Hola Sober OCTOBER

Please enjoy sober motivation and inspiration, beauty and fashion this Sunday morning.


Peggi Cooney asks What is Self Care

Beth MT Talks about the Cuppa

Ann Dowsett Johnston with The Frog Pond

Janey Lee Grace Self Care in Sobriety

Alice Parvin with Seventy, Sober + Dating

Brian O Connell talks of running + sobriety

Jennifer Bridgman writes Home Run

hola sober Editor + Publisher Susan Christina Creamer

Susan Christina Gee E. Colette Louise Ann Dowsett Johnston Linda McGrath-Redmond 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) Travis Akers 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



JANEY LEE GRACE P.32 Janey looks Self Care in sobriety and offers some ideas for sober treats!.

Tarot with Colette





Ann Dowsett Johnston

BRIAN O CONNELL P. 66 Irish Journalist and Author answers our Q + A shedding light on his journey.


Janey Lee Grace

Jennifer Bridgman


Beth MT


Peggi Cooney


Village Voices





Cathlin McCullough


Tales from Crows Corner


Hola Sober Kitchen


Art + Books + Poetry







editor's note The past month for me has been medically managed with major cardiovascular surgery on the agenda giving me an insight into how a Spanish ICU operates. Thirty Hours in ICU will give most people a clear kick in the ass and I exited the beeping machines more grateful than ever that I no longer wasted hours of my life down the neck of a wine bottle in some alleged girl-chic-wine-o- clock-bullshit. I emerged with a choir of freaking angels singing in my head "That radical choice in an alcocentric world may have just saved your fecking life." And it did. Almost four years of being alcohol-free had at least given my body a fighting chance and we won this round of interventions This morning I am happy. I have peace. I have joy. I have gratitude. I have a sense of being present for all things, the pain in my body, and the healing - I am here for all of it. My life is a gentle roll call of colour and beauty in all things sobriety, this magazine, the daily email, Pledge 100, and at its core VOLUNTEERING and this is my October moment of volunteering to help splash some pretty ravishing joy, inspiration, and motivation through your inbox. Hola Sober October 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 again this month. Ann writes about 'The Frog Pond ' as Janey Lee Grace's column talks of Self Care in Sobriety. ' Irish journalist Brian O Connell answers our Q + A sharing his sober insights and Photographer Cathlin McCullough shares the magnificent Dot with us, whose age and beauty are a woman truly empowered. Alice Parvin shares her thoughts on being Seventy, Sober + Dating with Jennifer Bridgman writing poignantly about a football game and Beth inviting you for a cuppa which is probably a great idea before you read Rose, our resident Hola Sober witch! Linda asks I f alcohol Is Trick or Treat and a host of other fabulous articles will sprinkle sober gold in your world in this issue. Please ladies jump in and enjoy this splash of colour and joy being sent into the universe knowing all at Hola Sober Madrid 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




October Team Picks Every Month Hola Sober Leaders Pick a Product of the Month which gives us a wonderfully eclectic mix of products + ideas

Not today lady, not today.


The softest long-lasting flannel, designed in an easy relaxed fit. Available in the widest range of 100% authentic Scottish tartans - all specially yarn-dyed so they'll stay bright. This exclusive flannel shirt is woven just for us by true artisans in Portugal. These expert craftspeople meticulously brush our Scotch Plaid fabric eight times on each side to create a long- lasting material with that distinctive smooth and cozy feel. But that doesn’t automatically make it plush enough. It still needs to pass the “touch test.” Only a master weaver can declare it soft enough.


GEE'S PICK This large scark-poncho from Weekend Max Mara is my favourite purchase this October! I can throw it on in. amoment and it covers a multitude in the morning. I grav it running to the supermarket, to a meeting or the school run - I love it! Stockinette-stitched pure wool triangle scarf featuring fringed detail along the trims.


COLETTE'S PICK IThis fabulously comfy night-shirt is the perfect outfit for bed and the sofa! I love throwing it on and claiming on the sofa to watch my favourite series. It's from L.L. Bean and a a premium ultrasoft cotton flannel nightgown in just the right weight to stay warm and cozy without overheating. In a classic style made from the finest flannel for superior comfort, softness and durability.


I am always on the lookout for zero-proof low-calorie beverages and MIXOLO SHE, does not disappoint with their Variety 3-Pack in Tropical Smoky Margarita, Mango Chili Crush, and Southern Pineapple Smash. PEGGI'S PICK


LISA'S PICK Life is too short NOT to wear cashmere socks. I have found in my sobriety monthly treat festival of shopping, I can afford to buy beautiful little gifts for myself like these 3 Pack Women's Cashmere Heavyweight Socks Thicken Thermal Multicolor. Seriously, how did I not know about these socks?!

They are warm and cozy and have made October a nicer place to be for me and my feet!



My product of the month is – The ordinary – Hyaluronic serum

I purchased this after watching a show called ten years younger on the UK Channel5. The presenter suggested that women of a certain age would benefit from using this serum on their skin. I purchase it during the show and then felt a bit silly that I had fallen for her spiel!! However, I have to say that I am impressed. I don’t think I look younger, but my skin is much brighter, and I have seen a reduction in my redness. I will carry on using this.



SHOP NOW ➤ If you crave some chunky boho jewelry with an interesting provenance, look no further than Tugende, a small initiative out of Uganda. Created by renowned alcohol research scientist Monica Kirabo Swahn and her partner Charles, Tugende has women using outdated medical textbooks for some of the beads, making for an interesting conversation piece. These beads and necklaces also remind us of the important work still needed in terms of improving the health of vulnerable communities facing many hardships related to sanitation and clean water, infectious and chronic diseases as well as the distress of living in dire poverty. ANN'S PICK monogrammed jewelry. Monogrammed embellished cuffs are a design that features simplicity and elegance. This amazing collection has been seen on Nicole Richie, Gisele Bundchen, Jennifer Lopez, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ashlee Simpson. Lots of love Team Hola Sober x We love bracelets and bangles and touchstones in sobriety. This Serenity bracelet from Lisa Stewart caught our eye this month. It is a leather engraved serenity bracelet is a nice reminder of what we can and cannot do in our lives. This adjustable leather cuff features the serenity prayer in beautiful script writing. Gold or nickel plate available. Black or chocolate leather Dimensions: 9 × 1 in The designer is inspired by the clean, modern lines of architecture, the beauty of simplicity, and timeless classics...and it shows in this gorgeous line of

beauty + fashion

Slugging, the K-Beauty routine

Definition: Slugging is a skincare trend that includes coating your face in petrolatum or Vaseline. This is meant to prevent transepidermal water loss and keep moisture in your skin. It's best for dry skin types. It’s rare for TikTok beauty trends to hold merit with dermatologists and aestheticians. Whether they’re ridiculous (#lubeprimer, #snailfacial) or dangerous (#diymoleremoval, filing teeth), most TikTok “beauty hacks” are quickly debunked by skin-care professionals — with the overwhelming exception of “slugging.” Slugging is a catchy term that means slathering your face with petroleum jelly as the last step of your evening skin-care routine. The practice leaves your face as slimy as slug mucus (hence the name). " In the 15th century, members of the Native American Seneca tribe, who dug oil pits in northwestern Pennsylvania, used petroleum jelly on human and animal skin to protect wounds, stimulate healing and keep the skin moist." Read the Washington Post Article HERE Another expert online says the following; "As I’ve gotten older, I’ve graduated from Nivea and gotten my masters in petrolatum. Most nights, particularly in the winter when I’m finished with my routine, I use a pea-sized amount of petrolatum over my face as a final step. I find it makes my moisturizer work harder, my skin’s less tight, and it doesn’t budge my skincare routine as much as cold cream. Dr. Angelo Landriscina, a New York-based dermatologist confirms petrolatum does help dry skin. The balance of keratinocytes (skin cells) and lipids are crucial for your barrier" Read the full article from Byrdie HERE












(SUSTAINABLE + HEREU - meaning ‘heir’ in Catalan)

T-BAR LOAFER T-bar loafer crafted in Spanish full-grain calf leather updated with a blown rubber tread sole. Hand-sewn using the traditional moccasin construction. Handmade in Spain by uniquely talented artisans, celebrating excellence in craftsmanship.

- Colour: Tan or Black - Blown-rubber ultralight outsole - Adjustable buckle fastening - Heel height: 3 cms

European sizing. Generous fit. For half sizes, we recommend ordering the next size down.

(Photos Courtesy of Website)


I have been a Phase Eight fan for a decade plus finding the quality to price point very reasonable. This is my October sober treat gift to myself! Cut from a premium wool- rich fabric, this Lydia car coat will work all of your outfits, from everyday to evening. CLICK HERE to buy

Croc Effect Bag from Mango which is smart and works with your Sunday best and jeans! (Image taken from website)

JOSEPH The Oversize Knit Viviane Dress is a relaxed fit style crafted from extra fine merino wool. Elongating the silhouette, this knit dress features a split- front with small rib finishing at the collar, cuffs and hem.Style over wide leg trousers for a effortless day look. (Image taken from website)

MANGO Houndstooth wool-blend blazer that is a wonderful piece over jeans or over a dress! (Images taken from website)

MANGO fabulous wrap patterned dress. One that will be a stunning dress with boots or flats. (Image taken from website)

The BETTY Cardigan-Jacket in Merino wool from sustainability brand Sezane is a beautiful addition to your Autumn-Winter wardrobe. Coming in Ecru- Cream or Classic Navy. It's a beauty to add to your sober treat list !

(Images from the Company Website)

LORIOH DESIGNS beaded earrings which can be worn by day or by night! Click HERE


(Images taken from websites)

Wide-leg trousers and belted leather dresses (or coats) are some of the looks on the High Street this Autumn. We want to be comfortable and smart and COS has some fabulous pieces this month that meet that need for style and comfort. Waking up sober allows us to shine in our lives and although clothes do not make the woman, they certainly help! CLICK here + here

(Image taken from website)

Cagole Leather Bootie BALENCIAGA T he Western-inspired Cagole bag informs the shape and style of this runway-featured bootie topped with textured studs, glinting buckles and extralong tassels. I f you can walk in these boots, chapeau my friend.)

(Images taken from websites)

Knitwear in all shapes, sizes, looks and feels at Vestiare Collective brings second hand clothing to a whole new level. If you have not checked it out, please do. Sign up, browse and buy clothes are that NEW to YOU. CLICK here

(Image taken from website)

Earth is now our only shareholder.

Earth is now our only shareholder. If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is what we can do. I never wanted to be a businessman. I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel. As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done. If we could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, we could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way. Read in full HERE

Shop Now


Once upon a time, there was a frog pond where there was a major health crisis: all the residents were developing troublesome growths and becoming sterile. One evening, the frog bosses gathered, deciding to bring in plastic surgeons and fertility experts to address the problem. But one wise female challenged the decision. “Maybe,” she said, “there’s something in the water.” I’m here to tell you: there’s something in the water. Of course, there is. We live in an alcogenic culture, one where risky drinking has been normalized, and glamourized. We swim in an ocean of advertising, and that advertising says one thing: drink, and great things will happen: you’ll be surrounded by great friends, invited to all the cool parties, and even fall in love. We romance the glass. We absorb this in our pores. In fact, it’s so prevalent, we barely notice that we’re being sold a lifestyle. Alcohol: it’s legal, it’s everywhere—and yes, It’s our favourite drug. Now, there has been an epidemic during the pandemic—an epidemic in women’s risky drinking. In fact, we live in a culture that now sees motherhood as synonymous with the need to numb or celebrate or escape with alcohol. We live in a culture where drinking is viewed as a great reward for what ails us. Know your wines? You’re sophisticated. Know your vodkas? You’re hip. Your coolers? You’re young and female. We all know the downsides of transfats, and the upsides of living gluten-free. But alcohol? We like to think of a glass of red as good for your health—like dark chocolate or Vitamin D. Or wine is just a pairing—a food group. A drug? Never. Illicit drugs kill more every year, right? Wrong, Alcohol takes that Number One spot. Who knew.

In Canada, where I live, a full 80 per cent of those over 15 drink. In our culture, we tend to “other” those with drinking problems: the homeless guy on the park bench with the brown paper bag. That’s an outmoded cliché. In fact, in a study released at the end of September, half of Canadians now say that alcohol abuse has become a problem in their social circles. Overdoses and alcohol-related deaths have risen since 2020. And as a culture, we tend to remain remarkably under-educated on the health risks of alcohol. Fifteen percent of breast-cancer cases, for instance, are attributable to alcohol: it is thought only five percent of women have absorbed this fact. Or that there is a connection between alcohol and more than 200 diseases and cancers. Recently, when Canada announced that the safe drinking guideline was to have no more than two measured drinks a week—two five-ounce glasses of wine— the public rolled their eyes. In fact, experts announced there were no safe drinking levels: alcohol was simply not good for your health. Men and women may be democratically equal, and go toe-to-toe in the workplace—but we tend to discount the fact that hormonally and metabolically, women process alcohol much differently than men. And this is not a matter of just body size. Telescoping is real. Women become addicted faster than men, with a much smaller intake of alcohol. Are we having a public health dialogue about this? I think not.

I believe that alcohol has become the modern women’s steroid, enabling her to do the heavy lifting in a complex, difficult world. You know the picture: you race in from a busy day, knowing you need to put a meal on the table, knowing you face more work after the dishes are done, and maybe overseeing homework in between. You stand there at the chopping block and pour a glass of wine. Immediately, you feel your shoulders come down from your earlobes. Alcohol is how we self-medicate: stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more. It’s faster than speaking to your doctor, and easier to fit in than that online yoga class. It works—and then, believe me, it doesn’t. It’s an all- too-common reality to use alcohol for what ails us. Ultimately, given that we don’t view alcohol as a drug, we haven’t paid enough attention to the role this substance plays in modern living. We need to have a robust discussion

about this issue: how does alcohol play out in your community? In terms of suicides? Children being abused? Violence? Teenaged girls in emergency rooms? Are we having an adult discussion? I think not. In the end, it’s about changing social norms, getting the communities already aware of the damage to work together: the recovery community, the medical community, the FASD community, the violence against women folk; the road safety people; the breast cancer people. It’s about becoming savvy about how we market alcohol, and tax it, and make it available. It’s about becoming savvy about residential treatment options for parenting and pregnant women. It’s about having an open conversation—one which takes on the issue of stigma, and addresses the subject head on. I’m here to tell you there’s something in the water. And the sooner we start having an adult discussion about this fact, the better. With a convergence of voices, so much will be won.

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the bestselling author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, and the driving force behind Writing Your Recovery and Writing Your Discovery , two popular memoir-writing courses .She is working on her first book of fiction. Click HERE



My precious thing is this Vase that I was given by my Nana around 13 years ago. At the time, I was feeling very lonely. I lost my Mum when I was young, I lived miles away from my family. My marriage was not great and apart from my children. I felt completely lost.

When my nana presented this vase to me, I was beyond touched. Because you see she didn’t just buy it. She had to save her Ringtons Tea Vouchers (a northeastern tea company that has traditionally delivered your tea to your home) for months to be allowed to purchase it. The vase itself, has drawings of all the northern cathedrals on it, including our precious Durham Cathedral. Anyone who comes from Durham is immensely proud of the cathedral. It means so much to us.

The fact that she had to put in so much effort to get this for me and, that it felt like I was taking a little bit of the north home with me, meant the world to me. She died shortly after giving me this, but I still have this vase and with that a reminder of her love and her knack for knowing exactly how to make me feel better.

I will treasure it forever.

Lots of love Beth xx


How are you doing finding your ‘sober identity’? Maybe you’re still sober and curious, or perhaps you have been sober now for weeks or months and you’re still feeling a little shaky, and not quite sure who you are anymore. If you were known as the ‘party gal’ you may still be feeling unsure about your new demeanour, and also concerned as to what others think of you. So many of us, once we ditch the booze, realise that we aren’t in fact, loud extroverts, we actually quite like our own company, and we are very happy to hole up in bed by 9.30 pm with cocoa and a good book (SO rock n roll!) It takes time to get comfortable in our shiny new sober shoes , we have to try them on for size and walk slowly to start with, ultimately we have to bravely step out into the world and ensure that we have our own supportive tribe to come back to. I’m sure we’ve all heard the ‘You’re no fun anymore’ lines, spat out by the Sober Shamers, but of course, we know that our authenticity is shining a light on just how miserable they really are when the party ends and things don’t seem so glamourous after all! The Sober = Bores anagram is in fact the opposite of the truth, drunk people are very boring! A great way to ease into your new sober identity is to do stuff you love, (you will be amazed at how many women can’t recall what they enjoy) Take yourself off for a walk in nature, a trip to an art gallery, or museum and be open to creativity and fun.

Sober Club members have found themselves trying wild swimming, taking a writing course, buying a camper van with the money saved from not drinking and travelling, starting a charity, and going back to roller skating - cos they loved it as a kid! Become curious about your wonderful new identity, the ‘real’ you, and in time you will begin to love this wonderful person. I’ve never met anyone who said, ‘Oh man, I much preferred the loud, broken, hungover version of me!’ Eventually, you will start to feel comfortable in those sober shoes, and your own skin, and then it's key to ensuring that you live your new sober life as you want to. A great phrase to ask yourself is: ‘Have I been ‘me’ enough lately?’

Janey Lee Grace is the founder of The Sober Club, a community for positive sobriety focused on holistic health and wellbeing, author of Happy Healthy Sober, and host of the Alcohol-Free Life podcast www.thesoberclub.com


S elf-love Journal anyone? Make time for Self-Care and put yourself first with this Self-Love journal and natural candle. Hand- poured with love and featuring notes of rum, grapefruit, lime clove and amber to create a unique fragrance that is feminine and powerful from Unleash your S.E.X.Y. Self-confident, Empowered, Xtremely you! Are you a Rebel Barbie? For the younger funky gals (remember being sober makes you younger!) Claire Comai has created Rehab Barbie, a fun cool, and exciting brand of properly fun jewellery and accessories, and yes it’s pink! Claires’ personal path to recovery was based on finding her own "tribe” learning the neuroscience behind addiction, realizing how much more fun life is sober, and using her creative passion projects as an outlet. I’m currently rocking my ‘Sober is Hot’ bracelet collection.


Don’t forget the importance of good supplements for recovery. I have recommended this Magnesium Blend to so many Sober Club members and it works! Buy anything from this site using my link and a bit of cash goes to our Sober Club Giveback fund.


I will embrace my sober pledge

I will drink a lot of water

I will move my body

I will get plenty of rest

Not today lady, not today.



My eyes remained fixed on the road as my mom-brain sprang into action, performing a rapid mental scan of our family’s always-full and fluctuating calendar. Although it was the start of summer—a season that promised sunny skies and a slower pace—life with three young boys guaranteed a year-round sort of busyness. Month after month, I would set aside one morning to update our family’s dry-erase wall calendar, using colored markers to carefully fill in the squares and keep our lives on track. By the time I recapped the pens and rehung the calendar in the laundry room, very little white space ever remained on the board. WE WERE IN THE CAR WHEN THE INVITATION CAME —ME BEHIND THE WHEEL AND MY ELDEST SON RIDING SHOTGUN BESIDE ME. “MOM, CAN I GO WITH ADAM TO THE GIANTS GAME ON FRIDAY?”

“Yep—you’re free on Friday,” I replied. “How fun, buddy!”

From the corner of my eye, I watched my pre- teen boy text back his response. His joy was palpable, and a wave of gratitude washed over me.

.At twelve years old, my eldest son had just finished his first year of middle school—a time of significant growth and increasingly complicated academics, expectations, emotions, and relationships. He desired (and

demanded) privacy and independence like never before, which equally stung and assured me he was developing right on track. While we often struggled over homework assignments and bedtimes, over too much junk food and too many video games, there was never a doubt this sensitive, bright son of mine was a good kid. And one who had already witnessed so much in his twelve short years. Now two years into my recovery from alcohol addiction, my gratitude lists are lengthy and limitless, but at the top of each one is the gift of my being a sober, dependable mom. My love for my children has never wavered, but now rarely do my words, actions, or steady presence either. From the front passenger seat, my son looked up from his phone and over at me. “Adam’s mom wants to know if you can come, too. They have four tickets.” Despite my shy nature, which has held me back from many things in my 40+ years on this planet, my gut response was an immediate YES. I felt elated and honored to be invited, and although I didn’t know Adam’s mom too well, I’ve always enjoyed her friendly energy and easy presence.

Plus, it was baseball—hands-down my favorite spectator sport these days after countless hours cheering on my own children as they ran bases around a Little League field. I mentally flashed- forward to the four of us sitting inside the waterfront ballpark in San Francisco— arguably the most beautiful stadium in the country with its stunning views in every direction—and I had my answer. “I’d love to come!” I grinned at my son. “Please say ‘thank you’ and tell Adam that I’ll call his mom later to sort out the details.”

My son nodded, and after a brief pause, looked up again. “So, I guess they have VIP tickets from the school auction. We have field access to meet the players. And we can go to the Gotham Club.” And that’s when it happened—“it” being the exact moment that my thinking turned dark. I felt myself freeze, my excitement shift to dread. This was no longer a simple day at the ballpark, munching on hot dogs and popcorn while waving foam fingers. This was a full-blown social event interacting with famous athletes. This was a fancy, historic speakeasy with dangling chandeliers, dark paneled walls and a floor-to-ceiling display of liquor bottles glistening behind the bar. The whole outing suddenly seemed drenched in alcohol. And I felt paralyzed with insecurity and self-doubt. The voice in my head berated me: “She made a mistake inviting you. She has no idea that you don’t drink and are actually an anxiety-ridden, awkward dud. If only you could drink, you would be fun and likable. You would be more confident and charming. You would be worthy of this invite.”

In recovery, we call this “playing the old tape reel.” It’s when our clean and clear sobriety mindset reverts back to old, familiar and ominous places. And in my case, rather nasty ones. This was the very cycle of self-destructive thinking that kept me trapped in active addiction for years. I no longer drink, so my brain is not hijacked by actual alcohol. But the well- worn neural grooves of addictive thinking are harder to get sober from. I drove on, focused on the road while trying to calm the imperceptible, internal war that waged on. I took a deep, ragged breath and repeated aloud: “Yes, I will go.” I sounded like someone trying to convince herself, because I was. “Yeah, I know, Mom,” my son responded, a hint of pre-teen irritation. “I already told them.”

The baseball game weighed on me for the rest of the day—more specifically, my reaction to the invite. Nearly two years into sobriety, I’d expected to be standing on firmer soil, and I was rocked a bit by this. And the following day, in a confessional act of sorts, I shared my experience in a Hola Sober meeting. My words felt revealing and raw, and therefore necessary to get out. And this is where the magic happened. In opening up about my dark, I invited in the light. Following my share, I listened intently to the heartfelt response of Susan Christina—a leader who has inspired and empowered me more than anyone to stand tall in my worth, my power and my sobriety. I cried after that call. Not because I was glum, but conversely because I’d been handed the gift of a new, life-affirming perspective. My son may not have the words to tell me this, but the reality is he doesn’t want a mom who drinks at a baseball game. He doesn’t want a mom who has wine on her breath or thoughts about her next drink foremost on her mind. My son doesn’t want to hang out with a mom who sways a bit in her shoes or laughs a little too long or too loud. The reality is he’d far prefer a mom who nags at night about homework and toothbrushing than one who falls asleep before him or can’t recall the next morning how a film ended during family movie night.

practically levitated with excitement getting an autographed game ball from a star player during warm-ups. The other mom and I hit it off beautifully—we laughed easily, and I opened up to her a bit about my sobriety journey. We’ve already bought tickets to return to the ballpark for another game with our boys—this time, no Gotham Club or field access. Just four regular seats, some hot dogs, and a whole lot of new tape reel to record. In terms of baseball games, this one will go down in memory as one of the happiest days for me as a parent. And that had absolutely nothing to do with plays on the field or the numbers on the scoreboard. It was a sober gold homerun.

that even as he begins to slightly push me away, he needs me more than ever. The reality is that if I hadn’t quit drinking, alcohol would have destroyed everything most precious to me—including the relationships I have with my children. When I allowed that old tape reel to play, it was about far more than a baseball game. It was about my entire life and those I love. So I took that old tape reel out and smashed it with my heel. The actual game day was everything I’d hoped for and more. My son and I bought matching jerseys at the stadium, and he The reality is....


I grew up in the northeast of England where I was brought up to believe that Tea was the mender of all things. We drank tea in the morning as soon as we woke up and no meal was complete without a cup of tea to go with it (apart from curry or Sunday lunch, that would be crazy). When you watched a British soap opera, the moment a drama occurred, be it death, divorce, or anything, someone would invariably say, “I’ll put the kettle on”. Then everyone would feel better with a cup of tea. Tea is basically just a warm drink. It doesn’t change your mood; it doesn’t take the edge off the pain. It is just calming and reassuring. It’s something that we were brought up to believe was the healer of all things. So, what changed? Now when you watch those same British soaps, the response to drama or any occasion is to offer a glass of wine.

I can picture the actor now, bottle in hand and two wine glasses ready. It’s not just the soaps. In reality TV shows such as real housewives’ guests are offered wine or champagne, no matter what time of day it is. We have thrown out the notion of popping round for a cup of tea or coffee and changed the narrative to offering alcohol. When I was drinking, I would see people ordering tea or coffee in the pub and I would be horrified. Why on earth would you waste that opportunity to drink alcohol and have something so boring? I would not have dreamed of ordering either. The only time that I ever drank tea was in the morning. Now that I am sober, all of that has changed. I now see the world through sober eyes. If I have pain, then I have no choice but to sit with it and heal.

I can take comfort from drinking a substance that I have drank my entire life. A substance that warms me but doesn’t change me. I may gain serenity, but I don’t gain the short-term escape that I would have gained with alcohol. I also don’t gain the sad glances from family; I don’t gain a horrific hangover and crippling anxiety and paranoia; I don’t need to keep an eye on what everyone else is drinking to see if I should slow down. I don’t wake up at stupid o’clock (well I might but that is just my age and luckily, we have an ensuite) worrying that I drank too much tea and did the tea make me text anyone, did I say anything, do anything? You see Tea doesn’t change my brain in the way alcohol does. So why did we move on from offering non- mood-changing drinks to alcoholic drinks? Is it down to cost? It used to be very expensive to drink wine at home or in the pub. Is it the media? Is it that big alcohol has done an amazing job of convincing us that alcohol will serve us better? I fear it may be. The Mummy wine culture drives me mad. and it’s everywhere. It’s not a new thing, around 18 years ago I joined a Mums group online and our logo was a martini glass with alcohol, an olive, and a baby’s dummy. I remember sharing memes about fridges that pump out wine not water. It’s been ‘cool’ and ‘funny’ for a long while. The fact that we drank wine when we got together, and not ‘boring’ tea or coffee was celebrated. Did we see ourselves as rebels? Possibly, we may be Mothers now, but we were still a bit wild. I was around for the ladette culture in the nineties, we had switched our beers for wine, but hey I was still rock and roll. E xcept I wasn’t. Consuming alcohol is celebrated. And if you get into trouble and get addicted to it? Well, that’s your fault because we asked you to ‘ drink responsibly' . Heck, we even wrote it on the bottles! Not to worry though, that’s just the irresponsible drinkers, you won’t become one of them (until you do). When did it become the norm to purchase alcohol for play dates or kids’ birthday parties? The adults couldn’t possibly attend these events without alcohol, could they? After all, the parents should have fun too. Which leaves me to ponder the question, why did we think having

alcohol at these events was the only way to have fun? Were we so conditioned that we no longer could do anything without our social prop? Were we so boring that we couldn’t hold a conversation without being bolstered first by alcohol? The annual carnival where I live has had to bring in an alcohol ban and hire security each year to stop the adults from getting drunk and ruining it for the children. I remember the first year that I attended, I was horrified (and I still drank at the time) at the parents in the children’s playpark drinking wine out of bottles while the children played. Years later, when the ban was implemented, I heard one of those parents complain that they wouldn’t attend if they couldn’t drink alcohol there anymore. This was supposed to be a community event for the children. And because some of the adults could no longer consume alcohol on site, their children could no longer attend. The same event now has half the number of spectators that it used to. It’s sad. I really do hope that with all the sober groups popping up, the ranges of alcohol-free drinks available, the education, and movements like Hola Sober and others, we can go back to being offered non-alcohol beverages when we attend events/friends’ houses. That we can all learn to communicate completely sober. Of course, I am not saying that everyone should abstain from alcohol. I would just love a world that doesn’t revolve around it. It's ridiculous how much tea I drink since getting sober (and how much I must spend on teeth bleaching kits because of it ;)) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the fact that my youngest jokes about how much tea I drink and not wine as it used to be. I love the fact that instead of being excited after a night out to come home and drink more alcohol when no one is watching, I now look forward to my tea and chocolate. Does that make me boring? I don’t know and quite frankly don’t care. When I was drinking, I prayed for a boring life, so perhaps this is my gift. Either way, Tea isn’t ruining my life in any way shape, or form. So, I’ll take that.


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

Self-care is defined as “The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” Author Christy Tending in her article entitled “The Myth of the Bubble Bath ” describes self-care as “the real, sometimes gritty, always heartfelt act of caring for yourself and being your own best advocate.” I love her words. They’re real and true. By the time most of us get sober, our health is in desperate need of a major tune-up. That was certainly true for me. Alcohol is without a doubt toxic to our minds, body, and spirit. My friend and Hola Sober co-host MMK said this in a meeting the other day: “We give up things in the order that they’re killing us. Alcohol was Number One.” A little over three years ago, alcohol was killing me. True self-care could only begin for me when I stopped trying to keep alcohol in my life. I drank wine as self-care for well over a decade. As a child welfare and adult protective services social worker, the exposure to daily trauma from my job gave me the excuse I needed to “self-care” with wine. There’s even a term for it: “Secondary Traumatic Stress”: a form of occupational stress resulting from frequent and/or chronic exposure to often emotional and detailed accounts of children’s traumatic events.

And although the trauma is real, my way of coping was maladaptive and dangerous. Self-care turned into self-loathing. My mind, body and spirit were the antithesis of self-care. I had severe insomnia and digestive issues. My anxiety was through the roof; my marriage was in shambles; I was in jeopardy of losing my relationship with my adult daughter and grandkids; I had blackouts, hangovers and memory loss; I had awful skin and hair; I was overweight. I had terrible eating habits – I often drank my calories. I lied to people, and I consistently broke promises to others and to myself. My fall from integrity was epic. When I put down the glass a little over three years ago, I began to heal. I am not saying that my life became full of rainbows and unicorns. Far from it. I am, however, back in the land of the living. I have my integrity. I know that the key to self-care is to be present and do the best I can. That was not possible with wine poison as a constant in my system. My self-care now looks like writing, a clean desk, making lists, reading, getting up and going to bed early, Kona coffee, walking, yoga, (yes Lisa Bear, yoga is slowly growing on me), writing my gratitude list, driving my own car to events, arriving early, and leaving when I want, staying in a hotel when visiting

Friends and family, and saying no thank you without an explanation. My self-care looks like meetings, hosting and being of service to others through Hola Sober and This Side of Alcohol. My self-care looks like being with children and grandchildren, decorating for holidays, quilting, chopping vegetables for salsa, and making my famous stew. It’s climbing into clean sheets, a heated mattress pad, and a weighted blanket. My self-care looks like telling my friends, colleagues, and family what I need and don’t need, buying sugar cookie mix and canned frosting instead of starting from scratch, crying over sad movies, soaking in my hot tub, star gazing, dancing, singing rather badly, forest bathing, sending hand- written cards, box breathing and walking my neighbor’s dog, Maggie (after all, I am one of her favorite humans.) My self-care looks like attending baby and wedding showers only on a “have to” basis, sending “regrets,” best wishes, and gifts in my place. It means offering to pay a housecleaner instead of helping my son move. I have to say that I do love taking bubble baths about every other day and I am obsessed with different kinds of bath salts, particularly ones with peppermint. I have an occasional mani-pedi or massage (I still have a hard time just sitting or “being.” I search out and sample fancy zero-proof drinks and spirits. I love watching a good series on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime. I love being alone. It’s important that we customize our self- care. Self-care should not stress you out. It is different for everyone. Tending writes, “If your self-care feels bad or it belongs to someone else, it’s not self-care. And if it’s someone else’s, you won’t do it. Which leaves you with no self-care at all.”

Self-care is not an annual thing. It’s not a Dry January or July. It’s not Sober October. It’s kicking alcohol out of your life. For good. Self-care is not another chore to do. It’s not another thing you feel compelled to add to your “to-do” list. It’s not another thing to beat yourself up over if you can’t hit that mat, take that walk or trip to the gym. My friend Joanna said, “self-care is anything that keeps me sober.” Bravo. Joanna. That, as Susan Christina would say, is fecking awesome.

Hola Sober Host Linda McGrath Redmond

ALCOHOL, TRICK OR TREAT? Halloween is nearly upon us. As traditions go, for me and my family it has always been a firm favourite. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. Nowadays of course it has expanded well beyond a bonfire and dressing up in your mammy’s high heels and scarf. Here, in Ireland, as a child, we’d go from house to house and ask the neighbours ‘would you like to help the halloween party?’, and they’d throw some apples and monkey nuts in your bag, and off you’d go happy as larry. A chocolate bar meant you’d struck gold! These days the children all chant ‘Trick or treat?’ and would kill you with a look if you produced anything that even resembled a piece of fruit! They are very firm in their knowledge of what a treat does and does not consist

of. the question…..alcohol, trick, or treat? The answer? That’s something that we all get to decide for ourselves. Here at Hola Sober, we know very well and are very firm in our answers. Biggest trick ever! But we didn’t always know this, and the road to the truth was painstakingly long and hard. How long, how hard, that varies from woman to woman, but we all arrived at the same conclusion. What we once believed was a wonderful treat turned out to be the biggest lie, the greatest, deadliest trick ever played on us. Which brings me to We all remember our first proper drink of alcohol I bet. Mine was when I was around 15, and it was vodka mixed with orange. I fell in love with the warm fuzzy feeling and all was right with the world. I was no longer feeling shy or awkward or

I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We are the lucky ones. And you can treat yourself too if you find alcohol is taking far more from you than it’s giving. But even for those who don’t become addicted, how many lives have been lost through one night of reckless drinking. How many women have been assaulted when under the influence and completely vulnerable? Too many I believe. There is so much scientific knowledge and information available to us now if we look for it. More and more people are finally seeing the Emperor is wearing no clothes! Trick or Treat, you decide! Happy Halloween! stop this adult ‘treat’. And horror of horrors, you find you can’t! You’re an addict, yes you. How can this be? How on earth did it come to this? Well the short answer is you’ve been tricked. But don’t blame yourself, as Susan Christina will tell you ‘You became addicted to an addictive substance’. It’s not your fault, but only you can get yourself out of the hellhole The good news, indeed the absolute truth is, my life in sobriety is filled with many gifts. I am part of a sisterhood here in Hola Sober that is the greatest treat I could have wished for. Alcohol is a drug, a sedative, and is an addictive one at that. And it’s legal. You can buy it anywhere. Where it can take you, well it’s like playing Russian Roulette. It’s only when you find yourself drinking more than you meant to, making a fool of yourself too many times, losing hours and days to hangovers, and causing pain and unhappiness to yourself and your loved ones that you may decide you need to

uncomfortable in my skin. Oh no, this treat was magic! And the following day when I was feeling like death and vomiting the contents of my stomach, well next time I wouldn’t mix my vodka with that orange concentrate! The fact is alcohol is a toxin and my body was just doing what it was designed to do….expel the poison. We didn’t know the science back then, and most likely wouldn’t have cared too much either. We were young, invincible and hey, everybody drinks! It’s the adults treat. We’ve finally stepped into the grown- ups world. And just like the Halloween traditions change, so did the marketing of the alcohol industry. No longer the man’s domain, alcohol advertising and marketing was now deliberately aimed at the women of the world. If you want to read how this unfolded, get yourself a copy of Ann Dowsett Johnston’s ‘Drink’, The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol. It will certainly open your eyes as to how the alcohol industry tricked us into buying into this belief, that we sisters could have it all. If you look up the word ‘trick’ in the dictionary, it states to ‘cunningly deceive or outwit’ and boy did they do just this



Dot came whooshing towards me with a yelp. I yelled, “Do you need help? ” She screamed “Yes!” And at that moment I scooped her up before she hit some rapids. Dot is a pig-tailed goggle- wearing 96-year-old Granny and had gotten swept down some rapids before she floated into my life, all turned around disoriented legs flailing. Now, I was only in this spot at the exact right time because I had dropped a camera into the water (don’t ask) and because @jennacolephoto had invited me to California to document her and her husband on the Yuba River . Isn’t that something? This Dot came into my life in a way I couldn’t ignore, and I told her how earlier in the year I had lost my own Dot, my Grandmother’s best childhood friend and cousin, how I had lost touch and she had died with me owing her a phone call. Dot didn’t have an answer to that, because there isn’t one. But isn’t that something? I lost one Dot and saved another .

Since my Dad died in June, grief lives in my throat every day, on my skin, and woven into my days. Grief doesn’t leave even though I’d like it to. But that day, just a month and a half later, Dot barreled in as life herself. LIFE. The Lifeiest life. 96 and hiking in, nude swimming with a granddaughter who had broken her out of her new assisted living facility. Life slapping me in the face, or in this case, demanding to be rescued. Dot is the skin I find most beautiful, her spirit filling the river canyon; the energy I want to emulate. Jenna and I stood amazed at this woman, mouths hanging open, arguably the most beautiful woman we had ever seen. Life on the verge of death, making me look her in the eyes. When I asked Dot if I could take her photo, she said “Of course, you can take my photo, everyone always wants to take my photo. And you can splash it everywhere, I have been naked on a redwood on the cover of a magazine”.

Dot came whooshing towards me

Dot came whooshing towards me

The fabulous Dot

Dot standing tall

Hola Sober



Pledge 100 Kicked Off on September with three online classrooms of women taking the Hola Sober Pledge for 100 days. Each of the classrooms are called after an Irish woman of note that is close to the heart of the Founder and Creator of Hola Sober and of the Pledge 100 Sober Empowerment Program for Women. The Classrooms are called McNulty, Molony + Robinson each with a team colour and song! Kay McNulty the Irish ‘mother of computer programming’ who while raising seven children, she continued, uncredited, to programme computers her husband developed Read about this amazing lady HERE

Helena Molony was an actress, activist and Editor. Molony's acting gifts were very useful to her as a political speaker; she spent a lot of time making incendiary speeches on the issues that concerned her. To read more about Helena please click HERE

Mary Robinson (Therese Winifred Robinson) (Irish: Máire Mhic Róibín; née Bourke; born 21 May 1944) is an Irish politician who was the 7th president of Ireland, serving from December 1990 to September 1997, the first woman to hold this office. To read further click HERE

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