A gorgeous friend asked me last night how this whole 'thang' started - and since so many new people have joined this page - I thought this might be of interest to you.
Okey dokes - here 'tis:
#SITC was never a ‘plan’. It happened over time and was born out of a personal wish to see the huge, gaping hole in how we tackle health in the bush more effectively addressed.
But let's step back a sec.
When I nearly lost my own life, I spent the first year in my own ‘recovery’ focused 100% on getting well. For more on that, see a health testimony I did with Living Valley Springs here.
In year two, I studied and became a certified health coach – because integrative health (along with emotional support and much hard yakka) was critical for my own return to health.
In year three, after absorbing my own sheer disbelief at how it was virtually impossible to get help rurally, I just couldn't stop thinking about the horrific disconnect we have in rural Australia for working professionals and peers to access real, relatable conversation and connections. It kept me awake night after night.
Then, one day, I saw Talitha Cummins talking publicly about her alcoholism. (She is a Sydney-based former news reporter and all ‘round legend and total babe.)
Anyhow - it occurred to me that this country needed a ‘rural’ version of Talitha. Somebody who had lived, breathed, and understood intrinsically every aspect of rural life, talk, and lingo. Somebody who could speak publicly, communicate, connect, and someone who’d experienced the booze culture from uni days to near death. Somebody with a big rural reach and network.
And then, I realised, I was more than equipped to do all of those things.
So, I set about making it happen. One day at a time, one blog at a time, and one dream of the future at a time.
I have never once wavered in a firm-held belief that I could do this thing and be that person. Possibly because I knew for a fact no other rural person in a small town environment would be crazy enough to go there …. And partly because I knew once I started, that a #metoo movement would follow. And it has, and it is.
And also because I am 100% passionate and wholeheartedly invested in doing something worthwhile with the years I have left on this earth.
And finally, because I feel mandated to do this thing. I had a miracle. I survived. And it’s utterly insane to think that others out there, trapped, alone, scared and ashamed don’t have the access to the hope and education that will potentially save their lives.
And that as I learned, the path to hope and change usually begins with nothing more than a simple conversation and in knowing, for the first time in your life, that you are not alone.
Alcoholics are not faulty people – they are sick people. And often they come with a tragic back-story that few have heard or could understand.
Those of ‘us’ who make the courageous decision to ‘come out’, get brutally honest, seek help, and take action – will be astonished at what transpires once they step out of that dark place.
As the old saying goes: the truth will set you free.
Truly, I compare coming out as a recovered alcoholic in a small town to how gay friends said they once felt when they were preparing to come out, in a small country town.
Two things happen:
1) Your mates pat you on the back, say that they’ve always known something was up, and volunteer to support and help in any way they can.
2) ‘Mates’ around you who are struggling with booze themselves but haven’t yet come to the point of acknowledging it, will back away and be very uncomfortable - and they may even challenge you and attempt to convince you what you're doing is crazy.
Getting and staying sober usually turns out to not be the ‘wet blanket’ most of us have thought it would be. Back when we were drinking, a life without grog seemed like no life at all – especially not in the COUNTRY *gasp* and then, behold, living sober turns out to be REAL living, with real joy, and real hope.
The trick is to get and stay sober, if you’re one of us humans who are ‘’allergic’’ to booze – or, as I like to say, one of us humans who have in fact turned out to be the biggest rebels of all.
Those who choose to say no to this beautifully marketed and appealing addictive DRUG in a nation that embraces one of the deadliest diseases of all. In a nation that loves to value a bloke by how many beers he can sink without passing out.
So if you are here and if you are watching - please know, you are helping me change the face of the booze culture and casual-alcoholism epidemic across rural Australia. Your support, eyes, ears, and discussions are literally imperative to this work, and if I could meet you and hug you I would.
Things are starting to gather serious momentum. Which is what I always planned and worked my butt off for, but, now that it’s happening – I am overwhelmed with gratitude and VERY busy indeed responding to floods and floods of emails, messages, and support.
Not because I am anything extraordinary – but because of my very ordinariness. Because I could be you, your Mum, your sister, your friend.
Because this is a real and terrifying thing impacting half our rural population.
And because I am the bugger who was silly enough to go ‘first’ and take it on.
A good woman I know once described what I am doing as ‘’going forward and breaking up the soil so others can walk behind a little more easily’’ – and I thought that was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever heard – because that’s entirely my aim.
I also believe that the reason #SITC is taking off is quite simply because half of the rural population resonates. It’s that simple.
Secondly; I want to re-iterate some critical points that I’ve been making for years but you need to be aware of if you’re new to the #SITC family.
I will bullet-point these, ‘cause everyone loves bullets.
Firstly: to remind you about me and my ‘’full disclaimers’’
• I am a certified health coach, business woman, and (handily) a recovered alcoholic – and our page here at #SITC is, at this stage, run by me, volunteering 100% of everything
• The page is very simply for those who want to cut back or stop drinking altogether
• It’s just me, sharing and doing what I can as a one-woman show & volunteer to get real, relatable information out there into the wide blue yonder
• The last four years of my life have in fact been dedicated more-or-less entirely to saving my life, re-gaining my health, and then – paying it forward by establishing #SITC to reach other rural peers; because what’s currently out there is not working. At all.
• I am working my BUTT off to get funding and help so that I can include webinars, training, and better support via the #SITC website
• I am NOT an enlightened ‘guru’ who will ever, ever, ever claim that I can save anybody. That is a dangerous statement for anybody to make – so please steer clear if you’re being sold snake-oil from the aforementioned self-styled gurus who can and do capitalise on our vulnerable people who are desperate for help and claim radical healing
• The only person who can save somebody is the person themselves. There aren’t magic tricks and potions and four-week programmes that will rocket you to ‘’wellness’’.
• A choice to live a sober life is 100% about honesty (brutal honesty, at times) and good old-fashioned hard yakka. I am hoping that my curated blog-shares and info will help people learn how to do and be those things
My vision for rural Australia is a place in which we have fund-raisers and rallies and bake-offs for all our sick mates. Whatever the disease might be. Including alcoholism. My dream is that we stop telling alcoholics to go hide out in anonymous meetings after we’ve spent half a lifetime pouring beers down their neck at our local pub. My prayer is that through honest conversations, real talk, and real people – we will prevent preventable diseases like alcoholism and all the cancers that come with it.
If you can help me do that – we will change this nation.
The only thing I am slightly concerned about is that the multinational breweries whose CEO’s get rich from our sickest community members will send an assassin for me in the night. So, let me know if you see anyone lurking outside my place in a balaclava, will you? Because I plan to really shake this rock-show up and make it not okay. One day, one beer, one ‘’wine o’clock’’at a time.
OH AND PS - the logo I made? Can you guess what I might be poking a little bit of old-fashioned fun at? Hint - it's a show.
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