On today’s episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have Natalie Calkins Rountree joining us. After 15 years of drinking, Natalie exhausted herself and dropped to the ground. She had been charged with 2 felonies, 3 Dui’s, Child Endangerment and endured a devastating custody battle. After hitting rock bottom she reached a turning point. She had what many of us call a spiritual awakening and completely tuned her life around. She soon got her daughter back and now after 8 years of sobriety lives a life beyond her wildest dreams.
Natalie Calkins Rountree is an advocate for bringing awareness to the pain and struggles of women, mothers and others facing addiction to alcohol or in recovery. She is the founder of Soberlivingsoulfulliving.com which focuses on inspiring and encouraging those in recovery from alcoholism. Her mission is to reach as many people as she can in hopes of inspiring others to not just recover but to help them love themselves and life again.
Once you take enough time to forgive yourself, love yourself, believe in yourself and look deep inside, you too can find YOUR “self”. – Natalie Calkins Rountree
Sobriety Date: May 8th 2008
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Natalie: My conscience contact with my higher power is actually through the meditation first and foremost. Then it’s just living right. I have to take inventory constantly and that is so important. Taking an inventory on the way that we speak to one another, our every action. I’m not too hard on myself, we all make mistakes, we all say things we wish we wouldn’t have said. I’ve even posted things that I’ve taken down minutes later, like don’t let me go there.
The first thing that will set me off in where I know I’m going down the wrong path is if I do something or say something and I feel bad about it. I’m constantly checking myself through that. I do a lot of reading, Jack Canfield, The Big Book, I haven’t read in some time. I go to meetings. I’ll speak at meetings but not as much as I used to go. I don’t go to anywhere where there’s drinking. My husband and I are hermits, we barely leave the house at night because why would I? Why would I go to parties or engagements where people are … We’ve done it if people were, if it was work related when we were working but I just don’t.
I’ll tell you something these past, I would say since November, has been some of the most trying months I’ve had to go through since my own dilemma over the years. The personal ones that I created. They have been some very very tragic times in my life in the past several months. I can tell you right now that I don’t think I would have made it through those downfalls and tragedies like I had if I had not been doing what I’m doing now. That’s just helping other people because there were times where I really thought that I was going to go into a real depressed state. I thought no, there’s people waiting on me, there’s people counting on me. Then the second that I get to my computer or my writing, it’s gone. I’m fresh again and I’m free again. It’s just you get what you give. You give love, you love get back. You send out positivity, you get positivity back. You send out the message and messages on recovery and inspirational things, you can’t help but think it all day.
Omar: It’s true.
Natalie: You really can’t. The things that have happened, going through them now it’s almost as if I’ve been preparing for it. The universe has been preparing me for it. It started with this journey like you’re going to be okay, you’re going to be okay. There’s a lot of things I do in my everyday, working out is one thing that I started early on in recovery and exercise gives you those natural endorphins and really really helps clear the mind and get rid of stress and anxiety. There’s quite a few things I do, it’s hard to pin point it to one. It’s really something that I work on all day.
Omar: Natalie, tell us how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Natalie: My anniversary date is May eighth, two thousand and eight, almost eight years so we’re looking at seven years and ten months just around, a little over.
Omar: Now what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Natalie: What was keeping me when I first got introduced to recovery: I still wanted to drink. The fear of living without alcohol outweighed the fear of living with it. I didn’t know who I was without it. I didn’t know who I was without it and I knew it was a necessity in my life for me to be the only person I knew who I was. It was my identity. I still had fun with it.
Omar: At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that a-ha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Natalie: The day I left. There was no doubt. No doubt. They say either end up incarcerated or dead. I’d been through the incarceration plenty of times.
Omar: Jails, institutions, or death.
Natalie: Yes and alcohol took my daughter from me. There’s no going back to the bottle after that. It’s better on the other side, it’s going to be better sober. Even though I didn’t believe it at the time, I had hope. That’s all you have to have. If you have enough hope that it will be better the other way, that it’ll be better sober, you’ve got something going.
Omar: Absolutely, yes.
Natalie: When hope replaces fear and then hope turns into believing and then believing turns into living, you never go back. You don’t want to go back, you have no desire to go back. You appreciate life with every bit of being you are.
Omar: So true, beautiful. I love it. Number three, do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a new comer that you read in early recovery?
Natalie: Yes, I do. It’s a book by Iyania Vanzant and it’s called Daily Meditations. It really goes through three hundred and sixty five days of the year. It’s all about living right and loving yourself and claiming your self-worth back and having peace of mind. That book helped me. I’ve never let it go. I used to bring it to meetings and read it at the tables. I’ve read it to my daughter over the years when she had problems. I read everything. I read Eckhart Tolle. I read Wayne Dyer. I read Louise Hay. I read. That was how I found my higher power.
Omar: Love it. Natalie, tell me, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Natalie: Don’t hide in shame.
Omar: I like it, beautiful. Then finally, number five, if you could give our new comers only one suggestion, what would that be?
Natalie: Love yourself, work on loving yourself everyday. Make it priority to love something about yourself everyday.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Love yourself, work on loving yourself everyday.”
Omar: Wow. I got to give a shout out to my good friend Bryan Nino because that’s exactly how he closed his episode. He said love yourself. Man, I never get tired of hearing that one. That is a fantastic, fantastic suggestion and it’s so hard.
Natalie: It is hard but once you do it without the ego, with the ego out of the way, once you do it, you just have more love to give everybody else.
Omar: Why don’t we tell the listeners how they can reach out to you, how to find you, your website, your videos, how do we get ahold of you?
Natalie: My website is SoberLivingSoulfulLiving.com and my Facebook is Facebook.com/SoberLiving/Soulful/Living. Those are the best two routes to reach me and on my website you can find other avenues to reach me as well.
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Natalie!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.