Join our fabulous Columnists and Contributors as they splash motivation, inspiration, and joy into your inbox this September.








OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH OUR READERS WHO MOURN THE DEATH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II 1926 - 2022 "As we offer our condolences to all our neighbours in the United Kingdom, following the loss of a remarkable friend of Ireland, we remember the role Queen Elizabeth played in celebrating the warm and enduring friendship, and her great impact on the bonds of mutual understanding, between our two peoples. She will be deeply missed. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.” -President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins

hola sober Editor + Publisher Susan Christina Creamer

Susan Christina Gee E. Colette Louise Ann Dowsett Johnston Linda McGrath-Redmond Travis Akers Maria MacKenty Sophie Pelham-Burn Peggi Cooney

Creative Director Mental Health Columnist Tarot Columnist

Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist

Beth MT Lynn W.

Janey Lee Grace Lisa Hamil (Bear) Jennifer Bridgman Alex Hartley-Leonard Tammi Scott Iris Lisa Wilde Jordi V. Max, Noah + Samuel Susan + Lisa Lisa Wilde

Contributor Contributor Contributor Hola Sober Office Dog Hola Sober Assistant Senior Tea Maker Senior Mood Booste rs Proof Readers Contributing Writer Contributing Photographer Daily Cheerleaders

Hola Sober Sisters Globally Deb, Judith + Irish family

There is NO REVENUE generated by advertisers as they support the sober community in a variety of ways. All columnists VOLUNTEER their precious time and talent to ensure your inbox is filled with colour, motivation, inspiration, and education. This is our family's social impact investment in time and money and tea.



Susan's Welcome Note


Team Picks


Beauty, Fashion + Team Picks


Dear Gee


Tarot with Colette


JANEY LEE GRACE P. 30 Janey's first column poses the question she asked herself while drinking and answers it definiteively. .




Ann Dowsett Johnston



Janet Lee Grace

Ann helped Co-Edit this September issue and also wrote a powerful piece about the last days of her active addiction and the early days that she recalls clearly.. .

Beth MT


Peggi Cooney


Village Voices


Be Brave with Carrie May



The Star by Barbara H.




Kitchen Recipes + Food Trends




Books + Poetry + Art


In Lisa's first column she asks the simplest of questions and shares with us why yoga is a wonderful tool in sobriety.

Heather shares her experiences of four and half years of sober holidays. .

Sarah's Top Five Quit Lit Books



editor's note September has heralded the start of our Pledge 100 TARA Sober Empowerment program with almost two hundred sober queens across three classrooms of learning. Each online classroom is named after an Irish woman of note giving it that Celtic element that makes my heart sing. An amazing team of volunteer leaders have stepped up to help manage and lead Robinson, McNulty, and Molony ensuring each woman feels supported and guided. Every morning they receive a short video from my good self, a lesson, and a reflective question ensuring their intention is set for the day. A personal thank you to Ann in London who has been invaluable in the Pledge 100 TARA run-up ensuring the critical back office was taken care of. Another special mention to Jennifer Bridgman who has helped me with my daily emails by sending some of her private reflections to share with the Hola Sober community as I recuperated from my medical treatments. I want to extend a big warm welcome to the lovely Janey Lee Grace who has joined us as a monthly Columnist sprinkling her sober magic dust across our lovely magazine; Team Hola Sober Madrid is thrilled to have such an awesome sober powerhouse on board with us. Please do listen to our chat on her podcast (link in magazine) Hola Sober September offers a feast of wonderful features and the fabulous Ann Dowsett Johnson not only did her monthly column but also jumped in to help me edit the many powerful articles in my inbox. Ann writes about 'New Beginnings, ' as Janey Lee Grace's first column is about being ' Happy Healthy Sober.' Beth tackles 'The Click ' with Maria MacKenty writing o f 'Surrender' and the lovely Peggi Cooney writes of being the only person in the room offering top tips! Barbara and Heidi write beautifullyreflective pieces with Lisa, Heather, Stacy, Carrie, and Gayle contributing cracking pieces to add to the magic that is our September edition. Jump in and enjoy this splash of joy being sent into the universe and from Team Madrid and all at Hola Sober, we wish you a fabulous month ahead as we powerfully look skyward and say not today lady, not today;

l ots of love to you all,

Susan Christina Creamer EDITOR + PUBLISHER Susan Christina Creamer






Empowerment Program within a closed group with online kick-ass learning. Modules include science, myths, time management, and personal development. This program is designed to create sustained sobriety and a permanent upgrade to your life. It is suitable as a refresher for those in sobriety or a kick-start for those beginning their adventure. Don't bother signing up unless you are going to show up for yourself as we don't hustle at Hola Sober, we share our knowledge and support systems freely and it's up to YOU to commit and do the work. Our program includes a morning video from Susan our Founder, daily lessons, weekly closed support meetings, a chat group, and our new Tribe Online Community Platform.

Our next Pledge 100 Sober Empowerment Program will kick off on September 1st, 2022.





I wanted something stylish for my bedside locker as I am in recovery from medical interventions and face some more hurdles over the coming weeks. I found this beauty online and it was my sober treat for the month of September and I love it! This stunning white ceramic bestselling diffuser delivers the perfect amount of uplifting scent in minutes, while adding moisture to the air – all at the touch of a button. With a range of time settings, you can choose how long your diffuser will release the scent. It will automatically shut off afterwards.


GEE'S PICK As we head into Autumn here in the UK, I am holding onto the last of summer pastels for another few weeks and love this soft grey blue from Beetles. It is a gel polish, super easy to use and paints on beautifully. I find it cheery and bright this week as the evenings get darker earlier and the rain has arrived. Give it a try to give yourself a bit of a lift this month before the dark winter arrives and we embrace all things red and mulberry browns.


COLETTE'S PICK I have redecorated my bedroom in a soft buttery cream and my new bedding has some soft teals running through the florals. I have picked up this colour in my cushions and throws. This LOOM throw is woven in a unique blend of pure cashmere fibre and fine merino wool. Woven in fine twill weave and then slightly brushed for a luxuriously soft finish with fringed end detail.Light Warm and luxurious offering all the warmth and softness of our unique Cashmere Merino blend. Definitely a throw for all seasons that can be taken anywhere and will work with every style.

This is Teal - inspired by a deep teal blue ocean and I love it!


LINDA'S PICK I wanted a simple bracelet to wear at work that was not too sparkly and I found the MASSIMO DUTTI bracelet featured in Hola Sober Sunday worked for me! It is made of brass and plated in 16 kt gold. Top-quality finish and durability. SHOP NOW ➤


Korean skincare and make up brand with innovative, water-based formulas that deliver swift and noticeable results, LANEIGE is the true authority on all things H2O, with the brand having spent over 25 years on unlocking the secrets to hydrated and healthy skin. Using the brand's patented Moisture Wrap technology alongside a Berry Mix Complex, the Lip Sleeping Mask feeds lips with moisture overnight, so that you awaken to smooth, soft, supple and comfortable lips no lip balm required.



The late Joan Didion famously wrote, “Writers are always selling someone out.” Read London-based Leah McLaren’s brilliant and now infamous memoir of her relationship with her mother—Where You End and I Begin—and the phrase may haunt you. At the core of the book is the fractious relationship between two gifted writers, mother and daughter, and a story from the mother’s early years. McLaren’s mother has vehemently challenged her daughter’s right to tell this story. It makes for a compulsive read. As a lover of memoir, and the leader of a memoir-writing course--Writing Your Recovery—I believe this book raises the most profound question about the genre: who owns the story? I wrote about my own very much alive mother in Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol—with her blessing. It was tough: her story of addiction was harrowing. I aimed for compassion. As George Saunders has said, “Kindness is the only acceptable response to the human condition.” Should McLaren have written her book now, while her mother is still with us? Is it her story to tell? I believe it is. But tongues are wagging




Oversized pyjamas, who knew they could be so comfortable!! A true nightwear-meets-loungewear hybrid, our relaxed pyjamas are made from the softest waffle jersey, so they feel sublime to wear. With a boxy, sweatshirt-inspired top and cuffed pull-ons, this set has a distinctly sporty feel. I love these and find them incredibly comfortable. A bit on the pricey side but in my experience, these pyjamas last a long time which is terrific!



My product this month is my new air fryer. I was very skeptical of buying yet another gadget that would fester in the cupboard until I eventually gave it away ( think spiralizer or waffle maker). This product however has been a revelation! Not only is the food delicious and much less fatty cooked in here, it also uses less electricity than my oven. Win- win!! My salmon burgers are just to die for now. I got the Instant Pot Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer 5.7L - Healthy Air Fryer, Bake, Roast and Reheat with 1700W of Power and it has set my world onfire! BETH'S PICK


We are going left of field as we are very practical women with a million things on the go and would not normally bother with pulling a card making breakfast. But Susan got a present of MOME daily inspirational + mindfulness cards from a sober warrior in Ireland and we loved them. They are colourful, bright, beautifully produced, and have what we call REALISTIC motivation. Telling you to reach for the stars doesn't cut it for us, but MoMe Cards are essentially flash cards for grown-ups. Each card has a positive message on it promoting mindfulness, positivity, and self-love - visual cues as little reminders to you, to take a moment for yourself. And for us as a team, that is critical, the daily practice of taking a card, breathing for a minute as we read, and kick starts the morning. Go for it ladies, September will be all the brighter if you do! CLICK HERE to visit MOME cards Lots of love Team Hola Sober x

beauty + fashion









NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP FILL AND FLUFF EYEBROW POMADE PENCIL 0.2G With legions of die-hard devotees, NYX Professional Makeup is consistently one of our most-searched for brands and what you want, we deliver! A reinvention of the cult classic {Micro Brow Pencil}, NYX's brand new dual-ended Fill & Fluff Eyebrow Pomade Pencil features a retractable, teardrop-shaped pomade bullet for shading, plus a paddle brush for blending. Available in eight versatile matte shades with a gorgeous smooth, waxy texture and pigmented finish, you're bound to fall from this update on the classic. SHOP HERE ➤

Home to industry-adored favourites such as Skin Nova and Lip Dew, every VIEVE product is full of life, lustre and luxury. Cleverly paying homage to founder Jamie Genevieve and inspired by her journey from beauty blogger to make up maestro to the stars, the ever- growing (and glowing) range welcomes the perfect tools to execute your artistry. Spruce up your kit with 13 synthetic make up brushes that mimic the cuticles of natural hair allowing a natural blend of all your favourite powders, creams and liquid formulas. Ergonomically designed to give you maximum comfort and control, enhance your glamour with tools that make you feel like a pro. VIEVE THE FULL EXPRESSION BRUSH SET



Once a small British brand and now a mainstay in the mani-pedi world, NAILS.INC has earned iconic status through its catwalk-inspired colours, fashion collaborations, innovative special effects and immaculate professional manicures.





€ 99,00

This COS sensational dress-long- jacket soft pattern look for autumn fills all the Hola Sober Office with joy.

It is classy and timeless and a must buy for any Autumn-Fall wardrobe.

Clunky clogs are happening — simply a fact. While these shoes were basically unavoidable in the ‘70s and ‘90s, clogs eventually lost their “cool” factor. Now, an array of maximalist variations are all over the High Street and ZARA leads the charge with this $80.00 pair of black clunky dreamboat clogs.

CLICK here

(Image taken from website)

The slim loafer is showing up on the High Street with a wonderful winter white (autumnal white) at Mango that is both stylish, smart, and comfortable! Committed Collection. 100% Leather. Square toed. Flat.

CLICK here

(Image taken from website)


Cecilie Bahnsen Mid-calf Chelsea boot crafted in Spanish full-grain calf leather. Hand-sewn using the traditional moccasin construction. The stompy cushiony rubber-soled loafer is the perfect foil for the collection, weighing down the romance and femininity. In collaboration with our designer friend Cecilie Bahnsen, the style is updated using her signature couture fabrics and colours. The collection moves from darkness to light, touching the shades of grey, passing through black and blue until opening into pale pink and yellow with flashes of orange. Handmade in Spain by uniquely talented artisans, celebrating excellence in craftsmanship

(Photos Courtesy of Website)



"Day 74, and it struck me, looking fleetingly in the mirror (past the age of 40 it doesn't do to linger at mirrors!) this morning that something had changed.

And it's my hair.

There are many benefits I expected to accrue when I quit drinking - like weight loss, better sleep, more energy, and so on, but bouncy, springy, look-at-me hair was not one of them. My hair has gone all exuberant, confident to the point of pushy, American. It's so big that it deserves its own postcode (translation: zip code). I googled 'sober hair.' It transpires that I'm not imagining it. Hair, like your skin, suffers from dehydration when you drink, and goes all dry and brittle and split ends. Plus, alcohol depletes your iron levels which makes your hair fall out. " -Clare Pooley- "Sober hair, who knew it was a thing? Luscious locks with no alcohol swilling around in my body. It's one of the best-kept secrets of sobriety."

-Janey Lee Grace-

Oil Cleansers The home beauty salon


Great oils to use for cleansing + moisturisers as a base oil for infusing your favourite dried herb.

"First things first – here’s the truth: the reason your skin is… frustrated with you, is because you’re not listening. Most of the clients and students I work with, have no idea why their skin is “acting up” And the thing is – you weren’t taught to know… much of what you learn about your own skin comes from an industry that has profited on your disempowerment.The beauty industry has been teaching you that you NEED to strive for their standards, you need to use their products… and continue buying more …and that hasn’t worked. It's time to rethink skincare." said by Militza Maury Little Green Dot When someone told me to use an oil cleanser I thought they had lost their mind - I quickly learnt they had not. In fact it was inspired! Oil cleansing sounds like a cardinal sin to a sensible skin care regimen. We’ve all heard the warning that only oil-free products will keep our skin clear and gorgeous. Many women have turned to oil cleansing as a way to gently remove makeup, soothe sensitive skin, and tame unrelenting breakouts. Using oils instead of traditional soap or detergent cleansers can also help protect the natural lipid layer of the skin and the good bacteria that live there and for women of a certain age, that is relevant. The basic idea behind slathering your face in oils in the name of cleaning is that “like dissolves like.” In other words, putting clean, nourishing oils on your skin is intended to: lift excess sebum, the oily substance produced by glands on your skin, clean out clogged pores like blackheads and whiteheads, remove dead skin, pollutants, and makeup

Olive oil Castor oil Sweet almond oil Grapeseed oil Avocado oil Sunflower oil Apricot kernel oil

Argon oil Jojoba oil Coconut Oil

Add in your dried herb of choice. The measurement is I Cup (28g) of dried herb of your choice and 1+1/4 cup of jojoba oil or grapeseed oil. In a cold infusion, sterilise a mason jar and set it in the cupboard for 4-6 weeks. Strain through a mesh clothe and it can be applied directly to your face as a cleanser or a moisturiser.

Basic Oil Cleanse


Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil in the palm of your hand. For dry skin, start with a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of castor oil. For acne-prone or oily skin, start with a 1/2 teaspoon of jojoba and a 1/2 teaspoon of castor oil. Apply the oil to your dry face. Use your fingertips to gently massage the oil into the skin for a minute or two to remove impurities like makeup and dead skin cells, and let it penetrate the skin. Use a damp, warm washcloth to gently wipe away the oil. Be careful not to press too hard or scrub at your skin, as this can irritate the skin and cause breakouts. A smooth, soft washcloth is best. You can also rinse with warm water if you want some of the oil to stay on your skin. Your face should be hydrated when you’re done, but not greasy or overly irritated from wiping it down. Pat dry with a towel and apply moisturiser if you feel you need it.







My sweetheart Jake and I used to have a private New Year’s habit of writing out our resolutions for one another, witnessing each other’s documents with a formal signature before we dressed for the evening—an evening that would inevitably involve the popping of corks. It was a treasured tradition for the two of us, both writers. In the penultimate year of my drinking, Jake looked up from his own list, and interjected: “Remember, baby, no more than two drinks on any one occasion. And no drinking alone.” “Two?” I bargained. “Don’t you think three is more realistic on a social occasion?” He looked irritated. And so I wrote: “Given the gigantic predisposition to alcoholism in our family, I resolve to do following: limit my drinking to two drinks on social occasions, three over three hours, and no drinking alone. Nine drinks maximum a week. If I have broken any of these rules within six months, I promise to get help. January 1, 2007.” With that, we traded lists and added our signatures. A promise. Less than two weeks later, I was living alone in Montreal through a bitter Canadian winter, having accepted a new job as Vice-Principal of McGill University. I was charged with raising millions of dollars for McGill. I worked around the clock. And yes, within days, I broke every rule on that little list. I drank alone. I drank more than three. My lover was worried. My son was critical. My sister was quiet, but I could parse her silences. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I started to keep a drinking diary. My sister suggested stickers for good behaviour. I ducked into a store and bought monkey stickers: I would get this monkey off my back. Of course, as I learned much later, this is how the ending always begins. You know you’re drinking too much, so you keep a tally.

And if you’re smart, you keep the tally hidden. Last night you drank four—or was it five? Tonight, for sure, you’ll do better. You set some rules. Maybe you switch from read to white (less staining on the teeth.) No brown liquids, only clear (vodka, a slippery slope.) Only on weekends. Never on Sundays. And never, ever alone. The problem is: the rules continue to change. Your drinking doesn’t. Alcohol is a formidable enemy: once you call it out, it fights hard. I said this to an addiction doctor in March. “Be careful,” he said. “Alcohol is a trickster. And using alcohol to cope is maladaptive behaviour.” I listened, but I didn’t change. The monkey stickers were few and far between. Come spring, I was having a business dinner with an elegant New York visitor who ordered a martini. I decided to join him. After the first, I asked if he’d like a second. “Never, my dear. You know what Dorothy Parker says: “I love a martini, two at the most. Three I’m under the table, four, I’m under the host.” That night, Parker’s words went in my diary. Beside them, I wrote: “I am bullied by alcohol.” Days later, I woke to the news that my favourite cousin—a father of four—had been killed by a drunk driver. It was a sunny Sunday morning, and I remember thinking: “What more do you have to lose to alcohol before you give up?” I had lost a good chunk of my childhood, now my cousin. I had lost myself. I knew the jig was up. And so I pulled a bulletin board of the wall and tacked a piece of paper with four words on it: THE WALL OF WHY.

As in: why I needed to quit drinking, forever. And why I needed to choose life. For the first time, I was terrified my drinking might snuff me out. And for the first time, I was determined to fight back. I spent an hour filling the board with images and words I loved: photos of my son Nicholas, of Jake, of my dog. I added the names of friends, pinning them carefully beside favourite pieces of prose and poetry. Then I got on my knees and said the only prayer I could believe in, words from T.S.Eliot’s East Coker, "I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith. But the faith, and the love, and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing." Within weeks, Jake and I would find our way to a recovery meeting in a dark church basement. He held my hand while tears rivered down my cheeks. For an hour, I listened to men and women share their stories, their faith, and their gratitude. As they started to stack the chairs, a tall black man in a funky hat walked over to comfort me. Darlin’,” he drawled, “believe me, whatever you did wrong, I did way, way worse.”

Little did I understand, as I stood up from that meeting, that it would take me more than a year to piece together any meaningful sobriety, to put alcohol solidly in my rearview mirror. And it would take all my journalistic skills to put what was killing me—and, as it turns out, a growing number of women —into some profound and meaningful context with my book Drink. But for me, the revolution began on that sunny Montreal morning in 2007, when I created my magnificent Wall of Why, and in doing so, chose a remarkably better life

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the bestselling author DRINK and the creator of Writing Your Recovery

memoir-writing workshops. anndowsettjohnston.com

"Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom."

Queen Elizabeth II

1991 Christmas Broadcast


A few years back I accidentally caught sight of myself in the full-length mirror in my bedroom. I had to look again. Who was that bloated, aging woman with several chins and greying hair? I took a layer of dust off the mirror, convinced that once sparkling, the glass would show the real me. But no, I looked tired, drained, and old. I felt winded at the sight of myself, the early fifties, yet in my head - twenty-five if I was a day. I could see my running shoes, silver, with a Nike tick, bought in a sale in a fit of enthusiasm, still in their box at the bottom of the wardrobe. Who was I kidding? I was anxious, not sleeping, and couldn’t think about running, and I felt a sense of desperation at the thought of washing my hair. What I could do? Strict diet maybe? - tried that, and the weight went back on). Have botox? Mmm, didn’t fit with my ‘natural’ approach, and I wanted to smile. Find a boot camp and start a fitness regime. joking right? It suddenly hit me, I was terrified of getting old, it was all going south, I didn’t like it and I couldn’t think of a thing to look forward to. Something was off. Since writing my first book fifteen years ago I had been on a mission to inspire everyone to live more holistically, eat well, eschew chemicals and practice mindfulness, enjoy therapeutic techniques and focus on self-love. Was I walking my talk? Well, you wouldn’t find me putting anything on my skin that I couldn’t eat,I bought organic food, juiced regularly, did yoga, and had all manner of treatments, from EFT, TFT, and NLP (perhaps I needed ABC) but it was all while I was shimmying around the great big elephant in the room – Alcohol. You see I loved my nightly glass (or two or three) of wine, I was fully functioning, never had a DUI, never missed a day off work, I just drank most days…doesn’t everyone? But I had no ‘off switch’! There was no rock bottom moment, I was what’s known as ‘high functioning’ – ‘high bottomed’ (sadly not true for a woman my age!)

Now I am 4 years and 5 months sober, I am absolutely staggered that I didn’t make the connection between just how awful I was feeling and the amount I was drinking. I thought I was just ‘normal’, everyone drank – right? I assumed everyone my age had similar issues. I would wake at 3 a.m. almost without fail, heart racing, berating myself for yet again drinking too much, I would be sweating profusely (drinking can increase your heart rate and widen blood vessels in the skin so increases perspiration) I would hear a voice telling me ‘This has to stop’ It’s not authentic with who you are. You care about your health and practice self-care, Stop poisoning your body with alcohol!’ but by 6 p.m. the next evening, a much chirpier voice arrived. The ‘wine witch’ said ’You’ve had an exhausting day, time for a cheeky chilled Sauvignon…You might give up? Don’t be ridiculous!Sober – anagram of Bores!Everyone is drinking! You can just have one! Alcohol is so ingrained in our culture. From playdates, parties, weddings, fresher’s week, and funerals – From celebrations to commiserations, alcohol is the ‘social glue’ that sticks everything together. We have been brainwashed into thinking we are either ‘good drinkers’ or alcoholic losers. Clearly, there are rock bottom drunks who have a serious issue, and the rest of us – happy social drinkers – are occasionally lightweights who just can’t hold their beer. In truth it’s a spectrum, there are many ‘grey area drinkers’ I’d suggest there are at least 50 shades of grey – but sadly not so sexy!. Let’s not sugar coat it, Alcohol is responsible for 200 different illnesses, including cancer, and it’s notably terrible for exacerbating menopausal symptoms.I wasn’t sure how to stop drinking, it was such an ingrained habit, and I was worried about what others might say, whether I’d be ridiculed, ‘sober shamed’, rather than congratulated for the sober badass I really was!

‘Alcohol is the only drug you have to justify not taking’, when you stop smoking everyone says ‘well done!’ But if you stop drinking, people tend to look concerned and ask if you ‘have a problem’. I’d given up for short periods before, during pregnancies etc, but I had always counted the days till I could drink again. This time it was different, it was as if a light had come on, and I didn’t ever go back. I found that rather than giving something up, I was gaining my life back. If only someone had told me before how freaking fantastic life without alcohol is! The benefits of quitting booze include better sleep, regulated weight, better digestion, better sex, and better cognitive function, and many people report their anxiety reduces or dissipates, it took time, but eventually, all the benefits kicked in - and more. The overheating stopped no more hot flushes! My eyesight improved (really!) and I got shiny locks, and sober hair (who knew!) And I feel younger. Want the best anti-ageing secret ever? Ditch the booze! (You’re welcome!) As for the mirror in the bedroom, I smile at it now, if I remember. There are still some bulges and I’m far from perfect, but it’s not self-loathing anymore. I’m not quite there yet, but I am ‘self-love curious’. I am…dare I say it - Happy Healthy and Sober. Janey Lee Grace is a Radio / TV presenter, author of several books on holistic living and the founder of The Sober Club www.thesoberclub.com a platform offering a non-judgmental approach to wellbeing underpinned by sobriety, and hosts the Alcohol-Free Life podcast. She gave a TEDx talk Sobriety Rocks – Who Knew! Her book is Happy Healthy Sober – Ditch the booze and take control of your life

Janey Lee Grace chats to Hola Sober Founder Susan Christina and it's a blast! Now Playing + Must Listen


- 14:55




In sober circles, we often talk about the chains When I was drinking, I would wake up every morning and pray that today would be the day that I stopped drinking for good. To make myself feel better about drinking too much the night before, I would announce to my husband, “I am stopping drinking, I mean it this time.” To which he would wearily nod his head, having heard this a million times before. My optimism that this would be my last hangover would help me through the crushing anxiety, the horror and the regret from the night before. I would dutifully re-set my drinking app to yet another Day One, and be relieved that I was finally going to stop this horrible cycle.

By lunchtime, I would be feeling slightly better. Perhaps still a little sick and tired, but I would start chatting to myself. I mean: it wasn’t as if I needed to drink on a morning, was it? It wasn’t like I drank every single day; it wasn’t like I had ever had a DUI or lost a relationship over my alcohol consumption. Perhaps I am just being a tad dramatic here. By dinner time, the conversation would continue; what about if I just had a couple of glasses of wine tonight? It might make me feel better. Also, it’s a sunny day and it’s so nice to sit in the garden with a drink. Also, next week I have a party where everyone will be expecting me to drink, so it’s pointless stopping today. Perhaps I could still stop, just not today.

I began to see glimpses of the old me coming back. I had new confidence. I started to like myself, and the chatter telling me to drink started to quieten down. I still had moments of doubt, but in those moments, I reached out to my sober sisters, I read books, I listened to podcasts, and I began writing about my experiences. The days began to carry on into months, and eventually a year. I rarely look at my day count now, and I think my drinking app thinks I have forgotten about it. Sobriety has given me so much. I now just move forward knowing that I don’t ever have to be there again. It is not something to be missed. When you get past your Day One, hold on to that feeling. Embrace it, know that you are starting to experience your “click.” Do the work, talk, and more importantly, listen to your sober sisters. Don’t engage with your internal chatter. Try and stay positive. When you feel down, always play it forward. How will you feel if you have that first drink? Will it just be one? Would you be happy with just one drink? I know I wouldn’t. Take it a day at a time, educate yourself, learn about the dangers, read the Hola Sober magazine (there are lots of back issues available for you). Most importantly, stay connected: when we isolate ourselves, relapse can happen. Hold on to your “click” as it will save your life.

By 6 pm I would be tucking into my first glass of wine for the night, and it was never just one or two. The cycle would then repeat the next day and the next. So, what changed this time? Why did my sobriety “click.” The first reason is that I was so tired. I was tired of this ritual, I was tired of these conversations, I was tired of the weary look in my husband’s eyes. I was tired of feeling awful. The second reason is that I reached out and asked for help. I found Hola Sober completely by accident. I was googling another group and the Hola Sober website popped up. I found the courage and emailed Susan and was surprised when she replied. Susan then introduced me to Linda, and I had the start of my sober gang. Of course, it wasn’t easy: I still craved a drink, and the conversations were still chattering away in my head. But gradually day one became Day Two, Day Two became Day Three and my sober app breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t constantly being re-set. I needed a total thought re-set, and speaking with my sober sisters helped me to find that. When I would listen to ladies who had been sober for years talk about their gratitude, I began to take it in. Would I ever be grateful? In the beginning, I was furious that I couldn’t drink like a “normal” person. Would I feel powerful like the other ladies? Because I really didn’t right then. I felt scared, worried, and so fearful that I would drink again.

Gradually, my thought process changed, my whole outlook changed.

SURRENDER to change

Maria MacKenty

I remember when I surrendered to addiction. I had wanted to stop drinking for a very long time but did not know how to. I did not know how to get past the daily deluge of obsession and craving. I learned that if I wanted to live differently, I had to live differently. I had to change my approach to many, many things. I had to get honest about who I was and what I wanted. But before I could get honest about that, I had to learn for myself what that was. It did not happen over night. And it is still happening today.

II changed my approach to health and well-being. I learned to eat well, get adequate sleep, and exercise in a healthy way. I started therapy and became acquainted with my emotional landscape. I learned to make and take time every day for self-care and now I live by the adage “put your own oxygen mask first”.I cannot be of help to anyone else if I am not taking care of myself. I changed my approach to socializing. I couldn’t continue hanging out in places that were centered around drinking, or with friends with whom drinking was our primary bond. I needed to build sober muscle before alcohol didn’t feel triggering. It doesn’t bother me much today, but if I am in consecutive boozy situations I find myself getting weary and in need of a break. It’s not so much the booze, but the effect of the booze on those that I’m with that I grow tired of. I changed my approach to relaxing. Now might relax by going for a bike ride, or taking a walk, taking a bath,

So what did I change?

I changed my approach to work. I had to prioritize my recovery and be sure that I didn’t let work interfere with my need for sober connection. I had to make sure that I didn’t work too much and get exhausted - that my energy tank wasn’t so low that I would push the fuck it button.

getting massage, or sitting with a book, or watching something interesting or entertaining. I’ve got a long list of things that help me relax.When I was drinking there was only one thing on that list. I changed my approach to fun. I love to work around my farm, play cards, cycle, dance, get ridiculous with girlfriends, take long walks. When I was drinking I might have called things fun, but trust me, there is nothing fun about being addicted to alcohol. There is nothing fun about being hung over.There is nothing fun about blacking out.I pretended to be having fun, but what was true was that I was out of control, living from one night of drinking to the next. I changed my approach to living.In active addiction I always felt that the life I wanted was just out of reach. I could envision it, but I couldn’t get to it, because I was consumed by the daily obsessive/compulsive cycle of addiction. Today, I have a life where a new page unfolds everyday. I have ideas and dreams, I make plans, work hard, do footwork and create realities - all with the confidence that things may or may not go the way I expect, but whatever the outcome I will not just be fine, I will be good. I changed my approach to relationships. This began with honest, loving communication. Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t be mean when you say it. I have needs and it is my responsibility to express them. I set boundaries that protect me emotionally. I have learned to be a fucking bother, to take up space, to use my voice. I am also a better listener. I have compassion and empathy. I want to be there for the people I love. Because I am free of addiction I have space in my mind to think of others. I am not consumed by self- centeredness. When I remember to let go, to surrender, I am able to live in the only moment I have, this one. I almost always do my best, it’s just who I am. However, my best doesn’t always look the same. How could it? I am grateful for that awareness. I am able to love and be loved because I don’t live in fear. I still grapple and I still rebel, but I come around so much more quickly. Remembering to surrender my angst and fear to the loving guidance of the universe is the greatest gift of my sobriety. Lots of love Maria xxx


By Peggi Cooney | Author This Side of Alcohol | Hola Sober Host + Columnist | TSOA on FB + Instagram |

Now that I am in my fourth year of living my life alcohol-free, I am owning who I am as a sober person. It didn’t happen overnight. It has taken time and practice. Covid was and continues to be a sh*t show. But for me, in early sobriety, it was a blessing. I was seven months without alcohol when Covid hit in March of 2020, and for the next 18 months, it was very easy to stay away from social events. That gave me an opportunity to build a strong foundation, and I had accumulated sober tools to keep it that way. The first significant social event I attended after getting sober was Thanksgiving last year at my son Brett’s house. I made sure I had a plan. I booked my stay in a nearby hotel. I had my AF Gruvi proseco and Athletic beer. I drove my own car so I could arrive and leave when I wanted to. I had plans to take the grandchildren across the street to the park. We had a great time gathering fall leaves and acorns to decorate the tables. I purchased tablecloths the kids could write and draw on. Yet I was nervous, and it showed. I felt alone and different. My family didn’t really know how to be around me sober, and I didn’t know how to be around them. Brett kept asking me if I was okay, and I felt as if there was a spotlight on me. And although he only had my well-being in mind, the more he asked, the more uncomfortable I felt.

It can be difficult to be sober in social settings where drinking is not so easy to escape. We can certainly feel like the odd human out in a world where alcohol is ubiquitous (oh how I love using that word.) Alcohol is the only drug we have to justify not taking. I must admit while firmly anchored in my wine addiction, if I came across someone who wasn’t drinking, I usually didn’t stick around long enough to find out why. Life wasn’t worth living without booze. No one puts this better than my friend and fellow writer Jennifer Bridgman: “I used to feel sorry for people who don’t drink. I judged them. I avoided them. I felt uncomfortable around them. A person’s motivation for not drinking alcohol was irrelevant to me. Whether by simple choice or complicated necessity or any reason in between, my secretly held conclusion toward anyone who didn’t drink was the same: it sucked to be them. If a person simply preferred an alcohol-free lifestyle, they might as well have been from Mars. I felt fundamentally different from them, regardless of how many other traits, habits or hobbies we had in common. We could be friendly, but we wouldn’t be close friends.”

I was the only person in the room who wasn’t offered a pomegranate margarita (besides the children). Then the shots of tequila came out. My book had just been published, and in the middle of taking shots, my ex’s partner asked me how my book was doing. Her son asked me what my book was about. It was awkward to say the least when I told him The Other Side of Alcohol. I left after dinner, feeling a bit sad but grateful for that comfortable bed at the hotel. And I woke up without a hangover, knowing that was not true for most of the others. Fast forward to this past weekend when we had a family gathering to introduce and welcome Brett’s future mother-in-law to our family. Many of the same people who were at Thanksgiving were there, sans children. On Monday before the meet up, Brett called and said, “Mom, I wish you could bond with Anna over a glass of wine.” I told my beautiful son that I don’t need alcohol to bond with anyone anymore. His words reminded me that it was less than four years ago that I had that same faulty thinking. When the celebratory tequila shots came out, I was a little uncomfortable at first, but that feeling dissipated quickly. My ex thoughtfully brought me a six-pack of Athletic NA beer, so I poured myself a glass. When my ex’s partner’s son told me he had read my book and really liked it, I felt a tremendous sense of pride. True knowledge of who I am. I smiled when the same son was worried when he saw me drinking beer until his mom told him it was alcohol-free. I noticed a huge shift in my personality away from feeling like I had to be the entertainer, the comedian, or the center-of-attention storyteller to being the interested observer – a way of being that fits my extroverted- introverted side so much better. Instead of worrying about not fitting in I decided to choose someone in the room-- my son’s best friend Pat

--and had a meaningful conversation with him, something that wasn’t possible after several drinks. I found myself really listening to what he had to say, forgetting all about feeling any kind of self- consciousness. The thought of being the only one in the room who wasn’t drinking became irrelevant. The next day Brett told me how much Pat enjoyed talking with me. In my drinking days, I often didn’t eat so that I could drink my calories – not such a wise choice: without food, I got stupid drunk much faster. Without alcohol, I enjoyed every chicken wing and a slice of homemade pizza made with my favorite pineapple, red onions, and pepperoni toppings, cooked to perfection in Brett’s new pizza oven. The Athletic “Free Wave” my ex brought was a perfect pairing. And the next day, my ex, his partner, and I went to see our grandson Noah play in a baseball tournament. I enjoyed the sunshine, every inning, every pitch, every hit, every play, every steal, every run, and even every error. I was fully present. And I NOTICED things. I watched with gratitude the bond between my oldest son Matt and his father. The bond between Matt and his son Noah. I noticed how easy my friendship is with my ex’s partner. With my former brother-in-law. Sobriety has given me the gift of being comfortable in my own skin. I like, love and respect the person I have become.

I drove home with a full heart.

Peggi ' s top tips to deal with being the only sober person in the room

#1 Own It It was certainly not easy at first, and it took me a year to fully come out as a sober person. Being open and honest about my choice is empowering. I don’t need other people to understand or accept me because I understand and accept me. I just don’t care anymore what people think about my not drinking. I wear my sobriety like strong armor. I feel pride in being a dignified sober woman. #3 Have A Plan Bring your own AF drinks. Drive your own car so you can arrive and leave as you choose. If there are children present, take some of that time and play with them or plan a project like I did with the grandkids at Thanksgiving. Children feel much safter when there are adults at the party who aren’t under the influence.

#2 Avoid If You Can

If you can, avoid social events where alcohol is center stage: There must be something at the gathering or event that is of interest to you. There’s nothing for me in going to events like wine tasting or bars where there is nothing going on other than drinking. It might be different if there is music, dancing, games, or other forms of entertainment you can enjoy. Get comfortable in saying no to things that no longer suit you. Saying no is one of my sober superpower

#4 Pick Wisely

Pick someone you would like to get to know better or catch up with. People usually love talking about themselves, especially if they feel listened to. Just make sure you pick someone who isn’t already a bottle in so that conversation has meaning.

#5 Be An Observer I love to pick a spot in the room, preferably by the food and just become a people watcher. A party is a perfect place to observe human behavior. To study all kinds of drunk. To be reminded of and grateful for why you no longer put ethanol in your body. Sit back and enjoy!

"Even if your ass is on fire, you do NOT drink." Maria MacKenty

"I don't know how many times I've survived myself and never told anyone."

-Susan Christina-

is about CHANGE


Sitting here at my desk in the semi-darkness of the morning, I am ready. I have my cup of tea, a rose quartz crystal is resting on my laptop and the soothing warmth of my throat chakra incense is burning behind me. I want to share with you one of my favourite quotes as the words express exactly how things are for me (and maybe for you too.)

I have been writing a lot lately, mostly scribbles in my journal as I complain about the heat, compile a long list of to-dos that will never get done, express gratitude for all my blessings, of which there are many, pour out my worries and frustrations, plan my day, put together a meal plan and shopping list and remind myself that the beans or lentils or chickpeas or whatever need to be soaked otherwise we will starve. I will also dream and let my mind wander to where my heart takes it. Lately, I have been going to my imaginary cabin in the woods, it is safe there, I feel at peace and I can escape the real world and sit and write and ponder and walk and dream. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the actual woods too. In between clients and blogging, podcasting, cooking, cleaning, the laundry, and the other stuff that eats away at our days I have been escaping at every moment I get and spend it walking and eating, making cups of tea, collecting wood for the winter,

" Life is about change. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's beautiful. But most of the time, it's both." – Lana Lang

Right now I am in the middle, beauty and pain either side of me. Generally I am in a much better place that I was four months ago, or four years ago, but I am also dealing with far more crap than I have had to do in a long time. I am leaning on my sober tools like never before, my favourite and most powerful tools are walking, meditating and writing.

by Gayle MacDonald

chatting with my husband and just sitting in silence. This time together in the woods is one of the many blessings I thank the Universe for. In our four years of sobriety together, we’ve been through a lot my husband and I. We’ve seen a business fail and another one thrive, we’ve been days away from a repossession – twice, and there was a spell when 20 Euros a week and a fortnightly visit to the food bank was all we had to feed the four of us. But this recent challenge feels scarier, yet empowering at the same time. I feel like, for the first time, I am pulling all the things out of the hat and being forced to look inside for the strength and resilience I know is there somewhere and then find it and use it. Four months ago my husband had a stroke and after spending 11 days in the hospital, two of those days in intensive care, I was left in charge. I don’t think I have ever had to cope with such a life-changing situation and I was terrified. Added to that, my eldest son moved out the day after we returned home from the hospital and is not speaking to us right now for reasons unknown. I am also helping my husband cope with the fact that his mum has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but is in denial and that there is no information coming from her partner about anything and I do mean anything. They came to visit just after my husband came out of the hospital to ‘help’ but when they turned up, my mother-in-law was a total shell of herself. We’d not seen them in two years and the decline seems to have been quite rapid, but nobody said anything, not a word. Shock is the understatement of the century. She also fell over in the supermarket on her first day here, so I was transported back to the hospital where my husband had been only weeks before. As my hairdresser put it the other day, “Your life is a bit shit at the moment, no?” Quite! But thanks to my sobriety and I really mean this, I am coping. And in a weird way, I am also hopeful and dare I say it a wee bit excited for the future. I think that because there is such a lot to deal with right now, I have no choice but to face it head-on, and that is what I am doing

I am also leaning on everything to get me through. Writing, as I say is helping so much right now and not only my journal but I started a personal blog to keep me motivated and accountable. I cannot afford to slip back into old habits. Health is more important than ever and while I always knew it, I’ve never felt it deep down in my bones like I do today. I am also walking my way through this period in my life, with my husband by my side as each step is literally making him stronger and aiding his recovery. I also walk alone and love solitude, to let my mind wander, to walk as fast or as slow as I want. Sometimes ideas and solutions come to me when walking or writing, sometimes they don’t. This morning in meditation I accepted the fact that I can’t fix everything and that has to be okay, otherwise I will not be okay. But, I think I will be okay thanks to my writing and my walking and the amazing people I have around me, from the ladies in my group to my friends whom I speak to in person or on Whatsapp, via Zoom or text, whether it’s every week or whenever we are in each other’s thoughts, thank you. I know that better things are coming. I know that the beautiful part of change is on its way and I can see it and I know that it is my responsibility to make it happen. If the past few months have taught me anything, it is that life is short, it’s precious and I have to live it to the best of my ability every day with as much joy and compassion and fun and fire as I can. It’s time to do the things I have been putting off like yoga in the mornings, writing as much as I want, and walking at every opportunity. I am learning that when I put myself first and do the things that genuinely bring me joy, then not only am I better off but so is everybody else! Leaning into my heart and following through feels scary and strange, but freeing and soul-nourishing. You’d think that at 45 I would have discovered this already, but nope. I am only just finding the courage now. Why is that, I wonder? I’m sure I will find the answer amongst the trees and the pages of my journal. And there’s no better time than September to embrace these changes when the air smells fresher, the leaves start to turn and the talk is of new trainers, pencil cases, and shiny new notebooks. September is the beginning of my favourite part of the year when the duvet goes back on the bed, and I am allowed to think about apple crumble, blackberries and socks, single-digit mornings, long sleeves, chilly nights, and pyjamas. While my youngest son will be returning to school with a new backpack and trainers, I will be returning to my path with a new pair of hiking boots and a brand new journal!

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