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.
Do you remember how we first met or came to know one another?
I know that you were a listener of my podcast Raise Your Hand Say Yes and we’d connected on Instagram, but when I started talking about my own sobriety and recovery earlier this year, we started to have more of a conversation with each other.
Then we got to meet in person at a yoga and recovery workshop in SF with Holly Whitaker and Laura McKowen. We sat next to each other and it was true love!
What is your sobriety date? January 4, 2017
Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
Still on days, but am looking forward to hitting the 1 year mark!
Do you use an app or some other method to do this counting? If so, please share.
Yes! I love the Quit That app.
What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
I’ve been all about the self-study + support method of recovery!
For me, podcasts played such a role in my early sobriety (read more on that below!) that I was able to take the momentum I’d already had in absorbing podcasts and translate that into my recovery work.
Finding other in-real-life sober friends also made a huge difference to me (thanks for being one of them, Tammi!) and helped me stay focused and committed to my sobriety and recovery. While the non-sober people in my life are incredibly supportive, I often find that it can be hard to talk to them about my experiences because they either can’t fully understand what I’m dealing with or aren’t interested in engaging in conversations about problem drinking.
Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic? If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
Not really, but I do identify as a problem drinker and definitely as a person who doesn’t have a good relationship with alcohol. I also believe that alcohol abuse can run on a spectrum, and that, given enough time, my drinking would have created problems in my life.
What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
- My people, specifically you, Tammi, and my dear friend Ashley Nickels who quit drinking around the same time I did!
Meditation. As I’ve worked my way through recovery, one of my biggest challenges has been learning how to deal with my feelings (why don’t we teach this to kids, eh?) and meditation has been such a useful grounding force in my life.
Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
I’d been drinking since I was in high school and always had a knowing that my drinking wasn’t serving me. But I also had so many reasons to keep doing it (I didn’t have a *real* problem...I was doing great in life!...Everyone drinks like I do. It’s fine!) and quitting seemed like something you only did as a punishment for breaking the rules of life.
But those deep knowings don’t go anywhere and only get louder with time. In September 2016, my husband decided to give up drinking for a year in preparation of his 50th birthday in 2017. At that point, it became clear to me how often I was drinking by myself and my consumption started to have a tinge of sadness.
Then in November, I attended a meditation retreat led by my dear friend Lacy Young and knew following that experience that I needed to stop drinking.
But! The holidays! The celebrations! The stress! Of course, there were so many reasons NOT to quit...At this point too, I started listening to the Recovery Series on Andrea Owen’s Your Kick Ass Life Podcast (because, of course, I was always drawn to other people’s recovery stories as proof that there was life on the other side of drinking!) and while my drinking wasn’t problematic (with two young girls at home, I usually wouldn’t have more than 1-2 glasses of wine at a time), I could totally relate to the stories I was hearing, especially around the thoughts and perspectives of problem drinking.
I had also come across Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Drybe Club instagram feed which once again served to help me see that there was life beyond drinking.
I decided to take a month off drinking in December 2016 to reset my body and lasted about 27 days...which, again, I told myself was fine because I didn’t really have a problem.
Then, early in the new year, I had an evening where I had an extra glass of wine and found myself exhausted and scrolling pinterest at midnight. Not a win. I woke up the next morning and decided that - if I was going to focus on my creative goals - the drinking needed to stop. Really, truly. Buuuuut, I only made the commitment for a year. (You can see me talk about it on Instagram here.)
A couple weeks into this year-long experiment, I realized that I needed to quit drinking permanently.
Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking?
So much more creative, but more than that, I feel more connected. To myself, to my intuition, and to my spirit. I also feel so much happier - which is what happens when you stop consuming a depressant on a regular basis!
In addition, my sleep has improved by leaps and bounds (as much as it can with 3 year-old twins at home) so I have so much more energy to devote to my creative endeavors.
When I decided to do my year-long experiment in sobriety, it was because I wanted to see if abstaining from alcohol would sharpen my creative skills, and it did like whoa!
I’ve created more content this year than ever before and it’s been so much more in alignment with my truth. I’ve also started making huge shifts in my business that have felt amazing.
Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
Yes, but it has more to do with me re-aligning with my priorities than getting more done. When I quit drinking, I quickly realized the power of letting go of things that weren’t serving me, and this carried over into every other aspect of my life.
What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
So much! The connections I’ve made with other people! The friendships I’ve developed! My ability to tell the truth in (almost) every situation!
I’ve also come to discover that quitting drinking is a huge source of empowerment for me. Where I would have previously thought of it as a punishment, I now realize it was the greatest gift I could have given myself.
Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Do whatever it takes to find yourself the right kind of support. And if you have support, but it makes you feel shitty, it’s not right for you.
Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?
This Naked Mind by Annie Grace helped me sort through all of the emotional stories I had about why I needed to drink.
The HOME Podcast - Holly & Laura’s conversations and interviews were so helpful to me as I was navigating my recovery.
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?
Yes, and it’s all happened very organically. One thing that’s been the most useful to me has been talking publicly about my process - which felt incredibly vulnerable at first and turned out to be so freeing.
After I recorded my first podcast episode about my decision to quit drinking permanently, so many people reached out to let me know that they were also sober or had been grappling with the same struggles. (You can hear that episode here!)
For me, the thing that was most helpful was telling my story out loud and seeing who responded to it.
What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
That I’m living an alcohol-free life and thriving. I love it.
Sondra and I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany on The Unruffled Podcast earlier this summer. New fledgling podcasters interviewing a seasoned podcaster. No pressure, right? Thanks for raising your hand and saying yes to us Tiffany and showing us that we can indeed to hard things and laugh and say 'Fuck' while doing it!