“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.

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

Journey to Gratitude with Walker Vreeland

Walker Vreeland is an award-winning monologist and radio personality, actor, singer, voice over artist and producer of In the Balance. In this final episode of the year, Susan invites Walker to sit in the interview chair for a conversation about gratitude. Starting with his ‘out of the blue’ cancer diagnosis last year, subsequent surgery, and recovery he takes us backward in time - through a  major breakup and mental breakdown in his 20’s - all of which gave him the opportunity to create a grateful spirit. With humor and open-heartedness, he shares the gifts of a journey that taught him to make peace with what life hands him, to practice gratitude for what’s inside, to cultivate self-compassion. His parting insight for us as 2017 comes to a close:  “We are all flailing through the universe - no one is in control of anything - look at your own life and use it as a template because everything you need to know you’ve already lived, and if haven’t, you will.” 


Meet This Episode's Guest

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Check out episodes of Interview with the Artist on the website

and learn more about From Ship to Shape here

 

“I think in order to practice gratitude in the world, one of the first steps is to make your peace…with yourself and what life has handed you.”

Walker Vreeland

Walker Vreeland is an award-winning monologist and radio personality, producer, writer, actor, singer and voice over artist. As a radio personality, he is best known for having hosted The Afternoon Show on 102.5 WBAZ-FM on Long Island, and as the creator and host of the successful podcast Interview with the Artist where he has interviewed such stars as Cyndi Lauper, Joy Behar, Betty Buckley, David Brenner, Sally Struthers, James Frey, Paula Poundstone, Cheech Marin, Sandra Bernhard and Jane Krakowski. He’s also been heard on 92.9 & 96.9 WEHM on Long Island, 103.9 WFAS in Westchester, NY, 96.7 ‘The Coast’ in Norwalk, CT and WEBE 108 in Bridgeport, CT.

As an actor and singer, Walker has worked extensively in theater, film and television. Off-Broadway credits include: FROM SHIP TO SHAPE (2017 United Solo Awards for Best One-Man Musical and Best Direction of a Musical for Milton Justice). Other New York theater credits include: Little Women (with Deborah Gibson & Elaine Stritch), ErostratusJust So Stories (Theaterworks USA), and the award-winning musical revue Our Life & Times (Winner of 1999 MAC and Bistro Awards). Regional Theater Credits: FROM SHIP TO SHAPE (Bay Street Theatre), Arthur in Arthur’s Christmas (The Vineyard Playhouse), Have a Nice Day (Theater Barn), Zombie Prom (Theater Barn). Touring: Just So StoriesPhantom of the OperaA Christmas Carol. 

He’s been seen on MTV, VH1, CBS Daytime (Guiding Light) and his films include: Sex Farce, Thinking Out Loud, and A Beautiful Mind. He is a graduate of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Walker was voted #1 Personality in the Hamptons of 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Platinum Award) by Dan's Papers.

"Claim Your Calm": Francine Steadman & BuddhaBooth

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Francine Steadman, founder and CEO of BuddhaBooth, has been an entrepreneur ever since she was 14 and her parents stopped giving her an allowance. She immediately took action and a “little” office and house cleaning business was born - her first! She has never looked back. Her latest business, BuddhaBooth, is an actual booth that is portable, soundproof and upholstered; it stops vibrations, which alleviates the senses, providing a sensory safe quiet space to have a moment, take a breath, and just be. The tag line is ‘claim your calm’ and business is booming! Francine has wonderful practical advice for women already in business ventures and for those dreaming of it but afraid to take the first step. “Use guided visualizations and your imagination - actually see yourself step into the role of Founder/CEO,” she tells us. “Have courage and conviction to pursue your soul’s work.”


Meet This Episode's Guest

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Francine Steadman 

Francine is an innovative lifestyle guru. As a serial entrepreneur, prior to founding BuddhaBooth, she spent her time consulting and developing business for international companies such as La Playa Insurance and Source-Lifestyle, as well as nurturing her line of eco-friendly artisan packaging, Fabrilopes. She is perpetually inspired by her diverse clients and loves navigating the ins and outs of the art world.

  She is currently thrilled to be a founding member of the Centre for Social Innovation's Women's Lab "Founding 40" as she combines her mission of bringing quiet spaces to noisy places with a focus on helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual crimes find peace and quiet through meditation. She is committed to growing her company by offering opportunities to those who have been previously incarcerated and have shown an effort in building careers in furniture making or other areas that support the production and social mission of BuddhaBooth.

Francine’s soul work is embedded in her not-for-profit organization, Art and Soul New York, which provides a platform for individuals to heal their spirit by way of painting, drawing, writing, meditation, yoga, reiki, and other holistic healing modalities.

Originally from Los Angeles, she's lived in Olympia, WA, Cleveland, OH, and has been living in New York since 2005. Her greatest joy is being a Mom to three amazing children and sharing a rich, meaningful and loving life with them.

Learn more about Buddha Booth on their website!

Teaching from Heart & Soul Episode 2: Karen Oster & David McCarty

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Meet Karen and David, teachers who know how to play, and believe teaching begins by creating the space for exploration and deep enquiry through kindness and nurturing support.   

From the very beginning ‘Teacher’ was written in Karen’s future - she always felt a strong connection to other people, wanting to bring the best out of them. It was 9/11 that caused her to question her focus as a performer and ultimately shifted her into the rich and rewarding world of teaching. She is a hands on co-collaborator with her students: “We’re all playing in the same sand box!” Her tools of creativity and curiosity help bring a student’s voice front and center by giving room to explore the undiscovered aspects of themselves - the results can be surprising and joyous, challenging and life changing.  

David really enjoys teaching! He realized long ago the value of remaining open to receive the learning inherent in the act of teaching. “To teach is to learn twice” was the mantra of his mentor, and he has come to know this as a deep truth. He offers kindness and love of the art form, creating a bridge which opens up and expands to help others fulfil their dreams of becoming an artist. He knows from his creative endeavors that liberating your own voice can be an awesome thing - bringing exhilaration and joy - and he knows the courage it takes to find the deep well of who you really are, and go for it.


Meet This Episode's Guests


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Karen Oster

KAREN OSTER, has a BFA from The Boston Conservatory in Musical Theatre and Directing and an M.Ed from Cambridge College. She has facilitated, directed and coordinated the performances and involvement of young cast members in numerous productions including the Broadway/ National tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Paul Simon’s The Capeman on Broadway with Marc Anthony. Karen is a professional musician and actress as well, having performed throughout the country in various productions and studied with well known cabaret artists. Karen’s adaptation of The King and I is currently licensed for performance throughout the country as Getting to know… The King and I. She has also directed and produced the revival of The Baker’s Wife with composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz Karen is currently the Chair of Performing Arts at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts and is pursuing her PH.D at Lesley University in Education and Theatre.


 

David McCarty

 

David McCarty has directed and choreographed in the fields of Musical Theater , Opera and Dance for over 30 years and is currently a principal teacher and the Director of School Productions at the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans, Ma.

As stage director in Opera, past productions include Faust with Cleveland Opera, Madame Butterfly with Syracuse Opera, The Elixer of Love with Indianapolis Opera, and The Merry Widow with Opera Providence. As Producing Artistic Director of Cape Cod Opera his productions include Cav/Pag, Carmen, Tosca, Cosi fan tutte, The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, and Don Pasquale.

 

 

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Teaching from Heart & Soul, Episode 1: Bill Fennelly & Sue Ellen Kuzma

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Bill teaches in the world of acting and Sue Ellen teaches in the world of singing: Both teach voice.

Bill came to teaching as a way to positively impact the world while continuing to do his own creative work in the theatre. He found he could bring the creative and the scientific together through open-hearted teaching. He encourages his students to bring all their senses into the study of craft and technique by creating a safe, challenging, and nurturing environment where everyone grows as an artist, himself included!

Sue Ellen came to teaching initially as an economic necessity, that necessity quickly giving way to become the “essential river that I walk in.” The epic journey of finding one’s musical voice, the bravery of continuing to show up and commit to the work of the lessons, the centered focus on the breath and the sound that comes out, the joy of watching the engagement of love when people come into song - all this and more make up the flowing river that Sue Ellen calls teaching.  “It’s all in how you love it,” she says. “It can change your life.”


Meet This Episode's Guests


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Bill Fennelly

Bill Fennelly’s work has been seen on Broadway, Off Broadway and regionally. Director Fly By Night (Bay Area Critics Circle Award nomination for Best Direction), Frankenstein the musical Off Broadway, A Christmas Carolfeaturing F. Murray Abraham and Lynn Redgrave, Original Assistant Director Jersey Boys, Resident Director The Lion King, staff director with New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, Phil Killian Directing Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival as well as projects at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Syracuse Stage Company, Dallas Theater Center, TheatreWorks Palo Alto, Playwrights Horizons, Hartford Stage Company, Goodspeed Opera House, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Fords Theatre, The Alliance Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera, American Musical Theatre Project, National Alliance of Musical Theatre, and Walnut Street Theatre among others. Associate Producing Artistic Director of The Acting Company and Assistant Artistic Director at Cirque du Soleil. B.M. from the Hartt School and an M.F.A. in Directing from U.C.S.D. Bill is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Drexel University in Philadelphia.


 

Sue Ellen Kuzma

SUE ELLEN KUZMA grew up in upstate New York. Her professional life as an actress and singer - opera, recitals, directing - took her to Europe, where she sang in Mozart's Da Ponte operas with director Peter Sellars, as well as leading roles in US opera companies (Miami, Boston, Portland). She was a
member of the Proposition Theater and taught for many years at Trinity-Brown Conservatory. She resides in Natick, where she maintains a voice studio. Her first book of poems "Aroused Angel" has just been published.

 

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Love is Everyone's Thread with Paul Weinfield

 Photo credit: Syrie Moskowitz

Photo credit: Syrie Moskowitz

The Beatles sang "All You Need Is Love" and Tina Turner responded with "What’s Love Got To Do With It?" And before and after and in between a myriad of others have written, preached and sung about love. Love. The hardest word in the world to define, pin down, unpack, or explain. Yet somehow Paul Weinfield manages to help us think about love in a fresh way ~ A call. An action. Love is what we do. Try this. Walk into a building with love. Even thinking about that might make you smile. Feel the word love, say it softly to yourself. What you say to yourself matters. Try it!  


Meet This Episode's Guest


 Photo credit: Syrie Moskowitz

Photo credit: Syrie Moskowitz

 

Paul Weinfeld

 

Paul Weinfield is a musician, poet, and meditation teacher. No Depression Magazine has hailed his unique fusion of words and melodies as being "unafraid of music boundaries." Paul recently finished a book about meditation in daily life called "The Magpie Art: Gathering the Brightness of Every Day" (Green Writer's Press, forthcoming) and a rock opera about childhood and impermanence called Fairytales For the Fatherless. He lives, performs, and teaches in New York City.


Abandoning the Tightrope: Creating and Living the Work/Life Balance

Nick, Ryan, Kim and Jasmine enter into a lively and informative discussion on the various ways they create and live their work/life balance. From color coordinated calendars to being spontaneous depending on where the mood takes you - they all agree that this is an ever changing and highly challenging balancing act that you figure out as you evolve - learning what works for you. Join them as they delve into the soup of creativity, self-care, over scheduling, independence, relationships, money, success and what brings daily joy.


Meet This Episode's Guests


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Jazmin Williams

Jazmin Williams is an Actress and Writer, born and raised in New York City. After graduating from SUNY Fredonia’s Acting program with a degree in Fine Arts, she moved back home to Brooklyn to begin her professional career. 

Jazmin is currently working on creating new projects to showcase her own storytelling abilities, as well as those of her friends and fellow women of color, and is honing her craft under the tutelage of acting coach Anthony Abeson. 

Past theatre credits include Aricia in Jean Racine's "Phèdre", Rose in August Wilson’s “Fences” and Arena in “Upon A Thicket Throne”. Film credits include "Hathie", The Ghost of Hollow Hills" and "Cleaning Up The Dirt".

 

For upcoming projects/updates please visit JazminWilliamsNYC.com!


Nick Demos

Nick Demos is an award winning director, TONY Award-winning producer, writer and creativity expert. He is in post-production for the documentary Invisible,  and in production for the documentary Body Electric. He is also co-writing the book for the new musical Siddhartha. This spring he will direct Julia Cameron’snew play Animal in the Trees, Off-Broadway.

His company, Demos Bizar Entertainment is currently co- producing Come From Away on Broadway. Formerly he was the Artistic Director of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma where he was honored as a “Living Treasure of the State” for his contribution to the arts and named “Top Business Achiever Under 40” by the Journal Record newspaper. 

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A 1000 hr Hathavidya, EYRT-500 hr yoga teacher, Nick is the executive director and leads artist retreats through the non-profit, One  Company. He teaches in yoga teacher training programs for Three Sisters Yoga and Hathavidya and leads seminars, workshops and private coaching in wellness, mindfulness and the art of creativity. 

Follow Nick on twitter @NickDemos

 Instagram @TheNickDemos
 

www.NickDemos.net


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Find out more about Kim at

 www.kdsherman.com

Or listen to some of her music clips: https://soundcloud.com/kdsherman

Kim Sherman

KIM D. SHERMAN is a composer who enjoys composing for the concert stage as well as the theater, opera and film. Her music has been described as “rhapsodic and lush” as well as “craggy and leap-about.”  She embraces lyricism and dissonance as equal partners in conveying dramatic musical landscapes. 

Currently under construction is her opera ADA, the spectacular story of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace. SUMMER, 1976 a song cycle for lyric baritone and string quartet was premiered at The Opera Center in New York City in 2016.  SONG OF SONGS, for strings, harp and soprano was premiered in 2004 by San José Chamber Orchestra and soprano Allison Charney. GRAVESIDE, her a cappella choral work, was recorded by Musica Sacra and has been performed throughout the US and Europe. On Broadway, she wrote incidental music for I HATE HAMLET. She has written incidental music for many productions of Shakespeare plays in regional theaters throughout the United States.


 

Ryan Lemere

 

Ryan LeMere (ryanlemere.com) is a visual artist, creator director, and founder of Aligned Magazine, a yoga lifestyle journal. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

 

 

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The Gift of Bearing Witness: Trauma Treatment at its core with Mary Bromley

Mary Bromley is wise, warm, creative, funny and whip smart - grounded in good instincts honed over the forty years she has worked as a therapist with trauma survivors, as well as a diverse client population of adults and children and adolescents.

In this conversation she helps us understand the wide spectrum trauma can fall on - from car accidents to natural disasters, mass shootings to sexual assaults; and that individual responses to trauma are unique to each person. There is no one way to heal trauma, she explains, there is only finding the right fit for you.

Her way is talk therapy, which she describes as a “Loving Contract:” being a witness to the trauma and then helping her clients become free of it, teaching them to be present and mindful now that the trauma is over, helping them to feel strong and empowered. Deep Listening, “Whatever you have to say to me is not going to make me afraid, I will be right here,” and Witnessing, “I’m the witness you never had,” are the cornerstones to her practice.


Meet This Episode's Guest

 Mary with Katie Beers

Mary with Katie Beers

Mary Bromley

 Mary is a Psychotherapist and Clinical Social Worker with 35 years of experience.  She has worked at The Post Graduate Center for Mental Health,  St. Vincent's Hospital (Rape Crisis Treatment Center & the Adolescent Clinic ), The Ross School, and the East Hampton Town Police Department.  Mary co-founded "The Retreat," the only domestic violence center on the East End of Long Island.  She has a private practice where she deals primarily with anxiety and depressive disorders. She treats adolescents, adults and families.  She also continues to work as a consultant for the East Hampton Town Police Department Detective Squad for sexual abuse and crisis intervention situations. Her philosophy of practice is "mindfulness" or cognitive behavioral therapy to address issues of trauma, post-traumatic stress and anxiety.

Read more about Mary in an article from the East Hampton Star