BYO Mocktail: The No Regrets (AF)

BYO Mocktail: The No Regrets (AF)

Happy 2022! I hope everyone survived the end of 2021 with at least a smile on their face.

Growing up, my grandfather owned a liquor store. It was a family run business, my uncles all worked there as kids and my one uncle worked there his whole life. They raised their family in a small beach town in New Jersey. So it was a mom and pop shop through and through.

Yes! A liquor store…

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However when my grandfather passed away and they were closing the store, our family had the problem of a surplus of glassware. So each child and grandchild received some special glassware.

I have found there’s two ways of thinking when it comes to barware once you’re sober. The “get rid of it” group and the “repurpose it” group. I personally fall into the latter and love using my old glassware with a new purpose. Because today’s mocktail is best served from a Champagne glass I’m using some Perrier-Jouët glasses that I’m sure were part of a promotional package, but now have deep sentimental meaning to me. I have no regrets holding onto these glasses and using them over and over again.

Sangria

Don’t get me wrong, those plastic wine glasses that were bought so I wouldn’t break *another* glass were throw away. The cheapie wine glasses, also garbage.

But the special glasses remain, there’s just a lot less of them now

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The No Regrets (AF)

Serves 4
Prep time: 60 minutes (including cooling time)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • NA wine*/prosecco/seltzer

Combine first 3 ingredients in sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. Divide evenly among 4 glasses, top with your NA beverage of choice.

*I used this.

Sangria

Your sobriety is just that, yours. So do what keeps you sober and just keep moving forward.

 

Love and Mocktails,

Kate

5 MYTHS ABOUT SOBRIETY

5 MYTHS ABOUT SOBRIETY

Are you thinking about giving up alcohol?   What is stopping you?  

 

Maybe you know that you have a problem with alcohol, that it is no longer serving you, it’s causing wreckage throughout your life…but the thought of quitting makes you nervous and scared?

 

Maybe you are sober curious.  Alcohol hasn’t really caused any problems  in your life but you still would like to see what living a life free from it would be like.  

 

And maybe you’re hesitant because of some of the myths, misconceptions and rumors floating around out there about what living a life without alcohol is like.  Societal stigmas exist everywhere.  And although there have been great strides and growth in the AF (alcohol free) movement in recent years it is often the fear of feeling stigmatized, labeled or judged that stops people from seeking out a life free from alcohol.  

 

Don’t fall victim to the many myths about sobriety.  Let’s look at some of them.  

 

1.  YOU HAVE TO LABEL YOURSELF AN ALCOHOLIC

 

FALSE 👎🏼 👎🏼. 

 

First of all, what is an alcoholic?  It is an outdated term that the medical and scientific communities don’t even use anymore.  Instead it’s called alcohol use disorder (AUD).  AUD can be diagnosed as mild, moderate or severe…and the bar for mild AUD is pretty low.  Which makes it not surprising to me that a large chunk of my friends and family exhibit it.  

 

Second of all, you don’t have to label yourself as anything…labels are for file folders.  

 

Personally I am neutral when it comes to calling myself an alcoholic.  It doesn’t bother me.  I can take it or leave it.  But the word carries so much stigma and people have such a specific image in their head when they hear it…that it turns people away from getting help.  

 

Before I get hate mail from the ‘alcoholics’ out there let me continue.  I know that for some people identifying as an alcoholic is an important part of your sobriety…and there is nothing wrong with that!  GO TEAM ALCOHOLICS!  📣

 

2.  YOU “HAVE” TO GO TO AA

 

FALSE 👎🏼 👎🏼. 

 

You also don’t HAVE to go to AA…but it’s perfectly fine if you do!    When I first decided to get sober…many moons ago…AA is the first place I went.  I think that is how it was for a lot of people, because there was a time that AA was all that was out there.  

 

AA is not part of my program currently, but it was as recent as a couple years ago.  I even held a service position for an entire year!  

 

What matters most is finding what works for and is the best fit for you. As long as it is keeping you sober, that is all that matters. 

 

3.  IF YOU ARE SOBER, OR CHOOSING TO LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT ALCOHOL, YOU MUST HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM.  

 

FALSE 👎🏼 👎🏼. 

 

You don’t have to have a severe drinking problem to want sobriety.  You don’t have to have a drinking problem at all.  

 

You can just want to feel better.  Maybe you’ve decided that alcohol isn’t bringing anything positive into your life so you are just going to remove it from your life.  It doesn’t have to be awful to want better.  

 

Anyone, anywhere, with any kind of drinking habit can make the decision to stop drinking…there is no prerequisite for how bad your drinking has to get first.  

 

4.  YOU HAVE TO HIT ROCK-BOTTOM TO GET SOBER

 

FALSE 👎🏼 👎🏼. 

 

You don’t have to hit rock bottom to want sobriety.  You don’t have to be suffering from the repercussions from drinking to want sobriety.  You don’t have to have lost everything…the job, the money, the house, the friends, the family… to want sobriety.

 

And can you really even say what your rock bottom would be?  Everyone’s rock bottom  doesn’t look the same.  

 

5.  SOBER LIFE IS BORING

 

FALSE 👎🏼 👎🏼. 

 

This preconceived notion could not be further from the truth.  Alcohol numbs our senses and feelings.  And guess what… when you numb the bad, you also numb the good.

 

Remove the alcohol and discover how much more time you have, how much more money you have.  Discover and rediscover hobbies and interests you once had.   You will discover your FOMO turn into JOMO.  

 

If you find that sober life is boring I hate to say it…your life is boring.  Make some changes.   Sobriety provides a greater amount of opportunities for freedom and fun than a bottle of booze could ever offer.

 

It’s not a no to alcohol…but yes to a better life.  Sobriety…there is probably no healthier, kinder, loving thing you could do for yourself.  ❤️

 

Until next time, be well.  

Kerri Mac 🤟 

 

 

 

BYO Mocktail: The First Thanksgiving Sangria (AF)

BYO Mocktail: The First Thanksgiving Sangria (AF)

Hello again all!

We are starting that descent into the holiday season which can often cause anxiety for those of us in sobriety. No matter how much time you have there can be triggers everywhere that threaten to derail you.

First up: Thanksgiving.

 

For all my Canadian Sober friends, yes I know REAL Thanksgiving was last month.
Sangria

 

I quit drinking in August of 2018 and pretty much on October 1st of that year I started panicking about what I was going to do for Thanksgiving. My husband Jay and I spend Thanksgiving with his family, and it was always filled with wine, specialty cocktails and after-dinner shots. That year was different, I had been trying to get sober for 2 years and the determination I had for this round of sobriety felt stronger.

 

So, I turned to my favorite place on the internet… Pinterest. Frantically searching for the best mocktail that looked enough like an alcohol-filled cocktail that no one would really ask too many questions. I wasn’t ready yet to talk about the fact I had quit drinking, so my plan was just to fake it for a little bit longer. There were so many different recipes for Sangria! Taking ideas from a few recipes, my own imagination and taste buds, I created Sangria minus the booze.

 

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I wish I could go back and tell Past Kate that it would be ok and that no one really cared what I was drinking, they were just focusing on what they were drinking on Thanksgiving. That first holiday, I’m pleased to say, for me was a success. When my sister-in-law asked “What are you drinking?” I confidently replied “Sangria!” and I didn’t have to lie.

Today I’m giving you The First Thanksgiving Sangria.

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The First Thanksgiving Sangria (AF)

Serves 8
Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium apples, diced
  • 2 medium pears, diced
  • 2 medium oranges, skins removed, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups brewed green citrus tea (cooled) *
  • 1 750 ml bottle non-alcoholic sparking apple cider

Using a large pitcher, add the fruit, cinnamon sticks, and tea.
Stir to combine and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Pour into your favorite fancy glass, adding the sparkling cider as a topper to taste.

*I used this tea.

Sangria

 

Love and Mocktails,

Kate

Staying Grounded in Recovery

Staying Grounded in Recovery

What do you do when you get a craving?  When you’re in that moment and your next move may decide whether you pick up a bottle, or not.  And how do you feel when you’re in that moment?  

 

For example…I feel anxious, I feel panicky and I feel nervous.  

 

In a recent therapy session I shared with my therapist that since my recent relapse I have been noticing I am having more frequent moments of feeling anxious and feeling cravings come up.  I don’t know if these feelings are really more frequent or if I am just paying closer attention now…but regardless, the feelings are there either way.  (Side note – Back to 72 days alcohol free as of this writing!),

 

She asked me what I do when these feelings come up?   Did I know what grounding was, did I use any grounding techniques or grounding exercises when I was “in” those moments?

 

I know what being grounded is…I was grounded a lot while growing up. 😆  And I’ve heard the term grounding used with earthing…walking around outside barefoot, which I also do a lot of.  But she was talking about something else.  

 

She gave me some grounding techniques that I had never heard of…that I could do anywhere, at any time.  I’ve used these…and I have found them helpful.  They help me turn my attention away from my anxious mind and off the craving…help me refocus on the present moment.  And help me move into the next hour sober.  I’m going to share some of them with you and maybe you will find them helpful as well.  🤟🏼

 

The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique (or the 5 Senses Technique)

 

Our physical body is how we interface with the rest of reality, the five senses like tethers anchoring us to the moment.

 

  • Look For 5 Things You Can See: Look for the small details, the wood grain on the desk in front of you, the pattern in the ceiling.  Become aware of the glossy green of the plant in the corner. Take your time to really look and acknowledge what you see.  Maybe look for something that you may not have noticed before.
  • Become Aware Of 4 Things You Can Touch/Feel: The clothing on your body, your cotton shirt against your neck. The warmth of the sun on your skin.  The wind blowing through your hair.  The chair you are sitting on.  It may help to vocalize these…”I feel the wind blowing through my hair, I feel the warmth of the sun on my face.”
  • Acknowledge 3 Things You Can Hear: Pay special attention to the sounds your mind has tuned out.  Don’t judge, just hear. The distant traffic. The ticking of the clock.  The roosters outside. (I’m in Hawaii as I write this, there are a lot of roosters outside. 🐓)  The voices in the next room. 
  • Notice 2 Things You Can Smell: Try to notice smells in the air around you, like an air freshener or freshly mowed grass.  If at first you don’t feel like you can smell anything, simply try to sense the subtle fragrance of the air around you, or of your own skin.
  • Become Aware Of 1 Thing You Can Taste: I suggest carrying snacks for this step…because, snacks…duh.  Pop one in your mouth and focus your attention closely on the flavors.  

Repeat, repeat…as many times as needed.  🙌🏼

 

 

Another grounding technique she shared with me was like playing a game of “categories” with yourself.  

Pick a category (types of dogs, fruits and veggies, cereals, jazz musicians, animals, famous people, cars, TV shows, writers, sports, songs, cities, etc.) and name as many items in the category that you can think of.  For a variation name the items alphabetically or try to name an item in the category that begins with each letter of the alphabet.   This can also be a great game to keep kids preoccupied in the car!  

For some more grounding techniques Paul shared some of his here.

Like I said in the beginning…I had a recent relapse.  Weirdly I feel alright about that.  I have found these quick and easy grounding techniques to be very helpful for me at this stage of my journey.  I hope that they may help you too.  

If you have any that you use and would share, please drop them in the comments! 

Until next time, be well.  

Kerri Mac 🤟 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Mocktail – Alcohol-Free Dark & Stormy

Bring Your Own Mocktail – Alcohol-Free Dark & Stormy

Drinking alcohol for me wasn’t always bad. There are a lot of happy memories I have from when I was drinking. Fun adventures were had, friends were made and laughter was heard echoing through an afternoon. One of the bars my husband and I go to in the summer has a promotion “when it rains, we storm”, which meant a Dark & Stormy would be $1 while it was raining. Fun right?
But what about now that I don’t drink?
What were my options? Clearly my fun was OVER!
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My last day 1 was in August 2018. For those of you from New Jersey, we know that the end of August is often the hottest and the rainiest of the summer. I was trying to prepare myself to mourn that old part of my life when my husband Jay came home and said “I’m making you a dark & stormy because it’s going to rain.” That afternoon he drank traditional ones and I drank the NA ones. It was a tiny action that had a huge impact on me.

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog
Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

The recipe was originally part of an ebook I wrote for the Cafe RE community. I have also given this recipe to the bar I mentioned before so those of us not drinking alcohol can still get a little stormy!

Dark & Stormy (AF)

Serves 1
Prep time: 3 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2T lime juice
  • Ginger beer*
  • ice
  • lime wedge for garnish

Pour pineapple juice and lime juice into shaker and combine. Put ice into a short glass and pour the mixture over it. Top with ginger beer to taste. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime wedge.

*I used this ginger beer.

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog
 

Love and Mocktails,

Kate

When Relapse is Part of Your Story

When Relapse is Part of Your Story

I saw the following quote about relapse on Instagram the other day.  When I first read it I thought, ‘gross!’, and scrolled on.  Throughout the day the quote kept coming back to me though…perhaps because I have 3 dogs that are often doing gross things.  But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with it.  

 

“It is the return of a dog to his vomit.”

Paul Verlaine

 

Relapse IS kinda like the return of a dog to his vomit.  🐶🤮  But it is more than that, much more.  

 

In its simplest terms, a relapse is when you start drinking again after a period of abstinence.

 

I think relapse is one of the scariest words for people in recovery.  But it is also a very normal part of the recovery process…and it does not mean you have failed.   If you have listened to the Recovery Elevator podcast or are part of our Café RE community you have probably heard the term ‘field research’.   Many of us use that term in place of the word ‘relapse’.  Some people, such as Paul Churchill,  feel that the word ‘relapse’ is another word in recovery, similar to the word ‘alcoholic’, that needs to be thrown out.  Paul talks more about that here.  

 

Alcohol is one of the most commonly ingested substances in the world. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found roughly 16 million Americans were heavy alcohol users, and 14.5 million Americans had an alcohol use disorder.  Stress, anxiety and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have worsened these numbers.  

 

Over 30% of people who attempt to stop drinking relapse in their first year of sobriety, but that rate does go down over time.  After 5 years that number has dropped to 9.6%.  I left out a lot of the statistics, but the bottom line is more than 70% of people struggling with alcohol abuse will relapse at some point.

 

That doesn’t mean they won’t get back on that wagon and succeed.  

 

I’ve heard people say that the relapse starts way before you actually pick the drink back up, the relapse itself does not occur all at once.  I don’t think that anyone plans for, or intends for a relapse to occur.  But they do happen, and they happen in stages.   

 

“Stressing about a relapse happening only leads to a release happening.”

― D.C. Hyden

 

THE STAGES OF RELAPSE

Experts say that relapse occurs in three separate stages — emotional, mental and physical.

  1. Emotional relapse: The person is not actively drinking or even thinking about drinking, but they are having thought patterns that could possibly be setting them up for a future relapse. This is also where triggers come into play.  A trigger could be going to a location where you used to drink, hanging around people you used to drink with, or participating in an activity that you used to drink during.  
  2. Mental relapse: The individual in a mental relapse is waging an internal battle.  One part of them wants to remain sober, and the other part wants to drink. Once you have given yourself mental permission to pick up the drink, even for “just this one time”, it can be very difficult to hold on to your sobriety.  
  3. Physical relapse:  The individual starts to actively drink alcohol again, often resulting in, and leading up to, previous patterns of alcohol abuse.

 

A relapse will have you feeling guilty, ashamed and tempted to throw in the towel.  But don’t!  Use those feelings to get back in the saddle.

 

That’s what I have done (am currently doing in fact).  Will relapse be a part of your story?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It is, however, a part of mine.   

 

I have had a recent relapse…and it’s not my first.  (God willing it will be my last! 🙏🏼).  I have those feelings of guilt, shame, that I’ve failed…myself and everyone else, that I’m not good enough for the people that I surround myself with.  But I’m using those feelings…using them to help me do better, be better.  

 

I can’t tell you when my relapse started…because again, it started long before I picked up the bottle.  And I also can’t tell you how long it would have continued had I not been called out on my bullshit.  What I can tell you is I stopped using the tools in my recovery toolbox.  I can tell you I never reached out for support or asked for help…and my support circle is LARGE (something I learned after sharing I had relapsed).  I won’t make those mistakes again.  

 

I can also tell you that it feels really good to be sharing with that support circle now.  🙌🏼

 

Today I feel good.  

 

IWNDWYT (I will not drink with you today.)

Until next time, be well.

Kerri Mac 🤟🏼

 

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