‘Shift & Shine’
Although Deborah Richards calls her first book, “Shift & Shine,” a memoir, the local life coach and equine therapist said she really wrote it “to help other parents through the painful journey” of learning how to become an addiction specialist, something she had to do when she discovered that her 22-year-old daughter was a meth addict in danger of killing herself.
“I was in denial. I thought I had the perfect daughter, but I discovered that drugs are an equal opportunity caller. It does not matter if you are wealthy or just getting by,” she said during a phone interview from her home in Montecito, where she lives in a cottage on two acres with her dog Daisy, a West Highland White Terrier commonly known as a Westie, and a horse named Patron, “just like the tequila.”
In the 271-page self-published book, Ms. Richards writes about “things I did not know before my experience that I think would be helpful to others in similar situations.”
• “Always put your loved one in a same sex facility. Otherwise, they focus on budding romances, instead of themselves.
• “The hardest lesson for me was to stop enabling. We love our children so much, it felt like anti-parenting to me at first.
• “Do not be an ostrich like I was, not acknowledging what your loved one is going through. Denial wastes so much precious time.
• “Always lend a hand for recovery.
• “If you are not sure if your loved one is using, get regular drug tests performed.
• “Read everything you can so that you learn quickly. What you don’t know, you don’t know.
• “Detach but don’t abandon.
• “Respond . . . don’t react.
• “Please be gentle with yourself.”
Ms. Richards also writes about the “absolute devastation” of her husband’s suicide five and half years ago.
“His name was Jake Hooker, and he was a song writer. He wrote the song that everyone knows, ‘I Love Rock and Roll.’ We were married for 23 years and lived in Malibu. He made me feel like the fairy on top of the Christmas tree,” said Ms. Richards who was born in Meopham, England, and grew up in the English countryside of Kent and graduated from Dartford Science and Technology College in Kent.
“I won a scholarship to attend East 15 Acting School, a British drama school in Loughton, Essex. and studied the Stanislaski method, which is a set of techniques used by actors to portray emotions on stage by putting themselves in the place of the character.”
In 1987, Ms. Richards moved to Los Angeles to escape an abusive marriage with a man 15 years her senior.
“I was 26 years old and came with a girlfriend to live the American dream. I worked at a variety at jobs — assistant for an attorney, hostess in a restaurant — before moving to Santa Ynez for a year and then to Santa Barbara for five years before marrying Jake and living in Malibu,” she said.
In 2015, Ms. Richards came back to Santa Barbara to live happily in what she calls her “hug house.”
“I am still single. I have become accustomed to living on my own, and if there is never to be another love like Jake for me, that’s OK . . . I realize how blessed I was to have had that love once in my life,” she writes in the epilogue of her book, which she titled “Shift and Shine because I learned how to shift my thoughts if I’m having a bad day and shine my light.”
Deborah Richards, a life coach and equine therapist, can be reached at Deborahshines@gmail.com