When do the words insanity and sane intertwine in ones' story to create the perfect storm of madness? It's a question I've riddled myself with for the past year. Was it insane to walk away from the security of the cube? How sane was it to give up my 401K and Health Insurance? Would a reasonable person start a business, let alone a foundation in conjunction with his company with limited knowledge of what it would take to create a sustainable business? Would a responsible person give up everything he had worked towards just to answer his inner yearning to live in the unknown?
On April 16, 2014, I admitted that I was insane. Not literally, but accurate. For as long as I could remember, I continued to choose to hide behind my fears of living the life I wanted to live by drinking away my insecurities. Rather than accepting who I was, I found it easier in those uncomfortable moments to escape to black. For as long as I could remember, I didn't understand that I had a choice. I told myself, this is what ordinary people do Jesse, and by sheer default, the lifestyle I was living, that was insanity. But that doesn't answer the question of how sane it was to seek help, get help, allow support into my life, and then walk away from the healthy and rational lifestyle I was living.
Well, today, on April 16, 2018, now celebrating four years of active sobriety from my last drink, I am writing this letter to all of my friends, family, followers, haters, and others to share with you that we are all a little insane. The only difference in writing this piece today and four years ago, I now understand how to live my life amongst the crazy thoughts and actions that once riddled my life.
What once sounded like crazy talk, that 12 small steps in ones' life would offer me the life I live today, well, that's insane I once uttered. Little did I know, like other principles I have found in my life from attending experiences like Burning Man, it has been these 12 steps that continue to give me the willingness to work a pretty good program to improve on the life that I live today.
I walked into A.A four years ago today, April 16, a day I will never forget. I was broken, lost, and had forgotten how to live my life without a drink in my hand. I walked into my very first room with the desire to stop drinking, I have stayed because it offers me the tools to live the life I want to live today.
Fours years ago today I gave myself the challenge to stay sober for one day. Today, I am celebrating four years of continued sobriety from my very last drink. To me, that is insane.
Just one year ago today, I gave myself 365 days to cultivate enough optimism to continue this crazy life that I have tagged as "The Life of the Sober Voyager."
Tomorrow, I will be celebrating day one of my second year as a business owner, thrill seeker, and mocktail & coffee enthusiast. To me, that is insane.
For anyone that struggles with an addictive personality, and I would argue we all do in our various ways, I challenge you to bottle all of that insanity and chaos up in our lives and use it towards making sane, rational, daily improvements towards the life that we want to live.
As my dude Gary Vee would say; Get rid of all of the negative people, thoughts, actions, and bullshit in our lives and stop making excuses on why you can't achieve your dreams rather than how you can.
Just four short years ago I was struggling to grasp the fact that we only have one opportunity to live the life that we want to live.
Today, I am sober, happy, living, doing, and merely scratching the surface on who I am becoming in life.
For the people that once said taking an uber, riding a bicycle, or using our limited public transportation to travel all over this city to work in sales was insane, this is what the imperfectly perfect storm of insanity and sane looks like told by me, in year four of my sobriety.
365 days ago I put in my two-week notice. One day later I put in the note to cash out my retirement to purchase a van, launch two websites, acquired enough inventory to last me about six months on the road, gave up my home and secondary source of income through Airbnb, and moved into a van.
When I launched my company and foundation on April 16, 2017, I didn't even have a name for either of them yet. I merely had a dream and the belief that 12 small steps would help me maintain my sanity as I figured life out.
Two weeks removed from the life I once knew, I walked into the Kentucky Derby to celebrate marking off my very first state in what was one hell of a year of travel, growth, and self-exploration.
Collectively, I attended Hangout Music Festival, Sasquatch, EDC Vegas and Orlando, Nocturnal Wonderland, Pilgrimage Festival, Spring Awakening, and Burning Man. I participated in San Fransico's Pride Festival in honor of a very special individual whos' life was taken all to early. I drove from Washington to Southern California never getting off the Pacific One Highway. I have been able to experience the sights, sounds, and smells in the Red Woods, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion, Yellowstone and various other national parks.
I have been able to experience art, food, thoughts, and conversations that have made me want to explore even more of what this world has to offer us.
More than all of that, it has been my ability to meet new people that otherwise, I would have never had the opportunity to share a walk beside on the beach. A conversation, hug, smile, dance, and even a few tears of joy that I would have missed entirely in my life without my willingness to say damn it, Jesse, I am going for it.
In total, I collectively drove through about 120 states this past year.
This year I learned how to surf, ski, hiked mountains, danced, laughed, drove some badass cars, marked off some bucket list items, but more importantly than all of that, I was able to connect with thousands of individuals that are either in active recovery or wondering what those first steps towards treatment would even look like for them?
This past year was a bit insane at times; I can admit that. A typical week for me would include selling bracelets in Kentucky on a Sunday. Monday morning I would drive to Denver, shoot a segment on my foundation, leave that night to arrive in STL to visit some old friends, only to wake up the next morning to hit Kentucky in time to eat dinner with my family. Five days into my week gave me plenty of time to drive down to Atlanta to sell some more bracelets, pack up, drive through the night only to arrive in Kentucky for a Monday meeting with a distillery in hopes to grow The Mocktail Project. Insane?
This past year I have woke up on the side of the road, gas stations, parking garages, national parks, under the stars in the desert, at the top of numerous mountains, next to the ocean, and in the snow-covered landscape that was both beautiful and chilly in the van!
These past 365 days of my life has allowed me to take on a new perspective in my life, one that I hope continues to evolve as I set out for 365 more days of exploring. Yes, as insane as this past year has been, I hope it becomes even more insane this year!
Today, 365 days after launching the Sober Voyager, I am proud to say I operate and run A.D.R and The Mocktail Project.
Through sheer luck, determination, will, and the needed thing in my life, my sobriety, I am proud to know that in 2018 we have moved the production of A.D.R into an incredible recovery center, The Healing Place. It is my goal to now provide a bit more hope, inspiration, and set an example for the individuals that I work with that long-term recovery is possible.
In 12 short months through fate, faith, and friendships, I have teamed up 14 fantastic bars and restaurants to craft elevated non-alcoholic options to offer our community a safer, more inclusive drinking culture. In 12 short months, The Mocktail project has garnished the support of the spirit industry. In 12 short months, I was able to host my inaugural charity event, A Drink for You. In 12 short months, this project went from a dream, concept, just a belief that non-drinkers should have fun tasty drinks served in the same glass like everyone else, towards setting the foundation for an incredible journey ahead.
Through all of this, the one piece I am most proud to share about my past 365 days of insanity, I am working with some fantastic people, no FRIENDS, to grow a sustainable foundation that will support recovery efforts for individuals that have the desire to seek treatment.
I have committed to donate 50% of net proceeds from A.D.R directly back towards recovery efforts while my foundation is growing our endowment to provide real hope for those who would like to experience the freedom that I found four years ago today.
Call me sane, or tell me what I am doing is insane, either way, I am living a life that I never thought was possible before my last drink. I aspire to inspire others who are struggling to come to grips with who they want to be in life.
Like most days, today is no different. I will be working and living out of a van. I will attend a meeting tonight. More than likely I will consume upwards of 8-10 cups of coffee. What I couldn't have seen as sane 365 days ago when I gave up a secure job, a good life, a regular lifestyle, is that I would be happier today than I was 365 days ago. So, I ask the question, does all of this seem insane to you?
To follow my journey, or to learn more about my company A.D.R or The Mocktail Project, follow us on IG @adrforall & @themocktailproject - adrforall.com & themocktailproject.com.
Lastly, a special thanks and gratitude to my friends of the program that showed me all of this to be possible. #odaat @sobervoayger