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What do you think about when you hear the word sober? How about the word recovery? 

To a younger version of myself, these words sounded like a life-sentence to infinite boredom. I envisioned nights at home paired with a complete death to my social life, no thanks. 

That was then though, and as it turns out, life has a tendency to change in the most unexpected ways. In 2014 I got sober. My drinking had become completely unmanageable. Life had started to feel like I was headed down the darkest and most overgrown trail, at twilight, without a headlamp.

Then, when I stopped drinking, things started to get really interesting for me. I suddenly had the mental space to live with intention. My hungover days and backing out of plans turned into more time actually spent outdoors doing what I love. I found other people who didn’t prioritize drinking. People who wanted to wake up early and get on the water at sunrise. My career, my outdoor pursuits, and overall my happiness began to thrive. 

Then, one day, I stumbled across a podcast founded and hosted by a fellow outdoor enthusiast - Emily Holland. The show is called Nature Untold and it highlights recovery stories.

Nature Untold is focused on outdoor enthusiasts and outdoor industry folks who have changed their lives for the better through sobriety and recovery.

After reaching out to Emily, I became a guest on the show during its inaugural season. 

In finding Nature Untold, I’d found exactly what I was searching for: a larger community of sober people who loved the outdoors.

Emily had created this beautiful space for people from all backgrounds to come and be loud about their recovery. You see, one of the hardest parts about getting help is that our society places such a stigma on stories like mine. This stigma keeps people from reaching out and talking openly about their recovery efforts. The purpose of Nature Untold is to shine a light on these stories in an effort to help anyone who is still struggling with their addiction. 

Let’s jump forward in this story to year 3 of the show. I’ve now taken over hosting duties of Nature Untold and it’s been an amazing experience to have these conversations with the most inspiring people. Emily is still involved in the show’s production and we’re putting some real energy and effort into growing this recovery community. 

The reason you’re reading our Nature Untold story here is because Sawyer has graciously agreed to sponsor our show in an effort to help more people find recovery in the outdoor community. Stay tuned here on the Sawyer blog for the next several months. I’m going to be contributing a series of posts - dedicated to the stories we’re telling on our show. 

If you’re interested in a sober lifestyle or are struggling with addiction, head over to our show and listen to our stories. Join our community. Things can and do get better. There are so many ways to connect and grow outside. 

Find Nature Untold anywhere you download podcasts, on Instagram, or join our private Facebook Group Nature Untold Collective.


October 4, 2023

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John Holdmeier

John is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and host of the sobriety podcast Nature Untold. He is also the founder of the Actual Outdoors and can most likely be found kayaking or fishing on a river somewhere in the Ozarks.

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