Reactions to Sober Choices

Missed an episode of Morning Smiles Podcast? Twice a month we’ll pull in our best tidbits and highlights so you can catch up. If something really resonates with you, we’ve linked exactly which episode to go back and listen to. 

Our goal with our Morning Smiles Podcast is to normalize conversations around sober, sober-ish, or a sober curious lifestyle by sharing our stories and hearing from thought leaders who have found ways to navigate professional meetings with their own choices.

EPISODE 2 Sober Choices:  I want to normalize sober choices, with Sober Life Rocks Co-Founder Laura Nelson

On January 4, 2024, our host Margy Schaller invited Laura Nelson to be her first official guest.  In the first 10 minutes, Laura shares her personal story of how social drinking turned into problem drinking during a particularly difficult time in her life. 

One of the most thought-provoking aspects of Laura’s sharing was her reflection on the concept of “gray area drinking.” This term resonated with her as it described a spectrum of alcohol use disorder, challenging the traditional black-and-white understanding of alcoholism. By recognizing this nuanced approach to alcohol consumption, it opens a broader conversation, acknowledging that sobriety is a personal journey that can vary for each individual. This understanding can help destigmatize the challenges faced by those who wish to abstain from alcohol, yet might not fit into the conventional image of alcoholism.

8:48 I heard a Ted Talk about grey-area drinking, and that was my AHA moment.

Laura made the decision to quit drinking right as we were going through the COVID lockdowns and found comfort in watching Tik Tok videos of others making the same journey.  This prompted her to post her own videos, creating a “diary” of her experiences.  She immediately understood the value of support and accountability.

The discussion delved into the unique challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition back to in-person events after a period of relative seclusion brought to surface the practical difficulties and social pressures individuals encounter in these settings. Laura’s experience of attending a conference and facing the alcohol-centric environment highlighted the need for more inclusive and mindful approaches at these gatherings. This emphasizes the necessity of creating an environment that respects and supports individuals’ choices around alcohol consumption.

In 2021, when we started traveling to meetings again, Laura experienced some interesting challenges when she encountered people she used to drink with.   

12:50 I went to an after-event party and I walked in and thought, “this is where I used to be in my drinking heyday and now, I’m not comfortable”.  Everyone was drinking so I had a couple conversations and then I realized most of these people don’t even notice if I’m here or not. I slipped out, downstairs I got myself a big old piece of chocolate cake and a cup of decaf coffee and I went back to my room, and I called my husband, and I ate cake and I was proud of it, so that’s been my new go-to at these events.

In the remainder of the podcast, Laura shares some of the interesting reactions she’s gotten when people offer her a drink and how she’s navigated those moments.


EPISODE 3 Sober Choices:  My health drives my sober choices, with Victoria Peterson


On January 12, 2024, Victoria Peterson, CEO and co-founder of the esteemed Productive Dentist Academy came on as a guest.  

Victoria Peterson’s candid sharing illuminates the journey of creating a supportive system and the courage to embrace the identity of being “sober-ish”. Pressures of professional life, especially for a working mother, often push one towards using alcohol as an emotional crutch, but through self-awareness and help from support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, one can prioritize health and make empowering choices.

“Early in my career I was a working mom, a hygienist working 8 to 5, four days a week with wonderful two itty Bitties in preschool, and gosh, conferences for me were a way to escape! No husband, no kids, nobody to feed, nobody saying mommy, mommy, mommy, and so back then it was just a party!”  

Victoria shared how she didn’t see any problem with her drinking, even when her go-to drink, cranberry and vodka, caused a severe allergy to Ocean Spray cranberry juice! “At no point did that begin to raise any bells, I was so blind to it.”

But one day, her marriage was in a bit of distress and she wasn’t handling it well, to the point that she woke up one day and said “I might be an alcoholic”. Listen in at min 13:30 to hear how her husband reacted to this news.  Despite this, Victoria got into AA and was sober and clean and dry for two years.  “My body and my soul was calling me back and I just had to make some changes.”

Sober Choices: Today Victoria is a sober-ish and a fervent sober wingman, supporting everyone in having all their choices. 

17:28 “If you’re in a phase where you might be a little out of control, I’ve experienced that, and I’ll be the one to put bumpers around you and gently or not so gently help you get to safety.” 

Balancing the dual identity of an introverted extrovert at professional events requires tactical planning. Victoria shares her conference attendance strategy, which includes leaving early to decompress and having a list of individuals for intentional networking. Self-care is paramount, be it through yoga, meditation, or simply rehydrating with a favorite non-alcoholic drink like a cucumber and lime spritzer.

Adopting the ‘wingman’ mentality entails being the support for others navigating sobriety, reflecting both empathy and responsibility. By sharing strategies for managing anxiety and encouraging self-care in social settings, Sober Life Rocks fosters community and guidance for those opting to drink less or not at all.

In the remainder of the podcast, Victoria shares how she takes better care of herself at conferences these days, from building in time to replenish her energy, to taking specific supplements, to strategies for networking. 

The narrative of sobriety and making conscious decisions in life’s events is multifaceted and complex. Through open dialogues like those between Margy Schaller and Victoria Peterson, ‘Morning Smiles Podcast’ traverses the challenges and triumphs of sobriety with grace, guiding listeners towards making choices that not only ensure a happier present but also a brighter, more fulfilling future.

 Don’t miss the end where Margy asks Victoria some fun quickfire questions!


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