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Rewrite Your Narrative: How Lara Love Hardin Went From Addiction to Success (ep. 590)

Lara Love Hardin

Four-time New York Times bestselling collaborative writer Lara Love Hardin joins John O’Leary on the the Live Inspired Podcast to remind us we all have the power to rewrite our narratives to embrace the many lives we’re meant to live.

Lara Love Hardin is a four-time New York Times bestselling collaborative writer… yet for years, she lived in constant fear that someone would Google her and uncover her checkered past.

When a worsening addiction from prescribed painkillers lead to smoking heroin, Lara began stealing neighbors’ credit cards and other identifying information to buy groceries and gas after her cash went to buying drugs. Caught, Lara was convicted of 32 felonies and was sent to a year in County Jail, drug treatment and supervised probation.

Today, Lara joins us to share her downward spiral from soccer mom to opioid addict to jailhouse shot-caller and her unlikely comeback as a highly successful ghostwriter.

Hear Lara share how she learned to forgive herself and others, navigate life as a felon on probation, prove to herself that she is more good than bad, and much more.

My friends, today’s conversation is about lying and stealing. But more importantly it’s about healing, redemption and how we all have the power to rewrite our narratives to embrace the many lives we’re meant to live.

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  • “I read desperately.” As a child, reading was an escape for Lara’s chaotic environment, acted as her companions in an otherwise lonely world, and became her first addiction.
  • Lara believed that education mean inoculation and left Massachusetts to attend University of California Santa Cruz.
  • What started out as a legitimate prescription to Vicodin resulted in a 60 pill a day addiction.
  • 2 – 4 a.m.: Even today, Lara finds that she can’t lie to herself during this time of day
  • November 4, 2008: When the local sheriff department arrived to arrest Lara, she felt a sense of relief.
  • Facing 27 years in prison, Lara pled guilty to 32 felonies for identity theft and was sentences to one year in jail, one year in drug court and probation.
  • Earning the nickname Mama Love: In addition to learning to mediate and reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Lara would ghost write for other women in prison.
  • While working with the Dalai Lama on a book about joy, forgiveness, perspective and compassion, Lara was filled with shame and strived to be “good adjacent”.
  • The first book Lara co-authored was The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton which tells his story of spending 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • In her TEDx Talk Thieves of Hope, Lara shares the worst version of herself and it brought her a moment of lightness and freedom. Watch Lara’s TEDx Talk here.
  • “It’s hard to own your story but it’s a lightness. If not owning your story is weighing you down… it’s a lightness like no other drug I’ve ever taken.”
  • Voice for the voiceless: Lara has founded the Gemma Project to help women who are incarcerated by restoring hope, community and opportunity. Learn more about the Gemma Project here.
  • Get a copy of Lara Love Hardin’s book The Many Life of Mama Love here.

Did you enjoy today’s episode?

You’ll love my conversation with Andre Norman. At age 18, Andre received a prison sentence for 25 years. While in solitary confinement, he realized he didn’t want to die in jail. He spent the next decade transforming who he was into who he knew he could become. Hear Andre’s story on ep. 95 now.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Playfulness.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. I wouldn't go back in. I've rebuilt my life before and everything I need would be outside. I wouldn't risk it. Life can turn on you in a second. I wouldn't take that risk.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My mom passed away five years ago. We never got to have the long, hard conversations that I think I'm capable of having now.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Pain pushes until vision pulls.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. It's all going to be okay and don't stop writing.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. She made a lot of mistakes and she did a lot of good.