“You don’t have to have a drinking problem for drinking to be a problem in your life”
Sometimes it’s the things that you take away from your life that bring the greatest rewards. And for solo business owner Jada Bennett Cross, giving up alcohol has been the secret to all-round success.
Speaking to Jada Bennett Cross you get the sense that there’s very little she wouldn’t be able to master.
On the afternoon we meet in her kitchen for this interview, the creative powerhouse is juggling a) cooking lunch for 70 people at her son’s school b) writing a proposal to council for an upcoming event and c) cross-referencing logistics for a few extra freelance projects on the side.
Watching her in action it’s hard to imagine a time when Jada is not being energetic, but as she explained to Flying Solo, life wasn’t always this way.
She says today’s energy and clarity and her now flourishing solo event and styling business, are the result of a big life decision – to give up alcohol completely. A promise she made to herself (and has stuck to) since October 2017.
Breaking a habit and gaining a life
Jada says she fell into the “grey area of drinking”
“I was never drinking during the day or hiding bottles but if I opened a bottle of wine (which I did very regularly), I didn’t stop at one or two glasses. I drank the whole thing.”
Prior to making this life decision two years ago, Jada says she’d “drank her whole life” – only ever having given up for a month or so for a Dry July and over the course of two pregnancies and breastfeeding.
She says it was after the birth of her second and last child, daughter Juno, that something significant shifted.
“After I stopped breastfeeding my daughter I realised I was falling back into the habit. My go-to for anything going wrong, was a glass of wine at 5pm … When I went back to work, I worked from home and I would literally watch the clock and at 5pm, I knew I could have a wine. Then the next day I would wake up and my anxiety would kick in, ‘Shit I’ve done it again’ I’d always say to myself. And spend the next day ‘punishing’ myself with work or activities with the kids so I wouldn’t lose any productivity.”
Jada says not long after this, she was watching SBS Insight’s ‘Wine O’Clock’ episode about the prevalence of alcohol in early motherhood and recognised herself.
“I realised that [my habit] was actually an epidemic, it made me see that there were different levels to drinking and that my own relationship with alcohol wasn’t healthy.”
And just like that, Jada decided to stop drinking.
The Insight episode also introduced Jada to the Hello Sunday Morning campaign and she signed up for their Daybreak app.
At this stage it was October and by the time Christmas rolled around, having stuck to her vow to stop drinking, Jada was feeling great.
“After just three months I began to realise how much better I felt – my mind is clear. Everything became easier. It was a huge revelation. I had so much patience and more clarity. Nothing was ever hard when I stopped drinking. And if something did feel hard I noticed that I started thinking about it as a problem that would take a while to solve – rather than a disaster. This was different to when I was drinking and I think I got used to striking possibilities from my mind because it was all too hard. Or I was too tired or hungover to make any plans.”
Why am I not doing this for myself?’
Jada channelled her renewed energy into her working life.
“At this stage I was working really hard (running an events college in Sydney’s CBD) but I also started to realise that I had so much more energy and so much more to give! So I started doing freelance stuff on weekends and the work reminded me that it was the creative stuff that I really loved. I started asking myself, ‘Why am I not doing this for myself?”
“I can do what I love doing and I can make it work with my family life. And if I can keep both sides balanced then I would much rather do it this way, rather than having to fit into a big business’s hours and rules,” she says.
Going alcohol-free also gave Jada fresh perspective on family life.
“You start looking at the balls you’re juggling and which ones you wanted to prioritise. I realised that our home life wasn’t very nice at night because the kids were in daycare too long and we (she and husband Matt) were working too late and leaving too early. I realised that I didn’t want to have to work set hours.”
Enter She Blooms Wild, Jada’s event and styling business that’s going gangbusters thanks to a combination of hard work, great networking and her innate creativity.
Yet for all her success, Jada says the positive impact her alcohol-free life has had on her family is the most wonderful part of all.
“I am much more relaxed and creative and present and I am also far more available. Because I work for myself, I can pick and choose the times I want to do something and that flexibility is priceless as a mum.”
“My husband has written me cards about how giving up alcohol has changed me, he says I am a different person.”
And what could be more successful than that?
Jada’s personal journey has inspired her latest project, she’s developed an event concept for an alcohol free festival she’ll be producing in Sydney. Stay tuned for details.