A Journey Towards Wellness, an interview with Jennifer Magazine.

“If there is one thing I’d like to get across in all of this it is: Reach out to your people. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you.”— Rynda Laurel


A Journey Towards Wellness, an interview Rynda Laurel in Jennifer Magazine.

Remote Photography: Dave Cooper
Interview by Jennifer Cooper

Rynda Laurel in Jennifer Magazine

“If there is one thing I’d like to get across in all of this it is: Reach out to your people. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you.”— Rynda Laurel

Roughly 22 million Americans are in recovery from addiction. That’s nearly 10% of our population. Nearly 40 million (18%) Americans deal with anxiety and 16 million suffer from clinical depression. And since all three of these challenges are often intertwined, it means there are a lot of people out there that deserve some support.

Rynda Laurel understands this. She is one of the 22 million in recovery and has personally battled depression. She’s also an incredibly talented and successful businesswoman.

She’s spent decades working with musicians, actors, and authors, and has a magical ability to spot talent and help them level up. Her client roster includes some of the greatest—I’m talking Chuck D & Public Enemy, Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, Jesse Dayton, Russell Brand—but she makes it clear that her role is only that of a catalyst. And yet, what an important role that is. A seed doesn’t grow without the sunshine and Rynda Laurel is pure light.

She’s also seen the cost of addiction up close and also the toll anxiety and depression can take on our bodies, minds, and spirits. And while she still works with artists, she’s also now directing her catalytic energy towards our collective wellbeing with VRYeveryday.

I chatted with Rynda about her experience, what people get wrong about addiction and mental health, and what keeps her moving forward in these challenging times.

I remember when I met you, you described yourself as a catalyst. Can you tell me a bit about that? What does that mean in terms of your work and life? 

A few years ago, Richard Branson put out a question asking if you could sum up what you do in five words what would they be? After thinking about all the different avenues my career and life have taken I came up with Catalyst: Turning Ideas into Reality.

What that means in terms of career is that I take the seed of an idea, then figure out the best way to help it grow to fruition. I do this for musicians, artists, authors, films, brands, companies, etc. I take their core strengths and identify the ideal next steps to maximize their growth.

I do the same in my personal life. If I have an idea, like “I want to live in Paris,” I start to go about ways to make it happen. The Universe usually conspires to help make that happen in interesting ways as well! Luckily, I have been able to create a wide range of opportunities for me and those I work with in this manner.

photo of Joshua Tree park taken in 2019 when Jen visited Rynda at her home.

“Active addiction is not a moral issue nor is it an act of self-control.”

— Rynda Laurel

You have been sober for many years now. What’s helped you over the years stay true to yourself?

I’ve been sober over 28 years. I think the most important thing for staying true to who you are is allowing yourself to recognize when something is or isn’t working. And if you find it’s not working, that you feel empowered to expand the search for wellbeing.

Life is a journey and the sober path can look different for different people on it. There really isn’t one right way to be on it. I had to recognize that when I needed to expand out of 12-step programs and use other methods to complete the puzzle.

In a way, it’s the same for jobs, where we live, our daily routines, etc. All of it is up for review to live the best life possible.

What do people get wrong about addiction?

The perception is starting to change a bit, but active addiction is not a moral issue nor is it an act of self-control. Those without addictive tendencies have a hard time fully grasping the idea that you can’t just stop something.

Sometimes that thing once gave you joy, but then it turned on you. Sometimes that thing was a solution to pain or imbalances already there. So it’s not as simple as, Stop! That mentality needs to go.

Then the idea of someone being lesser than, or judged harshly because they cannot stop brings up this “moral” issue. I believe when in active addiction we are operating on a lower frequency energetically and our life is usually in a form of chaos. But that doesn’t make anyone a lesser human.

People in active addiction are in the middle of dis-ease, they need compassion and support. Those in early recovery go through a lot of changes so they need understanding from everyone around them as well.

You’ve shared that you’ve struggled with clinical depression in the past. How are you doing now?

Considering 2020 in all its surreal insanity, I’m doing quite well!

In 2015, after years of 12-step work, yoga, and a constant search of various methods to feel better, I made a few life changing moves in multiple areas in my life. I physically moved to Joshua Tree from Hollywood. I made a choice to get off the anti-depressants that were no longer working for me. Instead of adding more or changing meds I went on the journey to replace those with natural solutions. Along with a lot of lifestyle changes, figuring out how to supply my body with the nutrients and supplements I needed was a game changer for my mental health.

I’ve also pulled together a ton of resources and rituals to better my life. Like everyone else, I still have ups and downs but I’m able to pull out of it faster and don’t go quite as low as in the past. I’ve been clinical depression free and off all psychiatric medication since 2015.

“People in active addiction are in the middle of dis-ease, they need compassion and support. ”— Rynda Laurel

What do people get wrong about mental health in general?

Those who haven’t experienced addiction, depression, anxiety, etc., can have a hard time understanding how to address it. So when someone says “Just snap out of it” or “Choose to be happy” or “It’s not that bad” they truly don’t know what it’s like. I know they’re trying to be helpful but it’s just not that simple. So it becomes patronizing.

Most importantly I think that the big myth of “being there” for people really needs to be discussed. People who are in a clinical depression are likely to isolate. So saying, “Reach out if you need me” isn’t something they’re going to do. They don’t want to be a burden and oftentimes they won’t be able to initiate engaging with others. So you “being there for them” isn’t enough.

If there is one thing I’d like to get across in all of this it is: REACH OUT TO YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you, they won’t.

Tell me about VRYeveryday. Why do you think it’s needed? 

I founded VRYeveryday with the mission to help support emotional wellness, mental health and biochemical recovery using all-natural supplements, education and ongoing mood support naturally.

We focus on the good “feels” when addressing such things as depression and anxiety. Even our packaging, names, and ethos is bright and infused with color psychology and good feelings.

That said, a ton of research and science-backed ingredients went into the formulations to make sure they fully support the neurotransmitters associated with mood. For those that understand what all of those are, we provide detailed information on our site. But for those who just simply want to “FEEL HAPPY” there is a formula that helps support that.

As to why it’s needed:

First, we need alternatives to pharmaceuticals. To be clear, I am not anti-medication. It can be lifesaving, but we are overprescribed and under-informed about the repercussions of long-term usage.

Second, when you go on a journey into the health food isles or search online so many products come up it can be completely overwhelming! This is where our simplicity comes in.

We also have some education and resources on the site, as well as consultation. We hope to expand both of these to a more robust program in the future.

Finally, stress, anxiety and depression lower the immune system response, so we have a lot of customers this year that are choosing our formulas for additional support during these tough times. Honestly, doesn’t everyone need this in 2020!?

photo of Joshua Tree park taken in 2019 when Jen visited Rynda at her home.

“The most important thing for staying true to who you are is recognizing when something is or isn’t working.”— Rynda Laurel

What holds you back? 

Time management. Taking on too many projects because I like to help people realize their dreams. Also perseverance. A lot of times I’ll start personal routines and rituals but not commit to them for long enough to really see the full benefits.

What moves you forward?

Curiosity. Continued learning and deep diving into a subject until I feel I know it well. Discovery of a new idea. Owning my own consulting business and VRY (if I don’t move forward it all goes away!) Seeing close friends and family. Knowing that no one will ever let me go homeless or hungry and that the Universe Provides.

What’s a question you’ve always wished people asked you but never do?

That’s a hard one! I guess “If you were to pass to the spirit world tomorrow, would you feel fulfilled with your life?” The answer every day needs to be yes, even if I am striving for more.  With Gratitude…