What Women Want Today
What Women Want Today

Episode 54 · 9 months ago

Gray Area Drinking with Kari Schwear


Join me today as I interview Kari Schwear, an executive coach that transforms the lives of high-performers stuck in the gray areas of life.

Today we focus on Gray Area Drinking .. if you are wondering where you fall you can take her quiz HERE 

Kari and I talk about the grays areas of drinking and how women have increased in frequency over men in recent years. How pressures on women are pushing that statistic.

She shares her story and the pivot she made from 6-figure career to Executive Coach and her program QTD-30 day program. You can find out more about her program HERE  

You can connect with Kari on




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Hello and welcome to the what women on today podcast. You might be asking yourself right about now. Well, what do women want? I mean we're pretty complex creatures, right. Well, I think we want it all, and I'm here to explore with you. My name is Terry Kellems, I'm your host. Go grab your favorite beverage, I've already got my glass of wine, and let's get started. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the what women went today podcast. This is your host, Terry Kevin's. I'm so excited to be with you guys today. I have a guest with me today, Carrie Schweer of great tonic. Carrie, welcome to show. I'm so glad you here with me today. Hey, Terry, thanks for having me. So glad to be with you. So, Carrie, when I came across Your Business, your website, all of your socials, one of the first questions I asked myself is what the heck is the great area drinking? Yeah, it's a good question, right. Yeah, so, why don't you go ahead and just introduce yourself to the audience, tell us a little bit about you, and we'll dive into this great area drinking together today. Yeah, well, thanks, hello everyone. I am Carrie squear. I live in Richmond, Virginia. I've been here about eleven years and I am an executive coach that specializes in the gray areas of life, particularly drinking, because that was my story. I have many stories, but that's one of my stories. And I'm an author, a speaker, I do workshops and I have a conciers practice for my coaching clients and a group coaching program so I love, Love, love what I get to do. Awesome, awesome. For Care with the name of your book. It is called the successful mind. Tools for living a purposeful, productive and happy life. I can't wait to read it. So it's yeah, one of one of many authors I've I might add. So I'm just one of many, but it is a great book. We all wrote a specific, dedicated chapter about what it encompasses to be a successful Myer have as a successful mind, and so my chapter is on my methodology, which is the saber method, which is one of my tools that I use with my clients and for anyone that wants to know what it is, I'm having to share. So I love it. Yeah, awesome. So I've interviewed a couple authors on the show and they always say when you write a book you have a second one in you. So do you have a hundred percent percent? So Oh yeah, I already already have the second one, actually the outlined and ready to go. So yeah, well, when you put it out there you'll have to come back on the show and share it with us. Thanks so carry I was interested. I think what piqued my interest to talk with you about this today is I've always struggled with the true definition of what it means to be an alcoholic. I grew up with a mom who, you know, probably very similar to a lot of women my age. I she love to go out on the weekends and go dancing and they would drink and I thought it escalate over the years and especially when she entered Midlife. She didn't have the easiest life and I saw her start to use it as a coping mechanism to the point where she ends up with Libor damage so se beer that they told her she could never drink again or she would probably die. And you know, after her passing we found hidden alcohol all over her apartment. So I've kind of struggled with it because, you know, I've seen people that all I would say. You know, I could definitely say, Oh, yeah, they have a drinking problem or that person probably drinks a little too much. So can you help me and my audience sort of figure out what is the difference between a gray area drinker and someone who's considered an alcoholic? Yeah, that's a great question and it's one that get, I get asked quite frequently. So the best way to describe it is what a gray area...

...drinker is. So a gray area drinker as somebody who is in this in between space. I was just socially drinking and severely abusing alcohol, and the term alcoholism is starting to go away. We're really starting to use alcohol abuse disorder much more frequently and there are three categories of alcohol abuse disorder mild, medium and severe. So a gray area drinker would really fall in that mild and medium category of Alcohol Abuse Disorder, and somebody who is severely abusing or that is physically dependent on alcohol, in other words, they need to have alcohol in order to survive or they will have dts or withdrawals. As again, somebody who would be severely abusing. For me personally, the term alcoholic is really an identity that somebody has for themselves. To me, it's not necessarily to determine whether or not there are physically abusing or not. That's only for the individual to decide. So for me personally, when I decided to quit drinking, I did go the traditional route of AA, but I found it not to be good fit for me. I didn't identify as being an alcoholic. I didn't identify as needing recovery. I needed discovery. I needed to understand why I was using alcohol in a way that I felt was unhealthy. So I will say that anybody who identifies being in this gray area or as an alcoholic, it's really their own decision what they believe that they are. And there are there is a quiz that I have on one of my website, both websites actually, that offers someone to see if they're in this gray area or if they're severely abusing. So that's an option for someone, but really it comes down to what do they believe? If they think it's a problem and they're starting to have these internal questions, then they want to really be paying attention to that. A gray area drinker is a problematic drinker. So I want to make sure that that's clear. It's not that you're not a problematic drinker. You know, if you're in this gray area and it's starting to become a problem in your life, then it's a problem. But just because someone drinks more than they want to from time to time does not make them, in my opinion, automatically and alcoholic. It really comes down to where did they fall in this abuse category? I have a male friend who I believe drinks almost every single day during the week and I think this is part of the problem. This is part of the problem in the way that traditionally we have looked at alcoholics. So this friends, he he comes home, he drinks probably a twelve pack almost every evening. On the weekends, I would say it esalates to probably closer to a case. But he had he's happily married, at least to the outside world, I guess, loves his children, is a good father, shows up for work as a hard worker, has a wonderful career, owns a beautiful home. You know, he's responsible by all you know stretch of the imagination. So from the outside world we would look at him and go welly, probably just drinks too much. But when you look at the amount and the frequency. Wouldn't that that kind of lean towards the you said mild, moderate and what was the third of their severe? That would lead lean more towards the severe. Right, I can't answer that question. Only that, gentleman, can. It really does come down to you know. The other thing is if you if someone is severely abusing and they're at that point where they again need to have it in order to get through the day, you're severely abusing. You are severely abusing. If you get to that point. You know all, all of it is, is psychological. We have a lot of this another I'm not saying the psychological that is just something in our head. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying if someone is a problematic drinker, it does...

...affect the psychologically, because any habit that we do happens because the way that our brain works. That's how habits form, which then turns into an addiction. So we have to look at how we're actually thinking and how that works, and that's why I'm saying a psychological when it becomes physical where they have to have it in order to survive, the physical and the psychological addiction is there. That's when it, you know, in my opinion, is when it becomes more of a severe abuse of problem for someone, and really only they can decide that. Terry, this is such a personal relationship that you have with alcohol. You know I when I first decided to quit, I went to see a therapist who specialized in addictions and she gave me a test to fill out and when I filled it out she said, Oh yeah, Yep, you're an alcoholic. And I don't think it's that cut and dry. I really don't. I was that person who could go a month or two at a time and not drink at all. I didn't have to drink. In my definition a gray area drinker, it is a choice to drink. The other thing I'll say is in an estimated fifty percent of the population that consumes alcohol may bee in this gray area. So it's a huge number. There are more gray area drinkers than there are alcoholics or somebody who is severely abusing. That's interesting. When I was doing some research for our conversation today, I read that I'll call feel surge, fifty four percent during the first week of the pandemic, and then I went on to read more information that says that women increase seventeen percent frequency, while men only eleven percent. And so I read that and I, because I do, gear my topics towards the female audience and specifically midlife women. Even before the pandemic they were starting to see an increase in alcohol usage in the female population. So, you know, I have to say I love what you're doing. I am so thankful that you are doing this. What what are you seeing out there? What what drives women to come and seek your pro rims? A lot of women who come to see me and men. I coach both men and women. It's really about them feeling better about themselves. They're either hiding something, which usually is an unhappiness space, whether it's in their marriage and their job, it's from childhood trauma that they've never healed. It is a lack of appreciation. They're searching for love, they're looking for acceptance. They want to use their voice and they're not able to. They can't speak up. They've putting others first, especially women more so. You know, as as a female, I know this is true for me. So it's been about others, my kids, my husband. You know, when I put myself last and that gets it's exhausting, you know, as a woman, you know, we have a lot on our plate. So it's a the reason why varies from person to person, but the majority of people will say that it's because they're trying to find out why they don't love the person staring back at them in the mirror. I mean it's really a lack of self confidence. Wow, wow, that's a lot. That's a lot to take in. To be honest with you, I guess when you're saying that, I'm thinking, I'm I guess I'm always the still searching, you know, I'm searching since my mom is gone. I'm searching for that reason. While why, you know, she went down that path. And when you're saying that, I could absolutely see those things. You know, she she did not have an easy life and she made some bad decisions when it came to relationships, and I could see how that with spiral for a woman and I could see how the pressures that are are building for women. You know. I mean we have it all, no, right, I mean we have the careers and now we have the career plus all the other things that we have...

...going on. So it's a lot of pressure to put on, to put on a woman these days. Yeah, well, it appears that we have it all together. That's I think that was and that was the reason why I drank is that people from now side world just thought that I had the greatest life ever, you know, and I didn't feel that way. I really lacked the gratitude of my life. I felt as though I was a victim most of my life, ever since I was really seven. Seven years old, as when my life really really became quite interesting. I mean my gray area life, as I call it, started at seven when I was at my parents home and they were still married, out in St Louis, Missouri, Hot Summer Day, and I just remember looking up and down the street playing Jackson the driveway, going really, this is all the risk to life, because if so, this kind of sucks, like I don't even know if I want to be here. I mean, the only time I really found life to be exciting is when we were on a vacation, which didn't happen very often. You know, my parents were fighting and getting ready to divorce. Said we were. I was only a year or two away from them divorcing at that time. And it's also the same year I declared to my mom I'm going to be a cigarette smoker. So I became one. I had my first cigarette age seven and start smoking, start smoking on a regular basis by Leven, which is just crazy. I had a really painful childhood from that age till about ninth grade. Went to twelve different schools. So I cared a lot of that baggage with me into my adulthoods and you know, I got married young, have my kids young. It was in my s when I started drinking on a regular basis and it was because of the job that I had, I would say food and beverage manager, at a country club. It was my job to purchase the wine. I became a wine kind of stewer, the wine snob. You know, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, like Oh, the wine buyer or rep is here for me to pick out the wine for the club. And you know, I just use that as my excuse, like well, everyone in your drinks every night, why can't I? So that's when my drinking became more habitual. And with any habit it starts off kind of innocently and before you know it, you know you're you're doing it over and over again, it becomes like anything else that we do over and over again. We train ourselves and it became a habit and then that habit became more of an obsession, and that's when I realized that I think I might have a problem with alcohol, that me and alcohol together needing to have a have a break up here shortly. And that's what happened. I finally had my own enough, which wasn't a rock bottom. That's another you know, Miss what am I trying to say? Misled thing from somebody that you know, you have to have this rock bottom in order to quit. That's not true. That's not true at all. Everybody has our own enough, you know, you have to get to that place, whatever that looks like. For me that was me drinking all day on Fourth of July, coming home and my younger son, twenty three at the time, said wow, mom, you're really trashed. You must have been drinking all day, and I had some choice sports to say back to him, and it wasn't until the next day he told me what I said to him, and let's just say I bust it out in tears and told him that that would never happen again, and that's when I decided that I need to make a change, which is when I went to see that that counselor and I made some significant changes. I did go to AA. Like I mentioned, it was not a good fit. After leaving the program I worked with a coach and that's actually what changed my life, was working with this coach, which is why I became a coach. And you said, I believe it's on social media. You said breaking up with wine felt like a death sentence. Oh, a hundred percent, I thought, and he was funny. Is because the way that I coach and teach is I want nothing but the opposite of that for... clients is I don't want it to feel like a desence. I don't want to feel like you're losing out. I want it to be the opposite. It's not what they're losing us, what they're gaining. It's about empowerment, it's about support in a way that you never thought possible, and it's a choice. Drink, there's something to be said about I can't have a drink, versus I'm choosing not to. Sure, and when we get to decide what we want to do on a day to day basis. You know, before we start recording, you had shared with me that you made an intention for yourself for today and you're following through with that intention. And that is one of my lessons, is intentions versus goals. If we have intentions, that's the daily fuel, to micro fuel that carries us through. Goals are like big, lofty things that we get to check off as a to do list. Intention is about those, those daily wins that you get to add up for yourself. So it's really important to have intention and I really focus on the now, the present, what they want, how they want to feel, how they want to be. This has nothing to do with drinking. HMM. So what do you think with the nudge? What was that thing that nudge do? That said, I really just want to help people with this. There like a moment that you have, a pivotal moment that you can define? Yeah, I did so. I think I mentioned I work with this coach after leaving Aa and he really planted three seats for me at that time. He said, Carrie, I really think you're going to start your own business some day. I think you're going to be a coach and I think you're going to share your story with the world and I seriously Resi I said to him, I said, Dude, you are smoking some serious crack. That is never going to happen. I'm never going to share my story with anyone. I was so private when it came to that. I mean there was no way. I was so embarrassed by the whole thing. And then a coach, okay maybe, but starting my own business, no way. I worked at a really great job. I made six figures, I loved my career and I was like, there's no way I've ever leaving here. But little did I know, and like all good coaches, he planted those seeds for me and it was about a year later I was in church going to start a small group at my church. The church had a recovery group and told me that I should just attend it, recovery group, and I said no, I don't want to do recovery. That's not what I'm about. It's not recovery, it's discovery and I want to talk about gray area drinking and I had heard that term on a podcast interview and so at this point I'm almost two years alcohol free and I hear this term gray area drinking and I was like, oh my gosh, that's so me. That's what I was and if, if that's how I identify it, being in this gray area, how many other people are in this gray area that don't know? They just think you're either an alcoholic or you're not. There's no this in between space. If I can share with other people what this is, maybe I can get them to raise her hands sooner before becomes a severe addiction. And that's what made me decide I want to do something about this. So, after trying to do this at the church, it didn't work out, my girlfriend said, hey, just start something on your own. You're so good at this, you're you're already coaching me and a couple other people, and I said, you haven't. I'm not a real coach. I mean I'm just kind of acting as a coach, and she said we'll go, become a coach, start your own thing, and that's exactly what I did. And so I was like yeah, I'll show that church I don't need them, and next thing I know, I'm buying a bunch of domain names and started my business. And here we are. And literally that's how it started and I really believe, Terry, that I was called to do this work. I feel that everything I'd gone through as a child, all the trauma, all the pain, all the just crap, had led me to this place and right now, because, I mean you just you can't imagine how I've been prepared for this and I see it so clearly. It's I was truly, truly called to do this work. I know it's my my absolute purpose to be here. That's awesome, but... awesome. I work with so many women that wish they could just, you know, pinpoint that thing and I always say that your passions are about you. They're about the things you love, the things you aspire to do and pursue. What purpose is how you Sol up to serve other people. So that that's awesome. I had one question to take, one with a step backwards. I heard to talking and I thought it's part of the reason that people don't want to have a label of alcoholism or I have a problem, is it Shane? And maybe the lack of being able to be vulnerable about where they really are in life is if you think that plays into all of this one hundred percent. This is what keeps people stuck in the gray area. They don't want to say that they're an alcoholic. They don't want to go to an a meeting, they don't want to go to recovery. They're like, screwed that, I rather keep doing what I'm doing because, wait for it, nothing has happened yet, right. And because nothing has happened and there are no repercussions from their decision to drink, they continue to drink because they don't want to face the shame or the guilt. They don't want to feel bad, that they already feel bad right, which is why someone drinks. We choose to drink or over eight when we're not hungry, or watch porn or gamble or shop too much or watch Netflix or scroll through our phone because we don't want to feel the pain. We're either escaping a feeling or chasing a feeling. This is why we do the things that we do. This is why habits or here, because we really get stuck in this loop and our mind that we cannot sit with our feelings, that if we sit with our feelings, that we're going to have to own the feelings and then we're going to have to really do hard work. So the heck with that I'm going to choose to drink and escape this crap so I don't have to deal with it. This is why it becomes a habitual problem for so many people and it's you know, what I'm asking somebody to do, which is why I question the drink, is the name of one of my programs. Is because I want them to question the drink, question their relationship with alcohol. Why are you drinking? Get really honest with yourself. That is really important. I'm glad you went there. Let's talk about your question to drink. Thirty Day program. Tell my audience a little bit about that. Oh yeah, so it started last year with dry January and I thought, you know what, I want to create a group program for thirty days. I didn't want it to be a challenge. I really wanted it to be more of a group coaching program. So it's online modules and videos, but more importantly, I mean that's all great because it's a lot of my teaching, but more importantly, it's about the the tight knit community that has been built around this program. So we meet every Wednesday night, like we're meeting tonight, at Thirty PM Eastern, and we spend an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes together as a group and everyone has an opportunity to share where they're at. But, more importantly, what's even been everyone's favorite as a boxer group. I use this APP. Everyone can hear each other every day. We all chime in. Everybody's supportive. And I have men and women. I have my youngest in the group right now is thirty and my oldest is seventy two, wow, and I have business owners running multight million dollar businesses, I mean multimillion dollar businesses, and then I have a seventy two year old grandma and a thirty year old stay at home mom and everything in between. Yeah, men and women. So it is a you know, it's funny, as you would think, like what the heck would they all have in common? It's called they just want to be seen, loved and heard and they shared this one thing that brought them to the group. But as they realize, and this is the best part about the group, as they come in thinking, okay, I'm going to I'm going to work on my relationship with alcohol. Yeah, yeah, that's definitely part of it, something I promise you definitely will improve your relationship with alcohol. But more importantly, they improve the relationship with themselves. Yeah, they feel so much...

...better. They get confidence, they have more clarity, they can look at themselves in the mirror. They can, you know, speak up for what they need. They just have a little more pep in their step. I have them take a picture when they first start with me and take one at the end, and it's just you would think, thirty days. What the heck can you see in thirty days? A Lot. It shows up in their face and their eyes, the glow that they have, you know. I mean there's so many benefits. And you know, do all of them refrain from drinking the entire thirty days? No, there's been a couple that are like, you know, a guys, I had a really freaking tough day last night and I just I said screw it and I drank. Yeah, and I'm in here to share it with you like it was. It was hard. You know, it's Nica that they don't get a right chip every time. You know, they have a day one. We don't count days. It doesn't matter about days. It's about the intention, the commitment to themselves and the grounding pillars that I have for them in place. And then we build upon those pillars. Yeah, that sounds awesome. Yeah, Oh, I know you are on Linkedin, I know you're on Facebook, instagram and you have a different websites. I will make sure to include all that in the show notes. If there anything else that we didn't talk about, to say that you would like the listeners to know. I would love the listeners to be encouraged and not to be embarrassed or shamed if you are questioning whether it's your relationship with alcohol, or maybe your question your relationship with your marriage, or maybe it's your job, you know, to pay attention to those places in your life that you feel as a gray area and if drinking is one of those areas. Any you want to know if you're a gray area drinker, I have an awesome interactive fun quiz for you to take. It will tell you instantly if you are, where you fall in the gray either the light, medium or darker shade of Gray, as I kind of call it, or if you're outside of the gray area. So if you're interested in that, it's on both websites, Gray area drinkingcom, gray as gray or gray toniccom, which is my main business and I have to share really quick. Harry Tonic, the name, you know, when I first named the business. Well, that is my business name, great tonic, and I had a couple people say, well, sounds like a dirty dray ank, like what is it? And I just laugh because once they know why it was chosen, everybody gets it. So tonic. If you look the word up tonic in the dictionary, besides it meaning medicinal drink, it also means a strengthen her pick me up, boost, energizer, invigorator, like all these beautiful words. It's so I really look at my coaching practice as being someone's tonic to them being in a gray no matter where they're in the gray, you know. Like again my story I have multiple gray areas, but one of them was drinking, which is what got me started on this journey, and I want to be that someone's tonic. Let's get you feeling really good. Love it, love it. One last question for you today, curiously. Wrap Up. Yeah, what is it that you think women want today? That's a good question, Terry. For me I would say that women want to be able to use their voice and be heard and I think a lot of times were shushed away or, you know, we're not able to speak up. That a lot of this may stem from years ago and I think we've been able to speak up a little bit more, but I think we feel as though if we say something, we're worried about ruffling feathers, like if we're not happying a marriage or we're not happy at a job, or we're struggling with something or we feel depressed or we have shame or we have guilt about something, that they got to keep quiet, and I really encourage women to feel empowered enough and inspired to say something to someone, even if it's just one person, how you really really feel and when you're able to use your voice and really feel free to do that... when your life will change and I encourage every human to feel that way. I love that. I strongly believe that we should not have to go through things alone. Things are always better in community with other people, so I loved that carry. Thank you for sharing that with me and thank you so much for being here with me today. Oh, you're welcome. Thanks for having me Terry, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you enjoyed today's conversation as much as I did. If you'd like to continue the conversation, come on over and join our private facebook group what women want today, and love to hang out with you some more there. Any resources mentioned in today's episode will be in the show notes. You can find me on facebook and Instagram at what women want to day podcast, or visit my website at what women want to daycom please remember to subscribe, download and share. Leave me a review. It helps other amazing women find the show and become a member of our community. One last thing for you today. You are not alone. You are worthy of love and a fulfilled life. Now it's time to go after it.

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