#R2BT Challenge Complete! Looking forward to quenching a thirst…..


In the last few weeks Ready to be Thirsty has had a wealth of media coverage, many personal insights, a growing web of social media exposure, and well… lots of learning.


We’ve heard from people who found the challenge difficult, those who found it a breeze, and from those somewhere in between.  From their observations, we experienced the joys of mondo mocktails and Mo’ Mondays, raucous rock climbing and tales of tantalizing temptation.

Maybe you were a big part of the challenge and tweeted or posted your thoughts and feelings.  Maybe you did the challenge in secret.  Perhaps you felt hesitant, and, not quite sure what to do with your ambivalence, you never quite took the challenge – but you were still somehow conscious of what you drank.  Possibly, you didn’t even know about the challenge until now.

This much is true – we learned something.  We absorbed that alcohol is a deeply personal decision that confronts many of us.  We mulled over how we encounter social situations where alcohol is not only available, but encouraged.   And, perhaps we learned what alcohol means to us, whether as a reward, a habit, or a tool to get into another head space.

Whatever alcohol means, from a quiet indulgence to a means of escape, perhaps you’ll carry forward whatever lessons you picked up – either from doing the challenge, discussing it or simply just hearing about what it meant.    From all of us here at Thirst, we extend our thanks for your time and energy.

Lastly, like you might have figured, we’ll be doing this again next February, bigger, better and bolder.

Until then, stay a little thirsty.

Giving In? Not giving up. #R2BT

for this moment

On Thursday night past, I gave in to temptation.  I drank a pint of beer.  And I did that because I could not resist an opportunity to celebrate an accomplishment.   I needed to feel, fully, the achievement of taking the stage for opening night in a theatrical production.

The play itself is an emotional torrent, a deep dive into the pool of human suffering and the perseverance of hope in the wake of tragedy.   And I’ve swam around in that for two hours a night, for three months of rehearsal and two dress rehearsals and four shows (with four more to come).  I do this for free and call it fun.

Make no mistake, it is often more fun than you can imagine.  It is also a great deal of communal effort.  So when that play was done, and all the effort and the audience spent, I went to a local watering hole with my new friends and just… couldn’t hold back the urge to ‘cheers’ our collective success.

I have to say that I was bitten by remorse afterwards.

Well, I’ve learned, via my success of staying dry at the SuperBowl, and in getting sudsy last Thursday, that I often use alcohol to amplify emotion.

Triumph, pain and pondering – for whatever reason, that’s what I do.  And in the long go, I have some thinking to do.   In the moment, I made a choice that made sense for a few minutes.  In retrospect, I wish I could take it back….but at the very least, I learned something.

Going forward, I will get right back on the horse, recouping my willpower to learn additional lessons.

knocked down, back up

– Vincent Lombardi

Sober – an unpleasant word? #R2BT







We built that word to describe the absence of intoxication – and you either are or you’re not – it’s an exclusive condition [like ‘pregnant’].  But sober is an interesting word, because it’s a default condition. We are all built sober.  [Inside #R2BT, some of us are trying to stay that way for February]

Given time, we all will be…. do nothing and eventually you’re there.  The whole world, in the absence of fermentation and yeast, is sober.

Yet, despite being universal to humans who aren’t working to be otherwise, sober is somehow an unpleasant word.   Think of how we use it.

It was sobering – it was dry and uninteresting

Sober as a judge – an idiom about being over-serious and unwavering

10 years clean and sober – hard work, every day working on the straight and narrow

Sober, a song by the band Tool – an anthem of pain and self-loathing.  The one by Pink is about pain, too.  And the one by the Trews.

I couldn’t find a common use of the word that was appealing.  Yet that’s what we all are, most of the time, and what we are naturally built to be.  And if our language defines our thoughts….then what does this say about our opinions on everyday sobriety?

# R2BT Thirsty Crew – Travis Mealing

Consider me ‘Ready to be Thirsty

Alcohol-free challenge an opportunity to examine my drinking habits

Midland Mirror

MIDLAND – One of my favourite drinks is Bailey’s over ice. A glass of wine also hits the spot with certain meals, and I really enjoy the occasional cold beer.

Nonetheless, here I am preparing to participate in “Ready to be Thirsty,” an alcohol-free challenge lasting all 28 days of February. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit initiative is designed to encourage people to make informed decisions about their own health – including moderating their alcohol consumption.

Do I need to moderate my drinking? Not really. I’m the furthest thing from the stereotypical, whisky-soaked journalist. There is no liquor flask in my desk drawer, and I never meet sources in darkened bars.

But I would still describe my attitude toward alcohol as fairly liberal. Although I rarely (almost never) drink to excess, I’ve got no issue with those who enjoy bending an elbow on a more regular basis. As long as they don’t drive after drinking, all you’ll hear from me is a cheerful “Bottoms up!”

I am one of a number of media personalities or community leaders taking part in this challenge. Midland Mayor Gord McKay, 104.1 The Dock host Meg Whitton, the health unit’s Dr. Charles Gardner and Tony Grace of CTV Barrie are some of my fellow temporary teetotallers.

While I can’t speak for any other “Thirsty Crew” members, I can say I’m looking at this as an opportunity to learn about my own relationship with booze. Will I find this challenge difficult? Will I have cravings for alcohol? Will I resist the temptation or succumb to it?

I suspect I’ll breeze through the month without a problem, but it will be interesting to see if any situations arise to test my fortitude.

The health unit is hoping many more people will get involved in the challenge through social media. “Ready to be Thirsty” participants can signal their involvement through their Twitter account by tweeting with the hashtag #R2BT. On Facebook, they can post to their own page using #R2BT so others can find their updates.

I’ll post my own updates to Twitter via The Mirror’s account (@MidlandMirror). Followers will also see retweets from other participants who choose to share their experiences.

For more information about the challenge, visit smdhu.org/thirst.

The Super Blog from a Football Fanatic #R2BT


They use the term ‘a perfect storm’ to describe when a number of factors come together to create synergy – where the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts.

The big game yesterday was my perfect storm. Let’s add up the elements:

• Two teams where I wanted neither to win
• Pre-existing tiredness
• Acuity of the senses

For what was an exciting game from a football perspective – and I am a football junkie – it was not a thrilling personal experience. Note that I am usually overcome with euphoria (or heartbreak) during and after the game. This time, not so much.

Ruminating on the drive home I concluded that emotion was what was missing – the high or low that makes one feel alive. And in our society we use alcohol, often, to amplify feelings.

Now, occasionally people drink to ‘escape’ or decompress, but in a sports setting we are chasing the opposite. Instead of numbness, we get vast outpourings of emotion, for better or worse. In these highly-charged moments, people may be extremely emotionally invested. With inhibitions low due to intoxication, this emotion can lead to very poor choices.

Beyond sport, we use alcohol as a catalyst for celebration, or sometimes, for commiseration – with a tear in our beer, as it were. Either way, we are using alcohol to get to our inner selves and find a fullness of expression.

I didn’t get that yesterday and I felt…stifled. Obviously, I will be looking for a more natural way to ‘feel’ this February, heading to the goal line of the R2BT challenge.

#R2BT Thirsty Crew – Hannah Lin

Hannah LinHannah Lin is the Executive Director of YWCA Muskoka and has over 30 years’ experience working in non-profit organizations focusing on youth, arts education, culture and heritage. Along these same lines, Hannah is a recent winner of the Jessie Dunn Award. Hannah is passionate about building opportunities, community partnerships, and developing programs that help women and youth overcome challenges and realize their potential.

Follow Hannah @hannahbna

Why did you join the Ready to be Thirsty challenge?
Every year I make the same New Year’s resolution that this is the year I’m going to exercise more and treat my body better. When I think of socializing, or am unwinding from stressful day, I often equate that with good food and red wine. This challenge seems like a good way to increase my awareness about how much I drink, and how I feel when I don’t.

Tell us your thoughts/feelings on how the challenge will go
I’m a little nervous about how many times I’m going to have to tell someone no when they offer me a glass of something…. But now I can tell people that I’m taking the Thirsty Challenge and encourage them to do it too!

Are there any events or occasions in February where you might be especially tempted? National YWCA Executive Directors meetings February 9 & 10; numerous Winter Carnival events around Muskoka, visiting my family for Chinese New Year from February 17 to February 20th! Valentines Day, that special dinner…

#R2BT Thirsty Crew – Tony Grace

Tony Grace

Tony Grace is the anchor and co-producer of CTV News at 6. He’s been living in Barrie since 2010. Tony has quickly become one of the region’s biggest ambassadors, hosting dozens of benefit and charity gala fundraisers each year. Tony is thrilled to be publicly supporting and participating in the “Ready to be Thirsty” Challenge.

Follow Tony   –   Twitter:@tonygrace        FB: Tony Grace

1. Why did you accept the Ready to be Thirsty Challenge?
I accepted the challenge because back when I was in my early and mid 20’s, like many young people, drinking was a problem in my life. I witnessed first-hand the dangers that binge drinking can lead to. I made a decision to become a responsible social drinker…and eventually learned and appreciated how rewarding it could be to make more responsible decisions. We shouldn’t vilify drinking…but we should certainly underscore that it’s all about decisions. Responsible drinking is a decision nobody will ever regret.

2. Tell us your thoughts/feelings about how you think the challenge will go.
I think the challenge is a huge opportunity to change the dialogue about drinking, and to promote better decisions. We have to work together to make sure that binge drinking is no longer “glorified”, and we can do that by being positive role models. I will personally commit to abstaining from alcohol for the entire month, and will be happy to encourage others to do the same and to join us in the challenge.

3. Are there any events or occasions in February where you might be especially tempted?
My partner’s birthday is in February, and I have a major family gathering planned during the month as well which will involve a large dinner, and plenty of opportunities for a social drink. I will be mustering up my willpower to resist having a glass of wine at these social events…but I’ll be better off for it.


Join the Thirsty Crew in their Ready to be Thirsty Challenge #R2BT