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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.

 
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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.

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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) #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

Re(Pro) #19: Beth Leipholtz

I adore Beth.  She is a magical sweetheart with mad graphic design and reporting skills, but more than that, my sister in sobriety.  I didn't realize how similar out stories/paths were until I featured her as TSC's 19th Re(Pro).  Expect big, beautiful things from Beth.

xo,
Laura


Name: Beth Leipholtz

Age: 24

Location: Alexandria, MN

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 5/07/2013

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

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

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

I grew up in a stable, loving home, in small-town Minnesota. Both my parents had struggled with depression/anxiety, and as early as third or fourth grade I remember feeling different than others my age. I had what I then called “bad thoughts,” in which certain things would enter my mind and I just couldn’t shake them. I remember telling my mom once as she was driving that I had this desire to just jerk the wheel and see what happened. It was those streams of thoughts that would enter my mind and take up residence, refusing to budge.

Soon after admitting this to my parents, I saw a psychologist and began taking an anti-anxiety/antidepressant. Overall, it really helped and I had a good grip on my mental health. I was a straight-A student and a varsity athlete, so drinking was never on my radar in high school. Once I got to college, I knew I was open to drinking. So when freshman year rolled around and I joined rugby, I jumped at the first chance I had to drink. I had two beers and felt immediately more at ease. Talking to strangers was easy and making friends came effortlessly. I fell in love with the way drinking made me feel, and from there I was always looking for more, more, more.

At first I only drank on the weekends. Then weekends turned into Thursdays as well, then during weeknights, until eventually I was drinking before classes. I was never a daily drinker and I never needed alcohol to function. But it didn’t matter, because I wanted it all the time. My life became a series of drinking and looking forward to when I could drink again. Blacking out became normal for me, and I was usually the drunkest one in the room. Moderation meant absolutely nothing to me. I had somehow made it through two years of college without any major consequences from my drinking habits. Sure, I did stupid things, hooked up with the wrong people, fought with friends. But nothing earth shattering happened, so to me, I was doing just fine. From outsiders, that wasn’t the case. .

My last night at school before going home for the summer before junior year, I went out with friends. I remember the first hour or so, and then nothing. The next memory I have is waking up in a hospital bed, seeing my parents huddled in the corner and thinking, “Oh, shit.” Oh shit was right. The night before I had apparently drank myself into a stubborn, blackout state, and refused to go home with friends. I left the bar alone (I have no idea how I even got in the bar since I was not 21) and tried to make my way back to my dorm. Instead of making it there, I passed out on the sidewalk, where the police found me. I was told I had a .34 blood alcohol content, so they took me to the hospital. Sadly, this amount of intoxication was normal for me, so all I needed was to sleep it off. However, nothing about this was normal for my parents. My mom immediately began making calls to treatment centers. I knew I wasn’t getting away with my actions, so I complied to treatment, thinking I would just go back to my previous ways after I was done.

The first month was hell and I was resistant to everything I was told. I didn’t think I belonged there and was convinced I was better than everyone else beside me. As time passed, I came around. One day I came across a quote that read, “An alcoholic is anyone whose life gets better when they stop drinking.” And that was when I knew. I was an alcoholic, because in just a month without alcohol, my life was immeasurably better. I had energy again, I had lost weight, I didn’t have to wake up with no memories, and I had begun rebuilding relationships. From that point on, I ran with it.

 
 

Today I am three years and three months sober. I am in a healthy, happy relationship with a steady job. I am an active voice in the online recovery community, something that makes me feel like I am finally giving back what I was so freely given. I’ve even been able to stop taking my antidepressants, in part because I have faced the demons that haunted me for so long. I still hit bumps, sometimes daily, but now I ride them out rather than drown them out -- that’s what life is about. 

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Writing about recovery/sharing my story.

2) Forging relationships with others who have been in the same situation.

3) Exercise/creating new goals for myself.

4) Being honest and open with myself and others.

5) 12-step meetings (on occasion).


Connect with Beth.

 
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