Hola Sober August

Read Ann Dowsett Johnston, Peggi Cooney chatting to Amanda, The Sober Illustrator, and Beth MT asking us to Educate Our Girls. Filled with motivation, inspiration, colour, and joy.









hola sober Susan Christina Susan Christina Gee E. Colette Louise Ann Dowsett Johnston Linda McGrath-Redmond Travis Akers Maria MacKenty Sophie Pelham-Burn Peggi Cooney Editor + Publisher Susan Christina Creamer Creative Director Layout + Design + Format Mental Health Columnist Tarot Columnist

Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist Columnist

Beth MT Lynn W. Fiona Downey Alex Hartley-Leonard Tammi Scott Iris Lisa Wilde Jordi V. Max, Noah + Samuel Susan + Lisa Lisa Wilde

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


Heard On Zoom


Beauty, Fashion + Team Picks


Dear Gee



Tarot with Colette




Peggi Cooney chats to the wonderful Amanda about sobriety, her business and the future. .



Ann Dowsett Johnston



Linda McGrath - Redmond

Travis spent some time with family this month and uses photos to speak a thousand joyful words. .

Beth MT


Peggi Cooney


Janet Gourand on EVER


Thoughts from Down Under with Lynn



One Year On with Liz G.




Kitchen Recipes + Food Trends




Books + Poetry + Art


The wonderful Janet Gourand celebrates her seventh year sober-versary sharing tips she has learned along the way.

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

Beth + TV Guide



editor's note The past month has seen soaring temperatures in Madrid and I am grateful for my sobriety knowing it is both healthy and wise. All too often our health is suffering from our daily addiction o'clock but we are unaware of what alcohol is doing to us. Our wine escapades have an effect and it is critical we make it our business to educate ourselves on the ill effects of alcohol on our bodies. Let's face up to the fact, that abstinence is not some ultra- crazy choice, it is the wise informed empowerment choice for all women who have our 'thing.' Three and half years after putting down the glass, I now find myself fighting a major health battle with the need for multiple interventions, new meds, and a clear head to keep my world ticking. I am incredibly grateful for the gift of sobriety as I am clear as to what I can and cannot do and am mindful of rest. But you know what? Sometimes it's not all about the meds and it can be about a puppy! I surprised my husband with a new woman in his life called Iris this week and trust me, after a tough few months of loss , EVERYTHING in life has been made easier with a new puppy. She is a bundle of love and joy and I am positive Coco would approve of this addition to our family! This month's Hola Sober offers a feast of fabulous features with Peggi Cooney talking to The Sober Illustrator, Amanda Sheeren, Ann Dowsett Johnston writing of her mother, Beth tackles the big subject of educating our girls and Linda wants us to talk about alcohol. Heather does a tell-all on vacationing without alcohol and Janet talks of the best EVER sober advice. Stacy introduces herself as the young lady who continues to laugh and have fun at parties. As always the columnists and contributors knock it out of the park for you readers! From Team Madrid and all at Hola Sober, we wish you a fabulous month ahead as we powerfully look skyward and say not today lady, not today; l ots of love to you all,

Susan Christina Creamer EDITOR + PUBLISHER Susan Christina Creamer






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

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



Heard on ZOOM

"Sobriety isn't hard, life is hard. That's what we need to truly understand. Not everything that comes in to our lives is difficult because we are sober!" "I spend so much of my life sitting in the stand watching the game and now I want to feel planted. "The word around me seems slower, seems less intense when not drinking. That is what makes me feel grounded in sobriety that I am not chasing wildly at life, for some reason life comes to me . " "It’s hard I know but your sobriety takes the top spot so go to work for a few hours and then treat yourself to a plan of self care for the evening. If you need to talk shout out. Whatever you do WINE IS NEVER going to make anything better but will most definitely make you feel like shit! We are here for you." "As a mum this is all I am looking to do is to give my children the best of me. I was running on the treadmill whilst listening to the meeting and it got me through the run, listening. "

"When I begin to understand how women have been quieted over the past century, it shocks me. In the 60's + 70's we were handed benzos and told this is how we were to cope with life. And now we are being sold to by the drinks industry telling us wine is our answer and yet again we are being quieted. I do not want to be quieted any more. I want to make as much noise as I can and own my sobriety. It's hard but as a woman I will not be told to lush my life away in a corner." "My holy trilogy has saved my ass more than once in sobriety (1) Self- love (2) Self-care (3) Liberation from having the last word. All three combined with something that my Dad used to say 'It must begin with me.' leads me to forgiveness time and time again. If I practise the first tenet of my trilogy I must love myself above all else and that allows me create strong and present boundaries. Air tight boundaries that do not allow toxic bullshit in. Part two as self-care allows me weed out the people and things that bring pain or sorrow and tenet three has been a game-changer. Sober me does not need to have the final word in all things!! Hallelujah. Liberation truly."

Heard on ZOOM

"The number of evenings I was just passed out on the sofa or in bed and my kids knew I wasn’t available to them…the joy of knowing I am now is such a huge thing" "The first 30 days were hard work, just readjusting all the constant signals to drink. Then on to 60, 90 and this newfound accountability to myself was satisfying in a way no drink was. Perhaps I could manage 120? Somedays the goal was just to get my head on the pillow sober, whatever that took. My joy the next morning, to add a number, see my total rise gave me the courage to go another day. So if you are like me and count your days, I hope you can find joy and lots of pride today in adding another notch on your sober belt." "Each day we might need something different. Some days it’s a trainer telling us to get down and give em 20. The next day it might be someone telling you to curl up with your blanket and soothe yourself. It’s a long path with lots of tools. And we all need different things at different times. As long as we don’t start making excuses or lying to ourselves.

"Even if your ass is on fire, don't drink.

"So you take ALL the moments to be proud and feel into the strength of your sobriety. Sometimes I’m now on autopilot and I love the reminders that it is a beautiful gift every damn day. " "I have two suggestions for you that work for me when I am feeling overwhelmed : 1) put in a rubbishy movie and sit down for an hour and a half and lose yourself in something 2) put on your rain jacket, put in the earphones with the hola so we Spotify list and take yourself out for a stomp. You are taking charge and that is huge, sounds like it’s well overdue." "Susan mentioned the "forgotten" moments and the icy stares at breakfast after the night priors antics. I find it interesting that I just had a conversation with my boss saying that the very reason I never do/did drugs is because I don't like being out of control. I'd equate not remembering the night before, what I drank (where I hid it... 😳 ) fairly out of control."

beauty + fashion

Skincare P R O D U C T

Sobriety is available to all women who choose to follow a pathway of empowerment to living a full and healthy life.

It costs nothing but does involve you showing up for yourself daily.

The mantra of power and beauty is simple - 'not today lady, not today' so you can move forward in connection and community,








SUSAN'S PICK La Jolie Muse Citronella

No one really likes bug repellent. Nix sticky and smelly sprays with this mosquito-repelling citronella candle that’s smokeless and doubles as patio décor thanks to its beautiful tin inspired by Van Gogh’s painting style for me, hits all the boxes. It's pretty, functional, and does what it is meant to do. I love it on my patio each evening!


GEE'S PICK Countertop Snow Cone Maker

In the summer months, when my kids are on holiday from school I love to have 'ice pops' to the ready for the four or five days of sunshine we get in the UK. This summer as many of you know, we have had some record temperatures and I felt this fun C ountertop Snow Cone Maker would be a fun family gift this summer! It has proved to be a treat for both young and old!!



Watermelon Juicer

I am a lady who loves, when possible to have natural and organic. In the summer months after a long winter, I love watermelon and this is the PERFECT juicer for me !! Surely this is the perfect way to get your daily serving of fruit, right? Simply insert the tap into the lower half of the fruit, and the faucet dispenses a steady stream of delicious, fruity libations. To me, this is sober gold and a real silly indulgence impressing my guests with my drink of choice


BETH'S PICK Bioskin Cream I used to really struggle with dry skin. I had tried many expensive moisturisers, but nothing worked. Then a friend recommended this product, and it was a game changer. The dry skin that I was struggling with disappeared in days and has not returned. The product is also entirely cruelty free and natural. Two must haves for any products that I buy. SHOP NOW ➤



Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders are my favourite tipple at the minute! We offer a decaffeinated version of our top seller, Hot Cinnamon Spice flavored black tea. It features the same assertive flavors: three types of cinnamon, orange peel, and sweet cloves : only the black tea base is decaf. There's no sugar added either. Enjoy it anytime!



My product I purchased these beautiful earrings from Novica for a wedding I attended last weekend. I love the earrings, but more so, I love the care in which they were made, packaged and delivered. A beautiful silk pouch and a handwritten note from the artist. At only $29.99 this is an incredible



My product of the month is the Foxcool Travel Clothes Steamer. I hate ironing (who doesn’t?) but as I was travelling to a wedding this year I knew I couldn’t just live in hope that all the clothes would arrive crease free for the big day. Instead of taking a travel iron I thought I’d invest in one of these little travel steamers and I wasn’t disappointed. The clothes can just stay on the hanger and I could easily steam away the creases without any need of a flat surface. I had various members of my family coming to my room to be ‘steamed’ before they went out! Of course it’s not recommended that you steam the clothes as the person wears them! I purchased this one on amazon and it comes with a handy cloth travel bag. There are numerous to choose from. This one came in at around £30. SHOP NOW ➤


ULTIMATE LIP LINER Pencils tend to be drying... and no one wants a crinkly pout. The solution? Kosas’ newly-launched lip liners, which, while technically a pencil, feel more like a moisturizing gel pen that offers a super smooth application. That’s because it’s packed with skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil that infuse your lips with a burst of hydration along with a precise outline. Clean, comfy, smooth retractable lip liner powered by Hyaluronic Acid glides on to softly contour and amplify lips without drying.



A monochromatic blush trio in versatile textures for a blurring 3D blush effect—set the tone your way by wearing each alone or layering up! For a subtle wash of color: -Apply Full Impact Matte to apples of cheeks and blend. -Top with Hyper Sheen, blending up and out. -Tap a small amount of Flex Cream over apples of cheeks and blend.



An intensely saturated shimmer eye paint and liner, for all-over color or a delicate fairy wing. Available in 4 ethereal colors that catch light from every direction. It's different, lively and brings a sparkle to a summer evening where you are present and fabulously sitting enjoying the sunset with your high heels on and sober as a queen warrior living her best life! Courtesy of Half Magic!


LANIEGE WATER BANK BLUE HYALURONIC SERUM A drink of water for you skin comes in the form of this little blue serum for your pocketbook or purse! A juicy serum that intensely hydrates for a smooth, supple complexion and is hypoallergenic, dermatologist- tested, and suitable for sensitive skin. I love it as we navigate hot steamy summer temperatures and my skin is super grateful for the intervention! SHOP HERE ➤

A lightweight hydrating face moisturizer gel for dry, frazzled skin Barrier Boosting Kiwi Essence is a hero when it comes to repairing a damaged moisture barrier Add a few drops of this fruity elixir to your face after cleansing to rebuild your skin’s defenses with soothing ceramides. Sinks into the skin in seconds for added hydration without shine. Seals in moisture and locks out pollutants with kiwi extract, rose Castile, and hibiscus. Your stressed-out skin will thank you BARRIER BOOSTING KIWI ESSENCE


A magic wand specifically formulated for the area under your breast in a convenient wand for no-mess application. Helps absorb moisture under the breast This wand is formulated to absorb excess moisture, helping keep your bra and top dry. Helps keep your skin feeling soft and supple and contains moisturizers that are known to help hydrate and moisturize skin. Helps reduce friction NAKERY BEAUTY EMBRACE THE LADIES MAGIC WAND



Second to Sun Natural Woven Straw Wide-Brim Hat from LULUS (image courtesy of website)

This stunning woven straw hat from Lulus. Doesn’t it just make you want to book a vacation? The hat is made from 100 percent braid palm leaf and features a larger brim (4.75 inches to be exact) for extra SHOP HERE



footwear is handcrafted in Europe, in our Italian, Portuguese and Spanish ateliers. Half-heeled clogs Hand-cut wooden sole and entirely hand-made assemblyMade in our Portuguese atelier

Made in Portugal SHOP NOW ➤


MARTHA BEADED HOOPS This beautiful colourful hoop earrings can take you from day to night with gold and blue tones with a vintage patina adding to their depth of colour and luxury. Made in India


Soko is a women-led, people-first ethical jewelry brand and tech- powered manufacturing platform built to connect artisans in Kenya with the global market. I love their look, feel, and ethos. META stackable rings are a

big hit in 2022 and these are a wonderful brand to support. Regular price$108.00 SHOP NOW ➤

From the Bee Lovely collection at Hurtig, you will find these Bee Lovely Lilac earrings on sale this month! Inspired by the understated beauty of the Bumblebee, our Bee Lovely collection captures the true sparkle of this tiny but mighty insect, which is responsible for making nature blossom. Bee Lovely Collection- Beautiful jewellery that gives back! The Bumblebee Conservation Trust By purchasing from our Bee Lovely collection you are helping us to support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Bees are sadly in decline and we must act now to stop them from becoming endangered species. Not just cute insects, Honey bees provide a tremendous ecological service in pollinating a variety of food crops. 10% of sales from this collection goes directly to The Bumblebee Conservation Trust Charity Registered Charity No. 1115634


QUINCE This company m akes “affordable luxury” a reality. Using certifications—like OEKO-TEX, BSCI, and GOTS—as well as sustainable packaging whenever possible, the team refuses to sacrifice ethics and sustainability for affordability. You can find Italian leather crossbody purses, belt bags, totes, and even AirPod cases and valet trays to help keep you organized all day long. This Italian leather bag is the one for you retailing at $99.00 and is a dream bucket purchase! SHOP NOW ➤

HEREU Baguette shoulder bag with knotted handle detail, crafted in polished Italian calf leather and lined with calf suede. Handmade in Spain by uniquely talented artisans, celebrating excellence in craftsmanship. - Colour: Mahogany - Knotted handle detail - Zip fastening - 100% Italian Calf leather Handmade in Alicante, Spain, by local artisans celebrating excellence in craftsmanship.




Tasseled mule loafer crafted in Spanish full grain leather. The upper has been hand sewn using the traditional moccasin construction. The outsole is stitched to the upper for extra flexibility and durability. Handmade in Spain by uniquely talented artisans, celebrating excellence in craftsmanship. (Photos Courtesy of Website)


At EILEEN FISHER, we design clothes to last. And when you're done with them, we take them back to be worn, and loved, all over again. Because making clothes is a lifetime commitment.

Eileen Fisher is passionate about disrupting the linear production model touted by most luxury fashion brands. The eponymous Illinois-bred designer paints in circular brushstrokes, recycling and giving new life to old textiles and discarded garments. The result? Luxurious and sustainable womenswear with a particular focus on inclusive and petite sizing. Loved for her use of recycled fabrics, organic fibers, and natural dyes in production, it comes as no surprise that the EILEEN FISHER brand is a certified B Corp with several sustainable initiatives like secondhand shops called Renew and Waste No More.


The Home Beauty Salon

When it comes to beauty routines using natural ingredients from our kitchens, I am a queen of trying it out! Let a lettuce leaf mask make you smile. Lettuce has an amazingly skin-softening effect and this is a fun – well, OK, hilarious – mask to try. (You won’t want to answer the door while wearing it!) Cook 8 leaves of washed lettuce leaves in 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk for three minutes. (Little Gems are perfect.) Don’t stir, as you want them to remain whole. Strain off the liquid and put aside. Layer the leaves over your pre- cleansed face, and relax for 20 minutes with them in place. Remove the leaves, and give skin a final swoosh with cotton pads, soaked in the milk you put aside; any excess can go into a soup. Use olive oil as the ultimate beauty multi- tasker. I swear by this. Swear by it! I slather it on my hair as a pre-wash deep treatment (warm an old towel in the airing cupboard and wrap it around your head to keep the oil from dripping; the longer you leave the oil on, the better); then shampoo twice and condition as normal. Olive oil is also a fantastic body moisturiser (add a few drops of a favourite olive oil if the scent’s a bit grassy for your taste). And (don’t tell a soul because this is beauty heresy!) I even use it on sunny days in the UK instead of sun protection. I never seem to burn, despite being fair (though I don’t, of course, bake for hours); my guess it’s the high level of antioxidants in extra virgin cold pressed olive oil that do the sun-protective trick, but I will probably have a contract out on me by the entire beauty industry for saying this. Blitz your blackheads with a tomato. Yes, a tomato – a lovely ripe one. The fruit acids in tomatoes are great for getting rid of blackheads (to which oily skins are prone) and brightening dull skin by gently loosening surface cells. Slice the tomato thickly, then lie down and apply the sliced tomato to the face. (Cut into shapes or thin slices that make it possible to cover the nose with the tomato.) Rinse, then pat dry. Do not then apply moisturiser to the nose zone (or other affected areas), as you’ll only start to block the pores again.

Go to work on your skin with an egg-white. Whip the white of one egg, a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon or two of oats, until you have a paste thick enough to spread on the face. This cleanses the skin and also helps loosen blackheads. Never throw out an avocado skin. Well, not before rubbing the inside of it into your hands and elbows. I suggested this to a doubting friend who reported back: ‘I never would have believed this worked – and I was convinced that it would turn me Shrek-green – but instead, I’m baby-soft and not green at all.’ Baking soda This can be the basis of a tooth powder – or be used in baths as a soothing soak for itchy skin. Try in a footbath, to relax and to neutralise odour- causing bacteria and natural acids. Cider vinegar (sometimes spelled ‘cyder vinegar’) Made by fermenting natural apple juice, this is packed with minerals – think magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus – and very skin-friendly. (In fact, used in bath water or toners, cider vinegar – also sometimes spelled ‘cyder vinegar’ – helps restore skin’s acid balance.) Cornstarch (or cornflour) This is made from powdered corn kernels, and a perfect alternative to talc. (It eases irritated skin, too.) Fuller’s earth A type of clay – it’s a fine, grey powder – this makes a great base for masks and hair packs, when blended with other ingredients. Not really a food ingredient (although some people drink it as part of a detoxing regime!), but you may just have some lurking. Powdered milk To soften bathwater, throw a cupful of this beneath the running taps. If you like, add your favourite aromatherapy oils, but the milk in itself is beautifully skin-quenching, because of the lipids in the milk.

Original piece in Victoria Health by Jo Fairley




My mother and I shared many things, not the least of which was our love of reading and all things word-related. We both loved her ancient typewriter: she for writing letters, I for the clackety-clack of its keys—the lullaby of my early childhood. And we both loved Scrabble, spending hours at the beloved cottage board in fierce competition. Until dementia stole her, she was the most likely victor. Both our birthdays were celebrated in August, at the cottage—although she was a Virgo and I am a Leo. There was always fresh corn from the farm down the road and her signature chocolate cake with bittersweet icing. Like her own mother, she was a very good cook, a memorable storyteller and a tender, nurturing person. On hot summer days, she would prepare small foil packets of sandwiches for our day-long adventures with our cousins. At night, there was peace in the cottage as she read and we slept, resting our sunburned bodies under single sheets. Life was good. And then the mother of my early childhood disappeared. In retrospect, it is not so difficult to see how sorrow and grief unmoored her: the repeated nine-month absences of my geophysicist father, the early deaths of both her parents. First, there was the prescription for Valium—so common for women in the 1960s--and then came alcohol, nightly and then during the day. By the time I was a teenager, the mother of my childhood played a different lullaby: 2 a.m. rants outside our bedrooms, her fury and sarcasm fuelled by hard liquor. Many days were spent in bed. For more than 40 years, she was lost to the bottle. And as I write of her decline, eight years after her death, I still feel the deeply bruised place in my heart. I always will. Given my mother’s example, I –like my sister —decided to follow in our father’s footsteps, making our careers a priority: she in vet medicine, mine in news journalism. We both worked hard. We both excelled. As well, we were both devoted mothers and watched our four sons play at the same cottage where we had summered so long ago. Life was good.

And then it wasn’t. In my 50s, just as I took on the biggest challenge of my career, I realized I was using alcohol to numb, to escape, to excess. For months—maybe years—I had told myself that I couldn’t have an alcohol problem. My life looked nothing like my mother’s. I didn’t drink in the day. I never missed work. In fact, I won awards at work. I didn’t rant at 2 a.m. But the truth was: for years, I had been reading Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story, doing the 26-question quiz. Was I an alcoholic? Such a tough word, with so much resonant shame. In 2006, when I was visiting my mother at the cottage, she took me aside. “Darling, don’t do what I did,” she said tenderly. “Please do something.” Eighteen months later, I headed to rehab; today, I am more than 5,000 days sober. This feels good, essential. Two years before she died, my mother toned down her own drinking, measuring two four-ounce glasses each night. But with the late onset of dementia, she would forget and double the number of glasses. “One day, dear, maybe you will be able to drink like I do,” she would say cheerfully, over a rambling game of Scrabble. I would just bite my tongue. Most profoundly, when she was still fully compos mentis, my mother gave me permission to tell her own story in my book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol—a brave decision. I thanked her for her courage and love at the front of my book. On the night of the book launch, she appeared with a broad smile, dressed in her trademark pearls and a smart navy suit. “If it helps one woman avoid the hell I went through, it will be worth it,” she told me. Together, we entered the room, and faced the crowd.

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the Toronto-based author of the bestselling Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. She is a psychotherapist and leader of the Writing Your Recovery memoir-writing course. Click HERE



Both alcohol and nicotine are addictive, and both cause millions. YES, millions of deaths annually. Yet while smoking is no longer seen as glamorous but as a killer, it is alcohol that is not only glamorised at every turn, advertised and packaged so beautifully but is a firm fixture at almost every event or family occasion. A m I anti-alcohol? Hell yes! That shit tried to kill me! If I ever allowed it back in my life, I can say with certainty it most definitely would be my end . It has caused me endless pain, shame, depression, and anxiety, and has taken people I loved deeply. I’d be an awful fool not to view it as the dangerously addictive drug that it has been for me and many millions of people worldwide… those of us who got out and managed to escape its clutches and discover a life of freedom and joy on the other side.

If an ex-smoker, recovering from lung cancer, goes out on a mission to spread the message that nicotine is not just addictive, but detrimental to your health, and can kill you, do we shut that person down, ridicule them, call them a buzz killer or a bore, or do we praise them for sharing the message and applaud their bravery? We’ve all seen TV ads from brave souls sharing their stories in the hope that someone somewhere will get the message and be spared the same ordeal. I’ll tell you what we never see on TV; an advertisement showing someone recovering from a lcohol addiction, possibly with cirrhosis of the liver, or heart disease, or one of the many cancers caused by alcohol, or maybe having just lost their job or home or family! Instead, we see the advertisements of the ‘beautiful people having the ti me of their lives, while sipping on an ice-cold beer or a cool glass of chardonnay. If you look really really closely and very quickly, you’ll spot a little line at the bottom telling you to drink ‘responsibly’.

T here’s no end to ‘humorous’ wine and mommy memes out there. But there’s also no end to the sad and depressed and shit scared mothers out there who fall prey to the wine o’clock culture and now find themselves caught in a terrible cycle of addiction and shame, not through their own fault, as the alcohol industry would have us believe, but quite simply because they became addicted to an addictive substance. There are no TV advertisements showing that reality! Just last week I read an Instagram post from Michelle Heaton, a well-known singer and out loud and proud woman in recovery. She spoke of how her daughter (who’s 10 years old) had asked her friend's parents not to bring prosecco to her playdates, but to bring coffee instead . When did it happen that alcohol has ANY place at a child’s playdate? But apparently, it’s very often the norm. As a self-confessed lover of reality TV ( Real Housewives of anywhere, Below Deck anywhere) and as a proud woman in recovery I am never disappointed that every argument or big drama moment, all cringe-worthy behaviour and shameful deeds, are all a result of too much alcohol. Seriously, like 99.9% of the time! But we never question alcohol or its effect on our brain chemistry (it’s huge). We just keep judging the person, and never question the substance. That’s exactly the way the Big Alcohol industry would like it to remain. And there’s not a government in the world that will take them on, as the tax revenue is too significant, and economic strength will tend to prevail over global health protection . Even those of us in sobriety, who have every reason in the world, to speak out about the true nature of the beast that is alcohol, are often reluctant to do it outside of the sober spaces . We don’t want to be the buzz killers or sober bores, so we often keep our knowledge to ourselves and just watch from the sidelines. Modern Recovery is thankfully taking the shame and blame away from the individual and laying it where it belongs, with the legalized drug that is alcohol and this thinking is the birth of a shift. As an empowered and proud Hola Sober Revolutionary I am arming myself with all the scientific facts and knowledge that thankfully is now coming in abundance and if the opportunity presents itself then it’s incumbent on me and all of us sober warriors to speak up and tell the truth about Alcohol.

However, while I am anti-alcohol, I’m also pro- choice . I don’t believe banning a product is ever going to be a solution. I do believe that the multi- billion dollar powerful alcohol industry should be legally bound to tell the honest truth loudly and clearly about what exactly they are selling and promoting at every turn. Here’s is what they don’t tell us, but the World Health Organisation will: #1 The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions. Worldwide, 3 million deaths EVERY YEAR result from the harmful use of alcohol. This represents 5.3% of all deaths. #2 Overall 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributed to alcohol. #3 Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings SIGNIFICANT social and economic losses to individuals and society at large. #4 Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In people aged 20-39 years, approximately 13.5% of total deaths are attributed to alcohol. #5 There is a casual relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioural disorders, other noncommunicable conditions, and injuries. They’re just the overall facts and figures. They say nothing of the misery that’s been wrought on families for generations. If you watch any reality tv show like 999 What’s Your Emergency , you’ll witness the vast majority of police callouts are due to public intoxication or domestic abuse whereby the abuser is very often under the influence of alcohol. Just last night we watched as a mother and two men were arrested on a street. All three were drunk. There was a 5-month old baby in a buggy. It was 11 p.m. at night. Shocking right? Mentally I was thinking about all the mothers who were drunk at that exact time but hidden behind closed doors. I wasn’t judging them, after all I used to be one. The alcohol industry has deliberately targeted women, and mothers, to increase their market and profits. And what a fine job they’ve made of it.


Susan Christina (Irish Founder and fearless leader of Hola Sober) has a real gift for speaking and she consistently uses her talent to shout loud and clear about the lie we women have bought into hook, line, and sinker regarding alcohol. She has provided us with the platform and now we too must play our part and take a stand and above all make no apologies about it! Lives truly do depend on it. Will my generation see the day when alcohol, like cigarettes, is no longer allowed to use multi- media platforms to promote and advertise a product that causes millions of deaths annually? Will the packaging ever reflect the long-term health risks including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and the 7 different types of cancers (breast and colon to name but two) that can and do occur? "Drink responsibly" doesn’t cut it as it allows the alcohol industry to take absolutely no accountability and treats us with disdain when the very product they sell chemically unbalances our brains so that ‘acting responsibly’ isn’t even an option. If acting responsibly after a drink or two was indeed possible why is it that we cannot legally drive a car? Because it has already been proven that even one drink can impair our ability to drive responsibly, two most definitely do! I can only hope that future generations will look back in astonishment and horror at how casually we promoted and bought into the lie that alcohol is just harmless fun and a sophisticated accessory to our lives. The way we look at cigarettes now is that the truth is out there. No, smoking hasn’t gone away, but so many having clearly seen the dangers have made the choice to say no thanks. And that’s how it should be. As with everything, we cannot change the past. But we can make the changes necessary to make the future a lot better and that starts with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


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

Peggi: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

When Amanda Sheeran aka The Sober Illustrator began to post on Instagram, I noticed right away. Her brilliant, stand out work manages to capture the essence of the people, places and things she illustrates. Every time. I was enamored with those posts. I am most certainly not alone. I am so proud that her illustration of me became the basis for my logo for This Side of Alcohol. And just look how she captured the essence of Hola Sober’s founder and leader, Susan Christina on the gallery page. When I found out that Amanda lives near me in Northern California, I was ecstatic. I asked if we could feature her work at Sober in the City, Sacramento in May. I am so grateful she agreed. People who attended the event fell in love with Amanda. She is beautiful and gracious. My interview with Amanda, whose words are as beautiful as her art, made me love her more. You will fall in love too. The world is just a better place with Amanda in it. P eggi: Where are you from and how does that affect your work? Amanda: I am originally from the Sierra Foothills, but currently live in a little town in Marin County called Fairfax. I think being here, in a place that is so beautiful, filled with people who are doing interesting work is such a gift. Growing up, I am not sure I understood all the ways a person could exist in the world. Not that I didn’t have dreams, but I struggled to piece together how to make those dreams a reality. Being immersed in a natural setting that offers endless inspiration and surrounded by people who have brought their dreams to life, inspires me to always keep working towards mine.

Amanda: Honestly, I am inspired by the real people around me: people like my son, Riley, who, at 13, is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met; or my husband who works a day job, but still pursues music in every spare moment, or my friends who have found a way to weave their lives around the creative pursuits that bring them life and joy. I didn’t come from the art world or ever see that as a path that was available to me. It took years of adjusting and learning and growing to finally accept that I, as much as anyone else, could live a creative life. Peggi: Tell me about how The Sober Illustrator came to be and what was your motivation and or vision behind creating it. Amanda: The Sober Illustrator came about when I was just a few years into sobriety and really looking to find an outlet for sharing some of my insights around the whole experience. At the time, I did not realize there was such an active sober community on Instagram and that starting this project was more of an opportunity to connect with them than it was to share. When the project started I, quite literally, had no idea what I was doing, but it kept feeling good, so I just kept moving towards it. (A sentiment I try to echo in all areas of my life, to varying degrees of success.) I had never even digitally illustrated a person when I started this project (in June of 2021) but I knew I wanted to and I figured I would work out how to make it happen at some point. I loved the idea of taking a complicated, nuanced, complex person, and finding a way to represent them in a simplistic way, while still capturing who they are. After creating my first illustration (for one of my favorite people, Renee Kelly) I was in love! After sharing that illustration, the commissions started coming in, and they (somehow) haven’t stopped. (Like, how many incredibly kind, sober people are there??

P eggi: Describe how art is important to society.

It seems they are endless which makes me SO happy!) I am still a bit dumbfounded if I am being honest, but I can’t help but think that if it is this easy, I must be on the right track. I love this community so so much and am endlessly grateful that they’ve been so supportive and encouraging.

Amanda: On a broad level, I think art is important, societally, because it helps people make sense of complex topics. It is universal and unique in its ability to evoke emotion across cultures and languages. On a smaller scale, I simply think it’s important for us, as people, to create. Whether we find value in the outcome of our creative pursuits or not, the actual process of creating and expressing ourselves is one that protects and bolsters our mental well-being, one that adds value to our lives, and, if we’re lucky, beauty to the world.

Peggi: Where do you find inspiration?

Amanda: Nature. Always. As someone who is often lost in her own mind, I am inspired by anything that helps to take me out of my head and into the present moment, and nothing is as effective as a raw, beautiful setting. If I am ever at a loss for what to do, or how to move forward, I read Mary Oliver poetry (which is like being in nature without leaving bed) and somehow it all makes sense.

Peggi: What motivates you to create?

Amanda: More than anything, I want my kids to see the value in living a creative life, to see that it is okay to put yourself out there. I have an eight- year-old daughter who is so fun and creative and has such a bright little light. I feel like it is my job to push through my insecurities and continue to try new things, to flail and flounder and show her that it is all okay and part of the creative process. On a personal level, I feel like my life makes the most sense when I allow myself the time and space to create. I am only growing more and more comfortable with being bad at new things, which honestly makes me super proud. Macrame? Terrible. But will I still make you an ugly plant hanger? Yes. Painting? I basically get lost after mixing pretty colors, but will I still take my little watercolors out on my hikes and create hideous renditions of the beautiful views? Oh, definitely. Playing and practicing and risking feeling inept is the only way I know to find what creative projects feel good and right. Creativity is a process of trial and error, and in sobriety, I feel myself embracing those errors even more fully. Peggi: I noticed you don’t do exclusively “sober” illustrations – what other topics/people do you illustrate? Amanda: Sober voices have been the primary focus of this project, at some point I realized that it’s important for me to speak up about things that matter to me; things like mental health, reproductive rights, gun control and my solidarity with the LGBTQIA community. I think the more open we are about what we stand for, the safer the world becomes for those who are most vulnerable.

Peggi: When is your favorite time of day to create?

Amanda: Illustrating is the only thing I’ve done that I feel inspired to do all of the time in any moment I can find. I do have a particular love for the early morning hours, before the sun comes up, when it feels like the day is still mine. P eggi: How do you balance your time with family and your art? Amanda: I tend to think of balance as some sort of fallacy like we’re all just vacillating between extremes and over-correcting as necessary. (But maybe that’s just because the balance has always been difficult for me to attain!) That being said, early mornings are my secret weapon. I am generally up working between 5 am and 8 am and I think it’s the most magical time of day. As a homeschooling mom, I find that sneaking in my work hours before the world has woken up is the most effective way to capitalize on my limited time. I genuinely want to be there and available for my kids, and have discovered, through trial and error, that the easiest way to do this is by pouring into myself first. If I am not working on a project I am passionate about I find it hard to show up in an authentic way for my kids. Because I know that I tend to allow guilt and overwhelm to overtake me, it’s important that I set realistic expectations for myself. I can now accept that I am never going to get all of this “right”. I’m just trying to be nice to myself as I fumble my way through.


Peggi: You recently celebrated your 4th Soberversary - can you talk about what made you decide to go alcohol free? Anything you would like your readers to know about your sober story? Amanda: Yes! I can hardly believe it’s been four years!! Reflecting on my decision to become sober, I realize that while my intentions were simple (drink less, have more energy, feel better, model healthy living) the implications of living a sober life are so much further reaching. I know a million people have probably said this, but sobriety is really about becoming comfortable with who you are and learning to sit with whatever discomfort arises out of that. I’ve been in therapy for the better part of a decade, trying to piece apart my tendency towards anxiety, depression, paranoia, etc. It was only in sobriety that I could see everything clearly. Every day that I am sober feels like a day I am choosing to live authentically. Peggi: What is something you want the reader to know about you that I didn’t ask? Amanda: While The Sober Illustrator is a huge part of my life, my primary project is actually an online mental health guide called If Lost, Start Here. I started ‘If Lost’ with my best friend about 5 years ago when we recognized a need for a resource that brings people closer to the places/projects in the world that make life better. We’ve branded ourselves as “a guide for the anxious, the curious, the lonely and the lost” because we are aiming to reach people who have struggled to find their way in the world like we have. We center on ten key pathways to wellness and help people find ways to work them into their everyday lives (things like connection, nature, and creativity). The project is so meaningful to me, because as someone who has experienced extreme anxiety and the overwhelm that comes with ADHD, I’ve often felt like the “guides” of the earth weren’t made for me. Our guide is designed in a way that is intended to make the world feel more accessible to people. And furthermore, it leads people to places that have the power to make their days and lives more balanced and meaningful. It’s been really fun to exist at the intersection of these two projects as I am able to bring my illustrations to If Lost and my experience as a mental health writer to The Sober Illustrator. As with everything in my life, sobriety has only made both of these projects more interesting and fulfilling.

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

Peggi: How can our readers contact you ?

Amanda: You can find me on Instagram and email me amandasheeren@gmail.com or head to my website

www.ifloststarther.com! Click for Amanda's Instagram HERE

The Sober Illustrator

Brittany Cobb @ablackfemaletherapist

Justin Furtstenfeld of the band Blue October

Emily Lynn Paulson

Renee Kelly

Alex McRobb of Sober Girl Yoga

Alysee of The Sober Curator

Jon Lupin @thepoetrybandit

Susan Christina

Peggi Cooney

Jnaya Zuwena of Austin Sober Social

Sober Musings With Mandy

Sam Lamott from the How To Human Podcast

Jo Waldock

Quote of the Day "Create a beautiful inside, and you will look beautiful on the outside."

by Sarah Stewart

Four things to do to unwind without alcohol

#2 Try Yoga One of the main aims of a yoga practice is to be able to slow down, calm the mind and to feel whatever arises for you. Having an alternative way to relax, helps get you into a healthy routine, you can take yourself to a yin yoga or meditation class to unwind, instead of meeting someone at a pub. Working through difficult sensations in yoga and learning to cope with them through breath and staying in the present moment, allows us to have the ability to cope better with situations in our external lives. For example, when we come face-to-face with something that would usually cause us to drink, like a fight with a partner, we can have the awareness that it might be best for us to leave the situation and have some time alone. We can remove ourselves and sit with whatever feelings come up without needing to use alcohol to get through it . #3 Take A Bath Taking a bath really can boost your mood. Make your bath luxurious by adding bubbles, a bath bomb, or Epsom salts, or consider getting a bath pillow. You could try adding essential oils like spearmint or eucalyptus for extra relaxation. You can also pair your bath with a good book or audiobook, candlelight or soothing music. #4 Cooking Getting creative in the kitchen can be extremely therapeutic – and it’s fun too! A relaxing evening spent cooking and discovering new recipes is a great way to de-stress in a healthy way. Studies show that people who take their time to finish small but creative projects every day feel more relaxed and satisfied with themselves. Cooking can be that project for you.

From a glass of wine before bed to grabbing a beer with friends after work, using alcohol to unwind is a huge part of today’s culture. After a while, you may believe that the only way you can relax and recharge at the end of the day is by drinking. But the relief we feel is just temporary, and consistently reaching for a drink to help you relax or unwind can be harmful for your health. If you’ve noticed that the main (or only way) you’re able to relax is by reaching for a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail, I have some alternatives you can try. #1 Spend time in nature. Research indicates that spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Studies have also found that those who spend more time in nature around forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees experience increased immune function. There are lots of simple ways you can get quality time in nature, here are a few ideas to get you started: -Start with taking a walk in the woods. ·Try forest bathing. ·Move your workout outdoors. -Engage your senses, when you are in nature make sure to pause and listen, as studies show that listening to nature sounds like bird songs and rushing water can help lower stress levels. -Book a camping trip. -If you’re stuck at work or can’t get away to take advantage of a clear sky or calm breeze, consider streaming nature sounds. You can find channels with hours of content to help you unwind or sleep.

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