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Feb. 8, 2022

Unwind Without Wine

Unwind Without Wine

In this episode, I look at what led me to decide to take a break from drinking. I get vulnerable and share what I unearthed by looking at my relationship with alcohol - including my biggest a-has and motivators- and what I hope to accomplish and experience through this exercise.

I am Erica Smigielski, a Depth Hypnosis and Applied Shamanic Practitioner. Soulful Soundbites is for anyone looking to nourish their soul in practical and relatable ways.

This episode looked at what led me to decide to break from drinking. I vulnerably shared what I unearthed by looking at my relationship with alcohol as well as what I hope to accomplish and experience through this exercise.

Main takeaways from this episode:

  1. When I looked at what attracted me to drinking, I noticed how attached I was to think I couldn't relax without a drink.
  2. This attachment got in the way of having meaningful conversations and nurturing relationships - without messy conversations after a few drinks.
  3. Sometimes it takes those we love to find the motivation to look at things differently and then take action.
  4. There are empowering ways to begin to loosen and unwind your attachments (or addictions) without shame and humiliation.
  5. When you put attention and intention on something, you become more porous and susceptible to noticing and feeling even more.

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Thank YOU for listening and an extra warm thank you to those of you who write a review, share the podcast with a friend, and engage in the Soulful Soundbites Community.

And much gratitude to

Erica Smigielski, creator, producer, and writer, continues to place energetic ‘milk bottles’ through each episode to help those who seek or need a ray of light.

Janae MacMaster and the QBR Team (quickbusinessresolutions.com) provide endless support (and tireless edits) to bring you this podcast.

Clementine Moss designed and recorded the music for Soulful Soundbites. Follow her and experience her magic at instagram.com/clemthegreat/.

Annie Grace captured her wisdom, research, and experiences related to alcohol - and without shame - in her book, “This Naked Mind.” Learn more about Annie and her book at thisnakedmind.com

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Hello, Friends.

Today is Friday, January 7th. And while my podcast doesn't launch until February 2nd, I feel compelled to start recording today. And the topic I'm covering is my decision to take a break from drinking alcohol. And while I'm not in love with alcohol being one of my first topics for this podcast - it feels relevant and timely.

So here we go.  

Let me start by providing context around this decision to break from drinking. This is an idea of been toying with for a good year as I look at my relationship with drinking.  

While I'd say I'm a casual drinker, there are Saturdays or Sundays when I wake up feeling less than a million bucks and forgetting conversations. I noticed how hard it was to parent the following day and how long it took me to get my day started. I was absolutely horrified and embarrassed a couple of times that our daughters saw me after having one too many drinks. That's NOT the model I want it to be for my girls, which also became the trigger for me to look closer and really examine my relationship with alcohol.

When I started looking at what attracts me to drinking, it was clear as day. I became reliant on a glass of wine or cocktail to help me slip into the weekend. The weekend was my time to unwind - with wine. And somehow, I began to think that I couldn't relax and settle into the weekend without a drink. This was my first a-ha.

I also recognized how important it is to have meaningful conversations and nurture meaningful relationships and friendships. And while a social setting indeed allows for that, I began to see that conversations were more open after a couple of drinks but were also very messy. I witnessed a dear friend express her feelings - that clearly had been percolating for some time - in a way that was hurtful and shocking. Shoot, I've even participated in those messy conversations in a way that was not a true reflection. This was my second a-ha.

My biggest a-ha was a camping trip last year with several families. With day-drinking leading into night-drinking, I went from whoa...that's enough. Water from here on out. To full-on, I'm a hot mess...in front of my super sensitive daughter and her sweet friend. This one hit me like a mac-truck. This is not the role model I want to be for my daughter or her friends, and it's time to look at my drinking habit.

Yes, it's the new year. Yes, new year resolutions are being set left and right. But that's not what this is about. This is about having a fresh start to try something different. 

So that's the context behind my decision to take a break. I'm not sure how long I plan to put my drinking "on ice" (pun intended). Unsure if it's forever. But it's for now, that feels good.  

So...January 1st was my last glass of wine. And today's Friday, my first Friday sans alcohol. And I gotta say I'm noticing this ingrained tendency that when Friday rolls around, and I'm feeling full or exhausted, I'm ready to just relax and coast into the weekend. And that usually has been escorted with a cocktail or a glass of wine. Interesting observation, right? 

So I'm feeling a little out of sorts. I'm feeling vulnerable, anxious, and a bit excited at the same time. I'm not going to lie...there's also a part of me that's questioning what the heck I'm doing and asking if this is really what I want to do. I hear those parts and thank them for wanting to protect the pathway that has historically allowed me to transition from weekday to weekend. So instead, my plan is to stir up a mocktail and celebrate my decision to take a break. After all, I've been mulling this over for a good couple of years.

What pushed me over the edge to get to this decision? A book that talked about drinking without shame. It's called "This Naked Mind" by Annie Grace. She describes one who chose to stop drinking as taking their power back by unwinding themselves from the attachment or addiction to alcohol - nothing about humiliation or browbeating. Instead, she focuses on the facts and weaves in a spiritual thread on this topic. I invite you to read it if you are traveling a similar path and realizing the impact of alcohol on your life.

Just this morning, I was reminded how much alcohol has become a part of my life because one of our daughters said, I really like Fridays, but I miss our happy hours. And thanks to Covid, "happy hour" has become a common term in our house and begs further explanation.

At the beginning of 2020, a few girlfriends and I got on Zoom and had a "happy hour" on a Friday evening. Unfortunately, it actually felt like a sad hour. And by the end of the discussion, I decided I was not going to attend any more sad hours as I could simply turn on the news for that. So at that moment, I chose to move away from living in fear and dwelling on what's NOT working and move towards an outdoor "happy hour" late Friday afternoons where we bring a camp chair and a cocktail to sit in the driveway - six feet apart - and share what IS working for them.  

It was lovely and uplifting and became a ritual since it provided a sense of community during a shelter-in-place *and* helped transition the workweek to the weekend, which was blurred when nearly everyone was working remotely. Our Friday Happy Hours bloomed into more neighbor friends joining, kids (and adults) outside playing, and more drinks flowing. It was an outlet for many and served many different needs. It carried us through several shelter-in-places, moved through the seasons, and became a normal practice in the neighborhood.

Sooo normal that the kids adopted the term "Happy Hour" as quickly as they adopt a new Roblox game. What they enjoy is everyone is chill, relaxed, and having fun. They see everyone enjoying each other's company, playing games (cornhole, anyone?), ordering in dinner, and simply being. My inner kid totally gets it. 

This time I want to achieve that same feeling - without drinking. We'll see how this goes. I am optimistic, skeptical, and even suspicious. But, most of all, I'm tremendously hopeful to experience life when...

  • I can feel all the feels
  • I can be with friends and family - fully as myself
  • I can notice those things that I didn't see before
  • And perhaps I invite others to entertain joining me on this experiment.

I gotta say this is NOT my intention as I'm not looking to impact anyone other than myself. And also our daughters to show them that life can be just as amazing without alcohol - especially as they enter their teenage years.

And since pondering this decision, I've become quite intrigued by the consumerism around alcohol. While I've learned drinking is the number one reason for the cause of death in the United States, this just blows me away. I might as well be drinking motor oil. And that is not my reference. That is Ann Grace's reference in her book. 

But think about that. I mean, it's pretty much equivalent to drinking poison to numb your senses. And speaking of numbing senses, I would even argue gaming and social media are other devices that numb your senses -- but that's another topic for another episode. 

Anyhow... similar to many things in life - including your healing journey - once you put attention and intention on something, you become more porous and susceptible to noticing and feeling more. Interesting, right? So...I'm floored at just how many commercials and advertisements exist that promote drinking. They imply drinking is fun, sexy, or sophisticated. I also notice how striking the bottles are and how pretty the glass looks when lined up in grocery store aisles. 

So returning to my intention on what I hope to accomplish by taking a break from drinking...


  1. Hands down, I want to show our daughters through my actions and expressions how one can live fully and transition into a state of happiness and feel relaxed without having a drink.  
  2. What happens when I connect with my inner experiences, those feelings, and those thoughts that I have, not only would I be congruent with my being, I wonder whether I'll find it even more natural and effortless to express my authentic, vulnerable feelings?  I also wonder, when walking between the worlds, as referenced in shamanism, does it feel different? Perhaps more calm and serene? 

So, here we are. It's Friday, and I'm stepping into the weekend sans alcohol - for the first time in a long while. While trepidacious, it also feels freeing.

And, I'll leave you with that…

Bye for now.