My Story

I am always telling people, “I’m not perfect.  I mess up all the time.” But, I always sense a bit of skepticism.  A silent response that says, “But I see you on Facebook. Your kids are so cute, you’re happily married, you have great parents, you eat tons of fabulous food [insert your perception here].  All looks picture perfect to me.”  Truth is, I’ve been keeping a secret, and it’s something I spent over a decade denying.  So, here goes, the real truth.

My name is Joanie, and I’m an alcoholic.

Why on earth would I admit this seemingly terrible issue in my life?  I share it because I’m tired of being false, keeping people at arm’s length, I don’t want to keep up the facade of perfection, and I want to give everyone license to know that it’s completely normal to be imperfect.  In fact, it’s validation of our humanity.


I also want you to share in this celebration and my journey.  I am sober since March 23, 2015 and for the first time in my life, really, truly experiencing things like joy, happiness, and most especially love.

I took my first steps on the road to recovery in December through professional counseling and was supported by several loving individuals who I included in my accountability.  Of course, all of this was seamlessly knit together by Jesus Christ, who has taught me the true meaning of forgiveness, redemption, and unconditional, unwavering, relentless love.

“But Joanie, this sounds so easy.” No, no, don’t think for a second this has been easy, or that writing this is easy.  For twelve years I have struggled with alcohol abuse.  Since turning 21, when I first really started drinking, I built patterns of behavior to cope with my stress and anxiety that included binge drinking, most of which happened alone.  Granted, I was still “functional” and actually achieved some awesome things including a bachelors degree, masters degree, lived and worked in New York City, got married, had two beautiful babies (two 9 months stints in sobriety) and started a business. But my life was, under the surface, completely dysfunctional.  I was easily agitated, anxiety ridden, experiencing intense mood swings, and in a few dark moments, questioned if life was worth living.  I have experienced real consequences from my drinking including a DUI, more hangovers that I can count, and too many blackouts.  I’m not proud of these things, but I don’t want to let them have power in my life anymore.  I have been secretive and ashamed by these things, and incredibly remorseful for the people who have been impacted.  But, finally coming clean and being honest about my struggles allows me to  move forward and leave the past where it belongs.

For those that know me, depending on the part of my life you’ve experienced, this may come as no surprise.  For others, it might be completely shocking.  If you knew me at ASU or Shippensburg, there’s a chance you’re not super surprised.  I wasn’t as good at hiding my drinking then.  However, some of it might have just been seen as a sheltered kid sowing her wild oats in college.  But, the last few years, apparently I’ve been pretty good at hiding it (except for from Ryan, my dear, wonderful, bad-ass, incredibly loving, forgiving husband) because several of the in-person responses to this news have been shock and confusion.  I’m sorry if this is hard to process, but hey, isn’t it great to know that I am actually not as with-it as I look?

After many hours of therapy, I can now name my particular flavor of dysfunction.  The root issue being that I believed in my heart that I was only worthy of love if I worked for it.  The basis of that belief is a long story, which I’ll save for another time and another blog post.  But, thus was my mania of never-ending to-do lists, fueling my need for over-achievement.  What did I do to escape?  I drank, because you don’t have a to-do list when you’re hammered.

So, am I a ticking time bomb, just minutes away from falling off the wagon?  Should you hide the booze when I visit your house?  Should you stop inviting me to events where alcohol is served?  Though I will always be in recovery, thankfully I am in a place now where I have created new patterns of behavior and have learned how to manage my emotions, not drown them.  I can go to the grocery story by myself without buying a bottle of wine and stashing it in my closet at home.  I can politely decline the cocktails at a restaurant media event.  I can go to happy hour with the girls and enjoy an iced tea.  It took a lot of work and prayer to get to this point, and every day is an exercise in self-discipline.  So, is it hard? Yes.  Should you worry?  No.  Would I appreciate your prayers and support?  Absolutely.

I’m an alcoholic and always will be.  But, what the start of this journey has taught me is that we all have crap in our lives.  Sharing my story has inspired others to share their stories with me, and for that, I am so grateful.  That’s a big part of why AA works; Knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles.  There are things people do in secret that they hide, irrational things, worrying that, “If people really knew how terrible I am, they wouldn’t love me.”  Addictions.  They come in all shapes and sizes, some more visible than others.  They’re bandaids for pain.  Gambling, sex, shopping, sugar, people-pleasing, heroin.  Definitely there are chemical components that play into the addictive nature of these things, but in my experience, the root of the problem goes far deeper, and the road to recovery starts with the heart.


So, back to why I’m sharing this and why it’s on this website.  First of all, if this isn’t accountability, I don’t know what is.  But I also want to share my journey as there will be good days and bad days, lots of lessons learned, and I want to document the progress.  But, I also want to help others.  Addiction is a major issue in our world.  If you’re not struggling with it, chances are good you know someone who is.  I will share stories here from my journey in weekly blog posts so that if you’re in recovery, perhaps you’ll be encouraged.  If you’re in the midst of addiction, perhaps you’ll read something that triggers a decision for change.  If you know someone who needs help or is in recovery, perhaps this will help you understand them better.  If you’re none of the above, well, then you can just stick to the restaurants and recipes posts, because that’s also a part of this site.  Food is a big part of my world.  Making it, eating it, taking pictures of it (before I eat it), and spending time with other people who like food.  In addition to writing about recovery, I’ll share restaurant features about the places where I’m dining (not just AZ…I’m hittin’ the road!) and recipes from my kitchen.  Food is my therapy and the creative outlet that brings intense happiness to my daily life.

What’s with the chickens?  You’ll have to read on HERE.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and if any of this has resonated or you have questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below or send me an e-mail.   I’m an open book now, so sky’s the limit.

with LOVE,

Joanie Simon Signature

P.S. You can stay up to date with my journey by getting on my e-mail list.

Joanie Simon

Joanie is a professional food photographer and recipe developer. She creates drool worthy recipes and images for national brands and her work has been featured on TODAY, the Food Network, Shutterstock, Arizona Foothills Magazine and Food52, among others. You can also find her sharing weekly videos about food photography on YouTube at The Bite Shot.

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  • Reply Twinkle Smith

    July 4, 2015, 7:42 am

    You are so brave for sharing your story. If anyone is going to kick an addiction and look oh so cool doing it it’s you! Bless your sweet heart! Xoxoxo

  • Reply Christina Wong

    July 4, 2015, 9:20 am

    Joanie- it’s been years since we’ve last spoken or seen each other, but I have always admired you and your decision to share your life and struggles with the world are incredibly inspiring to me. So glad that you have been able to find joy and freedom. Blessings and hugs to you!!

  • Reply Janet Traylor

    July 4, 2015, 9:30 am

    Good for you, Joanie. If we were not to “embrace life’s imperfections,” we would not be embracing our shared humanity. For who among us is perfect? (If you’re out there, let me know; I would like to meet you!) Regardless of individual circumstances, we are all on the journey, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day. All of us can learn to be more compassionate and encouraging — not only to others, but to ourselves. Sometimes that is the hardest. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      July 4, 2015, 11:04 am

      Absolutely! I am overwhelmed with hearing the stories of people struggling. You’re totally right that compassion and encouragement are what’s needed. Thank you!!

  • Reply Alicia Dimond Freeland

    July 4, 2015, 9:36 am

    You are truly an amazing person Joanie! Seeing you follow your dreams makes me dream to follow mine, if that makes any sense :o). You are incredibly strong and will will be, and are right now, in beating alcoholism. Don’t ever forget how spectacular you are! LOVE the new site and tattoo! Good luck and positive thoughts heading your way!

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      July 4, 2015, 11:01 am

      Thank you, Alicia! This means a lot as I’ve always admired your leadership and passion. Go get ’em! And congrats on the wedding. You were a gorgeous bride!!

  • Reply Kelley

    July 4, 2015, 10:29 am

    Beautiful Joanie! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Reply Tom Francis

    July 4, 2015, 10:49 am

    Please understand this response is from a man “usually” of few words, but here is an attempt at expressing myself: Shocked? No. Did I know? No. Did I think you were perfect? “Do I think any human being is anywhere close to perfect?” (That’s rhetorical). Does it change the way Jesus Christ who “lives in me” thinks of you? He only knows everything about you and Loves you Absolutely. 🙂 May the Lord supply Grace and Peace and give Life to your mortal body. (More smiley faces) Love, Uncle Tom. (Aunt Binky and I need to have you and yours over sometime soon.)

  • Reply Becky Holaway

    July 4, 2015, 11:09 am

    Dad and I are so proud of you, Joanie. And thankful beyond all measure.

  • Reply Jenny

    July 4, 2015, 11:28 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. It hits home with me more than you will ever know. You are brave and inspiring in many ways. Thank you!

  • Reply Erica D.

    July 4, 2015, 12:23 pm

    You’re amazing Joanie. Always have, always will be. We all have our demons we’re battling – some out-loud (sometimes very loudly) and some hidden deep away. I love being able to share my demons on my site and I hope you can find the same catharsis as well.

  • Reply Lilian Clemente

    July 4, 2015, 12:24 pm

    You are incredible, girl! We all have a purpose in this life and you are following yours. You are a rock-star and should be very proud of the amazing person you are. Lots of love! Happy Independence Day! Xoxo

  • Reply Becki Brueggeman

    July 4, 2015, 1:08 pm

    I love that you called this “your story” because we all have a story, and it always includes something hidden and ugly that only Jesus can wash away. Thank you for sharing and thereby giving others permission to share. As you know from experience, “The truth will set you free!” I am rejoicing with you today in your freedom in Christ. I am proud of you, and I am sending you a big hug from my heart.

  • Reply Dave Coulson

    July 4, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Ryan is indeed bad-ass as are you! Thank you for sharing! I miss both your faces.

  • Reply Jackie Dishner

    July 4, 2015, 1:37 pm

    I’m sorry you went through this pain of addiction. I’m glad you woke up to awareness. I hope the best for you and your recovery and send loving thpughts. Your recovery explains a lot. You look like you feel great!

  • Reply Michael Goyette

    July 4, 2015, 2:53 pm

    Wow, what a touching story. Congratulations on your sobriety and the new site! Can’t wait to see all the awesome things the future has in store for you!

  • Reply Jeff Simon

    July 4, 2015, 3:05 pm

    Mom and I are proud of your courage, honesty and dependence on Christ. When Paul said “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” he wasn’t just talking about the EASY things. All of us have areas of weakness and struggle, and all of us need His supply of wisdom and strength.
    We love you and are always here for you.

  • Reply Aunt Debbie

    July 4, 2015, 6:36 pm

    Again, I am reminded that nothing at all that we can do can alienate us from God’s love; nothing at all is beyond His grace. Thank God that He alone can reconcile us to His perfect plan and make any one of us who comes to Him in repentance into a new creation. You’re so right, Jesus’ forgiveness, redemption and relentless love is nothing short of a miracle. I thank God for His miracle in my life; I thank God for His miracle in yours. I love you, Joanie, and I will pray diligently for you! <3

  • Reply Marie

    July 5, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Joanie, you were on my heart during worship this morning! Thinking of you and praying for you from the processional hymn “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” singing “He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free” during the Collect “united to one another with pure affection” to George’s message “we are beautiful in our brokenness” through to standing with you and singing “Amazing Grace!”

  • Reply Aj

    July 6, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Hi, I truly impressed with your courage to share your story.
    I stumbled/found your pictures on Instagram, and now I am here.

    Wish you the best on your journey . What kind of help do you expect/ prefer from your family, loved ones ?

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      July 6, 2015, 9:47 pm

      Thanks so much! As far as my family is concerned, my recovery was all on me, but I appreciated when my family was open and honest with me. My husband was especially good at being loving, but at the same time, drawing a hard line on his expectations about what I needed to do. Do you have someone that you’re supporting in your family who is in recovery? If I’m prying too much, certainly no need to respond, but if you’re looking for specifics, feel free to e-mail me through the contact page. Thanks and gratitude!

  • Reply Kristyn Tomlinson

    July 7, 2015, 12:42 pm

    So proud of you for being your beautiful, authentic, creative self. Thank you for the love and joy that you share with those around you! I love following you as you continue to write your story….

  • Reply Geoffrey Pate

    July 8, 2015, 9:23 am

    So every once in a while life throws you a surprise. I am amazed with your honesty and your written perspective. Being an open book is pretty liberating!

    You are an strong impressive female Miss Joanie Simon!!!

    Good Luck,

    Geoffrey Pate

  • Reply Jenee Angelette

    July 8, 2015, 1:11 pm


    I barely know you, and would agree with your self reflection that you appeared to “have it all together.” But, I can tell you this…as I was scrolling through my Facebook today, your picture appeared on my feed. Not only was I taken aback by your saucy awesome new haircut, but you genuinely look like you have a bold happiness that is shining through in your picture. Like, the type of happy that screams, “I don’t just look happy, I feel happy.” I feel proud of you, haha. I mean that in a genuinely nice way! Wishing you days filled with peaches and roses 🙂

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      July 8, 2015, 4:13 pm

      Thank you, Jenee! Such sweet words from an even sweeter lady. Much love!

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    • Reply best free traffic app for android

      March 17, 2017, 4:05 am

      Det er nødvendig, og ikke minst sunt, at man stopper opp og lader batteriene inn i mellom. Noen vil ikke innrømme at det trengs. I kveld er vi flere som ser nødvendigheten i det 😉

  • Reply Eileen

    July 10, 2015, 10:35 am

    This is the first time I have gotten to check out your site and read your letter. Awww! Thankful for you!
    PS I read a book a few months ago called Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp. Looks like she has a blog too, I appreciated the book in many ways.

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      July 10, 2015, 2:26 pm

      Thankful for you, too, Eileen!!! I’m going to be planning a St. Louis food tour in the next few months, so know that you might find yourself on an eat-a-thon 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation to SoberBoots!

  • Reply Claudia

    July 11, 2015, 10:50 am

    Joanie, I admire your courage, accountability, strength and drive to make a difference for yourself, your family and by sharing your story, making a difference for others who might struggle in silence. I was personally affected by this through a very close family member through my childhood and teenage years. I can’t tell you how great it is that you are kicking this when your boys are still little. Coming out with this will help you tremendously. We live in a society where you almost need to explain yourself when you don’t drink, rather than the opposite. There’s been times where people ask me if I’m pregnant or take medicine, in other words in complete disbelief that I just don’t drink. So happy that you are taking your power back and decided to climb up the accountability ladder big time. With this strength and drive you will be successful. And yes there’ll be good times and challenging times. Just keep the faith and continue to surround yourself with loving, understanding friends and know that you are always good enough exactly how you are. My best to you and your beautiful family. Lv and hugs!

  • Reply Jim & Edna Lake

    July 12, 2015, 9:32 pm

    We Keep Our Eyes On Him

    We Dare Not Trust In Wealth Or Fame
    In Perfect Health Or Family Name
    We Only Look To Christ Above
    He Is Our Rock, Our Hope, Our Love

    We Do Not Seek For Men’s Applause
    Or Blindly Chase An Earthly Cause
    We Choose Each Day To Do God’s Will
    He Always Brings The Greatest Thrill

    We Don’t Buy In To Hype And Glitz
    Or Talking Heads Or Clever Wits
    We Test The Things We See And Hear
    Through God’s Own Word, That’s True And Clear

    We Walk By Faith And Follow Christ
    For Him A Living Sacrifice
    He Makes The Difference Every Day
    He Is The Life, The Truth, The Way

    We Find Christ Brings A Perfect Peace
    In Him The Wonders Never Cease
    With Holy Hands That Bear A Scar
    He Reaches Down To Where We Are

    We Know He Works Things For Our Good
    He Placed Us In Our Neighborhood
    He Has A Great And Perfect Plan
    To Save The Soul Of Every Man

    We Sing His Songs Of Joyful Praise
    When Others Leave He Always Stays
    He Helps Us Press Toward The Goal
    He Is The Captain Of Our Soul

    We Need His Kind And Loving Care
    He Travels With Us Everywhere
    He Guides Our Steps To What Is Right
    He Turns Our Darkness Into Light

    We Seek To Keep Our Eyes On Him
    When Things Are Great Or When They’re Grim
    He Is The Coach, He Calls The Play
    He Is The Potter, We’re The Clay

    © Jim Lake

    Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking Unto Jesus”

    Dear Joanie, We were thrilled to read your story and we look forward with joy with to meeting you at Luci’s
    during your cooking demonstrations. Blessings & Best Wishes, Jim & Edna

  • Reply Michelle

    February 18, 2017, 8:23 pm

    Jesus is awesome! I always thought I would be drinking until I was a senior citizen but he has taken away the desire to drink alcohol. I knew it was a problem (showing up to work buzzed) but by the grace of God, I never got a DUI. I’m currently in CR and there is freedom in exposing our secrets. God’s mercy is new every day. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Lynne Seipp Siegel

    October 6, 2017, 7:41 pm

    Congratulations on one day at a time. I love when others publish their stories. Love to hear the similarities and the journeys. Much love and continued serenity to you. ❤️

  • Reply Ayreece Mason

    January 10, 2018, 7:15 am

    I was a student at Shippensburg , actually an RA and I remember you as an RD there. I looked up to you then and even more so now! Thank you for having the courage to share this journey and your faith! God bless!

  • Reply Shauna

    February 6, 2018, 6:35 pm

    Hi Joanie, I’m new to your site and found you through the bite shot. I am blow away by your candor and courage. As a child of an alcoholic, I know it’s the shame and secrets that keep us in the disease. You’re an inspiration, and omg how much do I love the flopping chicken story and the tat is gorgeous. Rock on sista!

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      February 8, 2018, 8:00 pm

      Hi Shauna! Thank you so much for stopping by and sayin’ ‘hi’! I’m honored to share my story and am beyond thankful to be coming up on 3 years sober. My love to you and your family, and yep, just tell those chickens, “flap on!” <3

  • Reply eileen kotak

    February 8, 2018, 7:38 pm

    Love your photography videos and your up-beat personality. I just read your story and appreciate you being so honest and open about your addiction. I wish you only the best and keep at it! You are inspirational to so many people.

  • Reply Andrea babcock

    February 19, 2018, 4:29 am

    Hi Joanie, I just found you on The Bite Shot videos last night and absolutely love your work. You are fun and really knows your stuff, so thank you so much for sharing this amazing knowledge and inspirational story. Congratulations on the 3 years sober. Keep it up! You are doing great! Best wishes 😉

    • Reply Joanie Simon

      February 19, 2018, 7:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Andrea! So glad you’re enjoying The Bite Shot and thanks for the kind words. I’m so thankful for the good things in my life as a result of doing the hard things. Lots of love to you!

  • Reply Donna

    March 27, 2018, 7:55 am

    Wow, love your story. You are a true inspiration. Your recipes and photos are amazing. I just discovered you thru your scalloped potato instant pot recipe on youtube. You have such a presence . I will share your story with my 23 yo daughter who has low self esteem . She doesn’t drink but makes bad choices with men. I am starting to cook with her so we can share some time together that is fun and uplifting. Thank you :). Keep up the great work. I winter in Phoenix- love it:)

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