Tammi Salas, my creative friend and podcast partner, and I just celebrated 100 episodes of The Unruffled Podcast. That’s 100 weeks, 100 Mondays in a row, showing up with a recorded conversation either between the two of us or with a guest, talking about recovery and creativity and then launching it out into a sea of podcasts, just hoping that someone finds it that needs to hear it. Contemplating the significance of that got me thinking about my big Why, why for starting the podcast and this site before that. When I first quit drinking and started to do the work of recovery, I began hearing these questions from other women in my sobriety circles, “Okay I’m sober, now what?” Putting this site, and eventually the podcast, out into the world was to help women answer that question and more importantly, to help myself. It’s been an exploration for me, still is and in an effort to revisit that Why, I counted down to the release of the podcast and for seven days, I posted something on Instagram that I’m currently doing that stretches my creativity and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, keeps me in this gig. I thought I would repost all seven here, just to have them in one spot so that we can all revisit them if and when we need a reminder.
A robe? Duster? A swing coat? I think we'd have to ask a Reagan-era Neiman Marcus salesclerk.
Really though, in an effort to breathe a little new life into my IG account and to countdown to the 100th (!) episode of @theunruffledpodcast, I thought it would be fun to revisit the roots of why I started theunruffled.com and why @tammisalas and I started the podcast. It was for the person who got sober and said, Now what? What do I do with all of this time, all of this space, all of this energy? We share how we fill that void on the podcast, we have guests that do the same. Some things I did in the very beginning of my sobriety and still do, but my interests change, my attention is always in flux. For the next seven days, I'm going to post some things that I do in a week that keep me sharp, motivated, fulfilled, that keep the bow of my ship pointed north.
I love to thrift. I love vintage. I love that I can nearly reinvent myself with clothing on the daily. It's also an inexpensive way to explore your style because maybe you had a style but you lost it along the way. Sometimes I like to dress up a piece and then get back into my leggings for no other reason than because it's fun. And to post funny commentary on IG, of course 😉
My current library haul 📚
Perhaps it's obvious that you can fill newly expansive sober time with reading but maybe you're asking: what does that have to do with my own creative endeavors? When I got sober, I started reading differently. Not only was I better comprehending what I was reading (not to mention all of the paragraphs, pages I didn't have to reread like when I was drinkin' and readin'), but I started to treat each book like a class, like I was back in school. That's why my journal is there on the top of this stack. I use books as a launching off point, other's words to inspire my own. And P.S. Do you use your library's interloaning system? Life-changing for me. I catch wind of a book I want to read, I request a hold and it shows up on my personal shelf at my local library. I'm on that site more than Google some weeks, definitely has cut down on impulsive Amazon purchases 🤣
Look, I'm almost 50. I've done some things but there are many creative challenges I'd still like to try on. And yes, I realize some ships have just sailed and I'll never be a Fly Girl on In Living Color nor be Eliza in Hamilton 😑 But when I first got sober, I really laid into myself for squandering so much time, that elusive, scarce commodity that only ever seems to bullet train when we want it to slow the F down and then not more than waddle when we want to be there already. Instead of resigning into wistful regret and staying there, sobriety has given me a "let's do this" attitude and maybe it's also a bit of that Fuck It that comes with age, but I'm much more of a Yes-sayer than I've ever been. If there's something you've wanted to try and you're tired of hearing yourself say, That's not for me, I beg of you to challenge that. Why not? What else are you going to do? 🤷
Could have swam in the springs yesterday but just like that, back in soup weather. Never boring, Texas.
I love to cook. I always have, except for that ten year stretch when I was with someone who convinced me that I was a terrible cook, buuuttt not relevant to this story. I come from a line of very good cooks, I love a warm kitchen, I love the smells of roasting peppers and banana bread. For twenty years (minus gestating two babies), there was never a night that I was cooking that there wasn't a bottle of wine open. Never. The two were so intertwined for me, like Sonny and Cher, long past the time they were even good for each other. I have many horror stories that I won't get into here but believe me, they go beyond burned cookies. When I quit drinking I honestly thought I'd never cook again. I didn't for a long time. I picked up pre-made food, had my husband pick up the slack but when I got tired of that, I broke out the crockpot and loaded that in the morning while I drank loads of coffee. It worked and eventually, I lost my muscle memory and I could get back in the kitchen without fear. I love Pinterest, I have two shelves of cookbooks, I enjoy providing nourishment for my family. There's an essential joy i experience that alcohol couldn't rip away and I'm really thankful for that.
In the mid-90s, I went back to college for photography. I had a Sociology degree and a teaching certificate but I knew I wasn't done. It was the first time I acknowledged that I had a creative desire and I finally let myself get off the sidelines to jump in, even though I had no idea if I could even make a viable career of it. I worked hard, I accepted lots of opportunities to work on my craft, I was eager to get better. I've definitely put in my 10K hours, but booze shelved my ambition on many occasions. Sigh. Now, it's just something I do, like breathing, I've lost my competitive edge for it and that's okay. The most miraculous thing about a phone for me is that I always have a camera in my pocket. A wise teacher once told me that a good photo can exist regardless of the equipment, which was a pretty sweet thing to say to poor college students 😍 I love to play with composition, lighting, color even with a few phone pixels and sure, who doesn't like the Likes, but self-gratification is the ultimate reward. There is nothing I love more than Springtime and a slow, exploratory walk, even if I go nowhere but my own hood. I'm the lady in the hoodie, stooped over a flower. Just jog around me 😂
Sit. Stay. Heal. (Those are my friend @spike.gillespie 's words, not mine. She wrote an amazing book with that title that you should read, btw.) I don't sit on a pretty meditation pillows (even though I make pretty meditation pillows, you own one, right 😂?). I sit right here on my 70s La-z-boy that's in dire need of a reupholstery job, by the window that looks out to my front yard, birds, cars and joggers to distract me or lull me, depending on the day. I read, I meditate, I write, I'm quiet. You can find me here every morning before the sun comes up, and 4.5 years later, it still feels like peaceful bliss. There are many gifts I received from getting sober that I never knew I needed and this morning time is top on my list. This is my antithesis to frenzied, chaotic, sweaty, heart-palpitating days and refills the well from which I draw anything I do creatively. Everyday, a reset, everyday, a reprieve, everyday, a recipient of this crazy exhilarating and complicated life 💜
To have a room of my own, especially after I had kids and suffered losing my identity, was all I ever wanted. And then we built a whole studio. It's small, it's in the back of my yard, not attached to the house, close but far enough away. All of my favorite things are in that studio: shelves and shelves of fabric and lace, trim, crochet, bits I've collected for 20+ years. It's pretty magical, I can wander in there and not come out for hours, a whole day. I also did a lot of sneaky drinking out there, hiding, pretending, in denial about a lot of things, mostly the implications of sneaking, hiding and pretending. When I quit drinking, I could only spend a few minutes here or there, threw out bottles, moved my sewing machine into the house for a while, for a long time actually. The ghosts lingered but eventually I aired it out, tidied it up, let a fresh breeze in. It's a place I can stretch a possibility to a tangible, beautiful thing and it receives me just as I am ✂
Happy 100 episodes, Unruffled listeners! It’s been a ride, thanks for coming along.