“Radical Authenticity”: Leslie M. Browning on Sharing Our Stories About Trauma, Dark Times, and Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Leslie M. Browning set out to understand her own trauma, not to write a book. But, as Leslie discovered, intentions can have their own glorious and wild mind, and she ended up with the powerful memoir, To Lose the Madness: Field Notes on Trauma, Loss and Radical Authenticity, born out of her journals. She and Susan explore the ways in which mental illness, suicide, and the social pressure to “do well no matter what”  hide in the shadows in our culture of ‘informed denial.’


Meet This Episode's Guest

Leslie M. Browning

L.M. Browning is an award-winning author of twelve books. In her writing, Browning explores the confluence of the natural landscape and the interior landscape. In 2010, she debuted with a three-title contemplative poetry series. These three books went on to garner several accolades including a total of 3 pushcart-prize nominations, the Nautilus Gold Medal for Poetry, andForeword Reviews’ Book of the Year Award. She has freelanced for several publications and has a biannual interview column in The Wayfarer magazine in which she has interviewed dozens of notable creative figures such as Academy Award-Nominated filmmaker Tomm Moore, Peabody-winning host of On Being Krista Tippett, and celebrated poet David Whyte. Balancing her passion for writing with her love of learning, Browning is a graduate of the University of London, a Fellow with the International League of Conservation Writers and sits on the Board of the Independent Book Publishers Association. In 2011, she opened Homebound Publications. In early 2018, following the release of To Lose the Madness and the TEDx Talk she presented at Yale University’s TEDx Conference based on her own journey with successive trauma and search for transcendence,Browning founded the RadicalAuthenticity.Community  website, a community of storytellers who, by sharing our own journey with emotional struggle, help to normalize mental illness and dispel the stigma surrounding it. She is currently working to complete a B.A. in Creative Writing with a double minor in Journalism and Psychology at Harvard University’s Extension School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 
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Falling Back In Love With Living: A Conversation With Katie McKenna About Life After Traumatic Injury

We’ve all used or heard the phrase “I feel like I was run over by a mack truck” ~ said mostly in response to life’s little to medium bumps in the road. Ten years ago Katie McKenna was literally run over by an 18 wheel truck. She lived to tell the tale and wrote a “brave and funny memoir” about it ~ How To Get Run Over By A Truck. The accident not only changed her life. It transformed her life. From Old Katie to New Katie ~ it marked the beginning of her journey to fall back in love with living. “Trauma can define you or redefine you,” Katie says. “My spirit is strong and continuing to grow.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Katie McKenna

 

Katie McKenna is a professional fund-raiser, life coach, writer and motivational speaker living in Brooklyn. She has given talks at high schools, universities, hospitals, medical schools and corporations across the country. She runs a blog called Small Bites and Little Victories and is an expert on the best date spots in New York City. How to Get Run Over by a Truck is her first book.

 

Find out more about Katie on her website!

Order a copy of Katie's book: How to Get Run Over by a Truck here!

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“Connecting Makes My Heart Sing:” A Conversation with the Visionary Laurie Meadoff

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Laurie Meadoff envisions a world without Barriers and Prejudices. From the beginning she was drawn to the power of the arts ~ giving form to feeling, understanding a viewpoint, a story, by walking the shoes, by being that person. She observed how people put down preconceived notions and ideas when they got into a creative space together. Creativity moves us across borders, around barriers, through prejudices ~ “Humanity walks in the room and things shift” ~ Laurie believes in the ‘infinite possibilities’ and her work inspires us with its call to move into Action.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 
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Laurie was Executive Producer and content developer for The American Grandparents Association producing a 13 part PBS series called Feel Grand with Jane Seymour focusing on health and well being. She also produced a web series with Deepak Chopra called Timeless You. Additionally, Laurie was nominated for an Emmy in 2016 as an Executive Producer for The World Cup of Hip Hop, a groundbreaking online global music competition
which was nominated in the ‘Original Interactive Programming’ category. Laurie also consulted for Playing Forward, a Tech company producing interactive and social emotional learning content for kids' entertainment and she helped launch The Vroom. Laurie Inc. and Team makes vital connections for businesses and community engagement strategies.

Laurie served as CEO of Cancer Schmancer, a groundbreaking women’s Health Advocacy organization founded by actress Fran Drescher. Laurie’s innovative work on behalf of women included the creation of Trash Cancer home parties produced by Humana focused on prevention, which reached over 28,000 people. Laurie also worked with her team to create Fran Vans, which screened women in need in both NYC and LA.

Laurie consulted for The Goldie Hawn Foundation with strategic planning for the launch of their social emotional learning program, MindUP. There, Laurie assembled the organization’s board, designed the marketing strategy, and produced a major fundraiser in New York City that resulted in palpable success for the Foundation.

Laurie Meadoff

Laurie Meadoff is CEO of Laurie Inc. and Team, a company designed to innovate connect and activate brands and media from around the world. With extensive experience in executive production, resourceful collaboration, and strategic planning, Laurie masterfully uses her vast network to build bridges and devise projects with significant and resounding societal influence.

Recently Laurie launched Authentik Inc with partners Tony
Krantz and Derrick Ashong. Authentik Inc is an innovation firm based out of NY and LA. Authentik Inc helps top brands stay culturally and socially relevant for the next generation. The team of world-class producers, change agents and millennials work with businesses to revolutionize meaning, message and impact.
 

As CEO of Chat Ventures, she executive produced programming for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, HBO Family, MTV and VH1 and a host of international broadcasters. In addition to overseeing creative and strategic vision for the company, Laurie then formulated Chat the Planet, a global dialogue initiative committed to using media and online dialogue tools as a means of breaking down barriers reaching 350 million homes worldwide. As a part of this endeavor, Laurie co-created and executive produced the Webby award-winning series Hometown
Baghdad, which reached three million web viewers in the first week and aired on The Sundance Channel and National Geographic International in long form. With experience filming in South Africa, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Australia, and Jordan, Laurie’s ability to imaginatively and insightfully capture a diverse range of subjects is exemplified. Laurie has spoken globally and was a part of Cultural Diplomacy panels’ for the Brookings Institute in Doha for three years along with speaking in engagements in Hong Kong and India.

Consulting for the Dali Lama’s Connection for Change event, Laurie developed and produced Dinner Dialogues
as a grass roots engagement tool for people to host salons targeted on the theme of wellness. She also helped
produce major events for Deepak Chopra’s Alliance for the New Humanity for several years bringing the world’s
top leaders together for shared dialogue. Also, as a consultant for The Harold P Freeman Institute she was
essential in furthering the mission of Patient Navigation through partnerships with Accenture Strive and other
corporate and grass roots partnerships.

Laurie is the Founder and President Emeritus of The CityKids Foundation. Founded in 1985, The CityKids Foundation has worked to engage and motivate young people from diverse demographics to positively impact their lives, their communities and the world using their voices. 

From Comparison to Inspiration: Curating an Anti-Anxiety Environment with Liz Miles

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“Be in control of social media. Curate your social media life. Change it from comparison and competition to inspiration and challenge.” This is just one of the many valuable suggestions to come out of Susan’s conversation with Liz Miles, a 26 year old “millenial” navigating her life in NYC. Incredibly bright and articulate, Liz talks about her beginning days as an 18 year old college student with anxiety who needed help. She got that help (listen in to hear how) and is now traveling with a tool box full of various practices, ideas, exercises and support. Find out what’s in Liz’s tool box and see what speaks to you!!


Meet This Episode's Guest

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ELIZABETH MiLES

 

As the Director of Australia and New Zealand at the International WELL Building Institute, Liz provides technical resources to WELL projects and WELL Accredited Professionals in Australia and New Zealand, leads the regional expansion of WELL and supports the internationalization of the WELL Building Standard.

Prior to joining the IWBI, Liz was with Delos as a Director on the Solutions team, where she provided consulting to project teams in pursuit of WELL Certification. At Delos, Liz also founded and chaired the Workplace Wellness Committee, where she led the development and implementation of various internal wellness initiatives. Liz's professional background spans both the non-profit and real estate sector, including program evaluation and grant research for an international health and human rights organization, the Heartland Alliance, fundraising and development for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and property management for residential and commercial properties in the U.S..

Among the first to be accredited as a WELL Accredited Professional and having served as the consultant on several of the first WELL projects in the world, Liz brings extensive knowledge and experience in the integration of wellness in the built-environment, and more specifically, expertise in the WELL Building Standard. Liz is also a WELL Faculty, LEED Green Associate, a licensed New York Real Estate Salesperson, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in French from New York University.

Compassionate Care: The Happiness in Giving Service With Jessica MacLeod

Jessica MacLeod, PhD, is the nurse practitioner who takes us inside the world we see in the documentary Invisible Patients ~ a film born out of her years tending to the elderly and gravely ill, people who are housebound and falling through the cracks of our healthcare system.  

Jessica talks with Susan about her personal burnout from  being on the front lines, the obstacles in our culture and in our health-care system that neglect the people who need health care the most, and how the idea of “teamwork” within the hierarchical structure of our medical system is slow in coming.

The five years in service was a steep learning curve for Jessica; joyous, eye opening, and at times overwhelming. She learned about her own limits, the need to balance work/life, and how to mediate the guilt of leaving her co-workers and patients by turning it into advocacy for better care for the marginal in our society.


Meet This Episode's Guest

Jessica MacLeod

Jessica MacLeod received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT in 1996. She went on to receive a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (2003) and a PhD in Nursing Science (2009) from Indiana University in Indianapolis, IN.

Her nursing career includes bedside nursing on a renal – telemetry unit at a large teaching hospital in Connecticut, a staff nurse at a nursing home for patients with dementia in Grantham, England, and a college health nurse.

As a nurse practitioner she has worked in family practice and a home based primary care practice.

She lives in Evansville, Indiana with her husband James, daughter Eilidh, and sons Calum and Gavin.

 

Visit the Invisible Patients website for more information about the film!

 
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I really just want the audience to see the people I see – how they live, what challenges they face in terms of health, economics, addiction, lack of education. I just want people to know that these invisible patients are here, among us – they’re in our communities, and we need to do more to take care of them.
— Jessica Macleod, Nurse Practitioner, THE INVISIBLE PATIENTS
 

Speaking the Language of Joy with Beate Sigriddaughter

Beate Sigriddaughter is a poet, a writer across genres, a ballroom dancer and someone who makes the effort to “put poetry into practice” on a daily basis. She is an encourager, celebrator and facilitator of other women’s voices through her blog, Writing in a Women’s Voice. She grew up in Nurnberg, Germany reading fairy tales and playing in WWII ruins, learning to read at the age of 6, when she “disappeared” into books.

Her mother (who she honours with her last name) was a “trapped bird” in the conventions of her time, but nevertheless made freedom possible for Beate, encouraging her to go to America at 16 as an exchange student.

Beate recognizes her own daily struggle between gratitude and dissatisfaction, and efforts to create a language of joy that brings beauty to the world, helping us rise above our habitual  language of criticism and negativity. She writes “to make real what is most important” ~ joy, love, gratitude. “Poetry is action,” she says, “to take the most sacred pieces of my soul into practice,” and, she adds with a laugh, “to make peace sexy and exciting!!” Yes! Why not?


Meet This Episode's Guest

Beate Sigriddaughter

Beate grew up in Nürnberg, Germany, not far from the castle, reading fairy-tales and playing in World War II ruins. After graduating from a Lutheran girls high school, she studied at Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences, which had until shortly before been a Catholic boys college. She graduated 10th in my class with a B.A. in English and Philosophy and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

While at Georgetown University she studied with poet Roland Flint, former poet laureate of Maryland, and befriended late science fiction writer Roger Zelazny and his family.

Beate has published short stories and poetry, several books of poems and novels, and some other not easily categorized books. Some of her publications were under former names, Beate Goldman and Beate Murray. Several of her published short stories were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She won her first poetry prize in 1983 and the latest two poetry prizes in 2018, with a handful of other prizes in between. In 2017 Beate was named poet laureate of Silver City, a position she shares with co-poet laureate Jack Crocker.

Beate has also spent many years teaching ballroom dance and competing professionally in the American Rhythm division. She has taught ballroom dance at the Aurora Community College, Metro State College and The University of Northern Colorado, as well as privately at Have Dance Will Travel in Santa Fe, and at Booth’s Dancesport Ballroom in Denver, Colorado. 

She has facilitated one of several critique groups of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for over two years, and was also a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild. From 2006 to 2009, Beate was the fiction editor of Moondance, a woman’s literary ezine. For a time she orchestrated the Glass Woman Prize to celebrate other women's voices, funding the prize with ten percent of her own income.

Beate also hosts a celebration of other women's voices to the blog Writing In A Woman's Voice where she posts poetry and prose written by women or in a woman's voice. 

 

See a full list of Beate's books here.

Find out more about Beate on her website!

 Photo by Cheryl Thornburg

Photo by Cheryl Thornburg

"Even if we are indeed all illusions, then let's make this the best and most beautiful and compassionate illusion possible." 

~Beate Sigriddaughter

Opening Creative Doors: The Joyful Terror of Writing with Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington is an award winning playwright, lyricist, librettist, and most recently a novelist. She chats with Susan about her creative process, the need for beginner’s mind, and her long career as a writer across many genres. She loves opening creative doors that terrify her ~ case in point ~ taking a playwriting course in college with the daunting challenge that everyone must read their work aloud! Going through that door changed her life.

Originally thinking she wanted to be a novelist, she discovered theater, an art form based on her passions of language, literature, words, dance, and music. Likewise, when she won the Kleban award at the age of fifty, she used it to say STOP! to her twenty-five years of working and collaborating in theatre, and decided to write a novel. She is now on her third. She values the joy and creative energy of being a beginner, “knowing too much can be a burden,” so she finds ways to stay curious and in an act of discovery with her writing ~ One of her secrets? She reads everything aloud. “Music is in everything I write,” she says, “My ear is smarter than my eye.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington, award winning playwright, lyricist and librettist, winner of the 2008 Kleban Award for “most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre,” has written dozens of plays, musicals, operas and radio plays which have been produced in 28 states, Canada and Europe, in venues ranging from Off-Broadway to Houston Grand Opera to the Paris Cinemateque. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England.  Additional awards include a Boston IRNE Award for Best New Play, a Bunting Institute Fellowship at Harvard/ Radcliffe, a Whiting Foundation Grant-in-Aid, the Joseph Kesselring Award for Drama, a New England Emmy, and a Quebec Cinemateque Award. Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  She has also been a frequent guest artist at Tufts, Harvard, Wellesley, Skidmore, and the University of Iowa.  She was the 2014 Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence at UMASS Lowell.

A Catalog of Birds, her second novel, published by Europa in 2017, has been praised by The Washington Post, CONSEQUENCE literary magazine and others. Alice Bliss, (Penguin/ Viking) her first novel, widely acclaimed in print and online and a Boston Globe bestseller, won the 2012 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction. Alice Bliss was published in Italy, Denmark and the UK, where it was a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick. In addition, Playwrights Horizons in NYC has commissioned Alice Bliss, the musical with composer Jenny Giering, librettist Karen Hartman and lyricist Adam Gwon. A workshop of the musical will take place in 2018 in NYC, with Mark Brokaw directing.

 

Find out more about Laura's work here: http://www.lauraharringtonbooks.com

Or click below to purchase on Amazon:

A Catalog of Birds

Alice Bliss

 

 
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Stripping Away Our Masks: Finding Our Common Humanity Through Film with Gabriele Schafer

Gabriele Schafer was born in Germany and from the age of eleven grew up in America. Being “different” at that age was painful; she didn’t fit in, wasn’t accepted by her peers, and longed to return to Germany - and then fate intervened. She was cast as Lady MacDuff in a reading of Macbeth in junior high school.

The warm encouragement she received put her on a life’s path toward acting; Yale Drama School and the co-founding (with her husband) of a socially engaged theatre company, Thieves Theatre (now International Culture Lab).

Through her many years of dedication to acting in film and theatre, her co-directing of ICL, and an immersion in Butoh (a Japanese Dance Form) her motivating force has always been “to communicate and transform by stripping away all the masks to find our common humanity; to leap into the radical acceptance of yourself and the world, to discover that you are enough, just as you are.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Gabriele Schafer

Gabriele was born and raised in Germany, educated and trained in theater in the US.  She is an actor, producer and translator committed to political and social engagement for over 40 years. Since 1980, she has been co-artistic director with her husband Nick Fracaro of International Culture Lab, dedicated to providing opportunities for artists from across the world to explore contemporary issues through jointly created projects. She holds and MFA from the Yale School of Drama and a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

Find out more about Gabriele from her website: gabrieleschafer.com

And don't forget to check out her theatre company: intlculturelab.org


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“The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.”

~ Annie in “Bull Durham”

Heal Ourselves, Heal others: Transforming Consciousness Through Filmmaking with Gretl Claggett

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Like all good story tellers, actor/poet Gretl Claggett came into filmmaking through her own intriguing narrative. Her main character in a novel she had written had a backstory of childhood sexual abuse. The condition for publishing the novel was to excise that backstory. She said “No.”

After being shut down, she courageously took that story of abuse - which was her own - and made the short film Happy Hour: a beautiful artful film which helps people see  the conscious and unconscious complicity inherent in childhood sexual abuse.

Gretl’s abuse began when she was very young and continued until she was 16, when she finally told her mother. She talks with Susan about how acting saved her life - allowing her to become other people, escape her own reality - and her healing journey through the deep labyrinth of recovery - the difficult work of peeling back the layers of rage and shame, at the perpetrator, her parents and herself.

Gretl’s mission is “to create powerful stories through the medium of film and other innovative technologies that entertain and transform consciousness.” She is well on her way!


Meet This Episode's Guest

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Gretl Claggett

GRETL CLAGGETT (Writer/Creative Director/Filmmaker) hails from Hannibal, Missouri, also Mark Twain’s boyhood home. Her first film Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore — is based on a poem from her book, MONSOON SOLO: Voices Once Submerged (WordTech, 2012).


Happy Hour screened as an official selection at 17 festivals, winning several awards and honors, and garnering praise from Oscar-winning Writer/Director Robert Benton: “Happy Hour is a lush, elegiac film about an extremely difficult subject and Ms. Claggett handles it masterfully.”


The film is now available on iTunes and Amazon in association with a nonprofit campaign: all download proceeds go to a small group of nonprofits whose focus is treating and preventing sexual abuse and promoting healthy relationships.


Gretl wrote and directed Sony's first-ever 4K 360° cinematic music video, which premiered at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show and was featured in Sony’s activation at SXSW. As an actress, she performed at many New York theaters — such as Playwrights Horizons, Circle in the Square, Soho Rep, La MaMa and HERE — and at many regional theaters, including Actors
Theater of Louisville. She holds MFAs in Poetry, Creative Nonfiction and Acting, and is currently casting her next film, STORMCHASER, plus writing her first feature-length script.


When not developing her own projects, Gretl leads award-winning creative on large events, such as Entertainment Weekly’s inaugural festival, PopFest (2016, Downtown LA), and IBM’s Amplify Conference on Watson Cognitive Marketing (2017, Las Vegas). One of Gretl’s specialties is merging live performance with state-of- the-art multimedia.


Gretl is passionate about using innovative technologies to organically tell visceral stories that
entertain and transform.

A Lionheart of Passion: Claude Kerven on Filmmaking

Claude Kerven is a filmmaker, screenwriter, director and teacher of filmmaking. He worked at his university’s radio station and its TV station because it was fun! - and only by happenstance discovered that there was such a thing as a degree in filmmaking - a degree he then got from NYU graduate school. He had much early success; a short film which received a student Academy Award got him an agent, followed by a stint of making short films for SNL.  A turn through Hollywood as a young director brought disappointment, a turn into teaching and parenting brought love. After years of putting filmmaking to the side, he is rediscovering the energy and joy in the creative process by challenging himself with a new genre, a musical! He has sage words of advice for anyone thinking about entering the world of filmmaking as a career. “If you don’t feel you have to do it, it may not be the right thing for you,” he says. “Having creativity is not enough. Being talented is not enough. A huge lionheart of passion and an endless supply of perseverance is needed to survive.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

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Claude Kerven

Claude Kervens’s career began with the debut of his short film, “Candy Store,” which won an Academy Award for Best Dramatic Student Film. In 1982, he directed a series of Afterschool Specials for ABC-TV, including the Emmy Award winning “Starstruck” and the Director’s Guild of America nominated “High School Narc.” Kerven also directed over 25 short films for Saturday Night Live, including the much celebrated “Synchronized Swimmers.” His most recent directorial work, “They Never Found Her,” starred Madmen’s Elisabeth Moss and Fargo’s Peter Storemare. In 1990, Kerven co-authored “Mortal Thoughts,” for Columbia Pictures, starring Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel and Demi Moore.

Claude's Favorite Movie Quotes

Since I love comedies most of all, here are a few quotes from one of my absolute favorites, “The Sunshine Boys,” written by Neal Simon.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, Al Lewis (George Burns) and Willy Clark (Walter Matthau) play a pair of feuding vaudeville comedians (Lewis and Clark, naturally) who performed together for 47 years before finally calling it quits. A network genius then has the brilliant idea of reuniting the duo for a TV special about the history of comedy.

Here are a few of the most memorable lines. There are so many more.

 

Al Lewis: Oh, that Sol Burton. He died?

Willie Clark: Last week.

Al Lewis: Where?

Willie Clark: In Variety.

 

Ben Clark (Willie’s nephew): You’re not supposed to eat pickles. It’s high sodium.

Willy Clark: I spit out the sodium.

 

Ben Clark: I’m getting chest pains. You give me chest pains!

Willy Clark: It’s my fault you get excited?

Ben Clark: Yes! I only get chest pains on Wednesdays!

Willy Clark: So come Tuesdays.

Everything is Deeply OK: Midlife Awakening! with Jett Psaris

Before she wrote her book, Taking the Midlife Leap, Jett Psaris went through her own midlife awakening, where she experienced the depression of her soul’s withdrawing of its energies from the aims and appetites of first adult life. Fifteen years later, after a conscious investigation of her own and her clients’ midlife journeys, she has an understanding of the universal patterns inherent in this crucial transformation. She acknowledges it can be a scary passage, grappling with the profound question - “A part of us has to die to transform and a part of us dies if we don’t. Which part will prevail - what has been or what will be?” Midlife presents us with the paradox of the chrysalis ~ to the caterpillar it is a death chamber ~  to the butterfly it is a birth chamber. In a culture that favors youth and youthful pursuits we are not encouraged to be accepting of death, to embrace slowing down, to sink into silence, to be in solitude. Yet midlife awakening, aka The Midlife Leap, asks us to do just that ~ to enter ‘the hermit stage’ ~  to withdraw a bit, to detach, to retreat from the more superficial, noisier part of life. “The journey becomes one of mystery, not mastery” - a discovery that “Everything is deeply ok.” This is the spiritual awakening available to us in midlife.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 Photo courtesy of www.jettpsaris.com

Photo courtesy of www.jettpsaris.com

Find out more from Jett's website

or follow her on Facebook

Jett Psaris

Jett Psaris’ work is about helping others transform psychologically, deepen spiritually, and cultivate soulfulness in every aspect of life.

She is the co-author of Undefended Love, a Nautilus Award finalist for its “distinguished contribution to conscious living and positive change;” Undefended Love has enjoyed a 5 star rating on Amazon.com for most of the past 17 years.

She has also authored a popular online course about the transformative stages of midlife entitled Taking the Midlife Leap, One Step at a Time. Most recently, Jett has published Hidden Blessings: Midlife Crisis as a Spiritual Awakening, a book that Patricia Holt, former book critic with the San Francisco Chronicle, writes is the “best book on midlife” she’s ever reviewed.

What's your Poison? talking about cellphone addiction with Dr. Jim Roberts

Dr. Roberts is a marketing professor who has been studying consumer behavior for 30 years. Beginning with compulsive buying (aka shopping addiction), - ‘addiction’ being defined as an action or behavior you continue despite the negative consequences - he moved into social media and technology addiction.

His book Too Much of A Good Thing talks about the tipping point with technology, where healthy, productive use turns into destructive use. He enlightens us about the phrase phubbing - snubbing others in favor of our smartphones. We have all been either victim or perpetrator of phubbing - which can lead to conflict, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness in our relationships in love and in life.

How one uses social media can result in positive and negative feeling states -  active use can help us feel positive and passive use (called lurking and creeping) can make us feel competitive and upset and therefore have a negative effect.

So what can we do with our smartphones and technology, both a necessary evil? “We can learn to use these devices in a healthy way by wresting some of the power away from social media and back to us.” Dr. Roberts suggests we find “the digital sweet spot and use technology for all the wonderful things it can do for us.” And finally, while driving, lock your cell phone in the trunk!!!


Meet This Episode's Guest

james Roberts

James A. Roberts is the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Baylor University (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and has been a member of the marketing faculty since 1991. He has had approximately 80 articles published in numerous academic journals. He is also the author of two books, “Shiny Objects” (Harper Collins) and “Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to your Smartphone?”

Dr. Roberts is a nationally recognized expert on consumer behavior and has been quoted extensively in the media and has appeared on the CBS Early Show, ABC World News Tonight, ABC Good Morning America, NBC The Today Show, and has been quoted and/or featured on The O’Reilly Factor, The Doctors on CBS, , Time.com, US News & World Report, New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Glamour, and many other newspapers, magazines, websites, and television appearances.

Current research interests include the pursuit of happiness through money and material possessions and investigating the antecedents and consequences of smartphone addiction and its impact on personal happiness and professional productivity.

 
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Check out Jim's website: www.smartphoneloveaffair.com. or follow him on Twitter: @ProfJimRoberts.

Compassion Centered Addiction Treatment with Dr. Daniel Mierlak

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Dr. Mierlak is a psychiatrist who has specialized in addictions since 1995. He brings his knowledge of the advances and changes in the treatment of addiction to this fascinating and informative conversation with Susan. His practice ranges from work with addicted homeless mentally ill men at The Freedom Institute to celebrities in his upper east side office.

“There is not a one size fits all treatment for addiction.” He encourages all kinds of techniques, from AA to customized cognitive and behavioral methods, i.e. breaking down how you think about the substance, setting up obstacles to access, changing routines in your day to avoid triggers, etc. A more recent treatment is “harm reduction,” where the patient wants help but doesn’t want to stop using the substance, so the ‘how’ to reduce becomes the creative part of the work. There are a lot of forces working against patients coming in with addiction problems, hence encouragement is key to reduce the stigma, remove the moral judgement, normalize the problem.

“Everyone has their struggles, their demons - including the therapist - we’re all in the same boat,” he says. “Don’t give up hope. It’s a very difficult process. Keep looking until you find the person who you think can help YOU.” To this end, every patient is a clean slate, Dr. Mierlak doesn’t assume he knows what’s best, he listens attentively to the stories his patients tell him, to help discover what is best for them.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Dr. Daniel Mierlak

 

Daniel Mierlak is a psychiatrist, board-certified in General and Addiction Psychiatry.  Dr. Mierlak received his MD and PhD from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn in 1989.  He completed his residency training in psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College, Payne Whitney Clinic, in 1993, and completed his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University Medical Center in 1996.   He has been Medical Director of the Freedom Institute, an outpatient chemical dependency treatment center in Manhattan, since 2008, and is on the voluntary faculty of the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr. Mierlak has worked in hospital, clinic and private office settings, treating a wide array of psychiatric and addictive disorders.  In addition to teaching and lecturing, he has conducted research on psychiatric illness in HIV patients, and substance abuse in homeless, mentally ill men.  He is currently working on a series of essays on his experience as a psychiatrist.

Find out more about Dr. Mierlak on his website!

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A Spoonful of Sugar: Dr. Nicole Avena on Sugar Addiction

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Dr. Nicole Avena is a leading research neuroscientist on food addiction, specifically sugar.

Everyone loves sugar! It’s given to children as a reward for braving the doctor visit and makes an appearance at every birthday party. We use sugar to celebrate achieving goals and/or to boost ourselves up when we’re sad, lonely, depressed, dejected or just plain tired!

The average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day (6-8 is considered safe)! What makes sugar addiction so hard to see is the way sugar hides in society (as something good, as a reward) and in our foods (especially processed foods). But the truth is sugar acts on the brain the same way as drugs, such as nicotine, morphine or heroin - creating highs and lows, withdrawals, craving, and binging. And like a drug, the body needs more and more sugar in order to get the desired effect, hence leading to more and more consumption of sugar, which affects mood, influences how we think and feel, and over time seriously affects our health.

Listen in to Dr. Avena’s conversation with Susan and check out her book Why Diets Fail: Because You’re Addicted to Sugar to become more knowledgeable about sugar!


Meet This Episode's Guest

Dr. Nicole Avena

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She is a pioneer in the field of food addiction, and it was her seminal research work that jump started this exciting new field of exploration in medicine and nutrition. She is also an expert in diet during pregnancy, and childhood nutrition.

Dr. Avena received a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City, an all-research institution that lays claim to having had 24 Nobel Prize winners on its staff over the years.

Dr. Avena presently is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a Visiting Professor in Health Psychology at Princeton University. She has published over 90 scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition and overeating, and she frequently presents her research findings at scientific conferences and University symposia. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She has received research funding from prestigious sources, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Eating Disorders
Association. 

Dr. Avena’s book, Why Diets Fail (2014, Ten Speed Press) reviews the research on food addiction and provides a way in which people can remove added sugars and carbohydrates from their diet. She has another best-selling book, What to Eat When You’re Pregnant (2015, Ten Speed Press) that provides mom’s-to- be with nutritional advice on what to eat to ensure they and their baby are healthy. Her next book, What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler (released in May 2018), covers nutrition for babies who are just beginning to eat, and offers science-based advice and practical tips on how to get your baby to eat healthy foods, like vegetables. She has also been a guest on several radio programs and podcasts, and has been filmed for several documentaries on the obesity epidemic. Her work has been featured on the cover of National Geographic (Sept ’17), as well as in Time Magazine, Bloomberg Business Week, The New York Times, Shape, Men’s Health, Details, and many other periodicals.

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Dr. Avena is a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau. She has a TED-ED talk (below), How Sugar Affects Your Brain, which was ranked #2 most watched (over 7 million views). Her video has been praised by educators and public health groups. She consults for many policy groups, pharmaceutical companies and baby-food manufacturers.

Dr. Avena has a blog on Psychology Today called Food Junkie, which explains relevant research findings in an accessible way. She also blogs for The Huffington Post.

You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook!

One Powerful Voice: Cori Thomas on Playwrighting, Serving Others, & Outing Sexual Misconduct

Cori Thomas began her creative journey wanting to act but alas the timing was wrong for multiracial actors, who “didn’t look like any particular race,” and she soon got very frustrated. In a serendipitous encounter someone suggested she “write roles she could play” and soon after a voice popped in her head talking - and then another - and then they were having a conversation and she was writing it all down and she discovered she was becoming a playwright.

Her immigrant experience of living in many different countries (her father was a Liberian diplomat) has given her a keen ear for the voice of “the other” and one of her underlying missions in writing is “trying to get the audience to see that the other is not so other.” Her advice to beginning playwrights is “write from an organic place, ask yourself, what do you want to express, and then do it! Fall down and get up and keep working!”

She also discusses her (now public) sexual harassment encounter with Dustin Hoffman when she was 16 - inviting us to understand how, over the arch of time, that experience has moved and shaped itself in her, culminating in her decision to become public, a brave choice that grew out of wanting to help the other women who had similar encounters.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Cori Thomas

Cori Thomas is a playwright whose plays have been developed and produced at Sundance Theater Lab, Goodman Theatre, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh), Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Women’s Project Theater, Page 73 Productions,, Playwrights Horizons, Lark Play Development Center, The Working Theater, Going To The River, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Passage Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, New Federal Theatre, New Georges, The Black Rep (St. Louis), The New Black Fest, and Queens Theatre in the Park.

She is also a co-founder of Pa's Hat Foundation, a charity dedicated to enabling former male child soldiers and other underserved males of Liberia success in life by providing access to education and job opportunities.

Cori's newest play, CITIZENS MARKET, is currently in rehearsals for its World Premiere at City Theatre in Pittsburgh.

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Politics & the Future of the World: A conversation with Hannah Zimmerman

Hannah Zimmerman is a socialist activist. Politicized by the Bernie Sanders campaign at the age of 16, she became the youngest delegate at the DNC, and the youngest elected official in NYC. Now 18 and at Stanford she is continuing ‘the work of the activist’ - the daily reaching out person by person political education of grassroots organizing, under her evolving long range definition of socialist - “anti-capitalist, but what it will look like is different from what it did.”

Right now her eye is on the 2018 midterm elections, her heart and mind on the critical issue of income inequality.

Her vision for America: “Where no one is hungry and everyone who is working has the benefits they need to succeed in our society.”

Her world view: “To fight for the greater good of the common people.”

Her advice for Everywoman - “This is your time to take power and lead because when women lead great things happen.”

Hannah is a young woman who is engaged, who is committed to creating a better world; every day she hits the ground running, knowing she can make a difference. After all, she already has.


Meet This Episode's Guest

Hannah Zimmerman

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Hannah Zimmerman is a socialist activist committed to action. Day after day, she gathers her confidence and drive, her passion and her view for a better America onto her college campus and into the world. She is raising her own voice, “yelling over a lot of men,” to fight for income equality and greater diversity in leadership.

 

Find out how you can get involved in social activism!

Socialist Artists Alliance: www.socialistarts.org

Our Revolution: www.ourrevolution.com

Gut Reaction: Getting to the Crux of Leaky Gut with Katrina Reeve

Is Gut Health on your New Year’s resolution list? If not, after listening to our podcast with Taryn Kennedy (In the Balance Associate Producer and Director of Online Media) and Katrina Reeve, a Naturopath from Brisbane, Australia, it will be!

Naturopaths want to understand the cause of your illness/pain - where does the imbalance in the body come from? Leaky Gut Syndrome - aka intestinal permeability - can have numerous symptoms; including digestive issues, acne/eczema, asthma, hormone imbalance, mood disorders. The causes can range from chronic stress, bacteria, chemical additives in food, infections, and/or medications.

Katrina walks us through simple and immediate ways we can improve our gut health; being mindful of our lifestyle choices that reduce stress - exercise, breathing, relaxation - being mindful of choosing foods that help our gut - bone broth, fibre, fermented foods. And in closing she gives us three simple tips to increase our gut health today: “Chew your food!! Eat slowly!! Don’t multitask while eating!!!” How simple is that?


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Katrina Reeve

MSc, BHSc (Naturopathy), BA, Dip Opera, LTCL

 

Katrina is a qualified Naturopath, Lecturer and Researcher practising in Brisbane. Her interest in Natural medicine was ignited many years ago whilst forging a career as an opera singer, actress and teacher. In addition to lecturing and student mentoring at two universities, she runs a busy clinic in inner city Brisbane where she specialises in gastrointestinal health, stress management and fertility. Katrina holds a Masters of Science (Research), Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy), Bachelor of Arts and Post Graduate Diploma in Opera. She has presented at a number of National scientific conferences and has submitted a number of journal articles for publication. 

 

Check out Katrina's FaceBook page for more information!

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Adjunct Host

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Taryn L. Kennedy

 

Taryn is the Associate Producer and Director for Online Media for In the Balance. She has been working with Susan in various capacities for 6 years and is honored and thrilled to be a part of the In the Balance team. 

In addition to her work at In the Balance, Taryn is currently studying for her Bachelor's of Science specializing in Nutritional Medicine in Brisbane, Australia. She is also part of a pilot program in primary schools that teaches kids about food. Her interest in nutrition, how food is produced, and how food affects the body started over 11 years ago after reading the book, The Food Revolution by John Robbins. 

Taryn also loves to travel and has lived in New York, Arizona, Chile, and Australia.

 

Click here to sign up for Taryn's monthly nutrition and wellness newsletter!


A Note from Susan

 

Taryn Kennedy is now hosting her own mini-series as part of In the Balance: Connecting Mind, Body & Heart

I feel lucky and blessed to have such a brilliant and fantastic team for In the Balance which is comprised of Walker Vreeland, my producer, mentor, and an incredible podcast host himself; Taryn Kennedy, my Associate Producer and Director of Online Media; and Megan Rose, the beautiful writer, editor, blogger, and support.

Taryn and I started brainstorming awhile back: what would it be like if we started to develop a mini-series on In the Balance that Taryn herself might host? I confess, it was my idea at first, and it was my idea because I find Taryn to be thoughtful, imaginative, creative, and full of emotional intelligence that is moving and evolving every day. Taryn not only supports In the Balance but is a formidable force in everything that we strive to do with this podcast - which is to reach many diverse groups of people with the notion that everything we do is somehow connecting us with ourselves and other people. Taryn makes our newsletters ring and shine, she created a website that gives you not only information about our guests and what we do, but resonates with clarity and humanity, and heart. As a collaborator, Taryn is supportive, yet has her own point of view. Taryn is resourceful, always thinking about what is going to work for people both creatively and logistically, and she is curious and a high level thinker in every way.

So I am thrilled to say that “Gut Reaction” is the first of many mini-episodes that Taryn will be hosting on In the Balance. Keep a look out and have a listen whenever you see her name.” ~ Susan 

Creating a Healing Path: Changing How We Think About Pain with Evelyn Hecht

Evelyn Hecht sheds light on pain: What is it and what can we do about it? She explains the difference between initial pain and chronic pain, and how we can retrain our brain to develop different patterns of response, thereby creating a path toward pain healing, a big step beyond pain management.

In her book "re.lieve: Solutions for Chronic Pain," Evelyn lays out simple tools, such as sleep, diaphragmatic breathing, and stretching exercises to help you take charge of your pain healing. “Listen to your symptoms, don’t fight them, have positive thoughts!”

Evelyn believes each person has the inner skills to create a healing path. “What are you saying to yourself about your pain?” she asks. How we answer that question can tell us much about how we relate to our pain and what we can do to change it.


Meet This Episode's Guest

Evelyn Hecht

Evelyn Hecht, PT ATC, is the owner of EMH Physical Therapy, specializing in pelvic floor & spine and all chronic pain for over 25 years.  She designed the pelvic health course for both NYU and Stony Brook University’s Department of Physical Therapy and taught  for 7 years.  

In 2014 she designed and launched an app, PelvicTrack, currently free on iTunes store, to help anyone suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction learn some basic exercises and track symptoms.

In 2017 she authored an e-book: “re.lieve: solution for chronic pain, self-help program” based on the modern science of pain with a guided self-help program to guide people suffering with chronic pain on their healing journey.

She earned her BS in Physical Education with a minor in Athletic Training from Brooklyn College and received her BS in Physical Therapy from Hunter College).

Check out EMH's website, Facebook, and YouTube channel for more information or to work with her in New York City!

Download PelvicTrack here!

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Fit Mind, Fit Body, Fit Spirit: With Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor Lou Ritter

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Lou Ritter is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in NYC. She was initially drawn to fitness in childhood, where she was “overweight and nerdy” and therefore ostracized at those sensitive crucial ages when kids can be especially mean. In wanting to feel better about herself, to feel lighter, she took up dancing and singing and discovered she loved the feeling of creating art with her body. And she discovered she loved being able to help other people get fit and strong so they could have the energy and the body to do whatever they wanted in their life. An enthusiastic natural teacher was born!

Lou shares her perspective on fitness, injury prevention, self care, the class vs. the private experience; she has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom gained from working with all kinds of people and all kinds of bodies. “The body is the fundamental springboard for everything we do,” Lou tells us, “Fitness is holistic - mind, body and spirit - the Whole Being comes together so you can experience life in the fullest way possible.” And Lou is here to help us get on track to do that!


Meet This Episode's Guest

Lou Ritter

 Lou Ritter is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in New York City. Her perspective on fitness:  "Working out is one of the fundamental things we do to take care of ourselves. You can create a body you feel good in. A strong, healthy body enhances your connection to yourself and gives you the energy to pursue your passions and everything you want to do.

     I spend a lot of time in gyms, and I see all these people spending considerable time and effort to try to get in shape, but so often they're using exercises or training strategies that are not that effective, sometimes not even safe. One of my biggest goals as a trainer and instructor is to design workouts that are going to be tough, but extremely productive, balanced, and ergonomically sound.

And fun!! It's so exciting that we can do this; we can get ourselves in shape.

   Then ideally, you take what's healthy - physically and emotionally, make it a habit, and you're primed to experience life with all systems go!"

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Check out Lou's website for more information or to work with her in New York City!

Activated & Present: A Fresh Perspective on Mindfulness Training with Paul Pitsaras

 Our guest Paul Pitsaras (right), and Mitesh Raniga (left): cofounders of The Open Mind Institute

Our guest Paul Pitsaras (right), and Mitesh Raniga (left): cofounders of The Open Mind Institute

Coming to us from Brisbane Australia with good news about mindfulness is Paul Pitsaras of TOMI (The Open Mind Institute). "ACTIVATE YOUR POTENTIAL" is the slogan and a passion for self-development and helping others is the fuel that set Paul and his partner Mitesh Raniga on the road to create TOMI.

A lot of people are entrapped, stressed out, bombarded by technology and a world of instant gratification, their potential out of reach, or simply forgotten. TOMI wants to bring people the mental tools to help! Using core techniques such as critical thinking, mindfulness practice, resilience, emotional intelligence, metacognition and attention control, TOMI offers workshops, one-on-ones and Skype sessions.

Paul reminds us that mindfulness has now been scientifically proven to be effective, and it’s been in use for thousands of years. So between science and ancient history how can you not give it a try?


Meet This Episode's Guest

Paul Pitsaras

Paul completed double Bachelor degrees in Law and International Business in Brisbane before moving to London where he completed a legal practice diploma at the College of Law. Whilst in the UK, Paul was employed by a leading Chambers UK law firm where he was assigned to a number of high profile/ cost cases at trial across various jurisdictions.

Paul was admitted to practice in NSW in 2006 and has since held posts at the DPP, a number of reputable private practice firms in Melbourne and Brisbane (specialising in criminal & civil litigation) and a further 7 year post as a senior lawyer at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, where he recurrently appeared across all Courts advocating on behalf of his clients.

In early 2014 Paul moved back to Brisbane returning to private practice as a senior civil litigation lawyer where he appeared in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts on a frequent basis. In his tenure as a lawyer Paul has managed and mentored junior lawyers and run training seminars and workshops to members of the profession, university students and bail justices.

In 2016 Paul co-founded The Open Mind Institute (TOMI) with a colleague from law school in light of their passion for bringing out the best in others. TOMI delivers presentations, workshops, one-on-one coaching and cutting-edge mental training (i.e. critical thinking, resilience, mindfulness, leadership & management training) to non-for-profits, educational institutions and professional services firms.

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Check out The Open Mind Institute's website and

follow them on their Facebook page or on Instagram!