I often get asked, “What is it like to go to a sober retreat?”
I have had many sober retreat experiences and I’m happy to share my feedback.
In this blog, I will be reviewing 3 specific retreats: Brave Recovery Coaching, Sober in the City - Zero Proof Experiences, and SheRecovers Annual Conference. These are three very different experiences with different goals, taken at different points on my alcohol free journey.
Spoiler alert, they were all fantastic. TLDR.
My first ever sober retreat was a female hiking retreat in Sedona, AZ hosted by Brave Recovery Coaching. I was an acquaintance of the host, Carrie May, a Certified Recovery Coach and Nurse Practitioner. I had met two other attendees briefly at a previous local event. I didn’t really know anyone and I really didn’t know what to expect. I was very nervous because I wasn’t friends with any of the attendees. I was basically going alone. I ended up flying and driving...
Alcohol-free drinks can be a helpful option for people that are sober or sober curious. However, the appropriateness of alcohol-free drinks depends on several factors:
I am in a season of extreme emotions right now.
My oldest daughter is graduating high school in just a few weeks. She will be moving 6 hours away to go to school (MIZ-ZOU!) in early August. I feel like we are still connected via umbilical cord, so as much as I want her to spread her wings and fly…I also want to swaddle her in a blanket and hold her in my arms from now until the end of time.
Saturday was her last prom. I watched her in her gorgeous gown donning fancy hair and flawless make up. I was absolutely stunned by her beauty, maturity, and confidence. I am so proud of the woman she has become. She is better than my wildest dreams. We all know I have too high expectations for everything. Lily is everything and then some.
Since birth she has flipped me upside down and shook me around until I was dizzy. Somehow, in between cleaning up after her, and keeping her safe and fed, she grew into her own being. She is so much more than even I...
Last week, I had dinner with some of the sober babes that I met on a sober hiking retreat in Sedona, a month ago. Most of us live in Chicagoland. From the larger group, four of us were available to get together. We picked the most central spot for dinner. Lucky for me, that landed close to home.
I was the last to arrive and when I approached the table I was welcomed immediately. Everyone got up out of their chairs. We hugged and squealed with delight at our reunion. It was so wonderful to see each other again. We were familiar with each other, having spent days and nights on a soul filled retreat together. We were also brand new, having taken off our hiking boots, and donned our pretty sundresses for the occasion. It was a thrill to be meeting up again, in real life, so close to home, solidifying the beginning of meaningful new friendships.
Our dinner lasted as long as it possibly could.
We ordered drinks. A round of the signature mocktail...
Yesterday I met Mt. Evans of Colorado up close and personal and accomplished a big goal of mine = to climb a 14K mountain.
Climbing a mountain is a big feat.
Climbing a mountain of this elevation is a big feat.
Climbing a mountain at this elevation, as a 46 year old woman from Chicago, was a real challenge.
You know what else is a huge feat and a big challenge?
You guessed it, getting sober.
Throughout my entire climb I was trying to find the metaphors between getting sober and climbing a mountain, but they didn’t come to me, until the day after my climb.
I am first sharing my climbing experience with Mount Evans. Then, I will share the lessons I learned in retrospect. Let's start at the beginning.
I commited to climbing a mountain a year ago, after a hike with a friend in Colorado. We decided to accomplish this goal together and we decided on Mount Evans. We got a parking permit, and put a date on the...
In an alcohol obsessed society it is so hard to be sober.
As a child growing up in small town Wisconsin I had no alcohol free role models.
Every adult I knew, minus two family members, drank beer.
It was my understanding that the two people in my family who no longer drank beer “were alcoholics”.
They were not living a happy, glamorous, alcohol free life.
They were sad and deprived and did a bad job at drinking so could no longer do it anymore.
It was somehow their fault, and growing up to be like them was something to avoid.
Having to not drink was something to avoid.
Drinking on the other hand was something to be celebrated.
I watched my lovely Grandparents get buzzy while pregaming for the Badgers. I had never seen them so happy and loose before. It was entertaining and fun filled with so much laughter.
Alcohol was included in all holiday parties and family events. As a...
Happy National Sober Day!
I celebrate today because I am 3 ½ years sober.
I wasn’t always so enthusiastic about ditching the drink.
Believe me, sober was the last resort for me.
I tried everything I could to keep drinking.
I successfully completed 3 years worth of sober challenges.
I participated in Dry January, Sober October, Dry July, and more.
All of these experiments were to prove that I could keep alcohol in my life.
Afterall, if I COULD quit drinking, then I didn’t really HAVE to quit drinking.
Time and time again, I had a long term failure to moderate.
At the time I thought moderation was my biggest life goal.
Now that seems too small for me.
Why would I want to live by a set of rules.
Why would I want to abstain and never get as much as I really want?
I was talking with a client last week and she mentioned the weekend might be hard.
Because it’s Labor Day, a three day holiday weekend, and the end of summer.
It hit me that I hadn’t even thought about that.
I did have a trip out of town for my Aunt’s Funeral services at the end of the week, prior to the weekend's start.
I was performing the eulogy, so I was heavily distracted, to say the least.
My oldest daughter had a volleyball tournament,
so we had no plans for a for a last hurrah.
It actually felt like a regular weekend, with an extra day added in.
Less plan, and few obligations.
No forced family fun, which admittedly I shove in sometimes.
(don't we all?)
More time and space.
It was just what I needed, considering the emotional weekend I had endured.
I started the summer in an opposite way...with a BANG! on Memorial Day.
We enjoyed a weekend at a lake house,...
What do you do on the weekends when you are sober?
Isn’t it boring?
It’s relaxing, productive, and fulfilling.
I had no idea how to spend my time when I first quit drinking.
I was antsy, irritated, and annoyed.
Alcohol had removed my ability to find pleasure in anything but alcohol.
For the first time in a long time, this weekend I had few plans and obligations.
I thought this would be a perfect example of what a “normal” weekend looks like.
Saturday I woke up early and had coffee with my husband,
in our quiet living room, while the kids sleep in.
I welcome the spring sun and the bird song, in the morning these days.
I had gotten in a habit of sleeping in during the dark, winter season.
I prefer an earlier rising, so I am happy to wake up early without an alarm, even on a weekend.
It starts my day off right.
I welcome the day, instead of curse the day, because (Hallelujah!) I am not hungover.
When asked what I do, I tell people I help others take a break from alcohol.
Then I launch into a definition of gray area drinking, coaching, and ending the stigma.
People usually respond with, yeah you don’t have to quit forever though, right?
You don’t work with like really bad alcoholics?
There’s a difference between someone who can never drink again and someone that does Dry January.
Then I rant about alcohol being toxic substance that creates dependency.
I talk about it being progressive, and blah, blah, blah.
But here’s the thing:
What if alcohol was poisonous for everyone and not just some of us?
What if anyone had the potential to become an ALCOHOLIC, because of alcohol?
What if anyone, whether ALCOHOLIC or not just decided to stop putting poison in their body?
What if anyone, no matter how much alcohol they consumed, just decided to start looking internally instead of externally for their own peace and happiness?
What if not drinking ever again led...