Happy National Rehabilitation Week, a cause near and dear to the Doughp team. If you're new here, you may be asking yourself: "What does cookie dough have to do with sobriety?" For Doughp: EVERYTHING!
The Founder of Doughp Kelsey Moreira had lost her love of baking for a number of years. She was sort of coasting through life; killing it at school and with my corporate job, but struggling with addiction in her personal life.
After getting sober in 2015, Kelsey rediscovered her love of baking...cookies to be precise! And occasionally not always baking that dough. As a result, Doughp was born with a mission to make life a little sweeter, one spoonful at a time.
We always like to keep it real here, Kelsey included. There's no shame in the sobriety or mental health game and the more we talk about these things, openly and honestly, the easier it gets for the people around us to do the same. September 14, 2020 marks Kelsey’s 5-year sober birthday. HELL YEAH to that!
So in honor of her soberversary, here's a personal Q&A with Kelsey Moreira, Founder of Doughp, on her journey with sobriety.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I'm Kelsey! Most people know me as the founder of Doughp! I'm originally from Dallas, Texas but was raised in Northern California. I grew up with a family who loves food - baking, cooking, eating. We love it all!
Fast forward what feels like a bajillion years and these days, I live in Las Vegas with my husband (Israel — or "Iz" for short!) and our two cats, Chip & Nova. When we're not in the office, we love working out together and we are training for an Ironman next summer. We are hustling our butts off but trying to enjoy life building this business and all the learnings that come along with it!
2. Now take me back to the past. What led you down the road of addiction?
When I was in high school, I got the opportunity to work at Intel in Sacramento (Folsom for those from the area!). I was only 16 years old at the time and I worked through the school years and summers. I continued on at Intel through college (@ Arizona State) and became a full-time employee after graduation.
It was just before that opportunity that I began going to high school parties; around 15 years old and experimenting with drinking. This newfound substance helped to balance my always-on intensity at work/school, juggling an insane amount of work for a child. The drinking, and its resulting incidents, seems now like a cry for attention, because for the next nearly ~9 years it would be a constant flow of "Oh my gosh, what happened to Kelsey!" Nights where my parents, friends, or then-boyfriend would have to rush to my aide and worry about me.
I thought drinking would make me "cool." Little did I know, I would become super freaking cool once I stopped drinking.
3. When did you know you had a problem with alcohol?
I was full of excuses every time my troubles with alcohol would rear its ugly head. It was always just a bad night. Just when I drink THAT type of whiskey. Just because… blah blah blah. There was always something else to blame for why things got out of hand again instead of realizing that 1) I was not capable of handling alcohol consumption and that 2) alcohol was not bettering my life in any way.
I had attempted sobriety when I turned 21. (Note in hindsight: If you're trying to get sober at 21 - take that as the sign that it is and stay sober!) I was returning from a business trip and had extra time in the departing airport in Portland. I nearly missed my flight to have that third Hefeweizen beer. On the flight, a glass of wine. The flight landed early and how else to kill an extra hour when you're already blacked out at an airport? I went to the bar and awaited my then-boyfriend to pick me up. In a drunken fit, I was hitting him and tried to jump out of the car on the freeway. That was the first breaking point. I decided the next day that I needed to try and get a hold of it. The rough bit of it was, I thought I could just take a quick break and then be fine to drink again. I stayed sober for 4 months and I wrote in my journal during that time how much clarity I was gaining, how nice it was to not be hungover — but sadly misguided, I also wrote how I couldn't wait to be able to just "drink responsibly." All the alcohol advertisements say it, so it must be possible for me, right? Within a few weeks of having my first drink, I was blacking out again.
In September of 2015, I was on a business trip in Barcelona, Spain. Business trips were historically one of those excuses. A night off the grid, everyone ready to party and let loose. I landed in Barcelona and had arrived a day early before the conference was to start so I could explore the city. I wound up just exploring the hotel bar. I came to ~3:30am the next morning in a stranger's apartment with little recollection of what happened the night before, no phone in sight, and an excruciating hangover preparing to set in. Everything seemed so fine on the surface - great job, nice family, I should have it all together, right? This morning it set in that something wasn't right and I never wanted to have that feeling ever again.
My nana, who was sober after a life battling alcoholism, was one of the first calls I made that morning. I told her it was time, I was ready to stop drinking. It's like she'd been waiting for that call for a long time. I went and found an English-speaking AA meeting that morning and haven't had a sip of alcohol since.
4. What changes did you make in your life following that realization?
My entire life did a 180 at that point. My relationship of 4 years was over, I was in a new apartment, living alone for the first time. I frankly was convinced my life was ending - lying on the floor of my new apartment surrounded by boxes and crying myself a little river. I didn't realize my life was only just beginning.
I slowly but surely came to realize what a gift sobriety would be for me. I was running again and began to train for a half-marathon - I'd run 3 over the next 2 years. I was going to yoga, meditating, journaling, and baking my butt off. I was finding out how much time there really was in a week when you weren't spending it drunk and/or hungover! It was incredible. My life just continued to positively flow out from that moment on.
5. What were your biggest supports when you began rehabilitation and throughout your journey to sobriety? Did you have a strong support system?
My parents were incredibly supportive. My dad offered some sound advice to keep me moving forward, one step at a time. My mom came up and helped me organize my new apartment (and baked a ton of recipes with me!).
I attended AA meetings regularly and still have some friends from that original group in Oregon. It was a gift for me to see people who'd traveled my path and to see how happy they were and where their lives had gone. I remember meeting someone in those early days who'd gotten sober at the same age I was and was then 35, married with kids and happier than ever. It was like, oh snap… I can do this. That could be me.
And boom! Here I am! I mean, no kids yet, but sober, married, loving myself and my life!
6. How long have you been sober?
5 YEARS! OMG! SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 IS MY BIG 5-YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Getting sober is sweeeet not only because you get to really live your best life but ALSO because you get TWO birthdays. :) Your regular birthday and your sober birthday. I've always been a sucker for celebrations - and now I get to remember these!
7. What has been the biggest reward of being sober?
Emotional clarity I think. Being able to stop and get in touch with how I'm feeling, why I'm feeling that way, and what I'm going to do about it. Also just showing yourself how resilient you really are. You can do hard things and stay sober.
My nana was my best friend and we got even closer after I got sober. When she passed away, I was just about a year sober and that was the first time I was met with just intense, guttural sadness and had to FEEL IT — feel it all and just deal with it. There was no numbing the pain with alcohol. Just me, my tears & my thoughts. I miss her every day, but I got through that and reminded myself again that I can do hard things and I don't need alcohol.
8. Not quite relevant to sobriety, but what has been your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
Forbes 30 Under 30 was a pretty awesome accomplishment in the traditional sense of the word. But all the accolades in the world are just so material - what's really freaking cool is that Doughp exists and is impacting the world in a positive way.
So many small businesses can't make it past the first year - so I'm just incredibly proud that I built something and it's not only still here, but it's doing good in the world with #Doughp4Hope. I can't wait to see where we go from here!
9. What are your goals in the next 5-10 years?
For a while after I got sober, I would say my life seemed to dramatically change every six months. Sobriety, starting a new job, moving to a new state, quitting my job and starting Doughp, moving apartments and opening a storefront, getting married (WOO!), moving to a new state again, etc. It was just all these big oh-my-god life changes!
I think there will be less oh-my-god life events in the next 5 years, as I plan to stay hyper-focused on growing Doughp to be the company I believe it will be. In 5 years or so, I hope I'm traveling around to share my story and help inspire others to grab life by the horns!
10. Do you have any words of advice for those hoping to get sober?
Getting sober doesn't mean you've failed. You don't have to be labeled an "alcoholic" to choose to stop drinking. It doesn't have to define you. Quitting drinking can be as simple as realizing that alcohol is not positively affecting your life. The gifts of sobriety start to show themselves and there's no lookin' back!
Whatever it is in your life that's holding you back or making you feel less than incredible, get it out. Toxic relationships, drugs, alcohol - whatever's not helping make you more awesome, just ditch it. There's too much life out there to enjoy - don't let it slip away!
If you are looking for support when it comes to addiction, know that you are not alone and really amazing things can happen in sobriety. For 24/7, 365 days a year treatment, call Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services national helpline at 1-800-662-4357.