The H.A.L.T. Tour

By Katy Vernon

Editor’s Note: Katy started this a day before departing Minnesota for an exciting and emotional trip to her hometown of London. Check back for updates during her six-week tour of the United Kingdom.


(April 30, 2017) -- A year ago today, I woke up with my last hangover. As usual, I replayed the previous night in my mind, feeling foolish about some of my conversations and a bit frightened by the parts I couldn’t remember.

All the years of minimizing and joking about whether I needed to cut back and control my drinking were suddenly inadequate. I needed to wake the hell up and get in control of my life.

Knowing how obsessive I can be, I didn't want to become a crazed bore about getting sober. But I didn’t want to deal with drinking anymore either. I think it’s probably true that you need to seek recovery in order to find it, and I was ready to look.

Early on in my journey (and trust me, I know I'm still early on), I was introduced to the acronym H.A.L.T. - Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. These are feelings that can trigger unhealthy coping strategies like substance use. I realized that as a busy working parent -- with a history of mental health issues, grief and unbridled ambition -- I was experiencing those feelings every day! Clearly I needed to change.

I needed to stop making excuses and find new ways to be in the world. Reaching out to people whom I knew had walked this path was key. Thankfully, I learned about Dissonance. I also told my family I was going to make healthier choices, and several months in, sought additional group support.

With that as my foundation, I have managed to build a routine of recognizing and checking in with people whenever I feel “H,” “A,” “L” or “T.”

“H” is pretty easy to control -- snacks, family meals and little chocolate treats to replace my evening wine.

“A” has, for the most part, subsided, thanks to a lot of reading, talking and most importantly, listening to others. I realize now that my anger usually springs from resentments, which are tough to crack. But for me, moving beyond resentment starts with finding gratitude for what I have, every day. Some days, I am grateful to simply hug my dog! Other days, there is so much more, and I try to recognize it.

“L” was mostly self-inflicted. When you are ashamed of your behavior, you keep secrets. I didn't know I was shutting people out until I started to let them in again.

“T” is the reason I have embraced the weekend nap!

A year ago, I wanted desperately to change my life. Today, thanks to the love and support of others -- and practical tools like H.A.L.T. -- I can see the progress.

Tomorrow, I fly to the U.K. (my birthplace) for my first-ever solo tour. I'm going all-in with more than a dozen gigs, including two large ukulele festivals.

I would have been too scared to do this in the past, and even now it's daunting. It means a lot to me that I have mustered the moxie to embrace this opportunity to meet new people and play music in new places.

I have thought ahead and planned for the support I will need when traveling, and almost joked that it should be called The HALT Tour! I see challenges and potential triggers ahead, but knowledge is power.

I'm not the first person to follow this path, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

Adventure awaits!


Katy Vernon is a Minneapolis/St. Paul-based singer-songwriter. She grew up in London, England, and has been writing and singing as long as she can remember.