From Trainwreck to Teetotaler

“As children we believe that Anything Is Possible, the trick is to never forget it.” ~ Magician, David Blaine.

I definitely experienced a period in my life of forgetting this universal truth, and I believe this period was eloquently bookended by my binge drinking years.

Growing up, I was the shy, "nice girl" who always got invited to people's houses, I was the hard working student who got decent grades in school, I was basically the good girl that Mary Poppins would have approved of.

Cigarettes and alcohol changed all that for me...
Drunk in London
 (p.s. there's wine in that fancy mug)

In my teens I developed a party girl alter ego (think Amy Schumer in Trainwreck), that allowed me to get loose and let my inner bad ass rip!  I loved it when a popular girl at school would see me smoke and be like “What?... Sarah... you smoke?” And I was like “Yah, I’m a total bad ass, didn’t you know?” 

Aussies and Brits are known for their ability to drink anyone under the table and from Australia to London, where I lived in my 20’s, I can safely say, I did us proud.

I feel I need to include a disclaimer here: at times I may exaggerate for comedic purposes.

Speaking of Brits... I always looooved the film Bridget Jones’ diary!  The reason I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary is because it basically was my diary... my bad habits, my pathetic love life... my horrendous voice singing out of tune at a work Christmas party.

At the age of 30 I was a binge drinking, ciggie smoking, wrong-guy-loving fiend, working in a mediocre job that payed the bills. A zombie slowly marching through life to the beat of societies monotonous mainstream standards.  My joyous inner child only accessed on the weekend on the drunken dance floor at 2am, often followed closely by unleashing my inner banshee, inappropriate rants, tears and/or vomiting. I was living the dream.

After a few particularly destructive binge drinking sessions culminating in behaviour that would make Brittany Spears look good in her bald days, I decided that smoking and drinking were maybe... just maybe, holding me back from being who I really was and from living a life that I loved.

So I promised myself I would do whatever it took to change that and it started with quitting smoking. I had read that if you stop smoking by the age of 30 your lungs return to the condition of a non smoker, so I was just in time!

I read a book that changed my life: Allen Carr’s Easy Way to stop smoking.
It delivers it’s promise. When I quit smoking it was relatively “easy” because I changed my mind, my perspective, and the bad habits fell away fairly naturally from there - like a chain reaction of sparklers, one spark igniting the next.

After seeing the positive affects stopping smoking had on my life, I decided to take a year off alcohol. I set up a fundraiser and blog to give back and to see how my life would improve without Sunday hangovers. And I had a strong determination to find work that made me come alive.

I ripped my long list of goals off my wall and replaced them with just one goal:

Inner peace

And underneath I wrote: Sharing the resulting love and peace with others

And in that year I achieved more goals than I ever had in my life.

I curbed my Lindsay Lohan antics and restored my Gwyneth Paltrow purity. My relationships improved, I started spending more time on the things that made me feel good: reading, writing, filmmaking, and three of the most rewarding "achievements" were:

* I got into the habit of practising yoga daily

* I started meditating regularly

* I ran a half marathon

Just so you know how big the marathon was for me... I was not sporty growing up! I was always picked last for the team. I had been convinced I couldn't run for longer than 5 minutes at a time my whole life, until the age of 30. I had also had chronic back pain through most of my 20’s after a bad car accident, and I had hip surgery a year before I ran the half marathon. This was huge.

I was totally blown away by how many of my perceived "limitations" I was breaking through with the power of my mind and I got so excited about the possibilities, of the limitlessness of what I could do.  And it wasn’t just what I was doing, it was how I was feeling, how I was being

I was feeling fulfilled instead of filling myself up with alcohol.

Film Festival Fun in L.A.
And I could no longer hide from the fact that what I really wanted to do was make films, so I made the decision to immerse myself in filmmaking and get into VCA, one of the top film schools in Australia (Alumni include Robert Luketic, Legally Blonde), and a course that only accepted 14 students by portfolio.

The first time I didn't get in, but honestly, I wasn't disappointed. I wish I could say I was devastated, it would make the story more compelling, but the truth is, I was getting better at tuning in to what felt right and I could feel that I wasn't ready.

All I wanted to do was make films and I had found a course at RMIT that would allow me to do just that, so I dedicated myself to giving it all that I had. I worked on over 12 short films that year, including one which took me to the red carpet of a Film Festival in L.A., and by the next year I was ready to apply for VCA again.

At that point, my determination was so strong, my belief that anything was possible so unshakable, I charged ahead not taking no for an answer... and I got in.

I got into high brow film school admitting I loved Adam Sander and Judd Apatow films, I got into a Masters degree without a Bachelor degree and I graduated with honors. 

But while at film school, I was so excited to be doing what I loved, I tricked myself into thinking that I didn’t need a break. I let my yoga, meditation and exercise slip, I made a few misguided choices and ended up burning myself out to the point of debilitating anxiety. And yet, somehow, while balling my eyes out constantly, I managed to make a joyous, uplifting, successful comedy for my graduating film

And I thought... if I could do that when I felt so terrible, I could really do anything.

But I realised that if I wanted to keep doing what I loved (and live past 40!) I had to learn balance. And I thought “Where in the world could I equally quench my thirst for filmmaking and well-being?” And that’s what brought me to LA.

So if you have a dream, but you keep talking yourself out of it because you think it’s not possible. Just remember...

 If you truly believe in yourself, anything is possible!*

Sober in New York

*It sounds cliche, but we know it’s proper legit because it was quoted on Google Images by Miley Cyrus.

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