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December 16, 2020
Free Solo: The Holidays

The first year I got sober, I spent the holidays alone here in Los Angeles. My dad worried about me. “Are you sure?” he asked nervously. “You’re just going to be…alone? Won’t you be depressed?” He comes from a huge family. Our Christmases growing up were no less than fifty people. He didn’t understand that it was easier for me to comprehend spending a holiday alone than it was to be around my huge Irish Catholic family while also trying not to drink. My sister called me and asked more bluntly, “Bridge, dad is worried you’re gonna kill yourself—are you sure you’re okay spending Christmas alone?”

“Yes! I’m fine,” I insisted. We laughed about my dad. My sister and I share our disdain for the holiday season (it’s what inspired the first Phetasy greeting card 'Holidays...are a pain in the ass.') and the idea of spending Christmas and New Years alone with no obligations to go anywhere or do anything sounded truly…magical.

This year the entire world faces either seriously minimized holiday celebrations or quite possibly, facing the holidays alone for the first time. The truth is, I was lying to my dad; faking it until I made it. The idea of spending the holidays alone was terrifying on some level. We’ve all been brainwashed by a million Budweiser commercials and Hallmark Channel movies to think that Holidays = jovial time surrounded by family. Alone = Scrooge.

Since my first mission into the great two-week abyss that is Christmas and New Years, I’ve spent many more by myself. I have a bit of experience in this department and my advice to everyone: stare into the void and embrace the solitude. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. More than ever 2020 has forced us to sit with ourselves, our significant others, and our kids with very few places to escape. It’s made some relationships and broken some. If you are here reading this, it has undoubtedly made you stronger and more resilient whether you realize it yet or not.

One of my fondest New Year’s Eve was the first year sober that I spent alone. I cooked myself a filet mignon, asparagus and potatoes. I made lists of goals for the new year and reflected on the previous one. When the clock struck midnight, I sat on my roof and listened to everyone around me celebrate and although I was completely isolated, I felt connected to the whole world. It was the best. More than anything, sitting on that roof with a little over 60 days sober, I felt the beginnings of something. Stillness. Peace. The ability to sit with myself and not want to crawl out of my skin or fill the time with travel, people, work, substances or social media.

Make no mistake, loneliness kills and I am not advocating that anyone isolate, especially if you’re depressed or struggling. In that case, by all means, reach out on social media and know you are loved. You matter. But I will say that learning how to go from loneliness to solitude has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself and it’s been in those moments of quiet, I’ve come to know my strength.

Whether you’re alone or with family, use this time to process the year. We’ve all be through a lot. Watch movies. Read books. Go for hikes. Zoom into AA meetings or family “gatherings.” Do online restorative yoga classes. Chop wood. Journal. Hibernate. Log the fuck out of social media and recover.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Bridget and the Phetasy Team

**Editor's Note: This appeared in this week's newsletter -- to get the weekly newsletter please subscribe

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Live Streamed on March 9, 2023 11:07 PM ET
Late Night Check In

I've been crazy busy and just want to check in with the Pham

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September 01, 2021
Unedited Check-In 144

Maggie is back! Also: The "No Complaining" challenge.

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Hello new followers, I hope I don’t disappoint you. I want this place to feel like home, where we can escape the Thunderdome and process the world. Where we can post dog pics and recipes and book recommendations. Where we support each other as we get sober, lose weight, embark on new business opportunities, creative endeavors, relationships and travels. I want this to be your oasis of sanity and laughter in an increasingly mad world. A creative outlet where you can share your spirit with us.

We might not have any control over the news cycle—but we can control our habits and attitude. It all starts with us. And hopefully a little piece of that will start here.

Happy birthday to my mother. Locked, loaded, and raring to go as she started her 94th trip around the sun today. We adore her for being feisty as ever.

Sights From The Thrift Store

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March 20 - Introvert or Extrovert?
My therapist said I’m an ambivert. My husband laughs at this. “Whatever that means,” he says.

Do parties and crowds fill you with energy, or send you scurrying for peace and quiet?

I definitely get energy from people. Although crowds can be stressful, I love music festivals and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and conferences like Comic-Con or boondoggles where you can network. Dinner parties are my favorite. I really like events that are about 8-12 people where everyone can have time to talk but can also sit it out entirely and just listen. That seems to be the golden group size for both introverts and extroverts alike.

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March 19 - Menagerie
A Story of Hope

Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?

It’s hard to remember what stories I’ve told and which one I haven’t as we hit 77 days into the daily writing practice that is #writeclub—so I apologize if you already heard this story of how ended up with my dog and why I believe in magic.


It was the end of January of 2015. I was a little over a year of being sober. My friend had recently lost her dog and one night we went to Swingers and she cried and talked about how much she had learned from her dog and how he had saved her. Even though she was in so much pain, I remember being in awe of how much she loved that animal and thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a dog.”

My sister lost her dog around the same time and she was devastated. Her dog had been by her side since college and he was truly her best friend but again instead of being scared off from pet ownership—their grief and love made me curious. In addiction I’d detached from my ability to love anything but there were other reasons I kept dogs at arms length.

We had dogs growing up but, like so much of the other stuff going down, it was dysfunctional. They would get a dog (or two) and then return it for one reason or another. I stopped bonding with them because I knew eventually, they would probably go away. Between the ages of 15 and 19 we had (and returned) six dogs that I can recall. There might have been more that I blocked out but I’m pretty sure that’s the count.

A couple of days after seeing my friend, I returned to my apartment and there was a dog running around the courtyard.

“We can have dogs now???” I asked. The building had recently changed ownership and apparently some of the old policies had been changed—the most important being that no pets were allowed.

“I think I want a dog,” I announced to Maggie later that evening.

“Oh weird you know how much work they are and you can’t just take off and travel whenever you want,” the Voice of Reason reminded me. “And pets are pretty expensive.”

“Yeah, I know but there is something in me that really wants a dog.” I said.

“What kind?” She asked.

“A boxer,” I said, knowing absolutely nothing about boxers other than that they looked fun.

“Oh those are pretty big!” She said. To which I’m sure I launched into my tangent about how little dogs weren’t real dogs or something.

A couple of days later my phone rings and it’s Maggie. “Bridget you aren’t going to believe this but my co-worker found a white boxer puppy today—do you want her? She’s so cute and sweet she doesn’t seem to have any aggression so I think someone will take her fast if you don’t.”

Her co-worker had taken the dog to the local vet to make sure she wasn’t chipped and she said they’d seen her wandering around for about a month. They didn’t pull her off the streets because they said she had a better chance being adopted than if she ended up in a shelter. She was covered in tar and ticks and severely under weight.


Well shit. I couldn’t very well put a request into the universe for a boxer and have it answered a couple of days later and then say, “I’m not ready.” Now could I? So I called Maggie back without much thinking and said I’d take her.

Maggie’s co-worker kept her for the night so I could get sorted. He picked off every single tick. She always loved him for that. I had nothing dog related so I had to get a crate and a bed and all the things. The next day Maggie brought her home from work and we went straight to the vet. She had a messed up stomach parasite and needed food and some vaccinations but overall seemed in good shape.

We went home that night and it was the beginning of me being a dog owner. The first night she slept with her eyes open and it creeped me out. Then I cuddled up with her on the futon and she slept for two days straight. At one point I thought she was dead.


I named her Hope because that’s what she brought me. I was in a particularly dark period of my sobriety and in fact, was struggling to see the point of remaining sober if I was going to continue to be depressed. Because boy was I depressed. Facing the wreckage of my past and what a horrible, selfish piece of shit I’d behaved like for many years, was uncomfortable. I also failed to see a path forward.

Hope grounded me right in the here and now. It was the only place I could be when I was with her and more than anything I needed to be in the moment. One minute. One hour. One day at a time.

I was completely unprepared for how challenging it is to train a feral puppy. I attempted it on my own for a while but by that summer realized I was in way over my head and a friend recommended a trainer—so I sent Hope to summer camp. The timing was perfect because my friend Hani (who I’ve written about before) was dying (and would die in August) and I was moving into a house with a yard with my friend Samantha.


Hard to believe that was eight years ago and now she’s a feisty old lady with cancer. We’ve been through so much together. I realize it’s extremely corny and cliche to say she taught me how to love—but it’s not an exaggeration. When I got sober I didn’t know how to do anything. She taught me how to be a responsible, loving grown-up.

Hope means everything to me and even though it cost me a small fortune to keep her alive—seeing her and my daughter’s relationship blossom is priceless. My daughter’s first word after “mama” was Hope and now she just repeats it all day. “Hope hope hope hope hope,” she says while she crawls around looking for her buddy. There is no husband without Hope. There is no daughter. I’m not sure I would have even stayed sober in those trying early years.

Hope is my everything. As a friend wrote when he lost his dog recently, “Dogs are eternal.”

I sure hope so.



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March 18 - Impossible

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)

  1. People are (mostly) good.

  2. Past lives

  3. Psychic powers

  4. Magic

  5. Fate

  6. Ghosts

  7. That I will do 365 of these writing prompts.

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