Re(Pro) #41: Paul Fuhr

Paul Fuhr

Paul is a writer. A true writer. You are in for a treat. He's also a down-to-earth, good man who I'm blessed to call a friend. Whenever he checks in with me, it's always way beyond the surface. This guy is going places and if you aren't already familiar with his work (side-gig writer for The Fix and After Party Magazine and podcast host), it's time to brush up on all things Paul Fuhr.
Fuhriously, er, seriously!

xo,
Laura


Name: Paul Fuhr

Age: 40

Location: Columbus, OH

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 1/11/2014

Creative niche: Writing

Drug of choice, if applicable: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell: Well, how big is this nutshell?

nutshell.jpeg
nutshell.jpeg
nutshell.jpeg

Um, where to start? I should've started my recovery story about four or five times throughout my active drinking days. That much I know. I knew there were times that I was a full-blown alcoholic and should've called it quits, but didn't. I actually convinced myself I'd disappoint people at an upcoming party if I wasn't there chugging back beer. I was hiding empty gin bottles I'd stolen from my parents' liquor cabinet in my clothes drawers. I was not showing up for appointments. I'd consider a lunch date as a suggestion, not an obligation to actually show up. I'd text last-second "traffic jams" or "grocery store heists" (both true examples of lies I used) to my "friends" at the time.

Back to your question. I drank, and I drank with gusto. I was the Goodtime Charlie. My first drink was a stolen Zima in a closet, because my aunt told me it was better than sex. Sex was years off for me (I was a huge "Star Trek" fan, so maybe even years further than I hoped for), so I settled for Zima. When I got to college, Goodnight Nurse. I was off to the races. I loved the way that some beers made me feel softer around the edges and thoughtful, while others made me consider that I could knock out someone twice my size that I didn't really have a problem with.

IPAs made me feel like I licked a shag-carpet and disappointed the nearest beer nerd in the room. Wines made me sleepy. Vodka made me horny. Jager shots made do stupid shit and spout "X-Files" trivia. Irish car bombs were exercises in trying to not chip my teeth. No matter what, I was never the guy passed out first. I was challenging everyone to keep the party going, which meant I wasn't up with all the fun people at 2:30 a.m. No, all the fun people at a party were off fucking in their bedrooms or passed out like good college students. Me, I was adrift with the island of misfit toys in a college living room: friends of friends who were too drunk to be sleeping. We played Jenga or watched late-night TV. We had nothing in common so it'd be a series of those half-awake, half-aware, no-consequence conversations carried into the morning.

My drinking simply got worse. Transplant all the "fun" drinking from college and move it to home. No bumper wheels. No keg stands. The carnivality of college drinking was gone. I was living at home again. I immediately got a DUI. Even that wasn't a wake-up call for me. I just made more drinking buddies. I had a stay at a hotel with two other DUI offenders and all they focused on was trying to get booze into our hotel room. I remember thinking THOSE PEOPLE are alcoholics. Not me. Well, I was, but not like those idiots. I just wasn't ready to consider that about myself. Even court-ordered therapists were staring sessions between the two of us. I had plans to go drinking that night, and my arms-crossed attitude told him that.

In fact, let's do this: let's wrap all of my drinking up quickly. Let's call it a wash of hilarious, sexy, awkward, adrenaline-pumping, forbidden, sorrowful, sad, empty, poor, lonely, shameful scenes of me drinking and trying to get by. Let's say it's a real three or four years I can't remember. Three kids are in there, too. A pissed-off, hollowed-out wife, too. Put them in there. That certainly wasn't the real version of me out there. That was an alien powered on draft beer and pint bottles rolling around my seats. Now, let's say it's all behind us. 100%. So, how did I get recovery?

I got sober my listening to other people. First, I listened to those first people who hurt me so deeply: "Maybe you're an alcoholic." That thought caused me to recoil, retreating like back from a flame. But when I forgot to pick my oldest up from school, having passed out from a relapse after treatment, I knew I was an alcoholic. So I accepted that I was. I started listening. I also started listening to the delicate nature of conversations around me: in meetings, between my family, my friends. Even if they were inane things about the weather or how much Oliver, my second-oldest, hates the smell of cereal, I listened. I hadn't heard it before. I sopped it all up. I wasn't listening for years. I was checked out. So, listening was the real trick for my recovery. I wasn't listening to my internal clock telling me when all the liquor stores around me were starting to close. (Do you know what that desperation feels like, knowing it's after-hours everywhere?)

I also started downloading podcasts and reading every single addiction narrative I could find at the library. I couldn't identify with everything -- not completely -- but I tried. I scraped a line here; a page here; a chapter there. Nothing was MY story (not that mine is amazingly unique) but I didn't expect to see myself mirrored in anyone's pages. Eventually, I just found myself to be a listener. In my drinking days, I was a talker. I waited for others to draw in a breath so I could inject my bullshit, be it a James Bond fact or something I simply made up. I hated silence (maybe because it reminded me that I clearly could hear the drunken buzz thrumming through my bones as an electric current or something). Now I was a listener. It helped everywhere. I listened to podcasts; I listened at work to people talking at their desks; I listened in performance reviews I was suddenly giving in a job I suddenly had; I listened when my sponsor told me to check my motives. I simply listened. That's what got my sober. Listening to the stories in my 12-step meetings don't make me feel like I've found my people or that I'm not alone -- they remind me that I continue to walk through this world alone, but can carry what they share with me through with me.

(I also listened to the people I made amends to. That was the feedback I needed to hear most. They were there for the real holy-shit damage, too. That's as much an opportunity as it is a life-changing chance to make a difference and demonstrate how far you're come. If someone is willing to accept your apology at the same time they'll call you out for being a monster, that's a gift.)

Time heals everything that it should. Everything else wasn't worth it in the first place, in my opinion.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Spotify.
I would pay at least $200 a month for this. I can't explain how important this is to my recovery. As fast as my broken-brain's moods will shift from one second to another, Spotify is always there for me. I create specific mood playlists, playlists for friends going through similar, playlists for my podcast episodes, anything and everything.

2. Writing.
I don't journal, really. With all my professional writing obligations, I don't have time for that. But writing is a huge recovery tool because I'm airing out my past and current recovery in articles, podcasts, appearances, and books.

3. Family & Friends.
There's not too much to say here, other than this list grows and swells and shrinks at a moment's time. And I don't pay much attention to it. I know who will be there for me, sure, but I'm more worried who **I** can be for someone when they need **me**. That's not something I've ever considered before.

4. 12-step work.
I host two podcasts, writing countless paid articles, speak at 12-step meetings, answer FB messages from strangers, and work with others on a regular basis. I think this is as fulfilling as it is rewarding as it gets. When someone reaches out to me to say they got something out of an article, it makes everything worth it.

5. Sleep.
I never slept before. Not for real, anyway. This is where I should put "exercise." but I think if I get control over "sleep," everything else will follow. Sleep, though. That's my white whale. I have teeth-gnashing, vivid, talk-aloud nights, and then I have the kind where I feel like I didn't sleep at all. I just want to wake up and go, "All right. With a cup of coffee, this won't be so bad." I swear, four years later, my brain is still expecting a brutal hangover and a zillion excuses.


Connect with Paul.

Re(Pro) #40: Ali Swan

Re(Pro) template.png

You probably don't know that you already know this lady's gorgeous face as Instagram's own, @soberinadrunkworld (read through the end for links to Ali's work). I'm - very unabashedly, I might add - one of her biggest fans. Let's put something into context though - when I first reached out to Ali to ask her to be involved, she was super gung-ho with her YES! but hadn't yet made the decision to share her name publicly. Since then, she's asked me to GO FOR IT and her style continues to progress and advance - she's come up with lots of delicious art that I'll be sharing, naturally. Lastly, I'll just thank this sweet soul for her patience as my editorial schedule is non-existent and really depends on my mood - and because the latter half of 2017 was truly a tumultuous time in my life, I suppose it's apropos that I post this on the first day of a new month in 2018. That being said, on to the goods!

xoxo,
Laura

 

 
PS: Ali even did a portrait of me in her very own style! <3

PS: Ali even did a portrait of me in her very own style! <3

 

Name: Ali Swan

Age: 42

Location: United Kingdom

Recovery date (turning point for addiction and/or mental health): 2/25/2017

Creative niche: Art & design

Drug of choice, if applicable: Alcohol

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell

I can't remember when I started to rely on alcohol for confidence and to get me through social stuff - probably pretty young. I drank heavily every weekend through my twenties and thirties but everyone did so it was just normal to me. I always drank more than everyone else though and I was always the instigator of heavy drinking nights. Gradually the weekend drinking spread into the rest of the week. I began to worry about it and felt uncomfortable around people that drank "normally". I knew I needed to address it long before I did anything though but eventually I was just so tired of how it made me feel I couldn't do it any more. I started trying to stop in May of 2016 and had longer and longer periods of sobriety ;then I did Hip Sobriety School with Holly Whitaker in Spring of 2017 and that was absolutely pivotal for me. Almost as soon as I got sober I started drawing, I think I'm trying to make up for all the years spent numbing out my creativity!


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Breathing - I use meditation and deep breathing exercises to calm me in times of need!

2. Music - I love music to change my mood in the direction I need to go, sometimes some upbeat pop, sometimes calming classical or maybe some chilled out jazz!

3. Connection with the recovery tribe on line - they bring me back to reality when my mind goes crazy!

4. Lavender oil - love it!

5. I will just pick up a pen and paper and sketch and doodle, I find it the best way to focus my mind I guess its a form of meditation for me.


Connect with Ali.

 
Ali doodles
 

Re(Pro) #39: Amy Dresner

Amy Dresner RePro

It's this beauty's 5 year anniversary today so can we get a FUCK YEAH!? Long ago and far away (sometime last spring), Amy gave me her own "eff yes" when I asked her to be one of the next Re(Pro)s. We were going to time my clicking "publish" around her own book launch date in September 2017 for My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean. But, life happened. I got catfished (and had to report the whole debacle to the FBI - I'll be writing about it soon, now that the dust has settled). And so my life was upside down and then I admittedly forgot to post Amy's profile, especially since I hadn't had a chance to read her magnificent memoir. I'm still working on it (honesty! progress, not perfection!) but I couldn't let her 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY go down in history without this little gift.
So this is from me to you, Amy.  Happy 5 years*!

xoxo,
Laura


Name: Amy Dresner

Age: 47

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): *1/02/2013

Creative niche: 
Writing. I've been a contributing editor to addiction/recovery mag TheFix.com since 2012 and I just had my first book published by Hachette, an addiction memoir called "My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean".

If applicable, drug of choice: 
Crystal meth and IV cocaine although I was an equal opportunity abuser: pot, booze, mushrooms, Ativan, Oxycontin. At the end I really enjoyed Four Loko cuz I’m classy like that.

Nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
I was a late bloomer and a chronic relapser. I didn’t drink till I was 19. Smoked pot at 21. I tried meth at 24 and it immediately opened up some terrifying voracious vortex in me. Thus began the cycle of rehabs, psych wards, suicide attempts. Twenty years in and out of the rooms. I’d have periods of sobriety and then just eat sand again. It was awful. I tried to stay away from booze because it made me violent and naked which I enjoyed but others…not so much. Things culminated when I was arrested high as a kite on Oxy for felony domestic violence and went to jail. I lost everything: my marriage, my sanity, my financial security. After a few more relapses and yet another suicide attempt and stay in treatment, I ended up spending two and half years in a women’s sober living, doing 240 hours of court-ordered community labor. That’s what it took for me to finally take full responsibility for my life and the consequences of my addiction. I did a major attitude overhaul thanks to the steps, my newfound poverty and my humbling penal labor and finally grew up in my 40’s. Been sober ever since.


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Writing (what a surprise!)
2. Humor
3. Running my idiotic ideas by my sponsor
4. Service (in and out of the rooms)
5. Sleep (When I feel totally nuts, I unplug and take a nap.)


Connect with Amy.

My Fair Junkie

Re(Pro) #38: Michelle Winder

Michelle Winder

Michelle is a force of nature. Her IG game is ON POINT and always has the most inspirational BICEP flexing going on - it was such an honor and privilege to meet this beautiful mama and her daughter Shelby in New York City at She Recovers in NYC. If you're looking for #soberspo, look no further. This woman is it - ways to reach this girl on fiyah after the jump.

xo,
Laura


Name: Michelle Winder

Age: 47

Recovery date: 10/7/2015

Creative niche: 
I always associate the word creative with art, so I think that I'm not creative. I do however, own my own my own business and humbled to know that I am providing jobs for 23 people everyday in a loving, home like environment.

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
I began drinking in my early 20's, very casually for a really long time. I never ever saw it as a problem, until it was. That happened in my early 40's. when family members began to say things to me about my drinking, when I began to blackout, when I started planning around and constantly thinking about drinking. I fought giving it up really hard. I never wanted to not drink, so I tried to moderate. That's when things really spiraled out of control. I spent two really long years fighting to keep drinking, with every passing week being worse than the last. I finally gave up that fight 10/7/2015 and began my journey of recovery. I relapsed 4 or 5 times in those early days, but am happy to say that I will never drink again. Sobriety has been the greatest gift that I have ever given myself. I am present and love life like never before.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. My sober community is at the top of the list.

 
Editor's note: SOBER COMMUNITY, baby! Heeeere's Laura (aka me) with Michelle at She Recovers in NYC, May 2017.

Editor's note: SOBER COMMUNITY, baby! Heeeere's Laura (aka me) with Michelle at She Recovers in NYC, May 2017.

 

2. Reading... 
...as much as I can, whether it be a book or blogs or a simple social media post.

3. Mantras

4. Meditation

5. Music


Connect with Michelle.

Re(Pro) #37: Austin Cooper

Austin is what I would describe as a trailblazer in our world. He's got the whole recovery brand thing figured out, but he manages to stay grounded (while looking like a GQ model - seriously...ha). This guy built The Sober Evolution empire, basically, from scrappy beginnings. He doesn't forget his roots and always wants to stay available to help someone who's suffering. Honored to be part of the same community of recovery pioneers.

And to top it off, his girlfriend Lara is a dear friend of mine <3. Get it, boo!

xo,
Laura


Austin Repro

Name: Austin Cooper

Age: 29

Location: Orlando, FL

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/10/2013

Creative Niche: Entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice
Alcohol & anything I could get my hands on (cocaine, marijuana, ex, hallucinogens, opiates)

nutshell

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
I started drinking when I was 15 years old. I was shy at the time and alcohol seemed to be the magical substance that could bring me out of my comfort zone and turn me into the life of the party. Soon after I tried smoking marijuana and was fascinated by the different sensations I would get between alcohol and weed. I knew then that I would experiment with other drugs to feel new highs and lows.

I immediately began prioritizing my life around partying and left everything else behind such as grades and friendships. I dropped out of college twice and could barely make it to work as I fell deeper into the pits of addiction. I became extremely depressed and anxious and used drugs & alcohol to cover the pain. It was no longer about going out and having fun. Instead it was about forgetting my responsibilities in life. I grew resentments towards others and against myself. I was to the point where I no longer wanted to live.

By the grace of my higher power, I saw an old friend of mine be open about getting help for his own addictions. I saw someone who I felt at the time was worse off than me, get help and build his life to where he fully enjoyed living. It sparked something inside of me that would later become a tool that saved my life. On April 10th, 2013 I walked right into an intervention. I immediately looked back to my old friend who built his life from the ground up and realized that this intervention was the door of opportunity for myself. I went to treatment for 22 days in Gahanna, Ohio. I was scared about all of the changes I would have to make, but I was also excited to see what I could make of myself.

I submitted my ego, I listened closely to the tools and the wisdom around me and I applied everything I could to build my life. After treatment, I worked hard to get my life on track. I decided that I wasn't going to go back to school for my degree, but that I would figure out ways of working for myself. I ended up getting my real estate license which was by far the biggest accomplishment I could have imagined at that time. I eventually started a marketing company with incredible entrepreneur mentors. I began reading personal development books which boosted my life forward.

Wearing my <3 SOBER tank from Austin's shop.

Wearing my <3 SOBER tank from Austin's shop.

In 2016, I started Sober Evolution on Instagram as a way to reflect on the pieces of wisdom and knowledge I had learned throughout my sobriety. Before I knew it, Sober Evolution was an international movement of positivity and growth. I have been growing it ever since which has opened my life up to even more incredible possibilities. This past January, I started a business with 3 other people called Priority Lab Services which helps substance abuse treatment centers, detoxes and sober living homes get the best drug testing services in the United States. None of this would be possible without my sobriety and none of this would be possible without all of the support and recovery communities around the world. And now I get to write this out for Laura with the Sobriety Collective [Editor's note: hey, that's me!] which is truly an honor. When we focus on ourselves, the more we are able to give back to this world as funny as that sounds.

 

Thank you for spreading the message!


   Top 5 Recovery Tools


1) Personal Development Books
(The Slight Edge, The Four Agreements, Think & Grow Rich, How to be F#cking Awesome, The Magic of Thinking Big)

2) Networking

3) Prayer

4) Affirmations

5) Health & Fitness

 
austin lara.jpg

Lara and Austin

Sober Prom Queen and King!


Connect with Austin.
 

Sober Evolution

Re(Pro) #36: Jamie Amos

Back in February - yes, February (my life got crazy this summer - I was elaborately catfished [more on that soon] and so my editorial calendar hasn't exactly been reliable), my girl Jamie wrote me this gem:

*~*~*

Dear Major Internet Crush: I am a writer and badass professional living in New Orleans, AKA the drunkest place on earth, where a vibrant and eccentric recovery community costumes regularly and stays sober. I grew up in generational poverty rife with addiction. Over my 20 years of drinking and drug abuse, including a pretty intense intravenous coke habit, I also managed to put myself through college, earn an MFA, and publish fiction in some national magazines before getting sober is 2014. I love your site and the supportive community I see you nurture on Twitter and Instagram. It would be a huge honor to be a re(pro). 

*~*~*

How could I say no to that? Since that time, I've been crushing on *her* and all that she does with her writing partner, Nikki, via The Neutral Ground (link after RePro). She has become a fierce warrior woman in the recovery movement. I'm just embarassed it took me the better part of a year to get this amazing woman's story to you.

Thanks for your well of patience, girl.  

xo,
Laura


Name: Jamie Amos

Age: 37

Location: New Orleans, LA
[Editor's note: Apparently people *can* get sober in NoLa!]

Recovery date: 6/6/2014

Creative niche: Writer, all the way. 

If applicable, drug of choice:
My drugs are assigned to periods of my life.
In my teenage years, I binge drank Budweiser (because Bud Light was for sissies) and smoked pot.
For my early 20s, I shot cocaine and meth and hunted down LSD anytime I could find it.
I switched back to beer in my late 20s, early 30s, because I needed to manage an increasingly unpredictable reaction to my substances. Alcohol was my final undoing, but I don't think I've yet met a drug I didn't instantly love.

nutshell.jpg

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I went hard early in life, diving full in and totally committing to a life I thought was wild and free. I hit what should have been 1,000 bottoms before I turned 25. Instead of pushing me toward recovery early in life, I tried to moderate my drinking and drug use and kept my outside life mostly intact. I put myself through college, kept steady jobs, and maintained a monogamous relationship long term. All of my consequences were internal, and over time my depression, anxiety, and self-hatred became unbearable. In 2014, a man sat next to me at a dinner party and told me about recovery. That began a 2-year long battle with my willful disbelief in my addiction. What has been, for me, more difficult than putting down drugs and alcohol has been sustaining the belief that I need to.




Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. The word no.
I am never closer to relapse than when I've overcommitted myself and said yes to please other people. Beneath those yeses that lead to my exhaustion is always a belief that I have to work for love.

2. Reaching out to my tribe.
I have always kept close girlfriends, but when I got sober and started to be real-talk vulnerable, this huge group of powerful, dangerous, warrior women showed up to walk beside me. I need them constantly to remind me I am enough.

3. Mothering myself.
I got this concept from Holly Whittaker and Laura McKowen of the HOME podcast, but I take it seriously. Soothing baths, naps, early bed times, healthy meals.

4. Daily writing.
I often don't know what I'm feeling until I work through it in my journal. This practice has sustained me through hard times.

5. Respecting quiet.
I'm often plugged into a screen or book, and I forget to carve out quiet space to listen to what's going on inside. Quiet is where the transformation happens for me, but I have to tune in to know it's happening


Connect with Jamie.

Neutral Ground

Website: www.theneutralground.net
Instagram: @jamie_amos
Twitter: @ja_amos1
 

Re(Pro) #35: Montee Ball

It's not every day that I feature a former NFL player on The Sobriety Collective.  I mean, the man has his own Wikipedia page. From the Denver Broncos' second round draft pick in 2013 to proud father, partner, and recovery advocate in present day, I present my (Twitter) friend, Montee, to all of you.

xo,
Laura


Montee Ball

Name: Montee Ball

Age: 26

Location: Denver, Colorado

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/31/2016

Creative niche
Classical music, golf, raising awareness about addiction, entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

nutshell.jpg

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I developed a habit of drinking until I blacked out, during my years in college. That habit then followed me to the NFL, where I found myself to be alone, with "friends" who only partied with me because of what I provided for them. It became extremely difficult for me to talk to anyone because in sport, you're taught not to show any weakness. So I then developed a habit of suppressing my addiction (habit). This overall pattern led to a world of hurt, loneliness, and shame. Which then increased my drinking. Once my son was born, I then found out what my purpose in life is. So I became sober in order to be in my son's life. And I plan on staying this way!

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Building a sober support community around me.
2. Swallowing my pride.
3. Honesty.
4. Being proud to be in recovery.
5. Loving myself!


Connect with Montee.

Instagram: @MonteeBall
Twitter: @ballrb28

Re(Pro) #34: Laura Ward

Laura is a dear friend.
If not for the #recoveryfriendlyweb, our friendship (like so many others) wouldn't be possible. I feel privileged to know her, and even more so to be next to her during her first ever experience with yoga, at #SheRecoversNYC in May. This PR maven has two years and some change under her belt and what she's accomplished with her wonderful blog and brand is out of this world. I love having coffee or ice cream in my GIANT quitwining mug. Pic to come soon*. 


#soberlaurasforever,
Laura


Laura Ward

Name: Laura Ward

Age: 45

Location: Connecticut

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 2/4/2015

Creative niche: Writing

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

Nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
From the very first time I tasted alcohol as a kid, I loved it. By the time I was 42, I didn't believe I could function without it. Alcohol was my very best friend. For a long time. Until it tried to kill me. At first, I believed alcohol was right. Death was the only option. But, somehow, the shriveled, scared, sinking person who'd been slowly drowning inside my heart for years, held her head above the flood long enough to scream for help. I hired a counselor who worked with me to focus on that person, and identify the reasons why I drank and all the tools I could use to replace the staple booze had become in my life. While I have been sober for more than two years, my recovery journey will never be over. I learn more about myself every day. And, I become continually more powerful and less afraid.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Writing
2. Being Honest
3. Holding Space for Myself
4. Supporting Others in Recovery
5. Expressing Gratitude

 

Yep, this sober rockstar has even been on TV!  
Laura Ward and NBC CT's Kerri-Lee Mayland talk summer mocktails.

 

Connect with Laura.

 
Quit Wining

Website: www.quitwining.com
Facebook: @QuitWining
Instagram: @QuitWining
Twitter: @QuitWining

 

Re(Pro) #33: Griff Courtney

I met Griff almost a year ago at my current workplace - he was on his way out and I was on my way in, and he gave me a crash course in the basics of my job. Yet we connected as friends and stayed in touch - and now he's my personal trainer*.  Griff is The Ginger Hulk and he is living, breathing recovery.  

Because it's you vs. the person in the mirror.  

xo,
Laura


Repro 33 Griff Courtney

Name: Griff Courtney

Age: 28

Location: MoCo, MD

Recovery date: 5/1/2014

Creative niche: Bodybuilding, fitness, music

If applicable, drug of choice:
All in mass quantities at the same time

Nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
From age 16 to 23 I struggled with drug addiction. Growing up I was always very competitive, very smart/crafty and chased adrenaline. I took a hit of weed in high school, fell in love, and had $15,000 six months later. I was the best in sports earning a D-1 football scholarship and I was the best at drugs too, my life was awesome. My life was something like that out of Wolf of Wall Street, all while balancing school and football.

Eventually the fun times ended and I got kicked off the football team for an "antics and attitude problem". I struggled finding my identity as before it had been the athlete that partied. With no sports to keep me semi-busy and semi-focused I started using more and more and revolving my life around it. I was a dumbass and quit school with 112 out of 120 credits and moved to the beach in NC so I could get high, record music all night with my rapping buddy and sound engineer, and be in the sun all day. Again, this was awesome for a little while however the good times ended. I saw a whole lot of overdoses and arrests towards the end of my using career. I ignored every sign of drug addiction until I got arrested again, and then decided rehab MIGHT be worth it. All I wanted to do was stop getting arrested - I wanted to keep doing drugs and keep drinking.

On the way home from rehab I had a beer in the airport cuz drinking wasn't my problem, ya dig? I mean I never got any DUI's and drove my car blind drunk over 1,000 times so that's evidence. What alcohol did lead to was more drugs and after my second drug overdose and the removal of my left thyroid for medical reasons I decided it was a good time to get clean. I got clean for 1.5 years, put all my energy into work, family and fitness and it was a solid 1.5 years. Eventually I got cocky in my recovery and relapsed. I used for 3 days and spent almost $5k.

On the last night I was so fucked up that my bigazz passed out on my arm and luckily got woken up by my mom after only falling asleep for an hour or two. I had destroyed all the nerves in my arm and shoulder and lost function of my right arm. I only had range of motion at the elbow joint, my shoulder was dead. I cried everyday for 3 months, not knowing if I'd ever be able to return to the gym again. The doctors didn't know if I would ever recover or restore functionality of my arm. It was a scary 3 months.

I started physical therapy after 3 months and eventually fully healed and was able to lift again! I almost lost the one thing that brought me the most joy, training. This was God's way of smacking me in the face and saying " Yo GRIFF, COME ON MAN!" I completed my undergrad during my first stint in recovery and since my last relapsed I finished my Masters (MBA), launched my own personal training and online coaching company (Peak or Freak Fitness) and competed in multiple bodybuilding shows (physique and classic physique divisions).

Life is so much better without drugs and alcohol.

*See?  Told you so.

*See?  Told you so.


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Jesus

2) Lifting

3) Making Music

4) Laughing

5) Driving Fast


Connect with Griff.

Website: www.peakorfreakfitness.com
Instagram: @peakorfreak

 

Re(Pro) #32: Dana Bowman

I love me some Dana. This woman is hilarious, talented, and a true friend. I feel guilty that it only took me roughly ONE YEAR to post her Re(Pro).  Not sure what happened but suffice it to say, I first heard her on Since Right Now - I believe - and ever since (right then...hehe), I was hooked.  On Dana.  I love you, girl.

xoxo,
Laura


Dana Bowman RePro 32

Name: Dana Bowman

Age: 47

Location: Lindsborg, KS

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 1/1/2013

Creative niche: 
Writing. I also have mad fire baton skills.

If applicable, drug of choice:
Wine. The cocktail of mommies. That's kind of sarcastic, but it seems to be the case in my experiences.

Recovery story in a nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I got married "later in life" at 36 (I know, OLD) and when I had my boys, at 39 and 41 I experienced severe post-partum depression. All of this, paired with some problematic drinking turned into an addiction. I didn't really have a dramatic down turn...just a very slow, sad, aching decline into addiction. My "bottom" was not an arrest or even daily blackouts or sex w/ strangers - I just felt awful and sick and wanted to die. I have a chapter in my book called "I Never Danced on Tables" - which kinda explains how I think a lot of times alcoholics tell themselves, "I am not getting ARRESTED - I am NOT an alcoholic." But, I knew. I could not stop, and I could not keep drinking. So, I finally came clean to my husband and found a meeting and started attending. This was back in 2011. I did relapse, for four days, in 2012, and then got sober on Jan 1, 2013. It's an easy date to remember.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Meetings

2) Big Book/God/prayer/my HP/daily serenity prayer

3) Honesty - when I don't tell the truth I just wither

4) Humor & Humility (that's two, I know, but how they go together!)

5) Writing


Connect with Dana.

Re(Pro) #31: Mark Goodson

Mark Goodson is one of those natural writers. He is a talented poet - whereas yours truly is a talented bad haiku-ist.  Devoted husband and father (OMG his kids are the cutest), you'll hear a lot more from recovery advocate and fellow Club 2007 member Mark as time goes on.  He's the real deal.

Happy early birthday, Mark!

xo,
Laura


Mark Goodson Repro 31

Name: Mark Goodson

Age: (almost) 34

Location: DMV, USA
[Editor's note: hey, neighbor!]

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 10/13/2007

Creative niche: 
I write for most every form out there. Poetry, non-fiction, personal essay, journalism, fiction. I co-write the comic strip for our local paper. If you see me, just know I'd rather be writing.

If applicable, drug of choice:
That which gave me the illusion of control over my emotions. Specifically, the triad of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. As for which, I was an equal opportunity addict.

Nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell:
All I ever really wanted was the bliss of oblivion. I settled for anything that got me close. I kept settling for less and less before waking up to the fact that oblivion is anything but blissful. Oblivion is actually filled with pain and misery. Sobriety has become more than being sober. Recovery has become more than recovering from drugs and alcohol. Recovery is a bridge to a better way of living. It involves peeling away the layers that keep us from living according to our true natures. I find that people in recovery have incredible drive, determination, focus, and ability. It helps when we don't center our living around the next drink or drug. I made my private recovery public when I started blogging in January of 2016. A lot of what I knew recovery to be was challenged. I'm a better man, and a more helpful man in recovery for it. I call the blog "the Miracle of the Mundane" because I've found, after peeling away the layers, that our true nature--our everyday existence is a brilliant piece of art.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Sponsorship

2) Prayer

3) Fellowship

4) Creativity

5) Books

I had the pleasure of hugging some of my FAVORITE recovery superheroes at the I Am Not Anonymous portrait event last summer.  Left to right: Sasha Tozzi, Cristina Ferri, yours truly, Maggie Shores, and the illustrious Mark Goodson.

I had the pleasure of hugging some of my FAVORITE recovery superheroes at the I Am Not Anonymous portrait event last summer.  Left to right: Sasha Tozzi, Cristina Ferri, yours truly, Maggie Shores, and the illustrious Mark Goodson.


Connect with Mark.

 
MARKGOODSON.COM (1).png
 

Re(Pro) #30: Megan Lawrence

I love Megan. 

Thanks to Alicia Cook, friend/writer/HuffPost contributor/Instagram poster/recovery ally, I got connected to the lovely Megan. And then I find out she's in recovery and knows my gals Lara and Sasha (and more). And I love the small crazy beautiful perfectly imperfect world we live in. This woman gets it. I'm proud of this mental health/recovery advocate/writer FRIEND of mine, and excited for all the accomplishments she's made and will make in her life.  

xoxo,
Laura


Megan Lawrence

Name: Megan Lawrence

Age: 25

Location: Tampa, FL

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 8/10/2015

Creative niche: Writing

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice):
 Alcohol, Amphetamines, Cocaine

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I never knew the extent of my problems until I found myself in a hospital bed trying to explain the suicide attempt I (fortunately) failed in August of 2015. Looking back now, I am able to admit that I have always battled addiction, but was never willing to say out loud that I was ever out of control.

I started doing drugs at the age of 14, and over the next 9 years, I would dabble in a handful of different ones, with Adderall, alcohol, and cocaine, becoming so much more than your occasional usage. I would have to say that college is when my bad habits took a turn for the worse, mainly because I didn't have my parents watching over my shoulder, and college meant that I was finally an adult, able to live however I saw fit. For the first two years of college, I would say that the one thing that kept me somewhat together was college soccer. My partying was considered "typical" college behavior, and I never saw what I was doing as harmful.

I actually took a break from drinking once I got my fake ID taken away from me, and I developed a love for weight training. It wasn't long before that turned into an addiction as well. Sometimes training 2-3 times a day, and still having soccer 6 days a week, I had started overtraining, and I was becoming sicker by the minute. My athletic trainer was worried about me because I had dropped down to 5% body fat, and warned me that I would not be able to play soccer until I gained my weight back. Naturally, my first instinct was to defend myself. I was okay with how my life was going, because to me, working out was a healthy thing. Oh how wrong I was. To please my trainer, coaches, and my now worried friends, I stopped working out as much. For fear of gaining the weight back that I lost, I started tracking my calories (putting my body into starvation mode), and I became addicted to amphetamines (Adderall), which allowed me to never get hungry.

The first time I was ever willing to admit that I had a problem was when I experienced a drug overdose from staying up for a consistent 96 hour period of time on nothing but drugs. My body was shutting down on me, and my drug use had caused me to stop caring about what was important. I failed to show up to soccer practices on time, and eventually I stopped showing up all together. It was then that I was forced to part ways with my collegiate career as a soccer player, and a couple months after that, I found myself in jail for a DUI. It was then that I decided something had to change, and I cut amphetamines out of my life forever.

The ugly drinking years. [editor's note: trust me, I've been there. It's not glamorous.]

The ugly drinking years. [editor's note: trust me, I've been there. It's not glamorous.]

Although strong enough to make me say goodbye to Adderall, my arrest was not the final rock bottom I had waiting for me 2 years, and 4 months down the road. Within that time is where my drinking really started to take a hold of me. My black outs were occurring every other day, and I kept finding myself in compromising positions. Becoming more and more self-destructive, I had lost grip on reality, and who I was as a person. Self-medicating was how I dealt with every day life, and this works, until it doesn't. It is not a means of healing yourself. Self medicating is only temporary, and until you face the root of the evil, you will only put off the rock bottom that will inevitably happen.
And that is what happened to me.

After my fair share of cocaine benders, and cracking my head open in the last month of my drinking, my last drink landed me in the hospital, and at the age of 23, I decided that I would live the rest of my life in recovery. Sobriety was the only option for me, and when I am asked, "So you don't think you will ever drink again?" My only answer for them is no. I found out early what I have a problem with, and I will be forever grateful for that. When I drank, I never knew if I was going to like myself by the end of the night, or where I would wake up the next morning, and now that I am sober, I never have to worry about that. I love who I am all the time, because I am finally in control of myself.

This is what recovery looks like, people!

This is what recovery looks like, people!

There are always going to be days that are hard, but there are always going to be reasons that make my sobriety worth it. It is a powerful thing to be in control of your own actions, and I enjoy being able to remember the things that happen in my life. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and I by no means regret anything that has occurred in my past. We are not who we were, we are who we become because of that. I wake up every day and make the choice to remain sober because I have finally shown up for my life, and I no longer numb the parts that are harder to deal with. I just deal with them, and put a smile on, because despite where I have been, I am excited for where I am headed.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:
 

 

1. Writing.

Without it, I would still be struggling to figure out who I am. It helps me silence that 'voice' in my head, and before writing, my thoughts were overwhelming, and loud.

2. Exercise.

I have been involved in athletics my whole life, but the need for it changed once I became sober. Natural endorphins are incredibly powerful, and I enjoy being physically strong just as much as I enjoy being mentally strong.

3. Family & Friends.

Now that I am sober, the relationships in my life have been able to grow into something of deeper value. Speaking my truth, and no longer hiding who I am from those who care about me, has helped me remain sober, and has helped rebuild the damage I have caused in the past.

4. Helping others.

Talking, and connecting with others has provided my life with such purpose. When I am able to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves, it reminds me of why I choose to remain sober, and it provides a type of happiness that alcohol and drugs tried to take away from me.

5. Reading.

 I love finding books that help me understand myself more and more. There is nothing better than finding a book that you relate to. It is proof that you are not alone, and it is small reminder that there are people out there who feel the same way. I find such peace in that.

 

Connect with Megan.

megan 2.jpg

Re(Pro) #29: Tommy Rosen

Tommy Rosen.

Yep, the one and only.  How do I begin to write an introduction on the man who practically wrote the book on a new, holistic recovery? 

Oh wait, he did.*

Tommy is one of the forefathers (foreparents?) of a new recovery, one that takes principles from the 12 steps and also principles from yoga, meditation, wellness, happiness, psychology, etc. and levels recovery up to an even higher plane.  I've had the pleasure of talking to him on the telephone and he's just as lovely and humble as you'd imagine.  Definitely can't believe my lucky stars (yes, I'm fangirling) that he took time out from his very busy schedule of planning a new online conference or globetrotting to India or just sleeping, because hey, the man needs rest, to participate in this gal's #indierecovery project.

I guess Tommy can see that I, too, am trying to elevate my own recovery (10 years this July 14!)- and the recovery of others.

Thank you, Tommy, and #namaste.

xoxo,
Laura


Tommy Rosen RePro

Name: Tommy Rosen

Age: 49

Location: Venice, CA

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 6/23/1991

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): Writing and Entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice):
Have experienced many addictions
 

 
Nutshell
 

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Had the right idea for a destination, but got on the wrong train.
Got off the wrong train and boarded the express train to the Divine.
Feel better now.
Thriving.


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Spirituality
2) Community
3) Yoga/Meditation
4) 12 steps
5) Therapy


recovery_bookcover.png

*Oh wait.

He totally did write the book...

Here I am posing with the book.  A) Because I'm a ham for the camera, and B) because duh.


Connect with Tommy.

 
Yoga Mala Tommy.
 

Re(Pro) #28: Lara Frazier

In April of 2016, Lara and I became friends.

What an adventure we embarked on since then.  We crammed more into one year of digital friendship than many IRL friends have in five years.  For 6 of those months, we took part in a series called 12 on 12, where, with five other bloggers/creatives in recovery (Aaron Perry, Olivia Pennelle, Mark Goodson, Cristina Ferri) we would share 12 nuggets on the 12th of the month pertaining to our recovery and reflecting on that month's theme.  We took turns hosting on our blogs, and my month was last July (anniversary month!); chosen topic was MUSIC. The magic continued online, as we provided each other support through breakups, fighting the stigma outloud, and just day-to-day recovering woman in her 30s biz-ness.

And then?

We finally met!* 

xoxo,

Laura


LaraFrazier

Name: Lara Frazier

Age: 33
[Editor's note: Lara and I both in our Jesus year - I'll turn 34 on Thursday, 5/18 and she'll turn 34 in June].

Location: Dallas, TX | Spring Hill, FL

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 2/10/2014

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
Poetry, Art, Songwriting, Marketing, Writing, Social Media

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice): 
It started with an abuse of prescription opiates, but the drug that took me out was Adderall (usually combined with Xanax).

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I began abusing prescription opiates after a minor surgery around 21 years old and began experimenting with more opiates shortly after that. I was one of those people who said I'd never do drugs and I hardly drank in college. However, over time, the experimentation got worse.

nushell.jpg

I will say my doctor was my first drug dealer. When I was in graduate school, I went to a psychiatrist to tell him I believe I was becoming addicted to prescription opiates and he sent me off with another prescription. This time it was for an anti-depressant, Xanax, and Ambien. He didn't seem to care that I was abusing pills - he wanted to treat the symptoms of my withdrawal from the pills. The symptoms were depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep.

I stopped abusing prescription opiates for a few years and I didn't really abuse my other prescriptions. However, I was involved in a car accident in 2009 and I was prescribed a plethora of opiates and other pain killers. When I lost a job in 2010, and called my psychiatrist to tell him I wanted to die, he told me he had the answer for suicidal ideation in a pill. He didn't ask to see me. He just prescribed me something and when I went to pick it up the next day, I discovered it was Adderall, which is an amphetamine. It stopped my depression for a short while, but then it led me into a four year addiction and a lifestyle that involved institutions, homelessness, and loss of self.

Left to right: Lara's shero, Holly Whitaker, Lara, and Laura McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

Left to right: Lara's shero, Holly Whitaker, Lara, and Laura McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

I entered long-term recovery in 2014, about four years after I was first prescribed Adderall. I started in AA and worked all 12 steps. However, I started feeling like I had stopped growing. I felt that there were problems that AA and prayer weren't solving. I left AA, with the help of Hip Sobriety School and Holly Whitaker. I developed a holistic program of recovery that involves prayer, meditation, self-awareness, essential oils, empowerment, fierceness, art, creativity, passion, service, inventory, friendships, love, kindness, and a whole myriad of other tools.

I began my blog in early 2016 because I found the power of truth-telling. Many women went before me in starting to be open about their sobriety and their recovery. And I honor them always, for telling the truth and for their ability to be raw and vulnerable and real. (You were one of them) xo
[Editor's note: awww, I love you, lady! <3


*WE FINALLY MET!

Image 1: Carolyn Monticelli, Lara, me.
Image 2: My and Lara's wrists, #soulstamped.
Image 3: Lara, Carly Benson, me.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Service

2) Prayer

3) Connection

4) Self-Awareness

5) Constant Growth/Self-Improvement


Connect with Lara.

Website: www.laraannfrazier.com
Instagram: @sillylara
Facebook: @laraannfrazier
Twitter: @sillylara


Re(Pro) #27: Melissa Johnson

This woman right here is doing magical things. The epitome of service in recovery, Melissa started a nonprofit called Clean Life Clean Home.  I'll let her tell you all about it but suffice it to say, expect big magic from her.  She's also got a well of patience a million feet deep because she's been waiting for her Repro for almost 9 months.  I had the pleasure and HONOR of meeting her in NYC last weekend for #SheRecoversNYC where I got to give her a big hug. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Melissa.

xo,
Laura


Melissa Johnson RePro 27

Name: Melissa Johnson

Age: 37

Location: Norman, OK

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 5/19/2015 

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Blogging and Non Profit Creator

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice): Alcohol

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
I struggled for many years with alcohol. I was always so insecure and self conscious but alcohol gave me the confidence I longed for. I could say and do what I wanted without a care in the world. I didn't care if I blacked out and did things I would never dream of if I was sober, I wanted that carefree feeling. I would chase that feeling for many years through the depths of hell. I have been arrested three times for DUI in Dallas, Texas. I am a three time felon, DUI and two felony child neglect charges. I have multiple misdemeanors all having to do with alcohol. I never cared about going to jail, it was like a time out for me, then I'd be back at it. I never wanted to quit. Ever. After totaling a second car and leaving the scene of the accident to avoid another DUI, I went to an AA meeting and ran like hell to the nearest bar. I wasn't ready. I had many more years of hell to put myself through.

It wasn't until my kids were removed from my home by Dhs for the second time that it clicked. There I was in front of the same judge deciding where my kids would live AGAIN. I finally surrendered. I finally accepted that it will NEVER get better, it will never be fun, it will keep getting worse. It was one thing for me to suffer the consequences of my actions but for my kids to suffer too? I was done. The obsession and desire to escape reality has been removed.

After I found out I would not be going to prison for my latest charge I knew there was something else I was meant to be doing. I felt led to share my story. Not exactly what I wanted to do. Who wants to tell the world they have had their kids removed from the home twice due to their drinking? No one!! But I felt called to do it and I couldn't sleep until I listened to the little voice in my mind. So I fearfully began my blog My Truth Starts Here, because I felt it was time to finally own my truth and to share it without the guilt and shame I have felt for so long. I began sharing all the parts of myself that I wanted to hide, and what a journey it has been.

Almost a year after my kids were removed in May of 2016, I began a nonprofit called Clean Life.Clean Home. where I go in and clean free of charge for a mom or/and dad in recovery, but I also share their story of addiction to recovery. Basically I am being of service, paying it forward to a beautiful sober human being while sharing their story of hope. My goal is to show others out there struggling, that recovery is possible and that they don't have to be ashamed anymore, and just look at all these people getting their house cleaned that have been through hell but have come out the other side better than before.

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Blogging!

I get such a release when I type something up and send it out into the Internet. Crazy how much better I feel when I get it out there.

2) Yoga!

Hot yoga is my fave. I love to sweat. I feel amazing afterwards.

3) Running!

I'm definitely not fast. I'm not going to win any races lol. But I love running outside especially early in the morning. Nothing like it.

4) My life coach!

She is amazing and has helped me so much. I am slowly becoming the confident independent woman that I had always tried to be with alcohol.

5) 12 step meetings!

Although I don't have a sponsor and I don't work the steps this time I got sober, I still get so much out of the meetings I go to. I love hearing what people have to say. I always hear what exactly what I need at that moment. Plus I have some amazing friends in AA, I love seeing their beautiful faces.


Connect with Melissa.

Clean Life Melissa

Re(Pro) #26: Sasha Tozzi

Sasha is one of my CLOSEST sober tribe members whom I met via the Internet, natch.  Through our digital recovery vessels, we connected, and thank goodness for that.  We LITERALLY have a full photo gallery of time spent together and you best believe there'll be more - we're both members of the official sober blogger team for She Recovers in NYC!  T-minus 9  days!

xoxo,
Laura


Sasha Tozzi

Name: Sasha Tozzi

Age: 31

Location: Washington, DC

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 9/02/2011

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Writer & entrepreneur

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice):
Alcohol, cocaine, food, men

RecoveryStoryinaNutshell

In a nutshell, I stopped shaming and I started healing. I understood that I didn’t choose addiction, but I could choose recovery. I was suffocating in shame at the start, and still probably have some residue almost 6 years later. But in September of 2011, I half-heartedly decided to quit drinking at my therapists gentle suggestion, and from that was divinely led to so many more transformations. But I first had to get alcohol & illicit drugs out of the picture. Three months later, I quit my pack-a-day nicotine habit. That was a tough one. I had no idea how much cigarettes were helping me avoid my life. After that came facing my destructive relationship with food, my mood disorder, and then my very strong tendency to be codependent with others--essentially losing myself in their chaos. All of these things revealed themselves the longer I stayed awake on the path. I wouldn't take back a single thing. Because I have access to joy today, so much joy. And it's spectacular. And I'm pretty sure it feels as amazing as it does because I've been to hell a few times.

^ Pictorial evidence of friendship between Sasha and yours truly (along with other recovery rockstars like Cristina Ferri of Sober Unicorn, Maggie Shores of Sober Courage, and Mark Goodson of Miracle of the Mundane).

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. My daily routine includes my "spiritual bookends," a.k.a how I start and end my day. I do my daily readers every morning along with some prayer & setting an intention for the day. At night, I take a moment to give thanks. These spiritual bookends give structure to my day.

2. Exercise or some form of movement. I take a lot of walks outside to commune with nature and I also practice yoga. It is the best way for me to keep my head on straight and move through negative energy. Yoga helps me get out of my head and into my body so I see it as a therapeutic tool, or medicine for my soul. It has been especially beneficial in helping to change my eating habits and heal my body image issues. Without it, my recovery would not be nearly as strong.

3. Having a food plan. Because disordered eating is part of my story, I do well with sticking to a regular food plan with room for leeway so I don't get all-or-nothing about it. For ex., I mostly keep gluten & dairy free but I made exceptions so as not to deprive myself, so it's more of an 80/20. I get hangry pretty quickly and then my mood is like a cranky toddler's so making sure I get 3 meals a day that are protein-filled and nutritious is absolutely essential to my recovery, and for the well-being of those around me ;)

4. Support system/care team. Connection is super duper important in recovery, because my addictions and mental health issues were incredibly isolating. I am part of many communities including 12-step and my yoga family and I stay as plugged in as possible to my friends and fellows. I also have a sponsor, a coach, and a team of medical professionals that I consult with regularly.

5. Stillness/Mindfulness/Meditation/Breathing. The 12-step meetings I attend are mostly meditation-based and I go to spirituality workshops and silent retreats to enhance my relationship to myself. My relationship to myself sets the stage for all my other relationships. I've learned how to meditate, even though I'm still not that "good" at it--I've learned that's not actually the point. Being able to sit still without ruminating or planning a to-do list, and just be, is wonderful. I've learned how to belly breathe and be present in the moment I'm in. The benefits of all these practices are numerous and essentially are the opposite of addict behavior.


Connect with Sasha

 
 

Website: www.sashaptozzi.com
Twitter: @sashaptozzi
Instagram: @sasha_tozzi
Facebook: @SashaPTozzi

Re(Pro) #25: Veronica Valli


I had the unique pleasure and privilege of meeting (nay, HUGGING!) our latest RePro feature, Ms. Veronica Valli, in October of 2015 at the historic UNITE to Face Addiction rally on the Washington, D.C. downtown mall.  I was so proud of this lady for traveling on her own with her little baby boy, Luke, for this monumental event.  Not only that, but it was such a dream to meet so many amazing women and men in recovery, and especially in the recovering blogging niche.  It was a first time reunion for many of us.  And now?  We'll be reunited again in just a couple of weeks as official members of the She Recovers in NYC blogger team!  Huzzah! 

xoxo,
Laura


Name: Veronica Valli

Age: 44

Location: Long Island, NY

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 5/8/2000

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Blogging, writing, helping

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice):

nutshell.jpg

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Born different, found alcohol at 15, that worked for about 2 years before I hit my rock bottom. Drug induced psychosis. 10 years of looking for help, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal. Found help, got sober, emotional rock bottom because of relationships. Gift of desperation, worked harder on myself then I've ever worked. RECOVERED. My life is real, amazing, challenging and it totally rocks.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Inventory
2. Telling on myself
3. Connection with other people in recovery
4. Honesty
5. Working with newcomers


Connect with Veronica.

v.png

Re(Pro) #24: O.R. Marv

You know him as One Rep Marv (aka O.R. Marv).  I don't even know the elusive man's full name but I will honor his sobriquet because we celebrate *all* paths to recovery here.  
Happy Birthday to the guy who will make us do SQUATS, not SHOTS. ;) 

 

xo,
Laura

OR Marv Repro

Name: O.R. Marv

Age: 31

Location: San Diego, CA 

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 6/22/2013

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
Blending fitness with recovery: personal training, online coaching, blogging.

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): 
Alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, athletic drugs (steroids, etc.)

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

Where do I begin?

Well, I was born in a very loving, well to do, religious family that pretty much preached “Leave It To Beaver” values. The problem was, even as a small child, I had no identity and no self-worth so I was extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Now I firmly believe I didn’t come out of the womb a self-loathing narcissist or an egomaniac with an inferiority complex, but I learned these things at such a young age that they became ingrained personality traits of mine that would plague me for the first 27 years of my life.

I had a multitude of health issues as a young child which ultimately saw me having a total of 8 major operations and a head injury, so I also learned to play the victim at a young age as well. My identity was always based on something or someone – it was never intrinsic, it was never my own identity. I didn’t truly pick up a drink or a drug until I was 17 years old - I had dabbled previously and wasn’t impressed. My first time getting drunk was shortly after a pretty serious incident which left me with a head injury, snapped wrist, cracked collarbone, torn rotator cuff, and stress fractured vertebrae. Just prior to the incident my identity had been getting good grades so going from a straight A high school “A.P.” student to barely keeping up in remedial classes overnight landed me in a severe depression. And THAT’S when I found drugs and alcohol.

I should have known I was going to have a problem right away because once I finally got loaded that very first time I thought to myself, “This…..solves…..EVERYTHING!” I was somehow smarter, sexier, funnier, able to talk to the opposite sex, more sure of myself, all of that and then some! I would chase that solution to all of my so-called problems for the next 10 years. During that time I did despicable things that became black spots of my soul which only caused me to chase getting loaded even more feverishly. Any sense of morality from my upbringing was thrown out the window in order to get loaded. I became a professional self-victimizer because when I played the victim I felt self-pity, and when I felt sorry for myself I then, in turn, felt entitled to do whatever the F*** I had to do to make myself feel better. This came in many forms – drugs, alcohol, sex, materialistic things, bodybuilding (random, I know, for a daily drug addict/alcoholic), etc.

For years I resembled someone who had it all together, but in reality I was petrified inside. Petrified inside that everyone would figure out I wasn’t as cool as they thought I was. Petrified inside that everyone would figure out I hated myself. Petrified inside that everyone would no longer like me if they truly met the real me. So I played a role to hide this fear. The role of being outgoing, even cocky, and fully self-assured. It was false pride encapsulating self-loathing and it worked as I was very personable and well-liked by most people. During those 10 years of active addiction I flunked out of college, graduated from a different college with a stellar degree and GPA despite daily drinking and drugging, went to outpatient treatment programs, lock-down units of mental wards, inpatient treatment programs, therapy….everything short of breaking out in handcuffs.

How did I never end up with legal problems? I have absolutely no clue because I was into some pretty serious crimes and situations, so all I can say is my Higher Power was looking out for me even though I refused to acknowledge he existed. When left to my own devices for all those years I was nothing but a liar, a cheat, and a thief…and not just for the obvious reasons. I was a liar whenever I told myself, “Ok…THIS will be the last bottle, the last sack, the last vial” when I knew DAMN WELL it wasn’t even going to be the last one for that night. I was a cheat for cheating myself out of living a life I could be proud of, of having a relationship with my Higher Power, and ultimately having a relationship with myself. And I was a thief for stealing myself away from my friends, family, and loved ones when I was in the depths of my disease.

I was introduced to what Recovery looked like at 25 years old, after close to 6 months of total treatment where I was officially introduced to two 12 step fellowships. I told everyone I was in Recovery and embracing the new lifestyle…but that wasn’t the truth. I’m a “smart guy” whose got some “edumacation” under his belt so I had these theories. Theories of how I could drink or use like a gentleman, theories of where I lost control, theories of “it only got so bad because events X,Y, AND Z all happened at once and had they happened separately I wouldn’t have gone to such s***.” So I tried to pick and choose which parts of the programs I would follow, I tried to sponsor myself, I tried to be 90% honest instead of 100% honest. I tried, I tried, I tried. So what happens when I’m not recovering, I’m just merely abstinent as a “static addict” or “dry drunk”? Well, I secretary meetings dirty, I take dirty tokens, and I work dirty steps. I turn right back into that liar, cheat, and thief.

Repeatedly I did these things for 2 years. For 2 years I beat my head against a wall. For 2 years I was back to that insanity of where I had once come from…too afraid to live yet too scared to kill myself. And THAT’S when I found my GOD – the “Gift Of Desperation” – and on June 22, 2013 I finally became willing to go to any lengths to get and remain not only clean and sober…but to truly recover, as well. I did things I was unwilling to do in the past and I have been rewarded with a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Am I rich and famous? No. I’m still waiting on that…I’m still waiting to be handed life on a silver platter….I’m still waiting to be handed the winning lottery tickets. But today I have been given a wonderful gift – the gift of self-worth – something I never had as a child. That is my greatest gift in Recovery, and with that gift has come many changes in my life. I’ve been able to face some pretty tough situations and maintain my sobriety – the death of my mother, the life-altering diagnosis of breast cancer for my significant other and best friend, and the decision to quit my corporate job to become fully self-employed. I’ve faced things I once thought would be “un-faceable” and I’d like to think I handled them with dignity and grace…but only because I put my Recovery first. If no one told you this today let me be the first…YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU DESERVE TO LIVE A LIFE YOU CAN BE PROUD OF. YOU DESERVE TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. YOU DESERVE TO RECOVER.

I had a hell of a hard time coming to grips with those statements. For years, my total and utter lack of anything resembling self-esteem prevented me from allowing myself anything positive in my life so I would always self-sabotage. Today, I don’t have to do those things. Today, I allow myself positivity, self-love, and much, much more. It didn’t happen overnight, but trust me on this…it works if you work…so work it, ‘cause you’re worth it!

Top 5 Recovery Tools
 

1. Fitness

2. 12 Step Meetings

 3. Being of Service

4. Hanging Out With Friends in Recovery

5. Working With Newcomers


Connect with Marv.

marv.jpg

Website: One Rep at a Time
Twitter: @OneRepataTime_
Instagram: @OneRepataTime_
Facebook: @OneRepataTime
 

Re(Pro) #23: Helaina Hovitz

I get to meet this pretty lady in May (She Recovers in NYC, people--yaaas!) and share the love at her wedding in June.  I'm so, so, SO, stoked.  We've been friends (online) for over a year and a half now, which seems nuts when I think about it.  If you're not familiar with Helaina yet, get ready to dive into the life and works of one of the most accomplished sober twenty-somethings in the world.  Seriously.

xo,
Laura

Name: Helaina Hovitz

Age: 27

Location: New York, NY

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 11/12/2011

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): Writing 

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): 
Then: Weed and definitely mostly alcohol. Now: Cookies at 2am when I can't sleep.

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

Recovery Story in a Nutshell

Oh boy....a nutshell? Let's hope it's a Walnut and not a Peanut, more wiggle room....I was 22, a social drinker with a few years under my belt, high-functioning, and in therapy for PTSD and anxiety when it occurred to me that I was jogging around the finish line when it came to making a full recovery. It was only once I entered 12-step recovery that I was able to start to really become the person I always wanted to be, living a life that felt fulfilling, calm, and full of healthy people and relationships.

 

 

Top 5 Recovery Tools
 

  1. Meditation and mindfulness.
  2. Speaking to and being of service to other women in recovery both in personal relationships and through my writing.
  3. Reading inspiring literature.
  4. Being mindful of HALT/ strong self-care.
  5. Remembering that everything is meant to be as it is at any given moment, even if I don't like it!
 

Connect with Helaina.

 
 

Re(Pro) #22: Julie Elsdon-Height

Julie is the QUEEN of the sober lifestyle blog.  She's a beautiful soul and OMG the mocktail recipes she posts!  Amazing.  I'm a lucky gal because not only do I get to meet her and hug her this May at She Recovers in NYC, but I get the privilege and honor of sharing space with her and nine other magical women on the official sober blogger team for the event.  Laura McKowen, Holly Whitaker, Kelly Junco, Sasha Tozzi, Annie Grace, Jean McCarthy, Jen McNeely, Veronica Valli, and yours truly <3.  We get to be with Glennon! Gabby! Marianne! Elizabeth! Elena! Dawn! Taryn!  ALL THE YAYS. 
xoxo,

Laura

Name: Julie Elsdon-Height

Age : 43

Location: Right where I'm meant to be

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 2/6/2010

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.)
Writing, owning, growing www.soberjulie.com ...a craft I had no idea I was passionate about until I was immersed in it. I am also an entrepreneur, owning a Marketing agency. 

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice): Alcohol

 

Recovery story in a nutshell: 

I was someone who at a glance had it all together. Had social media existed as it does now, no doubt I would have "outed" myself during my weekend black-outs as the drunk I was. I was a wife, mother of 2 young girls who defined myself by my career, my "successes" and other inconsequential things who lived for the "next big thing". My ride with alcohol began in my 20's when I began binge drinking on the weekend to "reward" myself for working so hard all week. Such a joke. Congrats on doing what everyone else in the world does....now go get hammered, cause mayhem and awaken hating yourself. This was my life pattern for far too long; wearing different masks and playing roles rather than looking into myself to fill the black hole where my self-worth should have been. For years I chased happiness and didn't actually live it in the moments. Finally at age 36 the shame took over and I realized that the fear of trying to live without alcohol was less frightening than the path ahead of me where I was about to lose my family and quite possibly my life. One fine Saturday afternoon I called out to God for help and then found a 12 Step meeting where I began my recovery journey. Each day has been different...life doesn't suddenly become easier because I'm sober, in fact it's often more challenging. The big difference is I feel grateful to be IN life and I know that I have a purpose now beyond anything "worldly". In recovery I've found my spiritual side which is the foundation for the peace in each day I live...that's the polar opposite of how I'd lived in the past. 
 

Top 5 Recovery Tools: 
 

1. My spiritual faith and staying connected with it

2. My recovery program - being active

3. My people - constantly nurturing those relationships

4. Being of service - thinking of others and feeling my purpose

5. Staying real with myself. Knowing where I'm "at" in each day


Connect with Julie.

 
 

Website: www.soberjulie.com
Twitter: @soberjulie
Instagram: @soberjulie
Pinterest: @soberjulie
YouTube: Sober Julie