December 2014: Volume 1, Number 2
Ringo Starr: Rehab Pulled Me Through
The music business is a wild ride, isn’t it? The closer you come to the top the crazier it gets.
Ringo Starr should know. You can’t climb any higher than Paul, Ringo, John, and George with the success of the Beatles.
Starr joined the band in 1962, replacing the drummer, Pete Best. After the Beatles broke up in 1970, he went solo and produced several hit songs. In 1981, he married the Bond girl, Barbara Bach.
Unfortunately, by then Starr’s party life had created a serious drug and alcohol addiction. He would consume a bottle of champagne before lunch and finish the rest of the day in a haze of chemicals. His addiction continued to spiral downward through the 80s until he was consuming 16 bottles of wine every day.
Holy crap, that’s a lot of vino!!!!!
“Barbara fell into the trap because of me,” Starr said to Steve Dougherty and Victoria Balfour in a People Magazine interview. “She was an actress, who used to go to bed at 10:00 at night and get up at 8:00 every morning. Til we met. Then her career went the same way as mine. The result of being drunk was that nothing happened.”
Starr and Bach became the party couple. If there was a hot party in Los Angeles, they were there.
“I got involved with a lot of medications,” Starr told Jane Warren of Express Magazine. “You can listen to my records go downhill as the amount of medication went up.”
There are photographs of Starr that show him playing all over the world. Looking at them still amazes him. He has absolutely no memory of those concerts.
“It got worse,” he said to People Magazine. “The blackouts got worse, and I didn’t know where I’d been, what I’d done. I knew I had a problem for years. But it plays tricks with your head. Very cunning and baffling is alcohol.”
In 1988, Starr and Bach checked into a rehab clinic in Tucson, Arizona.
“I’m not a violent man,” Starr said in the Express Magazine interview. “But I was getting violent. And it was just painful waking up in the morning and starting drinking again.”
But that didn’t stop him from drinking during the flight to rehab. He arrived completely smashed. However, Starr soon realized the severity of his alcoholism. After that, he did whatever they told him. Rehab turned his life around, and he’s been sober since 1988.
“Eight days in I decided: I’m here to get help because I know I’m sick,” Starr told People Magazine. “Thank God, it pulled me through. I can never thank that clinic enough.”
But reentry into society wasn’t easy. After rehab, Starr’s sober life became more important to him than feeding his addiction. Like all recovering addicts, he needed to establish firm boundaries to protect his recovery.
Starr and Bach learned how to go to parties without drinking and leave before midnight. Likewise, they walked away from friends who couldn’t handle their sobriety.
Six months after rehab, Starr formed his “All Starr” band. Rocker friends like Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Nils Lofgren, Billy Preston, and Dr. John hit the road every year to perform with him. Twenty-two years later, All Starr is still touring. Rocker friends in the band change from year to year. But no matter. His fans love it!
Starr gives his vegetarian diet, working out every day, and meditation all the credit for his good health and youthful appearance. At 73, he bounced across the stage last year during the Grammies. His energy was contagious as he and Paul McCartney celebrated a 50-year tribute to the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Seeing Starr in action certainly makes a believer out of you.
And I’m totally on board with that. Rehab and Flip’s vegan recipes are the mix that works for us, too. We don’t exercise (what’s that??) every day like Starr. But we’re still above the grass and grooooooooovin to life.
Hey, that’s all that counts, right?
Flip’s Outta Sight Vegan Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free)
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
- ½ cup organic cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup organic brown sugar
- ½ cup organic coconut oil
- 1 cup organic rice flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup organic vegan chocolate chips
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Blend milk, vanilla, cane sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil in one bowl and set aside.
3.) Combine baking soda, baking powder, and rice flour in a separate bowl.
4.) Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir thoroughly.
5.) Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
6.) Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil and scoop out spoon-size balls of cookie mixture. Space each ball two inches apart.
7.) Bake for 10 minutes.
8.) Time to chow down on this melt-in-your-mouth yumminess!
Meditation and Addiction
“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky,” Ringo Starr said in one of his famous quotes about meditation, “because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation I can keep them molehills. I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself. Well, I’m getting happier all the time, which is very nice.”
Starr learned how to meditate in 1968 when the Beatles traveled to an ashram in India’s Himalayas to study with one of the great masters of meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“That’s all drugs and alcohol do,” Starr said in one of his famous quotes about addiction. “They cut off your emotions.”
Did you know there’s always an emotional cause for addiction? It’s true. Think about it. What’s bugging you, scaring you, making you anxious or stressed? Most addicts are afraid they can’t change these emotions, so they dull them with alcohol, drugs, or their addiction of choice.
But that isn’t true. You can change your emotions. And science has proved it.
“New research shows that we can alter the structure of the brain and reap benefits,” Ronald Alexander, Ph.D., told Psychology Today. “Sara Lazar, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hosiptal, discovered that the more one practices mindfulness meditation, the thicker the brain becomes in the mid-prefrontal cortex and in the mid-insular region of the brain. Changing your mind (or thought processes) actually causes changes in the brain.”
Meditation can change the physical structure of the brain? Wow! But that’s not all. There’s more.
“Mindfulness practice may positively affect the amount of activity in the amygdale, the center of the brain responsible for regulating emotions,” Alexander continues in Psychology Today. “The heart rate lowers, breathing deepens and slows, and the body stops releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream; these stress hormones provide us with quick energy in times of danger but have damaging effects on the body in the long term if they are too prevalent. By building new neural connections among brain cells, we rewire the brain, and with each new neural connection, the brain is actually learning. It’s as if we’re adding more RAM to a computer, giving it more functionality.”
Looks like Starr and the Beatles are on to something with meditation. But what else can it do for you?
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Releases accumulated stress
- Increases energy
- Relaxes muscles
- Eliminates stress-related body pain
- Reduces anxiety attacks
- Increases happiness and calmness by releasing serotonin
- Sharpens your focus and your ability to concentrate
- Improves your immune system
- Increases creativity
- Develops intuition
It’s easy to see why Starr is such a fan of meditation and why some rehabs teach meditation to recovering addicts. I guess it’s no surprise Paul McCartney is also a supporter of meditation. In 2010, McCartney, Starr, and Donovan raised money to teach a million at-risk children around the world how to meditate, giving them the skills to overcome the effects of the stress and violence in their lives.
Maybe after reading about all the benefits of meditation you’d like to try it, too. But how do you meditate if you never have before? It’s easier than you think. Here’s a simple, yet highly effective meditation technique.
- Find a comfortable position (sit or lie down).
- Close your eyes and imagine a solid gray wall.
- Focus on that gray wall and empty your mind of all thoughts.
- Sweep away any thoughts that invade your mind, while you focus on that gray wall. Don’t worry. Zillions of thoughts will come. It’s normal. Just dismiss them and calmly return your focus to the gray wall.
- After a few minutes you’ll feel your body relax. Accumulated tension will leave your muscles. Your breath will deepen and become slower.
- Meditate for at least ten minutes. Practice every day. Gradually increase your meditation time until you’ve reached thirty minutes. That’s a good goal to work toward.
The effects of meditation last all day. Suddenly, irritating people and situations no longer bother you. You’re calmer, happier, and your focus is sharper. If you stick with it, you’ll realize all the benefits I mentioned above.
The sense of peace that meditation brings to your mind, emotions, and body is truly amazing. This alone makes meditation worthwhile. Give it a try and see for yourself. Maybe, like Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, you’ll also become a fan of meditation. It’s definitely one of the “good” addictions.
Dear Flip and Flop
Hey, we know you’ve got questions, things you’ve been wondering about us or whatever. So go ahead and ask. You can ask us anything. Really. We’ll answer all your questions in this column, depending on how many brain cells are firing (you know how it is). Send your questions in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer them as soon as we can. Or we’ll try. Maybe. We hope.
Do you wear perfume? If so, what’s your favorite scent? (soberflowergirl68)
I adore vanilla and always have. I’ve worn lots of vanilla scents over the years. The perfume I wear now is “Vanilla Lace” (Victoria’s Secret). Love the vanilla and musk combination in that one. The body spray and body lotion ROCK. My fav organic body lotion is “Tropical Vanilla” (Out of Africa). I’ve gone through many bottles of all of these. Yummmmm!
I’ve been in recovery for a year. But I still think about drugs every day. Will this ever stop? (cleandaybyday)
Probably not. Rehab is just the beginning. That’s why they call it “long-term recovery.” It’s a lifelong process. The addictive mind always wants its fix. That’s why you have to find a “good” addiction to feed it. Meditation is a good choice. Athletic activities like golf, tennis, running, or working out are also good. Friends tell me these are highly addictive, too. I wouldn’t know, couch potato that I am. Flip gets her fix from vegan cooking. She’s become a pro at it. When her addictive mind drives her nuts, she heads to the kitchen and starts baking. Hey, works for me. Btw, have you tried her chocolate chip cookie recipe? Outta sight, man. Totally!
The way you kept rescuing your alcoholic ex-husband cracks me up! I can totally relate with my old man. Did your ex ever go to rehab and get sober? (youbetyourbippiechick)
No. And that’s why we’re divorced. My dad was an alcoholic, so I know the drill. I was clean and in long-term recovery when I married my ex. He didn’t drink for years. Then he got in with a bad crowd, started hanging out at bars with them every night, and became an alcoholic like his new friends.
I was shocked. Can you imagine? My worst nightmare had come true. If you’re the child of an alcoholic, you know what I mean. You got out of that situation as soon as you could, and it’s the last thing you wanted as an adult. But there it was. Suddenly, I was watching him like a hawk, all those little signs when he came home from the bar every night that would tell me how much he’d been drinking. Just like when I was a kid with my dad. It was horrible to find myself in that position again.
Alcohol turned my ex into a stranger. He was cranky and mean all the time and NOT the man I married. Alcohol changed his personality so much he wasn’t anyone I would have dated. And I NEVER would have married a man like that. I had to walk on eggshells with him all the time like I did with my parents. It was awful. The sweet, loving guy I married was gone, and I was stuck with this heartless, narcissistic stranger. Yuck!
I rescued him for three years. I wanted to give him a chance to realize how his alcoholism was destroying our marriage. I wanted him to go to rehab. He never did. None of it. You can’t fight the bottle in this kind of situation. The bottle always wins. I learned that as a kid. So we grew apart and eventually split.
It was the best decision for me. And that’s the thing. Everyone is different. You have to do what’s best for you, whatever that might be. Listen to your heart. It will always lead you in the right direction.
Does Flip really wear cowboy boots all the time? I can’t imagine that! (winelessinNYC83)
She does. She’s a mountain chick from the Appalachians, and they live in their boots. Won’t wear any other kind of shoes. A good pair of cowboy boots lasts a decade or more. Especially her favorite brand, Ariat. When one pair wears out she buys a new pair, and it lasts for another 10-15 years. But that’s my Flip. Gotta love her, dude!