Flying Free

Living With Addiction
Jessica Bowen

From a young age, Jessica Bowen had always been fascinated with birds, but was only allowed to keep budgies and cockatiels. As she got older, her fascination grew to include the concept of free-flying.
Jess purchased her blue and gold Macaw, Django, from a breeder on the Gold Coast. From the beginning, she was determined to free-fly her parrot, allowing him to have a free and fulfilling life.
“Django started his free flight training as soon as he started learning to fly at the breeders which is called fledging. This is done by making him fly to you by calling him and presenting him with a treat. Ultimately it comes down to knowing your bird and trusting him,” Jess said.
Django’s first outdoor flight was a nervous experience for Jess.
“Macaws will generally have a 1km radius when they roam. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of them being chased off by another bird, like an eagle, but this is a risk that you take. Django has forged a very strong bond with me and has always come home so far. His first flight outdoors was nerve-wracking but incredible. He did these big loops around me and then landed on my arm as soon as I called him back.”
Django came into Jess’s life during a tough time when she was battling alcohol addiction. A disease she says is still hard to combat in a society where drinking is a part of everyday life and something that needs to be worked on every day.
“Despite drinking being socially accepted, alcoholism carries a very real social stigma. In a society where drinking is so readily accepted staying sober is a huge challenge.
“I am incredibly grateful for the love and support I have received from my family and friends and the strong AA fellowship and community in this area,” she said.
Her journey to sobriety has opened her eyes to seeing what’s important in her world.
“Even though Django has been something really positive in my journey to sobriety, my main goal and focus has been to become the best version of myself that I can be for my children and family. To run my business as successfully as possible but also to re-learn how to see the beauty in small things, like Django flying past me at full speed and tapping me with his wing to show off. But nothing beats waking up to your children telling you how much they love you,” Jess said.
A successful business woman, mother and friend; Jess’s struggle with addiction is one that many people face in different forms. The first step to sobriety is to accept there is a problem, and the second is to talk about it to seek help. For information and help with alcoholism, visit aa.org.au and take the first step toward sobriety.