While it's an incredible story about Beth's relationship with chess, it's also about her relationship with alcohol and substances. How did you feel watching it? Let us know below (no spoilers!). ⬇️
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Hi all! 🌱Back again, Monument Daisy / Content + Community lover 🤓(By the way, have you checked out our brand-new Resources page yet? 😉) I check in on the forum a few times a day to say Hiya 👋 and to answer any questions that you may have! I love hearing from you.
As always, you are for showing up here and showing up for yourselves. We're so lucky to have you. Can you believe our Community has grown to over 10,000+ MEMBERS?! ✨✨✨
Last week, I did a roundup of weekly highlights. As a refresher for newer folks: member shout-outs, quotes of the week, questions of the week, and beyond!
For this week, I’m giving major virtual high-fives to @sunny_apple_681 , @josephine29 , and@carmen_kisses for their thoughtful participation in the community: for sharing their stories, and their words of encouragement for others. ✅💖
And of course, I want to give another shout-out to the 277 new members who joined Monument last week. You're all crushing it.
You got this!
Hi all! 🌱As I'm sure you can guess, my name is Daisy, and I lead content and community here at Monument 🤓(Have you checked out our brand-new Resources page yet? 😉) I check in on the forum a few times a day to say Hi 👋 and to answer any questions that you may have! I love hearing from you.
Oh, and first, I’d just like to say how incredible you are for showing up here and showing up for yourselves. We're so lucky to have you 🌈
Starting today, I’m going to do a roundup of weekly highlights. Think: member shout-outs, quotes of the week, questions of the week, and beyond! So let’s kick things off with a virtual high-five to @monumentmuppet , @tropical_banjo_183 , and @turquoise_forest_348 , for their thoughtful participation in the community last week: for sharing their inspiring progress, and their words of encouragement for others. You make this platform what it is!
I’d also like to bump up a question asked by @soberbartender -- I know it gave me a lot to think about! In short, let’s talk self-compassion. Comment your thoughts below ⬇️⬇️⬇️ and give @soberbartender some love for starting this important convo! 💚
And of course, I want to give another shout-out to the 412 new members who joined Monument last week. You're all total rockstars.
You got this!
Check out this chat between one of the amazing therapists on our platform, Sabrina, and dating expert Lindsey of We Met At Acme talked about how drinking (and sobriety!) can affect dating & relationships. 🤩
Jump to 10:00 for one of my favorite takes: sobriety is sexy.
By: Daisy Gumin, Community @Monument
I assumed that within my first 60 days sober, I would become a girlfriend. I thought I would lose weight, become not depressed for starters, and of course, fall into an extraordinary amount of money.
Unsurprisingly, those things didn’t happen in the first 60 days and sure, a few still haven’t come true, now three years later. I will say, however, that my life has gotten exponentially better, and yes, stay with me here…fun.
Pre-COVID, having fun felt fairly easy. I enjoy dancing, eating. Obviously, going dancing and Friday night restaurant-hopping date-nights with my girlfriend aren’t pandemic friendly.
But! Here’s the but — I am still having fun. So, I’m sharing the activities that are keeping me in good spirits. Peppy, even. Let me preface this with, I still get sad and lonely and confused and furious like anyone else. Take one look around. But, I promise, one of these will scratch the itch. Even if it’s a half-fake smile or a single laugh — that’s enough for me. You’ve officially had fun and I’ve done my job.
Ok, so first, cook something new
I hate chopping things. That’s probably my least favorite part of cooking (In the event that I do cook). And what requires little chopping? Yep. You guessed it: Sour cream and onion biscuits.
Biscuits are great; I love biscuits. But, I also wanted to prove myself to myself. Like I, Daisy Gumin, can make biscuits and if I don’t have fun making them, I will undoubtedly have fun eating them.
Back home in New York City, I fell into the humdrum of egg, oatmeal, toast, smoothie (but no shade to Daily Harvest. Excellent smoothies.). A silver lining of quarantine is that wherever you are, you can make the time for things. The days of I don’t have time to make sour cream and onion biscuits are canceled.
In other words, make the biscuits — whatever your biscuit thing is.
I am not proud to say that I am occasionally a nay-sayer when it comes to traditional games. Ask me to play Monopoly? No. Uno? Eh. Scrabble? Have to be in the mood to be creamed by my family.
Now, Enter Jackbox.
Ah, Jackbox. The king of all games. The ultimate unifier. The games that don’t care if you’re young or old or funny or not. Jackbox games are the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time).
And no, I am not an ambassador.
Jackbox is a series of games that you can play with anyone (together or not) at any time, as long as everyone has the “room code.” These are drawing games, fill-in-the-blank games, laugh out loud competition games, trivia games. Believe me when I say, if all else fails, Jackbox will be your lifeline. And, if you don’t know where to start, try Jackbox’s “Quiplash” and “Drawful.”
Make an AF drink (Hold your horses, it means alcohol-free)
One of my favorite rituals of Friday night restaurant-hopping date-nights was asking the bartender, I’d like a cocktail without alcohol. Whatever you want to make, just no alcohol. Go Crazy.
I’ve had tons of success with that opener. I’ve had muddled tomato and lavender in elderflower tonic. Pineapple, Thai tea, and coconut milk in a Moscow mule gauntlet. Citrus on citrus on citrus adorned with boysenberries.
It’s safe to say I was devastated when shelter-in-place went into-place and I could no longer do my proud, I want a delicious bev and hold the alcohol introduction. The good news is, the AF beverage industry is booming. Spirits, wines, beers, all AF.
Alas, in quarantine, I had to become my own bartender. But let me tell you, there’s nothing better than passing your drink around a table of alcoholic cocktails and getting the, “yours is the best” remark.
Like, yes. Thanks. I know.
Date (but very, very, for the love of god VERY, safely)
I love dates, whether with my partner or a friend. Pre-COVID, dates were my highlight of the week. Dates bring that sweet anticipation, the opportunity for spontaneity, and joy.
Spontaneity is somewhat impossible in the time of Coronavirus. *Safety is wildly more important than a last-minute plan for the sake of adventure.
So, my partner and I adapted (with the advice of some other couples-in-quarantine) and started putting together COVID friendly date-nights. Here’s my advice.
- Get dressed (dressed, dressed. Like, changing from the clothes you slept in, dressed)
- Order take-out
- Put the phones away
- Make your AF drinks
Workout to Youtube
Before shelter in place, I wasn’t working out. Sue me.
I was doing triple overnight shifts at a sober living home and thought if anyone is busy, it’s me. Upon reflection, I think everyone believes they’re the only busy New Yorker.
But, if you want to flex that muscle (no pun intended), Youtube is a great place to start. You might surprise yourself. The 20-minute MadFit video could turn into two. Maybe you end up mixing and matching with Chloe Ting, POPSUGAR Fitness, and a full-body 5-minute boost to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, as the finale.
Lastly, serve up some nostalgia
Do something that brings you back. A flashback Friday kind of thing.
For me, I’ve started rollerblading again. I think the last time I rollerbladed I was 11-years-old and had just officially gotten over my unicycle phase, for better or for worse.
Anyway, get back in touch with that childlike you, before well, this pandemic. Or long before this pandemic. Let yourself look dorky. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Some lighthearted goofery never hurt anyone.
I promise, there’s fun out there (especially sober). Because who are we kidding, booze is so un-fun.
About the Author: An NYC native, Daisy works on the marketing team at Monument doing all things content and community. Daisy has been an addiction recovery support specialist, a Columbia University undergrad, a columnist, a keynote speaker, a notoriously Highly Sensitive Person, and a proud circus recruit. Daisy loves crime podcasts, her West Virginian god-dog Louise, sweatpants, and 90-Day Fiance. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Kimberley Rodriguez, LMFT, CAP, therapist at Monument
Our “ideal self” is who we want to become. It’s an image of ourselves that we develop over time. Our ideal self could come from what our parents taught us, what we admire in others, what our society promotes, our own values, or all of the above. Aligning the way you are with the way you want to be is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s a really helpful exercise in motivating yourself to keep going. So, let’s try it.
If you’re having trouble visualizing what your ideal self looks like — that’s okay! Making out that model version of ourselves takes time. Below I’ll lay out two exercises, both of which are best practiced with pen and paper. This way, you can always refer back to your notes and reset: Where do I want to go again? Right. This is how I’ll get there.
First, let’s do some visualization. Put a face to your ideal self.
And as this ideal-self,
- How would you describe yourself? Name 3 adjectives.
- What is your life like? Name 3 adjectives.
- What does your relationship look like with alcohol?
- Where are you living?
- Where are you working?
- How would you describe your relationships? Your family, friends, partner(s)?
- How do you show up for others?
- How do you show up for yourself?
- What values are you living by?
- What opportunities do you have for growth?
Next, let’s determine how you can get there.
Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions:
- How important is it to you to achieve the ideal self?
- What is your ideal relationship with alcohol?
- When are you planning to make the changes necessary to achieve this ideal self?
- What resources and opportunities do you have that will help you work toward your ideal self?
- What hurdles do you anticipate? How can these be part of the growth process?
- What factors inform your vision of your ideal self?
- Who do you know that is similar to your ideal self?
- What single, small behavior can you improve as the first step toward your ideal self?
- What’s a feasible way to chart your progress? A daily journal? Weekly check-ins with a friend? A sticky note on your mirror with a goal of the day? The month?
There you go! Now you should have a better idea of your ideal self, and how you can become more YOU. These lists will change over time, and you can re-do this exercise as many times as it’s helpful. I recommend every few months.
In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, there’s a teaching that I’d like you to think of during moments where you’re lacking motivation: “I’m doing the best I can, and I can do better.”
Push yourself to grow, and be patient with yourself along the way. Do this by creating an action plan that takes it day by day.
And keep in touch! Make sure to check out our virtual Support Groups (I moderate a few!) and explore our Personalized Treatment options to learn about how therapy can help you change your drinking. I’m rooting for you!
I have been in the mental health field for the past 20 years. I have been licensed in Marriage, Family, and Addiction Therapy for the past 14 years. I specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Crisis intervention Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Compassion Focused Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Group Therapy and Play Therapy. I have worked with ages 5- 85 who have had alcohol, gambling, and drug issues, low self-esteem, family and relational discord, PTSD, depression, anxiety eating disorders, grief and loss issues, anger and rage issues, domestic violence, sexual abuse, cultural issues, ADHD, abandonment issues, attachment issues, aging and geriatric issues, codependency, life-threatening health issues, communication issues, compulsive issues, elder abuse, and Family of Origin issues. I have worked with people diagnosed as Antisocial, Narcissistic, Bipolar, Dual Diagnosis, Schizophrenia, and other mental health issues.
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is sinister. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed."
So, how can you feed the good wolf today? 🌛 Comment below!
By Latiana Blue, Founder of OFFICE HRS
When I stopped drinking, I had strange, repetitive dreams — like planes crashing around me and not breaking — and I woke up frequently in the middle of the night.
Like many folks in early recovery, I struggled with depression. I stayed up late and craved alcohol when I should’ve been sleeping. I felt exhausted and outside of work, I spent most of my time alone, hanging onto what energy I did have like a sponge.
COVID-19 isolation was the incentive I needed to take my sleep habits more seriously. Creating a nighttime routine has improved my energy, and I feel more empowered to take better care of myself. It’s not perfect, but it’s one I can stick to.
So, here’s a bit of guidance for sleeping better during recovery. And, to help organize your bedtime ritual, try my guide at the end of this article. Let’s create a more sustainable nighttime routine starting tonight!
Why good sleep matters in early recovery
Your previous night’s sleep can change the entire course of your day, and if mistreated long enough, nature will slow your body down for you. Mark Wu, M.D, Ph.D, a sleep disorder specialist and neurology professor at Johns Hopkins, explains, “Your body can’t force you to eat when you’re hungry, but when you’re tired, it can put you to sleep, even if you’re in a meeting or behind the wheel of a car.”
Sleep is a lot like water: the body needs it to function, and works better when we have enough. In early recovery, though, it’s common to experience disruptive sleep patterns. Our worries tend to magnify when alcohol cannot distract us, especially if we’re used to drinking before bed.
Adjust your beliefs about rest
During recovery, it’s common to exchange one unhealthy habit for another. Personally, as a longtime night owl, I’m slowly breaking the curse of being illuminated in the dark by my laptop.
In order to adjust any of my unhealthy nighttime habits, I had to reframe what I believed about rest. For example, rest can look like any of the following, and always leads to a good night’s sleep for me:
1. Calling someone I trust
I love phone calls. If it’s getting late and I need an ear, I know who I can talk to for support. These are folks I’m closest to, and after years of friendship, they know how to ease what stress I’m spewing over the phone. I always feel relieved and ready for bed.
2. Listening to meditative singing bowls
I found this Tibetan singing bowl video years ago, and it’s a fail-proof resource when I really can’t sleep. It’s nine hours long, so it can accompany you through a full night’s rest, or if you’re working from home and want a soothing space during the day.
3. Adjusting my room temperature
Keeping a level head goes out the window when my body is too hot. A hot room interrupts your sleep stages and your body’s natural cooling process. On the other end of the spectrum, a room that’s too cold isn’t great either. Oftentimes, too cold of a room simply makes it difficult to get to bed. So, finding what a balanced temperature looks for you is key. For me, the moment I cool down my bedroom a bit, I go from stressed to calm in a matter of minutes.
Make your nighttime routine stick
When I try something new, I like to think about what I’ll gain if I commit, fully. The same applies when creating a nighttime routine. I think about how much better I’ll feel if I get to bed just 15 minutes sooner than the night before.
When adjusting to new habits, it’s good to experiment, start simple, and settle on what feels right. If you’re looking for a little structure, see if my guide helps!
Set an alarm for 15 minutes. Answer the following five questions, and then reflect on healthy activities you can manage before bedtime. A few of my favorite activities are below.
August Sleep Questions
- How many hours of sleep do I get right now?
- What overall factors prevent me from getting better sleep?
- What would I like to do more often before bed?
- How would I like to feel before bed?
- How would I like to feel when I wake up?
Soothing Activities I Enjoy
- Prayer or meditation
- Playing my keyboard badly!
- Watching anime
Set another alarm for 15 minutes. List your sleep goals for the next month and create a plan for how you can achieve them. Check out my list for August:
August Sleep Goals
- Work toward long-term 10:30pm bedtime goal
- Detach from technology after 10:30pm
- Start journaling about my relationship to rest
August Sleep Challenge
- Fall asleep by 11:00pm from 8/4 to 8/7. (My current bedtime is 11:30pm.)
- During the same week, put my phone and computer in the closet by 10:30pm
- Journal about rest for 5 minutes everyday during the challenge
Record your experiences — any changes in mood, restfulness, or adverse effects — throughout August. You can keep a note on your phone or in a notebook and title it “My Nighttime Routine: August.” If daily upkeep sounds overwhelming, remember that one sentence counts, and one day, you’ll be looking back at your steady commitment to making long-term progress.
If my guide helps you regain control over your sleep regimen, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. With a structured plan, my hope is that your outlook for tomorrow looks clearer, calmer, and a lot more rested.
About the Author: Latiana Blue enjoys solving any problem with a creative solution. She’s also the founder of OFFICE HRS, an alcohol-free community for Black folks everywhere. Through OFFICE HRS, she’s working toward her big vision: a world where dry communal spaces are a normal way to celebrate, build community, and hold critical conversations. Latiana has been alcohol-free for over two years. Follow OFFICE HRS on Instagram and her new personal account @heylatiana.
By Sabrina Spotorno, LCSW-CASAC
As a therapist specializing in substance use, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, can I moderate my drinking, or should I quit altogether and be sober? In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The path to changing your relationship with alcohol is deeply personal. What I’ve come to find is that no matter which route you take, it’s important to look at the heart of your question: what are you hoping to get out of this journey?
Below, I’ll lay out five questions that I’d like you to reflect upon. And after reflecting, I’m confident you’ll feel closer to understanding which approach to changing your drinking best aligns with your hopes, needs, goals, and intentions.
First, how does alcohol impact my wellness?
Usually, when we’re in an unhealthy relationship, we lose sight of its impact. We develop a blind spot of sorts. A tool I often share with my patients to access that blind spot is the eight dimensions of wellness chart. Each dimension represents an aspect of wellness that alcohol use can affect: emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, physical, financial, and environmental. My general rule of thumb is that if it has affected four or more areas, you’ll need to put a significant pause on drinking. The greater the impact drinking has on your life, the harder it will be to moderate. Now, whether you decide to stop drinking entirely or not, I encourage you to check back in with your chart regularly. Ask yourself: Do these dimensions look any different?
And if not, how can you course correct?
This chart can also serve as a way to visualize some goals and to guide you in taking action. For example, perhaps you’d like to better your social sphere. That might mean having socially distanced coffee with a friend once a week, or more abstractly, giving yourself permission to share openly with your community about your recovery. This wellness chart can be somewhat of a vision board: what would you like to improve in order to live a healthier and happier life?
When it comes to deciding to moderate or stop drinking, think about how those choices will affect your chart. Can you achieve those goals with alcohol in your life?
How do I go for a swim?
Stay with me.
Are you someone who prefers to dip their toe in the pool or do you cannonball right in? Do you enjoy swimming around or finding something to float on? Do you dive or do you sink in, one step at a time, to keep your head above water?
There is no right or wrong answer. We’re all complex beings, with vastly different tendencies. Whatever your answer may be, getting a solid sense of our patterns can better support making a change. When our approach to change matches with our patterns, we gain awareness of how to achieve our goals. Deciding whether to dip your toe in the water (moderation) or to dive right in (stopping cold turkey) takes recognition of our nature. It’s also important to note that your approach doesn’t necessarily equal your endpoint. You might want to start moderating to reach an ultimate goal for sobriety because easing into things works best for you. You are not locked into any given path.
Either way, understanding your instincts and preferences will give you the insight you’ll need to make informed decisions about the best way forward.
What do I feel attached to?
As you examine your relationship with alcohol, take note of your attachment to it. Ask yourself this: What space does alcohol occupy in my life?What has it given me? What has it taken? What do I want from alcohol? What do I believe I need from alcohol? If it were a person, who would it be? A friend? A partner? How would I define this relationship: safe or dangerous? Kind or unkind?
The benefit of personifying alcohol is that it can bring greater clarity to its function in our lives. The bigger the role alcohol plays, the more challenging it will be to control it. If alcohol plays a leading role in your life, that might mean sobriety is a more attainable goal. If it’s more of a supporting character, perhaps moderation can work for you both.
Taking a look at that attachment and asking ‘is this relationship net-positive or net-negative,’ is a useful tool for assessing if this a relationship worth sustaining and to what degree.
What do I value?
With my patients, I frequently suggest writing out a ‘values inventory.’ Exploring our fundamental values system is a great way to get to know ourselves even better. Let’s start by dividing a paper into three columns.
- In the first column, list some concrete values you hold. For example, I value compassion.
- In the second column, next to each value, write out how it shows up in your day-to-day routine. For example, because I value compassion, I strive to give each patient my undivided attention during session.
- Now, in the third column, write out the why. Why does this value matter to you? For me, compassion matters because I want others to feel safe and heard.
As it concerns alcohol, inquire about whether your values are being met. Living through your values is an excellent indicator of how you can best honor yourself in your journey to change your drinking — whether that’s by way of balanced alcohol intake or none at all.
And last but not least: Do I believe in myself?
Believing in yourself is the most important part of continuing your growth in any stage of this journey. Whether you set goals for sobriety or moderation, you have to believe that you can achieve them.
Changing your drinking requires honest self-reflection and self-compassion. Think back on these questions, and evaluate if the sobriety or moderation path is best you right now. And also remember that paths intertwine, loop, and cross. This journey is not always linear, but it is worth it. Believing in yourself is setting yourself up to succeed. I know you can do this, and I believe in you.
Sabrina Spotorno, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with an affinity for working with children, adolescents, individuals, and families. She is a therapist on the Monument platform, and is trained in several modalities, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Narrative Therapy. She’s passionate about empowering her clients to recognize their strengths amidst their life transitions to optimize their sense of efficacy and alignment of their actions with their beliefs and dreams.