Ray of Light Interview No. 28 :: Gillian da Silva

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 on 5" x 5" hardwood panel using b/w photo + acrylic paints

Mixed media on 5" x 5" hardwood panel using b/w photo + acrylic paints


Gillian da Silva
Esthetician + Small Business Owner
Instagram: currently @gilliandasilva + formerly @honeybee_living
Blog: Honeybee Living

Do you remember how we first met or came to know one another?
first knew you from an introduction in the HOME group. Wait, can we talk about this? Or is it like Fight Club? Forget I mentioned that. What HOME group? Okay, I met you when Holly Whitaker introduced her collaborative project with you, The Mantra Project.  And we became Facebook friends. And I “love” all your posts.  But what really melted me was when you lost Kacy, I connected with you on a much deeper level.  You were a real person after that, if that makes any sense.  Most social media posts are all about “look at my kitchen reno!” and not the nitty gritty. You delivered some deep heart content that sucked me in. I love you.

What is your sobriety date? May 10, 2015

Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
I count moments.  In day to day life, I often pause and think “I’m sober. Holy shit, I’m sober.” But for the sake of it I use the NOMO app on my phone and count months. Like having a toddler, kind of thing, except it’s baby Sober Gilly!

What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
I use cold turkey-ness, abstinence, meditation, kundalini yoga, and willpower.  

Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
On mornings that I woke up hungover, day after day, yes I did. Only my hangovers were acceptable, highly functioning alcoholic style ones. I know so many people like this. I was tired of being one of them. It was a daily question I asked myself, looking in the mirror. Am I? I would wonder. Then the comparison game would launch in my head, like ‘who drinks more than I do’, yada, yada. Awful, shameful stuff. I don’t compare my life to anyone else anymore. And no, I am most definitely not an alcoholic.

If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
Now that I’ve adopted this lifestyle change, and I’m living happily without a drop of alcohol, I identify with teetotaller. It’s my jam.  I know a few badass ladies who feel this way. I’m happy to align with them. This puts the power back in my hands, it’s my choice.  

What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
Top three, oh that’s tough to narrow down.  I would have to say prioritizing my self care covers all three.  That includes focusing on my nutrition since becoming vegan, my mental/spiritual health through kundalini yoga, my sober tribe in that secret Fight Club kind of group we have (wink wink) and triaging my life in terms of what needs to happen now and what can wait.  I am thinking that last one is time management? It’s a crazy adult term. I know that I must be adulting now. I’m doing the things. In priority sequence.  Like big girls do.   

Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
It was a very long time coming. I was sick of myself. Literally. I was tired of my repetitive drinking behavior which got me nowhere. I no longer liked who I saw in the mirror. It came down to one night, the straw that broke the camel's back. I woke up in a hotel room on the morning of Mother’s Day with my family after a night of boozing for a fundraising event for cancer. So here I was supporting this cause, which has touched the lives of my loved ones and friends, and I was slowly killing myself with booze. It was ridiculous. I excused myself to use the restroom after having trouble focusing and attempting to be enthused as my beautiful children gave me gifts and cards. I took one look at myself in that hotel mirror and said This is it. You are fucking done.  No more. I made the decision then and there that I would never touch another drop. My kids deserved more than this half present, always tired mom. They deserved all of me...and so did I. I told my husband on the car ride home that I was quitting. A smirk on his face told me he didn’t buy it. To say he was surprised when I never, ever drank again, is an understatement.

Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking?
I’m still very creative. More now than before when I was still drinking. I was always into painting, and blogging, and social media sites for photography. I also had done a ton of dream boarding, which is my go-to creative fun thing.  I’ve been dream boarding for years and the funny thing is, in all of those dream boards I glued, pasted, wrote and doodled the life I’m living now. So those things actually create a life if you use them. They are excellent creative tools for women who want to get sober.

Dream boarding can literally help build you a new life. I organized nights at my spa over the years where women would gather to make the dream boards and drink tea (no booze, because spirit cannot work with you if you are intoxicated, and you want to channel your highest self for these boards) and these women still tell me that the boards they made in our groups all manifested true for them. It makes me happy to think that our connection made a positive lasting effect on their lives. This is such an excellent outlet for all women, sober or not. But now my creativity branches into really caring for my home and also in my nutrition. My food is now my number one priority so I get down and dirty in the kitchen making delicious food.  

Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
YES. I’ve got time back. Time was wasted before, during and after the drinking. Now I accomplish the things I drank to forget. The things I drank about were neglected because of the drinking; the housework, my business, my social life, my family. I have the proper time for all of these things now. I feel like I got to steal some time back. It’s a nice feeling.  

What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
The delight for me is that I really despise waste and profligate spending, which I did a lot of while using alcohol. I am so jazzed to save all the money I do from not buying hooch, that I am saving more, investing more and being more thoughtful about my carbon footprint and all that goes along with our wasteful society. I’ve become sober in waste management! It’s so strange. I’m cautious about food waste and I’m being so careful to make sure we eat every morsel I buy. As a society, we don’t need to throw things away just because we can afford to. I’m waking up to this. I’m really digging the Minimalists on Netflix and the whole movement that they sparked with not buying more stuff. We don’t need more stuff. We need sobriety too around stuff. That’s a work in progress for me. I like the challenge.

Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Oh wow yes, yes I do.  For those still suffering. Love yourself everyday. Give yourself a break. When you really want to quit you will do it...you will dig deep one day and you will be so kind to yourself and you will do this for you. It’s always a great day to quit. It’s worth the fight. Keep fighting. The clouds eventually pass and the sun comes out again. No matter how hard you feel you’ve screwed up, you have to know you are worth trying again. No hole is too deep to dig yourself out of. There are people who have been down in that hole and they know what it is like and you must find them. This will be your tribe. You must find the people who understand dark days. The ones who have broken sentimental objects in rage, the ones who’ve spat ugly words at loved ones, the ones who have thrown up on themselves. There is always a solution, no matter how dark your pain is. Finding your tribe will help you discover that you are not alone in this. That we all come from a place where we no longer dwell and that is possible for you, too. The roads to recovery are many and you will find one that suits you. There is no one size fits all in the path to healing.

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

  1. My favourite YouTube influencer is Ralph Smart from Infinite Waters. He’s no addiction specialist, however, he is a psychologist and speaks on everything from nutrition to anxiety and more.  He’s a lovely human being.  
  2. I found Holly Whitaker at Hip Sobriety through a sober high school friend. She understood I was struggling with drinking and sent me Holly’s Hip Sobriety Manifesto. Holly’s website was bookmarked and from there I spring-boarded into sobriety with this gorgeous reference at my disposal.  
  3. As far as books go, I gravitate towards anything that elevates me and to this end I find Gabby Bernstein indispensable. I’ve read them all. I re-read them. This woman got me into A Course In Miracles, which I am starting to study with vigour.  

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?
In real life I fly solo.  Online, yes I have my HOME podcast secret FB group and my Instagram community. Can I just say how much I love HOME? I could cry. I pop on there daily and read as much as I can. I try to respond time permitting. I submit my little tidbits. The support is incredible but not just that, these are chicks I totally dig. I could hang out with them all. I want to give a special shout out to Sasha Tozzi, she’s one of my virtual BFF’s and her work and her friendship is an anchor for me. My immediate family is my tribe and my support network.  My husband rarely drinks now and in fact he went vegan with me, too. That guy is something else. Thanks for sending that one, God!  

What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
The tears. The healing tears. The strength it takes to cry is incredible. Funny how I used to think people who cried were weak. What a dumbass I was. Now I realize the ones who suppress the tears are the most scared. Falling apart is a good thing and a blessing of sorts. And now I’m literally building myself into the person I always knew I could be. I no longer feel held back or inhibited by anything. I’m a better person overall. I’m thoroughly enjoying this life. I often wonder why I ever felt the need to numb it all away. The answers come softly in yoga sometimes, through the tears. I allow the answers now. I don’t try to drown them. The tears heal. They have so much to say if you are listening.