Re(Pro) #42: Rynda Laurel

Rynda Laurel #42

I'm beyond stoked to bring you our #42 (meaning of the universe) on pi (π) day, Ms. Rynda (rhymes with "Linda") Laurel.

I feel like I've known this amazing woman forever *and* when I think about it, it's only been less than a year. Last July, I saw Rynda's face on Ryan Hampton's Twitter feed, sharing her 25 year sobriety anniversary. So immediately I was like, what skin care products does this gal use and where can I get some because unless she stopped using substances when she was 10, I was NOT believing that she could celebrate a quarter century of recovery. As it turns out, she was 24 when she got sober (same age as me) and in July (also same as me). I come to find out her birthday is May 18th (same as ME!). Then we got to talking about depression; I was struggling terribly after being the victim of an elaborate emotional scam (will write about this soon) and wasn't sure if my feelings were just situational (to be expected, duh) or part of larger feelings of sadness and general blasé. Rynda told me about amino acids and what worked for her own depression and thus began our friendship and professional collaboration/partnership. There's so much more I want to say but you have a lot to read, my friends. So get started and I'll sign off in 3...2...1...


Name: Rynda Laurel

Age: 49

Location: Joshua Tree, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/10/1992

Creative niche: 
I've been working with musicians, artists and writers as a creative executive in development, management and marketing for most of my life! I'm also a traditional film photographer, sometimes writer, and entrepreneur.

If applicable, drug of choice: 
Depends on the year! Alcohol, stimulants & opiates.

Recovery story in a nutshell:

 My RecoVRY story -- Rynda here, figured it was about time I told my story.


I was born 9 months after the Summer of Love in San Francisco so I guess I’m lucky my name isn’t Starchild or Moonbeam - Rynda is just fine by me! One of my favorite childhood tales is that my music loving young Mom went to see The Doors at the Fillmore while she was pregnant with me. I always joke that it explains everything as I’ve spent most of my personal and professional life in clubs watching incredible bands with an iconic frontman.

My late teens and early twenties were a whirlwind of great times, booze, drugs and a career in the music business that allowed my addictions to flourish without much repercussion. From Punk Rock Fullerton with Jack, Jim and Crystal (that’s whiskey and crystal-meth-amphetamine) to cocaine laced Hollywood Burning Tree soup on the Sunset Strip to New York downtown on Avenue A copping dope, it was a cornucopia of wild adventures. At first I just wanted to have fun and to drink and snort my courage, because deep down I had feelings of inadequacy and fear, then I didn’t want to feel the shame and heartbreaks, and then I simply just didn’t want to feel - anything. Heroin can do that, make all those pesky feelings go away, for a little while anyway. It also caused me to become an empty shell of a person. Worst of all, at some point it just STOPPED WORKING and by that time I simply could not stop.

I’d make every resolve, try every trick and I WANTED it with every cell in my body and I’d still find myself down in the avenues seeking relief. At 24, I was wondering around in a grey world, stuck between complete darkness and seeking the light. I was miserable and I felt broken and hopeless. I had hit bottom. I had the number of a detox memorized from an advertisement in the subway that said “When You’re Ready, Call Us.” I can’t tell you what made that particular night the night, but I picked up the phone and made the call. I dialed each number with desperate intention. A man picked up the phone: “My name is Albert - how can I help you?” In a moment of clarity, I heard myself say, “I’m Rynda, I need help.” I could almost hear Albert smile on the other end of the line and he simply said, “It’s time for you to surrender, Rynda.” Open the floodgates, years of trying to do it on my own simply didn’t work and at that moment I knew intuitively that there was a ray of hope in the darkness.

The next morning I checked myself into detox. After a few weeks clean, a move back to California facilitated by some insightful gentleman in the music business, some bumps and emotional bruises and a “one more time” with a head full of 12 step, I got high for the last time and finally did surrender. That was July 10, 1992. Instead of running away from people and places I went in full steam ahead and stayed in the music business. I was in clubs and bars nightly for my work during my first 15 years of sobriety - for me I needed do know I could still have fun and have a LIFE. I built a strong support system in my 12 step program and I was lucky enough to find a group of musicians and friends that were on the path of recovery as well - many of them still sober to this day. That was what I was searching for all along, to have great friends and to feel alive.

Even though I was highly functioning in my career, for many years behind the scenes I still struggled with deep periods of depression. Desperate after about 3 years sober, I went on doctor prescribed medication. I share this because it so common to still have mental health issues in recovery that I believe no amount of spiritual work and community support can remedy if your body and brain are not functioning properly. Meds did the trick for a bit (after the laborious process of finding the right one!) but like many drugs they stopped working and I wasn’t willing to up the dose. Also, the more I learned about pharmaceuticals and how many actually stop the brain’s normal function, the more I wanted to get off of them.

I started doing research, A LOT of research, years in fact. I read gazillions of books on nutrition, neuroscience, and biochemistry, took multiple online courses, attended workshops, worked with functional medicine doctors and tried a myriad of healing modalities. I was constantly searching for an answer to feel better. The utter fear of crashing and rebound depression crippled me for a long time, but after all of the work I did I knew I just had to support my entire body and it would be ok. Three years ago I was house sitting at a recording studio in Joshua Tree and I made the decision that it was time. I followed a specific nutrition and supplement plan that I had devised through my research that would replace and support the function of the exact medication I was on. Guess what, IT WORKED. The doctor says “clinical depression in full remission”; I say I’m simply not depressed like that anymore!

Today, I continue to do all the things that kept me clean and sober in the first place - 12-step meetings, community and spiritual connection. I focus on staying mindful with a lot of cognitive self talk to keep me in check and some meditative breath work. Just as important is the addition of light exercise, a fine-tuned nutrition plan and mood balancing supplements that was a game changer for my mental health. It was so life changing in fact - that became the spark for my new company VRYeveryday and its support site Supplement Your Recovery. Now, my entire mission is to help other people struggling with addiction and mental health issues find real relief with natural remedies, because I know they can work. It’s hard to condense 25+ years of recovery into a short story, but let’s just say compared to the grey cold world of addiction, recovery is in vivid Technicolor! Even with bouts of depression and life’s roller-coaster ride it’s worth every single moment.

My name is Rynda, I surrendered. I went from a life of addiction to recovery to Happy, Joyous, and Free - and so can you.

Use code  WeAreSober  at checkout for a special Sobriety Collective discount!

Use code WeAreSober at checkout for a special Sobriety Collective discount!

Top 5 Recovery Tools

I built a solid foundation in 12 step work and circles. It is still my main source and basic staple for recovery. Meetings help with the connection and community necessary for recovery.

Physical self-care, nutrition and supplements were a game changer for me. If I'm not supporting my body and brain in a healthy manner depression and anxiety creep up and I isolate and that takes me farther away from the path of recovery. Also, newest level up practice is using the Pranayama breath-work ios app by Saagara.

My close circle of friends and sober sisters. I've really worked hard to cultivate deep and lasting friendships, people that I can count on, and can count on me. That has meant letting some people out of my life as well.

Stay creative. It's imperative for me to stay creative, even if I'm working on a project that doesn't seem "creative" I approach it creatively. I also try to go to community events and engage with creativity in all that I do - part of that is spiritual. 

There are many books that have helped me along the way, I often go back and read chapters out of them when I need to be reminded or need more insight. I have a partial list here.

Connect with Rynda.


Re(Pro) #16: Joey Bradford

I've known Joey, in some capacity, for all of 2016.  We made each others' "e-quaintance" back in January and it's been such a treat to watch what she and her BFF in life and business, Persia, are creating in the holistic wellness and recovery worlds.  Plus they're British.  That just makes everything more fun :)  Stay tuned for a rockin' interview and make sure to buy their new book, The Inner Fix!
Love you, Joey darling, my fellow Sober-at-24-er!

Name: Joey Bradford

Age: 28

Location: London, England.

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 05/05/2012

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Co-founder of lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter (coach/ healer/ author)

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

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

My ‘rock bottom’ was gradual. By 24, a series of events left me with a niggling feeling that I perhaps needed to look at my relationship with alcohol (in fact, on and off, I’d had thoughts about this since I was 17 or so).

The nudge to do so came just after I’d badly fallen out with my best friend over the Christmas period in 2011 during a drink and drug-fuelled evening of chaos (where my behaviour was very much at fault, unfortunately). Ironically, this is the same friend I later went on to set up positive lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter with!

Immediately after our fall-out, I began dating an alcoholic who was several years sober and in recovery. The six months we spent together gave me an opportunity to lay off the drink almost completely and experience the many benefits that came with that.

Then, having hardly touched alcohol for almost half a year, I went on a massive bender whilst on holiday without him. I spent 12 hours passing out and vomiting until I was just retching air, begging to be taken to hospital. I returned home from my trip to be broken up with (my boyfriend had met someone else during the time I was away, and promptly married her - but that’s a story for another day.)

Although I was obviously hurt, I remember panicking more about having to go back to my ‘old lifestyle’ than losing him from my life. And then the light bulb moment came… I didn’t have to. I could do sobriety for me.

Realising that pretty much every negative occurrence in my life had happened as a result of being under the influence helped me to see that building a substance-free life could be a positive step for me.

In my early months of sobriety, I learned a lot about myself; I loved waking up clear-headed and remembering everything I had said and done the night before, my skin was clearer, my eyes were brighter and I felt inspired and motivated.

However, I also began to discover how dependent I was on alcohol to have a ‘good time’ socially - in order to feel confident and relaxed. Working through this was a challenge at first, but one I became willing to take on. It was important to me to learn how to become comfortable in my own skin, without the aid of substance.

Over the past 4 years, living alcohol-free has become much more ‘normal’ to me, as well as those I’m closest with. Many people respect and even, dare I say, admire it as a lifestyle choice. Total sobriety has cracked me wide open to a more spiritual way of life, which wasn’t something I’d anticipated or set out to pursue particularly. That said, I’m really grateful for the unexpected detour. I talk about my journey into sobriety and how a relationship with a ‘power greater than myself’ has evolved in Addictive Daughter’s new book, The Inner Fix

Last year, I married a gorgeous man - a filmmaker - who is also sober (in recovery from drug addiction). Today, my life feels uncomplicated, honest, exciting, free and more purposeful than it’s ever felt before.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

 1) Letting go of other peoples’ responses to my lifestyle choice.

Not everyone wants to be around a sober person because you are a mirror to others peoples’ choice - and that can be uncomfortable for some people. I am pretty sure that I’m a fun, open, friendly person a lot of the time, but people who aren’t on this path can create distance relationally, and identify it as ‘boring’ or ‘too good’. I’ve learned that this is more about their way of relating to sobriety, rather than evidence of who I am. Friendships evolve, change, fade and sometimes even reignite again. I’m learning to allow my relationships to ebb and flow, as they need to. 

2) Not comparing my ‘rock-bottom’ to someone else’s.

The only thing that’s ever led me to entertain drinking again is hearing someone else’s story and thinking, ‘that is so much worse than my own, I guess I could have gone down further.’ But then I remember that I’d prefer not to do that, actually! The truth is, my journey got bad enough for me. And that’s really all there is to it. The fact that I was just 24 when I embraced a sober way of life is something I am grateful for. A lot of good stuff has happened since then - more than I could have dreamt of really - and much of that’s down to the clarity sobriety has given me.

 3) Surrounding myself with ‘radiators’.

In workshops run by Addictive Daughter, we talk about ‘drains and radiators’. ‘Drains’ are people who sap your energy, remind you of your limits and generally bring negative and low-frequency vibes. ‘Radiators’ do the opposite - they lift you up, help you to feel expansive and bring light and warmth. Socially, I try to surround myself with radiators as much as I possibly can, particularly when life feels fragile.

 4) Remaining open and teachable

A lot has shifted for me over the past few years, particularly my attitude towards spirituality. I was a complete atheist until a few years back. I’ve become more open-minded, and as a result, have encountered some pretty unbelievable (in a good way) things. I try my best to remain open to new experiences and ideas, as I know this is just the beginning and that I’ll continue to grow if I’m open to it.

 5) Prayer & meditation

I read this quote by Yoga Bhajan recently: “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when God talks to you.” Prayer comes quite easily to me these days (that wasn’t always the case, but I’ve found my feet with it and now, there’s no stopping me.) Meditation I find harder, because my mind can get so busy and I struggle to sit in stillness for extended periods of time. I 100% see the value in it, and I hope to continue to develop in this area! On days when my mind is in overdrive, I find running or journaling really helpful. The rhythmic nature of running gets me into a trance-like state - I get such release and many epiphanies from a good old run!


Connect with Joey & Addictive Daughter.

Book (just released!): The Inner Fix!)
Instagram: @joey_bradford
Twitter: @Joey_Bradford_

Re(Pro) #15: Cristina Ferri

Yay!  Here we are!  We look like we could be sisters!  Or cousins :)

Yay!  Here we are!  We look like we could be sisters!  Or cousins :)

Cristina Ferri is a beautiful, gorgeously fierce, fighter of a soul--who is sassy to boot.  I mean, come on--ALL THE UNICORNS!  I had the ultimate pleasure of hugging my sister in sobriety a couple months ago at the I Am Not Anonymous portrait shoot in Washington, D.C. and we wore our matching #SOBER necklaces (designed by love, lori michelle for yours truly).  Let's throw some unicorn confetti in the air and welcome none other than Ms. Sober Unicorn

Name: Cristina Ferri

Age: 39 -- EEK!

Location: Plainville, MA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/24/15

Creative niche: Photography & Singing

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

Recovery story in a nutshell:

My recovery journey started a few months before my actual sobriety date. I started working with my therapist on the difficult internal issues and mental health problems I had been self-medicating myself with and casting aside for years. Soon, I began really seeing that a lot of my issues were burning hotter by my alcohol use. But when I made the decision to stop drinking, there was really no turning back. I realized really quickly that I needed a support line, other than my therapist, and I tried to find local AA meetings. Even though I always brought something home with me from the meetings I attended, I didn't feel as welcomed as I felt with the online recovery tribe I was also starting to build. These people rapidly became friends to collaborate with, vent to, laugh with and lean on. Staying sober is really only one part of my recovery journey. I am also currently working on my co-dependency, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and CPTSD, eating habits and relationship with food, body image, spirituality and relationship with my higher power as well as learning to just be human.

Every morning, I start my day with gratitude and try to journal my thoughts, which allows me to share a positive and healthy attitude towards everyone I interact with throughout the day. I worked with a health coach who truly helped me lay a foundation for success in creating a safe, nourishing place for my recovery. I also started a blog to share my story, and I'm currently having growth and interest in it to the point where I'm in the works of creating a new outreach program, revolving around recovery and art, that I hope to be announcing by the end of the year. I began volunteering with Girls On the Run & recently joined a church where I have been invited to be a part of their praise team! My recovery has truly changed my life. But it's something that I literally have to keep choosing every day, and every minute if necessary.


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) My Blog

2) Prayer & Meditation

3) Church & my relationship with my higher power

4) My Online Tribe

5) Booooooooooooooooooks

Connect with Cristina.