Six One-Liners that Work

I get asked a lot about one-liners.

No, not those one-liners.

I’ve never been one of those master pick-up artists who knows exactly what to say to hook that mysterious stranger from across the bar.

I’m talking about the one-liners that you can use to detract invasive and at times belligerent  questions about why you aren’t drinking.

When I first stopped drinking and decided to venture back into my social scene sans-alcohol, it was intimidating. I stumbled over my words. I felt like I needed to justify my actions. I over-explained myself at times. Basically, I opened the door for a dialogue I didn’t necessarily feel like having in the middle of a noisy bar or party.

What I also found was that the people who were drinking would very quickly make the issue about themselves.They’d take it personally that I didn’t want to drink with/like them. Seeing someone choose differently is sometimes like having a mirror held up, and I’ve found that most people aren’t ready to look at what they see.

Over the years though, I’ve learned several strategies that have really worked for me in situations like this (and these are the ones that I share with my clients, as well).

But before we dive into the one-liners, it’s important to remind yourself that it is no one’s business if you’re drinking alcohol or not, and more importantly, it’s no one’s business why you aren’t drinking alcohol. Period. You do not owe anyone an explanation, so release yourself from feeling like you do, right now.

The thing is, if someone offers you a drink or asks why you aren’t drinking, and your response is, “I don’t drink,” the follow up question will almost always be, “Why?” That’s why it is good to have a few of these one-liners ready for delivery.

Second, drunk people or people who may have an issue/problem with alcohol will often try to make whatever you are saying about them - so choose your words carefully. Make it about you, not them. Even if they start personalizing whatever you’re saying, you can go so far as to say, “This really isn’t about you, enjoy your drink! There’s no judgement over here.”

Before we dive in, I must say that I’m not a huge fan of lying. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to avoid prying questions about your non-drinking, and many advocate lying. Sure, there’s a time and a place, like maybe when talking to an intrusively creepy stranger (“I’m pregnant!” often works like a charm in this scenario). There’s also a lot of excuses you can use, such as “I’m driving!” or “I have an important meeting tomorrow” or “I’m allergic” or “I’m on antibiotics” … but I find these set you up for some internalized shame. Because by not being at least somewhat honest, you are telling yourself there is something to be ashamed about. You should never feel ashamed about your decision not to drink alcohol.

I’m a bit advocate of being as aligned as possible with your truth.

So whatever your reasons are for not drinking or wanting to drink less, give yourself some credit and an energetic boost that affirms the path you are on.

Okay, so what are some of my favourite one-liners? Drumroll please - here they are (in order of most vague to more specific):

  1. I’m just taking a break for a while.
    Why it works: You are clearly making this statement about yourself. You aren’t making absolute statements, you aren’t saying alcohol is bad (which often triggers people) and you aren’t saying this is forever. You don’t need to go into details, but if pressed for more, you can respond with the following one-liner.

  2. It started affecting me differently, so I decided to cut it out for a while.
    Why it works: Again, you are making a statement that no one can argue with. You aren’t saying that alcohol is good or bad, only that you started feeling it differently, and are making different choices.

  3. For health reasons.
    Why it works: It’s vague, and again, difficult for someone to challenge your personal quest for better health. They may retort that, “Wine is good for you,” or “There’s nothing wrong with one drink” at which point you could follow up with the next one-liner.

  4. I’m doing a cleanse. (or insert other health-related initiative)
    Why it works: With so many different kinds of cleanses and “detox” programs out there - most people are familiar with the concept of cutting out certain foods or substances for a while. And it’s the truth! If you are pressed with further questions or feel like elaborating, you can talk about all of the health-related reasons you are giving your body a break from alcohol.

  5. I’m doing my own personal social experiment, I want learn what it feels like to be in XX situation without alcohol.
    Why it works: This sometimes confuses drunk people, because they start thinking about what it might be like looking in from the more sober side of things. This is where you make your escape. Okay, but seriously, I’ve actually had good results with this one - again, it’s a personal statement grounded in curiosity and investigation.

  6. I’m in the process of getting to know myself better, so I decided to cut out alcohol for a while.
    Why it works: Similarly to number 5, this is a “pause and think about it” kind of answer.
    If the asker challenges you with something along the lines of, “And you really think you need to stop drinking to do that?” Your answer can be a simple, “Yes, I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Of course, there are a million other ways to turn down a drink, and quite often a simple, “I’m good for now, thanks!” delivered with a smile will suffice.

But being able to share the whole truth, if you feel comfortable, is always fantastic.

The more we can support each other to open up about the reasons why we’re deciding to drink less alcohol (or none at all!), the more we are creating awareness that there are alternatives to alcohol-fuelled fun.

If you’d like more strategies on how to drink less, and what to drink instead of alcohol, make sure to download my guide “How to have a great night without getting wasted” from my website.

And always, if you feel in need of extra support, feel free to set up a time to talk.


Additional sources: your-friends-knowing/

8 Ways to Celebrate Summer Alcohol Free

I’m not sure about you, but the arrival of BBQ season, patio parties and later sunsets leading to steamy nights  can be a mixed blessing.

As a self-professed lover of summer, I’d often get a little too excited to let down my hair and kick off my shoes, and by excited I mean summer was full of opportunities to celebrate with too much booze.

That pitcher of mojitos or sangria at 5 pm seemed like a great idea, and so did the second, until the next thing I knew, I was waking up the next day with no memory of the party I’d ended up at.

Insert a similar outcome to barbeques, days at the beach, festivals and outdoor shows, the list goes on and on…

Not too mention, getting super dehydrated - (we all know by now that alcohol is a diuretic, right people!?! and no, the ice in the drinks isn’t enough water to counteract the copious amounts of alcohol). This of course led to waking up feeling like absolute s**t until the obvious solution presented itself … brunch, heavy on the cocktails please!

Problem was, my summers started passing in a blur and pretty soon the season ended, the weather shifted and I was left feeling worse for wear: my body felt crappy, my mind fuzzy and my bank account was in a sorry state.

I decided that I was finally going to leave the blackouts and hangovers behind.

But creating new patterns and a healthy relationship to alcohol, to my body, and to life was not easy or fast.

I needed to find new ways to celebrate booze-free, and feel like I was still getting the maximum out of the summer season I cherish so much.

That’s why these tips are extra important. Share and support one another to find fun and meaningful ways to celebrate summer, sans alcohol.

These are a few of my favourite tips, I’m looking forward to hearing yours ...

  1. Make it bubbly. I don’t know about you, but having something bubbly in a fancy glass (or even in a plastic cup) feels way more celebratory than ermmm water. Try scented or naturally flavoured mineral waters and infusions, make virgin mimosas or any variation of juice + bubbly water, or spritzers (fruit + bubbly water + juice). Or try kombucha. I totally dig the bubbles and buzz.

    Non-alcoholic spritzers or mojitos are the perfect drink to bring to a patio party or barbeque. With lots of mint (or other herbs) and fruit, they are really refreshing and delicious. People will be peeking at your glass and asking for some in no time flat. The great thing is that others can add alcohol if they wish.

  2. Enrol your friends for support. Let them know how important it is for you to focus on your health and wellness this summer. (I find that putting the focus on health shifts any discussion and/or judgement as to whether alcohol was a problem for you.) If you are going to a dinner or house party, ask the host if you can contribute a delicious n/a alternative.

  3. Enrol the bartender. Most mixologists or drink alchemists or whatever bartenders are calling themselves these days will be pleased to get creative to make you something tasty. My standard is this, “What’s the most delicious drink that you can make me, that’s not too sweet and doesn’t include alcohol?” I’ve been able to try some amazing creations this way, and usually for a fraction of the cost of an alcoholic cocktail.

  4. Dance! In your bedroom, in the kitchen, wherever you may be. Getting groovy with great music is a wonderful way to celebrate summer, and it will get your comfortable for dancing sober when the opportunity strikes.

  5. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, mani/pedi, new haircut or whatever will help you feel spoiled, celebrated and sassy for summer.

  6. Buy a new outfit or accessory. I don’t usually advocate retail therapy, however, when you are getting used to the different experience of celebrating without alcohol, it’s important that you feel as ravishing as possible. If buying something new and pretty for summer helps with this, then go for it! (ps, think of all the money you are saving by not drinking alcohol. You deserve a treat!)

  7. Indulge your senses. Try a new restaurant or sumptuous new culinary experience (and of course don’t forget to ask for that custom made n/a cocktail), or treat yourself to a delicious dessert. I’m a big big fan of cold treats as a substitute for alcohol … try gelatos, frozen yogurt, or making your own “nana-cream” (google image search nana-cream if you don’t know what it is) which is an easy and healthy way to make non-dairy ice cream.

  8. Go on an adventure. Summer is the perfect time to get out of your regular routine, explore a new neighbourhood, consult your local “what’s happening” guide for events that you might not normally go to, be a tourist in your own town. The key is to have as much fun as possible, of course! Invite your friends, family or whoever you want to celebrate, get outside and go play!!

Cheers to your summer celebrations!! Can’t wait to hear what you get up to!!

Have other favourite tips to celebrate without alcohol - let us know in the comments!


Am I Really as Happy as I Look on Social Media?

A couple of days ago I was having a Google hangout with my former coach (and current friend! ;)

(You may have already heard me speak about how important my work with my coach was to my own healing, growth and eventual development both personally, and as coach.)

We were catching up after not speaking for a few months.

She said something that really struck me. She said, “You know Caitlin, from what I see on social media - your life now looks really amazing! Is it really as good as it looks?”

You see, my coach-friend knows the backstory. From the time we first started working together almost two years ago, she helped me through crazy ups and downs--wrenching heart-aches, bouts of crippling self-doubt, supreme challenges to my mental and spiritual wellness, my commitment to redefining my relationship with alcohol (challenged to the enth degree), and also the challenges of having a very high risk pregnancy and being in and out of the hospital … And all of this in the first year and a half of my business!

And she knows from her coaching background, that what we usually see on social media often isn’t the whole picture, hence her question.

I took a moment to before responding ... “I think it’s probably 95% as good as it looks online.”

The other 5% are inevitable challenges of being a new mom, entering a co-parenting relationship and still running an online business (from Southern Mexico!!) ... things I don’t really feel like sharing on social media.

Yet even the challenges aren’t that difficult to deal with because they are all part of the deliberate creation of MY life. I am in control again. And the Universe has my back.

The truth is, I am really really happy. It is a pure, joyful, uncomplicated feeling,and it is so freeing.

As I celebrated my first Mother’s Day this past weekend, I couldn’t help but count my blessings. When Monday morning rolled around, it struck me. I hadn’t even thought about alcohol all weekend.

I have consciously created a life full of joy and wellness. I have so many things to celebrate (without alcohol) that it finally feels effortless.

Treats included: indulging in “dessert for dinner” at my favourite frozen yogurt place, tons of fresh fruit, a house filled with flowers, ice cold coconut water at the beach, a delicious brunch and then my favourite meal for dinner. All infused with love, and a partner who doesn’t need alcohol to celebrate--so it’s completely off the radar.

I spent the entire weekend so exquisitely present and tuned in - and that was the best gift I could have given myself.

I get really emotional when I think of the gift it will be to my daughter. I’m not perfect, by any means, but I’m committed to doing the work to be the best me I can be, for myself first and foremost, and then for my family.

I want this for you too!

I want you to know that it is possible for you. You can start living your best life now.

If you’re still wondering how to get from here to there, you know you can set up a time to chat. >> Book here.

I couldn’t have experienced the weekend I just had without the support I received along the way, and you shouldn’t have to do this alone either.


Alternatives to Coffee and Wine - how to switch it up

Do you ever have the feeling that you can’t get it all done in a day and need that extra boost of energy, but then need some help slowing back down and unwinding at the end of the day?

While the following information can be useful for anyone whose life is just a little too busy; it’s ESPECIALLY important for the new mamas.

Why for moms? Simple. If we’re breastfeeding and providing nourishment to our babies, then we need to take extra care of our bodies. And in those next couple of years of toddlerlandia, we need all the natural energy we can get (and ways to unwind that aren’t alcohol).

“She asked me how I got it all done… coffee and wine sweetheart, coffee and wine.”

I had never really noticed these posts before becoming a mom, and of course now I see them everywhere!

From comments and posts on friends’ Facebook walls, to memes like the one above, it seems like the modern day prescription for mamas is to caffeinate the days and then to use wine to unwind at night.

If that’s your strategy and it’s totally working for you, i.e. you feel great morning, noon and night, and you truly believe you are giving your body the nourishment it needs, then carry on my friend.

But if you wake up sluggish with a dull ache (or pounding) between your temples, feel that “need” for a cup of coffee (or three) to get going, and start wondering if mid-afternoon (or earlier!) is too early to pour a glass of “mommy juice” then this blog might be for you!

Let me first preface by saying - I GET IT!!

I quit coffee during my pregnancy and abstained during my first couple of months after birth. Though I desperately wanted it, my baby was born premature and was so tiny that I was convinced I would get her high with just a few sips.

However, the more she grew and bigger she became, the more time she spent awake and the less time I had for naps, which meant I started craving coffee more and more.

It started with half a cup in the morning, then a whole cup, then an afternoon demitasse before seeing clients… it was a fast and slippery slope back into full caffeination.

And oh, red wine, you temptress you. Oh sweet relief at the end of the day.

As you know, I was sober for quite awhile before even getting pregnant, and other than the occasional craving for champagne during my pregnancy (anyone else experience this?) I didn’t really give alcohol much thought during my pregnancy.

Then came the long days, the even longer feeling nights, the inevitable challenges of going back to work while juggling the responsibilities of running a home, a partnership, a baby, and running my own business.

I know what it’s like to feel so depleted that you want the easiest solution possible.

And I know how easy it is to find that solution in a bottle.

That’s why the following suggestions (except for maybe the first one) are meant to be easy. With a small investment up front, a little bit of practice and preparation, you can begin to replace coffee and wine (or your booze filled bevy of choice) with these options. Your body, and baby (if you have one), will thank you for it!

Get it done (energy boosters and increased focus):

1. Before thinking of herbal stimulants to help you get it all done, here’s a thought for you. Don’t! Just DON’T do it. Give yourself a break. It (whatever it is) doesn’t have to be finished today. And when it does get done (if it does) it doesn’t have to be perfect.

How: Resist the urge, ask for help, release expectations, let go of the “shoulds.” Ahhhh… doesn’t that feel better already?

2. Take naps. I remember being told “sleep when the baby sleeps.” That’s nice I thought, but what about the cleaning, cooking, organizing, writing, working, etc. Shouldn’t I be doing that while the baby sleeps?

First, see the point above. Second, challenge yourself to lie down, put your feet up on some pillows, and cover your eyes with a cool, lavender scented cloth. There are significant benefits to simply closing your eyes for 5-15 minutes. Set your timer or the alarm on your phone to ease you out with a gentle chime or tone. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better after!

3. The following are my favourite coffee substitutes in that they give me a kick AND taste good.

Matcha: it’s a high grade, finely milled or powdered green tea. High in Vitamin C and antioxidants, matcha also increases energy, boosts focus and memory, AND enhances calm. Pretty sweet combination for the busy mom/woman.

Use: can be blended with favourite milk or nut milk to make a latte, or even whisked with hot water for a tea. I add teaspoons to my green smoothies in the morning, and blend with ice, banana, almond milk and vanilla. It makes a great afternoon pick me up smoothie as well! And can also be added to oatmeal and other foods. For more examples of how I use matcha regularly, follow my Instagram @coachingwithcaitlin

Raw Cacao: In its raw state, chocolate has more than 300 nutritional compounds and is one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food on the planet! Long considered a 'happy food,’ chocolate is a popular treat when we need 'cheering up.’ Recent research has discovered that cacao contains chemicals (such as Phenylethylamine* and Seratonine) which are scientifically proven to be present in the brains of people when they are happy, more relaxed, playful and creative. To me, this sounds pretty perfect for the stressed out soul. Instead of increasing the jitters with coffee, use cacao to enhance your happiness.

Use: Can also be blended into a hot beverage in the morning, or added to smoothies throughout the day.

Maca: Usually found in powdered form, Maca is actually a root vegetable from Peru. Known as Peruvian Ginseng, Maca has been shown to elevate moods and energy, and is used as a performance enhancer by athletes. Maca has also been found to balance hormones and can be used to alleviate menstrual cramps, anxiety and mood swings. Maca is rich in vitamins B, C, and E. And it provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.

Note* you may read that pregnant or lactating women should avoid taking maca. This is because no testing can be safely done on pregnant or lactating women, though Peruvian women have used maca through pregnancy without any known negative effects.

Use: A little goes a long way. Try a teaspoon (or less) added to smoothies or decaf coffee or your cacao or matcha latte. Again, check out my instagram for more recipe ideas. @coachingwithcaitlin (look for my Unicorn Fuel posts… curious? You should be, check it out!)

Yerba Mate: Yerba mate tea is a South American beverage made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. Yerba mate is a central nervous system stimulant containing caffeine, but it also contains a number of other nutrients, including antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. It also enhances the ability to focus, physical performance, reduces stress, and is rich in antioxidants. Are you seeing a theme here?

Use: Best steeped like tea … can be enjoyed hot or cold. There are now several commercial brands available with different flavour combinations such as mint and cacao.

Other blends: Now that you know what to look for, see what other blends include these ingredients might be available at your local health store or online, or create your own! One of my new(ish) favourite Canadian companies is called Harmonic Arts and is based in Vancouver. They have an online store found here:

Special note on cost: Yes, some of these ingredients are expensive. But are they really more expensive than your coffee (and wine) habit?

Reframe and realise that these are an important investment in your long term health and well-being.

I’ve started asking for some of these ideas as gifts. The picture below shows a collection of different items that I’ve received from three different visitors recently.

When people ask what they can bring the baby, I gently redirect the request to what mama needs to care for the baby more healthfully. And seriously, how many more onesies does a baby need?

Wind me down (relaxation and ease):

This one can be a bit tricky, as I haven’t found quite as many substitutes for wine that give me the same, or similar feeling.

I’ve come to learn that setting the space, and creating a multi-sensory sensual experience is vital to creating a relaxing ambiance.

Pro tip - if you find reaching for the bottle has become way too habitualized, you may need to clear your house of temptation for a while.

Replace your cupboards with aromatic teas, hot raw cacao, or a square of fine dark chocolate (see the benefits of raw cacao above).

Lay down on the floor. Have you tried that recently? Feel your shoulder blades draw together as your chest opens. We spend so much time hunched over computers, chores and babies that we forget what it’s like to feel this expansion. Close your eyes. Breathe into your toes and fingertips.

For more relaxation tips, check out my 11 alternatives to wine.

I truly believe that mothers are the real superheros on this earth and in celebration of Mothers Day, I’d love to share these tips far and wide - can you help with this?

If you know a mama who could use this info - please forward this post to her.

If you try any of these alternatives, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Stuck in the Shame Swamp?

Do you ever get stuck in the shame swamp?

Shame is a recurring theme for many of my friends and clients who have struggled with alcohol, and is something I personally have done a lot of healing around.

When I began researching the topic in depth, it was interesting for me to learn that feelings of shame are also highly correlated with addiction.

Shame is a deep feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. It can make you want to hide or disappear. It can also cause a deep, desperate feeling of separation from those around you. No matter how much love you are surrounded by, you might feel completely alone.

Shame can stem from early childhood experiences, starting as early as infancy. Experiences of shame often lead us to self-beliefs such as:

  • I’m unworthy (of love)

  • I’m no good

  • I’m a failure

  • I’m unlovable

  • I don’t deserve happiness

  • I’m defective (i.e. there’s something inherently wrong with me)

  • I’m a phony (i.e. I’m just really good at pretending to be likeable/successful… somehow I’ve managed to fool everyone around me!)

It’s no surprise then that people who experience deep shame may turn to alcohol, drugs or other substances to “fill the whole” and also for connection - an attempt to fix the isolation these shameful feelings can cause.

The problem with this is that when under the influence, we might do or say things that then trigger MORE feelings of shame, which layers shame upon more shame, and leads to what I call the SHAME SPIRAL.

I’ll give you an example from one of my clients.

Dina (name changed) had deep, shameful feelings of being unwanted, and insecurities about her body. When she drank, all of this changed for her, of course. She became confident, in control, flirtatious and felt sexy. She used alcohol in all of her sexual adventures with men.

Unfortunately, on more than one occasion Dina blacked out. She wasn’t able to remember details of what happened the night before. She also suffered some traumatic events (that she remembers parts of) while drunk.

Even though she has since done a lot of work around her alcohol use, and usually practices intentional moderation, and is in a loving, long-term relationship - on the rare occasion that she drinks too much and wakes up feeling as though she may have blacked out, Dina’s deep feelings of shame are triggered. This adds another layer to the shame spiral.

So now, instead of thinking to herself “Whoops, I might have drank a glass too much last night,” her self-talk is along the lines of “I’m a disgusting mess, how does my partner even love me, I’m such a gross f**k up, I’m fundamentally flawed.”

Another client, let’s call her Carol, is currently working through a shame spiral as well. She currently holds a fairly important position in a large corporation and has been receiving acclaim for her work. The more she becomes known for her work, the more anxious she feels that her past will come back to haunt her.

You see, 12 years ago Carol was charged with Public Drunkenness, which has since ended up on her record. She has become terrified and overcome by anxiety that she will be found out, and fired from her job.

If it were merely guilt that Carol was struggling with, her self-talk might be a little more forgiving. “I was young, I made a mistake, I didn’t know how to cope with the trauma I was dealing with at the time, so I drank too much. But really, I was doing the best I could at the time.”

Instead, the shame around the issue cuts to her deepest darkest fears about herself.

“I’m a fraud and a fake, I’m defective, I’ll never be successful because there is something really wrong with me, I’m a failure, I’m no good.”

Yikes. These are really heavy thoughts that Dina and Carol have swirling around. It’s no wonder that they’d prefer to suppress these feelings in an attempt to make them go away.

Thing is, silence and secrecy just adds to the shame spiral.

If any of this has resonated with you, you might be wondering - how do I break free?

Brene Brown does a great job of laying out two simple steps in this video. If you have a couple of extra minutes, I highly recommend watching.

I’ll paraphrase.

Talk to yourself lovingly.

As hard as it might be at first, treat yourself with love, tenderness and compassion. Imagine what you might say to your most treasured friend, your little sister or niece, or your child.

“So you made a mistake. I still love you. In fact, I love you more because I know you are trying to learn from this.”

Share the story.

As hard and painful as it might be, sharing the story can take the power out of it. If it is only living inside of you, it’s like a runaway train of shame spiral. Sharing the story with a safe person will help break the spiral, and diffuse the power. The irrational fear, when spoken out loud, loses some of its charge.

Create a mantra (this is my own suggestion and one that I wrote more about here).

If you can identify and locate the worst fears, figure out that the opposite of that fear is, and focus on that.

Based on Dina’s worst fears, her mantra would be something like this: I am beautiful, I am complete, I am lovable, I am whole, I am perfect just as I am.

This, repeated over and over until she starts to believe.

For Carol: I am smart and capable, I am more than enough just has I am, my worth is not dependent on others perception of me, I am inherently valuable, I was born and still am a divine creation, I am worthy.

This, repeated over and over until she starts to believe.

With so many of us living with secret shame, it’s really important that we start sharing our stories and breaking out of the shame spiral.

If you recognize the symptoms of shame showing up in someone you know, here’s how you can be an ally:

  • Listen to their story, with an open heart

  • Be Empathetic, if you haven’t directly experienced what they are expressing, try to put yourself in their shoes

  • Never minimize their feelings or experience

  • Help them separate the behaviour(s) from the core of who they are

  • Tell them they are loved. Help create a mantry by using the affirmations above

  • Share this blog with them

As always, I invite you to reach out and share with me. If you are experiencing shame and would like to break free of the spiral, send me an email or click here to set up a time to talk.