“People think I’m ridiculous. And I am ridiculous. I’ve been trying to put a lid on that ridiculousness most of my life and the lid just never seems to fit — because I sort of like being ridiculous. So after enduring some eye-rolling and a few chuckles from colleagues, family and friends, I made up my mind to just do it: Forty Drinks with 40 friends in 40 different places. And each drink would have some relevance to my friend or our relationship.”
Stephanie McLaughlin was born and raised in Manchester, NH. She fled the little city for a bigger one 50 miles south and spent 12 years living, schooling, working, and socializing in Boston. Stephanie was trained as a journalist but found that her career path led her to public relations and, ultimately, marketing. The schooling was not wasted, though, as her illustrious professional career has been built on the tenets of storytelling she learned in college. Her illustrious drinking career was also built on tenets she learned in college, albeit different ones, and perfected while studying under a number of esteemed mentors.
Stephanie is a study in extremes and didn’t know until part-way through The 40 Drinks Project that she was (and maybe always had been) in search of equilibrium. She spent two decades partying and drinking like a rockstar, while at the same time graduating magna cum laude from Northeastern University and building a successful career at noteworthy and important institutions including The Boston Globe, the mayoral administration of Thomas M. Menino and Tufts Medical Center.
She returned to New Hampshire after a dozen years in Boston and spent time as the Associate Publisher of Business NH Magazine, the statewide monthly business publication, and the Director of Client Development for a multi-state law firm before she opened her own marketing business in 2007. All the while, her social life was on fire: friends, parties, trips, adventures, brushes with celebrity, you name it.
As she neared 40, her body wouldn’t abide the same volume of alcohol and she wasn’t finding the same fulfillment with her varied groups of friends and framily. She began The 40 Drinks Project on a lark, thinking that it would be an appropriately outrageous way to celebrate “the big four-oh.” She didn’t know at the time that some of her most important life lessons would come wrapped in this ridiculous endeavor.
Since completing the project, Stephanie has found an absurd level of happiness with the love of her life, Patrick. They live in Manchester, New Hampshire, with a rambunctious black cat who eats wildly inappropriate things – like pajamas and curling ribbon. These days, three glasses of wine is a wild and crazy night, and she prefers a healthy dinner at home and some TV or a movie with Patrick to carousing out and about.
She’s still working on equilibrium – a little more consciously now – but she’s much closer than she’s ever been before.