Alcohol-Free Life

The Joys of Living an Alcohol-Free Life

So many women and mums are being pulled into the destructive cycle of relying on alcohol to help relieve stress and cope with everyday problems.

'Wine O'clock' is the new normal, acceptable trend for many.

Unfortunately, alcohol will never solve these issues and will cause more upset to our lives on many levels. 'Wine O'clock' is a dangerous message to be sending both ourselves and our children.

In this interview, Sobriety Coach, Gayle Macdonald, shares her story and journey to living an alcohol-free life and why she feels that becoming a sober mum is the best thing that she has ever done.

Listen in to discover the freedom, peace and clarity that sobriety has brought to Gayle's life, and her advice on where to start if you think that it's time to address your own drinking habits.


Meet Gayle

Gayle Macdonald is a British mum of two boys living in Spain. She has been alcohol free since March 2018.

Gayle Macdonald Alcohol Free Life

Gayle understands that parenting with alcohol is a destructive cycle in which so many women get stuck, yet as mums we are targeted and encouraged even, to drink to cope with our lives as mothers.

Gayle Macdonald Alcohol Free Life

Gayle is passionate about helping other mums transform their lives and the lives of their families by choosing to live an alcohol free lifestyle, through self awareness, self care and self discovery.

Gayle's mission is to help women, just like her, to see that living an alcohol free life is wonderful, empowering and liberating, and it should be celebrated.

How to Contact Gayle


Gillian Duncan: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Clarity Junction podcast. Today, I am excited to be talking to Gayle Macdonald. Gayle is a British mum of two boys, now living in Spain, and a few years ago, she began to realise that her alcohol drinking habits were becoming destructive to her family life and her ability to be the best mum that she could be. Once she made this realisation, she decided that the drinking had to stop.

She now helps other people, especially other mums, to identify their drinking habits and supports them on their journey to become sober. Gayle is here today to share her own personal story and advice to other women and mums who are concerned about the negative effect that alcohol may be having on their life and of those around them.

So keep listening to hear Gayle share the joys of living an alcohol free life.

My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach, inspiring women to lead the life they want, and I am delighted that you are here with me today.

Hi Gayle, welcome to the Clarity Junction podcast.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:01:14] Oh, hi, Gillian. Thank you so much for having me today.

Gillian Duncan: [00:01:17] I'm so delighted that you could come and chat with me today and discuss with me the joys of living without the need to drink alcohol. I know that you are an advocate for removing the stigma associated with choosing to live an alcohol-free life and for helping other women to identify and to break their destructive drinking habits.

I am 100% behind this thinking and that we don't need to drink alcohol to live a great life. And I'm also very aware that we seem to be blindly slipping into a culture where it's cool for moms and women to be drinking gin or wine, most of the evenings. So, Gayle, why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your story and why you made the decision to go alcohol-free.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:02:09] Yes, of course. And first of all, I totally agree with what you're saying and I feel like I've been let into a big secret that I want to share with the world just about how fabulous it is to actually live an alcohol free life.

But before I kind of discovered it, I was like many mums, many women. It was part of my daily life.  I was a daily drinker, which, you know, I still get pangs of shame and guilt about, but it didn't start like that, and that's often the case, you know, it started kind of social drinking.  It was nice to have the full wine rack at home so when people came around, you know, we were kind of all grown up and sophisticated and we would have a drink with dinner and things like that.

But then slowly but surely, it got into more of a habit, I would say, especially since we moved to Spain, because over here it's a big part of the culture, but again, from a social point of view, so, you know, you go out at lunchtime for tapas and you have a few beers and then the Spanish kind of leave it at that.

Gillian Duncan: [00:03:30] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:03:31] But unfortunately, we didn't. So, you know, we would go out and then we would come home and then we would carry on drinking.

Gillian Duncan: [00:03:39] Right.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:03:40] And it was kind of on and off for that, like that for a few years, but I would say it was probably about maybe five or six years ago when it started to get out of control, when I started to notice that I was drinking every single day.

I was a beer drinker, and some people might think, "Oh, well, that's not as bad as wine or spirits", but it was still daily drinking. So I would, you know, come back from the school run and the first thing that I would do was have a beer before I did anything else, and then it would just carry on from that. And, I suppose it was a mixture of kind of me-time. I wanted time to be me. Also, where we lived was quite isolating, and I just kind of saw these whole afternoons stretched out ahead of me without a clue of what to do, even though I had two boys at home. So there was, you know, obviously lots of work to do, lots of things to do.

Gillian Duncan: [00:04:46] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:04:46] And, uh, but I just couldn't cope. I couldn't imagine having the afternoons and the evenings without alcohol. And then of course, the next day I would wake up and, obviously, I'd drunk too much, so I would feel bad about that. And then I would feel guilt and regret about not spending enough time with my children, like quality time.

Gillian Duncan: [00:05:09] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:05:10] And there was a huge conflict at that time as well, because I knew that the drinking was getting in the way of me being the mom that I wanted to be, but also on the other hand, I was kind of like, you know, "I'm an adult. I should be allowed to drink and what's wrong with it?", and I think that's the message that gets pushed on us. You know, you deserve it, you know, it's a treat, you've worked hard all day, all week. But really, I wasn't in a good place at that time, and it just started to get worse for about a year or so before I finally quit. Things weren't good at home. There were arguments a lot between me and my husband. Everything was kind of inconsistent and a bit unpredictable, and it wasn't how I envisioned my life to be at that time. You know, I'm not that kind of crazy person. But the alcohol made me that crazy person with no boundaries, no rules and it just got too much. It just got out of control. And then I just thought. There was something bad that happened, and that was kind of the catalyst to me, really thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. And it took about two months after that incident. And then I thought, okay, you know, if I want things to change, then I need to change. And so, I made the decision that I was gonna stop drinking.

I didn't put a timeframe on it. I just said, "Okay, I'm not going to buy anymore alcohol. I'm not going to drink anymore. And I'll just see how it goes". And that was it. That was almost two years ago.

Gillian Duncan: [00:07:06] It just sounds like something that was enjoyable, a social pastime, something that you would do normally, every day. Have a wee drink with friends, as I say, it's something sociable. It just snowballed of control.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:07:23] Yeah.

Gillian Duncan: [00:07:24] You took it home with you after having a meal out, and that time in the afternoon, it just seemed to be, as you were saying, it was a void that needed to be filled and you filled it with having a drink to help pass the time, make you feel a little bit better. And then before you know it, it's out of control.

And I think this happens with a lot of habits that we do have in our life, but when it involves alcohol, I guess that affects us an awful lot more with our biological systems and the way we think, and also our health.

But I would really like to ask you, obviously, you hit an absolute brick wall in your life that made you stand up and say, "You know, something needs to be done. I need to stop this habit of drinking every single day. It needs to stop now". How did you manage to keep from drinking in those early days, 'cause it must have been extremely difficult for you to do?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:08:23] It was at first because it was, you know, a complete change. It was going from one day drinking from half two onwards until I kind of collapsed into bed, to the next day, not having anything at all. And, I can't, I didn't really plan for it as such. Beforehand, I kind of read lots of blogs and books and things like that, which kind of spurred me on and gave me inspiration to try, but, I hadn't a plan in place as such.

Although, I must say that I'm really lucky because my husband and I stopped at the same time, which helped enormously because we drank together, you know. We had good times together and then we argued together. So, the fact that he recognised it was doing us no good and stopped as well was a huge help for me.

So, the first thing we did was, obviously we didn't buy any more alcohol, so there was nothing in the house. There's no temptation. In fact, he stopped the day before me and there was a couple of beers in the fridge, so I finished them off because they were there, and I had to drink them.

Gillian Duncan: [00:09:37] You know, I can completely agree with that because I know that if we buy in wine and you know, maybe it's for a party and it's there. And it's, you know, maybe it's in the fridge or, it's in the rock, you say, "Well, I'll keep that for another occasion", but before you know, it, it's gone and you've drunk it. I'll buy some wine for cooking and, 'Oh, I'll just, I'll just have a wee glass of that", and it's so easily done. So easily done.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:10:04] Yeah. And so that was the first thing that we had to do, you know, remove the temptation and then be strong in the decision that we've made. So, you know, I said, "Okay, well, if we're not going to buy anymore alcohol, then we were definitely not going to buy anymore". And we didn't. And it was really difficult at first because it was my life really, you know, from half past two in the afternoon, sometimes if it was a weekend, I would have start drinking at 11, so it was my day, really.

And then to be left with that kind of, "I don't know what to do with myself. You know, what am I going to do? How am I going to get through the day?", it was a struggle at first, but I think because I made the decision that I wasn't going to drink no matter what then, that really helped.

Gillian Duncan: [00:10:59] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:10:59] Because it's a lot about mindset, I think. And if you, kind of, "Maybe I will, maybe I won't, or I won't drink during the week and have a drink at the weekend". I think if you've got that conflict, you know, if you're not clear, that makes it difficult. So, having that absolute clarity that I was not going to go down that road really made it easier. It wasn't easy by any means, but it just took away the kind of internal chatter that we have.

So, in the beginning, I have to say that it was probably quite boring, but I think I needed that. Like I said before, you know, life was very unpredictable and inconsistent, and you know, I'd lurch from one emotion to the other.

And I did lack a sense of calm and peace. So, the first, probably three or four weeks, to be honest, I just kind of kept busy, potted around the house, did boring things, you know, like cleaning and, um, and then I spent my evenings on the sofa, like I would have done, but with tea and biscuits, and we made an effort to watch films that we'd seen before, but we couldn't remember it because we'd been drinking. So that was quite nice.

And also, it was just lovely to spend time with my kids again, how I'd always wanted to do. So, focusing on them kind of took away the, the stresses I was having about, you know, cravings and wanting to drink, focusing all my attention on them. So, you know, even if it was just homework or reading bedtime stories or going for walks with them or cooking with them, anything really. Focusing on them made me feel a lot better and it just kind of helped reinforce the reason why I was doing this in the first place.

Gillian Duncan: [00:13:15] You must have felt that your life has completely changed. A kind of 360 turn completely, by removing alcohol.

I can't imagine what you must have gone through in those early days, because it must've been very difficult for you to have taken that substance away from your body. Something that you had depended upon and relied upon for so long, and something that became such a big part of your life, a habit as well. So, you know, that must have been, I can appreciate, a quite a struggle for you. And when you say it was boring, I can appreciate that, yeah, it probably was, but then I can also appreciate the fact that that time gave you that time to have a stiller mind, calmer outlook, and to find other aspects of your life that you'd forgotten about.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:14:09] Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Because I think when you're drinking, obviously you just keep kind of topping off the poison, if you like, in your body, and then when you stop, I'm sure I was in kind of withdrawal and detox for, for a while and my body was adjusting and I didn't have any energy. And I think this is kind of the time where people think, "Oh my God, I feel worse now than I did before".

Gillian Duncan: [00:14:37] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:14:38] But it's only because our bodies are getting rid of all of the poison and everything. And it's perfectly normal to feel tired and, you know, lethargic and no energy because it's. It's our bodies, healing themselves again, and just getting back to, you know, restoring the balances that have been upset by the alcohol.

And I completely agree with what you said about, you know, getting back to, to 'self', because I didn't know who I was. Didn't know what I enjoyed. I'd lost so much of my personality. You know, I'd forgotten what it is that really made me happy. So just those few weeks, just to rest, I suppose, and reconnect, and get a bit of space and get healthy again and improve, you know, my mind and my clarity and everything, really helped to kind of pave the way I suppose, for what I wanted my alcohol-free life to look like in the future.

Gillian Duncan: [00:15:45] I'd love to chat to you about this point, because you're talking about, you know, the early days and taking the alcohol away. I, I'd like to just talk about how you managed to do that in the sense of, how did you do it when you were out with friends? How did you approach other people and say, you know, "Actually I'm, I'm not drinking this time"? Because it's hard enough when you have made that decision by yourself and within your family group and saying, "Look, I'm not going to drink", but when you're outside and you're in a social environment and people are used to you having a drink, you're over at their house or you're out in the restaurant, how did you cope with that?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:16:29] Yeah, it was tricky at first, but I have to say the first kind of test was when my parents in law came over to visit. So, we kind of isolated for a while. We didn't go out and then they came over. It must have been maybe a couple of months into this journey, and they are big drinkers, and they came over and obviously the first thing they expected was a gin for my mother in law and a beer for her partner, and we didn't have anything, so we offered them a cup of tea and that was just unheard of. And then we kind of got bombarded with, you know, all the questions which happens when, you know, you go out and people want to know why you're not drinking

You know, "What's wrong with you?" Obviously, it didn't come up, "Are you pregnant or you're driving", cause we were at home at that point, but there are a lot of reasons why people assume that you're not drinking or, "Are you on antibiotics, or are you ill?", or that kind of thing. So, we were kind of bombarded with all of these questions at first.

And, and there were kind of tempting, well, they did try actually, and push the drink on us, even though it was my house, but I find that happens when you go out as well. You know, people are like, "Okay, do you want a drink?", "No, thank you", "Are you sure?", "Yeah, I'm fine. Thank you", "Will you just have one?", "I don't want one". And that can be really, really tough.

And we did go out, out after about maybe four or five months, and, luckily, we were kind of set in the decision that we weren't going to drink no matter what. So, it didn't matter what anybody said. We weren't going to let it bother us, but we were still kind of, "Oh, you know, it's a party or it's a big Fiesta. You've got to have a drink", and I'm like, "Well, I'll have an alcohol-free beer. That's fine".

Gillian Duncan: [00:18:32] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:18:33] And it's just, I think it's other people trying to deal with it, as opposed to, the issue is not with you, it's, it's with them in a way, because they kind of see you as, you know, this person who's not drinking and they can't understand why, because they can't imagine themselves not doing it. And also, maybe they're a bit wary. Maybe they're a bit scared or maybe the fact that, you know, you are not drinking, makes them, kind of, wonder about their own drinking, and that makes them uncomfortable. And I think, if we come across people who try and push alcohol on us and not take no for an answer, that kind of says more about them, not necessarily in a horrible way, but they don't like it that may be, they're drinking alone and that's not a good place to be, I think.

Gillian Duncan: [00:19:35] No, I completely agree with what you just said. And I mean, from my own experience, I've gone through times in my life where I've decided, for my own reasons, that I wasn't going to drink alcohol. And it's never been an issue with myself because I can, you know, I can take it or leave it, I've never seen the need to have alcohol to enjoy myself.

And, you know, that's just the mindset that I have. And, I remember being younger when were all having parties up in Scotland. And, you know, I would say, you know, "I'll be the sober one. I'll make sure we're all going home safely. Don't worry about it", and there wasn't any, there wasn't any questions. It was like, "all right", we all did it, we just, that was just the way things were.

And then I moved away from Scotland, as a young adult and, I was exposed to the stigma of being Scottish and the stereotype that, you know, Scottish people seem to have, that we can, you know, drink quite a lot or that's what we do on a daily basis. And so people were quite surprised when I turned round and said, you know, "Actually, no, thanks. I won't, I won't have a drink tonight", and you know, that started quite a lot of teasing, and, you know, you've just got to shrug that off. But again, as you were saying about the stigma, you know, in, in terms for women, you know, the first thing they'll, they'll ask you, "Are you pregnant?". That's actually quite a personal and quite an intrusive question to have blurted it out in the middle of a bar or a restaurant if that's where you are, but it's, you know, the questions that I get is, "Are you pregnant? Are you driving? Are you ill?", again, another quite personal question that people think is okay to ask in public, you know, "Are you on antibiotics? Why are you on antibiotics?", or "What's wrong with you?". Again, you know, really, this is not the time or the place, even if I was.

And then the other thing, I mentioned this to you before we came on, on air to record this podcast, and the other thing that I have experienced is that because I've refused drink, I've heard later on, that I've become an alcoholic.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:21:49] Yeah.

Gillian Duncan: [00:21:49] That obviously, I've refused drink because there's a deeper issue. And so, "Shh, don't talk to her", or "Shh, don't mention the word alcohol", and again, another stigma.

It would probably have been easier for me to turn around and say, "I'm an alcoholic", and that would have got them all off my backs, but it's, you know, it's so personal and it's so unfriendly and, you know, it can be quite hurtful, you know?

And the other thing I have said to you, you know, in a previous conversation, was that, just like you were mentioning other people they can seem take accept that you don't want to drink, and it's a choice. It's nothing, it's a choice you don't want to drink.

They will come up, and as you say, "Go on, have a drink. I'll get the drinks in, don't worry", "No, I really, I just, I don't want to drink". Before, you know it, you've got a glass in front of you. And that to me is a really horrible situation, because especially if you're are, maybe you know, having a challenging time and you think, "Oh, will I have the drink, will I not have the drink?" That, putting that glass in front of you is really disrespectful. You feel obliged to drink it. And then if you don't drink it, because you know, you have that will, you don't want to drink it. You've made that decision. When you don't drink it, they feel offended. And that sort of sets off another whole funny atmosphere, which didn't need to happen.

And I chose the analogy earlier with yourself, that if I went to somebodies house, or I went to a cafe and I ordered a black coffee, they wouldn't then turn to me and say, you know, "Oh, my". Or like, I mean, for example, a decaf black coffee. That's what I drink. I drink decaf. "Oh are you pregnant? You know, you can't have caffeine", oh they wouldn't say to me, "Oh, you need to have cream and sugar in that. Oh, I'll just put it in any way". They wouldn't do that. They just wouldn't. So what is the difference between alcohol and everything else that we have? It is such a huge, huge stigma. We need to overcome this. And I think it's important for people who are listening, not just for the people who are thinking, "Oh my goodness, maybe, Oh, I can relate to Gayle's story. I can relate to the fact that I'm drinking too much", but I also want to, you know, sort of get that message out to people who don't feel that they're drinking too much and are fine with, with how they drink, but to think about how they're may be treating other people that have decided not to drink.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:24:17] Yeah. Yeah. I think it's because it's so ingrained in our culture.  You know, where if you go out, you drink. If you have friends round you drink. And I think that people, because it's just something that we do, that we've done for so long, when there's somebody there has not drinking, it's unusual. It's not normal, you know, for you, if, if that's, you know, how you always go about your life and when there's like an anomaly, I suppose, it's, it's just not normal for you. So, it kind of throws you and you don't know what to do. You don't know what to expect.

But I think what you said before, you know, you have to respect the other person's decision. And they're a whole range of reasons why somebody might not be drinking. It's definitely, as one of them, health, they might genuinely be driving, or they might indeed be pregnant.

But like you said, you know, in the middle of a pub or at a party, it's not the time or the place to start asking questions and, you know, probing and that, you know, you want the whole 'whys and what have yous'. I think it's important just to respect that person's decision and don't ask loads of questions and maybe try and turn it around on yourself.

You know, imagine that you're in a house full of sober people, for example, and you want a drink? Imagine if the sober people started saying, you know, "So why are you drinking? Why do you feel you need to have a drink in order to enjoy yourself? Have you got a problem or, you know, do you have low self-esteem? Are you nervous?". You know, if you kind of think about turning the tables then you wouldn't want to be questioned about your drinking behavior, so why put that on somebody else?

Gillian Duncan: [00:26:19] I love that. That's just brilliant. People are just so free with their comments and it is, it could be really quite hurtful

Gayle Macdonald: [00:26:28] Yeah. Yeah. It can be, but it's this whole stigma that we were talking about before and you should never, ever be made to feel bad because you're not drinking.

And, you know, I would say that if you are nervous about going out, if you're kind of doing, I don't know, 'Dry January', for example, or if you've maybe got two or three weeks of alcohol free and you're nervous about going out because of how other people would react, then initially maybe not go out because it's not really a time to test your metal, as such.

And also because people come be, maybe kind, but unkind at the same time, by, you know, buying you drinks and things, then you want to avoid that kind of conflict, that kind of awkwardness.

Gillian Duncan: [00:27:24] And also the temptation, I guess.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:27:26] Exactly. Yeah.

Gillian Duncan: [00:27:27] The temptation is definitely there.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:27:29] Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, maybe don't go out in the beginning and then when you've kind of got a few more weeks or months under your belt, and you're happy with your choice, then I think, in order to kind of come across as being strong and proud is to believe it yourself. We work a lot on mindset in the course that I do. And, if you believe in yourself, if you're happy with your decision, if you are confident and if you are connected and you know why it is you are doing this, then it's a lot easier just to go out and be yourself and have fun. And these comments will come, but they kind of go over your head in a way. I kind of learned to think of it as, "Okay. That's, that's them. That's their decision. That's what they want to do", but I won't let that affect my decision. And if I offend somebody by refusing the drink, then my sobriety is not worth that. So, you know, maybe we could leave that for the conversation another day, if somebody is offended or upset. It's probably not the moment to go into the detail with them.

But I think being strong in yourself and clear on your own decision is the only way to go forward, really. And then other people will see you relaxed, confident, enjoying yourself without drinking, and you never know, that might inspire them to give it a go or at least think about it a bit more.

Gillian Duncan: [00:29:11] Absolutely. I completely agree with you. I would like to go back to your own story and to ask you, really, about the benefits that have happened to yourself after removing alcohol from your life. How has your life changed and what benefits have you experienced from being completely sober?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:29:36] Yeah. My life has completely changed and if, you know, looking back then, if I saw what my life was like, now I wouldn't have believed it. And it can be a bit scary actually as well, when you think about it, because you're used to your life as it is, and you can't imagine it being any other way, but the changes have been gradual, and everyday I'm grateful for the way that my life has changed.

I would say the number one thing that I noticed straight away, and this is probably the biggest benefit, and that was, my sleep improved, obviously because, I wasn't sleeping properly because waking up in the middle of the night, you know, with the terrors and heart hammering and feeling shame and guilt, and then waking up the next morning, and I was either hungover or just feeling, you know, just ill really. And for a long time, I thought that it was normal to wake up feeling like that. So when I quit drinking, the first morning that I woke up, I felt, you know, far better than I'd ever felt in a long time, and that in itself was a huge motivator to keep going.

I remember my husband telling me, you know, "Just think of the morning", and having fresh mornings where you wake up clear headed after a proper night's sleep is a huge benefit, and one that I am grateful for every single day. And it's might sound a small thing, but if you wake up refreshed and properly rested, and you wake up with energy and drive, then that has a massive impact on the rest of your day.

Gillian Duncan: [00:31:28] It sure does.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:31:30] Yeah. So that's something that, you know, really helps me every day to keep going.

And another benefit, I would say, obviously there's the, you know, people talk about they're saving money, they're losing weight, and I have lost a huge amount of weight. I think I've lost about maybe 15 kilos. and that's simply because of not drinking and having the energy to do more. And, you know, that's a big benefit for me because I kind of used to trudge through the days. Go from the sofa to the kitchen and not really do anything. And when I quit drinking, I didn't decide, "Okay, I'm going to start running", or whatever, because I think it's, sometimes that can be too much to take on at once.

But the fact that I wasn't drinking, I was sleeping well, and I had more energy, gave me the kind of drive and the passion to actually do something. So, I started walking more. I started doing yoga. And that in turn, having more energy, doing more, you know, made me feel better, helped me lose weight, and all of those things are, you know, they happen gradually, but they are wonderful benefits.

And I think the main thing is to feel good in yourself physically and mentally. If you feel good, then that has a massive impact on everything that you do. And, me feeling good, and me starting to like myself again, ‘cause I didn't like myself a long time, has kind of a snowball effect on my family life.

You know, I'm a lot calmer as a mum, everything in the house is just a lot more chilled out. We have boundaries now, which we didn't have before. We talk as a family. We spend time together as a family. You know, if my kids are misbehaving, then I'll tell them off and I'm consistent. Whereas before I would let them get away with, you know, blue murder one minute and then really snap and shout at them for the tiniest thing, the next, because I was all over the place.

And so that's helped enormously in the family dynamic. That we do feel more connected together as a family and just the fact that things are a lot calmer and that I am being true to myself. You know, I think I said before, I kind of wasn't sure who I was supposed to be when I was drinking, but now I am, and I'm happy that I am a person who likes reading. Who likes walking. Who likes spending time with my kids. I'm actually not that crazy party girl who I thought I was and that's okay. And I think it's important to me to remain true to myself and not feel guilty about who I am anymore.

Gillian Duncan: [00:34:46] This just sounds that you've completely turned your life around and it's all for the better. The way you are living your life now just sounds amazing. To have that wonderful connection with your children is priceless. You know, they're only young once, and we only have this time with them as a family group for such a short time before they go off into the world for themselves. And just to hear that change and that you've become such a fantastic mum to them.

You've gone from that shame and the, you know, feeling that they've been looking after you, to you picking up that spot, that role again, and being a great mum to them. That in itself is, it's so amazing and so worthwhile to give that alcohol up for. And then to rebuild that relationship with your husband as well. You know, let's not forget him and also how amazing that he has joined you on this journey and he's recognised the difference that alcohol in his life, how it made him a different person as well. So, he's identified that. He's supported you on this journey. You've supported each other. And it just sounds like you've got this fantastic, strong family unit and you found yourself and you have more self-confidence and you know, your health seems to have rocketed.

The benefits to your health sounds amazing. And also, on the sides of that, and we'll go into it in a wee a bit more detail in a minute, but you've built your own business on that as well. So, you've had the energy and the time and the knowledge to learn after giving alcohol up. So, I just, sort of take my hat off to you and, you know, I, I just think it's such an amazing story, Gayle, so thank you for sharing that part of your life with me.

Now tell me, there'll be women and mums out there that are listening, and they might be recognising some of the situations that you've been talking about. Or they might just be thinking, d'you know, "I, I go home and I have a glass of wine every night", or, you know, "Maybe I shouldn't be doing that", or perhaps, you know, "I'm, I'm, I save up to the weekends and I binge drink at the weekend and I'm really not being the person I want to be, I'm, perhaps hiding behind the alcohol, perhaps I'm not the best mum I want to be. It's affecting my relationships. It's affecting my work. I don't wake up nice and fresh each morning because you know, I'm slightly hung over. I recognise that in me". What can other mums and women do, that are out there thinking that? What's your advice to them?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:37:33] Yeah. Well, if you are thinking that and feeling that, then I think that's a really important first step because, you kind of understand that actually, "Perhaps it might be better for me if I gave it a go and not had alcohol for a while". So, if you're feeling that way, then my advice would be to actually, you know, have a go.

I think, we kind of worry a lot about what other people think and how would we do it and how would I get to cravings and how will I manage stress and all of this, but that kind of, from what I've found, it, it comes with time and experience, but often the hardest part is actually deciding to have a go and taking that first step.

But once you do, then, you know, as I've discovered, and as I've explained, there's so much life on the other side of drinking, that if you can have the courage and the strength to take this step, then, you know, your world will really open up. So that would be my advice is to just try, you know, have this willingness to try and see what happens.

Don't kind of get caught up and maybe bogged down about the whole "Am I sober? Am I, you know, in recovery? Am I an alcoholic? Do I have a problem? You know, what will other people think?". As women and mums, definitely, we do tend to overthink things a lot and put ourselves at the bottom of the list and worry about everybody else.

Gillian Duncan: [00:39:18] Yeah.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:39:19] But I think it's time that, you know, if you are thinking and worrying, then worry about yourself and just have a go. Just get through, you know, maybe 10 minutes then get through the first day and just see how you feel. See what it's like. And I think it's a perfect opportunity as well, to start looking after yourself properly.

So maybe, you know, think of it as a way of looking after yourself and being true to yourself and being kind to yourself. If you take this from the point of view of doing something nice for yourself and making it a positive choice, then I think it's a whole lot easier to, you know, keep going with it.

Gillian Duncan: [00:40:12] Yeah. So, like the mindset of being in control of your decision. So, you've thought about something and you're thinking this is not quite right. I'm not sure about it. You're starting to put sort of labels onto how you're feeling and what other people are thinking as well, and what people will think if you say anything about, or you do something about it.

And really, what you're saying is to take a step back from that. Think about yourself. Your own self-care. A little bit of respect for yourself and say, "You know something, I want to do this for me" and take that first step to try and to stop, you know, just have a go, as you say, and we will never know how we are going to feel or what's going to happen at the other end if we don't try. You've always got to make that first step and that our start.

And would you, if you have somebody that's close to you, would you recommend that you, you speak to them? Would you recommend that you go out and say, "Well, do you know something? I'm going to try this. I want to stop", perhaps for support reasons, 'cause I know how your husband really helped you and you helped him. So, perhaps, would that be something that you would recommend people to do, to look out for that extra support?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:41:35] Absolutely. Yeah, because, you know, it's a big thing to do. It's life changing and if you've always drunk then suddenly you're not drinking, is a massive thing.

So, you, you do need lots of support. Luckily, you know, there's loads of support out there online and in real life. So, I would also recommend, you know, that you kind of get curious and you, you look at the blogs and the Facebook groups and the websites, and even maybe sober meetups in your area. But definitely, I would tell your, your family, maybe not your friends or certainly not all of them in the beginning.

Gillian Duncan: [00:42:18] No, be very selective.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:42:21] Yeah. Yeah. Because, like I said, at the beginning, what helped me was having no alcohol in the house. So, if you have a husband who drinks, and you don't want to drink, and you find that having alcohol in the house may be a temptation, then ask, you know, "Is it okay if we don't buy any alcohol for the next, however, many, you know, such and such a length of time", and explain what you're doing, why you're doing it and ask for support.

I know we kind of get worried about what people will think and how they're going to react. But often, if we talk to people and ask for help, then our loved ones are usually more than willing to give us that support and help.

Gillian Duncan: [00:43:06] Sometimes it's their loved ones that notice first, isn't it? Perhaps that you might be drinking too much or it's something that's become a habit that you really need to start looking into. So yeah, it might be, it might be a place to start.

Now. I know that you have got your own coaching program that's online, Gayle, and I know you support so many people, women and mums, to help them through this situation. Would you be able to tell our listeners a bit more about what you do?

Gayle Macdonald: [00:43:40] Yeah. First of all, I have a little Facebook group called 'Blissfully Sober Mums', and it's for mums who want to, or who are living an alcohol-free life. So it's, you know, full of support on how to manage being a mum, I suppose, without the alcohol, and how we can, you know, bring positive changes into our lives and help each other out, you know, with the everyday stresses and strains of being a parent without reaching for, wine or alcohol to cope. Because, this is something that I share have a lot, I find that drinking is a way of coping, that makes you less able to cope.

Gillian Duncan: [00:44:31] Right.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:44:31] But when you don't have that mechanism there anymore, you're kind of left wondering what to do. So that's what the Facebook group is all about.

But I also work one to one with people, because often it's a personal journey, and I find that working one to one with somebody really helps to dig deep and get them through their own issues. I have kind of two programs. One is just one to one sessions over Skype or Zoom or something, where we meet up and we have an hour chat once a week or once every couple of weeks.

And the other one is a six-week program, where you commit to working with me for six weeks. So you stop drinking, maybe, on the first, during the first week, and then I help you through your journey for the remainder of those six weeks.

You know, sometimes it goes on and I'm there, throughout seven, eight weeks, however long it kind of takes. And basically, I'm like your, it's not sponsor as such, but I'm your sober support person. And there's accountability there, there’s support there, and it's a weekly, daily even, program. So, you get daily emails, and we cover everything. All the aspects of living and alcohol-free life, you know. So there's socialising, there's sleep, there's exercises, there's eating, there's other people, you know, and together we build a toolkit, which is right for you and that fits in to your life. So, together we create an alcohol-free lifestyle that you love through the one to one coaching and support.

Gillian Duncan: [00:46:30] That sounds amazing, Gayle. Thanks so much for telling us about that program. I'm sure it'll be of interest to a lot of our listeners.

Now, I do also know that your website has got a lot of useful information on there. You've got fantastic blogs that you write, and you post there quite frequently. It's a brilliant website. So, what I'm going to do is I'll list all the details, all the ways in which our listeners can get in contact with you, on the Clarity Junction website. So just pop over to clarityjunction.com/alcoholfreelife, and I will list all those details on how to get in contact with Gayle and details of her website and her Facebook group as well. So that is all there for you.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:47:14] Aw, thank you.

Gillian Duncan: [00:47:15] Thank you so much, Gayle, for being so open and very candid about this important subject, and I can understand why you feel so passionate about it. And I love that you've taken your own experience and you've turned it into a desire to help others to improve their life and improve their relationships with their family.

I have so much respect for you for doing this.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:47:41] Oh, thank you. You're making me smile just listening to you.

Gillian Duncan: [00:47:46] It's such an important topic. It's such an important issue and I wish you every success in your coaching programs. And again, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Gayle Macdonald: [00:47:57] Oh my pleasure, Gillian. Thank you.

Gillian Duncan: [00:48:00] That's all for this episode, my sincere thanks to Gayle Macdonald for sharing so much with us today.

If you would like to connect with Gayle or find out more about the coaching that she does, then you can find all her contact details at clarityjunction.com/alcoholfreelife.

Thanks for listening.

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