How my journey began
I had just graduated from the University of Manitoba with a newly-minted commerce degree, and had been named captain of the Bisons for the prior three years—leading and inspiring a group of ambitious, talented, hard-working women.
My motto was “work hard, play hard” and that’s exactly how I lived—both on the ice and in the bar.
By all accounts, I was ready to take on the world. But after a series of challenging events, and a knack for avoiding emotional pain, my drinking reached a point where I would sometimes lose control. And yet, despite my inner turmoil, anxiety, and depression, alcohol never felt like a problem. Instead, it felt like the solution.
Alcohol didn’t seem to keep me from achieving the success I desired. In fact, in some ways, it was helping me live up to other people’s expectations.
Later, I moved to Austria to pursue a career in professional hockey. While in Vienna, I turned my attention inward. For the first time in my life, I began looking past the “successful” outer façade everyone admired about me and some real truths about me began revealing themselves. I was curious to learn more and begin restoring my life.Restore
I started dabbling in building a more fulfilling life for myself.
I was reconnecting with activities and relationships that felt authentic to me. But I wasn’t ready to completely let go of my old life yet. Alcohol was still my mode of escape—my secret weapon, my warm blanket of reassurance, my only sense of connection to others.
When I entered the corporate world, I was “Polished, Professional Leanne” by day and “Party Girl Leanne'' by night (boozy corporate lunches weren’t out of the question either). I fell into the trap of habitually going out for drinks and letting loose, in effort to leave my worries behind. My core group of industry friends were always one text away, and every week there was a hot new restaurant to try or exciting party to attend (and who could forget Wine Wednesdays?).
Once again, my inner, curious voice showed up, and I started questioning my relationship with alcohol. I realised I was self-medicating to escape my deep, inner discomfort and casually lying to myself about the truth of my behaviour.
What I found made me uncomfortable. Despite everything I had achieved so far, I was lost, distracted, and flying on autopilot. I was “fitting the mould,” but my use of alcohol was corroding me from the inside-out—emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. But as a wise philosopher once said, awareness of your problems is the first step towards change.
It wasn’t until the unbearable emptiness of my past choices finally caught up with me that I was ushered into fully embracing growth, healing, and elevating my life.Elevate
Now here’s my “montage” sequence:
This is the part in the movie where you see me face my fears, conquer my demons, and triumphantly run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, fists pumping in the air. I’d like to say that’s how it happened. The truth is, my transformation took time. It was gradual, incremental. Slow and steady, one foot in front of the other and sometimes two steps back.
My first step on this new journey was attending a holistic nutrition program. It was there I found other people who were asking themselves the same questions about alcohol. Studying nutrition gave me the information, the knowledge, and perhaps most importantly, the courage to stop drinking.
My nutrition classes shone a 5000-watt spotlight on what every drink was doing to my body. I quickly became curious about what my life would look like if I stopped drinking, who I would become, or who I would return to.
My curiosity soon grew to a point where I felt no option other than to say, “‘let’s do this!”
The longer I went without a drink in hand, the more confident and grounded I felt. I moved back to my hometown. I began exploring and defining my own values. I found clarity on the life I wanted to live. And then I turned my sights toward rejoining society without succumbing to the pressures of modern drinking culture.
You could say my return journey took a somewhat unconventional route. Armed with a deep understanding of nutrition, I began experimenting with different beverage recipes and collaborating with a local culinary research group.
What emerged was a nourishing, non-alcoholic “spirit”—an elixir grounded in ancient wisdom and modern science; a brew that allowed me the freedom to connect with others without draining my energy the next day.
Strangely, I found myself in a place I hadn’t been before—present, authentic, connected, and intimately in-tune with the full spectrum of emotions that make up the human experience. “Getting drunk” was no longer a requirement for a night out on the town. I was finally free to spend quality time with my friends and laugh and enjoy myself.
I had found my happy place. I knew I had to share what I created and maybe—just maybe—inspire others to find their own happy place too.Inspire