Episode 4: Confidently Taking Up Space with Beth Bowen, Sober Women’s Coach

Filed in All Episodes, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Development — October 19, 2021

About the Episode:

I am so excited to be here today chatting with one of my previous and very, very favorite clients, Beth Bowen. She is literally a dream and I knew I had to bring her on to the show as my very first guest because of all the work that I’ve been able to witness her do and the massive transformation that she creates in her world and with her people. In our conversation you’ll hear Beth’s story of sobriety, how to recognize and avoid burnout, and how to step out of the shame spiral (plus so much more). I couldn’t have asked for a better episode, enjoy friend.

Topics Discussed:

  • Beth’s story with sobriety and why she now serves women who are working to live alcohol-free
  • Understanding how shame, motherhood, and wine culture has impacted rising rates of alcoholism in women 
  • Experiences of burnout that Beth has had and how she’s come to understand them
  • Remembering burnout doesn’t just happen one time, especially among high achieving, ambitious women 
  • The importance of saying you need help and finding connection with others
  • What it means to Beth to be Shamelessly Ambitious

About Beth:

Beth Bowen helps sober-curious and alcohol-free women reclaim their power through holistic alignment and shame resilience in group and 1:1 coaching programs.


Connect with Beth:

Connect with Ash:

Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

Ash McDonald (00:01):

All righty. Oh, I am so excited to be here today, chatting with one of my previous and very, very favorite clients, Beth Bowen. She is literally a dream and I had to bring her on here. I actually had to bring her on her as my first guest that I’m interviewing specifically because of all the work that I’ve been able to witness her do and the massive transformation that she creates in her world and with her people. So it was a no brainer for me to ask her, have her as one of the first people that I asked to be on here. So, Beth, I just want to get started and hearing a little bit more about you, who you are and who are your VIP’s, which you know this, but for those who do not VIP stands for your very important people. I E the people you do it all for

Beth Bowen (00:43):

As well. Thank you so much for having me on it is an honor. And it is just very cool to go through. I feel like life at this point, because I, you knew me in the before times, I feel like everything before 2020 is, is the before times. And that’s how long we’ve been working together. So I am honored to be here. I’m thrilled to be here. Yeah. W the question, it was a little bit about myself and my VIP’s. So my name is Beth Bowen. I live outside of Austin, Texas with my husband, who is my, my first VIP. And then my two boys will and max who are two and six, and then kind of our whole hoard of animals who are all in here. So I’m sure they’ll make a guest appearance on this podcast.

Ash McDonald (01:24):

I love it. I love it. So I know you’ve gone through quite the journey and like figuring out who you serve and why you serve and what you do. I also know that there’s a big anniversary today. And so I would love for you to just share who do you serve and why?

Beth Bowen (01:38):

Yeah. You know, it’s really interesting, cause I was thinking back to the first time you and I worked one-on-one and I had such a different life trajectory planned. I, I think I had no life trajectory plans, but I just had no vision of, of the impact that I could make in the world. And now it feels so obvious to me. And so crystal clear. And so I work with sober curious, and alcohol-free women who perhaps don’t identify with more of the traditional male center to be honest models of recovery. So today is actually my four year anniversary of being alcohol free. I quit drinking on September 27th, 2017 after really experiencing what was probably a lifetime of a bad relationship with alcohol, but had a really escalated when I was a new mom and I had my two year old son. So will, was two. At the time I was very isolated.

Beth Bowen (02:38):

And by no fault of anybody, but you know how that new motherhood period is, we didn’t have family nearby. My husband works long hours. I was newly a stay at home. Mom. I had a colicky baby, which we discovered was a dairy allergy, but all of these things well, and I had undiagnosed post-partum depression, which was super fun, but all of these things really led to my alcohol use escalating pretty quickly and pretty substantially to the point where I was probably drinking a bottle and a half wine every night. And that was the only way I knew how to cope. So I quit drinking on September 27th, as I said, so this is my four year anniversary. And what I do now is I really walk through this experience of removing the alcohol, but also uncovering everything underneath with women who are going through a similar thing.

Beth Bowen (03:28):

And I specifically focus on groups of women who are perhaps being left behind by specific labels or by specific diagnoses because our clinical understanding. So my background’s in clinical therapy, I was social work degree. So our clinical understanding of substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder is still pretty narrow. It’s still pretty black and white. And there’s an entire space of gray in between with people who have habitual drinking or drinking patterns or binge drinking patterns or whatever that looks like. But, but specific ways of using alcohol, they’re not exactly adoptive. They’re not exactly serving them. They’re not exactly helpful, but they may not fall on that clinical side. So they either justify their drinking. They continue to drink. They feel like they don’t fit inside a certain box or don’t want to fit inside a certain box. So they don’t change their behavior. So now I work with women who are looking to really step into the next iteration of their life without alcohol and I, through both my storytelling and both my, my experiences, this kind of coach, I’ve really learned that there are so many people like us.

Beth Bowen (04:41):

There are so many women who experienced this heart, tug this as this isn’t working for me anymore. This doesn’t, it’s not fun. This makes me feel bad. This is all I know how to do to cope with XYZ factor. And I don’t like the way this feels, but I also can’t take on a label or I also don’t identify with the word alcoholic or I also, my doctor said my drinking is fine or whatever it looks like. And so I that’s, that’s the person I serve. And like I said, now it feels so natural and intuitive and kind of like a duh, this is, this feels so aligned for me to work with this clientele. And it gives back so much to me as well, working in this space and letting other women feel seen and letting them know that they’re not alone.

Ash McDonald (05:27):

Yeah. I think it’s so good to have this conversation, even at the beginning of this, because as you know, this podcast being called shamelessly ambitious is about reading the shame that so many women would walk around carrying. And you really started this conversation with Kara was kind of hiding behind closed doors, which, you know, this thing that you’ve worked with me and you do shame resilience teachings as well, but shame grows and expands and seeds other areas when it’s behind closed doors, when it’s not something that we talk about. Right. And here is a perfect example of those things where you feel like it’s just me or I’m embarrassed about this, or I can’t talk about this. And what you’re doing is bringing to light something that is so common. And I mean, we’ve talked about this, but like the, the socialization and the normalizing of drinking of like mom and wine, right?

Ash McDonald (06:13):

Like wine time for the moms is a real serious issue as, as it’s taking over what we believe about ourselves and what’s okay and what’s not okay. And it has been just a beautiful thing to watch you not only transform behind the scenes, within yourself, in this shame category and others that we’ll talk about, but also to bring awareness to this topic and to make it such a loud and proud. Cause that’s the thing, right. Is when we can step into like, no I’m prideful about not drinking. I’m prideful about being someone who is sober. That is it, that’s the pinnacle of all the things. So amazing, amazing, amazing now.

Beth Bowen (06:50):

And I think you, you touched on something that’s really interesting and it’s this idea of, of the pride. And I spill my guts on the internet every day. Now I talk about my drinking problem and I had wine bottles behind curtains and how I racked up credit card debt when my husband, because I had a compromised prefrontal cortex and my decision, my decision making was shot. And it’s very interesting because the women I have ended up naturally working with are often on the high performing spectrum. They’re, they’re the shamelessly ambitious women who are working professionals. They’re pediatricians, they’re therapists, they’re, they’re stay at home moms, they’re business owners, they’re people with master’s degrees. They’re all of these women who, and it really is tied into the shame resilience and you know, the theories, but it’s, it’s this outward perception of us as these women who are educated habit, all run the family.

Beth Bowen (07:47):

And then our lived experience of this is actually really harder than it looks like on the outside. And I’m, I’m fried and I’m exhausted and I have nothing to cope and it’s, so it makes so much sense. It’s so natural that alcohol is what we end up using because it’s readily available. It’s easier than mental health care. It’s completely socialized. And this idea of mommy, wine culture, I bought into it, hook, line and sinker. And, and it’s kind of like you step out of the matrix when you, you step away from it. And then you start to see how wild it is that we are socializing an entire generation of mothers to believe that wine is the solution to their stress and that mommy deserves wine. And that is how we self care. When in fact we know that what it does to our physical body, to our sleep, to our mental health is honestly the opposite of it.

Beth Bowen (08:36):

And we don’t need to get into that, but there’s so much data now, and it’s just starting to emerge about the specific link between women and alcohol use and how it has just skyrocketed and rates of addiction and rates of liver failure and all of these different things in women have skyrocketed in the last decade. So it’s really an interesting time to be in this space and to be somebody who I’m not the first, I’m not the first storyteller in this space, but to be kind of on the cusp of this newer understanding of how this is showing up for people and watching it evolve year by year, because it really in the four years that I’ve been sober has just changed so much in our understanding of this. This happens to everyone, not everyone, but this can happen to anyone.

Ash McDonald (09:23):

Yeah. Yeah. And speaking of this is really exciting to me because your episode is coming out in the midst of the first series of my podcast, which is a self care series where I’m kind of going, we’re talking about cyclical self care routines and, you know, utilizing energetics and CEO. And here you are talking about this, this coping mechanism, this shame induced coping mechanism that a lot of ambitious, highly achievable performing high performing women are utilizing behind the scenes. And so I think this is perfect, and this is so divine that we’re having this conversation. In fact, you know, the next thing I really want to talk about is this concept of burnout and almost the opposite of taking care of ourselves, right? So again, this podcast is a space to basically pull back the curtains on really, really deep private conversations. And so I invite you to be as vulnerable as you feel safe to be. Obviously we have had a lot of time one-on-one so I, I think this is going to go somewhere really beautiful, but I’d love to hear about experiences of burnout that you have had. Just the nitty gritty, the real honest behind the scenes, what it looks like let’s normalize this around the world.

Beth Bowen (10:30):

Yeah. You know, I think it’s really interesting to tie that into alcohol use for me specifically, because for so long, it was the only coping mechanism I had in my toolbox. It was the only way I knew to call my central nervous system and it worked for a time. And I still, when I look back on it, I honor that time in my life where I just didn’t have any other resources. I didn’t have any other tools. And it was a natural way for me to not natural, but an understandable way for me to self sooth. And when I first removed it, it led to a period in my life where I had very few tools at my disposal. And I had very few coping mechanisms and self-soothing techniques, and really, even an understanding of my needs above my families or my sons or the household or all of these expectations I had of myself as a stay at home mom.

Beth Bowen (11:26):

And all of, all of these things that I thought came first over myself. So I know when you and I started working together in 2019, that was really, I would say the epitome of my mom burnout. So I had been sober for about two years at that point, but I still, I still was white knuckling it, I was still getting through the day, just barely getting by and had really gotten into this. I think you’ve read the book burnout and I love what they talk about human giver syndrome in this space of, I have given so much of myself to every single other person in my life, every single other activity in my life that I have nothing left for myself. And at that time in my life, I don’t think I really even had the cognitive concept of it. I don’t think I understood what it was, but what I experienced physically was I was fried.

Beth Bowen (12:17):

I, my attention span was really short. My fuse was super short, so I would buy, you know, bite my husband’s head off or snap at my kid, my kid I was sleeping really poorly. So even when I would try to sleep, even though I had a two year old, who’s still, I have terrible sleepers, I breed terrible savers. So they, my son wasn’t sleeping that the sleep that I could get was still really bad. I had like physical highs and lows of energy. And so I’d really reached this place of just physical unwellness that I didn’t understand was the physical manifestation of my burnout, the physical manifestation manifestation, kind of like the warning signals of my body saying, ah, we’re at max capacity, we’ve reached the edge. Something really terrible is going to happen if we keep going at this rate. And luckily that was when you and I had started working together.

Beth Bowen (13:10):

So you and I were able to kind of work through and reflect to those, those gaps and worked on delegating. And now I’m like the delegation queen. And I think that so many women come to this space of burnout through just not having any understanding of, we don’t have to be at all. We don’t have to give every single piece of ourselves to somebody else. We don’t have to run ourselves ragged for the sake of our children or for the sake of keeping a clean house. And I’ll be the first person to tell you, I don’t really keep cleaning house. Like it’s not my forte. It’s not what I do best. So now I hire a cleaning company who came today and my house is like and span. But I think when most of us reach burnout, at least for the first time, we just have no awareness of what that experience is, but we just know we feel really bad.

Beth Bowen (13:58):

So that was the first time I think I experienced burnout. And I think, you know, you and I really worked through that. And since then have gained a lot of body awareness and a lot of good practices that make me feel really good and fill up my cup. And I focus on energy management and my body battery. And then I still hit burnout. Again, it, this happened this summer and I was on a call and you’re investing ambitiously and aligned mastermind and just started crying because I was working at a tech startup job that I had taken earlier on in the year for a recovery based app that I really believe in the app is incredible, amazing. It’s helping so many people. And I took the job kind of on a leap of faith and was going into it with this idea of all right, I’ll see how this goes.

Beth Bowen (14:46):

I’ll experiment and see how this goes. And very quickly I was working 60 hour weeks. I was skipping my son’s birthday parties to work. I was answering texts in the middle of the night because the app crashed and all of this, the stuff led to me eventually getting shingles as a 32 year old woman. I had shingles all over my face. I looked like Shrek. It started on my scalp and moved all the way down my face. And I still have like a teeny tiny scar here from it. But it was the, again, that outward manifestation of this isn’t right, this isn’t working and we have reached our edge. And if we keep at this trajectory, something really bad is going to happen. So I completely broke down on that phone call with our mastermind group and Becca, Becca, the motherhood mentor. She just saved me in that moment.

Beth Bowen (15:35):

And it really was, was the coming back to myself. And, and luckily it didn’t take me as long to get there this time. Luckily I was able to identify it sooner and I had the tools and the awareness, and honestly the connection with other people who could reflect that back to me, which is something I really lacked in 2019. But I was able to get there sooner. And I think it just shows that we gain more awareness and we gain more awareness of our physical body, but also our emotional body with practice. But it’s, I’m like I’m continuously evolving. I’m still getting it wrong and still figuring it out along the way.

Ash McDonald (16:14):

Yeah, I think that’s the most important thing that we can talk about here today is the fact that burnout doesn’t happen once. And it doesn’t like this thing that you recover from and then never happen again. What happens in our society, particularly among these high achieving ambitious women, is that we, we hit burnout. We fight through it and we figure out our ways, and then we become a quote unquote expert in something, right. Which is beautiful. It’s amazing. And we find our purpose and our passion and our mission, but then we create this narrative that like, now I have to have it figured out. Now I’m not allowed to go down that path again. And so I love that. You’re saying like one I’ve hit it multiple times, right. Me too, all that. I I’ve hit it this year. Right. And I know. Yeah. So it’s, I think it’s such an important conversation of, it’s not just, how did you overcome burnout?

Ash McDonald (17:02):

It’s how do you continue see it when it comes and take care of yourself? And you’re saying here that you’re able to fight back a little bit quicker to take care of that. Right. And I think the biggest piece was shame resilience, right? We’re going to come right back to that. You have the shame, resilience, the tenacity to say out loud, something is wrong. And you talked about connection. I’m not sure if this is what you would share, but I would love to ask you, what do you feel like the techniques or the lessons or the tips that you would give to other very ambitious, amazing striving women who have these feelings who feel maybe a little, like I have hit the tipping point and my body is screaming at me, or my family is screaming at me or whatever the case may be. What would you say to her?

Beth Bowen (17:49):

Yeah. You know, and I think that it’s, so the connection piece is so critical and it’s obviously the, one of the crucial components of the shame resilience theory. But when we reached that tipping point, one of the hardest things to do, but one of the most impactful things to do is say, I need help. I just need help. I don’t know what it is. And I don’t know what it looks like, but I’m drowning. I need help. And there are lots of different places we can go to get this. And sometimes it’s our partner. Sometimes it’s a family member. Sometimes it’s a best friend for me in burnout this time, it was our, our mentorship group or our mastermind group. I went there and I said, I don’t know that I’m in the right spot. I need help. And then the flood gates opened and the connection pieces is the, of anything I’ve ever learned in my time in sobriety or in my time working person, a person like this, it’s that above all else.

Beth Bowen (18:46):

The most healing component of any practice I do is connection with another person is stepping into a space and allowing yourself to be seen wholly flaws and all and vulnerability in all and all of the messy parts and the dirty dishes in the sink and the shame stories and letting yourself be seen by another person and having them say, oh my God, me too. Or, yeah. So what, or I see you and I still think you’re worthy, or I see you. And I still love you and stepping into this space because that’s, that’s how we stop the shame spiral. That’s how we stopped this shame experience in our physical bodies, in our emotional bodies is through connection through allowing yourselves to realize that this expectation we have of ourselves and the expectation of who we should be and how we’re supposed to show up in the world.

Beth Bowen (19:39):

As women, as mothers, as entrepreneurs is all made up. It’s. It’s all. I don’t know if we can cuss on here, sorry. First gassier, I’m like grabbing some nest bonds, but it’s all. And it’s all made up and it’s all this fantasy that we’re all striving to live up against and none of us are getting it, right. So when we step into a space and say, this doesn’t feel good, or I need help, or this happened, and I have this story, my, my body that tells me I’m a trash human for this. And then somebody else says that’s not true. Or yeah, I don’t have anything together either. That has been the most transformative piece to that. And it’s, it’s hard. That’s, that’s hard because when we step into that or we feel like we don’t have that connection, or we don’t perhaps have any safe containers for that type of confession or that type of vulnerability, they can make that difficult. And that’s where we just really seek out people who have a lived experience. And that’s why I spilled my guts, something to that. So if you’re, if you’re like, oh, this resonates, like my hands are full of women who are like, oh my God, me too. I thought it was the only one that’s on me to affect. Right? The most powerful thing we can here in a moment of

Ash McDonald (20:47):

Heartache and hardship is me too. I mean, I’m tearing up this whole time because it’s so it’s so important that women hear this. It’s so important that we get that. Like you’re not alone and meat. And I want to piggyback off of this too, because it’s not just, how can we recognize that within ourselves? It’s how can we also be safety for others? How can we provide empathy? So we call it the empathy shield, if you will. The value of this is to recognize that sometimes we don’t know what to say. Yes. We don’t know how to answer to somebody. We don’t know what to say when maybe somebody’s struggling with something we’ve never faced. And I just, I have to put it out here because maybe you have issues and you, you need to go talk to somebody, but maybe somebody is going to come talk to you. And that you can say in response to that is, I’m not really sure what to say, but I’m endlessly grateful that you felt safe enough to say to me.

Beth Bowen (21:37):

Yeah. Yeah. And just, I see you and I love you still like being seen wholly, I think has been probably the most transformative piece of my entire life, honestly. And part of my story with sobriety is that for the first two years of it, I didn’t tell a soul. I barely told my husband how bad it was when I quit. Our friends and family knew I wasn’t drinking, but they didn’t know why I didn’t dare tell anybody that I was drinking a bottle and a half of wine every night. And the second I stepped into this space of letting myself be seen and, and letting this experience that, I mean, just about killed me, be seen wholly. I would start crying to God was really the piece that put everything together. It was where all the puzzle pieces came together and you’re right in there. There are people who are going to be on the receiving end of that in that might be us. And we don’t always have to know the answers, but just this, this ability to step into a space and hold it and be there for that person and say, they see you.

Ash McDonald (22:40):

Yeah. And hold that space for yourself. Right. We’re allowed to just look in a mirror and say, I see just as you are, and you are everything that you’re supposed to be nothing less than nothing more.

Beth Bowen (22:51):

Right? Isn’t that the most powerful, powerful about holding space that we can do. And it’s hard to get there. Cause when we have shame and we have these experiences, our self-talk says we’re just trashed humans. So how could we ever, ever be worthy? But when we can get to the space of being able to say, yeah, I see on your, okay, you’re going to be okay. That’s really powerful

Ash McDonald (23:11):

Such good stuff, such good stuff. So at the end of every guest interview, I love this question and you can take it whatever direction you want to take it, but I’d love to know Beth for you. What does being shamelessly ambitious me.

Beth Bowen (23:25):

That’s a really good question. And I think the thing that I always come back to do, you know, that panic at the disco song, it’s like high, high hopes. I was had a high, high hopes and didn’t have a dime, but I always had a vision, but that is like my theme song. That’s like my hype song, my in them, I’m like a two thousands punk rock kind of kid too. So it really pinches like my in the scholarship piece. But I think I’ve always known that I just want, so my child’s life and I haven’t always known what that looks like. And I don’t know that I’ve even got it figured out now. And when I try to like do a vision cast for 10 years from now, I still can’t see exactly what everything looks like, but I always knew, but I was made for this big, beautiful life and coming to a place of being unashamed about that and unapologetic about that and stepping into that with like, yeah, I think this is, this is what I made for and, and owning that and allowing that energy in.

Beth Bowen (24:25):

And, and I know you and I have talked before, but like, especially as a woman, I find it very, very important for me to be able to step into a room and say, yeah, I have big dreams. I have big goals. I want to make millions of dollars. I want to have this massive impact in the world. And I’m going to take up that space as a woman, as a person who maybe doesn’t get into go into those rooms and other ways. So it just really, I guess, stepping into it and there’s no, yeah, I never had a dime, but I always had a vision.

Ash McDonald (24:54):

I love it. I’m like irritate. You’re smiling because yes, yes. And yes. And yes, like take up that space, Beth, thank you so much for your time, your energy, your vulnerability for feeling safe enough to share your truth here, to change the way, how other women see themselves. That is truly the greatest impact. I believe that we can leave behind. And it is such an honor to have had the privilege of working with you to have the privilege of having this conversation with you. And most importantly, to have the privilege of knowing you as a friend and knowing that both of us hold safe spaces for one another of the me too effect. And I just wanna thank you. Thank you for being

Beth Bowen (25:29):

It is such a dream. Thank you so much for having me Ash dispense a wonderful,

Ash McDonald (25:33):

And for those of you listening in case you need to hear it, hear it loud and clear. You are loved. You are, you are not alone and you have got this.

Beth Bowen (25:44):

Yes. Amen. Sister.


Building a business without restraint because big bold moves equals big bold results

Get The free audio course

I am the definition of duality—I swear like a sailor and break rules like it’s my job, but I also hold incredible space for my clients and work my ass off to help them achieve the success they’re after (but faster).

My background in counseling and my experience founding three multi-6-figure businesses gives me a unique perspective on what it means to show up and serve as an ethical and successful CEO. Leaning on my experiences, along with the experiences of the hundreds of women I’ve been honored to work with, I offer founders a psych-backed and human-first approach to scaling their legacies—both in and out of the office. 

I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to anything, but especially business. Because at the foundation of any profitable, sustainable, ethically sound business is one thing: humans being humans. And to do anything without first considering the human behind the action (i.e., with intention and vulnerability) is to remove our most powerful predictor of success—ourselves.

Around here, you’ll find a personalized and multidimensional client experience paired with a few tastefully dropped fucks. You’ll also find a new way of being in business that’s sustainable, ethical, and built around your life (not the other way around).

Meet Ash

Let's get really fucking personal

Join The Email List