Sobriety

::Dry in January (and beyond) – Part Two::

Thank you for coming back to read Part Two! As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve been working to curate a comprehensive list of resources for anyone looking for some guidance or inspiration. Whether you’re considering going dry in January or giving booze the boot for good, I hope you’ll find some value in the following collection.

*Editors Note*

You’ll notice that I did not include a category for books. There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of great books on the topic. However, I’ve only read one so far (Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sasha Z. Scoblic), barely scratching the surface. If I follow through with my 2018 goal to read more (my recurring New Year’s resolution since at least 2010), I’ll happily add some reading recommendations in the future.

Also, I will update each category as I discover new resources. (I also apologize to any of my Instagram friends whom I’ve omitted in error.)

Sober Sisters

Ivy League Insecurities – Aidan Donnelley Rowley – Author and Creator of Drybe

Momastery – Glennon Doyle – Author and Speaker

Tammi Salas – Tammi Salas – Artist, Writer, and Podcast Host

Laura McKowen – Laura McKowen – Writer, and Co-host of HOME Podcast

Mary Beth LaRue – Mary Beth LaRue – Yoga Teacher, Rock Your Bliss Co-founder, and Writer

Meadow DeVor – Meadow DeVor – Yoga Teacher, Money Coach, and Writer

Gabby Bernstein – Author, Speaker, and Spirit Junkie

Nicole Antoinette – Nicole Antoinette – Podcast Host and Writer

Websites

This category contains a variety of websites that include blogs, courses, rehabilitation options, support, etc. Some of these sites allow you to sign up for a newsletter or be added to an email list if you choose.

Hip Sobriety

Bloom Club

A Girl and a Tonic

The Sober School 

One Rep at a Time

One Year No Beer

She Recovers

Rehab Finder

Alcoholics Anonymous

Podcasts

HOME Podcast

Unruffled Podcast

EDIT Podcast

Instagram Accounts

@thesoberglow

@hipsobriety

@sillylaura

@soberevolution

@thesoberkates

@soberandalive

@hello_its_michelle_

@dianaunlu

@onerepatatime

@hipsobriety

@laura_mckown

@fabulous13

@gloria_blecha

@muttonattacks

@mysoberlife

Instagram Accounts for sober CrossFit chicks – if buff, booze-free babes are your jam (because they’re mine!).

@teamcarleen

@oliviapartington

@fitpinup37

@krissymaecagney

@kelfitz11

Products

Curious Elixirs – Booze-Free Craft Cocktails (I haven’t tried these yet but love what they’re doing and they have recipes you can make at home!)

G.T.’s Kombucha – My favorite brand, overall, and easy to find in most grocery stores.

La Croix – Flavored sparkling water with a cult following and available everywhere.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – The single product that I believe has made the biggest impact on my wellbeing this year! (I drink it in my coffee and add it to smoothies and elixirs.)

Tips

I have compiled a list of the things that I’ve done over the past 350 days that helped me in the preparation of – and throughout – the journey thus far.

  • Make a list of your “why’s” and keep it handy so you can reread it frequently. Why is this important to you? What do you hope to gain by going dry?
  • Set a date. If you’re going to go dry in January but starting after the first, that’s okay. Just designate the 31 days following whatever date you select.
  • Clean out any remaining alcohol stock you have on hand. If it’s something special that you want to save, consider having someone store it for you. Drink what you must but give away the rest or pour it down the sink.
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages on hand. Lots of ’em. If you are partial to your evening drink rituals, you’ll need something to replace the sensation of holding a drink. But make it special. I always have La Croix and kombucha on hand. Sometimes I’ll swap in a good ginger beer or make a crafty mocktail. I’m not afraid to use a wine or cocktail glass either. However, that is going to be different for everyone.
  • Find distractions. Take up a new hobby or revisit one that you’ve put on the backburner. Set a new goal. Sign up for a 5k. Renew your gym membership. Take a painting class. Join a book club. Whatever floats your boat.
  • Plan to reward yourself. If you’re doing a shorter period, say a month, plan a nice reward after you complete your goal. A massage, tickets to a sporting event, a new pair of pants from Lulu, etc. Something big and as extravagant as your budget will allow. For those going longer, consider a small reward every 25 days or at the completion of each month. This was the strategy I used. Every 25 days, I would treat myself to a small reward with an average of $20-$25 (a book, a houseplant, crystals – yes, I’m that girl – to name a few ideas).
  • Connect with the sober community. I’ve given you plenty of rad people to be inspired by.
  • Ask for support from your closest friends or loved ones. As I mentioned in part one, I went at this alone in the beginning and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a very strong sense of resolve. Invite your spouse, partner or best friend to join you and encourage each other.
  • Create a toolbox. I have two. One is actually a small pouch that I carry with me most of the time. In it, I have Liquid Bliss, Rescue Remedy (oops, need to restock) and some other Bach flower essence, a couple sachets of tea, mala beads, a piece of amethyst and other gemstones, a stone with the word freedom carved into it, essential oil, a stick of palo santo, and arnica. The other is a list of things I can do instead of drink. It includes:
    • Make tea, a mocktail, matcha, or an elixir
    • Go get a latte
    • Drink some kombucha
    • Make a smoothie
    • Do some yoga poses or stretch
    • Meditate or practice pranayama (breathing exercises)
    • Light some candles, incense, palo santo, or sage (smudge)
    • Read
    • Write
    • Journal
    • Paint
    • Listen to a podcast
    • Bake or cook something nutritious
    • Nap
    • Buy some flowers
    • Take a bath
    • Put on a face mask
    • Watch a movie
    • Go for a walk or workout
Dry in January

The contents of my “toolbox”.

A Couple of Additional Suggestions

I also carry a reminder to myself to own my decision. It is not a sad consequence but rather a proud choice. It is a very powerful and totally badass act of profound self-love. Additionally, I printed out a small calendar to track my days. There are a number of apps out there that you can download onto your phone to keep track of how many days you’ve refrained from drinking but I prefer to write it down each day. It allows me to recommit to my choice daily and express gratitude for another day feeling clear and completely awake.

Regardless of whether you’re going dry in January or have elected to go for the long haul, take it one day at a time. When you wake up each morning, remind yourself why you don’t want to drink and tell yourself that you are going to choose to not drink that day.

Final Thoughts

There are so many tools out there that are readily available. Don’t be afraid to do some exploration. Go as deep as you’re comfortable; you will likely find that there is a vast spiritual component to sobriety. While I’ve been doing some digging on and off, because it is something that I crave in my life, I will be doing more of that work in the future. But like I said, do what is comfortable for you.

Remember, these are the things that worked for me. From what I’ve offered here and whatever else you find as you begin your journey, you can piece together your own protocols.

If you have any tips or helpful suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. The same is true if you need some support or have questions. You are not alone in any of this – by a longshot – so if you feel compelled, feel free to reach out! Email me at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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::Dry in January (and beyond) – Part One:

‘Tis the season for gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holidays and ring in a shiny new year. The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years are filled with endless preparation… planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning… and celebrating… office parties, family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, New Years Eve soirees… Honestly? It’s no wonder we drink so much this time of year. It’s also not surprising that so many people vow to take a break or cut back come January.

Around this time last year, I was already plotting my exit from the alcohol-induced merriment that I’d grown so accustomed to over the previous twenty-some years. It was my survival mechanism. That is until I realized that I don’t want to merely survive the holidays – or life, for that matter. I want to experience it all fully. I want to experience every precious moment of this beautiful, messy, complex life without it all being dull around the edges.

Me. Not dull. (Oh, and I survived a trip to the mall – one week before Christmas – without a single drop of alcohol! I also left empty-handed.)

I’d wager a safe bet that I’m not alone.

After I “came out” sober, a handful of friends and acquaintances reached out with questions about how I knew I was ready to step away from the vino and go dry. (As a side note, I’ll tell you that coming out to my friends and family was really difficult. In fact, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was up to until I was 36 days in and he was the first person I told!)

As I approach the one-year mark, I’m acutely aware that there are a number of people in my circle who are trying to figure out what their relationship with alcohol is. You see, it’s not all black and white, cut and dry, one-size-fits-all. For those that, like myself, don’t identify with what we’ve been programmed to think of when we hear the word alcoholic or alcoholism, there is a lot – and I mean A LOT – of gray area.

Every single story is different. Every single reason for quitting is unique. Every single person is fighting their own battle. And every single story, reason, and person matters.

The reason I’m writing this post, and let me be frank, I never intended for this website to be laden with posts on the topic of sobriety. However, what I’ve discovered this year is that it needs to be talked about. These stories need to be shared. There is a real need for people to be transparent with their struggles surrounding alcohol consumption so that the stigma is removed and people feel safe to reach out to one another without fear of being judged or labeled regardless of whether they are fighting true alcohol addiction or not.

Besides, I’m a storyteller and the story I know best is my own so I’ll share as I please.

Anyway, a good friend sent me a text message a couple of days ago asking if I had time to chat. A few hours later, over coffee (though separated by at least 1000 miles) she asked me for some tips on going dry in January. I gave her a few suggestions based on a variety of practices that I relied upon during those first few weeks and months. Many of which I still utilize. Later, still thinking about our conversation and reminiscing my own start to the dry life – having no one to talk to, no guidance, no idea that there was a community of support and resources out there, and feeling like I was floating in space alone – I thought that I could offer what I didn’t have to anyone that is considering going dry in January or beyond. 

Therefore, part two of this post will be a comprehensive collection of every website, podcast, and Instagram feed, as well as products I’ve used, practices in my daily life, and tips that I discovered that have been a resource throughout my journey this past year. In the meantime, if you feel drawn to connect, ask questions about going dry in January, or just need to be reassured that you are not floating in space alone, please, please, please shoot me an email at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

::Eleven::

Eleven months ago today was the beginning. A radical decision was instigated which would potentially forever change the course of my life and allow me to evolve into the person I so desired to be. Eleven months ago today was the first day I chose a sober existence. And now, 335 days later, I still choose it. Every single day I recommit myself to my choice and marvel at what I’ve gained on this new path.

I’ve been floating around lately, a little lost professionally, I suppose. My head swirls with ideas for stories, articles, essays, and the like but I’ve had a difficult time focusing my energy and effort on any of them. I thought this week would be a good week to sort through some projects I’ve started over the course of the year. To bring it full circle, I unearthed a folder of essays I began writing in the beginning stages of my new booze-free life. Since I have no plans for the small collection, I thought I’d share one of the short essays I wrote early on.

My intention is not to shame my family, friends, or readers who drink; we are adults after all and I truly believe “to each their own.” I would, however, like to offer some insight regarding my choice to remove it from my life with the hope that it might help someone else who is examining their own relationship with alcohol.

A couple of days ago I had one of those days. Prior to five months ago, it would have been one of those kind of days in which I would have tried to remedy the onslaught of emotions and angst with a glass, or six, of wine. In fact, I spoke with my mother-in-law a few hours after the incident in question and told her what had happened. She said, “Oh, girl, you need a glass of wine.”

The old me would have agreed with her wholeheartedly. In fact, by the time I would have spoken to her, I’d already be half a bottle in. But the new me? The sober me? Well, the last thing this girl needs is a glass of wine.

I’ve spent a number of years drowning my sorrows and coping with life’s challenges and discomfort by self-medicating with alcohol. In fact, my husband and I even shared a hashtag (#needadrinkstat) that we’d send one another whenever we were feeling the need to escape; when everything just seemed too much. Alternately, I’ve also used it to celebrate anything and everything. New job? Check. Made it through Tuesday? Check. Birthday? Anniversary? Christmas? National Haiku Day? Check, check, check, and check.

After a while though, I hated to think that I “needed” a substance to deal. I was very much aware of the fact that I didn’t need to drink but rather chose to. Rather than taking some time to sit with how I was feeling and figuring out how to create a strategy to rise above whatever was conflicting me, I’d try to ignore it by numbing it temporarily. Most of the time, it would make me more emotional and feel worse the next day. For the record, trying to get your shit together seems a zillion times more challenging when you’re hungover.

The lesson here is that I’ve learned what I do need to cope when life throws a bushel of lemons at me. It sure as heck ain’t a margarita. Rather, it’s a hug, a nap, or a hot bath. It’s a cup of coffee or tea accompanied by a small chocolatey treat. It’s a workout, a walk, or a few minutes submerged in a good read. It’s a quiet space to clear my head, light some palo santo, and take a few deep breaths. It might include scrolling through a few inspiring Instagram accounts; especially ones that belong to my sober sisters. It’s learning to let go of the negative shit and remembering that whatever sparked my distraught will pass.

We don’t need alcohol but we choose it above other remedies because it’s what we’ve been programmed to do. I don’t need alcohol to celebrate or mourn or unwind at the end of a rough day. I need to nurture my spirit in the most compassionate way possible, not poison myself with intoxicants that temporarily blur the lines. I’m hoping next time I run into a similar scenario, my well-meaning loved ones will say something along the lines of “oh, girl, you need a bath!” or I shoot a message to my mister that says something like #needsomepalosantostat.

 

 

::November was like WHOA!::

November was a wild, wild ride!

If you’ve been following along, you know that I spent pretty much the entire month on the road, traveling with my mister who was hired on a film project that shot entirely on location in Idaho. I feel so very fortunate that we could experience this adventure as a family – which also allowed us the ability to spend time with our loved ones that live up north. Idaho is a stunning state that speaks to my innate desire for slow, soulful living. I really enjoyed exploring the small communities that we stayed in, meeting new people, and being enveloped in the vast and diverse landscape.

I’m happy to be home now though and looking forward to a somewhat quiet month and holiday in LA. One of the takeaways from our month touring the Pacific Northwest is how much I crave slow living. I love, love, love travel and adventures and such, but I also love the simple kind of life and am determined more than ever to create that existence despite living in a bustling city.

There were a lot of highlights this past month!

➼ Reaching 330 days of sobriety and surviving the beginning of the holiday season without the desire to drink.

➼ Attempting to participate in National Novel Writing Month. It did not go as planned. However, it provided me with the opportunity to develop new ideas for my next novel and I did write 3,895 words.

➼ Witnessing my daughter and her partner complete the process of purchasing their first home!

➼ Spending time with my parents. Although brief, we got to celebrate the holidays with my mom and dad and I really enjoyed being with them.

➼ Thanksgiving. Over the years, it has become my favorite holiday.

➼ Visiting our family and friends while up north and savoring every second.

➼ Feeling loved by friends in LA. Making friends as an adult is really hard. I’ve been fortunate to find a few wonderful new ones within my CrossFit community who messaged me several times while I was away to tell me they missed me and looked forward to my return. Their messages made my heart melt.

➼ Deciding, officially, that we’d spend Christmas and New Years in Los Angeles. We have never not spent Christmas with our families but given our recent travels, we’ve decided to stay put in December. We are embracing the choice and looking forward to a quiet holiday.

➼ Attending four (yes, only four) CrossFit classes. However, the cool thing is that each of those classes was at a different gym in three different states!

➼ Savoring the last two days of our journey back home by traveling the 101 from Tillamook, Oregon, to San Francisco. We slept in a yurt and cooked over a campfire the first night and stayed in the heart of San Francisco the second night waking to views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

➼ Growing. There has been a lot of growth beneath the surface this year and I feel like November was a big month as part of my evolution. I will probably elaborate on this more in a separate post in the coming weeks.

I am truly looking forward to settling in for the season and wish you and yours a magical December!

On location in Cottonwood, Idaho, at Dog Bark Park Bed and Breakfast. No joke. You can sleep inside that beagle!

 

 

::Coming Out Sober::

Today marks my fifth month of sobriety. It’s also the day I’ve decided to come out sober, if you will.

Trying to explain why I’ve chosen this path is not something that I can answer with a simple, poignant blog post. There are many layers and facets to the complexity that is sobriety and it’s different for each and every person.

It has been one of the most profound, radical choices I’ve made for myself and the deepest act of self-love I’ve ever administered.

The primary reason I’ve decided to begin sharing this is that I full-heartedly believe in transparency to foster connection. Allow me to explain that first. I had held off in going public for a couple of reasons. For one thing, certainty about anything can be tricky for me; indecisive might as well be my middle name. (Defiant is a close runner up!) I tend to bounce back and forth on things, weighing my options before settling on a final choice. I wanted to be absolutely, 100% sure I was sure before sharing. I also wanted to take plenty of time to process this transition before I had to try to articulate answers to questions that are going to be hard to explain. Finally, I felt the need to make sure that my closest family and friends knew before I blew it up online.

Here’s the funny thing about me and indecision: when I do make a choice, I’m ALL in. So that said, yes, I’m absolutely sure.

To be honest, it’s been a little lonely and I’m craving connection to others who are on this path. I’ve considered a few different options in terms of support but feel that I’m being led to a holistic approach. I’d rather not remain silent and lurk in the shadows of sobriety. Instead, I’m exposing my vulnerability to achieve something greater.

Coming out sober

I guess the bigger question I need to answer is why I decided to quit in the first place. The very best, coherent answer I can supply is that alcohol became a weed.

Weeds are defined as unwanted plants or vegetation, right? Well, have you ever seen a garden bed full of flowers or shrubs that someone painstakingly planted only to become overrun with weeds? These noxious species rob the desired plants of nutrients and sunlight, causing them to struggle for survival. Weeds are not necessarily even ugly or awful to look at. An out-of-place rose bush, even with its fragrant blooms and delicate petals, can be a weed if it is causing damage to the surrounding vegetation.

So as it were, drinking became an unwelcome weed disguised as a rose. It was crowding out my ability to focus on my passions and goals. It was stealing vital nutrients and wreaking havoc on my body that I’ve worked so hard to keep “healthy” despite the toxins I was drinking on a regular basis.

There is more and I will offer it when I’m ready. Writing about my experience has been therapeutic and as I peel back the layers, I will continue to journal my thoughts and feelings as a means to process it all. It has been one of the most profound, radical choices I’ve made for myself and the deepest act of self-love I’ve ever administered. I’m incredibly proud of my choice and feel empowered by my decision.

I would like to add that if you are reading this and find yourself identifying with what I’ve shared, please know that you’re certainly not alone and I hope you’ll reach out to me or someone you trust if you need support. There are a lot of misconceptions and labeling surrounding normal (whatever that means) alcohol use, abuse, and addiction. They are not all the same and that’s why I feel that it is important for more of us to share our stories to expand the sober community.

xo

P.S. Here are a few links to resources that I’ve found valuable if you’re curious.

Hip Sobriety

Laura McKowen

HOME Podcast

Sober Evolution

Aidan Donnelley Rowley