Re(Pro)

Re(Pro) #64: Dawn Nickel

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The past seven years have been about peeling back the real layers of my life - and creating the community that both holds me up and allows me to give back.
— Dawn Nickel

Name: Dawn Nickel

Age: 58

Location, Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)

Recovery date*: 5/11/1989
*I have a number of dates - but the one above is truly what I consider to be my recovery date.

Creative niche:
Entrepreneur, recovery coach and advocate, writer

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Not really applicable since the drugs were just what I used to cope but I was addicted to cocaine, pills marijuana and alcohol. That and my addiction to really unhealthy relationships made my young adult years a bit of a gong show.

Recovery story in a nutshell:
Started using all of the substances heavily at 15. Five overdoses by age 20. Pregnant at 20 and started to try to stop using. Went into treatment at aged 27 when my six-year-old daughter told me that I made her sick (I was trying to explain to her how sick I was that day - drug and alcohol hangover - she wasn't impressed). Smoked massive amounts of pot for two years then went back into treatment at 29. Recovery gave me a life - I went to university for 13 years culminating in a PhD in health care policy, a happy marriage to another person on recovery and eventually - a work addiction that brought me back to my knees at the age of 51. The past seven years have been about peeling back the real layers of my life - and creating the community that both holds me up and allows me to give back.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Time with family and time alone (tied for top importance)

2) Connection with other people in recovery - mostly women

3) Attempting self-care on a daily basis (sometimes I nail it - most times I don't)

4) Reading everything

5) Meditation when I remember


 
 

Connect with Dawn and She Recovers

Website: www.sherecovers.co
Instagram: @she_recovers | @recoveringdawn
Facebook: @SheRecovers

Re(Pro) #63: Tricia Lewis

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I chose to recover as hard as I drank and I haven’t looked back since.
— Tricia Lewis

Name: Tricia Lewis

Age: 37

Location: Dallas, TX

Recovery date: 11/14/2016
*turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges

Creative niche:
Entrepreneurship has been in my blood my entire life. I'm a 6 year + business owner but my ultimate creative outlet is event planning, most recently in the form of Sober by Southwest in Austin TX.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

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I was a high- functioning, over-achieving, co-dependent alcoholic who had grown up around a very low functioning addict. Seeing what addiction "looked" like in that way made it so hard to diagnose if I had a real problem because I didn't realize how common high functioning alcoholism is or what that even resembled. I just thought I was anxious and needed to blow off steam... every night.

I worked successfully in the restaurant industry, worked incredibly hard, and partied even harder. I was a black-out drinker from the beginning and it progressively got worse into my mid 30's as I compartmentalized a double life: drinking every single night and spending my days making it look like I was totally fine. I had also become so angry, anxious, unsettled and generally unhappy and was waking up each morning pissed off that I had drank so much the night before when it was always supposed to be just 1 or 2.

After my 12 week swan song of a socially acceptable drinking binge (Read: I still went to work most days despite my daily drinking, never got a DWI, always kept up appearances, didn't take shots/ only drank expensive wine and liquor and made sure I didn't "look like an alcoholic") I experienced my first physical withdrawals that lasted 3 days. This is when I knew I couldn't negotiate my drinking with my body anymore. I listened to some recovery podcasts and heard a story I related to very deeply that convinced me to go ahead and try this sobriety thing. I dove in head first and tried AA, online sober groups, books, therapy, the 12 steps, a sponsor, you name it. I chose to recover as hard as I drank and I haven't looked back since.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools 

1) Community
(sober Facebook groups, 12 step meetings, other sober people I've met through social media)

2) Prayer/meditation

3) Podcasts

4) Actively working the 12 Steps

5) Keeping my mind open


 
 

Connect with Tricia

Recovery Happy Hour
Website: www.recoveryhappyhour.com
Instagram: @recoveryhappyhour
Twitter: @recoveryhappyhour
Facebook: @recoveryhappyhour

Sober by Southwest
Website: www.soberbysouthwest.com
Instagram: @soberbysouthwest
Facebook: @soberbysouthwest

Re(Pro) #62: Jesse Hawkins

Jesse Hawkins
My goal is to ensure that one day, all social environments provides access to high-quality, non-alcoholic options on their beverage menus.
— Jesse Hawkins

Name: Jesse Hawkins

Age: 30

Location: Louisville, KY

Recovery date (turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges): 4/16/2014

Creative niche: Entrepreneurship

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

After years of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, I made the personal choice to become a non-drinker at the age of 25.

I can remember having my first drink as a young child, a warm beer at a Fourth of a July party. By the time I was a teenager, I became a weekend blackout [drinker]. As a child, there were certain events that drastically changed my outlook on life.  I found myself escaping, deflecting, lying. By the time I left for college I was already a full-blown alcoholic.

After years of being lost, chaos, giving up on the life I wanted to live, legal issues, loss of friends, I woke up on a cold jail cell on 4.16.14, it was my third DUI.  I was broken, tired, had no other choice but to ask for help.

Three years to the date of my last drink, after regaining back so much that I had lost, I walked away from the life I had recreated to start the Sober Voyager & The Mocktail Project. On my sobriety anniversary of 4-16-17, I sold my home, cashed out my retirement, purchased a van and started traveling all over the seeking out adventures I never thought was possible prior to my last drink. I wanted to show myself and others that you can go out and do anything and everything you want in life without a drink in your hand if you're in active recovery.

Almost two years into my adventure, and nearing five years since my last drink, I am still growing The Mocktail Project full time. A grassroots movement started to create a safer, more inclusive drinking culture. My goal is to ensure that one day, all social environments provides access to high-quality, non-alcoholic options on their beverage menus. To help normalize where a recovering, sober individual can socialize, and not feel uncomfortable with the drink they prefer in their hand. Through The Mocktail Project, I am able to provide and give back to the community that helped me regain back the life I want to live. As a non-profit, at each event we host, the money raised through our foundation goes directly back towards providing recovery tools & resources in local communities.


L: Cocktail mixologist Eron Plevan; R: Mocktail mixologist Jesse Hawkins

L: Cocktail mixologist Eron Plevan; R: Mocktail mixologist Jesse Hawkins

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) Try and accomplish one task per day

2) Set achievable goals and reward yourself once achieved.

3) Find a like-minded mentor/friend with LONG term sobriety.

4) Seek out new places that serves mocktails & great coffee!

5) Do your best to focus on today in all aspects of life.


mocktail project

Re(Pro) #61: Courtney Andersen

Courtney Andersen
Helping others fuels my soul and I’m a firm believer of “women supporting women.”
— Courtney Andersen

Name: Courtney Andersen

Age: 36

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Recovery date*: 8/18/2012
[* turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges]

Creative niche:
Writing, Blogging, Entrepreneur, Online Coaching, Helping others

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol and LOTS of it. I also enjoyed cocaine for about 3 years in my active addiction with alcohol.

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Recovery story in a nutshell:
I LOVED alcohol like it was my bestie for over a decade.  

My vicious cycle of addiction was spent for over ten years feeling ashamed, embarrassed, lonely, isolated and scared but I kept staying in this world. For so many years I didn't feel like I deserved any good.  Most days depending on my work schedule were spent thinking about drinking, drinking or dry heaving, laying in bed all day until I ordered pizza at 8pm when I finally stopped throwing up all the alcohol from the night before. I mean this cycle happened weekly; alcohol poisoning for sure! Of course I would say to myself every time I would dry heave that [this would] "be the last time I did shots or drank like that"...LIES!

I often found when I woke up the night before I had no clue how I got home or what happened. About ninety percent of the time my drinking would end up with me upsetting one of my friends, boyfriends or family members. I often would yell at them, pick fights and get violent like a real pig. So many missed opportunities and relationships down the drain because of my addiction. So much TIME WASTED and moments I will never get back in my life. Funny thing is since I was about 24, I knew I would have to stop drinking one day. In the pit of my soul I believe that all addicts know they have a problem of some sort, it's just a matter of "are you going to address the problem" or just “carrying on because you don't want to feel or face reality?!!”

courtney before after

When I was 29 years old, I woke up the next morning from a complete shit show of an evening. I was told I lost my cat (who was not an outside cat at all) for the second time as I left my screen door wide open because I went outside to smoke in a blackout. I was also told by my then boyfriend that he was over the drinking as well; at that point we had been together for a year and a half. He had seen plenty in such a short amount of time because I will say the last couple of years of my drinking my episodes were getting worse and worse. So that day I made a pact to myself and the universe that if Fiona (my cat) was found I would give up drinking and give life a go sober as I knew I had to do since I was in my early twenties. For two days I laid around from the worst hangover in my life, like straight up death! I’m surprised I didn't need medical attention. So every few hours I would go outside shaking Fiona's treats and calling her name; finally FURPANTS came walking out slowly from under my neighbor’s deck looking terrified and leaves all over her fur and in her whiskers. I dropped to my knees like a scene from a movie and scooped her up and instantly starting crying. I felt in my whole being and on another level that sobriety was my answer; this was 1 million percent my rock bottom. I probably hit RB about 40 times previous to this but this time it was the last bottom I would face.

My life began on  August 18th, 2012! That boyfriend who said ‘enough was enough’ is now my husband. He even gave up drinking with me; he never had a problem but just got to a point in his life he could do without. Sober Life has not been easy, a lot of emotions a lot of ups and downs but it’s all worth it. I honestly wouldn't change a thing of how my life has become. My world is just better with friends, family, husband, myself and everything else. I even have my own health and fitness business and currently working on starting my own non profit/charity for women in recovery called Sober Vibes! Helping others fuels my soul and I'm a firm believer of "women supporting women." My business, Sober Vibes, the happiness and gratitude I experience now in life would never have happened if I continued to drink, I’d probably be dead if I would have kept in my active addiction and I know that in my heart and soul!  

WE DO RECOVER.


Courtney Andersen & Lori Massicot recently had me on RAW!

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) Writing

2) Exercise

3) Meditation

4) Therapy/AA

5) Laughter


Re(Pro) # 60: Lucy Wilkins

Lucy Wilkins We are in good co

In case you’ve been living under a rock or are brand new to the scene, Brit Lucy Wilkins and her New York-based business partner Sara have made quite the (booze-free) splash in 2018 with their biz, We are in Good Company (weareingood.co). Their vision is to make space for sober by creating a world where it’s just normal to be living life substance-free. And they do that through whimsical greeting cards with messages that are simple, quirky, funny, powerful. For Dry January, Lucy and Sara are featuring a different sober rockstar every day on their Instagram feed and asking them poignant questions about why they choose sober. [I was day 14 - since January 14th was my 11.5 year anniversary <3]. Get ready for a big year with Lucy and Sara and weareingood.co!
I mean, Brad Pitt and Elton John and Natalie Portman and Blake Lively and Demi Lovato and Bradley Cooper and Dax Shepard and Zac Efron and Kristin Davis and Robert Downey Jr. and Rob Lowe and Lana Del Ray are all sober. [source:
Vanity Fair]
Trust me when I say we’re in good company!

xo,
Laura


We imagine a world where being sober is not questioned or anonymous, but out in the open for the undeniably positive choice it is.
— Lucy and Sara, weareingood.co

Name: Lucy Wilkins

Age: 43

Location: London, UK

Recovery date*: 12/18/17
[Editor’s note: Happy belated 1 year anniversary, Lucy!]
*turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges

Creative niche: Art, design, entrepreneurship

Recovery story in a nutshell:

nutshell

I stopped drinking to support a loved one who had issues with alcohol. I've always been able to take it or leave it, know when I've had enough and call it a night. My loved one doesn't - they have no off switch. Watching them as they slowly got deeper and deeper into the clutches of alcohol was heartbreaking.

Fortunately they stopped and little by little they turned their life around. I was so impressed by the change, the huge and positive impact it had made on their life that I was inspired to give it a go too.

I can honestly say it has surprised me how much better I feel... I didn't have an 'issue' with alcohol but without it I have more patience, more time and more energy. I very rarely miss it. Sure, Christmas is harder when everyone equates festive fun with having a drink but I look at my kids and see how much fun they're having just high on life and the feeling soon dissipates.


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Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Books - fact or fiction or Harry Potter

2) Long walks - with or without a dog, a chance to blow away the fog

3) Time with good friends - ones who get your story and love you anyway

4) 8 hours of solid sleep - for me, there is no better reset button

5) Making stuff - spending time creating is good for the soul


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Connect with Lucy and weareingood.co

Website: www.weareingood.co
Instagram: @weareingoodco

Re(Pro) #58: Tammi Salas

Tammi Salas

In my humble opinion, this woman needs no introduction. She (and The Unruffled Podcast partner Sondra Primeaux) are changing the face of what it means to be a sober creative — and that art and recovery are not mutually exclusive, much like Adriana Marchione, our last RePro. I had the pleasure of meeting Tammi at She Recovers in NYC and then again at She Recovers in LA, when I got to take her gratitude art workshop (along with beautiful soul Shelley Richanbach, who led us in a full body gratitude scan). I am inspired by Tammi on a daily basis and my hope is twofold: 1) that I will get to spend some true, quality time with her one day and soak up her art and gratitude and beauty in person, and 2) that you, dear reader, find something in Tammi that resonates with you. It’s my true honor to present Tammi Salas to The Sobriety Collective.

xo,
Laura


Name: Tammi Salas

Age: 48

Location: Valley Ford, CA (NorCal)

Recovery date: 2/03/2015

Creative niche:
Art, writing, podcasting, late bloomer + college student majoring in art at my age!

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:


On February 3, 2015, I had my yearly physical scheduled with my general practitioner. January had been filled with a lot of contemplation about how miserable I was in my life. I had a physical bottom with booze the week after Christmas in 2014, so I spent a lot of time examining why I felt the way I did. When I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, filling out the general medical intake form, I paused at the question How many alcoholic drinks do you have in a week? I thought about lying, like I usually did on the form, but something inside of me wanted to tell the truth, the whole truth. I put 21 down on the intake form and handed it back to the receptionist before I could change my mind.

My doctor seemed surprised by this new information provided, but asked good questions about what I drank (bourbon) and looked up what bourbon was made of (corn) and told me all of that corn was turning to sugar and most likely contributing to a lot of my health issues (cystic acne, weight gain, etc.). She nonchalantly asked me if I would consider going on an elimination diet and removing alcohol first. Now, I love a challenge, so I immediately said yes. She reiterated that I would need to eliminate alcohol for 8 weeks and was I sure that I could do that. The bait was taken and I was all in to eliminate alcohol, gluten, sugar and dairy.

unruffled pod

The funny thing is that even though I thought I was telling the truth on that medical intake form, it wasn’t the whole truth. In actuality and with hindsight, I was really drinking 42 drinks a week because I drank three double manhattans every single night towards the end of my drinking. I feel like it’s important to tell you this because when I was drinking the truth was fluid and bendable. Once I got sober, I realized I had a long way to go in the truth-telling department. This would be my first start.

In sobriety, I started sharing my creative work on Instagram. I was approached to create illustrations for Holly of Hip Sobriety and we collaborated on The Mantra Project: 40 Days of Sobriety email course. I pitched myself to write a column for the Recovery Revolution about how I navigated the 12 steps of AA and it’s called Crossing The Room. I got a little braver with each project.

Last year I launched The Unruffled Podcast with my co-host, Sondra Primeaux, and we talk about where art and creativity intersect with our sobriety and recovery from alcohol. I also released a softcover book called My Daily Gratitude Practice: How I Got Started + Found My Visual Voice. I also sell original paintings from my 2018 gallery show called The Geographic. Those can be found in my shop on my website.


I no longer sell and serve wine, I sell art and serve up my perspective on recovery.
— Tammi Salas


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools 

1) A solid morning routine:
Prayer, meditation, tarot, journaling + hot tea

2) Daily gratitude list
+ being part of an online gratitude circle

3) 8 hours of sleep:
No matter what.

4) 12-step meetings:
Working with a sponsor + sponsoring women

5) My phone:
To text + talk with women in recovery + listen to podcasts


 
Tammi
 

Connect with Tammi.

website: www.tammisalas.com
instagram: @tammisalas | @theunruffledpodcast
email: tammisalas@mac.com

Re(Pro) #57: Adriana Marchione

Adriana Marchione

Adriana Marchione is a force of nature. I feel endless gratitude that Mama Dawn (aka Dawn Nickel, co- founder of She Recovers) reconnected me with Adriana. Adriana’s work is that of a creative - an expressive arts therapist, a filmmaker, an artist. And this fiery and fierce woman has over 25 years of long-term recovery under her belt. She’s the perfect fit for The Sobriety Collective.

Adriana’s current project is a film that some of you may have heard of - The Creative High. It’s currently in its final stages of fundraising as the film team works round the clock to finish everything related to post-production (e.g. color correction, sound editing, etc.). The moment all the post-production work is done, the film can be ready to make its film festival debut and touch hundreds and thousands of lives as it tells the stories of working artists/creatives who have faced addiction and are now in recovery.
I believe this film has the potential to change the world. And so does Adriana.
And so do
you.

xo,
Laura

Left: Adriana; right: Laura. Here we are, being our beautiful soulful selves.

Left: Adriana; right: Laura. Here we are, being our beautiful soulful selves.


Name: Adriana Marchione

Age: 50

Location: San Francisco, CA

Recovery date: 3/01/1993

Creative niche: Filmmaker, Interdisciplinary Artist, Expressive Arts Therapist and Educator

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol

(Recovery) story in a nutshell:

[From Adriana’s
In Recovery magazine feature
]

When I got sober in 1993, I found it absolutely necessary to connect with people in recovery who could show me a new way of life. However, the artistic resources and mentorship necessary for me to maintain my creative life and artistic integrity were missing. I have had to find my own way in unearthing artistic expression that has supported my recovery.

I was a “pure alcoholic,” never using drugs except for periodic pot smoking, which I didn’t enjoy because of its anxiety-producing effects. Alcohol was my solace, keeping me up when I needed an emotional charge and quieting my nerves when I was uncomfortable. It was also a useful companion to my artistic life.

I began creating in high school. At college in Ohio, I became a photography/mixed media artist. I was consumed by my artwork. I felt at home in the darkroom, and I worked on creative projects late at night when I could focus and find inspiration. Alcohol accompanied me as I worked and listened to music; it also became my social lubricant at parties, art openings and at the dive bars I frequented.

I drank for seven years. Alcohol was beginning to significantly inhibit and disturb my life; it was also affecting my art. When I would drink while photographing, the quality of my work suffered.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Finding time to be quiet and listen.
Often I do this through meditation and prayer, but it also can be when dancing, drawing, writing, walking in the city or in nature.

2) Writing Fears Lists.
When I get overwhelmed, anxious or doubtful, I create a fears list to get my thoughts out on paper. This helps me let go...

3) Gratitude Lists.
One of the gifts of recovery is a changing mindset. When I can have a better perspective on my life challenges I can breathe easier and be a much easier person to be around!

4) Making Art Journals and Collage.
I use art to channel my thoughts and feelings but it also helps me to articulate my dreams and visions. I like to do this with oil pastels and found images from magazines.

5) Dancing.
I was able to find my body in recovery and this has helped me embrace movement as dance as a powerful tool for life and recovery. This might be dancing in my living room, going to an expressive dance class or dancing tango which I studied for 9 years.


 
 

Re(Pro) #56: Jocellyn Harvey

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Maybe you know her as @seltzersobriety on Instagram. That’s how I first met this Vermont-based beauty. Jocellyn is a writer, a truthteller, a connector. She and I share so much in common - about some pretty deep and private things - and I feel such a close sisterhood to her (we haven’t even talked on the phone!). One of the things I love most about Jocellyn and her IG feed is that she’s real and raw and a combo of insights into her personal life with actual Inspo. Since she submitted her profile, she started a new venture on IG: @blackwomensharing, a platform for women of color to come together, share about their lives, and find connection. Love you, J!

xo,
Laura


Name: Jocellyn Harvey

Age: 27

Location: Vermont

Recovery date: 1/10/2016

Creative niche: Writing and connecting with others

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Alcohol, and the times I did drugs I made sure to do them all at once

Recovery story in a nutshell:

I drank occasionally as a teen and bad things generally happened, but I thought I'd outgrow it. Once I got my first post-college job at 22 I started being a "sophisticated" daily drinker, and that really took me to the brink. Right before I got sober I was drinking copious amounts of wine and cocktails every day, starting to develop the shakes, losing my mental capacity, and contemplating suicide. It was sad and ugly.

The day I woke and decided "yup, I cannot do this anymore" was so humbling and amazing. Now I stay sober with the help of 12-Step programs, connecting in-person and online with other sober people (especially sober women), and during the summer of 2018 I started going to therapy, which has been immensely helpful for addressing trauma.

Other things I do are more self-care related. They may seem simple, but they are hugely important: good sleep, good eating, getting a bit of exercise (I struggle with this one the most), reading, and also just relaxing on the couch with a TV show and being okay with that. Balance, right?


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Twelve Step Programs

2) Therapy

3) Free & Native workshops to help with self-worth and past situations

4) Making sure I get a proper nights sleep & going on walks

5) Connecting with others & not sitting in my "ish"


 
C43A9691-5684-4610-B765-71E4DF22C8B9 - Jocellyn Harvey.jpg
 

Connect with Jocellyn

Instagram: @seltzersobriety | @blackwomensharing
The Temper: Joceylln’s portfolio

Re(Pro) #55: Patrick Holbert

Patrick Holbert

Excited to introduce our next RePro - Mr. Patrick Holbert, Brooklyn-based stand-up comedian extraordinaire. I just love featuring creatives — artists, comedians, sewers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, athletes, writers, makers, shakers, candlestick makers — who tap into their creativity in recovery (or in sobriety/sober curiosity, substance-free lifestyle, you name it) .
Sending gratitude to all of you <3. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

xo,
Laura


Name: Patrick Holbert

Age: 37

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 8/28/2008

Creative niche: Standup Comedy

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol, beer mostly

Recovery story in a nutshell:

nutshell.jpeg

I drank for nine years like a frat boy. Loved partying, doing crazy things, life of the party, only some people thought I had a problem, others just thought I liked to have a good time. I was a "work hard / play hard" alcoholic who was able to show up to school and work and continue to excel and keep up appearances. Only those closest to me (usually girlfriends) knew there was something really horrible happening inside me. I eventually quit after my girlfriend at the time gave me the ultimatum.

First I went to therapy, where my therapist suggested I check out AA. I waited six months to do so and just kept track of my abstinence week by week with him. I didn't develop a whole lot of language or tools around sobriety, so the relationship I was trying to save actually got worse. I resented her so much for forcing me to change my whole identity. Eventually we broke up.

That's when I felt like I had a major choice to make- Would I want to live the single bachelor party-boy lifestyle or would I get more help and stay sober? I decided to check out AA and loved it from the moment I went. I related to the stories people shared, I loved how everyone looked, and I knew I could find a way to stay sober if I kept coming back.

About five years into sobriety I organized an Artists's Way workshop out of my apartment and working through that recovery-adjacent program led me to re-visiting my childhood dream of becoming a comedian. Now I perform every night of the week and get to express myself in all sorts of fun ways.

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1- I'm about to go to the gym right now, where I'm FINALLY feeling what everyone is talking about, how working out can improve your mood. I love it!

2- Meetings. I love AA meetings, they make me feel connected to my community and get me out of my head.

3- Listening to good meditations or motivational talks on podcasts or on Spotify or YouTube... Basically anything super cheesy like Tony Robbins, etc always gets me fired up.

4- Quality time with friends. I have a hard time making time for socializing and relaxing and just having fun, and every time I do I'm reminded that it fills me up with such positivity that I need to do it more.

5- Therapy. I see an art therapist who helps me with issues relating to being a performer (anxiety, rejection, fear, business tactics, etc) and since I began my work with her, my whole career has changed. I also go to couple's therapy with my wife (who I met in recovery) and we love doing that work together.


Connect with Patrick.

Website: www.patrickholbert.com
Podcast: Comic’s Table
Instagram: @theholbertreport
Twitter: @theholberreport

Re(Pro) #54: Ruby Warrington

Ruby Warrington

Yep, that’s TSC’s Booze-Free badass mug. Just like Ruby, you can get yours   here  .

Yep, that’s TSC’s Booze-Free badass mug. Just like Ruby, you can get yours here.

+++

I was introduced to the world of Ruby Warrington through my dear friend Kimber Falkinburg during our
Pink Cloud Collective retreat for sober women entrepreneurs and changemakers last year in Austin, TX. For those of you who don’t know Ruby, she is a FORCE. Ruby is the founder of The Numinous, a community where “wanted to create a place where “Céline shoes and the Celestine Prophecy” could exist in perfect harmony.” In other words, where a material girl could live in a mystical world.

For those of you who have been following along with Ruby and her journey, you’d know that she’s a big-time rah-rah-er — and I mean that in the purest, most cheerleader form of the word — of what it means to be “sober curious.”

+++

Read on for 1) Ruby’s definition of sober curiosity and 2) how one person can indeed change the world.


xo,
Laura


Name: Ruby Warrington

Age: 42

Location: NYC

Recovery (or quit drinking) date:
I got Sober Curious some time in the fall of 2010 ...

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Booze

(Recovery) story in a nutshell: I don't identify as being in recovery.
Rather, the past 8 years I've committed to being Sober Curious - which means choosing to question every impulse, invitation, and expectation, to drink. Answering these questions with total integrity has led to longer and longer periods of abstinence during this time, to the point that now I no longer use booze. Period.


Creative niche: I’m a writer

Yep. She’s a writer. Order your copy of this AMAZING book     here     .

Yep. She’s a writer. Order your copy of this AMAZING book here.

Pre-order your copy of Sober Curious (out on NYE 2018)      here     .

Pre-order your copy of Sober Curious (out on NYE 2018) here.

 

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) Being honest with myself and others
2) Good boundaries
3) Meditation/yoga
4) Creativity
5) Alcohol-free beer


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Ruby and her CLUB SODA NYC partner Biet Simkin - some of you may remember her from    She Recovers in       LA   !

Ruby and her CLUB SODA NYC partner Biet Simkin - some of you may remember her from She Recovers in LA!

Connect with Ruby + The Numinous

Websites: www.the-numinous.com | www.clubsoda.nyc
Instagram: @thenuminous | Twitter: @the_numinous
Books: Material Girl, Mystical World and Sober Curious

Re(Pro) #51: Beverly Sartain

Beverly

Name: Beverly Sartain

Age: 39

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental health concerns): 4/13/2006

Creative niche: Life coaching and entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice: Poly-substance user

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I grew up in an alcoholic and domestic violence situation and had mismanaged mental health and trauma issues. I coped with substance use, perfectionism, co-dependency and workaholism. I tried to use external things to fill a void inside of myself. This dysfunctional coping lead to a crossroads in my life where I had to make a decision to stay in victim consciousness or learn to be the creator of my own life. I knew I had tremendous potential I wasn't living. At 26, I went on a journey to discover how to 'be' with myself. I got a Master's Degree in Spiritual Psychology which gave me 22 principles and paradigms to live by. I recovered through a holistic approach of self-awareness, self-care, recovery thinking and learning new skills and tools. Connection with myself and Higher Self are my priority and allow me to have greater connection with friends, family and my community. My life is now devoted to sharing tools and techniques with other people in recovery and supporting people in using their recovery for purpose and prosperity. I've done tremendous inner work, created a life that I love and am proud of and now express myself through my own business as I lift other folks up into the greatest version of themselves so that they can have greater impact in their families, community and world.


sherecovers.jpg

Beverly and I finally had the chance to connect in person at She Recovers in LA. We’ve been in digital contact for so long I can barely remember how it all started, but suffice it to say she is just luminescent. Beverly submitted her RePro over a year ago and for some reason, I never got around to it. I had also signed up for a group coaching program of hers and kept having blocks around starting the work. I assumed she judged me (assuming makes an ass out of all of us!) for leaving her hanging.

After Beverly spoke at her WE ARE THE CHANGEMAKERS panel, I jetted off to the bathroom in time to catch Tara Mohr’s keynote, planning on connecting with Beverly post-talk.

But here’s how the universe works.

Who was sitting in the chair next to mine when I dashed back but Beverly herself? She had no idea my stuff was hanging out right next to her. So we hugged, took a selfie (see above) and then I unloaded my emotional gunk. About how I felt she might have judged me for flaking.

I’ve never judged you, Laura. Ever. You are too hard on yourself. I wish you could see what I see in you.” - Beverly Sartain

Yep. So I started bawling. Had what Taryn called a “break open” - and I then decided to take my vulnerability to the stage and ask Tara Mohr a question about the inner critic and imposter syndrome and how I sometimes felt like I didn’t belong doing this work. And so all 600 women experienced me sobbing.

Can I just tell you how powerful it was? How loved and embraced I felt? Despite my fear and anxiety. It was just magic and I have Beverly to thank for helping guide me through the process of letting go of my inner shame and judgment.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Self-forgiveness statements
2) Observation Journal
3) Ideal Scenes
4) Paradigms that work for you not against you
5) Pulling Cards (affirmation, angel or intuitive oracle decks).


recovery ripple

Re(Pro) #50: Lisa McLaughlin

Lisa McLaughlin

So excited to share part 2 of our WorkitHealth women in entrepreneurship duo, Ms. Lisa McLaughlin! You met Robin McIntosh in part 1; now meet her business parter and friend, Lisa. These women have set out to change the world of digital recovery - and their blog features some of the biggest recovery movers and shakers (Olivia Pennelle, Lara Frazier, and yours truly). Thank you for all you do, Lisa!

xo,
Laura


 

Name: Lisa McLaughlin

Age: 38

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/10/2002

Creative niche:
Entrepreneurship and writing. I am a co-founder at Workit Health and spend most of my time designing the future of recovery through Telehealth with my amazing business partner Robin McIntosh (we met in the room in Oakland in 2009) and out incredible team. At Workit I do a lot of public speaking and recovery advocacy work. I mentor other women entrepreneurs in my spare time. I write daily but don't publish as much as I should.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Cocaine, but really I didn't discriminate. I was a nineties raver so mostly ecstacy, opium, meth, hallucinogens, alcohol, marijuana, and an unfortunate quantity of whip its.

Recovery story in a nutshell:

I started drinking and using drugs when I was 15 and spiraled fairly rapidly. I'm Irish-Italian so the genetic setup was there. My addiction was largely driven by social anxiety that emerged in adolescence as I moved away from a deeply religious upbringing in the Baptist Church to a wider social network of kids from all over the world at a large public high school.

Being numbed out and less anxious was a total win for me in the beginning. I had a rough run from 15 to 22, most of which was spent blacked out in warehouses in Detroit dressed in jnco jeans taking whatever I could acquire with whichever low quality skateboarder boyfriend I had at the time. By 22 I had been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning (turned blue, resuscitated), gone temporarily blind for six hours in a k-hole, had multiple run-ins with the law, and experienced a lot of exposure to violence and trauma.

My bottom occurred when I was high during a mental health crisis my brother had (he has schizophrenia). I wasn't able to be fully there for him during a terrifying turning point in his life when he really needed me to admit him to the hospital. I realized the extent of my spiritual bankruptcy when it seemed like a good idea to leave him and "go back to the club."

I got sober through court-mandated AA, a decade of therapy, and a lot of love from women in recovery. Its been an odyssey. Here's 16 Ways my Recovery has Changed at Year 16: https://www.workithealth.com/blog/16-years-recovery-lisa-mclaughlin


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools: 

1. Meditation / Breathwork
2. Cardio
3. The Workit App
4. Daily Social Outreach
5. Writing


WorkitHealth.png

Connect with Lisa.

Website: www.WorkitHealth.com
Facebook: @Lisa.Mclaughlin | @WorkitHealth
Twitter: @Lmclaug | @WorkitHealth
Instagram: @Lmclaug | @WorkitHealth

Re(Pro) #49: Robin McIntosh

Robin McIntosh

In part 1 of our WorkitHealth women in entrepreneurship duo, we meet Robin McIntosh! You'll meet Lisa McLaughlin, Robin's business partner and friend, in part 2. Robin and Lisa have set out to change the world of digital recovery - and their blog features some of the biggest recovery movers and shakers (Olivia Pennelle, Lara Frazier, and yours truly). Thank you for all you do, Robin! 

xo,
Laura


Name: Robin McIntosh

Age: 33

Location: Oakland, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 12/31/2006

Creative niche:
Design, entrepreneurship, art history, art, literature

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol / food

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Nutshell version: when I was five I tried to use a kitchen knife to cut all the "bad parts" off my my already tiny frame. My eating disorder, needless to say, started before I could stitch together coherent memories. When I found alcohol at thirteen, my first feeling was relief that I could spend a moment outside my form, the "itchy" reality of daily life. A demented combination of alcohol, anorexia, and bulimia led me through multiple school expulsions, eight rehabs, and several detoxes. Finally, when I was 24 I found other women in recovery, therapy, and 12-step meetings. Last year I celebrated a decade clean, abstinent and sober, and I am so very grateful!


Top 3 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Workit Health Community
2) Writing
3) Sober Friendships 


Connect with Robin.

Website: www.WorkitHealth.com
Instagram: @robinamcintosh@WorkitHealth
Twitter: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth
Facebook: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth

Re(Pro) #48: Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall

Meet Chris Marshall, founder of The Sans Bar, Austin, TX's first sober bar. Stay social, stay sober with that #mocktailLife!

xoxo,
Laura


Name: Chris Marshall

Age: 35

Location: Austin, TX

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 2/16/2007
[Editor's note: Club 2007 in the house!]

Creative niche: Entrepreneurship

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Your story in a nutshell: 

nutshell.jpeg

Started drinking at 16. First beer was with friends in an empty field. I drank to feel connected to my friends mostly because I feared being different. I got my first DUI a month later and continued to drink. Joined a fraternity and found myself drinking in the morning my freshman year.

Several stints in jail and ruined relationships didn't stop me from pursing a connection with people via drinking. I drank so hard intentionally, I thought I couldn't be fun or cool if I didn't drink. Eventually I found myself medicating depression and anxiety with alcohol. Self mutilation became part of my story.

I eventually went to treatment and found a group of people who told me I belonged to them even if I didn't want to. The 12 Steps were exceedingly helpful in establishing my recovery. After a year of deeply connecting to this group of men and women who taught me how to have fun, work and create without alcohol; I moved to Austin and went back to college to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. I never forgot the lessons from that first year, and encouraged clients to find a tribe that could offer gentle accountability.

With over 8 years of professional clinical work experience, I began to feel as if treatment was ineffective. As an industry, we have become skilled in getting people to recovery, but we suck at keeping them there. The truth is we don't teach people to socialize in America beyond Kindergarten. If you have no clue how to dance or date or make friends without drugs and alcohol, you have to learn an entire new way of social functioning.

In 2015, on a trip to Seattle I came up with the idea of creating a sober bar that could be a classroom for sober socialization. The rest is still unwritten.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Vigorous compassion

2) Connection to humans

3) Connection to the Universe

4) Creating anything (music, art, etc.)

5) Living a life without secrets


 
IMG_6671 - Chris Marshall.jpg
 

Connect with Chris

Website: www.thesansbar.com
Instagram@sansbar.austin
Twitter: @sans_bar

Re(Pro) #47: Paula Hoss

Paula Hoss

I love Paula. She's amazing, inspirational, gorgeous, and just beacon of light. I've been using her skincare line, CLN&DRTY and ZOMG it's like my own personal spa. Share in the comments what your favorite item of hers is from her line. If you haven't tried it yet, go on an Easter Egg hunt in the post because there are a couple of links to shop with a 15% off coupon.
 So like I said, I love Paula. You will too. Read on.

xoxo, 
Laura


Name: Paula Hoss

Age: 34

Location: Massachusetts

Recovery date (turning point for substance use disorder or mental illness): 1/21/2008

My own bathroom countertop.

My own bathroom countertop.

Creative niche: Skincare Entrepreneur
[Shop CLN&DRTY for 15% off with coupon code SOBER15).

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol & benzos

Your story in a nutshell:


I began suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder when I was 15 years old and around the same time started to self medicate. I got sober for the first time at 18 and was able to stay sober for 3 years. I was active in the hardcore music scene, so I saw my sobriety more as straight edge rather than recovery.

At 20 I found myself in a highly abusive relationship, 400 miles away from home and isolated from my friends and family. The relationship ended with assault, kidnapping and terroristic threat charges against him, and I was left with severe PTSD and my bipolar disorder was acting out in full force.

Soon after, I picked up drinking again. I remember taking the first drink after those 3 years of sobriety and just feeling the whole world lift off of my shoulders. I felt like all of my fear, my anxiety, all of the trauma was being lifted away.

I was 21 and quickly spiraled into regular blackout drinking and substance abuse within the year. I again isolated myself from friends and family and moved to a city where I could live alone and drink and use without anyone's intervention.

At age 24, I hit rock bottom. [Editor's note: Me too!] There wasn't an arrest or an overdose, but rather a 6 month period where I would wake up every single morning, swearing that this was the last time and then would pick up by the evening.

I woke up on January 21, 2008 and felt more empty than I had ever felt in my life. I felt worthless, numb and depressed beyond belief. I crumbled on the floor and started sobbing and praying. I knew that I would either have to get sober or I would be dead within weeks.

I'm proud to say that I've been sober since that day, for over 10 years. In the early years, I was incredibly active in AA. I did the 12 steps, had a sponsor and sponsored other women. I got active in a young person's community and those people truly saved my life.

Further into my sobriety, I became a wife and a mother. I shifted my understanding of a Higher Power to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I began attending a non-denominational church and since my problem was no longer active drinking, but rather the shame and pain that went along with my lifestyle, I started connecting with and mentoring women of all backgrounds.

Part of my platform as a business owner is telling my story of surviving mental illness and substance abuse. I'm passionate about showing women that no matter where they are, no matter how far down they've gone, they can redeem themselves. That every single awful thing that they've done (because if you're reading this, I know you have that list in your head: the terrible moments that you pass off as party stories but you know in your heart that you are so ashamed of) can totally be wiped clean.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) The Big Book of AA
2) The Bible
3) Someone who is further along in sobriety than you
4) Someone is younger in sobriety than you
5) God


 
Click above to shop Paula's CLN&amp;DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

Click above to shop Paula's CLN&DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

 

Connect with Paula.

Website: CLNandDRTY.com
Instagram: @CLNandDRTY
Etsy: @CLNandDRTY

Re(Pro) #46: Jeff Stevens

Jeff Stevens

Name: Jeff Stevens

Age: 50

Location: St. Louis, MO

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 3/14/1992

Creative niche: Officially an entrepreneur w/some writing potential.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice
Cheap Beer and Cheaper Tequila. Then Mad Dog 20/20.

Your story in a nutshell:

I pretty much drank alcoholically from the very start. I come from a long line of people with this disease. By the time I was 24 I had a DUI, been to jail numerous times and pretty much was a liar and cheater and a thief to everyone I knew. I hit my bottom in FLA and while I had been going to meetings I was still drinking. But on March 14th 1992 the pain got so bad that I did something I hadn't done up until that moment. I asked God for help. I got on my hands and knees in a veil of tears and surrendered. God removed my compulsion to drink right then and I'm grateful all the time it's never returned. I came to learn that this was a spiritual experience right out the Big Book.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. &lt;3.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. <3.

Since then I've lived and experienced recovery in Florida, Chicago, London, St. Louis and traveled all over. I married up. Have two great kids. I built a career in advertising and found so much freedom that I worked on a ton of beer and spirits brands and never had the desire to pick up. I go to meetings, have a sponsor and sponsees and do a weekly recovery podcast at sincerightnow.com.

In 2016 I put together two of short list of skills (beer marketing and not drinking alcohol) into a business called wellbeingbrewing.com. We make NA craft beer. [Editor's note: You can invest in WellBeing! Jeff and his team exceeded their goal of $125-200K - but there's still room for you. Click here for more details.]

Some truths I've found to be true: The more I'm around, the less I know and the 12 steps are probably the simplest and most rewarding spiritual path you will find.

 

Top 5 Recovery / Wellness Tools:

1) Meetings
2) Yoga
3) Weekly Podcast w/The Boys
4) NA Craft Beer
5) My 3rd step minute mantra: "Take this God, I don't want it."


Connect with Jeff.

Re(Pro) #44: Tawny Lara

Tawny Lara

Name: Tawny Lara

Age: 32

Location: New York, NY

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 11/29/2015

Creative niche: Writing / Event Coordination

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Jack Daniels, but I loved anything that would help me escape reality.

Your story in a nutshell:

My sobriety began as a year-long experiment. The thought of quitting booze forever seemed overwhelming, so I committed to spending my 30th year sober and blogging about the experience. There have been many ups and downs since I quit drinking, but a sober lifestyle is definitely what works for me. I'm now able to explore my creative side with a focused, productive approach. Sobriety has helped me find my voice as writer, created the space for me to try new things, and allowed me to be more present in my existing relationships. I'm now writing a book and hosting sober socializing events in New York City. It's amazing to see what life has given me after I made the decision to stop getting drunk and high.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1. Writing.
2.Yoga.
3. Meditation.
4. Support Group.
5. Friends/Family


Featured Creative Work - Fixed Up

Fixed up

Connect with Tawny.
 

sobrietea

Re(Pro) #43: Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts

Name: Sarah Roberts

Age: 45

Location: Ottawa, Canada

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/31/2002

Creative niche: Writing, cooking, entrepreneurship

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Nutshell

I drank almost daily for over a decade and at the age of 29, I got a DUI and I felt like my entire life had just crumbled down around me. Everything I'd been holding onto was shattered in that moment, and I knew I had no choice but to completely change my life. I quit my job. I moved across the city. I abandoned relationships that weren't serving me and I grabbed on tighter to ones that were. I enrolled in Business school and I busted my ass to prove to myself and everyone else that I could actually do something with my life. I graduated Summa Cum Laude but when I started looking for jobs, my criminal record got in the way. It was humiliating but it also pushed me towards entrepreneurship.

I kept my addiction and my sobriety a secret. I told almost no one about the truth of my life. I hid it by saying that I was "into health and fitness, so I don't drink" and I went about getting "into health and fitness" through the food I ate, and through exercise and through sleep and meditation and yoga. Yet, I started using sugar in the same way I'd used alcohol---alone, in my room, with a tub of ice cream and a spoon. I knew that if I was going to be able to keep my secret, I'd have to learn strategies to combat my cravings, so I set out to learn as much as I could about the brain and cravings and nutrition and food-as-fuel, not as a numbing agent. I also knew I'd have to get to the root of my pain, as alcohol and sugar were simply the symptoms of the problem.

I held on to my secret for over a decade until I finally launched my blog and shared the truth in my first post called "The Decision." Health and wellness became my recovery pathway. For the first time, I really started to understand the body-mind connection, and I became awed by this amazing vessel that carries me through my life. I share what I've learned with others through my blog and my book and my online course and my coaching programs.

I couldn’t have expected my life to evolve the way it has since sharing it, but it has been nothing short of extraordinary.
— Sarah Roberts

I am now able to share openly about my life with others and I am also thrilled to be co-creating Sobriety Starts HERE, a website filled with video interviews of recovery badasses (like YOU, Laura!**) sharing their stories of redemption. It is a passion project that is quickly taking up more and more of my time as I love having these conversations with REAL people who have been there and can help others struggling. I'd love for you to check it out at SobrietyStartsHERE.com.

Thank you, Laura, for allowing me to share here.
Your work matters and I adore you! xo
[Editor's note: Thank YOU, Sarah. That means the world to me.]

** Here's my interview with Sarah on SobrietyStartsHERE.com <3

Laura Silverman sits down with Sarah Roberts of Sobriety Starts HERE to share about her blog, The Sobriety Collective and more…

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Nourishing my body through food
2) Movement
3) Meditation
4) Regenerative sleep
5) Connecting with others in recovery.


Connect with Sarah

SSH

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...

xo,
Laura


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.

nutshell.jpeg

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

1-BUILD A FOUNDATION
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.

2-PHYSICAL SELF CARE
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.

3-CONNECTION
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.

4-STAY CREATIVE
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. 

5-READ BOOKS
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.

 
VRYRynda
 

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.


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