much more than just a necklace or bracelet but something that was a physical manifestation of their own hopes and dreams. Each mala has a life of its own and I really am just the universe’s tool to bring these forth for the wearer. I am really grateful that people are patient with me because the malas can be very stubborn and won’t be ready to knot until they are ready. I know that sounds hooey-wooey but when you start engaging at this level it is a reality. I have noticed that my most creatively-active days are around the new moon, full moon and eclipses.
Since I was a girl, I always loved geology and crystals (my dad, step-mom and sister are all geologists) and I fundamentally understood the energetic power that our earth creates. When I started incorporating crystals into the malas, I began to learn so much more about their healing properties and intuiting particular stones for my clients.
Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
The last year and half has been incredibly productive in ways I would have never imagined. The downside is that the last few months I feel I bit off more than I can chew so I started to slip into overwhelm-mode. So I am adjusting to ensure my long term commitments are fulfilled before I launch more ideas.
What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
I am delighted about all the amazing people I have met and bonded with on this journey. I really had no idea we were all out there just needing love, hugs and kisses without conditions.
Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Just. Keep. Going.
- The first nine months are the fucking WORST! You are not yourself, you don’t know if you are coming or going, most of your relationships will be in tatters, you will be in tatters and you may even think death would be easier. No joke. So if you are in this timeline, please be super duper gentle with yourself...more than you actually think. I repeat, MORE THAT YOU ACTUALLY THINK. Try to remove self-imposed expectations of where you think “you should be” because this is bullshit-mind-fuck talk. There is no “right place”, no “Am I doing this right?” or “I really thought I would be feeling better by now.” And please no irrational comparing like, “I see that So-So is doing great by the beautiful Instagram photos she posts, why do I still feel like crap?” Um no, the process of recovery is not under your control, there are no rules, no right ways to do it. It’s personal. It’s yours. Be an unapologetic hot mess. Take Holly's mantra of Take a FUCKING Break. seriously. I took a medical leave of absence from work for 12 weeks. It was the best goddamn thing I have ever done for myself. Plus there is no such thing as too many baths or tea or essential oils or no smartphone weekends. Do whatever it takes to get you to the next minute. Trust me.
- I believe the road to recovery is about layering in the new and good to crowd out the old shit that doesn't serve you. This is a process OVER TIME. If you try to add in TOO MUCH and remove TOO MUCH at the same time you will be frustrated cuz you can't do it all nor is anyone expecting you to be “perfect" in your recovery. Start with just ONE THING...master it then go on to the next.
At the 7th month mark I added in Kundalini...by the 8th month I was feeling better so I added in Cognitive Behavior Therapy...then by the 9th month I was actually strong enough to start dealing with my diet. Baby-fucking-steps.
- Then magically you shoot out the other side covered in rainbow-glitter-goo. Not really, but yes really and it only gets more glittery, bright and wonderful.
So all this to say..take it easy, layer in the good and Love. Love. Love.
Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?
You probably don’t know this, but I read your Daily Gratitude Instagram posts everyday. I don’t have this practice personally but when I read yours, I stop and reflect on my own for the day. Thank you for that.
Of course, I bend the knee for Holly Glen Whitaker, my sobriety queen and mother of dragons.
For my Kundalini practice I have two gurus that have been game-changers for me, Charanpal Kaur and Guru Jagat. Invincible Living by Guru Jagat is a must read for every, single woman on the planet. I am currently participating in her seven month women’s program called Immense Grace and am a founding member of The Aquarian Women’s Leadership Society.
For books, I go for more of the esoteric and sacred texts like Eknath Easwaran’s translations of Upanishads, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita and The Mind by Yogi Bhajan. These are essential for me to get back to the basics of being a human, plus I always find something new with every reading.
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. What was your path to discovering it?
I love, love, love the Hip Sobriety/Home/AC’r tribe. There is so much love, care and support from people we may or may not ever meet in person. We have each other’s backs and we rally around each other when we need it. If I wasn’t apart of this tribe, I really don’t think I would have had the success with sobriety as I have.
What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
I proud of the fact that I am not checking out of my life. I am proud that I am messy, careless and beautifully flawed. I love making mistakes, owning them without shame and then making corrections. I am proud that I am imperfect and I still have so much to learn and improve every single day.
Sasha was a guest on The Unruffled Podcast this week. Click on the episode and listen to her talk about the muggles in sobriety, her beautiful film La Noria and how we are all warriors in sobriety that are answering a higher calling.