Last weekend at the She Recovers Conference in New York City, I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Schmidt (aka The Sober Hipster), along with 500 other women in recovery. My Unruffled Podcast co-host, Sondra (pictured here in Flat Stanley format), mentioned Lisa on a recent episode and I got to give her a squeeze in person this past Saturday.
Lisa is launching The Story Box on her beautiful new website, which is all about empowering women in their journey of creativity and recovery. I highly recommend you check it out. I ordered mine today. More about that in the interview. You can also click the icon that says You're a Fox and sign up for her newsletter.
Meeting sober women in recovery will never get old for me. There's an instant bonding and virtually ZERO small talk. Win-Win. We get down to the nitty gritty real quick. I laughed so hard this weekend and told my anxiety to take a backseat so that I could be fully present and not let fear run the show for three whole days. It was magical.
My passion can be summed up in these five words:
You matter. Your story matters.
I want every women in recovery to know and believe it.
Blog: The Sober Hipster
What is your sobriety date? 11/14/2013
Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
In the beginning, I counted days. Now I count years and months. So if you asked me today, I’d say 3 yrs. 5 mos.
Do you use an app or some other method to do this counting?
Just a regular calendar.
What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
I don’t subscribe to one particular modality. I got sober while going through an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for trauma and addiction. I lived in a sober house and was required to go to at least one AA or NA meeting a day. Being in the rooms and hearing the stories definitely helped me then and it still does when I go today. Just as important, however, is art therapy. Again, it was part of my IOP but I have since incorporated it into every aspect of my recovery.
Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
Yes. It was actually a pivotal moment in my recovery to admit I am an alcoholic because it was a label applied to my father when I was child and I swore I would never be like him.
What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
- prayer and meditation
- a good therapist
- creative expression
Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
It was a matter of life and death. Mine. For a second time in my life, I was suicidal. And I had a choice to make. So I left my job as a corporate paralegal, moved to a different town, and with the help of my therapist got into the program for trauma and addiction treatment.
Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking?
From designing my living spaces to starting a side business to helping women in recovery, I am definitely more creative!
You have just launched a new offering on your website. Can you tell my readers about The Story Box and why they should all pop over there and check it out?
The Story Box is creativity + recovery. It’s art therapy in a box.
We all have these inside things… thoughts, feelings, memories. But we don’t always know how to talk about them or we have a fear of talking about them. Art therapy is an approach to recovery that allows us to use our creativity and imagination to give a voice to our inside things in ways other than verbal communication (i.e. talk therapy).
The Story Box is for any woman who wants to discover and understand her story on a deeper level. It’s a recovery tool that will allow her to process emotions in a safe, healthy and creative way. Each story box contains a custom journal and a set of sixteen carefully crafted story cards. Story cards are prompted experiences, exercises and opportunities in art therapy. The box also includes art materials and supplies to carry out each story card.
Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
I can’t say that I am more productive since I stopped drinking because I was what “they” call a “high functioning alcoholic.” But I am more alive! Living instead of just existing.
What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
I’m most delighted by the fact that I can socialize and have a good time without alcohol. I thought sober fun was only for boring people (LOL).
Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
This is such a heavy question with so many possible answers. There are the classic clichés … progress not perfection… just for today… this too shall pass. All very good but not what I wanted to hear in early recovery. So I’ll go with what helped me the most:
You can’t do it on your own.
Let people love you until you can love yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up.
Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to becoming whole?
- Rob Bell and his weekly podcast called the Robcast.
- Brené Brown and her book, Rising Strong.
- Elizabeth Gilbert and her book, Big Magic.
Are you part of a tribe or a recovery community that supports your sobriety? And, if so, how did you figure out how to find that tribe/community? What was your path to discovering it?
I am part of the She Recovers community and I got to spend last weekend in NYC with 499 badass women in recovery! Honestly, when I began thinking about starting a blog I opened my laptop and googled female sober bloggers and discovered She Recovers pretty quickly. Such a great resource Dawn and Taryn have put together. I think She Recovers listed the top 10 bloggers on their website, probably in promotion of the event. Anyway, I checked out their blogs and then found them on Instagram. Then I looked at who they were following and added those people. And then I started commenting and reaching out.
What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
I’m most proud that I now have the opportunity and responsibility to share my story and help other women in recovery. I suffered in silence for far too long. I’m here to recover out loud.
I can't believe I've done 19 of these interviews and accompanying artwork so far this year. Every week I'm up late the night before it's set to post and I'm furiously editing and writing; sometimes even finishing the art and photographing it as the sun comes up on Friday.
I MUST WORK HARDER ON MY PROCRASTINATION.
I MUST OR IT WILL DEVOUR ME WHOLE.
I liken procrastination to how I used to feel when I would try to moderate my drinking...it's a total mental mind-fuck. It takes up a lot of space in my head trying to put things off or move things around. My future self always wishes that i would have just handled it completely the first time I touched the project. But, noooooooooo. I like to do it a little at a time and (obviously) cause myself mental anguish, some discomfort and stress.
No more. I vow to have these done by Sunday night each week and set them to publish automatically on Friday mornings. This is my new plan.
Wish me luck.
Thank you for letting me ask you questions and for sharing your story of recovery with my readers, Lisa. I also loved learning that you spent your formative years in Texas (I love Texan women) and that we both worked in the legal field. I bet you love office supplies just as much as I do, right?
The Story Box (think art therapy and recovery tool in a box shipped to your door) is now available on The Sober Hipster website and Lisa will be taking pre-orders in May and shipping in June. There are also really awesome journals and t-shirts available on her site. Go check them out!
Keep shining bright in your recovery, Lisa. You are showing us all how it's done with style, creativity and a great attitude.