“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

People often describe getting sober as having an awakening-type effect—spiritual or otherwise. I felt like I had a brand new lens to view life; there was suddenly clarity, everything started to appear in full color, and I had an altogether different relationship with the world. It was also scary. I felt this huge void in my life—one that alcohol and drugs used to fill. I didn’t know who I was without my trusted companions and I sure as heck didn’t know what to do with all this spare time I had.

It was in that place that I found my creative talents. Little did I know that five years later, I would be harnessing those talents to live a life I could have only dreamed of back then.

I recall my first sponsor suggesting a get a crafty-type hobby. I immediately envisioned old ladies knitting, and I may have turned my nose down at the prospect of that. After a brief conversation with my sober group of friends, I asked what they did; there were people who colored in, people who drew and went to still life classes, there were people who went to ceramic classes, and others who made a business out of card making. The possibilities seemed endless.

At the time I lived in the heart of a creative area of the city, Manchester. There were as many art shops, boutiques, and craft stores to match the bars—well, nearly. I slowly gained the courage to start exploring. First, I stumbled upon a jewelry making and bead shop. I picked up a few kits and off I went. Within a week, I was back in the store. Within a month, I was selling my creations because people loved them so much. My self-esteem soared and I suddenly felt like I had purpose and ability.

Armed with some new found confidence, I started to explore other creative avenues. I had always loved to cook—maybe it’s my Italian origin, who knows. But I started to experiment with new recipes and slowly began making my own dishes. I started an Instagram account and my friends were always asking me how to recreate what I made. I just didn’t realize what creative talent I had, despite the evidence before me.

Then my life kind of changed—well, it completely transformed. In a similar way to getting sober. I found my purpose. I began a journey towards feeling healthier and living better. Shortly after working with a health coach, I decided to start a blog about my journey—Liv’s Recovery Kitchen. On that blog I wrote like I had never really written before; my heartfelt thoughts about my journey seemed to flow out of me. I’d simply sit down at my desk, place my hands on the keyboard and words seemed to magically appear on the screen.  It was so cathartic to channel my thoughts in that way—they sort of took on a whole new meaning; once they were up on the screen, they seemed to somehow have less of a hold over me. I realized that I was healing myself through sharing my journey. I started to gain a following of people who related to my journey. The more I shared, the more people cheered me on. The purpose of the blog was never to gain popularity; it was to write to the old Olivia—to tell her that there was life beyond food and drug addiction and this is what it looked like.

About a year into writing the blog, I read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. That book lit a fire underneath me. She imparted such wisdom about creativity that I had never appreciated before. She said “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” I hadn’t considered that a blog—writing—was a creative talent. She said that if an idea is gifted to you that you have a responsibility to act on it right away, otherwise it will leave you. Gilbert encourages the reader, “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”


That message gave me the impetus to write whenever I felt compelled to; the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Before I knew it, my writing was being picked up by publications in America (at the time I lived in the UK) and I was asked to write for them. Feeling rather inferior and not quite confident in my abilities, I took a leap of faith and said yes.

A year later, I took another leap of faith and moved to America. I trusted and I kept writing. As I did, more opportunities presented themselves. I now write full-time for publications across the web. I kind of pinch myself all the time—I can’t believe it’s really happening! Every day I realize I am blessed to have this talent, skill, and opportunity. Any writer will tell you that it is hard work freelancing full-time, but it doesn’t feel like work—otherwise they would just be a sea of words with no meaning and some very long days.

My advice is to just start. It doesn’t matter what it is, just go and try something new. You’ll find something you love and you’ll have a great time in the process.

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How Getting Sober Revealed My Creative Talents
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Olivia Pennelle

About Olivia Pennelle

Writer and wellness advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. She passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site—Liv’s Recovery Kitchen—is a resource for those on their journey toward health and wellness in recovery. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery bloggers and fellow writers. She is published on websites such as: Recovery.Org, The Fix, Sanford House, Winward Way & Casa Capri, Intervene, Workit Health, Sapling, Transformation is Real and Addiction Unscripted.

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How Getting Sober Revealed My Creative Talents was last modified: September 25th, 2017 by The Recovery Village