Meet one of Alex's friends in Bali, Maree Mackenzie! Maree is a retreat planner who specializes in planning sober retreats. Alex and Maree have been friends since long before Alex moved to Bali! In this episode Maree tells her inspiring sobriety story - why she chose to become sober, how AA supported her, and then what led her into the retreat planning business in Bali. If you are a sober community leader or influencer yourself and are curious about planning a retreat here in Bali, check out Soul Bliss Journeys at https://www.soulblissjourneys.com/ . If you register to lead a retreat by completing the form at this link, you can get 10% off your retreat by saying Alex referred you! https://forms.wix.com/dfd2b5d2-9fb0-41b5-8842-8a5ee0b02508:219fbda6-a130-4f17-b159-f1b57751ae96
Hi, friend. This is Alex McRobs, founder of The Mindful Life Practice, and you're listening to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world to the Middle East at age 23, and I never went back. I got sober in 2019, and I now live full-time in Bali, Indonesia. I've made it my mission to help other women around the world stop drinking, start yoga, and change their lives through my online Sober Girls Yoga community. You're not alone, and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl Podcast. I am so excited to be sitting down with my friend Marie here in Bali. And Marie and I have been friends for a while. And I think we actually met before I moved to Bali on Instagram, in the Instagram DMs in maybe 2019. And we had been messaging back and forth for the longest time. And then when I moved to Bali, I ended up... Well, I was here for a while before Marie was here. It was in the COVID pandemic, and then she got back. And now I've started teaching yoga on many of Marie's retreats that come in here to Bali.
And so she is the founder of SoleBless Journeys. And one of the main focuses of SoleBless Journeys is they organize sober retreats for various sober groups come around the world, bring their community and have this incredible experience, not necessarily yoga-focused. But I will often be the morning yoga teacher on the retreat groups that she organizes, which is super amazing. And so, like sobriety sisterhood with Ellen from France has come via SoleBless Journeys. And then Sobasistas with Megan Wilcox, who'sfrom Boston came through Solace journeys, and then we have a few more Sober Retreats coming up over the next year that I'm going to be involved in with her. So I just felt it would be amazing to have her on the podcast, hear her story, hear her journey. And if anyone listening is interested in organizing a Sober Retreat in Bali, maybe you can chat with Marie after the show. But welcome, Marie. How are you?
I'm good. Thank you. I wanted to be in Bali with you all, so I'm here with my... I wanted to be in Bali with you all. I'm here with my rice fields in the background. I love you. Yeah, it's my new screen saver on my Zoom pro. I'm quite excited about it. I'm doing great and glad to finally be on the show.
I know. I feel like we talked about it for a while of having you on and then it just didn't quite link up. This is perfect.
I know. It's quite weird because I did start stalking you in 2019. Back then, my business was called Sobe Girls Travel. I was in the early stages of trying to find leaders to come or bring their retreats to Bali. You or someone that came out on Instagram and I was like, Oh, I really want to work with this lady. I would come in and say stuff to you and inbox you. You were like, Oh, I already have connections there. And I've been there before and I was like, I don't know this woman. When is she going to play the game? Then I think that was it. Then every now and then, every year, I'd bug you. I would be like, What are you up to? You sure I can't help you. Then I think I heard that you were moving to Bali, so I reached out then it was like, I hear you're moving to Bali. I was trying everything I could to get into your zone. Then when I came back after COVID, you already made it in. And I came in around February, and we met, I think, in March of '22 and had a smoothie bowl.
Wow, was that only? That was last year.
Wow. But you.
Know what I was thinking as we're chatting? Do you remember when we would Zoom, when I first moved to Bali and Ellen had already been like, Oh, Alex is moving to Bali. Could she teach yoga on my retreat? Do you remember we had a few Zoom calls about it? And Molly was still in lockdown and we were talking about whether they would beat the borders, would open or whatever, and you were in India. It was so weird. And I had come in on a business reason. I was just sitting in Uber alone.
No, actually, sometimes it's quite, like my partner was saying today, just how far we've come since August '22, when it finally opened and where we were, and how chaotic it was and trying to get everyone in. Could we get... Could we make it happen? Oh, God. I mean, the first one happened for me in August of '22. I even remember two... I think it was only about three or four days before they were actually landing in Bali that I allowed myself to actually go, I think this is going to happen. I think the first retreat is actually going to happen. Because I started my new brand, Solveless Journeys, at the end of 2019 when I decided I'd prefer to be a helper of the retreats than actually running them myself. I started this whole new brand, and then I had them all set up for 2020. I had 15 groups booked in, and then COVID came. It was like, Oh, my God. Then I managed to bring a few of them through with me. Carolina, actually from euphoric AF, was one of the first people I ever spoke to on the phone and asked whether or not she wanted to host a retreat in Bali in 2019.
She signed up and said yes. Then it was only in October of '22 that she finally made it. She was one of the ones that hung in there with me. I had a few people who were like, Okay, it's not going to happen in 2020. Okay, it's still not going to happen in '21. I managed to get these... Six of them, actually, we ran last year, so I managed to get six people to hold on and come with me. Now next year is super, super full and super grateful. We've got so many people wanting to come to Bali and run retreats, and we love what we do. We have a small little team now of people that work with us. We're loving it. My favorite part is when I get to work with my Soda Sisters. When I get to do groups of Soda people, it's just that extra connection.
It's just incredible to see how far your business journey has gone. And yes, it's very impressive how big it's gotten. I love having this little involvement, too, of being involved with the sober groups. It's pretty cool.
Yeah. And it's handy, very handy to have, call up my sober yoga teacher on my sober retreats. You're not allowed to go anywhere, okay? Yeah, I can't leave. I want.
To know more about your sober journey because I actually feel like I've never heard your sober story, which is weird now that I think about it, because with most of my sober friends, I've heard their rock bottom story within the first day of meeting. I'm like, I actually don't think I know your story. So I'm wondering, what was your life like before you got sober?
Yeah, well, I was an early... I started really early. And so I think I hear this a lot, but it seems like a lot of places in the West are very big on alcohol from an early age, and it's part of the culture because I hear people in Australia say it. I hear people in America say it. Even people in Europe, they say that it's a big part of the culture. So maybe drinking is a big part of the culture in the West. Growing up, I was about 15 when I think I got drunk for the first time with a group of a couple of my friends. We grabbed all the alcohol we could from one of our friends' parents, because they were the only ones that drunk. My parents were Christian, so they didn't drink. We went and stole little bits, but little bits of every single type because we didn't want to take down the bottles too much of one type. We got some gin, we got some vodka, we got some rum, we got some... And then—you can imagine this disaster. But we back and we decided to drink it. One of my friends thought that after having her first nip of something, she was like, Oh, I think I should stay straight to look after you too.
Thank God she did, because we ended up falling off down a bank because we were actually getting drunk at this piece of land that my parents were going to build a house on. We had a caravan and all us three girls were in the caravan, so getting drunk, but falling over the land, slipping down things. Actually pretty gross things happened in the night when we were feeling sick, and me and my friend, it was a very disastrous first drinking experience, but that didn't put me off. I think I felt like something was like, Oh, this is exciting. And just then it just felt like it never ended, really. And looking back now after being in recovery for nine years, and I know in the first few years of my journey looking into things, I think I was a blackout drinker right from the beginning. I think I was 15, 16 years old, and every time I drank, even if it was half a bottle of wine, I'd blackout. I'd always be saying to people, Oh, what did we do? What did we do last night? That was a bit of a shocker to know that there was something in me that just always would be blackout.
I had some issues growing up with some abuse, and so I feel like that may have been something that caused me to really lack self-love, like I really lack self-love. But in that, I think something opened up within me at a young age, something very promiscuous. I feel like there was a link between that attention I got from that that I didn't get from, say, some other males in my life, which I wish I got it from. I put two and two together, and I thought, Oh, if you're sexually, promiscuous, and you do sexual things with men, then that equals love, or you'll get attention and love from that. Ever since that, and alcohol fueled that for me. For me, my whole entire teenage years, my 20s were fueled by alcohol and promiscuity. But it was not from a place of wanting to be like that. I wanted love. I was craving love, and I thought that's how I got it. I would always go out, I'd get drunk, I'd get with guys, and then I was hoping that they were going to love me. Afterwards, they never loved me and they wouldn't call me the next day.
The amount of heartache that I've been through in my life is like, I could write a book about a heartache. I was constantly heartbroken. I was constantly let down by this thing that I felt that I believed in, which was if I did that, I would get love. It just went on and on and on and on and on and on in my 20s, in my 30s. Even my marriage, I got married to a beautiful man, a loving, kind, sweet man. But then we had a bit of an interesting relationship because he didn't actually see me in the sexy way that all other males saw me. He saw me as this Princess Queen that he would put up on a pedestal and our sexual relationship wasn't that great. I started thinking of maybe I need to be with someone else, and I ended that. It was just absolutely chaotic. I was always drinking, trying to find the buzz, the excitement, someone that saw the sexy side of me because I thought sex was love. Sex was love, sex was love, sex was love. Sexiness was love. Just totally confused. I think now, after being in recovery for a bit, I feel like I had an ex-boyfriend before I meet my partner now say to me, Are you sure you don't have abandonment issues from your father?
Like daddy issues? I remember thinking, Fuck off. Excuse my friend. I don't have daddy issues or abandonment issues. But now when I think about it, I do have this core memory of being this. I was this cute little blonde, and I wouldn't think it now, but I was this cute little blue-eyed blonde girl who was always wanting my dad's attention, but he didn't want anything to do with me because I was the little girl and he was always hanging out with my brother and playing with cars and trucks. I remember always just being told to go away. I think that I just wanted to be loved by him, but I never... And then when I was touched sexually, then I was like, Oh, and that's where that's like, Oh, that's how you... That's how you get love. That's what love is. That's where it comes from. So yeah, it was a real eye-opening thing for me to realize through my recovery. And then I just was always doing dumb stuff. I was reckless. I mean, as I mentioned, very promiscuous, reckless. I would never go home. I was always known as the girl who just would never go home.
Even when the bars closed, I would try to find some other party, some other place. My family would always just be like, Oh, Marie, come home. I'd be like, No, you guys go home. I'm all good. I just carry on out on my own in dangerous situations, walking down the main road of like... There's a place called Road in Auckland City, and I'd be just walking up and down, going to the bars where there was all the people hanging out with no teeth, the bros, and they'd just be drinking the laga. I'd come in there and I'd be hanging with them. I was just absolute loose unit, just chaotic mess. My mom always used to freak out. Then every second day I was heartbroken because someone didn't love me, even though I thought they loved me. So it was just really super tiring. And I always say when you're in some of these recovery groups and things you make out the day you gave up drinking was your real true date, and then you never relapse. I mean, okay, I've never relapsed since I was 38 years old, nine years ago, but the amount of times if I had a platform that I could have expressed how many times I relapsed because the amount of times from the age of 15 to the age of 38 that I said I was going to stop drinking and then always went back to it.
I'd be that day one girl. I'd be on the Facebook page going, Oh, I'm day one again, because that truly is now we have a platform, right? We have so many platforms to talk about sobriety. Back then when I got sober, it was really only AA. I swore off it over and over. I went back over and over. Then I actually moved to Bali in 2013, and that's when my marriage ended. I was trying to get back with my husband, but it didn't work out. I just had enough and I was like, Right, I'm going. I was doing my geographical. I was like, Let's go to where the misfits are and go and hang out in Bally in Ubert. Where will the people go in there? My mom always used to say, Only the people who are lost go there, or the misfits or something, or the, what do they call it? The black sheeps of the family. I'm like, Hell, yes. Well, that's my place. Let's go. But I did a full on geographical and ended up in Ubert. I remember thinking like, We are all like the bars and where can I find some people to hang out with?
I always make a joke. It was all about coconut and green juices. I was like, Come on, where are the people? Actually, it was funny because I moved into a house, and right next door to the house was, I guess, like a watering hole for these older expats that had been living in Bali for 20 years. It was the hangout where they went and sat every day drinking wine and beer. I was like, I found my people. I would go there and hang out with them. Back then, I guess in my earlier days in my 20s, I could do Friday and Saturday night, sometimes Thursday, Friday, Saturday night. I was always a bin drinker, though. I would have this really super interesting routine of being a normal person and then not being a normal person. I would do Monday through to whatever as a really onto it fit. I used to be very into exercise and eating well. That was who I was until it was time to like, Let's go. It's Friday or whatever. That was the routine was... I always put it down, especially in the later years, was Friday was drinking night, Saturday was eating day, and Sunday was I hate myself for eating and drinking.
Back to the routine on Monday. It was like, come Friday afternoon, it was like, no eating is cheating, get blackout drunk. Then on Saturday, I would eat everything I never allowed myself to eat during the week. I was very strict. I had a bit of a, I guess, another addiction of mine was weight loss and trying to stay slim. I was always taught that to be beautiful and slim is the way to get. I always was focused on beauty and being slim. That was a big part of, I guess, my recovery as well. But yeah, so on Saturday, it was like, eat all the things, eat all the things, eat all the pasta, eat all the pizza, just go hard and I'd go hard all Saturday. Then on Sunday, I would just be in such despair, and depression, and hatred, self-hatred. Then I just swear off doing it because I never knew what I did, whether I upset people and I was always very anxious trying to figure out who I'd hurt. Did I upset someone? Are we still friends? Kind of thing. Absolute. It did super, super bad things for my anxiety and my people-pleasing ways.
I was always freaked out that I'd upset people and just constantly in worry after a weekend out. Then it would happen all again. Then I do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, all good again, and then the weekend would come. What I found was in that last year of my drinking that it used to be on a Friday, I do the drinking, and then I'd swear off on Sunday. But what was happening is on Wednesday, I was starting to pop over across the road for that wine. I was like, Oh, okay. I'm starting to now... The depression and hatred was only lasting two or three days instead. Then I would go and drink on a Wednesday, and then I'd take a couple of days off, and I could go again. Itry to think. I saw it creeping up. The pivotal moment, I guess, was it was an interesting one. I was learning how to dance Salsa, and I'd been going to Sosa lessons. Every time I went to Sosa, I was sober. I didn't drink. I used to go and I used to dance, and I used to dance with this beautiful Cuban guy, and he would just fling me around.
Whenever I dance with him, I just felt like, Oh, I remember the high I felt was actually one that you think you get from drugs or alcohol. It was just euphoric, this joy. I just had this beautiful joy. I used to dance, and I came home one night and my flatmate was there and she was like, Oh, how was that? I said, Oh, my God, I had the best night. I said, I was sober and no drinking and I just had the best time and I was buzzing. Then I went to bed and then the next day I think I was going to do a salsa lesson because I was taking salsa lessons as well. I decided for the first time to take the intermediate class and not the beginners. I'd been doing beginners, but I was like, No, I think I'm ready for intermediate. And I had a couple of wines at the place across the road and I was on the edge because I always say I was a too drink girl. If I had the third, I was a bit fucked. I had to keep going until there was nothing left. I had that third one.
I was feeling good about going to the class, but then when I got into the class, all the intermediate people were in there and doing quite well, and I couldn't get it. I wasn't getting it. I remember turning around to my teacher and I said, Look, I just think that I should go because I'm not an intermediate. I need to go back to the beginners. I felt like a piece of shit, and I felt really like all this like, I'm not good enough. I just went downstairs and right next to... It was actually in Radiantly Alive! Actually, where they used to do the social lessons. But right next to Radiant Alive was a Indomad or a Circle K. Because I had that third, I could feel that desire to have more, especially after now feeling like a loser. I went into the Circle K and I grabbed myself a spurnoff ice mixer, and I sat outside the Circle K by myself at five o'clock at night drinking this vodka thing. I was like, Okay. Then I went off and tried to find a party, tried to find what was going on in town and I heard that there was something going on, so I turned up there and I used to do this all driving around on my motorbike drunk, and I turned up at this little thing and I tried to get people to go out with me and no one wanted to go out with me.
There was this one woman, Alexa, and I said to her, Are you going to come with me to CP Lound? She was like, Well, no, I don't feel like going out tonight. I'm like, What? You were always the one I knew I could count on. She was always my go-to girl. She was like, No, I'm going to go home early tonight. But I was way past anyone telling me that there was no party. I just went to CP Lounge on my own, sat at the bar, and I used to always love scabbing off people. I was always like, Poor Marie, she's in Bali. She's got not much money. You're a tourist. Can you buy me drinks? I used to get people to buy me drinks all the time. They'd buy me drinks, buy me drinks. And then by the time it was like, got to about three o'clock in the morning and everyone had left and these people had gone and the bar guys were like, Marie, come on, it's time to go home. I got on my bike at like 3:00 AM and I drove home. Then the next day, or not the next day, but the next afternoon, I got up about five o'clock at night.
My flatmate turned around to me and said, What's going on? Why did you sleep so long? Why are you in this condition? I was like, Oh, God. I don't know. I said, Oh, I went out. She was like, Oh, why did you drink so much? Last night you told me that you were, or the night before you told me how you had this amazing experience with the salsa and you weren't and what's going on? The first time ever in my life, I turned around and I said, I think I'm an alcoholic. She was like, Okay. Then she's like, Well, you do know what's happening tomorrow, right? I was like, It just so happened to be an AA convention down in Sanua, which is like an hour away from Ubud, where we live. She says, You know, the convention's on the AA convention, and I know a few people going to it. She was in another 12th step program, not AA, but she was going down. She says, Why didn't you come? I was like, No, I can't come because I didn't do my job, and I need to... There's all these things that I need to do now because I didn't do my job yesterday and I can't come.
She was like, Oh, well, it's on. I'll be there if you want to come. So then I got my things and I started doing all the things I hadn't done to prepare for my work. I think it must have been the next day. And then I got up and I was trying to prepare everything and I got it all done early. And it was 11:00 o'clock and the first meeting, the woman's meeting of AA at this convention was happening at 1:00 PM. I was just sitting there and I had my laptop open and I had this AA convention thing with tickets to purchase. I just was like, and it came up and I just hit the button and I pressed it. I was like, Okay, I'm going. I literally grabbed my handbag and a dress in a plastic bag. This is how I used to be, just absolutely no respect for myself. I chucked my dress that I was going to go to the dinner and a pair of shoes in a plastic bag and took off down to Sanua on my bike. I got down there and I couldn't find it. I wasn't very good at Google Maps back then.
I was driving around trying to find this hotel where they were having the convention and I couldn't find it. I was getting really pissed off and I said, Okay, that's it. I'm over it. I'm going home. And where I turned, the driveway I turn to do my U-turn was where the convention was. I looked up at the sign and here it is. I was like, Oh, my God, it's right here. I was like, Okay, fine. I went in, parked my bike, and made it into the woman's meeting, the 1:00 PM woman's meeting. I sat at the back because I was freaked out, and I just listened to these women speak. I was like, Oh, my God, this is me. This is exactly who I am. This is exactly how I think. This is exactly what I do. I was just totally like, This is where I'm meant to be. These are my people, or This is me. I came out and then I'd went to another couple of meetings. Then it was the Saturday night of the big dinner and everything, dinner and dance, sober dinner and dance. Everyone had gone to get ready and I didn't have anywhere to get changed.
Here I am in my plastic bag, I went into the toilets at the Convention Center, got dressed in my blue dress, in my nice shoes, and ended up going into a big hall, big meeting hall where there was about 300 people in this meeting room. We're all sitting in there and it was the guest speaker. There was going to be a guest speaker. But before they had the guest speaker, they were going to do the sobriety countdown. I had no idea what it was, and I just sat there all naive to what AA was all about. Then I sat there and they said, Who's got 50 years? I remember looking around and people are like, Oh, and I was like, Oh, what's going on? She's like, Oh, they do a countdown. Then finally they said, They went to 49, and then they said, Who's got 48 years of sobriety? Then this guy, this old guy got up on his crutches and he walked up to the front of the room and everyone was like, The whole room was clapping for this guy. I was like, Oh, this is so cool. Then they kept on counting down, counting down, counting down, counting down.
Then when they got to two weeks or something, I turned around to my friend and I said, Do you think I should get up at two days sober? She goes, Well, it's up to you. She made it real cash. I was like, Oh, okay. Then they kept on counting down, and one by one, these people were getting up at six months, four months, two months. Then the whole entire room just started clapping. I burst it into tears. I was like.
Can't do that. Then they were trying to get me to speak on the stage or something, and I was just like a blubbering mess. I couldn't say anything. I was just like, Oh, no. I turned to my friend and Ir. And said, Do you think I should get up at two days? Because I didn't really know what was going on. She said, Yeah, why not? You can. They kept on counting down and counting down and counting down. Then they said, Who's got two days sober? I stood up and I felt like I really had this full body, like hallelujah moment. There was tingling going all up my body. I burst it into tears and I was just like, Oh, my God, me. But it was more than it was just like, Oh, my God, I'm an alcoholic. It was like a real, like I said it to my friend, but it was like I was really putting it out there for the first time that I was an alcoholic. The room just went crazy. Everyone was just upstanding. The crowd was clapping. I was thinking, I didn't even hear if there was a one-day person.
I was just like, and they must have said, Who's got one day? No one did. I was the most sober girl in the room. Everyone was loving on me. Then they were like, Come up on the stage. The 48-year guy was standing there with the big book, and he hands me the big book and he says, Keep coming back. You're in the right place. The crowd was just going mental. They were like, Come up on stage and say something. I'm like, I have to speak up. Then I went and sat back down. Then for the rest of the night, everyone was coming up to me and going, Oh, my God, you're amazing. Someone handed me this little chip thing. For the rest of the night, people were coming up to me at the dinner. It was weird because going back to AA or actually going to my first AA meeting back in Ubert after that big experience, it felt like it was so all meant to be because I liked being the center of attention. The fact that I got to be the center of attention at this thing that I didn't really know I was going to be the center of attention, but it worked well in the fact that they were going, Oh, you've got to come to the meeting.
You've got to come to the meeting. Then I ended up going to the meeting to be the girl in the blue dress. I wanted to be the girl in the blue dress, and I wanted to keep being the girl in the blue dress. I kept coming back because all these people were at the meeting that had come over from the States or somewhere and were visiting for a couple of weeks doing the convention and also coming to all the meetings and Uber. It kept me going to all the meetings enough for me to just keep connecting with people and staying in the room. It was like what my ego needed, right? I needed to feel like I was the special girl in the blue dress. I feel like that was just so 100 % meant for me. If it was just like meh, whatever, I'd just be, Do I want to go to thosethe meetings, or should I go and get drunk again? It really worked out perfectly for me. I'm not in AA today. I've been sober now nine years, and so that really, for me, was a huge part of what I needed.
I needed the support. I needed that people there. I needed to be going to something all the time. I used to go to the meetings five days a week, sometimes six. Every morning at nine o'clock, I'd be there, and I'd even do the Sunday. It just really gave... It opened me up to a spiritual path or a more spiritual path. Actually, now when I think about when I'm in strife, I'm in a bit of a situation at the moment where I've got some stuff going on for me personally, and I'm really trying to be a better person. I think to myself, Man, you know what? Those 12 steps were actually quite good to let you see your weird ass shit that you do. When you do a step four and you write down your problem like, I don't like this person, and then it's like, I don't like it when people do this thing and then you go and then you look into it now, why is that? What is that bringing up in you and starts making you look at you? I used to think when I first did my first four steps, I'm like, What do you mean me?
I'm all good. I'm cool. I'm perfect. It really helps you look at your own shit and that it's you and that you're just being triggered and it's not the other person, it's actually you. I was just like, Wow. It was great. I did the 12 steps twice in my nine years, and then I just moved on to other things. I didn't really like the strictness of it, like you have to go to a meeting, otherwise you're going to relapse. I'm like, I'm actually good, actually. I knew that I had to keep true to myself and just make sure I wasn't making up weird ass stories in my head that it's all good and suddenly go off drinking and just keep close to sobriety, really. I did that in other ways in the later years. Now it seems like it's just like I don't even know what it would be like to be a drinker, actually. I always think like, What if something really horrible happened? Would I go to a drink? I don't know. I feel like the thought doesn't even cross my mind anymore. But as I said, I run retreats for Sober Woman, so it always keeps me connected.
I always get to have women come to Bali, and they always fill my cup a bit when I see people on the journey and starting off on the journey. I'm so passionate about them getting sober because I know that it's such a better life, and I wish that I did it sooner. I'm always very pro. When people come in and they might be younger in their 20s or 30s, I'm like, Come on. It really is a better life. You sort it out now. I'm just 30. I mean, 38 was older, I guess, for getting sober, but I do. There were some good times, actually. There were some fun times. I can look back and go, Well, I got to do those funny, crazy things. Then now I'm in the middle of my life. I get to have a more straighter life, but still super fun and full of adventure. So I just prefer the adventure that I remember instead of the ones that I don't.
Wow. I love that story. I was sitting here and I can't believe I've never heard this story before. Just the whole story of your sober journey, but also going through it in Bali and I can picture where you are in Ubed and then going down to Sanur. And I just feel like your journey of hitting this rock bottom with alcohol or what your rock bottom was and having the courage to start that path when you're alone in a country by yourself. And I just think it's so inspiring and it's just amazing. When you're talking, it's like, I know the Marie that is my friend. And all I've ever known of you is this retreat planner. I know you with Reddy hanging out with me and Ubed and to picture. And to picture, and I guess this is the same for all my sober friends to picture their former life, I know. I was like, I can't believe you were married and we've never talked about this, and I can't imagine you with anyone other than a buddy. It's just amazing to hear what you've overcome and the challenges you've overcome to get to where you are today.
So thanks for being.
Sharing that. I was never, ever proud of who I was. It was just so messy in my 20s, and it was just a cry for love. I know that it was always coming from a really desire to be loved, and it was just super, super messy, super confused. I felt like I was always disappointing my family. I was always like, Oh, God, here comes Marie. Sometimes I probably think my mom helped me a little bit because when I got sober, I was in probably my first month or something of sobriety, and she turned around to me and my mom says what she wants to say she doesn't like. She calls a state of the state. She just goes, Well, don't fuck this one up again. She pretty much said, Don't let everybody down. I think that was just what she was used to. She was used to me letting people down. She was used to me being the one who... And she just thought, Oh, here we go. She's just going to screw it up. Then the years went by, the years went by. Then all of a sudden, I was somebody that was looked to for answers about things.
I was the wise one. I was someone who was an entrepreneur, industrious, smart, always able to start new businesses, you know what I mean? My mom lent me money. I could pay her back. She could trust in me that I would just get the money back to her. I always feel like I'm so proud that she's so proud of me now. She just oizes pride. That's someone I would never have been able to be if I kept drinking. I used to come and drink sometimes and say and yell at her and gibberish. She used to feel so sad because she just didn't know what I was saying, but I was really angry with her. I would in this weird-ass language, which didn't make any sense to her. She'd go to bed when she finally got me to go to bed at 4:00 AM in the morning and wake up feeling horrible because I'm just like... Having come out the other side of that to be someone of worth, a woman of worth, a woman of integrity, and someone that someone can look up to and be inspired by. The amount of times in the last nine years that people have said that I inspire them, oh, my God.
I would never have had anyone say I inspire them prior to being sober. So yeah, it's pretty awesome.
It's so amazing. And so tell me how... I know you've had an entrepreneurial journey and you've had a few different businesses in Bali. How did you get to doing what you're doing now?
Actually, I was a chef for many years. I came from hospitality. And my first business I had in Bali was called the Pie Lady. And I used to make pies for Aussies and Kiwies. Because I had moved to Bali and I really wanted to stay and I thought, What can I do to make money? One of my friends said, You should make pies, like Aussie pies. I was like, Oh, I think I can make pie. Anyway, I did that for four years. Then in 2017, I was standing in my kitchen in Newwood. I built a little kitchen, little pie factory. I made a pie factory in my house, as you do, because in Bali, you can just build a freaking pie house and just have all the equipment and then sell pies and no one asked you like, Do you have a license for that? I was in my pie place and my colleague, she turned around to me one day because I was in a really bad state and all my staff were stealing and they all had to leave. She goes, Can I ask you a question? She goes, Do you like cooking?
It's the first time anyone had asked me a direct question like, Do you like cooking? I was like, Hell no, I hate it. I was like, What the heck have I been doing for the last 15 years? There was confusion with the fact that I used to look at all the cookbooks because I wanted to eat the food in the cookbook. I didn't actually want to cook it, but I became a chef because that was what you did when you saw food and liked food. Instead of being a food critic or something, I could have been a foodie, I could have been a food critic, but that was many years ago, and that's more of a popular thing now. But I was like, I hate it. And so then I realized, Oh, I don't want to do this anymore. I walked away from that business. And then I knew, because I was already sober at the time, and I knew that I wanted to... I started, as a lot of us do, when we get sober, we want others to have what we have, right? We start wanting to give back. I was wanting to be a coach and all these different things.
I actually ended up... I went back to New Zealand for five months, and Barley would not let me go. Barley was like, Oh, hell no, girl, you're coming back. And so the energy pulled me back. But I got a job in a rehab and I was working in a rehab as a support worker, and I was just looking after the people in the rehab just in their downtime. That was super boring. I didn't really like it. I was like, Oh, no, what am I going to do? I remembered that I'd seen something on Instagram a few years before about someone doing sober trips, and I was like, What a really good idea. But I put it on the back burner. Then when I was in this place of like, Oh, I don't know what to do. I really want to do... I want to help people, but I don't know how. I was like, I live in Bali, and I think that it would be really great to run retreats in Bali. That's when I came up with the business to run sober retreats for women. I used to get them to come in. They came from USA, New Zealand, and I was running a few retreats then.
Then that's when I swapped the brand over. Now I just do it for Sober Leaders, and I work together with them to bring their groups to Bali, and I organize everything on the ground. We're the full logistics. I feel like we're more than just the logistics team. I think you've seen us in action and we're really hands-on. We make sure that one of us, at least one of us is at each activity because we want the leaders to feel like they're being held, like not just, Oh, how are you going on this activity today? Then they're like, I don't know what the heck is happening here, or where we have to go, what we have to do. Instead of that, we always have one of our assistants or myself or my partner, really, will actually come along to the activity. They can also really enjoy the trip themselves. We make it really like that the leader gets to have a retreat themselves as well as the people on the retreat. All the leader really needs to do is prepare their lessons that they want to offer. They'd be coaching, some woman circles, sober circles, different things like that that the leader would offer on the retreat.
All our retreats are custom, so they get to choose which venue out of our venues, which activities out of our list of activities. It's all very customized to, I guess, the retreat host wishes, but also what she thinks would be great for the group. Then we put it all together and we have itineraries and we do the schedule. We just look after, help look after all the logistics for the flights and we pick them up from the airport. We do all those things to make it super, super easy and I love it. I mean, you couldn't ask for anything more.
Yeah, it's so incredible. I have to say, from the first time that I've worked with Marie and seeing her in action and seeing the way that she runs her retreats are just so seamless from start to finish. I feel like it was so obvious that this is the aspect that you were born to do. Whereas for me, I love organizing retreats, but I'm way more of the workshop facilitator, the yoga teacher. I can do the logistics, and I do do it, but there's just little things that... I'll give an example of I always take my group to do the water temple on the first day, and so does Marie. And on the first night of the Soba Sisters retreat, I came for the welcome ceremony. And Marie was Yeah, you got this little bag with this plastic bag for your wet clothes for tomorrow. And I was like, Wow, you're a genius. In every group, my friends are like, I just have all this wet stuff. And I'm like, Oh, I didn't think of that. Every time, it's like, Oh, I didn't think about your wet clothes. And I just love that moment because I was like, wow, I just see how you were really born to do this.
And for anyone that's listening, actually, my India retreat next year, which is actually already fully sold out. So I'm not even promoting right now, but my India retreat is organized by Marie and Ready. And the reason why I decided to go with them is because I've lived in Bali for a long time. I know Bali really well. Bali is easy for me, but for something like India, I've visited once in 2016, but it wouldn't be relaxing for me to try and organize a retreat there because I don't know. I don't have any connections. I don't know the way around. I don't know how to get a driver or whatever. And so after seeing Marie and Reddy organizing a retreat, I was like, Yeah, I feel like you guys could do this for me and do it well. And so I have full confidence in their ability as tour operators.
Thank you. Yeah. You get to chill with my man, and he'll take you around and show you things. Yeah, he's amazing. I actually met him on a retreat. When I still had just the sober business, I was looking for another location other than Bali. So I reached out to someone in in India, this Canadian woman, actually, and I said, Would you better put together a tour for me because I want to bring a group of women? I ended up only being five of us, but Reddy was working as a freelance guide at the time. This woman, Louise, reached out to Reddy and said, Hey, I've got this group of five women from United States and New Zealand and stuff. Do you want to take the job? He was like, Yeah, cool, I'll take the job. That's how I met my partner. We've been together three and a half years-and-a-half years now, and I met him right on the cusp of COVID. That was interesting. We fell in love in this two-week trip. Let's say the last week, when I finally had to walk him over the head and say to him, No, I like you like that.
He was like, Oh. Then it was like, then he realized, Oh, shit, I like you too. Then it was four days of loving on each other. Then it was like, Okay, I've got to go back to Bali. He was like, Okay, I'm here in India. I'll see you soon. We thought that this COVID thing would just blow over and we'd be back in each other's arms in no time, but that didn't happen. It was a year before I got to see him again. Now he lives here in Bali with me and we run our Solblast journeys together. He now works for me, and then we do the India trips as well. So- Incredible. -all exciting stuff.
So incredible. And for anyone who's listening to the podcast, I know there's a number of people already in the community who have organized retreats via Soulblast journeys like Carolyn Clark, who has also been a podcast. She has a retreat coming up. Ellen has a retreat coming up. And so if anyone is listening, if you have your own sober community, maybe you're a yoga teacher, community leader, and you're thinking about running a retreat in Bali, I've had people reach out to me and say, Can you organize a retreat? I actually said yes to one person, and then after four weeks, I was like, I cannot do this. I don't know if they ever followed up with you, Marie, but I sent them over. I was like, Can you just organize this? So if anyone is curious about running something in Bali, I'm not the person to ask. I will be there and I can teach yoga and run the overcircle. And I will organize my own retreats and my own retreats are great. But I just mean, for other groups, it's not my jam. And so if anyone's listening and they're like, Oh, I think that would be amazing, Marie is your person to contact.
And I'm going to put some information in the podcast show notes about how to reach out to her, how to connect. And definitely when you reach out, just mention that you listen to the show and that's how you got connected.
Yeah, well, if you reach out and you mentioned Alex, then we'll try and give you a little discount on your package. So it's good to mention her. And I'd love to have you bring your little group to Bali and organize an amazing retreat. And, of course, have Alex there doing her thing.
Yeah. So I have one last question. I always like to ask the same question at the very end of my shows, which is if you had any advice for someone who is starting out their sober journey, what would that advice be?
Yeah. For me, it's just like my life now is just so much better. I just think I always would just say, just do it. Whatever that takes, whatever you need, whether that's to do a 30-day... Lots of these 30-day programs going on, I mean, community-community, doing it alone. We have a saying, isn't it? The opposite to addiction is connection. When we feel connected and we can be around people that are in the same boat as us or struggling, and we can tap in and have those conversations with people. Even if, like I said, I had so many day ones, I can't even imagine how many day ones I had, but just getting involved in community is huge. Even to say that you've had another slip up, but your sisters are there, your brothers are there to help you along the path. But do it. It's number one, best thing I've ever done in my life. I don't know where I would be right now if I didn't get sober. Take a course, go to a rehab, whatever you have to do, just do it, as they say. Is it Nike? Just do it. Yeah, custer and get community support.
It's always a lot easier than going alone.
Such good. Such a good piece of advice. Well, Marie, this was so awesome. So awesome to hear your story. I can't believe that this is the first time I've heard it. And it's just amazing to hear what you overcome and who you are. And I'm super proud. I'm proud to call you my friend. You are an inspiring woman. Absolutely.
Thank you, Alex, for having me. It's nine o'clock at night here in Bali, so it's time for rest for this little angel. I'm sure you're ready for bed soon, Miss?
We'll speak soon.
Okay. Take care, everyone. Bye.
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