What is Sober?

 

What is sober?  What is sobriety?  Can we define this? Let’s try!

 

Sober.  First off this word can be exchanged with AF, Alcohol-free, whatever. But what is sober?

 

When we say sober, at least for this blog, we are referring to alcohol.

 

(That’s the drink that put Paul behind the mic 🎙).

 

This topic, especially in the rooms of AA and 12 step programs, can be somewhat divisive.  👊🏼👊🏼  But…the truth of the matter is, it really shouldn’t be.  I think we’ll find out that arguing over what sober IS, and ISN’T, is a silly and almost harmful endeavor. 

 

In fact there are even nicknames for what type of sober you are. 🙃

Our recommendation is don’t get too attached to any idea of what sober looks like, because at the end of the day, it’s not really about the substances, behaviors or actions…

 

it’s the freedom that you have from them. 🦅

 

Do your absolute best not judge others for their definition of sober because as we’ll find out, it’s not as black and white as you think. 

 

Quick side note about judgements 👉🏼 When you judge others you judge yourself (thank you boomerang 🪃 effect), and create separation.

 

In terms of sobriety, Paul has heard some silly stories about people being told they aren’t sober because they drink kombucha, they drink NA beers, or they had beer battered fish and chips for lunch. True story.  Never-mind mind the fact a ripe banana 🍌 has the same amount of alcohol as kombucha and a hamburger bun has nearly triple that.  Are you not sober if you eat a banana or a hamburger or chicken sandwich? 

 

When Paul first quit drinking and began going to AA he thought it was no alcohol, no drugs, no substances, no pills, no prescriptions, no mind altering substances, no MDMA, no mushrooms, the list can go on and on…  

 

But, welcome to the real world, where there are approximately 50 shades of gray, and just as many shades of ‘sober’.   

 

Here are some statements Paul has heard from sober people.
  • “I’m sober, and I drink Kombucha.”
  • “I’m sober, and I drink NA Beers.”
  • “I’m sober, and I eat dishes that are prepared with some form of alcohol.”
  • “I’m sober, and I smoke cigarettes.”
  • “I’m sober, and I use chewing tobacco.”
  • “I’m sober, and I drink 1-10 cups of coffee a day.”  
  • “I’m sober, and take ADHD meds.” 
  • “I’m sober, and take antidepressants.”
  • “I’m sober, and I use cannabis.”  (This has been coined California Sober.)
  • “I’m sober, and I take benzos for my anxiety and sleep.”   
  • “I’m sober, and take opiates for chronic pain.”
  • “I’m sober, and I take sleep meds.” 
  • “I’m sober, and I pull out my eyebrows, I itch, pick and pull.”
  • “I’m sober, and I use plant medicine.”  (Ayahuasca, psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA)
  • “I’m sober, and I have to sexually relieve myself constantly.”
  • “I’m sober, and I eat a fuck ton of ice cream.”
  • “I’m sober, and I love to shop.”
  • “I’m sober and I leave this planet while doing Breathwork or Tai Chi.”

 

Paul has even heard people say, I’m sober, but…they have a couple drinks a year, month, or even in a given week.

 

As you can see, defining sobriety is a fool’s errand. We can’t do it, and we shouldn’t do it. In fact it’s dangerous to do so. If we did, we’d separate, isolate and disconnect ourselves even more.

 

We’re also ignoring the environment we have to live in. We unnecessarily beat ourselves up for not hitting our internal definition of sober. In a meeting one time Paul heard a guy say that he wasn’t sober because he was taking sleep meds. It was consuming him. We, of course, don’t exactly know what his relationship with the meds was like…if he was taking them ‘as prescribed’…but sleep is fucking important. Paul had to take AF Sleep-Eze, and Tylenol PM’s for probably 4-6 months when he first quit drinking. If you don’t get good sleep, the foundation of your sobriety is compromised.  

 

Okay, so those are some Newtonian ways to define sobriety. Those are more about staying away from something, or coming at it from a lens of sacrifice.

 

Here are some better ways. 🙌🏼
  • Sobriety is freedom.
  • Sobriety is everything.
  • Sobriety is living authentically.
  • Sobriety is not being a slave to a substance, behavior or action. 
  • Sobriety is you living your life how you want to live.
  • Sobriety is living with a connected head and heart.
  • Sobriety is being able to recognize beauty, art, and appreciate sunsets.
  • Sobriety is a different vibration.
  • Sobriety is hope.
  • Sobriety is you taking off the chains.
  • Sobriety is you…meeting you.
  • Sobriety is a manageable life.
  • Sobriety is “downgrading additions.” Sarah Hepola – Blackout 

 

If you remove alcohol and aren’t ready to say goodbye to everything else, go slow, take your time, and listen to your body. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and there is no generally accepted definition of sobriety. 

 

So then what?  Do we have to accept them all?  Well, just like it’s a good idea to accept all skin colors, it’s the same with defining sobriety. What really matters here is the person is trying to make a change.  Even if the change is a mental thought form swirling in the brain, it still is something that exists.

 

We’re going to make this simple, at Recovery Elevator, we accept all versions of sober. We accept all versions of you. 

 

***Taken from Recovery Elevator Podcast, episode 380, host Paul Churchill*** 

 

 

BYO Mocktail: St. Patrick’s Day-Rita

BYO Mocktail: St. Patrick’s Day-Rita

Normally I post my mocktail around the 15th of the month, but this month I delayed my post for 2 days so we could talk about

St. Patrick’s Day…

Ready?! Let’s go!

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

 

When alcohol is a central focus in your life, every day can be seen as a day to drink! For me, when “drinking holidays” arrived, this was truly my time to shine. It was when everyone else drank like I did on the daily! I could be me, I could be free…. I could have a 3 day hangover… I could have UBI bruises (Unidentified Beer Incident)… I could have lost a phone… I could have…

In Cafe RE this week, someone posted about how in the past they used to drink to their Great Granny O’Reilly and tell everyone at the bar about their Irish heritage. Until they did an ancestry test and discovered they are only 2% Irish! I assume if you’re here, you are thinking about cutting out alcohol, so I feel comfortable asking: How many times have you convinced yourself that something was true to justify the way you were drinking?

 

Best night ever

 

As we step away from alcohol, we have to build our own tool belt of sobriety tips and tricks to whip out at a moments notice. My biggest tool (and the whole reason I’m here writing this mocktail blog!) is:

 

BYO MOCKTAIL!

Having your own drink is, to me, by far the most important thing when socializing. And St. Patrick’s Day can be a doozie! Everything is green, everyone it seems is drunk and you can almost feel the bad decisions being made.

Who wants a green treat to bring to their best friend’s, brother’s, dog babysitter’s, plant sitter’s, cousin’s, co-worker’s St. Patrick’s Day party?!

 

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

 

 

The St. Patrick’s Day-Rita (AF)

Serves 1
Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped (save the leaves for garnish!)
  • 2 oz (1/4c) lime juice
  • 1 oz (2T) orange juice
  • 2 oz (1/4 c) simple syrup
  • celery salt for rim

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender and blend until celery is puréed. Strain through cheesecloth or dish cloth, reserving liquid & pressing liquid through. Put liquid back into blender, add a handful of ice and blend. Rim the glass with celery salt and pour into glass. Garnish with celery leaves and drink!

Sangria

 

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 🤟 

 

 

 

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!
Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

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

Bring Your Own Mocktail – Alcohol-Free Tom Collins

Bring Your Own Mocktail – Alcohol-Free Tom Collins

This past weekend I had the chance to teach some mocktails for the Dry July Restore class hosted by Recovery Elevator. The Sunday classes are a little check in and are meant to be fun. And what’s more fun than making some NA drinks?! For the class we made 3 drinks and I’m sharing one of them here with you now.

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

As the warm days of summer settle in, we deserve a classic non-alcoholic cocktail. Welcome: Tom Collins! The sweet, bubbly and citrus combination hits the palate differently when it’s hot outside. On Sunday my husband and I sat in the backyard as the weekend came to an end, quietly drinking these together.

 

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

 

The tart & sweet lemon flavor reminds me of being a kid. My siblings and I would get our pajamas on and then go outside to chase lightening bugs having one last lemonade pop for dessert. Because it was “fruit” (oh the 80s!) ours parents let us have them, everyone pretending they were good for us and us children not knowing the difference. We were happy because we were free to run around.

I hope you enjoy this NA drink as much as I do.

 

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog

Tom Collins (AF)

Serves 1
Prep time: 3 minutes

Ingredients
• 1/2 cucumber peeled
• juice of 1 lemon
• 3 drops liquid stevia* (more or less to taste)
• 3 oz. soda water
• cucumber peel and lemon for garnish

1. Puree the peeled cucumber in a blender until smooth.
2. Pour cucumber puree and lemon juice into a shaker, add stevia. Shake it up!
3. Pour cucumber & lemon mixture over ice in a glass.
4. Top with soda water.

*I used this brand

Recovery Elevator Mocktail Blog
 

Love and Mocktails,

 

Kate

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