Struggle to Success

Today’s episode features a very special guest: me. Since I’m releasing episodes that contain stories from my live storytelling show and I perform in this show, sometimes these episodes are going to feature—well, me. (By the by, the show, which takes place every other month in LA, has been an LA Weekly pick of the week and is being developed into a video series.)

The story I tell here is about why someone like me should have never smoked pot—let alone gone to Amsterdam to eat a succession of space cakes.  For more about who I am when I’m not eating space cakes and losing a day of my life, click here. For more about the workshops I lead where I teach people to take their most disturbing or interesting experiences and make them into stories, click here. For more information about my online writing classes and coaching programs, click here.

For a list of events, so you can stay up to date on future storytelling shows, click here. If you want to see live broadcasts of the show, go ahead and Like my Facebook page, since that's where we broadcast them!

Direct download: Anna_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

To say I was excited to interview John Taylor would be the understatement of the century. As an allegedly together adult, I resisted the urge to tell him that my adolescent bedroom was papered with his image (covered in lipstick kisses, despite the fact that I didn’t and still don’t wear lipstick). In short, my inner 14-year-old was having a conniption fit while my outer adult had a glorious, insightful conversation with a brilliant, thoughtful man with over two decades of sobriety.

Those who only think of Taylor solely as Duran Duran’s pretty boy will be delighted to hear what an analytical and kind guy he is—a man who speaks openly about what it was like to have worldwide fame while he was still living at home with his parents and talks about a recovery meeting as a place where he’s thrilled to be able to meet people from all walks of life.

In this episode, we talked about his must-read autobiography In The Pleasure Groove, what it’s like to go from blaming everyone to taking responsibility for yourself, how no one really acts their age and the joys of watching soccer, among many other topics.

Direct download: john_taylor_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am PDT

Today’s episode features an absolute doll of a human being: Greg Behrendt.

In it, Greg tells a story from the Light Hustler live storytelling show which takes place the last Friday of every other month in LA.

His story veers from a night where he was wasted and cold and ended up with a burrito stuck to his hands but also touches on driving a car into the ocean and why we should bring our solutions and not our problems home.

When he’s not making Light Hustler audiences nearly pee their pants with laughter, Greg is performing (both as a comedian and musician) or writing (oh yeah; he’s the guy who co-wrote the seminal book He’s Just Not That Into You, among other bestselling books).

To see the calendar for future storytelling events, click here. To catch the live broadcasts of the shows, go ahead and give a like on Facebook, since we play every show on there.

Direct download: Greg_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Brad Vos is a mental health and addictions recovery advocate who, in his words, "promotes the opportunity, and not the sacrifice, that recovery provides." Canada-based, he's someone who's tried numerous roads to sobriety, including 12-step and SMART Recovery, but finds he has a "bad wolf" who can talk him out of staying on the right path.

But he's determined to let the good wolf take charge, something that's evident in his new project—the website Sobertunity, which also includes accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

Brad and I first got to know each other when he joined the accountability group I run with Sober Evolution's Austin Cooper and from day one, he's been active in the group—sharing updates, schedules, plans...and his struggles. He's therefore the ideal person to show the rest of the world the sort of stuff we do in there. He also happens to be very funny and as someone who's semi obsessed with people sharing their "light," I cherish any opportunity to let hilarity reign.

In this episode, we discuss escaping a soulless sales job, staying on the path and how animals can help with our recovery, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: Brad_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Most every addict who's been in therapy has lied to their therapist or psychiatrist.

The question shrinks know when you're lying? We asked LA board certified psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman for his take.

Direct download: josh_lying_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

It’s hard to picture Paul Churchill as an active alcoholic. He’s nevertheless got the back story to prove it—including years of destructive drinking, a DUI and a suicide attempt.

Yet no one could accuse him of resting on his laurels once he found sobriety in September of 2016. No, sir. He launched the podcast Recovery Elevator soon after getting into recovery and then, 20 episodes in, decided to start an accountability group. Now Recovery Elevator is something of an empire—with retreats, groups and more.

Still, all didn’t become shiny and perfect overnight. Instead, Paul wrestled with plunging too quickly into projects destined to drown him. He’s now stepped back slightly but still has the sort of fire that has inspired his followers and fans. In this episode, we discuss the impact pets can have on recovery, how acceptance truly is the answer and launching businesses because we were looking for things that didn’t exist, among many other topics.

OTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: Paul_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Some people suffer from depression and other mental issues that doesn't respond to medication. What are they—and their doctors—supposed to do?

Double board certified psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman lays out some options.

Direct download: treatment_resistent_josh_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

We all have stories. Some of us have funny ones. Others have tragic ones. If you're Natasha Vargas-Cooper, you have both.

If you listen to the podcast regularly, you know about Natasha but for anyone new around here...she is a wondrous sprite who graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a double major in history and public policy and has been published in such places as The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and GQ, among many others. Her book, Mad Men Unbuttoned, was praised as “a well-versed primer” by The New Yorker and “likely to become a trivia-lover’s bible” by The New York Times. Oh and in her spare time, she created the popular LA storytelling show Public School.

In this story, she discusses taking Ambien and then driving to 7-11 for cigarettes, the emails she shouldn't have sent and why being addicted to people is so much worse than being addicted to substances, among other (funny) (and tragic) things.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA.

Direct download: Natasha_Bipolar_Love_Interest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Addicts are increasingly more comfortable coming forward and sharing about their problems. But the same doesn't seem to be true for those suffering from mental illness. What can we do about that?

Dr. Josh Lichtman, a Los Angeles-based board-certified psychiatrist, breaks down his thoughts.

Direct download: josh_stigma_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Stephanie Wittels Wachs has endured something a sister should never have to experience.

In February of 2015, she lost her brother Harris to a heroin overdose.

Her brother wasn’t some low-bottom, down-and-out guy. Quite the opposite. He was actually nothing short of a legend in the comedy business, having been hired as a writer on The Sarah Silverman Show a year after graduating from college. From there, his career was on fire—he wrote on numerous MTV Movie Awards and was a writer and actor on Parks and Rec. When he died, he was on the verge of moving to New York to write on and star in Master of None with his friend Aziz Ansari. (In his spare time, he invented the word #humblebrag and wrote a book about it.)

In order to process her grief, Stephanie turned to the page…specifically to, where she wrote a piece called “The End of Empathy,” about a stranger’s reaction to their family’s grief. The post struck a cord and next thing Stephanie knew, she was writing a book. Well, that book, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss, is out now. And it is brilliant and juicy and wonderful and horrible and basically tells such a gripping tale of what it’s like to be the sister of a genius who just happens to be a drug addict that you will feel confident you actually knew Harris Wittels when you’ve put the book down.

In this episode, we talked about the surreality of talking about a book that only exists because your brother is gone, if there’s anything she would have done differently and the strange and even hopeful places her mourning has taken her, among many other topics.

Direct download: stephanie_wittels_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT