Standing Bird of Paradise

Back at the end of 2013, I sat down and wrote out some goals. I had let go of the rope in my tug of war with alcohol, and accepted that I would no longer see drinking in terms of struggle.

Standing Bird of Paradise
Standing Bird of Paradise
(imagine a 41 year old man doing it - or maybe not...)
It was over and I was moving on.

Part of this process was writing a list of fulfilment outcomes that I would achieve for the next ten years if I were to maintain my no alcohol status.  This list  became the vision of the best potential version of myself - of an ideal me without alcohol.

It was ambitious and broad in scope and included some Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) that I now encourage people I work with to visualise.  BHAG's are those goals you achieve with the perfect version of yourself.  I didn't have 100% certainty, but I wrote them down anyway.

Running Half Marathons

One goal was to run two half marathons every year - and I have kept to that.  I run 25km each and every week and staying confident with 10k and 20k runs brings a certain sense of body integrity.  There's a clarity and honesty about just putting on shoes and running along the beach alone, without any schedule or extras.  It's simple, pure and uncluttered.  (When I wrote this goal I was smoking a packet of cigarettes a day and huffing through an asthma inhaler each ten days or so.  I couldn't run up the driveway without bending in half and coughing up something.)

Making Yoga Part of My Life

Another goal was to immerse myself in yoga for ten years.  I imagined how I would feel if I had ten years of daily yoga in my life - it was almost laughable as a paunchy, pale 38 year old who had a chronic sore back.  But I started with five days in a row and I can still remember the yoga teacher singing a verse in sanskrit at the end of that first week and me with tears rolling down my face.

Since that first week, I have made 6am morning practice a part of my life.  Some of the proudest moments were turning up in the middle of winter, pouring rain outside, just the yoga teacher and I ready for class.  Other times were just being there like a fixture, week after week after week.  It gets to the point that the yoga practice is more essential and part of you than other things you once clung to.

I've fallen in love with the process and the energy of yoga - and the silence and sense of deep connection I have with some people I have been practising with for years now but have never actually spoken a word to.  There is an unsaid majesty in just knowing that we have both been there, on the mat, and sharing that space in deep breath silence.


Just yesterday my yoga teacher led us through a series of poses and I found myself lifting up into standing bird of paradise for the first time.

It is an awkward, balancing pose, with one leg over your shoulder.  You lift up and rise into a place of vulnerability and courage all at once.  It's about using strength to rise and hold the pose, but also relaxing enough to be able to absorb the balance.  And then, once you arrive, being present and able to ride the flush of "I'm actually doing this" and stay in the pose without teetering over.

Humility and patience brought me to the standing bird of paradise - and they are the most profound lessons I have learned from my yoga practice these past three years.  The two elements that together mold integrity and authenticity.


Comments, and your Links Welcome

Bren Murphy - Sober in 100 Days Author and Speaker.
Humble beginnings...


When I started writing this blog back in 2010, my life was at a crossroads. 

I had given up on my authentic life, and was living a shadow life of paying bills, doing what I others expected of me.

Living like what I thought I should, patching together a hodge-podge of expectations into some sort of life.

I was fat, exhausted, over worked and seeking approval that was always just out of reach.

Then, one day I started to let go.  I remember surrendering completely and just seeing myself drift away from the shore, like I was letting the current just take me away.  

It was giving up, and resigning - and not in a good way.  I made the decision to drink and drink and drink and never stop.  Until it killed me.

As I spiralled down, I lost nearly everything in life.  But most important, and what I am only just now nurturing back to life, was my self belief.  

Nothing cruelled my self belief more than being in that constant foggy haze of drunkeness, or hungover, or scraping up the courage to buy alcohol when everyone else was having breakfast.  If you've been there, you might know how it feels to live at rock bottom.

And it went on like this for a few months - until I gave myself permission to forgive myself and heal. 

Lying there, staring at the ceiling of the ambulance, and having some paramedic shake me ask those dumb questions about the year and my name - and me stone-cold blinking - it was otherworldly.  

It wasn't me - that old me died there, that day in the back of the ambulance and, emerging all white and pasty after a week in rehab, I was new, vulnerable and hopelessly inadequate to face life as a non-drinking alcoholic.


That's when the real work began.  I read and read and listened and listened.  

Listened some more.  

Stopped talking and telling and making excuses or looking for ways to delay or postpone it.  

It started today, right here.  Right now.


I have documented most of the journey here in this blog and I get emails to this day from people inspired and challenged by the whole recovery process.  

What really helped me the most was writing a recovery blog.  So that's why I have decided to share the exact steps I have taken to create this blog, and dozens of others over the years.  

It's a genuine way to document your progress and the public domain adds a massive layer of accountability and meaningfulness.  It's not beyond you and you can take action right here, in private, and just tap away at the keyboard.  Nothing is as intimate or revealing as just putting your thoughts into words on the page.  #amwriting

I'd love you to come and check out some of my other projects - 

Ok, this is a big post, are you ready for this? Buckle up for the ride.

Look, I've noticed the comments here weren't being permitted/allowed, so I've adjusted some settings and all comments approved - so don't be shy - share YOUR project or blog below and PLEASE include a link back to your site!!  Anything I can do to promote new, up and coming blogs and new voices in recovery, let's do it!!

Thank you...

Oh, and finally, it is great to be counted among the luminaries and talents on the best blogs list - for another year.  I am grateful and humble that others find this outlet such a joy.

alcoholism best blogs badge

Sober Coach Live Workshop


FREE Live Workshop

Break free from alcohol with the one to one support, encouragement and experience of Bren Murphy Sober Coaching.

Personal Coach

Right now I am in the final semester of my personal coaching certification with my esteemed mentor Anne Hartley.

I come to personal coaching with a strong history working in clinical mental health, not to mention my journey of self discovery through my own recovery process.

Self Awareness

Personal coaching and sober coaching is all about improving your own self awareness.  As a starting point, the whole sober coaching process is driven by you - so as your self awareness widens, we have opportunities to go deeper.

Breaking free from addiction and harmful, hazardous drinking is not impossible, and no matter how exhausted or defeated you feel right now, there is a way forward.

Confidence and Motivation

A sober coach works with you to re-build the confidence and motivation to move away from your current actions.  A sober coach is a sounding board for your concerns and fears, and works alongside you in a meaningful therapeutic alliance.

FREE Live Workshop

Right now is a great time to tackle your limiting beliefs and self defeating actions.  I am hosting a group workshop on "Overcoming Fear; Life after Alcohol" scheduled for Wednesday 27 April and I would be really grateful for you to participate and interact with the group online.  It would be great to talk with you live!

It is my first live event online and I am really excited to be moving in this direction.

Please take am moment to email me at for registration details.

Meditation, Kindness and Personal Coaching

Kindness - Setting an Intention for Kindness

Meditation - Meditation Retreat Experiences

Personal Coaching - Confidence, Comparison and Competitiveness

Mood Diary 
Tuesday April 5 2016 5AM

5am - Woke up.  Second day after return from daylight savings - so have an expectation to be well rested and it turns out that I am well rested.

First thoughts are of returning to yoga mat after not having done a class for three days - (missed Saturday morning class) and I reassure mysefl I will be OK.

Next, I get out of bed and head for my morning pages writing.  Again I havemn't written mornign pages for three days, so there is that thought of losing momentum.  I let it go.

I am conscious of recording my thoughts in this modd diary, so I have a heightened sense of awareness around my thoughts.

I write about half a page before I hear footsteps and my six year old is standing behind me.  I feel I should tell her to go away, but then I override this with the thought that this will not happen everyday - and if I tell her to go away too often one day she will just stay away.  So I leave the morning pages and give Isla a long quiet cuddle, as we usually do when she wakes up extra early.

I let myself go and don't cling too hard to the routine of morning pages - after all hugging a 6 year old daughter is something we don't have access to forever.  So it is hugging this morning - not morning pages!  

We stay together and I let her be the one to release first - it is  slow and long and I have time to reflect and I set my intention today for kindness - as I have been doing regularly.  Actions of kindness - setting the intention and then taking opportunities throughout the day to be kind should they arise - and they do.

Eventually Isla moves a little to allow three year old Phoebe - blinking away her sleep and nestling in between us.  Then 8 year old Hazel arrives - all four of us nestled around my office - chakra soundscape quietly bubbling away in the background - quite and at peace.

I did have something to do but this is a special, moment and I am grateful to experience this - I am grateful for my awareness and patience that these moments won't be present every morning and this is a sacred moment in time.


Meditation Retreat

Meditation Retreat

[Booked - paid - 2 nights - 10+ hours meditation - beachside - rainforest walks - vegetarian food - sleeping in a "dorm" - no tech - no digital - just my watercolours - maybe a kindle...]

"Last time I spent a night away from my wife and kids 
it was in a psych hospital."

Funny - but true.

Now here's me three and a half years later.

Running 20k a week, practicing yoga without missing more than three days for those same three and a half years.

Have I completely re-wired my brain? - neuroplasticity - left my job - started businesses - taken on further study - painted watercolours, written poetry - fuck - it's like I'm more crazy than ever.

But I'm not.

I'm sober and clear and in possession of such crystal insight that I'm pinging with joy and effusivenessness.  If that's a word anymore.

Here's my [poem] I wrote after I took my daughters to the beach in a thunderstorm - [stinking hot dry Australian 40C and then pouring heavy rain from nowhere.]

Beach Rain

Westerly wind
Dries my eyes and
Sticky skinned kids
let ice cream drips bulge
and stripe their bellies

The ocean is chill cold
Our legs ache, we point our toes
And freeze, still, to stare at each other
And pant through our mouths

Summer looms like a skyhigh cloudcliff
Magnetic with sparks and we dolphin
Under unbroken waves as raindrops
Pock and sizzle and draw waterpins
Up and we laugh and gurgle;
"We can't get wet twice"

It's life and we pad on our toes
Sodden towels lank like rope
Up from the sand, backs to the road,
and the coolsoft grass is shiny and green.

Then there's this other poem I wrote about the guy who beat me up in high school - (I know, let it go already..) and went on to be a mildly successful pro boxer...

Local Champ

Just before my parents split
The house next door was sold and four
Boys from broken homes moved in.

They spoke diff'ren and held their
Shoulders up near their ears.
One boy dodged his dad's punches
Like pecking corn and draped in
Big belts and gold buckles, old men
whispered Las Vegas.

Glimpses of his fights blinked
Up as I buried my life in booze
He was still fighting after I got sober,
But fell off the back pages

When he couldn't make weight.
Today, he was ducking photographers,
Weaving, zig zagging out of court,
He could explain, he said,
the wife's bruises weren't his fault.

Posted some poetry on my blog [can't believe I just typed that - is that sad or beautiful/sad?] - another milestone - another incredible sober day in the life.

Welcome to sobriety.  Welcome and take your time, there's plenty to see.  Welcome to meditation and that quiet space.

Fulfilment Seekers

Too often we let our life choices be dictated by popular opinions - or what everyone else is doing.

So we might send our kids to school we can't afford, or we move to a new suburb for a bigger or flatter backyard, or we go on holiday to the place that everyone seems to be going to...

But following the herd is full of errors, and prejudice and opinions that simply aren't based on much other than status anxiety, keeping up with the Joneses or maintaining some kind of ego needs.

Sound familiar?  And is there an alternative?

Chasing what you think you ought to be doing based on someone else's highlight reel leaves you feeling strangely empty.  The answer is to look a llittle deeper (gulp!) and discover yourself and your values.

Once you strengthen you self knowledge - you won't be victim to your feelings so much.  Self mastery will set you free - because you will know what you want.

That's where you bounce your ideas off someone else who has no agenda, nothing to gain or lose by the decisions you choose.

Let's face it, Are you really seeking massive wealth or fame and status - or a sense of making a difference and belonging?

Welcome to The Life Coach