Alysse Bryson

Gratitude on 20 things that happened in 2020, by Alysse Bryson, Media Maven, Single Mom, Dog Mom, and Sober Mental Health Advocate. Her glass is half full, there’s just no booze in it.

Like a lot of people, I really thought 2020 was going to be my year. My year of travel, adventures, exceeding professionally, maybe even finding love. Throughout every curve ball that 2020 sent my way, I think I can say that all of those things did end up happening, but not in the ways I thought they would.

There were still good days, and man, there were a lot of tough days, bad days, filled with fears, tears, and sometimes even anger. But it’s all about perspective, right? That’s a lesson I had to keep learning a few times this year. One of my favorite quotes is “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. This quote pairs nicely with my glass half full philosophy. My glass is always half full, there’s just no booze in it.


2020 was a year of unprecedented times. It was the year everyone had to learn the art of the pivot. There was (and still is) political unrest in a country that is very clearly divided. A global pandemic caused by the new CoronaVirus – 19 shut the world down in a way we have never seen before. There were heightened racial issues, riots in the streets, and even murder hornets. I’m hisk risk for Covid, as is my 24 year old son, and I’m allergic to bees. Some days it was just all doom and gloom for me. Keeping the glass half full mentality took effort and intention.

Toilet paper became a form of currency and face masks became the new mandatory accessories. Dressing from the waist up became the new norm. Business on top and yoga on the bottom. “You’re on mute” became the most common phrase being uttered daily by business professionals stuck at home working in various places around there house wherever their ring light cords would reach.

Bye bye bye

Boys to Men may have thought it was hard to say goodbye to yesterday, but I however do not have the same feeling as it relates to 2020. However, it’s always about perspective, right? What you focus on is what becomes your reality. In my efforts to really own positivity and gratefulness like it’s my brand, I have decided to share my “Top 20 Things That Happened To Me in 2020”.

It’s like a Buzzfeed list, but because I’m sober there’s no buzz. And, it’s unlikely to go viral. I’ve had no success attempting to go viral on TikTok, so I’m not holding out hopes this post will do that much either. Except, maybe entertain my mom and dad. My sister will probably text me to point out the typos. (Note, she won’t say WHERE the typos are, just that I have them and I need to fix them.)

Every time I write something, I assume I’m the only one reading it. Which is totally fine, because I do love to entertain myself. Ok, there’s always a solid chance my parents will read it and few die hard Alysse Bryson fans that are always in my corner, cheering me on. (That would be my mom’s prayer group ladies)

“Top 20 Things That Happened To Me in 2020” in chronological order (kind of, I think, but who knows)

Gratitude #1: I went out for the 1st time for New Years Eve in FOREVER with people I care about

As a lover of hip-hop, especially the hip-hop of my youth (aka the 90s), I LOVE The Pharcyde. Always have, always will. I rang in the New Year at Nectar in Fremont with a VIP balcony table for 10 with an amazing view of the stage, away from the crowds, that was also located next to a not-so-busy bathroom and the upstairs bar.

My New Year’s Eve posse consisted of: My son Jakob, his bestie and my Son.2 McCabe, Jakob’s father Jeremy (aka the baby daddy), my Bestie Erin, my Bestie Denise, and my Bestie Heidi. Outfits with sequins and faux fur shimmered as we danced from our booth above the crowds. It was a good night. (Well, maybe not for McCabe)

That said, it’s going to be a LONG ass time before I go out for NYE again. (Pandemic or no pandemic) I did the club scene HARD in my 20s, maybe enough to last me a lifetime. Only time will tell, because I never say never. Well, actually, I do say never if someone offers me alcohol. That’s a for sure never. Alcohol and I broke up nearly 15 years ago and I have moved on from that toxic relationship.

Gratitude #2: I spent two weeks in California in January 2020 with people I really care about

I love to travel. I am happiest when my bag is packed and I’m headed out for new adventures. I maximise work trips and love to site see. Hunting for street art is a favorite pastime and I never met an amusement park I didn’t like. My travels took me to San Diego then a quick jump back to Seattle. Only to return to LA a few days later, where I hunkered down for a few days before moving back down the coast to San Diego. Basically, I had two full weeks in the California sunshine and I loved every minute of it. (Except when I lost my iPad, but I guess someone else needed that iPad more than me.)

January Trip #1 Highlights:

Photo Gallery Cali Trip #1

January Trip #2 Highlights:

Photo Gallery Cali Trip #2

#3 Gratitude February Girl Time:

My girl gang means everything to me. Not only that, my girl gang is large in number and fierce in attitudes. I could write accolades for hours about every single one of them. I firmly believe you do become you who choose to surround yourself with. Confidently, I can assure you my posse of radical women from all walks of life and all different backgrounds and cultures is always inspiring me to be the best I can be. Every. Single. Day.

March LockDowns start to roll out as toilet paper rolls become currency. Gratitude #4: Time with Rita

I have a very clear memory of walking out of my office on Thursday, March 5th or maybe it was the 11th? I don’t know because I lose track of time now, like, on the regular. I remember yelling back to the coworkers still packing up items to move to a “temporary work from home situation for a few weeks“… I shouted back, “See you on the other side people!” And if you know me, then you know I can be loud AF. (My son would tell you that “I’m extra loud AF”.)

At the time, I was thinking this would be 3-4 weeks max and then we’d return to normal. How wrong I had been and clearly I didn’t pack up enough stuff! At the time I was THRILLED to work from home. It is my preferable way to work. I’m just so much more efficient and can work without interruptions. (with my dogs at my ankles wearing slippers and yoga pants)

One of the most important things to me at that time, once I knew Jakob and I were home and safe, was to make sure my dear friend Rita in Ballard, who is closing in on 90, had everything she needed to be safe. Little did I know these visits to drive her to meetings, to the grocery story, and to bring her toilet paper, masks, and flowers would be the last few times I would be with her.

She’s still with us, but this past fall her medical illnesses took a turn for the worst and she’s in an advanced rehab facility for elderly seniors. She doesn’t even have the strength for phone calls and visitors aren’t allowed. At the time of this post, we haven’t spoken in months. I refuse to mourn because she’s still very much here but I still feel a deep feeling of loss. She’s here with me every day. I have loads of voicemails I’ve saved from her just for a time like this. When I needed them more than ever, my Rita voicemails got me thru.

That’s the thing about Rita. She could really sense when someone needed her. That she could in a sense, help save their life. Rita saved my life. That’s an entire series in itself… my years with Rita. She is a person that has had a profound impact on my life. And it sure wasn’t always easy with her.

She’s a tough old broad. (And I’d say that to her face, because she says it about herself). But she’s also soft and sensitive on the inside. She just wants to be loved and treated with respect. And for someone who has very little and lives on very little, Rita would still give you the shirt off her back. Now, keep in mind, it probably won’t fit you because she is a tiny ass woman.

Her spirit though, her spirit is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. And her spirit owns an amazing sunglasses collection and wears them with pride. She owns over 100 pairs of the most audacious glasses and has been featured in Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen. I have a hardcover signed copy and it is one of my most prized possessions. Two of her most prized pairs of glasses are her Black Cat and Pink Panthers, both that I gift her over a decade ago. Best money I ever spent.

I thankfully had the foresight to save every voicemail she left me between March 2020 – October 2020. I listen to them frequently as I walk my dogs and pray that she either passes peacefully and is no longer in pain or makes a full recovery. I can’t wrap my head around a world without Rita in it. If you are the praying type and you’ve made it this far into my post, I would ask you to add Ms. Rita B. to your daily prayer list.

Rita’s impact on my life, and many (many, many) others in recovery is considerable. I love her and I desperately miss the crazy phone calls from her and voicemails at all times of day. Except after 9:30pm, because we made a rule that was only ok to call after that time in case of an emergency. We were also pretty, a’hem, “loose” with our emergencies. If Rita calls and I’m available, I always answer. It really doesn’t matter what time.

Rita has been my living amends to my Grandma Bryson, who passed away before I got sober. I have worked tirelessly to fix the damages of my past, but that’s one I can’t fix because she’s gone. But the other side of amends, is changing behavior. Anyone can say they’re sorry, but if damaging behavior continues to repeat(s), then you really can’t honestly say you were sorry after all. (In my opinion, I am certainly no authority on anything. Again, just ask my son.)

Gratitude #6: March LockDowns bring a street art resurgence

I love, love, love street art. If Street Art hunting was a sport, I think I could medal in it. Or at the very least, get an honorable mention. I’m not the best photographer and I do not know how to paint large murals (although I will learn to one day, mark my words.)

My friend Denise and I went street art hunting up on Cap Hill wearing reflective rainbow stormtrooper type Face Shields and I loved every minute of it. We had both been in total quarantine and not around anyone else, so we knew we could see each other pretty safely, but we did still wear masks and sometimes the crazy ass Face Shields.

Denise and I alone roaming the city with empty blue and yellow Ikea shopping bags could be its own reality show. Denise introduced me to the idea of having a collapsible wagon in the back of my car to move things from my car into my apartment.

Basically, I was doing my entire life wrong before I met Denise. She is another Ride or Die and she would ask “Where are we going? What do we need? Who is going to be there? And will there be snacks?” Denise and I get into the best kind of trouble. It usually involves glitter, snacks, shopping, crafting, and lots of giggles.

Gratitude #7: April LockDowns take a turn and Jakob and I move back home to Centralia

At the tail end of March, I started to panic as the news cycles got more and more intense. I made the call that Jakob and I were packing up the things we needed, filling two of our three vehicles, and we headed down with the dogs to my childhood home to stay with my parents for an undetermined amount of time. We ended up staying for over 7 weeks.

Lewis County – AKA Home

Diamond Painting – the addiction begins

Gratitude #8: Zoom Costume Parties become a trend

“You’re on mute.” If I had a dollar everytime I said that or everytime someone said that time me, my retirement would be looking pretty good by this point. Regardless, I eagerly jumped on the Zoom Room costume trend. And while all these months later, I have tired of it, for the right theme with the right people, I can be pretty easily be convinced to participate.

Gratitude #9: I work for an amazing company filled with amazing people

In the last four years at KING 5 Media Group, my co-workers quickly became my work family. Then 2020 happened and we all had to level up and level up fast. Scattered around the greater Seattle area, almost all of us were working from home with just a very skeleton crew at the station.

If you aren’t in the industry, then you do not know all that goes on behind the scenes to make TV. KING 5 produces nearly 14 years of local programming daily. (Ok, a little less on the weekends) To watch this team of 200+ people pivot to remote working while also staying on the air was an incredible feat. The perseverance was palpable, even via zoom and email.

Ratings had never been higher, yet clients were canceling advertising campaigns left and right. The sales team showed they had the grit to keep their chins up. The two local shows I work on, New Day NW and Evening, got back up and running quickly with those teams working from their homes, garages, outside, and even in their cars.

While I won’t go into all of the work details that I could, it’s important to me to make a few things clear. I am incredibly grateful to KING 5 and TEGNA (our parent company) for always communicating with us. Yes, we communicate with the public for a living, but this year internal communication was paramount. For providing as many resources as they could. For understanding when we needed mental health days. For providing Racial Diversity ongoing trainings and bringing in mental health experts.

The corporate world doesn’t always show that they care. KING 5 is fondly referred to as “The Home Team”. As we moved into our homes, garages, living rooms, kitchen counters, cars, and even bedrooms, they went out of their way to make sure every single member of the team was taken care of in the ways that they could control.

Gratitude #10: When the shit got really real, KING 5 leveled up again

I struggle to find the words to write here, even now all of these months later. After the painful and unjust public death of George Floyd, the world shifted again in an even bigger way than a global pandemic. KING 5 journalists, photojournalists, and anchors were on the front lines of the riots in downtown Seattle, so all of you at home could be informed. They worked tirelessly around the clock, some risking their own physical health and safety.

If you haven’t been following along on the KING 5 Facing Race series, I hope you will take the time to do so. We have so much more work to do around race and inequality. 2020 has been an in-your-face wake-up call. We all need to rise up to the challenge and be the change in the world we want to see. This video of Mark Wright and Joyce Taylor still makes me cry every single time I watch it.

Gratitude #11: I ended up in someone else’s memoir

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. A close friend told me it probably wasn’t a good idea. Which meant naturally, I was going to read it. I still struggle at making decisions that are good for me. With mixed emotions I read Erica Barnett’s book “Quitter, A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery” I worked with Erica back in my magazine days and we had been through some tough experiences together.

Her recollection of these events were pretty different than mine. To be honest, after I read her book it sent me on a bit of a spiral for a few days. It was like reading this book was the straw that broke my Covid-Camel’s back. I have spent years of my recovery trying to be of service, to the best of my abilities. The throws of addiction can be gnarly for everyone involved.

During this self-induced pity party, the same close friend who had advised me not to read the book in the first place was the same person I called in tears of frustration. After we got the “why don’t you think rules apply to you” conversation out of the way (I have to have this conversation a lot), she told me to pull up my big girl panties and figure out how to make lemonade out of my pain. Bert, I don’t know what I did to deserve you being dropped into my life seemingly out of nowhere a few years back, but you’re stuck with me now sister.

Also, special shout-out to Jonathan Sposato – thank you for explaining to me that boring people rarely make it into people’s memoirs. I love brainstorming ideas with you and consider you a mentor, as you are someone I truly respect and admire.

Gratitude #12: The Sober Curator was born

After hanging up on the call with Bert, I called my boss (at the time) Jessica and asked for an unplanned week off and boldly stated I needed it to start immediately. She asked if everything was ok and I told her with confidence, “No, but it will be.”

Jess is basically the perfect boss. She hired me over 4 years ago to replace a position she was leaving when she became the Director of Sales at KING. Somehow, Jess masterfully puts up with my ups and my downs. She has since leveled up yet again and moved on to become the General Manager of KTVB, our sister station in Boise. I couldn’t be prouder of her, although I miss her terribly. Thankfully she’s just a Microsoft Teams call away.

With the newly granted time off, I packed up my personal laptop, my dogs, and told Jakob he was on his own for a week. He looked relieved as I packed up and headed back down to my parents. Sometimes, you just really need your parents and I am fortunate that they have an open door policy for me. (which I have used a lot over my adult lifespan)

I called my friend Lisa in Dallas and asked her one simple question. “Hey remember that website idea we talked about last fall? I just took a week off and I’m going to my parents for a week figure it out. Are you still with me?” Lisa emphatically said yes.

After a week of building a website, which I really didn’t have much experience in, things started coming together. The original name “The Sober Critic” was changed to “The Sober Curator”. Social media accounts were set up. Many phone calls went back and forth between myself and Lisa. For two professional gals’ in the media industry, we really didn’t know what we were doing. This was proven when I accidentally published the site, which was not set to launch until October 1st, on July 29th. Oopsies!

Gratitude #13: Lisa still loves me…I think

Building out The Sober Curator has been a one helluva wild ride. With Lisa based in Dallas and me in Seattle, we not only battle our very busy professional and social calendars, but we also battle the time difference. I think there were a few times Lisa went to bed one night and woke up the next morning to a different looking website.

Lisa and I have many things in common, like our love for street art, traveling, and the experience of living a full life in recovery. Lisa and I are walking proof that being sober is never boring. She has incredible patience with me as we work tirelessly in our off-hours to build out a lifestyle resource of curated recovery based content for those seeking to live a zero-proof lifestyle.

Gratitude #14: And then there were more Curators

As Lisa and I continued to figure out how to build an ultimate playlist for a sober lifestyle, we knew we were going to need more help. We are a startup with no investors (yet) and currently bootstrapping this sober baby on our own. We knew we needed to find more recovery warriors to help our mission of feeding the content creation beast. We also knew we needed to cover the entire country before we could become global. (We dream big, ok? Living hangover free gives us lots of energy and ambitions!)

Guess what? When you put it out into the universe and let God know you are ready and willing to follow whatever his plan is, shit gets real. And it gets real, real fast.

To Paige, Janiell, Kate, Brandon, Meena, Julie, Audra, Niki and Laura, thank you for being of service and sharing your stories with us and the world wide web. I know your time is valuable and the fact you shared a little of it with us, means the world.

Gratitude #15: The Sobercast with Six

To Analisa Six, daughter of my soul sister Sarah with an H, my new found friendship with you from afar means the world to me. I am so excited to see how the world continues to keep opening up for you. Achieving five years of sobriety is really just the beginning. The time and energy you put into your content for The Sober Curator has been such a gift to me and countless others. You bring a different perspective to the site and now I can’t ever imagine it without you. I am honored to have been able to add you to my sober girl gang. I really hope we get to meet each other in person one day soon.

Gratitude #16: to my sister Staci

Over the last few years we have grown closer, which isn’t an easy thing to do being on two different coasts. Your commitment to joining The Sober Curator as our resident Licensed Mental & Behavioral Health Counselor is vital. I love reading what you write. You have a way with words, you always have. The fact that you make time to work on a passion project for me, when you are a full time work from home mother of an active toddler and also help saves peoples lives as your day job is no small feat. The Daily Llama is the only regular, weekly feature on the site and I know people look forward to reading it.. (Also, it’s totally fine that you don’t send it until Sunday night, I just like to give you a hard time.)

Gratitude #17: to my nephew Bryson

Aunt Lovie loves you so very much. It nearly brings me to tears when I think about the fact I haven’t been able to see you in person since October 2019. You are changing so fast. Thank you for all of the FaceTimes. I promise to keep sending presents with lots of pieces, that make lots of noises, if you’ll keep calling me and sending me pictures of you. Be good to your Mom and Dad. Don’t forget that naptime is where it’s at. Little Bubba, Big Bubba and I will be there to see you as soon as we can. Take good care of all of the stuffies and don’t forget to call your Nana and Papa a lot too.

Gratitude #18: To My Bubba

Blankets hand crocheted by my Dad, Gerry Bryson

Oh buddy… I did not see us living together and being together 24/7 for almost an entire year. I know being unemployed, stuck at home, and not able to see your friends sucks. Seeing you go through a really rough few months when your Crohn’s Disease came back with a vengeance made me realize how shitty that disease really is. (Pun intended, yes I know I’m not funny. You remind me of this all of the time.)

Man, we had some tough days. I know we did. And I know there will be more ahead of us. That said, there is no one else I would rather be stuck with in a pandemic. You gave me the gift of virtual reality when you got the Oculus. You showed me that Disney+ is really worth every penny. You taught me how to play Among Us, so I could sound cool to all of my friends.

You walked the dogs, picked up poop, and took out SO MUCH recycling. You tolerated how loud I am when I’m working, with my headphones on, on zoom call after zoom call after zoom call. You kept me up to date on TikTok, that is until your Aunt Staci discovered it and now blows up my phone with videos that were trending last week. (A’hem)

I hated to see you have to leave a job you really liked when all the chaos of 2020 started, but keeping you safe and healthy is my top priority. I can not do this life thing without you in it. You know how to roll with the punches. My wish for you as you enter into 2021 is that you find a way to pivot with your career and that you find something you love to do. I promise you if you find what you love to do, and can get paid at doing it, you will never have to work a day of your life. (And you do seem to really love video games…just putting that out there, again.)

Gratitude #19: My bitches

To my two furry nuggets, Roxie and Bella, getting to be around you 24/7 was for the most part a real gift. If you could read, I’d tell you that you both can be annoying AF, but that I love you anyway. You brought me new perspectives on life as we walked miles and miles around the neighborhood. I would listen to recovery podcasts and make calls. You would poop, pee, and bark at anything that moved. Your snuggles and your snores are everything. Your farts can clear a room. You’re probably also never going to be able to stay home alone again once we get out of this pandemic sitch, but we can figure that out later.

Gratitude #20: Me

Dear Me,

You didn’t let the heaviness of this year take you down. You continue to get knocked down, but you always find a way to get back up. You refuse to let depression win. You refuse to let addiction win. You refuse to let mental illness hold you back. Let’s face it, you’re a stubborn, selfish asshole sometimes. But you also have a lot of heart for other people. You give and you give and sometimes you give too much. You need to keep working on finding balance.

Never forget what you learned this year. When the depression sinks in and you don’t feel like you want to live anymore, that’s a lie. Because when faced with actual situations that are life threatening, you realize you very much want to live. God has plans for you and your only job is to keep suiting up and showing up.

That’s a wrap

Well when I started this post, I didn’t think I had THAT much to recap about a year that was a “dumpster fire”. I’m happy that I was wrong. This year I did have travel and adventures. Some were in person and lots were virtual. I made some really cool new friends that I’ve never even met in real life locally and from around the country. Shout-out to the Sober Instagram Community!

I feel like I did exceed professionally at work and in launching The Sober Curator. And, as it turns out I did find love. I’m getting better at learning to love myself and I’m learning that the people that really love me show up, sometimes in ways I would never expect.

Shout-outs to my OGs and the newly founded weekly Friday afternoon OG Zoom call. (Kelli, Barbie, Libby, Sonny, Kira, Fitz, Erin, Denise, Dixie, Laura, Meilina) Shout-outs to my husbands Marc & Walt at Camp Covid for always knowing how to make me laugh and understanding when I need to cry.

There are so many more people that didn’t get named in this post that mean the world to me. But since I’m closing in on a 6,500 word count, I think it’s time to wrap it up and move onto a new year. Don’t worry, I’m taking you all into it with me.

May 2021 be the year of hope, the year humans learn to work together instead of against each other for the greater good. I will leave you with one of my favorite paragraphs out of a book I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of times….

“Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you – until then.”

– Alcoholics Anonymous, A Vision for You, Page 164

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