How I Moved From "Gray Area Drinking" to "Spontaneously Sober"

How I Moved From "Gray Area Drinking" to "Spontaneously Sober"

…And Three Tough Questions I Had To Ask Myself

My name is Amanda. I’m a single, social, thirty-something living in Austin, TX. I’m also alcohol-free. I describe my journey as “spontaneous sobriety” because I didn’t identify as having a “drinking problem” (though, as you’ll read, that doesn’t mean my drinking wasn’t a problem).

A former social drinker (read: party girl), I’ve candidly discussed my alcohol-free lifestyle quite a bit over the last few years. What I haven’t shared in detail is how much I struggled as social or “gray area” drinker.

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How to Say "No" Gracefully

How to Say "No" Gracefully

In my last post, I wrote about how saying “no” to others is really saying “yes” to ourselves. But knowing when to say “no” and knowing how to say it are difficult - especially when someone puts you on the spot or is relentless in their request. Saying “no” in these situations can make us feel uncomfortable, uncaring, disinterested. But “no” is really none of those things; it’s simply a boundary we set that says, “this isn’t for me”. Personally, I find that practicing how to best say “no” is a valuable way to prepare me to do it gracefully when needed. I feel like I’ve finessed this process during my 9-5 and am able to confidently and kindly decline sales calls and offers kindly (even when they're rather persistent)...but I realized recently that I hadn't fully transferred this skill over to my personal life. When I thought about it, the tactics I use to say "no" in my professional life translate rather well to personal situations as well. Here are my best tips for helping yourself to say “no” gracefully:

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Why Saying "No" To Others Is Really Saying "Yes" To Ourselves

Why Saying "No" To Others Is Really Saying "Yes" To Ourselves

My name is Amanda and I am a recovering people pleaser“yes” person, and be everywhere / do everything gal. Saying “no” makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. Case in point: I recently made the conscious choice to say “no” to a seemingly simple request. Saying “yes” would have been the easy, people-pleaser thing to do, but I’ve been working really hard to become protective of my time and, based on my own criteria, the request was a “no”.

Since I’m (always) being honest, I’ll admit that I didn’t handle the “no” very gracefully...I felt compelled to explain myself and when the other person wouldn’t take “no” for an answer... I snapped (eek). Losing my cool is a sure sign that I have some reflection to do (I know, I know; we’re all human, but I am human who has gotten freaking good at self-reflection and unpacking things that disrupt my good vibes).

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Why I Choose Sobriety Over Moderation

Why I Choose Sobriety Over Moderation

When I started to feel like drinking culture was no longer serving me a few years ago, I was admittedly resistant about being “sober” because of the social stigma I held around the label. I didn’t want to be “sober” because I didn’t want to have a “problem”. As it turns out, you don’t have to have an addiction-level “problem” with alcohol for it to be a “problem” in your life.


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How To Rock A Group Vacation When You're (The Only One) Not Drinking

How To Rock A Group Vacation When You're (The Only One) Not Drinking

It’s officially summer, which means many of us are planning an adventure or relaxing getaway. Vacations are traditionally a time to cut loose, relax or explore new places and experience a new culture. For most people, this means gluttonous eating and drinking. I gave up the latter almost 18 months ago and have navigated the waters of sober vacationing many times since - and always with a travel companion (or companions) who were decidedly not sober.

Whether you’re newly alcohol-free, working through recovery, or just trying to be more mindful - getting outside of your normal routine can be a test of your commitment to sobriety. You are surrounded by messages that suggest you deserve a drink to relax or that you need to have a cocktail to be normal. Here are my tops for rocking a group vacation when you are (the only one) not drinking.

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Four Steps to Finding Peace When Someone is Testing Your Patience

Four Steps to Finding Peace When Someone is Testing Your Patience

I had a conversation with an acquaintance this past week that really tried my patience. While my relationship with this individual had been wearing on me for some time, our interactions of late - while less frequent - had really taken a lot out of me. So, this week, when I most felt the desire to react from an unloving, ego-driven, place; I took it as a sign to take pause and call upon the tools I’d been diligently adding to my toolkit over the past few years…I took the opportunity to practice these four steps to find peace when someone is testing your patience

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Four Relationship Truths Everyone Can Learn From

Four Relationship Truths Everyone Can Learn From

I found myself holding space recently for a friend who was going through a confusing time in a romantic relationship which she felt might be coming to an end. I felt deep compassion for her because I’d been where she was; sitting in a gray area of uncertainty and anxiety…

What I wished for my friend (and what I wish for anyone going through a similar situation) is that she would come to know these four important truths about relationships:

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A Modern Girls Guide to Appreciating Singleness

A Modern Girls Guide to Appreciating Singleness

How to make the most of the single life & prepare yourself for the relationship you want. 

I can attest that as I've become more intentional with how I spend my time as a single gal, I've become more understanding and aware of why this time exists. To say I'm grateful would be an understatement. My singleness has provided me with tremendous opportunities for personal growth; I've accepted them all as graciously as possible. I know, with certainty that this time has made me a stronger individual and prepared me to be more present in all areas of life; especially to be a better partner. As a result, I know I have a lot to give and will add value to all relationships - romantic or not - and I seek for the same in others.

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Why I'm Taking A Break From Dating Apps

Why I'm Taking A Break From Dating Apps

...And Why I Wonder If They’re Changing Modern Dating For the Worst

Last week, I deleted all dating apps off of my phone...this isn’t the first time. It isn’t that I’m not interested in dating or finding “the one,” I simply couldn’t commit to the dating lifestyle that I felt dating apps encourage or the energy-investment they required. I’ll begin by saying, I think I have one of the most optimistic outlooks on life out of anyone you might meet. For the most part, I approach life from a glass half full, sunshine and rainbows, anything is possible, the Universe is working in your favor point of view. But, I’ve also committed to cutting out or minimizing behaviors, habits, and relationships that don’t contribute to the positive-energy, high-vibe, mindful lifestyle I strive to live.

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Why Did I Ever Drink In the First Place?

...The Hidden Answer That Actually Surprised Me

Today I received an email from a reader who resonated with my decision to quit drinking (if you’re new here, I stopped drinking back in January of 2017 as an experiment and decided to make it a new way of living. As of today, I’ve been alcohol-free for 463 days...but who's counting? Read more posts on this topic here.). The reader closed their email with this pondering, “Why did I ever drink in the first place?”

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You Don't Have To Hit Rock Bottom

Who really wants to hit rock bottom? To find yourself curled into the fetal position on a floor somewhere, sobbing uncontrollably from pain, heartache, and distress so deep that you’re willing to do something radical to heal from it? Praying to whomever it is that might be listening, pleading for assistance to help you recover. This is the scene I’ve heard described over and over by wise mentors, teachers, and students alike. And, while I’ve certainly had low points and found myself crippled over, sobbing uncontrollably, I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced this tremendous breaking point as others describe. While I could be relieved that I’ve not experienced a rock bottom, it’s actually left me quite fearful that it could be just around the corner.

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What I Learned Spending a Week With Super Soul Sunday & TED Talk Alum

Somehow, I managed to spend nearly an entire week in the same room with some of the most revered minds in personal development. I was literally feet (if not inches) away from influential writers and speakers like Deepak Chopra, Brené Brown, Shawn Achor, and Simon Sinek. PINCH ME. IS THIS MY REAL LIFE RIGHT NOW??? Yes, I’m happy to say it is. Each of these awesome human beings has either A) Been interviewed by Oprah or B) Had a wildly successful TED Talk, or C) both (in addition to their crazy speaking and writing careers). They have each made tremendous contributions with their work, so you better believe I absorbed every ounce of what they said like a little sponge and took pages of notes.

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Are We Afraid of Bliss & Joy in Relationships?

While reading this weekend, I found a really interesting perspective on what I would call the “spark” in a romantic relationship; the rare, but awesome chemistry you feel when you’re both attracted to someone physically and stimulated by them intellectually. For me, the spark is a reason to be excited and curious; it's a sign of connection. For some though, the spark - while still exciting - is a reason to remember past wounds and be skeptical.

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How To Honor Others' Paths

I had a conversation with a friend recently about someone she knew in high school. After describing him and how he’d taken on a “too big for his britches” attitude, she said, “I’m really proud to say that I’m the same person I was in high school.” Although I understood the heart of her message, I clung momentarily to the initial shock of the statement. She looked at me for affirmation, but I was frozen. My mind flipped through an imaginary list of all of the ways I was drastically different than the person I was in high school. My head spun as I counted all of the lessons I’d learned - typically through necessary struggle - since I was in my late teens and early twenties. Heck, even since I turned 30. I came back to the room, barely able to find my words. I wanted to say, “I couldn’t be more of a different person than I was in high school.” It was true. But, through some great blessing, I found something more appropriate for the moment.

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How to Heal Negative Energy in Relationships

How to Heal Negative Energy in Relationships

Hopefully this is no surprise to you, but our bodies are full of energy. Whether you’re familiar with chi, chakras, auras, meridians, or some other “life force” energy; the common consensus is that this energy flows through all beings in order to maintain health and wellness in mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities.

Just as we have our own energy, we exchange energy with one another when we engage in relationships.

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We Teach Best What We Most Need to Learn

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about self-worth, growth, perseverance, judgement, and forgiveness. Really, when I sit down to write, I take an inventory of where I’m currently feeling challenged, what I’ve learned recently, or what I’m curious to explore more deeply. As a writer, I play the mixed role of both student and teacher. As student, I write to unpack a situation, an experience, an encounter, a feeling, or a relationship with the goal of growing and understanding something about myself. As a teacher, I write sometimes to provide specific advice or steps, but often to simply serve as a mirror through which others can see themselves; their own story, experiences, or struggle.

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How I'm Doing Life Differently Than I'd Thought

I paused to take note this morning as I listened to a podcast interview with Dr. Jon Mundy as he spoke about applying the principles of A Course in Miracles to everyday life (for those unfamiliar, ACIM is a metaphysical text that teaches us to break down old thought systems based on fear, lack, struggle, and separation; and accept a thought system based on love, abundance, ease, and oneness). Dr. Mundy shared that (in his experience) most people don’t come to the realization that there might be a better way for living life until they are in their 40s. He suggested that the years before are often spent hustling to meet outer expectations placed on us by our rational minds (and society).

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Three Common Reactions to Judgment

Judgment is all around us. We silently evaluate and judge others for what they say, what they do, how they look. We make assumptions and project personal fears and beliefs onto people and situations. We compare ourselves, deeming our situations and decisions as better or worse than another’s. We judge ourselves, creating beliefs about who we are and expectations about who we should be.

Recently, I wrote about an interaction with a friend that left me feeling judged and hurt. I also shared that I chose to forgive my friend rather than being angry and to forgive myself rather than taking on the judgment as a reality about myself.

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Just Watch Me

I originally titled this post “F*ck You, Just Watch Me,” but I decided it was a little crass and not aligned with the high vibes I like to send out. But, in all honesty, it’s pretty accurate to how I was feeling when I first started this post after recovering from a completely awful “it’s not you, it’s me...but actually it’s you” conversation where I took on some heavy shit that didn’t belong to me. I left the conversation feeling judged, broken and angry.

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