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Bare Mama Project: Carré Otis and Sarah Spinner Have a Shame-Free Alcohol Education Program

Alcohol consumption has soared during Covid. Bare Mama Project can help us "rewrite our alcohol stories" by connecting us more deeply with ourselves.

Alcohol sales have grown 27%, CNN reports. Who is doing all this new drinking? We don’t have any real stats on the age breakdown, but if one assumes that teens and those in their 20s were pre-COVID already drinking as much as they could, that would leave a good portion of the increase to the rest of us. We have been seeing a lot of ink about “lower the bar,” champagne afternoons, and Zoom cocktail hours. This all sounds like good fun until it becomes not so much fun. 

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The Bare Mama Project is an initiative aimed at helping people becoming conscious of how much they are drinking and its effect on their lives. It is not an abstinence program or a 12-step recovery program; it is more about helping people gain awareness around what may have become a bigger part of their lives than they realize.

“Let’s get this out of the way first: You don’t have to have an alcohol ‘problem’ to have an alcohol story.”

We gave Carré Otis, Bare Mama cofounder a call. Hi Carré, why are you launching Bare Mama Project now? 

Sarah and I were both blown away by Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind. It was the first time I came across an approach to exploring one’s relationship with alcohol in a totally non-judgmental way and from a place of understanding while incorporating science-based research and an emphasis on the power of neuroplasticity to change our habits and/or addictions. We both decided to become This Naked Mind-certified coaches and from there we began to imagine what our unique offerings would look like… and most importantly what our demographic was. When the pandemic hit, we began to see its toll on so many of our mama-friends: the stress of such a sudden shift in daily life, the homeschooling challenges, the financial and employment concerns, fears about the health and well-being of loved ones, the lack of reliable social connection, the impact of the 24-hour news cycle and “info-tainment,” and trying to come to terms with such a distressing sense of global uncertainty.

With the endless mom-needs-her-wine memes and the skyrocketing alcohol sales, we felt we needed to get in creation mode and help. So we took the initial “shelter in place”-time to create our 4-week online, self-paced course. And as busy mamas ourselves, we felt it most authentic to pre-record the workshop in a format that would be most helpful and accessible to other busy mamas. So it’s an “evergreen” product: something that will always be available to visit and revisit, to work through multiple times at one’s own pace. Each of us has such a unique and shifting relationship to our needs; it was important to us that we provide something that people can make their own.

 “As we began to assess the origins of our relationship to alcohol, we realized we had one big thing in common: We had been drinking without thinking about it for years.”

 Are you seeing a lot more reflexive drinking in people our age related to the current worldly stresses? 

SOOOO much so. 

With the name “Mama,” were you initially thinking about moms? Are there specific challenges that moms have now?

We really honed in on what we felt our communities needed the most. And what we, ourselves as mamas, were witnessing. However, Bare Mama Project is really for anyone who identifies as a Mama Bear — a protector, someone who is a caregiver (to their children, within their professional role, or to a particular cause or community), someone who takes care of others and at times neglects their own needs. The Bare Mama Project is about supporting people in turning that protective, warrior, unconditionally devoted energy toward themselves.

They may be struggling with alcohol, trying to drink less, trying to stop all together, or just curious about what it might look like to explore their relationship to alcohol — at their own pace, privately, and in a supportive and shame-free environment. We created our course within the context of self-discovery and self-compassion. There’s even an editable online journal and specific meditations to support additional exploration/integration of the concepts that feel most beneficial.

“We offer suggestions, tools, education, and support. And we give mamas the permission to totally — or even just subtly — shift their relationship to alcohol”

Alcohol has been so glamorized and so normalized in all areas of life. We are sold so many targeted messages about how it is some special elixir that can make us relax, have fun, grieve more deeply, feel more, not feel so much, connect, disconnect…And now, during this public health crisis, we see how many mamas are reaching for the bottle. This isn’t a program about abstinence per se; it’s a very gentle approach to entering a conversation with ourselves.

We offer suggestions, tools, education, and support. And we give mamas the permission to totally — or even just subtly — shift their relationship to alcohol. We each rewrote our alcohol stories and it was one of the most empowering things we’ve ever done. It was something we had no idea we even needed or wanted to do. But when we did, it provided so many amazing and unexpected results for us: our sense of confidence, clarity, well-being…every area of life was improved.

Most importantly, our relationship with ourselves was transformed. Some may be interested in being alcohol-free. Others may just want to experiment with 28 days of reduced or no alcohol intake. Some just may want to see what it’s like to bring more awareness and consciousness to their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors re: alcohol. We meet you where you are and offer guidance, tips, prompts, and education that each person can integrate into any approach that works best for them.

Whether through family, peers, media, or just everyday life, we’d each come to believe a lot of things about alcohol — and about ourselves — that turned out to be totally untrue. That’s why we created The Observation Project, a gentle, self-paced course designed to help you observe, unpack, and rewrite your own alcohol story.

“I felt it was super important to incorporate mindfulness into the program”

How did you develop the program?

Sarah is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Northern California. We both are certified coaches in Annie’s This Naked Mind approach. As coaches, we loved the idea of offering something online that’s accessible, affordable, and self-paced; one-on-one coaching isn’t for everyone. Others may want to use The Observation Project as a supplement to one-on-one coaching or other supportive resources they’re already using. While we integrate many perspectives and tactics from This Naked Mind, we have also woven in relevant techniques and perspectives from our personal and professional experiences.

Being a thirty-year practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, I felt it was super important to incorporate mindfulness pieces into the program, as well as aspects of self-care that often move to the back burner for moms. It was through many conversations that we developed our program. This is our first of many offerings. Sarah and I have worked on other projects and writings together, and so BMP will not be limited to just alcohol. We are in the process of creating other offerings and online courses that are not specific to alcohol. It’s about encouraging people to find out what is truly and genuinely their choice — free from messages they took in from families, culture, the media — and discovering what choices will ultimately be best for them.

A Virtual Retreat and a Future Podcast

What are you hoping people will learn from the program?

That they are not alone. That we can shift behaviors and rewire our brains and ultimately find freedom from limiting habits, behaviors, and limiting beliefs.

What goes on in the Bare Mama Den?

It’s a virtual retreat! And it’s totally free. We will be adding to the den, but as of now we have meditations and strategies to help mamas unwind, soften, and take time for self-care. We will also be launching a podcast hosting conversations with some amazing teachers, practitioners, and specialists. 

Join us for 28 days in The Observation Project and we’ll guide you toward understanding not only how drinking is affecting your mood, sleep and concentration, but how it might be seeping into other areas of your life as well. We will support you in observing, exploring, and discovering what kind of relationship with drinking is best for you, for now. 

Bare Mama Project

Founded by Carré Otis and Sarah Spinner, Bare Mama Project is a private community centered around gentle, shame-free alcohol education.

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David Stewart
David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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