We had the good fortune of connecting with Ahbra Kaye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ahbra, how do you think about risk?
There are at least 2 kinds of risk taking. Taking a chance without knowing the results yet intuiting that the pain of staying still is greater than fear of moving forward. “Leap…and the net will appear.” The other kind involves setting aside consequences, fall out or risk to emotional and physical well-being in order to fill an internal emptiness. At 5+years of sobriety and recovery I have taken both kinds of risks. I have put my life (and others) in danger drinking and driving, ingesting poisonous substances and engaging in unhealthy relationships. I have jeopardized my sanity through behavior that was completely counter to who I believed myself to be. And I risked my relationship with my family through carelessness, selfishness and addiction.
Yet, that ability to do things that I didn’t believe myself capable of has also served me. I became an avid skier and scuba diver, traveled to remote places in the world and walked into 12-step meetings alone and desperate despite my fears. Walking through painful and joyful experiences without GPS yields surprising results.
I saw the fruits of flexing my risk-taking muscle at the start of Covid, when my partner, Leonard Buschel and I were deciding whether to go to a digital format or cancel the 2020 REEL Recovery Film Festival. After 11 years, that thought was untenable, how could we let down our filmmakers and audience?
So the REEL Recovery Film Festival went virtual. 88 films were shown over a 7-day period – and it went so smoothly that in addition to returning to in person festivals in Los Angeles and New York, the festival will be available through AppleTV, Roku and online.
It’s one of my favorite sayings and its so true -“leap… and the net will appear”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am grateful to work for a company that brings together my passions and talents. The most gratifying work I do is with other people in the recovery community. I love sharing my story and listening with compassion to others who are struggling through substance abuse issues. Seeing people grow and change and develop love for themselves gives me the strength to face any challenge. Through the REEL Recovery Film Festival I get to spread information, education and inspiration. The film festival marries my love of movies with my passion for spreading awareness of and ending the stigma that still surrounds addiction and mental health issues. Film is a multi-sensory medium that engages people emotionally and physiologically through their ears, eyes, minds and hearts. Movies create identification with its subject matter in a deep and profound way. I believe the REEL Recovery Film Festival can become an integral part the healing process for the 1 in 8 people in the US with substance use disorder.
This issue doesn’t just affect the individual but their families, friends and co-workers…in other words all of us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Los Angeles. As a third generation Angeleno whose grandmother was born in 1913 in Boyle Heights I’m proud to be one of the few natives of the city. I grew up on the westside and now reside in Studio City. There’s just so much to see here. With Covid it has been easier to get around and explore the pocket neighborhoods, I particularly enjoy the areas where you can see original LA architecture: Atwater Village, Larchmont, Hancock Park, Los Feliz, Toluca Lake/Burbank, Bel Air and Beverly Hills, Pasadena. The first thing I would do is to book a helicopter ride over all of the city, with its Birdseye view of everywhere from Malibu to Downtown with a nice pass over the Hollywood sign.
Sunday brunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, its a great place to see celebrities!
A bike ride from Venice to Hermosa Beach with lunch in one of the great boardwalk cafés.
Drive up PCH, stop at the Malibu Country Mart, long walk on the beach where the Colony is, paddle boarding by the Malibu Pier and dinner at Nobu.
A concert at the legendary Hollywood Bowl followed by a late night snack at Musso and Franks.
Watching the sunrise and drinking fresh brewed French roast on my balcony. I am constantly grateful to live in Los Angeles with all her alluring and endearing flaws.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am here today due to the love and support of family. My family of origin my mother, sister and particularly my three children who never gave up on me even when I had given up on myself.
My sober family, the men and women whose love, encouragement and honesty helped mold me into a woman of grace and dignity.
And my boss/business partner who, four years ago took a chance on a divorced/newly sober, doctor’s ex-wife and turned her into an associate editor, film festival and event producer, writer and web show host.
That’s my net-with the help of God.
Renee Ashton Leonard Buschel Kara Johnson