Pod 61 Mary Tilson
deb: [00:00:00] Well, welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host Deb Masner. I'm a registered nurse health coach, and I'm a certified alcohol-free bad-ass. I'm going to add that. But today I have miss Mary Tilson, who is a yoga meditation teacher and international retreat leader and a certified that's probably where I got it from.
She is a certified addiction recovery coach who recently celebrated nine years sober. Congratulations. And she is also the host of the podcast, sun and moon sober living, which I had the honor of being on. So welcome to my show, Mary. It's so nice to reconnect with you again.
mary: Thank you so much, Deb. I'm really happy to be on the planet.
deb: How'd I do with the introduction. Is there anything I missed? What would you add about [00:01:00] who you are and what you do?
mary: I think you really covered the gist of it. I do a lot of different things, so I always struggle with that question, but I think you covered the main points for the sake of this podcast.
deb: Okay, fantastic.
And I just want to point out too, that Mary is in bottling. Of all places she lives in Bali. And so to me, that's just like dream bucket list stuff. We're going to get into your travels and your wander less and all that, the fabulous life that you have made living alcohol free. But let's start like with what your relationship with drinking was like,
mary: Oh, sure.
Yeah. And I am really looking forward to you being out in Bali and coming to visit. I keep saying it, but I really mean it.
deb: I'm going to hold you to that.
mary: Yeah, please do. I've got an extra room with your name on it. Yeah. So, you know, I guess [00:02:00] depending who you ask, I feel I started drinking probably on the earlier side for an American, but by European friends, I think about the same that 13 and 14 years old as when I first started drinking.
And, you know, it was around that age that I. Really started to recognize that alcohol could make me more confident. I saw myself as more fun. I kind of liked doing things that felt a little bad. And so, yeah, I mean, that carried on all through high school. I used to party a lot without really too many big consequences.
Maybe like the odd party getting busted by the cops or getting grounded by my parents. But I started yeah, really drinking a lot through high school and then it was by the time that. At school. I was really taking that to the next level. And when I say like, maybe some of you can relate to that sort of like inflated sense of confidence, like I would do things that I would never do sober, like standing up and dancing on bars and doing the keg stands and getting really loud at the table.
And for a while, I, I like loved [00:03:00] that side of my personality that I brought out and I only saw the kind of positives and. You know, when I got to school, I felt like I was on top of the world. My first year at Boulder, I went to school at university in Boulder and I joined a sorority and it just felt like I could go out partying every night.
I first discovered Adderall and cocaine at that time, I wasn't, I wasn't prescribed to Adderall, but I saw those things as like the miracle drugs, because I always maintained my grades. And later on, you know, when I graduated and I was, I was a very high functioning alcoholic addict in my working life after that.
But I, yeah, I saw those things as the miracle drugs because I could do it all. I could party all the time and I could still get to the library and keep up my grades. You know, those, it was when I got to that point that I started going downhill because yes, I could continue to stay alert and to function, but the amount of alcohol I was able to [00:04:00] consume with that, I started blacking out and, you know, blacking out on a regular basis.
And so I remember at that point, I started to wake up and feel. Overwhelming amounts of anxiety about what had happened the night before. And I now understand the sort of physiological way I was being impacted by alcohol, but I just thought it was that paranoia of the night before. I didn't really realize it was altering my body chemistry in that way, but I started wanting to drink first thing in the morning.
And most times I could, if I didn't have class, it would be bloody Marys and mimosas. And it was my junior year that I just started to go down this very quick downward slope and act so far out of alignment with who I was started to really sabotage the relationships in my life. And there was one morning in particular that I woke up and I just could not face.
The day, like I couldn't face what had happened [00:05:00] the night before. And so I called my parents in a panic and I said, I need to get out of here. I was like shaking. They could hear it in my voice. And it was interesting how quickly my parents just got me on a plane and flew me home because they had. You know, it was a few months prior to that I was on a family trip and was passing out outside the elevator, falling asleep on the beach.
Just things you don't do on like a family vacation in Jamaica, you know? And so my parents were super supportive and I entered outpatient rehab for the first time that was in 2010. So that was three years before I got sober. So for anyone who's kind of on this like very nonlinear journey that. And I didn't realize I got into recovery and.
I had no idea about the 12 steps before that, you know, it was a program based on a and the 12 steps. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. And this idea of giving up alcohol for good was like, [00:06:00] no, no, no, no, no. Like, yes, I'll go to this program. I want you to help me, like. Clean up the mess that I've created back at school, just like send me back on my Merry way and I'll drink in moderation.
And so I basically went through, I was home for six weeks. I went on this like secret hiatus. I didn't even tell my friends where I was going. I was very sketchy about the whole thing. It was very quiet and secretive about it. And yeah, I got back to school and I pretty much started drinking. Right. Again, right away after that, I thought I could monitor.
So, you know, I went through school, finished, graduated Boulder, and I pretty much, you know, I did start to get back into drugs too. Although there was, you know, there's a saying that I always reference. Which landed so strong for me is that there's nothing worse than a mindful of AA and a belly full of booze because the shame and the guilt that I felt after six weeks in treatment, knowing perfectly [00:07:00] well that I had a problem deep down, I just was so consumed by that shame and guilt.
It really made it work. So yeah, I thought I was going to grow up when I got out of school and I landed in a job in advertising where I could drink every night of the week with my coworkers, we would black out together. There would be like hangover food on the desk after big parties. And I mean, I have so much respect for the people in that industry.
The friends that I made, not everyone has a problem like I did, but it was probably one of the worst environments I could find myself in. And so, you know, I didn't have a rock bottom as an, a dramatic, like ended up in jail, but what happened? I. Was still very much addicted to using Adderall and cocaine to fuel this lifestyle.
And this image, I had these overwhelming expectations, [00:08:00] these really impossible expectations of myself to be able to party like that and to also get up and work these really long hours, you know, at my desk. And so I was using drugs in secrecy. Whereas before, you know, when I was at parties in college and stuff, that might be a little bit more normal.
I was doing all this thing, these things in secrecy, and I'm glad, like, you know, it was actually my posts that I made when I was sharing about being nine years sober was the first time that I spoke about really openly about my cocaine use. And this is the first podcast, you know, the first conversation that I've done, where I've just been able to say that because I decided like, yeah, that might shock people who have only met me as like their yoga teacher or come on a retreat with me, but it's true.
Like, I. You know, the lowest point. I like to get emotional as I'm saying this, but I would wake, I would come out of this drunken blackout, and it would be like four in the morning and [00:09:00] I would be doing cocaine alone in my bedroom. And I would be like, I have no idea how my night ended or how I ended up with it or why I was like, I would just be wired.
I would be like so wired and I was supposed to be on the way to work in a few hours and the law, I would just be like, how did I get here? Like how? And so at that point I started. Really crying out for help. Like I showed up at my oldest brother's apartment, freaked him out when like late at night I've been calling him being in his door and just spilling my guts.
I've dragged my friend out of her bed one night. And then I finally called my parents and was at that point, I was like, I know what I've got to do. I'm never going to drink again, helped me, like, I couldn't do it on my own, but they. Put me back in outpatient treatment. Like they supported me in getting there.
And that was that. And from [00:10:00] there, I was like, I'm fully committed, like three years of denial thinking that I could control it. But I knew at that point, and that was like the most, you know, some people think about this like moment of surrender as if it's weakness. That was the most empowered decision I've ever made for me.
And so, yeah, that was, that was the point. That was the end of my drinking career. That was the point of getting sober.
deb: Well, I thank you for sharing that and, and being open about using cocaine and Adderall and it, because I think it's more common than we talk about. I think we're getting better at talking about drinking and overcoming that I think talking about just any drug use is it's not quite as acceptable especially, you know, for some people.
And it makes sense, right? You, you were on a depressant, so you found a stimulant to help manage that. Do you, was it [00:11:00] hard? So it just has me curious, like, was it once you gave up the alcohol, did you still want to use the other drugs or was it because of the alcohol or like, how was that all connected in your brain?
mary: Oh, that's a really good question because I had in the same way that we have these stories about. Like, I need alcohol to socialize. I really thought that I, even though I was never prescribed to Adderall, I never, you know, a lot of people, I'm not, a lot of people are prescribed to that because they actually have like add and there's nothing wrong with using that if you have a doctor's prescription, but I had a story that I could not keep up my job if I didn't have Adderall to keep me focused because I would basically.
I would love that sort of buzzing high I would get when I would, I took way too much of it, but it would mean I could sit in front of my desk and just get incredible amounts of work done. [00:12:00] And I was definitely like a workaholic as well. It's something that I still, that still creeps up on me. And I loved that.
I loved feeling like I was performing at my job. And so. I mean, I knew for sure that I was giving up that too, when I got sober. And what I realized was the reason that I felt like I needed that was because my body was trying to fight off the effects of alcohol. I mean, you cannot expect to drink two bottles of wine the night before and have the energy to perform at work.
Like, of course, that I thought that I needed that, you know, so I will say there was. An adjustment period. My body really had to recalibrate. I didn't feel good for the first weeks when I got sober. I was exhausted. Like I remember I was living in Chicago at the time, but I went back to the suburbs and I just remember laying on my parents' couch and just being so tired and, and just allowing myself to [00:13:00] feel that.
But. You know, I think because I knew that I wasn't going back. I didn't really, I kind of, I knew that I was giving that up, but I will say that I learned, you know, that the reason I feel like I lacked so much energy was because I was. Drinking so much. So I didn't, you know, I definitely don't need Adderall to get by.
Now. I wake up every morning before sunrise and have plenty of energy. I'm not someone that ever needed to be taking, you know, like 30 to 60 milligrams of Adderall every day to get myself going.
deb: Yeah, so interesting. So you, so that was back in 2013, it was outpatient that you did. And then like what else helped you get sober back then?
And then like, what did your journey look like from 2013 on?
mary: Yeah. Well, yoga has played a very, very [00:14:00] big part in it, so I feel very lucky. My mom is. One of the most grounded well-balanced people. It's hilarious that I'm her daughter. But she introduced me to yoga when I was very young. I mean, I had seen her practicing in the house when I was younger.
And so I had a little taste of it. And during that time, when I went. To go to treatment. The first time she was bringing me to yoga classes with her, this incredible teacher that was in our local studio there. So I poured myself into yoga. It was hard to be in Chicago when I first got sober, because I only knew Chicago as a very big drinking city.
And. I can't speak too much to it now, but it was not the easiest environment to get sober in. And I knew that the weekends and night were going to be a big challenge for me. So right after I finished treatment, I enrolled in my first 200 hour yoga teacher training. And that [00:15:00] was really to fill the time that I was going to have to like.
Turned down plans or, you know, what had the temptation to drink? So, you know, I got into my first 200 hour yoga teacher training and what was so amazing was. Learning about the philosophy. There was such a strong sense of familiarity with the 12 steps. And I, you know, just to give an example, like there's the yamas and niyamas and yoga, which are like ethical guidelines for yoga lifestyle.
And. One of the niyamas, you know, the yamas are speak to restraints. The niyamas are observances. One of them being Ishvara Pranidhana this idea of surrender. And which I spoke about is, has been such a big part of the journey with me with the 12 steps. And it's a really big part of yoga philosophy of Buddhist philosophy.
And that was one piece that, you know, as humans, I think we. [00:16:00] We struggle with this because we want to control things. And so I had really had that foundation. Through the 12 steps, because a lot of people get hung up on this idea of being powerless over alcohol. Like we don't want to see ourselves as powerless, but really like understanding the empowerment and surrendering to that, which is beyond your control.
So like having these conversations within the space of my yoga teacher training, even though I wasn't talking about Ms. Sobriety at that point, Really excited me. And it was like that little taste just gave me so much hunger for more. I mean, eventually I went to Asia and the studying the philosophy more in India, but so it's not only the philosophy of yoga, which is incredibly beneficial, has sort of guidelines for living a yoga lifestyle and a lifestyle, which is very supportive of recovery.
But in practice having a daily yoga practice, because as you [00:17:00] know, Our mind is not separate from our body. We're so deeply interconnected. So, you know, yoga gives you this ability to have a personal check-in. So it's like, I can now understand when my nervous system is beginning to get dysregulated when you have that subtle awareness, because you're checking in every day with this incense sensations of your body.
It doesn't get to the point where you have like an explosive angry blowout or you feel like you need to pour a drink or whatever it is. Yoga is incredibly powerful. And not only helping you pick up on some of the warning signs, but giving you this set of tools that you can manage, that you can learn to self-regulate, you know, bring your nervous system back into those more calm states when you feel triggered.
And also mindfulness practices. I'm like the biggest proponent of meditation, of breathing of any form of [00:18:00] mindfulness, because the way that I think of it, it's like this spaciousness, like you get that little bit of space, like we call it like the sacred pause. And I think about all the times that. I told myself I wasn't going to drink.
And then it was like this one part, I would come down to the elevator on my way out of work. And there was a CVS and I would always stop and get a double bottle on the way home from work. And I would always say, I'm not going to do that. And I would do it like I would go on autopilot and it's like mindfulness.
And focusing on your breath gives you that little bit of pause where you can hear the voice that's. Turn to CVS or grab the wine and you get the chance to choose again. And so those have been like having a yoga and meditation practice has been hands down the most important, well, okay. I'm not going to say the most important, but it's been, it's been hugely impactful, you know, as with [00:19:00] having a strong community of support and, you know, professional guidance also.
deb: Yeah, and I mean, that makes sense. And just the more and more I practice mindfulness and meditation, it's just so helpful. So can you explain a little bit more about surrender and how that concept and if someone's listening now and they're kind of like, What do you mean? Can you explain a little more?
mary: Yeah, for sure. This has been like such a big exploration for me. It's so funny. Like, I think about all the times when I was so resistant to getting help, like I remember I was such a stubborn, you know, at that time I described when I first started drinking. I remember my parents caught me and my friends smoking weed at the beach.
And my mom tried to go get me to see a therapist. And I just sat there, like with my arms crossed, like, you know, like I don't have [00:20:00] a problem. Like I'm, you know, just resisting, resisting. And I think it's funny, like when we try to resist and it's like that feeling of trying to create. And control things.
There's so much suffering in that. I think anyone who's struggled with addiction or any sort of problem with alcohol, it's like there's so much pain and discomfort. And just trying to resist the reality. But surrender is, is like an acceptance of. What is it's like we, I think sometimes we can confuse surrender for being something that's weak or giving up.
But like, if you think about it in terms of addiction, like, I know that I cannot drink because I struggle for addiction. So for me to try to fight against that and use all of my energy. To [00:21:00] fight that reality. I mean, I can't imagine how different my life would look. So I see it as to be willing to just surrender and let go of the fight and say, I'm not going to fight this, you know, because my life is worth so much more.
Like I would rather that there's something incredibly empowering about. Choosing your battles wisely, I guess, you know, you can reclaim so much power. Does that answer your question? Yeah,
deb: that's so helpful. And I guess how I sometimes think about it too, and not just like in addiction or whatnot, but when we think about feeling uncomfortable or feeling negative emotions, surrendering, surrendering to those, because so often.
The reason that we are turning to drinking is because we're angry or we're sad, or we're anxious or we're stressed. And so [00:22:00] we don't allow ourselves to feel that we're trying to tamp it down. It's like the, the beach ball that's in the pool and you're trying to push it down and you're trying to resist it.
And the more you push it, the more. Popping back up. And so when you can surrender and just let yourself feel uncomfortable, then there is so much power in.
mary: Exactly. And like, there's so much wisdom in that too, you know, because it's like our own kind of ignorance to the situation, like trying to like waste all of our energy, fighting a certain reality, you know, it, it takes a level of like higher perspective in order to.
I understand. That's why I love, you know, the serenity prayer, and I've, I've referenced the 12 steps. And I know that's not everyone's path, but I like to pull out the golden nuggets, you know, because you know, one of my teachers, Nikki Myers, who has kind of fused together the wisdom of the [00:23:00] 12 steps in yoga, like she has really helped me to do that.
You know, especially for people who might never walk into rooms, but the serenity prayer, I think is something. Moved well beyond the rooms of recovery, but to accept grant me the serenity to accept the things, I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the. And that to me is just really sums it up with surrender is just accepting the things that we can't change being okay with that being.
Okay. Like you said, with the difficult emotions and just accepting things as they are giving up the fight really.
deb: I agree, I a hundred percent and there are so bringing that back to mindfulness and just being focused on the present moment is so such a concept of that serenity prayer, because either we're like ruminating about the past and what happened, [00:24:00] or we're like stressed and anxious about the future, but the present moment is where we can find peace.
mary: I love that. And it's amazing that like, you know, the thing that continues to blow my mind is. We've had these practices and philosophies around for thousands of years, you know, like now it's sort of like, I love that modern, modern science, like neuroscientists and stuff are speaking about mindfulness.
Like there is a neuroscientist Judson brewer, his book, the craving mind, I'm just reading right now, but he gives a lot of the scientific backing and research to mindfulness practices. He's also a Buddhist philosopher. So. But, you know, it's like we have these yogis and meditators and caves for thousands of years, just really getting so curious about exploring the human condition and it, it like, it makes you realize that these are just [00:25:00] it's, it's part of who we are.
You know, it's very natural to have addiction and it's, it's referred to a lot more as craving. Like in, you know, they call them the cliches, which is like the root of suffering. You talk about raga, which is like this attachment and craving, and it's not new to a modern world. Although I think our modern world is very.
Set up and kind of primes us for addiction to take hold in many, many ways, because there's just so much opportunity for instant gratification. And we have so much comfort in modern technology. So I think we are extra susceptible to it now, but it's definitely not something that's new to us. And like you said, with, with staying present something I was actually just writing about this morning is.
A lot of times, even when you get your new to sobriety. The discomfort of being sober is not so much about that present moment. It's a lot of times, at least for [00:26:00] me, it was about, yeah, but how am I going to date? Or how am I going to do the champagne toast at the wedding that I have coming up? Or what about all my networking at work?
It's like, we're trying to take on our entire future. In that moment, but if you just sitting with yourself in that moment, usually it's a lot, lot more manageable. And so there's so much wisdom. And just coming back to the present moment, like, how does it feel to be in my body right now? Can I take this next breath sober and be okay.
And it's really as simple as that,
deb: right? One moment at a time, forget one day at a time. One moment. Well, I'm curious how you went from, so you were in digital advertising, took a yoga training, the 200 hour yoga training. And then how did you end up like this, this gal y'all she has traveled the world. Like, tell me [00:27:00] about that.
mary: Yeah. Well it's really interesting. I definitely did not. It wasn't, I didn't know. Exactly like have this master plan craft out when I left Chicago, what happened was I, so yeah, I was in an industry that was extremely work, hard, play hard, and not everybody has to, you know, go all in when it comes to the parties and the perks, but that's the route that I took when I got there.
So I was going out every single night. All of my relationships were built around that. And. So, I didn't really know what I was going to do when I was going through outpatient treatment. Just to give you an example, when I was in the middle of my nights and weekends rehab, nobody at my agency knew that I was doing this.
I had already pleased preplanned a party. Cause I was on this board where we were going to do an around the world bar crawl in Chicago. So everybody got a passport and we were going to like Paris club and you know, there was like Barets and everything was themes. And I had it sponsored and. [00:28:00] Sober. I'd obviously planned this when I was like, my mind, everything was about drinking, but I was like, I can't, what am I going to do?
Like how, like, how am I going to keep doing it? So I'm in this yoga teacher training and all of a sudden, you know, I'm like, Discovering this whole new side of myself and starting to ask all these questions, like how many of my life decisions have been based around supporting my ability to drink and to party and, you know, no doubt.
I have to be honest with myself about how I landed in this job in the first place. And it goes, you know, I I've always had a real fascination with like digital media and I love the creativity. I love the people I was making, but it just, wasn't going to be the right fit for me anymore. And during that time, I just finished my yoga teacher training.
One of my best friends who is out visiting me now came out and she was like, I'm going to go and do this three months sabbatical in Southeast Asia. And I could not have [00:29:00] put Thailand on a map at that time. And I was also shocked because she was the friend that like right out of school, had the job lined up.
She had a great job, like most high paying job with all of our friends. You're quitting your job. Like what? And so I just like had this instant knowing, like I've never been so sure of anything. I was like, I'm coming. And like, I'm doing it too. And I couldn't really wrap my head around how I was going to do it.
Now, granted, at this point I was saving, I was able to save money really easily because I wasn't taking all the drunk calves. I wasn't partying every night. I wasn't buying drugs. So I was like, I remember like getting the. Like getting ready to tell my parents. And I was like, you're an adult. Like, you're not going to ask them.
You're just going to tell them, you know, like I'm quitting my job. So yeah. I went out to Southeast Asia to do this three months sabbatical and I was just, oh my gosh, I just fell in love with that part of the world, this part of the world, because you know, that three month trip is still ongoing more than eight years later.
But I found myself [00:30:00] at a yoga and meditation retreat center in Cambodia, Hari, her Elia. Which absolutely changed my life. I have so much gratitude for Joel. The founder of that center. It was a community dedicated to conscious living. There was no wifi. There was no stimulants whatsoever, not even coffee. It was a place for like creativity and nurturing, like really this idea of being present moment to moment, living in connection to nature with other people.
So I went as a guest on this retreat. And when I was there, I was given the opportunity to teach a yoga class. And after I taught that class, I was like, Oh, my gosh. Like I, what would it be like to live and teach out here? And I started talking to the other teachers and it started to feel like more of a reality.
So I just left that retreat on like such a high and just [00:31:00] had so much excitement about this idea that I could possibly teach yoga. Full time and lead retreats, because I'll tell you, after I did my yoga teacher training in Chicago, I actually scheduled a meeting with the regional manager of that yoga studio.
And. Kind of is trying to understand like the financials, like can yoga teachers really support themselves doing this and kind of what the answer I got was like, well, a lot of these teachers have like dual income households and like, it's really hard to make it work in Chicago. It was a very less than inspiring conversation.
So I didn't really think I could, like, I didn't really know how that was going to work, but all of a sudden I felt like. I want to live in like a retreat center. Like I don't care, like what kind of money I'm making, or if I can have an apartment, like I want to live this lifestyle fully. So I actually got an invitation to come back and lead retreats at that center.
It was supposed to be three months. I ended up staying for a full year and leading 40 back to back [00:32:00] yoga retreats. So many amazing people, like having so many inspiring conversations. And then, yeah, by the time I left there, I went and I did a. Four months trip to India. After that I kept doing, I kept doing more yoga teacher trainings because I had such a hunger for that.
And from there, I ended up getting a new opportunity to teach at ni, which is a resort unsuitable, an island east of Bali, and slowly, like as I started to build more experience living and teaching in different places I got, I finally, you know, felt confident enough to start hosting my own roots. So I did my first one in Nicaragua and collaboration with some friends from back home.
It was a dream secret treat where yoga and creativity collide this beautiful. We did like creativity workshops. It was on the ocean. And then, yeah, I've just since then, it's the momentum and started to build. And so [00:33:00] it was definitely not just a. Like, I, I didn't know where the path was leading. The, I just had that one way ticket to Southeast Asia and it all kind of took off from there.
deb: That's amazing. And I mean, obviously you wouldn't be where you are, had you not gotten so.
mary: Oh, no way. I mean, this is the, this is the thing that I always tell people, because even if you're not, even if you don't have a reason to quit drinking, like even if you're not experiencing negative consequences, You like, there was a deep knowing in me when I, when my friend came out to visit, I was like, I know I need to go.
And there have been these times in my life where I just feel, even if it seems really crazy, like uprooting my life or, you know, whatever it is like you just know. And if you miss the opportunity to be in. [00:34:00] Close relationship with like what you really want in life. You can just miss out. I think on, I think you don't even really know what you're missing out on, you know, because it's like, I'm not shaming people who still have like, you know, the occasional, I mean, I'm not saying all I'm saying is it's definitely.
Experiencing that sense of clarity. It doesn't matter if you haven't had a problem with it because yeah, for sure. I owe it all to that decision. I mean, I always say to people I'm like, I definitely don't wish that I looking back. I don't wish I could have. Just kind of moderated and gotten by. I don't want to be sitting, you know, for some people that lights them up.
I know that I'm not, not meant to be sitting in a cubicle in front of Excel, Excel spreadsheets, finding the most efficient return on ad spend for whatever company. Like that's not my calling. [00:35:00]
deb: Yeah, I think that's such a good point. Like you don't have to have a problem with drinking together. Alcohol and you don't have to have, you don't have to hit rock bottom.
You don't have to have a bad life. I mean, the question's really like would removing alcohol from your life, make it better. And if it would then do it, and if you don't know, then try it at least do 30 days at least see what it's like without the numbers. Yeah.
mary: You know, it's been cool since I shared about being just recently, when I shared about my nine years sober anniversary, I got some comments from people who, I didn't know, I'd given up alcohol and, you know, one of them was a girl that I met.
Who's a surfer and a surf photographer. And she just said, you know, she had mentioned that she decided to. Give up drinking and that she understands that people shame people for being sober. [00:36:00] And which is really interesting, right? Like sober shaming, but she's cause she didn't necessarily have like a reason to stop, but I just thought that is so great because this is someone who is like really into like health and fitness.
She lives this incredible life, surfing herself and being out on the water, taking photography. And I'm like, I can't imagine that. Alcohol could potentially make that lifestyle much more difficult, you know? And so it's like even just the people who want to prioritize their health and you get so much time and energy back.
So yeah, I think it's really interesting that we make it so hard for people to, we make it so easy for people to binge drink and so hard for people in some ways to stop. When in reality, there's so much to gain.
deb: Yeah, you're right. And so we're shifting it. We're part of the culture, the counter-culture we're shifting, we're making, alcohol-free just amazing in a revolution.
I [00:37:00] like
mary: to think so. Yeah. I definitely see a massive, I mean, we were talking about this right before we started, like, I think both of us before we started our separate accounts for sobriety and really started getting loud in online space. It's amazing how many people are out there. Like once you start to put the feelers out, you start talking about it.
All of a sudden it's like, whoa, this, this is definitely happening. And this is definitely a big movement. And I can tell you, it has changed dramatically over, you know, from that time I mentioned like, when I first got sober, this is why I'm so passionate about, I think it's important for me to speak up because at that time, as a young person, Fresh out of school, even in the rooms of AA, which I'm so grateful for.
I could find a million reasons why. But yeah, but like, you know, they're older, they're like, they've, they're already married. They're later on in their life and this isn't for me, but now it's like, you can [00:38:00] easily find people that look and you look like you, you relate to you, you know, aspire to have a similar lifestyle.
deb: Well, that's a good segue because I was wondering if you could share like when and why you started your, your kind of separate business. I don't even know if business would be the right word, but, but sun and moon sober living.
mary: Yeah. So it's funny. You know, I was very closeted about my sobriety for the first, like four years.
I, I shared publicly about it after I was four years sober. So I had already been traveling around teaching yoga retreats. And I remember when I was at her, I heard Elia leading all those retreats. We would go around and do our introduction, and I really wanted to share like, The reason that I was there was because I struggled from addiction, but it was like, my body would like contract.
I was so scared and I just, I wasn't [00:39:00] ready. And like, you know, I think it's important for anyone listening. If you're not ready to speak publicly, it's important to share your story to some people and to have that is essential, you know, to have your trusted circle, to have your community, but it took me a long time, you know, to, to be able to speak openly about it.
But I've had this deep. Desire to like help in some way. And so I started, I would share about it to my close friends, to other yoga teachers. It was about five years into my, no, a little, it was actually before I came out publicly. So like, in those first four years, I had the opportunity to teach a workshop to at a yoga teacher training, educating new teachers, basically on the idea that you will have people who struggle from addiction in your classes.
And so they could be a bit more like addiction, recovery informed and understand how these tools are going to help their students, even if they don't decide to focus on it, which I think is a really important conversation for any teacher [00:40:00] training. But it started to like, and when I got to kind of like feed that urge a little bit, it was like, I would get so lit up by those conversations.
And it would like, I just, I knew I was like, oh, this is what I'm meant to be doing, but it took me time and. I think what happened was when the pandemic hit, there was sort of on the one hand, you know, the pandemic became like the perfect storm for addiction and addiction started to skyrocket and it was becoming such an issue.
And I was feeling all these feelings about like the way that alcohol companies were targeting people who were under like intense amounts of stress and just all this toxic messaging, trying to like. Really like perpetuate and get more people addicted while we're seeing so many people suffering. So I had like this anger about that.
And then for the first time I wasn't running around the world teaching retreats because I really didn't have too much time before. Like I didn't really have the time to launch a big passion project or do a podcast. I didn't [00:41:00] have, I was living out of a suitcase. So I had a million excuses why I couldn't like follow through on this dream.
It was actually when I had been going through a sort of difficult time, you know, one year into the pandemic and having some people in my very close proximity, struggling a lot with their mental health. I just thought I'm not holding back on this anymore. And it was like, I just got in front of my computer and I started making a buzz site and just starting with a social media page and then it evolves from there.
So yeah, it's been. It's been amazing and it really is like, it's just such a passion project. You know, I love, I have zoom meetings where I can share the things that have worked for me, like set a theme, share some tools and then just have the most beautiful conversations with people. And yeah, the podcast, like being able to connect with you in this way, as I was saying, like right before this, it was [00:42:00] so funny because I started the podcast without putting any really big expectation on myself.
Like I just said, you know what. It's a passion project. I'm doing this to help people. If I don't have an episode every single week, or if I can only find enough people for like once a month, I'm like, I have enough people to last like 15 lifetimes. There's so many calls over people I want to talk to on there.
So yeah, it's just ever since I started it, it's been this constant, like there's been a momentum and a reminder that it's been the right thing to do so. Well. What do you see
deb: for your future?
mary: For the future of that. So obviously the podcast has been a really great part of that. It's something that I thought was going to be like a, sort of a small side thing, but it's something that I feel a lot of excitement towards.
So that will remain a part of it hosting group meetings, which are free, will remain a part of it. And I'm also in the process of building a course so that people can. Work through things either on their own and kind [00:43:00] of go through that material or do it in a live supported environment where I could kind of coach them through it.
And what I'm realizing is that I just, what I realized and when I think back about where I was is that we're all in different stages of this. And sometimes. Putting our face on a zoom screen and showing up live as much as I want to encourage people that it's a safe space. It's an inclusive space. You don't have to identify with a label.
You know, sometimes the entry point is listening to a recording, listening to a podcast. So I'm just trying to create as many channels, as many outlets as possible for people to consume, receive information, feel more confident, feel less alone. So. Yeah. If anyone has ideas for that, throw them my way. I'm usually just responding to what people ask for.
deb: he love that. Well, how can people find you?
mary: So you can find me. I have an Instagram page at sun and moon dot sober, [00:44:00] living the website, sun, and moon, sober living.com. You can sign up for my email list. There's free resources on there. I have a bundle of breathing and meditation practices. And if you sign up to my email list, I also share updates on when I.
The live zoom calls. So that's a really great way. I mean, those have been really special and they're not limited to people who suffer from addiction, even people who are kind of in the gray space, in the, in the, in the, still asking the question space, but that's a really nice way to be a part of the community.
deb: great. Before you go, I've been meaning to ask you, how did you come up with sun and moon? Where did that come from?
mary: Oh, thank you for asking that. I always mean to talk about that and then I don't get around to it. But so the idea with sun and moon is embracing the light and the dark. So I, when I was coming up with the name, I really [00:45:00] struggled because I thought.
I don't want to scare people away with the word addiction, even though I don't think that's, I don't see anything negative with that word, but I also don't want to deny the struggle that we all go through. And so some people, and whether that is addiction, whether that's really difficult emotions, just the challenges of being human.
It's really about embracing that as much at it, as it is embracing the positivity in life and everything. Sobriety opens up the connections, the ability to like, appreciate the world around you and live a full life. So it's sort of that whole idea of embracing all of it and, you know, just our humanness.
deb: love that because it, we are, you know, light and dark. We are, we're a rainbow really of emotions and human. Like that's beautiful.
mary: Exactly. And you brought up such a good point [00:46:00] earlier about, you know, like feeling the difficult, like the difficult emotions. When we were talking about surrender, it's like to be able to acknowledge.
I think it starts with being able to acknowledge like sometimes life is just uncomfortable and we just feel bad and that doesn't mean we need to numb out or reach for a substance. It's about learning to sit with that discomfort and having healthy coping skills in order to get through it and the support that we need.
And so I think that's a really important one. You know, there's a woman, Susan David, who writes about emotional agility. And one of her, my favorite quotes she says is discomfort is the cost of admission to a meaningful life. And it's just a way of like, reframing that idea of sitting with discomfort. Yeah.
As much as we could. I know you and I could just chat about the benefits of sobriety and cheer on it all day, but it's also just knowing, like it's okay to it's okay. To have the challenges like they [00:47:00] will pass and yeah.
deb: Oh, beautiful. Beautiful ending. Thank you. Thank you so much. We will chat more. We'll chat when we get together in person.
Once I like a live broadcast or something.
mary: A hundred percent. Well, thank you so much for having me on this really means a lot. .