Hola Sober April

Filled with motivation, inspiration and ideas for your sober journey. Sophie Pelham-Burn on what we can learn from Olympians to our Hush Series Chocolate Meditation. Joy and colour in one magazine ❤️

| APRIL 17, 2022 |











Editors welcome


New CHOCOLATE meditation


Home Salon


Dear Gee


HEATHER LOWE OF DITCHED THE DRINK P.40 The fabulous Heather joined Susan for a coffee and a chat on zoom to talk all things women + sobriety + her programs.

Tarot with Colette



Connect with Ann Dowsett Johnston

WE ARE ALL DOROTHY P.86 the Hola Sober Daily Email which Susan sends each day talks about the similarity between Dorothy and sober women.


1000 with Alexandra hartley - Leonard


What we can learn from Olympic Athletes by Sophie pelham - burn


Let ' s Look Back with Travis Akers


The Many Faces of love with maria Mackenty


Once Upon A Time by Linda McGrath - Redmond


Spring Cleaning by Peggi Cooney



Party Girl - Alcohol + Socialising by Beth T. M.




There Is More to Life than Soda + Limer by Sarah Stewart



For no other reason other than this is a wonderful picture of her in a quiet moment of rest.


Hola Sober Kitchen


Jennifer fulfils one of her dreams and loves holding the reins on her life and that of the horse....


hola sober Susan Christina Creamer Susan Christina Creamer Gee E. Colette Louise Ann Dowsett Johnston Linda Redmond Alexandra Hartley-Leonard Editor Susan Christina Creamer Creative Director Layout + Design + Format Mental Health Columnist Tarot Columnist

Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Hola Sober Assistant Senior Tea Maker Senior Carrot Cake Providers Hola Sober Office Dog Proof Readers Contributing Writer Contributing Photographer Hola Sober Cheerleders

Travis Akers Maria Sweby Tammi Scott Maria McKenty Sophie Pelham-Burn Fiona Downey LisaWilde Nameless Sober Queens LisaWilde Jordi V. Max, Noah + Samuel Coco theWestie Susan + Lisa + Linda LisaWilde Hola Sober Sisters Globally Deb, Judith + Irish family


| Madrid 28224 | Spain |

Hola Sober is published by Susan Christina Creamer as a passion project. 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. HOLA SOBER is funded in full via a social impact investment in time, energy + commitment by Susan supported by volunteers offering daily email, magazine, support meetings, meditations + and chat groups.


editor's note

I lost my lovely Mam in late January, on a random Tuesday without fanfare or much warning, as she joined my Dad on high. At that moment, she left us al l bereft and shocked but also knowing she would have wanted no drama, no-nonsense, and to just get on with things - so I did. The morning after her passing, I signed my dai ly emai l to the community using my surname, something I had always said I would use when she was no longer on this mortal coi l - and it felt right to do so. This reclamation of self via my ful l name was quickly fol lowed by Covid and some health scares which means, the magazine has been late this past two months, but that's okay as it's a passion project and FREE which, to be honest, I was never so grateful for over the past few weeks! ! ! Again this month, our volunteer Columnists and Contributors have been generous with their words and talent and I am especial ly grateful to the many contributors who sent photographs, poems, and stories to share as each sober woman takes ownership of her 'thing' l iving l ife free from alcohol . From Team Madrid and al l at Hola Sober, we would l ike to wish you a fabulous month ahead with health and joy as we look skyward and say not today lady, not today.

And may my Mam, Martha, rest in peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

Lots of love to you al l , onwards + upwards.

Susan Christina Creamer

Susan Christina Creamer




Dear Hola Sober Sisters,

Our sober support meetings are closed keeping the groups small and allow relationships to be fostered in a sacred space of trust. The host picks a song at the end to dance out and the zoom-room becomes a feast of women dancing in joy and freedom feeling empowered and positive going into their day or week. I started it believing ending a meeting on a dance is a fun, liberating thing to do as women together and our SPOTIFY Playlist includes songs we dance to. Some of our songs inspire us, we have songs that motivate and bring joy. The Hola Sober Sisters kindly submitted their favourite songs and we have a wonderfully eclectic mix of tastes and songs for you to enjoy! Please click and enjoy!

Usually, when people think of meditation, they think of sitting still on a pillow, eyes closed, legs crossed, fingers in "gian mudra" position (don't worry- I had to look that word up too- you know the position I'm talking about- where your index fingers touch your thumbs in an almost "A-OK we are now meditating" position.) However, meditation can be present in our daily tasks and activities, from cleaning to eating, walking or folding laundry. I hope you enjoy this meditation that has the added bonus of eating chocolate during it, because why not?! If you do not like chocolate, please feel free to pick a different treat to use and maybe substitute some descriptive flavors described. However you choose to use this one, I hope you enjoy it,

Love Alex xoxo

Available on our website HERE CLICK here to listen on soundcloud.

CLICK here to listen to our play list

The Ultimate Decadence

Who said we can't have chocolate and meditation?

Alexandra Hartley Leonard has voiced the most beautiful piece to help you slow down and indulge at the same time.

THIS is a game-changer

Benefits of Meditation

Reduced Stress Emotional Balance Increased Focus Reduced Pain Reduced Anxiety Increased Creativity Reduced Depression Increased Memory

For more meditations, please visit our website at holasober.com


SUSAN' S PICK Having chopped my hair into a shorter slicker style I needed hair wax + brilliance and found American Crew which is for men. Their Pomade or Paste is fabulous for giving definition and shine to shorter hairstyles and I have found them a dream to use although designed for men, they are perfect for me and my new crop. SHOP NOW ➤



Summers coming and my husband spent the weekend cleaning up our patio with his beloved Karcher washer. My job is to decorate our outside space and this summer I’m creating inside outdoors with this gorgeous rug for our pergola. It’s Versatile, waterproof, and can be used as a Picnic Blanket or reversible rug. It’s recycled UV resistant and perfect for the garden. What’s not to love. I have chosen the Famibay Outdoor Reversible Rug Plastic Straw Rug Patio Rug RV Camping Mat Recycled Rug Indoor Easy Clean Area Floor Mat for Balcony Deck Backyard Garden Front Porch Picnic Beach Trailer 5x8ft


This AEVO milk Frother makes me very happy! If you can’t afford the whole shabang of the lovely Brad Pitt bringing you your Nespreso on the beaches of California than this is a brilliant alternative. Makes a lovely “milky coffee” and brings a smile each morning. LISA' S PICK From the Spanish brand ZARA I have found the perfect shade of the season here in Spain, Lilac (4400/400) retailing at 5.95 EUR it is an affordable pop of colour for my fingers and toes as the temperatures get warmer. Nail varnish is so expensive with such choices out there that I get confused as to what brands to buy and have found that ZARA's own brand has great shine and gloss and lasts as long as some of my more designer brands of polish. Enjoy a lift of lilac that will bring you bang up to date with this lilac shade! SHOP NOW ➤



I recently went on a sober girls trip (which is ANOTHER thing I very strongly endorse this month) and one of my friends had a flaxseed lavender pillow that she heated up in the microwave and put around my neck and in one moment…. I felt myself melt. I immediately fired up Amazon when I got home and ordered one and I have used it every single solitary day since I got it. It’s like a small portable weighted blanket just for specific areas in need and it smells divine, heated or not (although heated is a very extra special warm hug touch.) Here is a link for the one I got, but just search “lavender flaxseed pillow” wherever you shop online, and I’m sure you will find options. They commonly make them in “eye pillow” sizes, but make sure to get a bigger one for your shoulders, and honestly just to lay on your chest. Enjoy. You’re worth it, Alex



Meet Fireside: the perfect accompaniment for those late nights at home, cozied up with your favourite book and blanket! Whatever you’re up to, this sultry scent is sure to set the mood. Notes: Black Amber, Lavender, Musk. Mala the Brand's hand-poured scented candles are crafted from the simplest of ingredients: natural coconut soy wax, wood wicks and the highest quality blend of phthalate-free fragrance and essential oils. 8 oz. Burn time: 40-45 hours. All candles are hand-poured in Vancouver, BC and a tree is planted with every purchase.




I got a gift of an Irish cleansing balm that I have fallen in love with and it is made by a girl from Stoneybatter in Dublin. A luxurious deep cleansing balm designed to dissolve makeup, and remove daily impurities and pollutants. This aromatic balm contains 9 botanical extracts including papaya which has a natural enzymatic action, helping to get rid of dead skin cells, to reveal fresher and brighter skin. LOVE it ❤️

Are you tired of using a plastic hand soap dispensers? So am I! I found this beautiful ambler glass soap dispenser on Etsy and a gentle hand soap made with essential oils of orange, geranium, cinnamon, mandarin, nutmeg, petitgrain, rosewood, celery seed, grapefruit, and vetiver, in a foil container. Every effort I can make NOT to use plastic is a win for me!



Heard at Pledge 100

My key takeaway from this video is to remember to show ourselves caring and kindness first and foremost. Sobriety has helped me to finally develop self- love, self-acceptance, and understanding. Not needing to hide from those feelings of guilt and shame make it so much easier to move through cravings. When I started reading this lesson, I wanted to answer 100% yes - because I thought I really was totally willing to accept change (and the things I can not change), willing to be open and share my story, etc. However, I realize that while I do usually have a lot of willpower, I am still reliant on self-will in my recovery journey and that needs to change. I know I have to be willing to reach out before the "wheels come off the bus" but as yet, I have not been able to do that. Hopefully, willingness means that the next time I am at risk, I DO actually reach out.

Early on when I felt tempted and frustrated that I couldn’t partake in drinks at functions, my youngest daughter somehow would sense that my mind was going to the wrong place. She’d kindly and often with humor, let me know that she sees what I’m going through. This sometimes made me feel so ashamed-my 19yo daughter shouldn’t carry the burden of my mess. I’d tell her this and she’d say that she was so proud of me. She told me she thought it must feel better to just address it and move on. She was so right. This is what comes to mind when I think of the willingness in my journey. There was no need for a conversation or any attention, just the gentle compassion, a simple gesture and word or two and let’s move on. I'm moved to tears at the wasted creativity/dreams drinking robbed me of … hoping in my newfound sobriety… maybe these dreams will be realized. I pondered when I initially set out on this journey “how to find my why/plan for my life” so here we are ladies and this fabulous army!!

"Pledge 100 is the new Hola Sober Program bringing women together who take our sobriety pledge for 100 days. It kicked off in February 2022 and we reach our destination point of 100 days sober and empowered in late May. The program includes a morning video, daily lesson, closed support meeting, chat group and our new Tribe Online Community Platform. A new Pledge-100 Sober Empowerment Program will kick off on September 1st, 2022. If you are interested in signing up, please click here

"Life became lifey and I realised that what I am doing is just life."


ORDINARY THE BRIGHT SET Squalane Cleanser: A gentle cleansing product formulated to target makeup removal whilst leaving the skin feeling smooth and moisturized. The set also includes Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG: Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is a water-based eye serum that primarily targets visible skin concerns around the eye contour. This formula contains a high concentration of caffeine alongside Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (EGCG) that is derived from green tea leaves. This combination of active ingredients work in synergy to reduce the appearance of visible dark circles and puffiness

around the contour. SHOP HERE ➤


This Vitamin C Serum from Mad Hippie is packed with ingredients to improve the overall appearance of your skin. Including Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, konjac root powder, vitamin C, vitamin E, and more. Users describe this serum as “magic in a bottle” for its ability to improve hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne. SHOP HERE ➤


This ancient tool has been used in beauty regimes for centuries to increase blood flow, renew skin, and sculpt facial features. You can use this 100% authentic jade tool over your favorite oil, moisturizer, or cream to enhance its results. The toothed end of this tool is specifically designed to use down your neck, which encourages lymphatic drainage, helping to sharpen your jawline and reduce the appearance of a double chin.




Brew a cup of green tea, allowing the tea bag to soak for about an hour. Let the tea bag cool, and then break the tea bag open and separate the green tea leaves. Place the leaves in a mixing bowl, and add the baking soda and honey to create a paste. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of water. To help the mask penetrate your pores, cleanse your face before applying. Once your face is clean, apply the mask evenly over your face, and gently massage to remove dead skin cells and dirt from your pores. Leave the mask on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. For best results, you can apply the mask one to three times a week.

Mixing up a DIY green tea face mask is easy to do. To get started, you’ll need the following:

1 tbsp. of green tea 1 tbsp. baking soda 1 tbsp. honey water (optional) a mixing bowl a measuring spoon towel


Alcohol is known to dehydrate the skin, depriving it of the moisture and nutrients it needs to keep our complexion looking radiant. You can spend the price of a car on your skincare routines and serums yet we continue to drink alcohol that dehydrates and ages the skin. When you drink alcohol the body metabolizes the alcohol from an enzyme in the liver, which releases a byproduct called acetaldehyde. This byproduct is toxic to body tissues and dehydrated skin which causes premature aging, wrinkles, and in time, dry skin. That's not all, alcohol also causes inflamation in the body "causing inflammation to bodily tissue, “releasing a histamine that dilates the blood’s capillaries, so that the net effect is redness of the skin.” - Dr. Spizuoco It has been proven that removing alcohol from your world enhances the texture, suppleness, and look of the skin. Removing alcohol from your world and increasing your water intake will bring changes to your skin that will be evident within weeks of the change in your world. Not today lady, not today is the greatest anti-aging serum on the planet!





PRODUCT DETAILS Small bag wtith zip fastening, so nothing falls out. Handle. Personalise it with our monogram service ! Made in Ubrique, Spain. BUY + MORE INFORMATION

Mint & Rose is a Mediterranean- inspired brand founded in 2012 by Monti G. Benavides. " As a Made in Spain company, we are slow life advocates with a thirst for passion-fuelled work ." .


H O W D O Y O U S T O P S P L I T E N D S ?

I hope you guys enjoyed our last conversation on how to find the right hairdresser for you and your specific needs! This month I would like to help you girls learn some DIY tips to help get rid of split ends or at least help prevent them the best you can..let’s dive in!! Having healthy hair is so important, but it can be hard to know how to keep it healthy all the time. There are so many things that damage our hair, from using curling irons and straighteners to over-shampooing and even sleeping on cotton pillowcases. If you’ve experienced split ends, you may have gotten advice to cut your hair however coming into the spring/summer a lot of us like to grow our crowning glory out an excuse to go all boho! So to follow are some tips on ways to prevent split ends without cutting your hair! What Causes Split Ends? Split ends occur when your hair becomes dry and brittle and as a result splits or frays. Usually split ends happen at the end of the hair, but you can get them further up the strand too. Split ends can occur due to everything from blow drying and using heat tools, to the use of chemical hair treatments, to everyday activities such as shampooing your hair. Everyone can experience split ends, but not all hair encounters split ends to the same degree. Split ends cause your hair to look dry and uneven, so it’s important to prevent them or get rid of them if they’ve already started to surface.




#1 Don't Over Shampoo

#5 Avoid Using Hot Tools As Much as You Can Are you noticing a pattern here?? Heat and hair do not mix well. Over using your heated styling tools causes damage and split ends to your hair, so if you’re looking to prevent split ends, you’ll want to cut down on hot tools as much as possible. When you do use them, try using the low to medium setting, and avoid using them on the ends of your hair! #6 Take Your Vitamins Folic Acid and Biotin are two vitamins that are incredible for your hair. They’ve been shown to supplement your hair health, growth, and thickness, making your strands full and lush. Folic acid increases the production of red blood cells, promoting the growth of hair; and biotin strengthens your hair through its metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins. You can take folic acid and biotin in supplement form, or increase certain foods in your diet. Foods like dark leafy greens, oranges and soybeans are rich in folic acid, and you can find biotin in brown rice, lentils, peas, walnuts and sunflower seeds. #7 Limit Over Colouring Your Hair From dying and highlighting your hair, to relaxing and perming it, any service that uses chemicals is going to be very damaging for your hair. All the damage it takes on can lead to split ends, so staying away from these treatments is your best bet if you’re dealing with lots of split ends.

Did you know you shouldn’t be washing your hair with shampoo more than twice a week? Your hair is super fragile when it’s wet and if you over-shampoo it, it can lead to split ends. When you’re washing your hair, make sure the shampoo is mostly concentrated to your scalp so your ends aren’t damaged too much..and ALWAYS double cleanse. #2 Shower With lukewarm to Cold Water Did you know you shouldn’t be washing your hair with shampoo more than twice a week? Your hair is super fragile when it’s wet and if you over-shampoo it, it can lead to split ends. When you’re washing your hair, make sure the shampoo is mostly concentrated to your scalp so your ends aren’t damaged too much..and ALWAYS double cleanse. #3 Use a Tea Towel or T- Shirt Rubbing your hair with a normal towel can cause a lot of damage, so go to your kitchen or wardrobe and wrap your hair in it, allowing the towel to absorb the moisture. It’s one of the best and healthiest ways to dry your hair believe it or not! #4 Don't Blow Dry Your Ends Blow drying your hair is super damaging in general, but if you must blow dry it, at least stay away from your ends. Use the dryer on your roots and upper lengths of your hair, but avoid the ends. The heat from the blow dryer can cause split ends, so it’s best to keep blow drying to a minimum.

#8 Use a Silk Pillowcase Switching your cotton pillowcases out for silk one is one of the best ways to prevent split ends. While cotton creates friction between your hair and pillowcase, causing it to break, silk allows your hair to glide easily, preventing breakage and split ends. I hope I have given you some food for thought and as always I look forward to our next conversation ..Sensational hair through education and care !!!!

Product of theMonth

Thoughts fromdown under.....

Meet our fabulous Hola Sober stalwart the lovely Lynn, who takes a host position starting in June leading meeting times to serve the growing number of women from down under who need sober support on their time-clock!

On my quest to live a simpler life I discovered Hedgren bags, and this is my favourite and the one I use daily. The stylish simple design leaves my hands free and eases the burden of shoulder bags. Link to Hedgren bag HERE

thismonth's paragraph

Australian author Holly Ringland ' The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart'. Flowers, fire, and fairy tales are the elements that will forever shape nine-year-old Alice Hart's life, in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, the international bestseller by Holly Ringland. Alice Hart lives in isolation by the sea, where her mother's enchanting flowers and their hidden messages shelter her from the dark moods of her father. When tragedy changes her life irrevocably, nine-year-old Alice goes to live with the grandmother she never knew existed, on a native flower farm that gives refuge to women who, like Alice, are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning and, as she settles into her new life, Alice uses this language of flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak. As she grows older, though, family secrecy, a devastating betrayal, and a man who's not all he seems to combine to make Alice realise there are some stories that flowers alone cannot tell. If she is to have the freedom she craves, she must find the courage to possess the most powerful story she knows: her own. If you can do this, you must. And I believe you can. I believe you can stop betraying yourself and I believe you can overcome the thing that is breaking you and I believe you can learn to love yourself better than anyone ever has and I believe in the dreams you've never told anyone and I believe in another try and another and another. So, please. Please stop telling yourself that this life isn't for you - this bigger life. We need you. You need you. And if you can do this (and you can) You must. -Laura McKowen- thismonth's book

thismonth's quote

The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong., and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand

different days, but they handled it. These women are my superheroes. -Elizabeth Gilbert-

store cupboard beauty

We always have honey in this house. I use it in drinks, cooking (spaghetti bolognese), and use it as an antiseptic and face mask in winter. It is one of nature's most revered skin remedies and I have long known of its wonderful healing properties. Thanks to its antibacterial and antiseptic abilities, it may benefit oily and acne-prone skin. Honey is also a natural humectant, so it helps keep the skin moist but not oily. This is because humectants draw moisture from the skin without replacing it. if you can find raw honey with a high concentration of other bee products such as royal jelly, which is prime for boosting collagen; propolis, which is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (so, a major win for acne- prone skin); or pollen which "contains a compound called rutin that helps drain the capillaries" and smooths out blemishes, you can take your routine up a notch. It can be a game-changer for a teen skin!

Bath Soak Make it at home by mixing two big tablespoons of raw honey into one cup of hot water until the honey is dissolved. Pour it into a tub of warm water to soak. Cuticle Moisturizer Since honey is a natural humectant (aka it draws moisture into the skin), it can help keep the skin around your cuticles happy and peel- free. Rub raw honey over each cuticle and leave it on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing it off. Everyday Conditioner According to hair experts, honey is naturally a perfect home conditioner and I believe our hair will thank us for it! I have been putting honey in my hair for years! Mix one-quarter cup of organic raw honey with just enough fresh water to thin it out so you can spread it around your hair. Work it into damp hair after you shampoo for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water. Sleep Aid While researching sleep aids last month to add to the Hola Sober Hush Meditation Series with Alexandra Hartley-Leonard I found out that honey can help us sleep better! And, if you're one to wake up in the middle of the night, a tablespoon of honey will help you stay asleep since We need glycogen in the liver to stay asleep and honey helps with that! This is a real case of live and learn and will be trying this if my sleep becomes disrupted. Eat a spoonful of honey 15 minutes before bed. Or, if waking up in the middle of the night is causing trouble, have a spoonful then.




Interior Colour Trends this year include a gentle lilac. It's a warm gentle welcoming hue, For playful yet creative spaces, lilac adds bright energy to any space. Be unafraid and use it lovingly throughout your home to bring some softness + light.





The new superfood moringa is also known as drumstick tree, horseradish tree, or "miracle leaf,” and it's all the rage right now among foodies. Moringa leaves are incredibly nutritious and have seven times more vitamin C than oranges and fifteen times more potassium than bananas. Even the World Health Organization hails this healthy green leaf for its ability to fight malnutrition.- Side Chef




When I was st i l l dr ink ing-- back in 2005 and 2006 especial ly-- I had a f ine-tuned r i tual at the end of every day . I would take my heavy br iefcase f rom behind my carved oak desk as Vice-Pr incipal of McGi l l Univers i ty , to a beaut i ful French bi st ro cal led Alexandre’ s . There, I would ask for a table for one. The wai ter Francoi s , who loved me, always looked a l i t t le wor r ied as he pul led out my chai r . Once set t led, I would order a glass of dry whi te and a goat cheese salad, opening my br iefcase on the table. Four glasses later , as Francoi s brought me the bi l l and expressed hi s hear t fel t wi shes I would f ind a par tner , I would tax i home and open another bot t le, nest l ing into the corner of my sage green couch. I would cont inue to work . I would dr ink two more glasses . I might play a l i t t le Van Mor r i son. I might dial my sweethear t Jake. I might dr i f t of f . I t was a r i tual . Every s ingle night , I would consume my s i x glasses . And so i t went for several months . And then, somet ime in the spr ing of 2006, af ter my cous in Doug was k i l led by a drunk dr iver , my dr ink ing changed. Si x glasses could become eight . Fuzzy nights turned to blackout nights . I decided to qui t dr ink ing. Oh yeah, said addict ion? Watch me. And addict ion dug in. My dr ink ing ramped up. L i fe was hel l . I t would be s i x months before I hauled my sor ry ass to a meet ing, and eventual ly to rehab. Fast forward s i x years later , as I was doing the research for my book DRINK: THE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WOMEN AND ALCOHOL , and i t came as no surpr i se: women dr ink di f ferent ly than men. Pandemic notwi thstanding, men dr ink in groups , in publ ic: out in bars or pubs . But women? We dr ink alone, in a highly r i tual i zed habi t— whether i t be at the ki tchen table, as Susan says, or in our bedrooms, or nest led in the corner of the l iving room couch. ( I l ived alone. )

We love our dr ink ing r i tual s and holy recommi tments to the numbing process . The escape hatch, the sacred r i tual , the decompress ion t r ick . We di sappear down the neck of a bot t le, quiet ly and alone. I solated. Just where the corporate wor ld would have us : quiet , and alone. In the end, I hid alcohol f rom my lover Jake—wine in a cof fee mug. I t was my di r ty secret . In the winter of 2007 , r ight at the end of my worst dr ink ing, I entered the netherwor ld of dr ink ing more, of black ing out on a regular bas i s . Of shaming mysel f . Of di sappoint ing al l who loved me. My bot tom? Get t ing drunk at my cous in’ s wake. Fal l ing in a gorgeous Hugo Boss dress at my best f r iend’ s bi r thday dance for her three chi ldren at a fancy Toronto museum. That night I made the rehab deci s ion, wi th my f r iend and my son at my s ide, dr ink ing tea at 3:00 am. And that ’ s the way i t was for me r ight up unt i l the cold January of 2008 when I booked mysel f into that gorgeous rehab outs ide of Boston. In the four weeks , before I enrol led in that faci l i ty , I had to take that deeply ent renched habi t of i solat ion and smash i t , one day at a t ime. Wi th the help of a sponsor , I went to regular meet ings : rooms ful l of 350 people who had done just what I had—put booze f i rst . My sponsor was proact ive. We met for cof fee. We tal ked. I re-emerged into the wor ld. I reached out to f r iends . I went to the movies when I would have been home dr ink ing. I went to dinner wi th others . I ci rculated in the wor ld. I smashed the i solat ion habi t . When I ar r ived at rehab, where I had a stunning s ingle room in a her i tage home, I met other women who at tested to the very same behavior : r i tual s of i solat ion, alone wi th thei r bot t les and favor i te glasses , fur t ively hiding f rom fami ly and f r iends .


Each morning, I would play Bach’ s Sinner ’ s Awake—a soothing s ignal to my monkey brain that I was wak ing up to a new wor ld: an alcohol -f ree ex i stence. Twelve years sober , I can say that Johann Har i i s r ight : the oppos i te of addict ion i s connect ion. As is the br i l l iant E.M. Forster : “Only connect . ” I t i s my mot to. That i s the gi f t of Hola Sober , the brainchi ld of Susan Chr ist ina Creamer—the visionary I r ish woman who founded this remarkable communi ty . I am here to s ing her prai ses today . I am here to say : we are the luckies t . Thi s year—2022—wi l l be a remarkable year for al l those who smash the i solat ion habi t . I f you are st i l l on the fence, reading thi s , make thi s promi se to yoursel f : you wi l l get to know Susan, Mar ia, Alex , L inda, Peggi , Lynn, Sandra, and mysel f thi s year . You wi l l break the r i tual of i solat ion. Only connect , and your wor ld wi l l change in ways you thought imposs ible. I promi se. As the mother of a f r iend of mine used to say : You have to ci rculate to accumulate. And never forget : the universe has a wi lder imaginat ion than you do. Make thi s the year .

To learnmore about WritingWorkshops with Ann Dowsett Johnston please click on her workshop information HERE

My favorite show of all time is “Ted Lasso”. I always thought I was positive, kind, and humorous. I did not see what alcohol was doing to me. Taking away the kindness and it was becoming sarcastic, backhanded compliments, put-downs followed by “I’m just joking” . I could relate to Ted Lasso in many ways; I was the only American working on many teams in my career. So I liked watching Ted learn all of the different sayings and customs of different countries as I did. I made some of the best friends but isn’t it funny that I don’t have many long-standing friendships with any of those people because alcohol just didn't let me truly connect and have honest conversations with anyone. Whenever I felt I was drinking too much or I had an embarrassing situation I just didn’t want to face it. I would find an excuse to quit and move on to the job, country, etc. I would slow the drinking and start a new adventure, this time was going to be different. I’m going to drink less, listen more, and find that kindness and healthy drive I had when I was younger. Eventually, I found myself doing the same thing over and over but in a different place. I cannot express my gratitude to all the sober women I have heard and met. Hola Sober has put a spark back into my step. My voice is coming back. I'm different now; I speak not for attention but because I have something to contribute. My kindness is back, and I no longer hide behind my humour. I wanted to say 'Thank You' ❤️

- Lizzie -

B Y A L E X A N D R A H A R T L E Y - L E O N A R D

B Y A L E X A N D R A H A R T L E Y - L E O N A R D

The Easter Sunday that this issue of Hola Sober comes out will be 1000 days alcohol- free for me. To say that I never in a million years saw myself getting to that number would be a giant understatement. Anytime I hit a milestone, I am always taken back to a moment I can remember so clearly - sitting on a pool deck in the middle of July of 2019, of course with a cocktail in my disguised Yeti cup, watching my boys swim in the summer early evening light, and finally getting up the courage to type in “#alcoholfreelife” into my Instagram search bar. I take a deep breath and exhale as I type this now, just as I did back then, feeling the tightness of that moment. At the time, I had absolutely no clue what typing those letters was actually starting. I would not know for many many months that what I was actually doing was taking the first step toward freedom, as opposed to a deeply guilt- ridden and painful step to admitting what I knew I needed to consider. I typed. I scrolled. I quizzically looked at some of what I saw- mainly the posts about how wonderful life was on the other side- ha!..right. I judged. I made assumptions. I cleared my search cache. I closed Instagram. But a seed was planted. On July 22 , after a night of finally admitting no time would be the right time, I just jumped. That was 1000 days ago. I would white knuckle it alone for…well...longer than I would recommend. About 2 weeks in I would read Annie Grace’s book. I would start listening to podcasts. And of course Instagram…always Instagram- searching for signs of life out there in the real world right at this moment - who else was doing this? I finally made an account that was safely just a sober account so I could start following people without anyone in my real life knowing (as if everyone is always checking to see who I’m following…but I digress.)

What these sources gave me were words that resonated with me down to my slowly healing soul. I started keeping a list of quotes on my phone, my computer, and pieces of paper stuffed into a journal. I even started writing down my own words. Eventually, I would write down what resonated with me in meetings. I collected words that I would go back to and read from time to time in order to feel seen. I wanted to take an opportunity this month to share just some of the quotes that I have kept over these past 1000 days. Many are from the first few months. These small bite-sized thoughts have helped me through the rainbow of feelings that comes when you are desperately trying to change your life. To those of you with lots of time on this path, I hope some of this resonates with you. And to those in early days- my heart is with you the very most. I wish that I could put my forehead on yours and let you climb into my mind and feel the actual difference in the ease that I have now versus 1000 days ago. No matter what I ever share, I will never fully be able to express to you the *true depth and scope* of how your life and brain will change for the better if you walk away from alcohol, but I hope that maybe some of these will land for you with that satisfying *click* that makes you feel seen. “We usually need to leave the old without any promise of the new, need to spend some time as forest dwellers, just surviving.” - Marion Woodman “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”- Earl Nightingale “self-love- is creating space - in your life to heal - your body and mind” - yung pueblo Worry is a form of control.

B Y A L E X A N D R A H A R T L E Y - L E O N A R D

“You'll always be 'young ' in someone's eyes and 'old ' in someone else's eyes, 'talented ' to a friend and 'terrible ' to another. The world's never gonna agree on a definition of what you are, so you might as well ignore that stuff and be whatever you wanna be for yourself.” - Nikiforcvs “Build a life built on choice, rather than the momentum of the past” - Rod Stryker “And now it’s like this…” - Becky Vollmer “In order to love who you are, you can’t hate the experiences that shaped you.” - Spiritual AF Deck “There is freedom waiting for you,- On the breezes of the sky,- And you ask "What if I fall?" - Oh but my darling - What if you fly?” - Eric Hanson “Be kind to past versions of yourself that didn’t know the things you know now.” - @yogismood There is no escaping - “Wherever you go, there you are.” - Jim Russell “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness. Read that again.” - unknown “I think of myself as on a mission to recover the truest version of myself.” - Holly Whitaker “Everything stops mattering. It’s just a tiny tiny tiny life.” - Augustan Bouroughs on HOME podcast describing what drinking is like in addiction. “Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” - Jacob M. Braude “My first addiction was “acceptance”. After being ostracized in school, I did whatever I had to in order for people to accept me.” - Tamara Murphy “It’s like you’re playing chicken with the terrible thing that might happen.” - Sarah Hepola (on HOME podcast - at the end of her drinking, imagining the rock bottom possibilities…)

I spent way too much time “auditioning” for other people. I realized it both robs you of the opportunity to be authentic ( which is all I really want ) and potentially attracts the wrong people. By presenting a charade in order to win approval - you’re now left with someone who has a misinformed perception of you.. And what have you “won”? They now want more of what you offered, but you don’t want to deliver. One- because there’s only so much pretending inside of you (and pretending is exhausting). And two- because you likely don’t actually click with someone that likes the pretend version of you. You want the people who are attracted to the real you. The real you that’s easy to be… BECAUSE IT *IS* YOU. The other way- you may “win” the audition, but again- what have you really won? - me (Alexandra Hartley-Leonard) “Honour the space between no longer and not yet.” - Nancy Levin “Expectations are resentments in construction.” “No.” - is a full sentence.” “Belonging is a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. When we sacrifice who we are, we not only feel separate from others, but we even feel disconnected from ourselves." - Dr. Brene Brown “What lies behind us and what lies in front of us are small matters compared to what dwells within us.” - Jon Kabat Zinn “I was never addicted- to one thing; I was addicted to filling - a void - within myself - with things other - than my own love” - yung pueblo “We usually need to leave the old without any promise of the new, need to spend some time as forest dwellers, just surviving.” - Marion Woodman This list is by no means my entire collection. In fact, finding (or expressing) these things is perhaps the part of my practice that I enjoy the most. I have attributed all quotes to the best of my knowledge, but please let me know if I misquoted anyone. As always, it’s my pleasure to be sharing this journey with all of you. I’m so glad we’re here . Love Alex xoxo

Awaken your creativity in sobriety


Post the 2022 Winter Olympics, I am reflecting on how the games went for the eight athletes I was supporting during their preparation, training, and of course the events themselves. As with any major event, there are always lessons that can be learned and things we could do differently next time. Whilst each athlete's strategy was very different depending on the person, their sport, and their personal goals and situations, there are quite a few themes that came up with all of the athletes, and many of them were things that could apply to the rest of us mere mortals as well so I thought it might be interesting to share them here. #1 Assess Your Goals Before deciding what will and won’t work for you, you first need to know what it is you want to achieve. Sounds simple, but is it? Often, what we think are our goals are actually those we have picked up from other people along the way, or more commonly, are a proxy for something else. The most common example of that for non-athletes is weight loss. It’s so common for women to cite weight loss as a goal without really asking why, and it’s often not something they actually really care about at all. It may be that their clothes are feeling a little tight and they think they ought to lose some weight. Maybe it’s tied into some comments a friend or family member made. It’s quite often that there is some underlying unhappiness and as weight loss is always portrayed as some kind of panacea for everything, we immediately latch onto that: ‘I will be happy when I am slim’ is a really neat way to defer the problem and make it something visible. Except for that weight loss never addresses the actual problem so it can’t possibly be the solution.

So I’d encourage you to really think about what your goal is and really delve into the why behind it. Of course, if weight loss (or, since I really hate that term, improving body composition) is a goal that’s perfectly fine, just make sure it’s for you and what you really want. Other goals might be something like getting stronger, feeling healthier, having more energy, sleeping better, improving mental health, etc. The reason it’s so important to define your own goals comes down to motivation. If those goals are your own that motivation is intrinsic, whereas if they come from someone else pushing it on you it would be extrinsic motivation, and as I’m sure you all know only too well, intrinsic motivation is vastly more powerful. #2 Have A Plan Once you’ve figured out your goal, or goals, you need a plan. The great thing about nutrition is that there is no one fixed plan per goal (so if you don’t like kale, you don’t need to eat the damn kale!). The plan that will work for you is as individual as your fingerprint, so it might be a question of reading what you can about the subject and then deciding what is likely to work best for you, and will work best within your lifestyle. Then start to adopt those habits gradually over time. The key thing is that the plan fits within your lifestyle and is enjoyable for you. If it’s not, you simply won’t be able to stick to it and you won’t get the results you’re looking for. The classic example of this is when people go on a diet to lose fat mass, they over-restrict their energy intake, inevitably end up bingeing or over-eating, then don’t lose any fat mass in the long term and end up frustrated and disheartened. Although it’s very easy for me to sit here and say ‘have a plan’ I recognise this is the aspect that may be the most daunting given the amount of Nutri-bollocks information out there .


But don’t worry, I am currently working on a little something that will help you out with that (and loads of other nutrition questions) so hold tight and I’ll give you more details in next month’s column! #3 Don't Be Afraid To Break The Plan This next one is crucial. Don’t be afraid to break the plan! All of the planning for my athletes had to be pretty flexible as we didn’t know what food options they would have once they got to China, and we had no idea how they would manage the dining in/out options in the athlete village given the covid situation. That didn’t stop some of them from panicking about it though, and given that they were already stepping into one of the most stressful and pressured situations of their professional careers to date, that added layer of stress was not helpful. And as much as it wasn’t helpful for the athletes at that moment, that kind of stress isn’t at all helpful for the rest of us either. So if your plan means you technically shouldn’t go out for that nice decadent dinner with the girls or is preventing you from doing something you enjoy, screw the plan. You can always pick it up again the next day. But missing out on social events because you’re worried the food won’t fit your plan or stressing because the supermarket doesn’t have the right brand of some special food isn’t going to help you in the long term. So while you do need to have a plan to see results in the long term, every plan needs to allow for some flexibility. #4 It Takes Time Any nutrition intervention will always take time to show results which is why, when I start working with a new client, we put process goals in place to help maintain focus and give a sense of achievement to keep you motivated until the longer-term results start to make an appearance.

I’d go as far as to say that with any self-care intervention the main results take time, whether that’s to do with physical or mental health, but just because the results you want aren’t visible from the outside yet doesn’t mean you’re not making fundamental changes on the inside that are paving the way, and it’s so important to celebrate those along the journey. If you get disheartened every 2 weeks and change tack, you’re not allowing your body the time it needs to start making and consolidating those changes, so chances are it will take a lot longer to achieve your original, overarching goals. #5 Reassess Once you’ve defined your goals, figured out the best plan to achieve them (and allowed for enough flexibility that it fits in with your life), and consistently stuck to your process goals, what next? Next up, we need to reassess to make sure you are actually going in the direction you want to. This is the bit that a lot of people forget. We tend to get fairly entrenched in our nutritional beliefs and definitely our foodie habits, even when they’re not working for us anymore. Athletes are particularly susceptible to this, as they start to associate a specific behaviour with a good competition result, but the rest of us are definitely guilty of it too! Every 8-12 weeks, it’s important to take a step back and really take a look at what is working for you, and what isn’t. Are you consistently hitting your process goals, but the needle isn’t moving towards your overall goal? If it is, great! Give yourself a pat on the back and carry on. If not, think about what could need tweaking to help you get there. It’s very rare that non-athletes have goals that are as time-bound as those of professional athletes but it still helps to have action plans in place to help us achieve our goals, whatever they may be. By having confidence in what you’re doing, thinking it through, and reassessing periodically we can all reap the rewards of good nutrition!

S O P H I E ' S O N L I N E



Join Sophie Pelham-Burn

The online community conversations about nutrition and body size are becoming increasingly tribal , and it ’ s often the science of nutrition that is being sidelined in the process . With that in mind , I ’ ve set up a private online community as a space where you can ask questions , and we can all discuss nutrition topics in an open , positive , and totally non - judgemental way . I hope that as more people join we can use this as an opportunity to inspire and empower each other to make the best possible choices for our own health , within the context of our individual lifestyles . Access to the group is through the link , or by invitation , once you ’ re a member , so feel free to forward the link or invite anyone whom you feel would be a good addition to our Nutri - curious gang . I look forward to seeing you there !


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