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Finding Fertile Ground Podcast
29 minutes | Aug 25, 2021
Terri Kozlowski: From sexual abuse and abandonment to raven warrior transcending fear
If you like what you hear or read, visit my Fertile Ground Communications website.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview Terri Kozlowski. She is a proud Native American warrior of the Athabascan, Tlinglet Tribe and Raven Clan. When she was just 11 years old, her mother sold her for drugs and shut her out on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico. After many years of trying to process what had happened to her through therapy, Terri has learned to transcend her fears. She believes that life experiences or abuse may instill fear and break the connection with our authentic selves. Author of Raven Transcending Fear and host of the Soul Solutions podcast, Terri shares the lessons she has learned from her spiritual journey. Now she inspires and supports others who are struggling with fear.Next week I interview Lara Smith from Dad’s Garage theater in Atlanta, Georgia, on the Companies That Care podcast.If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode. Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world.As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police. Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.
13 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
Mini-episode: How my podcast guests are like octopus
As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police. If you like what you hear or read or would like to see photos of Leslie, visit my Fertile Ground Communications website.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I reflect back on the last 13 months. My little podcast is now one year, one month old after starting on July 6, 2020. I’ve interviewed over 70 amazing individuals. I’m grateful to my guests for letting us have a little glimpse of their lives. As I describe this podcast in a nutshell, it’s about people who have gone through a shit ton in their lives and have survived, resilient, on the other side.I recently watched the documentary “The Octopus Teacher,” about a man who befriends an octopus in the ocean. Craig Foster is a free diver, who dives without a wetsuit or oxygen. He is able to hold his breath for up to 6 minutes. The movie, and the friendship he develops, is miraculous and exquisite.At one point the octopus has one of her arms bitten off by a pajama shark. She retreats into her den, traumatized, stunned, and in pain. Eventually she comes back out, with a tiny new arm. Over the course of three months, the arm completely regenerates itself. Watching this exceptional part of the story, I realized: the people I have interviewed on my podcast are like octopus. (For you word nerds like me, the plural of octopus is not octopi; it is octopus.)So many of them have been deeply traumatized in one way or another: from political strife, racism, illness, sexual assault, homophobia or transphobia, childhood abuse, xenophobia, body shaming, anti-semitism or Islamophobia, substance abuse, death of a loved one, or sexism. They have grieved losses and hurts deeply, but found a way to rise up again.They have regrown their arms and regenerated their hearts. For whatever reason, they have developed backbones and resilient spirits, and they are stronger than ever before. I’m fascinated by this incredible resilience, and I’m aware that it does not come naturally. Some people seem to have higher-than-average levels of resilience, while others need to actively cultivate it.How can one person experience horrible abuse and hardship as a child, not knowing love and affection, yet emerge as a positive, upbeat, and resilient person? While another person could feel slighted as a child, but overall have a good life, yet they end up feeling cheated and sad? I’ve discovered that I love interviewing Black women. I find that they are so real, honest, and direct, and in spite of the fact that they have no real reason to trust me, a white woman, they are incredibly open and authentic. I guess it’s because of all they face in life…they simply have no f-bombs left to give. I admire that quality so much.For more information about the people I mention in this episode, go to my website and look for Finding Fertile Ground podcast tab.
62 minutes | Jul 28, 2021
Lisa Marie Simmons: Resplendent and creative after abandonment and abuse
Note: This episode contains a racist epithet.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview Lisa Marie Simmons. Lisa grew up in Boulder, Colorado, but now lives in Lake Garda, Italy. I contacted her when I read her post on the Huffington Post, As A Young Black Girl, I Loved My Grandfather. Then I Found Out He’d Been A KKK Member.I have interviewed 75+ people since I started podcasting. I’ve made incredible connections and new friendships. But this one feels different. Lisa feels like a soul sister. Lisa has written extensively, as have I, so that makes it easier to get to know each other. It took multiple tries to get this interview to happen because of technical issues, so when we finally spoke it felt magical in many ways.Lisa is magical herself. So many times during this interview I felt goosebumps, marveling at her resilience and positive spirit. She draws amazing things into her world. As a child, Lisa was adopted into two families who abused her. The first was a white family who took her to Malaysia before sending her back on a Pan-Am jet with a note in her pocket. Then she was adopted by a white mom and Black dad in Boulder. Although Lisa fell in love with her adopted siblings, her mother repeated her own pattern of abuse with her children…and she never felt accepted into her mom’s family.Music saved Lisa’s life. After she began singing at a young age, she became a featured soloist with the Boulder Youth Choir. At 19, she moved to New York City to study theater and music at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and perform in the Manhattan club circuit at night.Lisa is now an accomplished singer/songwriter, essayist, and published poet. (Read her blog posts here or check out her Linktree, which also includes links to performances.) Her music (Hippie Tendencies and the poetic/musical project NoteSpeak) can be found wherever you listen online. She has performed as a musician and speaker all over the world, most recently at the Jaipur Music Stage in India in January 2020. She performs and produces with her partner, arranger, keyboardist, and songwriter Marco Cremaschini. Lisa’s music is deeply informed by the experiences in her life.Lisa shared about her adoptions, growing up in Colorado as a Black girl in mostly white spaces, what it’s like to live in Italy, and how she found her birth mom. What I found the most stunning about Lisa is that she endured such trauma in her childhood , yet she positively glows. Lisa believes what happened in her childhood has made her into the strong, creative, and resilient person she is now. She loves people and this wonderful world in spite of the way she was treated as a child. She uses those difficult experiences as a tool to power her creativity and art. Lisa epitomizes the notion of “post-traumatic growth,” as we discussed on the podcast. She is magic. Next week I interview Erin Shakespeare from the Macquarie Foundation on Companies That Care. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode. Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world.
47 minutes | Jul 14, 2021
Leslie Batchelder: Childhood trauma and abuse made her resilient
As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police. If you like what you hear or read or would like to see photos of Leslie, visit my Fertile Ground Communications website.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview my friend Leslie Batchelder. We both sing soprano in our local Rock Voices choir. I’ve always loved her spirit and spunk. Leslie’s life is one of grit and resilience. One of five children, Leslie’s childhood was full of abuse and her parents’ addiction problems. She left home at 17 to go to college. By age 19, she was in a psychiatric hospital when the abuse caught up with her. She went sober in her 20s when she saw what addiction had done to her parents.Leslie also shared the way men preyed on her when she was young. She was sexually assaulted in the boys’ bathroom, yet she was punished instead of the boys.Fast forward several decades later, Leslie earned her Ph.D. in German cultural studies and became a professor at Portland State University. She married later in life and got pregnant after two miscarriages.Her son was born 10 weeks early and landed in the NICU, an experience full of trauma. Right before she took her son home, Leslie was diagnosed with melanoma. After receiving treatment, the melanoma came back and some of her doctors gave her a death sentence. Leslie wasn’t ready for her life to end, so she found health care providers who gave her hope (and clinical trials). Her body was not done challenging her. A few years later she battled anal cancer. The challenges Leslie has faced in her life are stunning. She talks about her mental health challenges and how she’s learned the value of medication. Leslie believes her childhood trauma gave her the resilience she needed to survive. Her life and resilience are an inspiration.Next week on the Companies That Care podcast, I interview Naama Barnea-Goraly, who has invented an app called Girltelligence that empowers young women. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode. Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world. Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.
56 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Amira Stanley: Finding her place and voice as a Black activist
Read more about Amira and see photos on this blog post.Amira Stanley is a mindset & intention coach, end-of-life doula, and anti-racism educator and community activist. She grew up Black and gay in mostly small cities or towns, has lived with pain from hip dysplasia and lost a huge amount of weight so she could have hip replacement, supported her beloved husband through his transition, and has dealt with the emotional trauma of racism all her life, only to discover this one year ago through education and studying. She’s always been an LGBTQIA+ activist, but now she’s also become an anti-racist and community activist. “It's a mission of mine to help people be okay with sitting in discomfort. We're not going to get to the other side without sitting in discomfort.”Amira knew she loved women and female energy from the age of seven or eight. She had crushes on all her little white girlfriends. When her mom made her go to church, she started receiving the message that liking the same sex was bad. At age 18 she finally had the nerve to come out as bisexual. Every time she’d bring male friends home, her mom would get her hopes up…so finally Amira decided to make a choice and be with women. When Amira got older and began volunteering with the Living Room Youth, an organization that celebrates and supports LGBTQIA+ youth in Clackamas County, Oregon, she realized she was pansexual (not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity).Amira shared a phenomenal story about her husband coming out as transgender. I asked her if she has any advice for people whose partners are transitioning.“Allow them to be who they are, but also take care of you. If it's something you can't handle, follow your own heart, but do it in a way that is loving and supportive to that person. If you can, walk them through this journey, especially if they have no one else. It's not easy, but if you can support them being who they are, that's priceless.”Amira has been shocked to discover the extreme racism in Salem, Oregon.“Salem is extremely racist. I've never been in a space where I've been very uncomfortable. I'm used to giving people eye contact and smiling. I don't do that anymore...It makes me sad but at the same time it made me sadder six months ago.”Living in such a racist town made her into an anti-racist and community activist. Attending a vigil for Breonna Taylor at the state capitol, she was inspired by Julianne Jackson, founder of Black Joy Oregon, to step it up. Julianne said, "if you're Black and you live in this city, there's basically no excuse. We need you out here. We need you. And I was crying and saying, okay Amira, you're terrified. But this chick is calling you out and you live here and this is what you need to do.”We talked about the ambitious “End White Supremacy by Way of Black Experience” event Amira and her team put in in April. We also talked about progressive Christianity, after she recently left a position at a local church, and her journey to get to wellness with hip dysplasia and weight loss. You can reach Amira on her website . Also, listen to her latest video podcast episode with her friend Rayah Dickerson on the topic of “Protesting: What’s the Use of It?”Meeting and befriending Amira is one of the joys of the last for me. And we need all the joys we can find right now!Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing.
52 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Lisa Schroeder: Working twice as hard as the guys, now an award-winning chef in Portland
Read more and view photos here.Lisa Schroeder is a mother, grandmother, chef, restaurateur and author devoted to providing better-than-authentic renditions of traditional home-cooked dishes at her popular, award-winning restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar. Lisa is an incredibly hard worker, as all executive chefs are, and she had to work twice as hard as a woman in the kitchen, to be taken seriously. Tragically, five years ago her beloved daughter died in a hiking accident. Now she’s a mother without a living child, which is especially bittersweet given that she’s built an outstanding brand around being a mother and honoring mothers. Mother’s was not an overnight success, even though it opened to rave reviews. Back in 1992, while juggling a marketing and catering career and raising her daughter, Lisa realized no restaurants were making comfort food. She dreamed of a place that would serve “Mother Food” – slow-cooked dishes, such as braises and stews, made with love. From that moment on, Lisa was determined to open such a restaurant and spent the next eight years working toward that dream.A gem on Portland’s restaurant scene (they serve 1,000 people between 8:00 a.m and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays), Mother’s has always been a personal favorite of mine. Lisa also kept herself fully occupied during the pandemic by homeschooling her grandchildren. Tragically, Lisa’s daughter Stephanie, mother of four, died in a hiking accident in 2016 at the age of 36. Lisa shares guardianship with their father.“It's hard enough to be a mother the second time around, but then again, to have to be the teacher was brutal, but they are such good boys and such good kids that it couldn't have gone any better, thanks to them and their sweet nature. I'm grateful I had the time to be able to spend with them and get them through this tough time in a positive way…without them I probably wouldn't have a reason to go on.”The whole city mourned when Lisa, mother of mothers, lost her beloved daughter at such a young age.“It’s really hard to have a restaurant called Mother’s and I don't even have my daughter…it's especially hard at Mother's Day when everybody is celebrating mothers. My whole raison d'etre is to celebrate mothers, and I have nothing to celebrate on that day. It's a very tough day for me, so when COVID was still here this Mother's Day, I actually was glad I didn't have to go to work and get through that day.”I asked Lisa what it’s like to be a woman in the food industry.“Everybody doubts you. They think you're not capable. You won't be able to lift. You won't be able to hang and you always start from a disadvantaged position where people have preconceived notions about your abilities, and then, especially working in four-star kitchens as an older woman in my 30s. I had people expecting me to fail and wanting me to fail and so if there was a pot to carry, I never asked for help. If I had something on the stove, they might turn the burner down for their fellow males, but they'll let mine burn on the stove. I was put to the test a lot and had to be the best, twice as good as the next guy, just to show how good I can be. It's very challenging to be a woman in a kitchen, and that's why anytime a female cook comes to me, I'm eager to give them a chance because I think women are amazing in a kitchen. We were born to juggle many balls, have the baby on our arm, answer the phone, make the dinner and you know, talk to the gardener or something. We're made to multitask.”
55 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Melissa Pierce: Sharing lessons from becoming a widow and single parent in her 40s
This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview Melissa Pierce, who I met through Rock Voices Portland, a 140-voice strong rock choir led by my friends Mark and Caley Barstow. Rock Voices’ theme is “healing through song,” which Melissa and I discuss on this podcast. Melissa was faced with a huge crisis in her 40s: she lost her beloved husband unexpectedly and became a single mom in that moment. Now she dedicates her time to supporting other widows, providing the support and guidance she wished she had when she first became a widow.Melissa grew up not too far from where I did in Tigard, Oregon. She met her husband Dave when they became roommates and then fell in love with each other. After experiencing infertility, they decided to foster children to adopt. They adopted their two sons, Brad and Bryce, and became a family.When Dave got a great job opportunity to teach music in eastern Oregon, they moved to LaGrande. Melissa was able to work remotely and Dave began teaching in a nearby town. The boys settled in, and the family benefited from a tight-knit community that helped them raise their two sons.One night after a dinner out with friends, Dave wasn’t feeling well. He went to bed early and suggested Melissa sleep on the couch so she wouldn’t catch whatever he had. In the morning, Melissa found him dead in their bed.Suddenly thrown into widowhood in her 40s with two young sons to raise, Melissa experienced shock, despair, and depression, eventually finding she was seeking solace in alcohol. Even though their community in eastern Oregon rallied behind them in the aftermath of Dave’s death, Melissa decided to move back to Tigard to be closer to her family.A year and a half later, she missed having a partner. She wrote down everything she wanted in a partner and sent her intention out into the world. Soon she met Sean, and he fulfilled 83 percent of her list! Listen to the podcast to hear their wonderful love story. Melissa found great solace and healing in music and other forms of self-care. She sought out a way to sing again, since she and Dave used to sing together, and landed on Rock Voices, where she was delighted to befriend other widows.Now Melissa’s sons are grown and she’s using what she has learned to help other widows. She is creating the resources she wished she had back in 2011. She has written a book about what she learned, Filled with Gold, and has a subscription box for widows. On her website you’ll also find a self-care guide for widows and another one that teaches you how to support widows in your life.Next week on the Companies That Care podcast, I interview I’m switching up my schedule a bit and featuring Lisa Schroeder, founder and owner of hometown favorite Mother’s Bistro and Bar here in Portland, Oregon. I’ve long been a huge fan of Mother’s and Lisa, and she has long used her restaurant space for causes she believes in. The Finding Fertile Ground podcast is brought to you by Fertile Ground Communications. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode. Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world.
46 minutes | May 26, 2021
Ruth L. Schwartz: Recovering from Losses and Teaching Others How to Be Conscious Girlfriends
Read the full blog post and view photos.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview Ruth L. Schwartz, a writer, teacher, and consciousness-shifter. Ruth has published eight books and taught at six universities, and now she runs the Conscious Girlfriend Academy, the leading global program supporting lesbians and queer women to date wisely and love well.Ruth was born to parents who were only 18 and 20 when she was born. Her mother had never even held a baby before and they didn’t know they had to burp a baby. They all had to learn together how to be parents. When her dad was off at a college class, she and her mom would be sat home, crying together.Her father was brilliant, but his life was a cautionary tale for Ruth. He changed from a magical figure in her early childhood to mentally unstable, volatile, and addicted to speed when she was 10. As an emergency room physician, he was a thrill seeker until he lost his job and ended up on the streets addicted to heroin. He died earlier this year at the age of 79.Ruth places a big emphasis on trying to make use of things that have happened to her in life.“You often hear that the wounds become the gifts, but also the gifts become the wounds.”Ruth came out as a lesbian at the age of 20 when she was in college. “I love the complexity of being with women.”Perhaps because she’s drawn to complexity, some of her relationships have been complex as well. When Ruth was 28, she fell in love with a Puerto Rican woman named Gladys whose kidneys failed a few years later. “I donated my kidney to her because I loved her. It just seemed like the thing to do. I had two. She needed one.”Then several years ago a long-time partner transitioned from female to male. They started Conscious Girlfriend together in 2013 to teach other queer women how to be conscious girlfriends. In the past 7-1/2 years, women from 22 countries have taken Ruth’s classes.Her students who come out later in life are often floored at the degree of intensity that often exists in relationships with other women. Ruth teaches queer women how to navigate the complexities of relationships with women and how to date more wisely.The Conscious Girlfriend Academy is a worldwide community of women who thought they were the only ones who had experienced these things. What Ruth enjoys the most is helping women find other likeminded, growth-oriented women.Before Ruth founded Conscious Girlfriend, she wrote poetry, taught creative writing, worked as a health educator, and earned a PhD in transpersonal psychology. Ruth is inspired by the women she works with every day through the Conscious Girlfriend Academy. She told of a recent conversation with a woman who suppressed her own sexual identity because she lives in a conservative area in the south. Now she is meeting other women with similar stories, and she's getting to talk about her relationships in ways she has never had the chance to before. She describes it as grit and resilience all the time.“I feel very fortunate that all the ways I've woven all accidents into my purpose have led me to this place.”Next week I interview Julie Allen with Mary Rose Boutique NW and Mary Rose Foundation on Companies That Care. Julie’s created a clothing boutique where every woman can leave feeling beautiful, and her sister foundation raises money to pay for eating disorder treatment for girls who cannot afford it. The following week I’ll be back to Finding Fertile Ground with Melissa Pierce, who was widowed with two young children at a very young age.
30 minutes | May 11, 2021
Christine Cariño: Consciously Thriving as a Queer, Nonbinary Filipino
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I hope you’ll join me in signing the AAPI Visibility Pledge to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.After launching my second podcast, Companies That Care, I’ve started alternating each week. This week I interview Christine Cariño, a queer nonbinary immigrant from the Philippines. Her grit and resilience story led to her life’s work with underrepresented groups and communities as a transformation coach and consultant. Born and raised in the Philippines, Christine had to navigate a religious, patriarchal society. Christine became aware of her place as a woman at an early age, having to always give way to her brothers. She remembers having her first girl crush in fourth grade. “I was attracted to my best friend at that time, and I didn't know what it was because no one explained it to me. There was no representation on TV."Any curiosity or exploration of this same-sex attraction was shut down, and the comment that made the biggest impact was when a family member told her, “Please do not tell me that you're gay.”After that, Christine did everything in her power to present femme, or more feminine, trying to make herself straight until she fell in love in college. She was outed by her conservative Christian aunt and uncle, who sent her to conversion therapy. She felt more shame and guilt about her identity. “I was very spiritual growing up. I've always believed in a higher power that was taking care of me…so hearing that this higher being doesn't love me because of who I am was painful…why would a God that speaks of love be unable to accept someone like me?”Soon after the conversion therapy and she had graduated from college, Christine moved to New York with her mom and brother. “Moving here as an immigrant and starting from scratch was definitely an experience.”Moving to the United States felt like starting over. She had only $100 to her name when she moved to New York. I interviewed Christine before the Atlanta shootings that targeted Asian-Americans, but Asian-American hate crimes were still on the rise. I asked her about what it’s like being a Filipino immigrant. She admits it’s been difficult, but she also has had to unlearn anti-Blackness and colorism that she learned as a child.“I'm darker skinned, and I was always compared to my sister who was lighter skinned…she's considered the prettier one.”Christine didn’t understand how systemic colorism was until she came to the United States. She realizes that as an Asian-American, she has certain privileges compared to her Black counterparts. “There are challenges and struggles, but I can acknowledge that there's deeper and more violent struggles and challenges towards the black community.”I asked Christine about being nonbinary. It is how she transcends beyond gender social constructs. “I don't want to follow any rules...Masculine roles need to look vulnerable, loving, kind, compassionate, and female roles can look courageous and assertive and be fierce and powerful.”Christine uses the pronouns she, her, and siya (pronounced sha), a gender-neutral pronoun in Tagalog.As a transformation coach with Conscious Thrive, Christine helps underrepresented executives and leaders to reconnect with their authentic selves so they can live and lead consciously and create impact on their own terms. Next week I interview Ozzie Gonzalez on the Companies That Care podcast. I used to work with Ozzie at CH2M HILL. Last year he was Portland’s first Latino candidate for mayor. We talked about what he’s doing now, Portland, Mexico, and sustainability.
60 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
Nono Osuji: Broke, Gifted, and Black, Powering through Lupus and Racism
This week I interview Nono Osuji, a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Nigeria. Nono is a writer, producer, and actor. She is living with lupus, which is hard enough. She’s also living with being “Broke, Gifted, and Black,” the title of her podcast. We had a gritty, deep-down conversation about race in this country. Nono is the youngest in her family, born to her parents after they’d immigrated with their three children to the U.S. She had a huge desire to assimilate, so she adopted an English name, Cynthia, because teachers would botch her name. For much of her childhood, she shunned being Nigerian because it made her different. When Nono was in grad school, she got diagnosed with lupus. She sought help from eastern medicine and began getting expensive injections and paying for them out of pocket. That could not last long as a grad student living in New York, so after two years when her hair started falling out, she moved home to Texas so her parents could help. “Less than a year later, I was hospitalized for the first time with kidney failure due to lupus.” She was put on high-dose steroids, which caused her to develop severe edema.“I felt like this thing had robbed me of the life I wanted. I was supposed to be working in film and media...I wasn't supposed to be frequenting doctor’s offices and taking 67 pills a day…that wasn't supposed to be my life and it just put me in a very deep depression.”Although Nono’s lupus is not currently active, it has ravaged her kidneys, with only 16 percent kidney function. Her best hope is a kidney transplant. She’s found solace in being part of a community of artists and starting her “Broke, Gifted, and Black” podcast. I asked her about generational trauma and the latest trauma facing Black people.First we talked about the death of Prince Philip and how he was part of the colonization of Nigeria. Because of its oil interests, Britain supplied Nigeria with weapons and military intelligence, used to slaughter a million Igbo people, Nono’s tribe, and created a nation that never should have been a nation.Nono had some passionate thoughts about policing in America. “There can be no good cops in a system that does not allow it...When your job is literally to protect state property, whether it is a person or a thing, it is not meant to have good cops when the other part of your job is to build revenue, it is all about money and power and systemic racism…the history of policing in America is simply continuing what we see today.”Nono and I agreed that the system needs to be dug out from its core, completely redone. “We have police living above the law with qualified immunity. We have police that don't face any financial repercussions because the payouts come from the city taxpayers. So how do you have a system where you don't go to jail and you don't pay anything?”Nono volunteers with an organization called Texas Organizing Project, which works to better the lives of black and Latino communities. Nono shared her experience of being pulled over because she had Texas license plates. She challenged the cop on why, so he arrested her for outstanding parking tickets.After discussing racism and policing in America, we moved onto “Lovecraft Country.” We concluded by talking about Nono’s podcast, “Broke, Gifted, and Black,” about the entertainment industry and interviews with gifted people who turned their art into a living. “Just think of what it would actually be like if we had equity, just think of how much better our world would be and when you help to lift the least among us, all of us get better. It's our responsibility. There's no other choice.”
34 minutes | Apr 12, 2021
Murielle Fellous: Single Mom Doing It All
View photos and more details here. Murielle Fellous bounced back after a depression while raising three teenagers as a single mom and living with Hepatitis B. Originally born and raised in France, she founded the "Single Moms Doing It All" coaching practice and podcast. Muriel grew up near Paris, raised to be “very proper.” For example, she was trained not to speak too loudly on the subway and to be very polite. When Murielle was 18, she went to college in Israel and experienced freedom for the first time in her life. She met her ex-husband there, and moved to the United States with him. Murielle learned to be more direct and less proper, preparing her for what she would have to face as a single mom later in life. She got divorced about 15 years ago when her youngest was 2. “I had to be the everything for my kids…the financial support, the emotional support, and it's still like that today.”Unfortunately things became more difficult when Murielle contracted hepatitis B. When her youngest two became teens, everything went crazy in her life. She dreamt her daughter was going to end up dead in the street. She slowly spiraled into depression. Then one night she woke up in tears, feeling the power within herself that assisted her to heal.“Suddenly I was able to admit that I don't like my life…it was like almost an abomination, to say something like that. In my head it made me a bad mother.”She realized that the fact she didn't like her life, yet also loved her kids, didn't negate each other.“That opened the door to freedom, because I let go of the shame and the self-judgment, and I started healing.”She doubled down on self-care practices, which are the tools she now gives her clients. Murielle knows the pain and worry of being a single parent and doesn’t want anyone to go through what she experienced.Self-doubt has been the most challenging thing about being a single parent. She has also struggled in not having a partner to bounce ideas off of in parenting challenges. The biggest blessing of being a single mom is the freedom to do whatever you want and not have to negotiate. Also, she has developed an incredible bond with her kids.I asked Murielle what advice she has for single moms with teens. “Don't take things personally. Don't, because you're going to get hurt, and when you get hurt, your stress center is on alert and your body is preparing for fight or flight…you can't find your own inner resources. You're all emotion and you're like fire.”Murielle suggests having a mantra, telling yourself it’s not personal, they're growing, they're pushing the limits…and love is under all that.Muriel is proud of herself for going for her dream, even though it’s not easy being a single mom, having a day job, and starting her business on the side.“ When my one of my daughters had to do a project in high school, and they were talking about the American Dream and success, my daughter picked me. She said, 'you're an immigrant and you were on your own and you inspired me because you still went for it.'”She has a podcast, provides one-on-one and group coaching, and also has a free “Get Back to Peace Kit for Moms,” which includes a meditation and visualization and a tapping session, an emotional freedom technique to calm yourself down after an argument so you can come back to your senses and to your centered place. Next week, I launch my new podcast: Companies That Care!
49 minutes | Apr 5, 2021
Chuck Bergman and Susan Mann: A Story of Penguins, Hope, and Resilience
Visit Fertile Ground Communications on Patreon and find out how you can support my work.I’ve turned away several white guys on my podcast. When I started this podcast, I wanted to invite people who do not get a platform to share their stories. I’ve interviewed 50+ people, including 38 women, 24 people of color, 12 immigrants, 12 who identify as LBGTQIA+, and only 7 men. Dr. Chuck Bergman is the first white man I have interviewed, along with his wife Susan. When I was a 20-year-old junior at PLU, he inspired me to become a writer and taught me an important lesson about resilience. Chuck has won several awards and published 5 books and 150 articles in prominent magazines. He has led PLU student tours to Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Tanzania, and Uganda, and six tours to Antarctica.Susan is a professional coach and leadership consultant who has worked with Dr. Brené Brown and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has researched and written about resilience in the workplace and in life.Every Penguin in the World: A Quest to See Them All is the story of their effort to see each of the world's 18 species of penguins in the wild. It is a story of overcoming challenges and health issues. They believe penguins are creatures of hope and resilience.Penguins also offer the therapeutic effects of laughter. “You can't watch them without laughing. There's just something about being in their company that is really gratifying and restorative…they will definitely make you laugh.”Chuck recounted an intimate encounter with a King Penguin on South Georgia Island. He got down on his stomach to take a photo, and a penguin started pecking at his boots and biting his pants. He looked him in the face and made a loud, hoarse call. Each penguin has its own call, and children recognize their parents through their calls. “When the penguin does that call, it's saying, ‘this is who I am’ and asking who are you. Your job is to answer. That really put me on notice. Who am I, really? And who am I in relationship to all these penguins in the earth that we love?”On Susan and Chuck’s 10th wedding anniversary, they were volunteering to study and conserve African Penguins on Robben Island in South Africa. Susan was holding a penguin chick, and she realized it was their tenth species of penguin. Chuck noted it was their 10th anniversary and they had a “10 for 10” record. “That's when we decided to go for all 18.”Susan recounted one of the grueling stories in the book involving a life-or-death river crossing in New Zealand. Another memorable story involves their journey to see Emperor Penguins in Antarctica. Chuck almost missed his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Listen to the podcast or read the book to hear these stories.“The big threat for climate change for penguins is warming oceans…the cold water current is shifting 200 miles to the south…the penguins have to swim farther to get food for their babies, and it makes it harder for them to catch fish and to get it back to their babies…their babies are malnourished so it's harder for young penguins to grow to adulthood.”Susan survived Stage 3 breast cancer, and Chuck revealed in the book he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. When Chuck got diagnosed, he describes it as a sobering moment. “All of us are only one doctor's visit away from our mortality… penguins live in such daunting circumstances and can be such delightful creatures…it just became a model for me.”Chuck views their penguin quest as a spiritual journey. “I began thinking of it as a pilgrimage…for me this became a deepening interest in seeing more deeply into the mystery of things.Listen to the podcast to hear their memories of low and high points of their quest.
53 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
Shannon Whaley: Wild Woman Rising after a Childhood Full of Abuse and Trauma
If you like what you hear today, visit my Fertile Ground Communications page on Patreon and find out how you can support my work. Shannon Whaley overcame sexual abuse and assault, a toxic childhood, and drug and alcohol abuse.Shannon had a troubled childhood full of sexual abuse and trauma. She doesn’t remember how old she was when it all started. It was just life.She had no safe person to tell what was going on, feeling unseen and unheard. Even though she began getting in trouble at a very young age, no one seemed to recognize the symptoms of abuse. When she was around 10, she started to realize something wasn’t right. The friends she asked about it were also being abused by family members, so they told Shannon it was just the way things were. Shannon has gone through many years of EMDR and talk therapy to cope with the trauma.I feel so sad for little Shannon, just imagining what life must have been like for her. Because she lacked trusted adults in her life, she set out on a path of hyper-independence. Leaving for college at 17, Shannon never returned home. Shannon began smoking when she was 12, and that escalated into alcohol, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, meth, and cocaine. By the time she was 33, she realized she needed to get her act together. She decided to shake up her life and move to the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately she brought her drinking problem along with her.Six months after moving to the Cayman Islands, she became a blackout drinker, even though she was trying to stop. After a few scares when she passed out in public, she finally realized she wasn’t having fun any more. Fortunately she had moved in with a friend who was sober. With his help and her own white-knuckled commitment, Shannon was able to find recovery by not going out much in public and avoiding the party life of the island. She dove into fitness, including yoga, to distract herself.I’m amazed by Shannon’s strength and fortitude to find recovery on her own. In 2017 she felt done with island life and decided to pursue her dream to move to Italy. She got a visa to study Italian, and she declared she’d either find her husband or figure something out by the end of the year. Within ten weeks, she had met her husband, Stefano, on the beach.She enjoys the chill vibe of Italy, especially because they live in a beach town. She does find the language to be challenging, as well as the Italian tendency to push and shove, but COVID has brought its own blessings, such as six-foot bubbles and previously unheard-of Italian queues.I found it surprising Shannon describes herself as a hermit because she lives her life out loud on social media with her confidence, purple hair, and tattoos. Shannon’s business, Wild Woman Coaching, helps women share their stories to heal themselves and heal others. She’s committed to give 10 percent of her income to organizations that focus on the liberation of Black and brown people. I marveled at Shannon’s wonderful spirit of independence and courage to take to the road after what she endured as a child.I find Shannon’s story to be incredibly inspirational. She’s one more example of how difficult experiences just make you stronger and more resilient. View photos and more details in this blog post.Next week I have something completely different. Did you know penguins can teach us about resilience? I interviewed my former English professor, Chuck Bergman, an award-winning writer and photographer, and his wife Susan Mann, a resilience expert. Chuck and Susan took on a quest to see each of the world's 18 species of penguins in the wild. Chuck documented their adventures
49 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Brigitte Ayoub: Growing up Palestinian-American, surviving loss, and thriving
If you like what you hear today, visit my Fertile Ground Communications page on Patreon and find out how you can support my work.Brigitte Ayoub is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. She grew up experiencing the challenges of finding her place as an American with Arab roots. Right after leaving her corporate job to start her own business in April 2018, her dad died…then her mom was diagnosed with leukemia the following year. Brigitte believes that “we have two choices every day, to sit and lament, or face the adversity with courage and choose to lean into it.” She has chosen the latter option.Brigitte grew up as the youngest of three in a mostly white, affluent area in the Philadelphia suburbs. She struggled to find her place between Palestinian culture and modern American culture.In addition to being tall, she had olive skin and felt like the hairy Arab girl. Her parents also were strict, so that made her stand out among her peers even more. She sought her comfort in food.As a Palestinian, Brigitte often feels misunderstood. Many people assume all Palestinians are Muslim, but her family falls into the 20 percent of Palestinians who are Christian. Brigitte’s parents fled for safety. Her father carried his little brother on his back while they were fleeing Palestine, and her mom taught in a refugee camp in Lebanon. While Brigitte’s classmates were focused on boys, she felt beyond her years with a completely different world view. Brigitte left her corporate role in April 2018 to pursue a health coaching practice. The month before, her father had open heart and quadruple bypass surgery. Unfortunately he passed away in August. She had been taking clients at her dad’s bedside, working hard to make her new business work. Within a few months, she had to grapple with grief. And then her mom was diagnosed with leukemia on Christmas Eve in 2019. Then a few months later, COVID hit.“I think the biggest thing I've leaned into is believing that everything happens for me and not to me, and I've laid that as my foundation to being an entrepreneur. It's always about trusting yourself and I trust myself. I trust that my higher power has been here for a certain reason and has everything laid out. I can only see this step. But someone or something bigger than me sees the staircase.”I asked Brigitte what she finds most gratifying about being an entrepreneur.“Nothing beats seeing a client who literally told me she has stumbled and struggled with a problem for two years in her business, and she gained that clarity within 20 minutes of working together.”Brigitte and I spoke about the experience of being an entrepreneur and the fact that not everyone is well suited to it. She says it’s 70% mindset and then 30% strategy and execution. “At the end of the day, it really comes down to being energetically aligned and what's going to set your soul on fire.”The Finding Fertile Ground podcast is brought to you by Fertile Ground Communications. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a rating and subscribe to hear our next episode. Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world.
55 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Stefanie Michele: Healing from 20 years of eating disorders and feeling awake!
Read more about Stefanie and view photos here.Stefanie Michele suffered with eating disorders including bulimia, binge eating, and orthorexia for 20 years. She was born the oldest of three in an Italian family with strongly defined gender roles. Her father was overweight and always dieting. As he got larger, he tried to control his kids’ weight.She ended up dieting to the point where she became anorexic by age 16. People thought she had just become really lean. She knew she had a problem and asked for help, but no one else seemed to care. She entered college with bulimia, but her parents were just happy she was putting the weight back on. During her sophomore year of college, she came home from college and demanded help from her parents. That’s when she started receiving therapy.We talked about the comments people with eating disorders receive when they start losing weight. Our neighbor took one look at me and she said, oh look at you, there's not an ounce of fat on you. And there wasn't…she said it with such longing like, ‘Ah, you're so good.’”When she was 19, she went into a treatment center and received valuable help from a therapist who helped her work through issues from her upbringing and her sense of self. But the treatment did not improve her symptoms. None of the therapy she received over 20 years helped her symptoms. “I struggled through age 38. During my pregnancies I was still going to therapy, but I was still bingeing and even purging. I basically just thought I'm broken. No amount of anything seems to fix me.”We talked about whether Stefanie was predisposed to eating disorders. By nature, she was a creative, intense, and introspective child. She had to suppress her true self, being called out as different.Later in her 30s, Stefanie became obsessed with clean eating and health and developed a new eating disorder called orthorexia, fueled by the wellness culture.I asked her what woke her up and helped her shift beyond her eating disorders, since therapy didn’t help. She can’t define one single moment, but rather it was a collection of things when she was around 38.“I had just had my third daughter, and the fact that they're all daughters did not escape me. I felt this huge sense of responsibility for the fact that I was raising girls and yet I could not accept my own body and had this incredibly disordered relationship with food. My oldest was beginning to notice that there were certain days that I didn't eat anything and that my dinners were always different than hers…it made me really afraid.”She was also aware of approaching 40 and facing another decade of eating disorders and more shame. At the time she was a sugar detox coach, actually coaching people into orthorexia by fear mongering about GMOs and sugar. She began to feel that what she was doing was wrong.When she read an article called “Smash the Wellness Industry” by Jessica Knoll, at first she rejected it as ridiculous. But the more she thought about it, she began to see herself as what she was. On her 40th birthday, she read a book called The F*ck-It Diet , about how dieting increases our weight and destroys our relationship with food…and that the only way out is to allow yourself to eat whatever you want. In all the therapy she’d received, she’d never received this message. The book changed her life. “My life opened up after I healed…I'm one of my only friends who's excited to be in my 40s. I feel like I have a lot of living to do and I embrace it.”Now she’s enjoying food like she never did before, especially sushi, pasta, and mint chip ice cream!
71 minutes | Mar 8, 2021
Leah Carey: A “good girl” who now enjoys and talks about sex
Note: this episode contains adult content.Leah Carey tried to be a “good girl” for decades before waking up sexually in her early 40s. She had a rough childhood. Her dad was an alcoholic and emotionally abused Leah and her mom. He spoke to Leah sexually about her body and told her she was fat and ugly. Later he said he was going to lock her in her room until she was 30 and break the kneecaps of any boy who showed interest in her. This combination of verbal abuse and protectiveness led her to feel confused.When her dad died, it sent Leah into a black hole of depression, sinking further until she was nonfunctional. When she started having suicidal ideations, she realized that she was not okay. Because she had very little money, she went to a free health clinic and got the medication that she needed. By the time her mom passed away from cancer in 2015, they had formed a healing relationship. She sold her mom’s house in New Hampshire and took a solo road trip around the US. During that trip she realized she had never had pleasurable sexual sensations. She experienced great healing from tantric massage in New York City, which set her on a new path: "you are not broken." Her massage therapist gave her homework to "play with sensation,” so she used the road trip to do that. She didn’t have to be the "good girl" anymore. She had incredible experiences, discovering she is allowed to be sexual.Leah believes that taking control of our sexuality, speaking up for our needs and talking honestly about what really matters, is the essence of goodness, kindness, and integrity….and that’s the kind of good girl she wants to be.After Leah shared herstories with her girlfriends, they started telling her their sex stories, too. So she started a podcast a few years ago called “Good Girls Talk about Sex,” in which she interviews women, queer, and nonbinary folx about their sex lives, usually anonymously. Leah offers sex and intimacy coaching to people who grew up socialized as little girls; hosts “Good Girls Talk About Sex” PJ parties; and leads training. She helps people find their authentic sexual selves and teaches how to communicate with their partners.Leah shared her own recent challenges with sex in “My Pandemic Sex Life,” in which she “gets raw and real about how her intimate life has weathered the storm of a year-long international crisis, and about how confronting her partner’s depression spiral turned out to be a better strategy than enduring it competently.” We spoke about the damage the pandemic is having on people who lack physical touch. When I asked Leah which grit and resilience story has been an inspiration for her, she mentioned the stories of Harry Potter. She is still trying to ascertain how to engage with those stories and their meaning while making peace for herself (because of JK Rowling’s transphobia). Leah and I also geeked out about the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast. At the end of that podcast, the co-hosts choose a character in the chapter they’re discussing to bless. Leah mentioned that in the first episode, Vanessa chose to bless Harry’s mean, verbally abusive Aunt Petunia. She tries to see people who have done wrong as people who have been harmed. The vast majority of people who become abusers were hurt themselves as children.I suggested that our homework, in light of this conversation, should be to bless JK Rowling. She’s our Aunt Petunia.Next week I interview Stefanie Bonastia, who suffered with eating disorders for over 20 years. After decades of extensive therapy, she created her own formula for healing and made a full recovery. She started her own business to help others do the same.
51 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Madeleine Black: Surviving gang rape at age 13, she is unbroken
Support the Finding Fertile Ground Podcast on Patreon! Warning: This episode contains adult content. Madeleine Black survived a gang rape at age 13. Since I was sexually assaulted at 13 as well, we had a tender conversation about how this experience changed our lives.Madeleine was born to two survivors. Her dad survived the Holocaust and her mum had her neck broken in a childhood surgery and woke up bedridden. Her parents handled their own trauma by just living their lives and carrying on.When Madeline was 13, a “really cool” friend asked her over because her mom was away from home. They lied about where they were staying. They bought a bottle of vodka and took it to the local café. Since she had never drunk alcohol before, it didn’t take her long to get drunk. Soon she began throwing up, and two young men offered to take them home in a taxi.“It became obvious very quickly they weren't there to let me sleep off the alcohol…they were there for something else, and the two of them proceeded to rape and torture me over the next four to five hours.”Madeleine’s body went into shock and she had an out-of-body experience. As a therapist, she knows that this often happens when the trauma is overwhelming. “Our stories are not uncommon and yet still we struggle to speak out about it. Still not many people will talk openly because of the shame that is so wrapped up in the event…it took me years to realize the shame never belonged to me. It always belonged to them.”When Madeleine woke up and remembered what happened, she was terrified to tell anyone. They cleaned up the flat and decided not to speak about it. On some subconscious level, she had bought into the rape myths and already thought it was her fault. Her life spiraled out of control after the experience, and it all came to a head when she stayed out late one night and her mum confronted her. Her parents suggested she go away for a while, so she went to Israel. While living there she met a wonderful Scotsman, the first man she felt safe with. They’ve been together now for 37 years. Madeleine became a therapist because of her dad’s experience surviving Auschwitz. She also helped survivors of domestic abuse and rape. Only when training as a rape crisis hotline worker did she understand she was living with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.Madeleine decided to go public with her story six years ago when she was invited to share it through an organization called The Forgiveness Project. She published her memoir, Unbroken, about three months before the #metoo movement started up again. Then she was invited to share her story at TEDx Glasgow. It has taken years of therapy to work through her trauma. It’s been a huge process. She has found a way to forgive her attackers, calling herself an “accidental forgiver.” She views her forgiveness as an act of self-love. Madeleine started “Unbroken The Podcast with Madeleine Black” to help heal, motivate, inspire, and bring hope to others. This conversation touched my heart. I wish that my 13-year-old self could have spoken to Madeleine’s 13-year-old self and said, “#metoo.”Next week I share the story of Leah Carey, who tried to be a “good girl” for decades before waking up sexually in her early 40s. Now she is a sex coach and educator, in addition to host of the “Good Girls Talk About Sex” podcast. View photos and more details about Madeleine Black on my website.Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.
65 minutes | Feb 22, 2021
Elena Joy Thurston: Mormon mom of four undergoes conversion therapy before coming out, whole
Trigger warning: This episode contains some mature content. View photos and read more info here.This week I launch my “Healing Herself” series with four women who have survived body issues, sexual assault, shame, and trauma. Elena Joy Thurston is an LGBTQ speaker, trainer, and founder of the Pride and Joy Foundation, dedicated to reducing the rate of suicide and homelessness in the LGBTQ community. A Mormon mom of four who lost her marriage, church, and community when she came out as a lesbian, Elena’s TEDx talk on surviving conversion therapy has been viewed 40,000+ times.“By the time I was 16 I was feeling the effects of a chaotic family life of parents who could not figure out how to get along and who could not figure out how to be stable adults.” When her friend introduced her to a church that promised stability, she jumped at the chance to learn how to have a functional family. She married at 20 and had four kids by age 33.When her youngest went off to kindergarten, she had six hours to think for herself every day. She realized how unhappy she was, but she was ashamed she wasn’t happy. She sought out hobbies, but even they didn’t fill up enough time…until she found fly fishing and a friendship that blossomed into love with another woman. For three weeks she went behind her husband’s back, falling in love while feeling like a total wreck. Because she is a bad liar, her husband figured it out. “It wasn't even an option for me to leave him. I had sinned....I needed to repent.”The next day she started the “repentance process.” Six weeks later, she couldn’t stop thinking about her new love. Enter conversion therapy. Elena’s therapist believed that if you are attracted to someone of the same sex, it was because something happened to you when you were a kid. For the first few months Elena got some benefit from the four-days-a-week sessions, healing from chaotic family memories. But it didn’t seem like she was “getting better.” At one point she considered suicide, like many others who have undergone conversion therapy.One day Elena shared with her therapist that she was gang raped at age 15. Her therapist was “overjoyed,” believing that was the key to her attraction to women. Then the Brett Kavanaugh hearings happened, which was a traumatic period for every survivor. “I'm getting chills just thinking about that week. To have to hear her own trauma be put on display in front of all of those men and then to be mocked and ridiculed was just horrific. I honestly feel like our entire generation of women is going to need to heal from that experience.” As she was reading news and hearing her own sons say words like “we can’t actually believe her,” she saw headlines saying that 3/4 of American women have been assaulted at some time in their life. Elena had an epiphany. “I finally put the dots together. If 75% of American women have been assaulted, 75% of women are not gay. I had been deceived so badly.” Three years later, Elena is at a great place, founder of the Pride and Joy Foundation, which serves the LBGTQIA community. Three years after leaving her Mormon life, she is healing herself one day at a time. Next week’s “Healing Herself” guest is Madeleine Black, who survived a gang rape at the tender age of 13. She has a viral TED talk; her own podcast, Unbroken; and a book.
39 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Cindy Van Arnam: Moving beyond cocaine addiction and self-destruction to self-mastery
Cindy Van Arnam has faced a lifetime of mountains…starting when her dad passed away when she was 16 years old. For 23 years, she created a “mountain” in every choice she made about her life. From cocaine addiction and abusive relationships, to travelling to foreign countries without a plan, she was always seeking a way to make life hard for herself. She finally understood she was the mountain that didn’t need to be there. Now she helps entrepreneurs fully discover their own limitless power so they can create sustainable wealth through self-mastery.Cindy had a happy childhood, growing up on a chicken farm in Alberta, Canada. Cindy’s dad was her biggest cheerleader, a mechanical engineer turned farmer. He always told Cindy she could do, be, or have anything she wanted in life. Then when she was 16, he suddenly passed away. In grief at losing her biggest fan, Cindy reacted by making self-destructive decisions.Although she had been a straight A student, her grades started failing. After high school she fell in with the wrong crowd, continuing to make bad decisions. She got addicted to cocaine and had a series of abusive relationships.After she’d gone for a week without food or sleep and she was high as a kite, her mom looked at her and asked her, “are you okay?” When Cindy responded that she was not, her mom sent her to stay at a friend’s house, where she detoxed and recovered for three weeks. She never had formal drug treatment. “From there, I decided that I was going to take control of my life…”She decided to leave Canada and start over. “I chose to travel to countries where if you do drugs, it's the death penalty….I lived in Indonesia and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.”She returned home when her mom got sick and almost died. But she fell in with the same crowd again and started making poor decisions again. Cindy then decided to go work on the pipelines in Saskatchewan and get her act together. Moving back to BC, she worked as a bartender until she had to defend herself one night with a baseball bat. She realized she was better than this. When she got home, at 3:00 a.m., she started researching career options. The next day she applied to college and went back to school to study event promotions. Halfway through college, though, she realized what she really wanted to do was to start her own business. She took her power back.Now Cindy specializes in quantum numerology and universal laws. Cindy explains that by just looking at our date of birth, numerologists can tell us the foundation of our personality, some of our key sabotages to watch out for, our biggest challenges, and some of the major possibilities available to us…and how to operate within that mathematical code.I asked Cindy how numerology and universal laws helped her heal her old wounds of drug addiction, emotional abuse, and trauma. “The number one tool I have used is forgiveness and understanding my journey of addiction and poor decisions...I needed to forgive myself.”Cindy’s journey of self-awareness and understanding has made her realize that the decisions she made in her 20s led her to who she is today, so she looks back at that time of her life with gratitude. I marveled at how Cindy has created her life through her incredible self-awareness and innate wisdom about what she is meant to do with her life. "I follow the breadcrumbs in my life and I follow my passion."On Cindy’s podcast, Rebel Radio, she talks with entrepreneurs who want to dive into self-mastery and wealth. She jumped into podcasting almost a year ago, and she’s already in every country except North Korea. Check out Rebel Radio here.
55 minutes | Feb 8, 2021
Marianne Monson: Writing diverse historical stories of gritty, resilient women
My final “Writer on Resilience” is Marianne Monson. I discovered her through Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women, on my top books list in 2017. She also wrote Women of the Blue and Gray: Civil War Mothers, Medics, Soldiers, and Spies and Her Quiet Revolution: A Novel of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon. Marianne’s books contain rich stories of diverse women.Born in Boston, Marianne spent her childhood moving around the country. She relied on books and writing as a way to process her experience and find connection.I asked Marianne to elaborate on some of the women in Frontier Grit.Aunt Clara Brown was born into slavery and like so many enslaved peoples, she watched her family be sold at auction. After gaining her freedom she migrated to Colorado, building a laundry business with miners. She accepted payments as mining stakes and claims and became one of the wealthiest women in the west. She used that money to help formerly enslaved people move north. She spent her life looking for her daughter and found her four years before she died.Abigail Scott Duniway is Oregon’s most famous suffragette. Abigail traveled west as a teenager on the Oregon Trail. By the time they’d reached Oregon, her mother and brother had died and the family was penniless. Abigail married and had six children, and when her husband became disabled, she began supporting the family. For 40 years she advocated for women’s suffrage, and in 1912 Oregon became the seventh state to pass a women's suffrage amendment. She was the first woman to vote in Multnomah County.Makaopiopio, a Latter Day Saints convert from Hawaii, was the most difficult to research because she was raised in an oral society. She and her husband moved to Utah and founded a Hawaiian colony in the desert of Iosepa. Donaldina Cameron was an immigrant from New Zealand who worked in San Francisco's Chinatown fighting sex trafficking rings. She had an uncanny ability to find where these girls were hidden. Martha Hughes Cannon was born in Wales and immigrated to Utah as a young child. Although she entered a polygamous marriage, she was one of the first Mormon feminists. Martha became a frontier doctor, the first female state senator, an advocate for women’s suffrage, and a public health activist. Marianne’s book, Women of the Blue and Grey: Civil War Mothers, Medic Soldiers and Spies shares diverse stories of women spies, medical workers, writers, and soldiers. Harriet Tubman's spy activities are often overlooked. Harriet designed and led the Combahee River raid, a remarkable and intricate event. She led 150 black Union soldiers and liberated 700 enslaved people. More than 100 of those freed slaves joined the Union army.Dr. Mary Walker, a surgeon, fought to receive the recognition she deserved for her dedication, skills, and intelligence. She was captured by the confederacy and ended up having health problems as a result of her time in prison. She was also a pioneer for dress reform. When she married, she wore a skirt with trousers, refused to include "obey" in her vows, and kept her last name, a pioneer after my own heart! This blog post contains more details about the episode, photos, and links to purchase Marianne's books.
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