AwareNow: Issue 31: The Dreams Edition

Page 142

3 CLICK, TAP OR SCAN TO SUBSCRIBE Get the monthly digital edition of AwareNow delivered to your inbox. Always aware. Always free. ON THE COVER: EDDIE
74 80 88 92 98 102 106 112 118 122 126
130 132 142 144 150 154 160 164 168 174 180 AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
AwareNow™ is a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties™ in partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties™ is the ‘Official Symbol of Support for Causes’. Our mission is to support causes by elevating awareness and providing sustainable resources for positive social impact. Through our AwareNow Magazine, Podcast & Talk Show, we raise awareness for causes and support for nonprofits one story at a time.
Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.

Editor In Chief & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties

Allié is a Taurus. She started her career in performance poetry, then switched gears to wine where she made a name for herself as an online wine personality and content producer. She then focused on content production under her own label The Allié Way™ before marrying the love of her life (Jack) and switching gears yet again to a pursue a higher calling to raise awareness and funds for causes with Awareness Ties™.


Production Manager & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties

Jack is a Gemini. He got his start in the Navy before his acting and modeling career. Jack then got into hospitality, focusing on excellence in service and efficiency in operations and management. After establishing himself with years of experience in the F&B industry, he sought to establish something different… something that would allow him to serve others in a greater way. With his wife (Allié), Awareness Ties™ was born.

Dreams become thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Actions become reality. We can not change reality until we dare to dream the change. @awarenessties @awarenessties @awarenessties DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in AwareNow are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
Awareness Ties.
content provided by our columnists or interviewees is of their
religion, ethnic group, political group, organization, company, or individual.
official policy or position of
opinion and not intended to malign any
In fact, its intent is not to vilify anyone or anything. Its intent is to make you think.


Photo Credit: © Howard L. Bingham



I cannot say enough about how honored I am to have the opportunity to share a small piece of Howard Bingham’s life’s work with our readers. I am equally as honored that Dustin Bingham trusted us with a quick look into his experience as Howard’s son. It is remarkable, the legacy that Dustin’s father left behind and the impact it had on him, his family, friends and the world. Someone told me that Howard had a way of bringing a smile to people’s faces when they saw him. We can all only hope that we have that same impact on those we come in contact with.

EDDIE: Who was Howard L Bingham?

DUSTIN: My dad was a great father. He was a great friend. He was a man who loved & cared about people. He was extremely humble. He loved to travel and hated to sit still. It was for this reason he never wanted a “real” job where he had to stay put for long periods of time.

EDDIE: Why is it that so many people smile, when you ask them if they knew Howard Bingham?

DUSTIN: When I ask people about my father, one of the first things they say about him is that he always had positive energy. He always had a smile on his face and loved to make others smile. He tried to make everyone he met feel special no matter who they were.

EDDIE: How was it growing up with your father and all his famous friends like Muhammad Ali?

DUSTIN: It’s weird to explain because to me it was all I knew. They weren’t “celebrities”. They were his close friends. A lot of those experiences I didn’t really appreciate them or realize how blessed I was until I was older and could fully understand the importance of some of those friends. For example, I remember going to a Lakers game back in the day and I was sitting on Miles Davis’s lap and he’s sharing his Snickers with me. At the time, I was probably more excited about the Snickers but when I look back it’s like wow, I shared a Snickers with this legend.

EDDIE: What is your favorite photograph your father took? Do you have a favorite photograph of your father?

DUSTIN: There are two photos that pop in mind that I love, and they are both from his book Muhammad Ali - A Thirty Year Journey. One was taken in 1963 where Ali is sitting on 1 million dollars. Another was taken in 1975 where Ali is staring angrily at a speed bag with a photo of Howard Cosell on it. I think my favorite photo of my dad would be one with my father, my daughter Kennedi and myself. It was taken back in 2016 at the Ali center after Ali’s memorial. My father was so proud of Kennedi and would light up every time he would see her and say, “Man, isn’t she something, she’s something special.”

Photo Credit: © Howard L. Bingham



Photo Credit: © Howard L. Bingham


Photo Credit: © Howard L. Bingham

EDDIE: Do you have a spiritual practice?

DUSTIN: I’m a Christian & I believe in God, but I don’t go to church often. There are a lot of people who say they are religious or spiritual and are in church, the mosque or whatever their place of worship is every week and still treat people badly. I feel I can be a good Christian by the way I treat others.

EDDIE: Can you tell us a little bit about the Howard L. Bingham family foundation and its mission?

DUSTIN: As I said before, my father loved people, especially children. So, I thought what better way to honor him than to start a foundation in his name. The Howard L. Bingham Family Foundation was created to help minorities and lower income families explore their interest in the arts by giving them scholarships and investing in programs in our communities that help youth cultivate their curiosity. Growing up watching my father and Ali, I was able to watch firsthand two examples of people who loved to give back to their communities whenever they could.

“Growing up watching my father and Ali, I was able to watch firsthand two examples of people who loved to give back to their communities whenever they could.”
Photo Credit: © Howard L. Bingham

EDDIE: Your father left behind a huge legacy for the public. What do you think is the biggest thing he left behind for you and your children?

DUSTIN: The biggest thing would be his historic photo archives, but I would say the most important thing he left behind for me and my daughter is just to be good people. There’s nothing like putting a smile on someone’s face & it doesn’t take much to be nice to people. Especially nowadays when our country and the world are going through so many challenges, the world would be a better place if everyone would respect each other’s differences and be nice to others. Ali would say, “I wish people would love everyone else the way they love me. It would be a better world.”

EDDIE: Did your father spend a lot of time in Louisville?

DUSTIN: I don’t know if he spent a lot of time in Louisville, but I do know he did think it was a great city and enjoyed the time he did spend there. He was very proud to be a part in helping with the Ali Center and providing them with some of his photos. Also, he was honored to have a gallery inside the center named in his honor. I know today he’d be very happy that they finally have nonstop flights to and from Los Angeles.

EDDIE: I know I’m excited about the possibility of working with you and Shepard Fairey on a mural and prints of an Ali image of your fathers in Louisville. What’s your thoughts on this?

DUSTIN: To have the iconic Shepard Fairey use one of my father’s photos for a mural is such an honor and I know he would be extremely proud, as I am. To be able to introduce a new audience to my father’s work and for it to be displayed in such fashion in the hometown of his best friend Muhammad Ali, is just incredible. I want to thank you Eddie for making this happen and for giving me this platform to talk about my father, his work and the charity in his name. ∎



Howard Bingham, hoping to turn a hobby into a trade, took a beginner’s course in photography at a local community college in 1958. His instructor, after handing him an F letter grade, advised Bingham to try something else. Photography, he was told, would not be a good field to choose as his life’s work. But Bingham’s inner voice told him otherwise, and because he followed his internal gyroscope, spent the better part of his life photographing many of America’s historical turning points, as well as one of the world’s best-known and most-beloved figures, Muhammad Ali.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1939, Howard Bingham soon relocated to Los Angeles with his parents at age 4. He attended the city’s public schools, and enrolled in Compton College from 1956-1958. After receiving an eye-opening F grade in photography class, Bingham felt determined to hone his craft and began apprenticing at the Los Angeles Sentinel, one of the country’s largest Black newspapers under photographer Cliff Hall. That job lasted Bingham for about 18 months, until he was fired for supplementing his weekly $75 salary moonlighting as a wedding photographer.

I was devastated at first, but actually, in retrospect it was the best thing in the world that could have happened to me,” Bingham once said. “Because if I’d stayed at the Sentinel, I never would have done half the things I’ve done since then, such as traveling the world and documenting the life of my best friend Muhammad Ali.”

As fate would have it, while working at the Sentinel in 1962, Bingham was assigned to cover a brash young boxer from Louisville, Kentucky, named Cassius Clay. Clay was in Los Angeles to promote an upcoming bout with George Logan. Bingham showed up, took his photographs and then left. But as Bingham ran errands later that day, he saw Clay and his brother standing on the corner of 5th and Broadway, watching the girls go by. Bingham walked up to the Clay brothers and offered to show them around town. That impromptu generosity became the first step in a life-changing, life-long friendship with the boxing legend who the world would soon come to know as Muhammad Ali.

Since that pivotal day, Bingham toured the globe with Muhammad Ali, chronicling every aspect of the athlete’s life. Through Bingham’s relationship with Ali, he came in contact with Bill Cosby who then asked Bingham to be the still photographer on his new show -“The Bill Cosby Show.” This opportunity led to Bingham becoming one of the first Black photographers to work on a Hollywood international cinematographers guild camera crew. During the late 1960’s, Life Magazine hired Bingham as their go-to riot photographer. When Life Magazine wanted to do a story on the Black Panthers, their party leader Eldridge Cleaver agreed upon one condition- if Howard Bingham took the pictures. In 1968, he journeyed to Chicago to cover the chaos of the Democratic National Convention. Bingham's work and contribution to the field of photography did not go unnoticed; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., M+B Fine Arts, California African American Museum and Fowler Museum in Los Angeles have all exhibited his work. In 1997 he received the ASP International Award presented by the American Society of Photographers, as well as the Kodak Vision Award. Bingham’s name now graces a Kodak-sponsored academic scholarship, which goes to a deserving minority photography student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Bingham also became a member of the board at the George Eastman House. In 1998, the Photo Marketing Distributors Association (PMDA) named Bingham Photographer of the Year, and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee created a media center in his name for the purpose of teaching photography to young people living in South Los Angeles. In 2004, he was appointed Honorary Curator of Photography at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, where a gallery in his name is now a key space for special art exhibitions held at the center. Notably, he also received the Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award in 2006. Bingham has photographed numerous cultural icons including Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, The Beatles, The Black Panthers, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and countless others.


I’ve been dancing alone all this time…



Inspired by issues of the heart, the human condition and occasionally characters from her favorite tv shows, Ciele is a songwriter and vocalist whose talent spans from electronic production to stripped-down acoustic vibes. Conveying genuine emotions through storytelling in her songs is her highest aim, with hopes of reaching her audience on a deeper level.

ALLIÉ: You had me at “Stay here, amidst the vibrant memories of our youth...” Ciele, your song, ‘Daydream’ has over 4.8 million streams. There’s a reason. The lyrics invite you to go back to your youth, to the comfort you had or wished you had. Please share the story behind the song, ‘Daydream’.

CIELE: I wrote this song probably ten years ago, so I was around 22 at the time. And, I think it was during kind of that transition between your youth and becoming an adult and trying to come to terms with that in a way. I just still felt so much like a child. But then I was also experiencing adult life… but still really wanting to stay connected. It was that yearning feeling for your childhood, the innocence that it has that you don't realize in the moment. There's a freedom in being a child, or there should be. I guess I was playing with the feeling of nostalgia. I wanted the song to feel like

16 This
is me. I’m a singer.

CIELE: (continued) melancholy in it. I had a great childhood, but then it was also dif ficult. It’s the complicated feelings of who we were in our youth and the things that we went through, but then still yearning for it at the same time. But then there's also a freedom in growing up. I think the yearning is really what comes through musically, in my opinion.

ALLIÉ: I agree with your opinion. Let’s switch gears and talk ‘talent’. Some have a talent for writing verses, others have a talent performing vocals. You have an incredible talent for both. When it comes to songwriting and singing, which was your first love and why?

CIELE: I would have to say singing came first. I grew up in a pretty musical household, and we always had music playing. My family was always singing together. It was just sort of something that we did to pass the time. From a really young age, I would mimic the music that we were listening to and learn to harmonize with whatever was playing. Probably when I was like 3 or 4, I remember standing in the living room and making my family listen to me sing this Celtic Canadian song by the Rankin family. It was like in Gaelic, and I didn't know how to sing Gaelic, but I was just like, “This is me. I am a singer.” By the time I was around 10 or 11, I started writing song. And a few of my early attempts, they were really embarrassing. I'm sure for anybody who's trying to write about love at eleven-years-old, it's going to be embarrassing. But I really found a love of writing and started writing poetry. I found that the combination of poetry and music (which then gets you songwriting) was a really important outlet for me, even if no one was hearing those songs. I've written hundreds of songs, so it's ironic in a way that there's maybe only ten on my Spotify ever. But I’ve written so much, and a lot of that is just because it was an outlet for me to work through whatever it was I was going through… ways that I wasn't feeling understood in life or whatever it was. So, de finitely singing came first, but the writing came shortly after, and I've been doing both ever since.

“…it was an outlet for me to work through whatever it was I was going through.”

nd the words we wanted them to use to melt the bite of the frost”. To me, it speaks to a longing for comfort not given when needed, but wanted in recognition of an uncomfortable reality. Am I reading too deep into this? Or is there a personal story to share here?

You’re not reading too deep. You nailed it. That's exactly what that line is referring to. It's actually so nice to hear you recognize that or articulate in your own words what that means to you, because I think the lyrics of c but also abstract. And so, I was never sure if people were really going to get what I was saying... But yeah, that's exactly what that line means. In my early twenties at the time, I was writing from that perspective. And especially at that time, I had a need for just truly being seen by people, being comforted, being known, told that I was valued or enough. When it comes to the lyrics, “to melt the bite of the frost”, it's kind of basic. cult, people tend to use the analogy of winter. I also grew up in the Northwest Territory. I grew up in a very cold environment. And there were, during that time, some dif ficulties. cally in those moments, to have someone step up for me or tell me that things were going to be okay, that's c, but really it's for anybody as they want to interpret it. But exactly what you said is exactly what it means. It's the cold and the frost of feeling so lonely and alone in all of it, when you just want the warmth and comfort to melt all of that away for you… People aren't necessarily capable of being that for

In ‘Daydream’ you paint such vivid moments in your verses that are so adoptable to so many. You share personal references that so many can claim as their own. Instantly we feel we are with you in each line and every word of your song. As a singer and songwriter, how important is it for you to connect with your audience on this level?

I think very important. I mean, I write for me, but I think in songwriting, there is also a level of writing for your audience as well, making something reasonably relatable. I wrote it for myself, and I wasn't necessarily thinking about



song was almost my plea with the universe.

CIELE: (continued) me still. But, yeah, there's always a hope that there's something in the song that other people can relate to. Some people listen to music and they connect immediately with lyrics. Other people listen to music but don't really hear lyrics; they just connect to the musical feeling that's happening. With Daydream, I really wanted to do both. And I think that I was able to achieve both, and that doesn't always happen. But there was something about Daydream that just happened really organically.

I remember where I was when I wrote it. It was my first time living alone, and I was on my carpet in my living room. I had this loose leaf piece of paper, and my friend Jesse Owens wrote the guitar riff for the song. He had just sent it to me. He was like, “Hey, I just made this thing. If you want to write on it, it's yours, whatever.” And then in a moment I just wrote it. I think I wrote it in 20 minutes. It just kind of came out of me… Sometimes I look at the lines and I'm like, I wrote that. I wonder how it came out of me so quickly. But it just happened.

ALLIÉ: I found you with ‘Daydream’, but fell in love with ‘Ghosts’. Please share the story behind this song. Specifically, I need to hear what’s behind the lyrics “I’ve been dancing alone all this time, give it up.”

CIELE: Thanks for loving that song, too. I think it's such a weird thing as a singer, at least for me personally. I don't necessarily hear people telling me that they're listening to my music very often. I think people are listening to your music a lot more than you necessarily hear about it, or people tell you that they like something and so it's just really nice. You actually listened to it, and you really took in the lyrics. It really means a lot to me. So, thank you for that.

Ghost was my attempt at getting past a string of fairly negative or toxic relationships. In my late teens and early twenties, I was in a series of relationships that were unhealthy, some of them manipulative. I kept repeating the same pattern over and over again. And by the time I got to writing Ghosts, there was the relationship that had just ended in that moment. I really loved the person, but we just couldn't make it work… When you actually still really care about somebody and have to choose to let it go, that's just really painful. I was desperate to just let it go. To move forward, I couldn't let lingering people and their energies stay with me. This song was almost my plea with the universe. I was like, “I'm making this song. I'm writing this. This is me letting go. This is me moving on and forward.” That’s where the line “give up the ghost” comes from.

I really wrote that song for me. That one is really for me. I was desperate. I just was so desperate to be able to move forward. With that line, though, “I've been dancing alone all this time, give it up.” I think what I was trying to get at is that I had been in all these relationships and realized that I was just alone in it all… I was trying to save people or thought they would save me or all these things. And in a relationship, it's supposed to be a partnership. It came crashing on me that all of that was just not wasted time. I learned a lot from it, but I just realized that I was actually just so alone in those relationships. I wasn't supported… “I've been dancing alone all this time.” There was no one else with me. It wasn't a partner dance. It was just a solo dance with rose colored glasses.

“I’m making this song. I’m writing this. This is me letting go. This is me moving on and forward.”
I’m ready to start… to share my voice again.

You aren’t a one or two hit wonder, you are a phenomenal artist of

on so many levels. What’s in the works and what's next for you, Ciele?

CIELE: I'm in an interesting space right now because when the pandemic hit, I had to really pivot what I was doing. The music industry took a really big hit, and I know that affected a lot of people with shows, and just generally what we were able to do with music during that time. I'm also a visual artist. That’s a huge part of what I do. And there was weirdly a ton of opportunities with murals and public art during the pandemic. So I ended up taking a huge pivot. For the last two years, I’ve been focusing mostly on my art stuff. I did a little bit of music here and there, collaborated with other people, wrote a song for the video game RuneScape, which is kind of random, but really fun anyway. But now that things are starting to come back to life, I definitely am focusing on making more music… I think I had a little bit of a break up with music, and now I've finally come back to a point where I found my joy again in it. I am ready to start. I'm working on some stuff right now to put out by the end of the year or early next year and to share my voice again. I think sometimes it can be difficult as a creative person when you're commodifying or monetizing your art, which is also a form of self expression. The industry can be very difficult, and I definitely got a bit burnt out by that. So, I took a bit of a pause, and the pandemic assisted in that pause… Now I'm just trying to find my footing again, but I'm feeling encouraged and definitely have some awesome things in the works.

ALLIÉ: The music industry isn’t an easy one. Seldom is anything worth fighting for easy. That said, for those in the fight to be heard and be seen, what advice do you have, Ciele?

CIELE: That's a hard question. Honestly, I think success can look like a lot of different things… There are so many people in the whole spectrum that are doing it and making it work for them. It’s easy to get discouraged. I still get discouraged, but there's also a beauty in the journey and just getting wherever it is that you get and trying your best. It's not easy. I think a lot of times, especially nowadays, people think they are good and should be getting props or whatever. Yes, you might be amazing. There are many amazing people out there. But you have to work really hard. And not everybody's willing to work as hard as they need to, to get where they could be. So, work hard. Put in the work and the time, but also stay focused on the joy of it... because all the other stuff is superficial, and it will burn you out. As long as you can find that thread that connects you to what you really like about it, that real connection point, then you'll be good. ∎

AwareNow Podcast DAYDREAM
Exclusive Interview with Ciele TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN Follow Ciele on Instagram: @cielemusic ALLIÉ: incredible talent
If I can change, anybody can change.





Our lives are written one chapter at a time. For Eddie Donaldson, his chapters could each be novels of their own. From thriving in the dark to rising in the light, he has countless pages written in languages of loss and love scribed in music and art. He created an industry at an intersection of graffiti art and corporate activations, bridging two very different worlds for the benefit of both. Today, we benefit, as he shares a few personal chapters of his own.

ALLIÉ: I’d love to hear the story of Eddie Donaldson, one chapter at a time. Taking us from where you began to where you are now. So let's start the story of you with chapter one, ‘childhood’. Tell us the story here, Eddie. What was life like for you as a child?

EDDIE: Well, as some probably know, I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. I grew up in a small town. I am an only child with a single mom. I went to St. Francis private school and Trinity Catholic school for high school. I played every sport possible that I had time for. I was a little preppy kid that wore turtlenecks, moccasins and corduroys. Fashion was everything for me. My mom worked at a place called The Starving Artist, which was in the basement of Actor’s


Just being at home with her is a favorite memory.


“…my mom just had my back, even when I was dead wrong.”

EDDIE: (continued) business people. I was lucky to have that super diverse background. I could understand different cultures, different religions and different races from a close and personal perspective.

ALLIÉ: What a beautiful childhood -- to have so many different facets introduced to you at such a young age. What would you say is one of your favorite childhood memories?

EDDIE: There are so many... But because I lost my mom at 16, I would say eating breakfast or dinner at my house when my mom cooked for me. Just being at home with her was a favorite memory. There are also things that kind of stand out. When I joined the basketball team and the football team at Trinity High School, I just remember walking in that locker room and seeing the words respect, loyalty, and integrity on the wall and how that was a ‘level up’ for me in my adolescence. Then there was a time where, when I went to St. Francis. At our 8th grade retreat, I snuck in alcohol, and I got a bunch of us drunk, for some kids probably for the first time. We all got in trouble. We weren't going to be able to graduate. So, my mom went to the headmaster and was like, “No, my kid's graduating, and so are the rest.” And it just was really nice to have a mom that just had your back. At graduation, I wore my tuxedo and went on stage. I took my abacus and all my friends took theirs. It was just a proud moment. It was like, “Oh sh*t, my mom just had my back, even when I was dead wrong.” I have so many memories.

ALLIÉ: Let's talk for a moment about chapter two. Let’s talk about Gloria. Let’s talk about the loss of your mom.

EDDIE: Well, one day after school, I was coming home to buy a new Volkswagen Scirocco that we had been seeing on my bus route for months. I was just turning 16, and I was all excited because we were going to go buy it. That day, I pulled up to my house and there was a bunch of BMX bikes in the front yard. And I was thinking, what the hell are these kids doing in my house? I walked in and found out that my mom was in the hospital. She had an aneurysm – a sudden aneurysm at the age of 36. At that time, there was no medical treatment to fix aneurysms like this. So, shortly thereafter, she lost her life.

ALLIÉ: Just based on the way you described your childhood memories, I can't imagine how dif ficult it must have been for you to lose her.

EDDIE: It was tough. I was an only child. That’s all I knew. My dad was around, but he wasn't really. We didn't have a great relationship. It was quite devastating to have to uproot my life. I went to jail, or juvie, after misbehaving because of her death. I was there another month after she passed away, until my aunt came and got me out of juvie. I was thrown out of the state, our state of Kentucky, until the age 21. I couldn't return. But I got lucky because my godfather was the prosecutor. His best friend was the judge, and my mom's good friend was the defense attorney. So, it was like, you’re going to go to jail until you're 21, or you're going to go live with your aunt in California until you're 21 and not return. I actually had the audacity to ask, “What about jail?” And they were like, not really. You're going to leave Kentucky, and go to California. So I did. It was quite a transition, I would say. All of a sudden it's like eses in white beaters and dickies. I was like, where am I? This is crazy. I thought this was only on TV. And then there was back to school shopping. I used to get $1,000 at Lands End and $1,000 at LL Bean. And then I'm getting $250 to go to Kmart. I thought we were getting socks here, buying socks and underwear. And she was like, no, you're going back to school shopping here. And I honestly didn't even realize they had clothes… It was a life jerker, for sure.


I adapted and masked the pain through hustle…


ALLIÉ: So when we get into chapter three, which would be your LA transition, that's how it began. A whole new reality that you weren't prepared for. It was a complete 180, it sounds like.

EDDIE: Yeah, 100%. But I quickly adapted. I kind of pride myself on being a chameleon that can exist in any environment. I didn't really understand it at that time, but I just did what I had to do. I mean, I got thrown out of a few schools and ended up at a magnet school called Sherman Oak CES. I remember quitting in 10th grade. I was an 18year-old 10th grader. I was selling drugs. I was in class. My pager at the time was going off. You get a number… 150, 75, 50, 200. And I got up to, like $500. And I was like, “Yeah, I need to use the restroom.” I got up, walked out, and I never went back to school. I did whatever I needed to from the age of 16 to 18 to mask the pain and have enough money to buy whatever I felt would make me happy, whether it would was two cars and two motorcycles. By the time I was 18, I adapted and masked the pain through hustle, survival and throwing myself in harm's way.

ALLIÉ: Again, such a huge contrast to the life you had before. This quickly takes us into chapter four, which is Street Life. Again, this chapter could be a novel all its own. Tell us about it. What was that reality like for you?

EDDIE: I moved into what wasn't really a rough neighborhood, but it wasn't a nice neighborhood either. In Louisville, I started selling firecrackers on the 4th of July. I was such a good firecracker salesman. My drug dealer introduced me to weed. And I was like, “Oh, I can do that too? All year round? This is great.” So when I got here, there was a 7-11 right next door to my aunt's house. And I see this guy wearing a Chicago Bulls Starter jacket, some brand new Jordans, and all creased up every day. And I'm going in there with a $1.50 to buy a bag of chips and a soda. Like, what the hell? So, I hit him up and was like, “I need to get like you, bro. What's going on?” So that started my drug sales career here in Los Angeles. I stood in front of the 7-11 every day for a couple of hours, trying to get my $200 a day. Then I graduated through the ranks of that organization, to being muscle because I was this rough country kid that everybody couldn't figure out. Just my presence made people nervous. And then it just kind of kept going. It was never enough. That went on for a while, and then I met some graf fiti kids in the Valley -- some Encino kids with a little paper that were vandalizing, not because they needed to but because they just wanted to have fun. They lived in these nice houses and ran around writing on stuff and stealing from 7-11 and hardware stores. I was like, this is my tribe. I like this. And I also liked the camaraderie of the brotherhood of graf fiti. It was like a crew. It was like a gang without being in a gang, but it was ganglike. We had some surly situations pop up early on, and still do at times. But I just got comfortable. I found a home with these guys from this crew called The Chosen Few or The City's Finest in the Valley, from MYSTIC, RAGE, NYCE, SERF, KRUSH, SKAR, WISE, and BOOH. They just took me in and accepted me for who I was, and it just felt good. So, I stayed. I stayed around and became a graffiti artist. I wasn't very good at it. So, I graduated to the business side of things and started trying to make paper for everybody, and that's how I was able to keep my seat at the table. I was getting these guys some of their first commercial jobs. And it's cool. We literally were going to liquor stores, this is before everything was cool. We’d paint liquor stores for free because we wanted a roll call on the side of the building, which is all of our names. And I'm watching these liquor store owners overjoyed at what they had done. I was like, I want them to pay for this. And my crew was like, “No, I don't think so.” I'm like, “Let me try.” Next thing you know, we're getting paid decent money for a 20-year-old, for a day's worth of doing what you love. And then it's just spawned into a much bigger thing… getting corporate dollars and bridging corporate America and hip hop culture.

“By the time I was 18, I adapted and masked the pain through hustle, survival and throwing myself in harm’s way.”

I have a family…



ALLIÉ: So awesome. So mind blowing to me, the fact that with your business mind you could just see. Let's turn something criminal into something that's corporately supported, right?

EDDIE: Yeah, I've never heard it quite put that way, and I've answered that question like 30 times. And then there was the other side, too. I was a really big fan of hip hop. I was in a breakdance crew in Louisville called The Unique Breakers, where we used to go to bars and just make $300 to $400 a night from people tipping us, from spinning on our heads. And once again, I wasn't very good, but I was able to find the opportunities where we could go in these bars and get paid. I've always been like, the guy next to the guy, right? So out of my love for hip hop, I started a street team company called GuerillaOne. And we work for most of the major labels in the ‘90s on the hip hop side. Here in Los Angeles, from Ruthless Records to Bad Boy Records. We never worked with Death Row, but East Coast and West Coast. We had a sweet spot with bringing East Coast bands here in LA to perform live and also work the records on radio and at retail. So, I had the street. It helped me stay valuable and relevant in the streets, because I had the graffiti artists on one side which were helping me do all the work for the labels. Not only were we getting painting jobs and t-shirt jobs, but we were also getting paid to spray paint names of these artists all over the city and beyond the city, too. So, that was kind of a big part of establishing my foundation here in Los Angeles. It was just running the streets in a way.

ALLIÉ: When it comes to your street life chapter, I'd love to hear a favorite moment. And also the other, side of it. Was it scary? I'm sure there were times that were uncomfortable. Is there a moment from both sides that you could share?

EDDIE: There's just so much that it's hard to summarize. But I will say, I think the thing with graf fiti was just having such a family. I have a family. I have a worldwide family of people that I can count on and call on. A lot of people in this world don't have that… I think that was my takeaway. Forget the money that everybody's made, the millions of dollars made, and that people are still making today based on what we’ve done and what we do. For me, it's just about the brotherhood. And we've lost a couple of those brothers. And on the music side, I think I stood next to so many famous people when they were not famous. The likes of Nas and Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls and the Tupacs. I'm in the room with these guys when they're as hungry as they've ever been because they're not there yet. That sh*t’s contagious to be around. And I took it for granted. I had no idea what we were doing. We were just living our lives, and all of a sudden, here we are. Our life is everybody's life. We got soccer moms bumping Biggie Smalls now. So, I'm proud of that. I'm really proud of that. Not that I figured it out. It figured it out for me. I'm not a genius, but I'm grateful to have been there for the birth of some of these things and people in places.

On the bad side, I mean, sh*t was dangerous. Now that I'm sober again, because I've been going in and out forever. But now that I'm sober, the shame and humiliation pops up on some of the things, some of the lifestyle that I chose for so long… the things that I did and the people that I might have harmed or hurt, whether directly or indirectly. I wish I

“I have a
family of people that I can count on and call on.
A lot of people in this world don’t have that…”

EDDIE: (continued) could relive some of those choices. It was a necessary part of what we were doing at that time to survive. So, I'm not necessarily regretful, because I walked a fine line out there. I was always respectful and decent, but dangerous. And that's the f*cking task within itself. That lifestyle led me to getting shot once and stabbed a few times to almost losing my life. But I don't necessarily regret that part as much as some of the things that I did to other people or in other situations… I put myself in a situation; I put myself in harm's way. So, that's a consequence of that choice and that action. But if I could take back a few of the things that I did, I probably would. Now that I'm entering this spiritual life.. which leads us to chapter five.

ALLIÉ: Onto chapter five, let’s turn the page to your spiritual journey. This is a special place in your life -- the place that you are now. The place where I have come to know, appreciate and respect you. How did this chapter begin?

EDDIE: Well, it started when the then girlfriend took me to Agape. I was always spiritual, just part of the Baptist church as a child. I went every week. I went on Wednesdays, sang in the choir, and ran the collection basket -- all mandatory things to do from my mother and my grandmother. Not by choice. I wasn't like, “Hey, I want to sing.” It was, “You're going to do this?” And I was like, “Okay.” So it's always been there. But when my mom died, I wasn’t real fond of God. I remember in my early twenties, I wanted to fight him. I used to actively request him to come down here so we could look each other in the eye, and I could give him a hot biscuit in the mouth. And then I'd be all right. Drunk and wasted, “Just come down here. I'll be a priest for the rest of my life, if you just show yourself and let me manhandle you real quick.” So, I left my faith behind early. One of our phrases was “F*ck karma. Taking my chances.” Fast forward to Brandy who takes me to Agape. I'm starting to get the message. I'm with it. Anthony Robbins books are out. I'm getting a self-help vibe, right? Waking the giant within. I'm jumping around, and it's cool. But I was always one foot in and one foot out.

When I finally decided to take both feet out was when I had my first daughter, Chloe. I had an episode happen where I woke up one night, with my daughter in one hand and a gun and the other in a PTSD fit. And I was like, “I gotta get out of this sh*t completely.” I couldn’t have those two worlds exist together. If I was going to be a father, I had to be a good man. And being a good man meant letting go of the tools that I'd acquired, my pain, my struggles, my defense mechanisms, or whatever.

Fast forward to about five years ago. I had an incident happen in my life where I drank too much, and I did something that I'm horribly ashamed of to someone that I cared about deeply and still do. After that somewhat violent act, I decided that I needed to change my life completely. And I dove into Kundalini yoga, and I found that I can forgive myself. I can be my genuine self, my authentic self, without fear of being made or being caught. And I'm a nice guy. It's okay to be a nice guy. It's a challenge still. And those of you who have to be around me regularly, you know what I mean. But I am a nice guy now, through Kudalini yoga, I found out it's okay to be nice. It's okay to be sensitive. It's okay to be myself, a childlike, human being. And, through Kundalini yoga, here I am today. And that's how we met, actually. It’s based on that progress and that work that I had done.

ALLIÉ: How exciting is it that these five chapters that we've explored are just the beginning of so many more chapters to come? What are you most excited about, Eddie? We've looked back. Now, in looking ahead, what are you most excited about when you look forward to what's possible?

EDDIE: It's a good question. I think there are a few things. Again, I'm so multifaceted. So, I'm answering from five different brains and mouths, right? I think I'm going to be corny, but I think… people actually getting to know who I really am. I'm not going to get all philosophical and be like, “Well, it's going to be great to live my life through this new lens…” That's cool, but I think it’s just having people getting to know who I really am -- especially people who have known me for a long time. They've known the falsehoods of the image that I created for myself. I like who I am today, and I hope everyone else does too. If people are around me, and they see who I really am, there's nothing not to like. All that other bullsh*t is put to the side. I'm a man of service. I want to be of service every day without expectation of return.

It’s not the life that you’re waiting for. It’s the life that’s waiting for you.

“You don’t have to try to find anything. It finds you.”

ALLIÉ: What comfort, what safety there is in that. Yeah? Just to be able to be your authentic self 100%.

EDDIE: Yeah. It's like Joey. Allié, we met through Joey and Emma. That journey alone with me and Joey… we’ve both been on both sides of this thing in a real way. I used to work with Joey, the Feds sitting outside our house, watching the house, tapping phones. And now me and Joey get to just be ourselves and relax and not be ‘that guy’. Sometimes shut up and listen, instead of know everything, dictate and manipulate. It's just nice to allow life to happen versus to think I know what's best for myself and create scenarios that I think are perfect for me, which really aren’t. I’m looking forward to that.

ALLIÉ: That's awesome. I guess to close out this conversation, certainly there are more chapters to come that I look forward to with you. For people who aren't there yet, who are still back in chapter one or chapter two, who are trying to find their way, what advice would you have?

EDDIE: I mean, that's a multi part answer. I don't think I was ever lost. Even when I was out there, I was okay. I wasn't lost. I was just away from my spirit. I was comfortable there. But what I will say is if you just let go and let God, whatever that means to you… You don't have to try to find anything. It finds you. And that, to me, is the most amazing concept in the world. As simple as it sounds, if you're out there on the streets and you're doing sh*t you're not proud of, that will change… Your circumstance, your current circumstance right now… that's all it is. It's already gone. And the ‘now’ that I was just speaking about is gone. There is only the present, there's only this moment. And if I can change, anybody can change. That's one thing I tell people that are like, “Man, I don't know what to do. I can't get out of this sh*t.” Yes, you can. If I can change, you can change. Because I was a very selfish person, and I was addicted to causing pain and suffering mentally and emotionally, all of it. It was like, if I'm hurting, everybody else is hurting too. And I was hurting for 30 plus years. So, if I can come out of that sh*t, so can anyone else. There's a life out there waiting for everybody. It's not the life that you're waiting for. It's the life that's waiting for you. ∎

AwareNow Podcast WRITING ON THE WALL Exclusive Interview with Eddie Donaldson. TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN
On Instagram, follow Eddie Donaldson (@eddie.donaldson) & GuerillaOne (@guerillaone).
Artwork by: Shepard Fairey
“DREAMERS deserve support and compassion because they were brought to the United States as children and know no other home than the United States. They make a positive contribution to our economy and our society. It is time to give them legal status under the conditions of the Dream Act and let them live without fear of potential deportation. They are American citizens in every practical sense and deserve to be treated as such in legal status.”

It’s a big responsibility, bigger than myself.




Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky and going to Denny Crum and Wade Houston’s basketball camps, I can’t describe how what an honor it is to have the opportunity to interview Coach Kenny Payne, the first black coach of the University Of Louisville Cardinals Men’s Basketball team. My mother would be proud on so many levels. I hope you are inspired by his words, and I hope he wins every game.

EDDIE: First off, I’d like to say it’s an honor to have the opportunity to have a conversation with you. How does it feel to be the new Head Coach of the University of Louisville Cardinals Men’s Basketball Program?

KENNY: It feels good. It’s a big responsibility, bigger than myself. The title, the responsibility of representing so many different facets of people -- the business community, the university, the black community, these basketball players -doing right by them -- this state. It's just a lot bigger than just me and I’m going to try to do the best job I can and represent everybody well.

EDDIE: Growing up in Louisville I went to Denny Crum and Wade Houston’s basketball camps. Tell us about the influence both of these men had on you as a player at U of L.

KENNY: Both have been very instrumental in my growth as a player and as a person. Starting with Wade Houston -when I decided to come to Louisville, my parents knew that I had to have a father figure, a person who could look after me in the areas off the court, as well as on the court. Wade was a person they trusted more than anybody else. Even to this day, I don't make a move without him in every business decision. Wade and his wife Alice are part of my personal board – the Kenny Payne board. Wade was instrumental as a mentor and father figure for me.

Denny taught me about being fundamentally sound, how to be a good teammate, how to play with a group -- all things that are vital to building and being a winning basketball player and building a winning team. A lot of the things that he taught as a coach are relevant today. Probably more relevant because it gets away from the individuality of the game and more about team. In order to win on a big scale, you have to be about team. So Wade and Denny have both had a big, big inspirational influence on my life.

EDDIE: Do you have a daily spiritual practice that you depend upon to keep you balanced?

KENNY: I don't have a specific daily spiritual practice, but I know that God has his hands on me. Always on me. I wouldn't be sitting here today if it wasn't for him. I could have easily made the left turn and got into trouble, but I made the right turn and everything worked out, and that's only through him. It’s probably because of my mother's prayer and she prays for me daily. But I understand that I am a God fearing man and that I wouldn't be here today without his graces.

Above: Kenny Payne & Coach Crum
We’re going to go out and compete and fight, and fight to the end and we’ll see what happens.

the fundamentals. Learn

EDDIE: What advice would you give to high school players about their next steps with all the changes happening in the NCAA?

KENNY: I would tell them to be focused on what is at hand and not to worry about the outside knowing, the credit, the hype of being a basketball player. Learn the fundamentals. Learn and identify who you are early on. Learn what it is to conquer adversity. The quicker you learn those things, the more you're prepared for handling the things that will come later on. Your foundation is vital. As a young, high school player, you need to know what that foundation is. So focus on that. Don't be about the hype of it in a time when everybody else is so worried about the hype.

EDDIE: Are you looking forward to playing the Wildcats in the winter?

KENNY: I am. It'll be an exciting game. We'll see where we are. They have a bunch of great players there and they do a great job. We're going to go out and compete and fight, and fight to the end and we’ll see what happens. It should be a great game and great rivalry.

EDDIE: How important is family support to a young basketball player?

KENNY: It’s vital. I think anytime that you talk about developing players, historically how they were raised is a huge factor. How you're raised comes from how you were parented. And as a family, you have to support your children and love your children. But you also have to be hard on your children so that they can go out into the world and face what they have to face and do it diligently and with confidence.

EDDIE: Let’s talk brands for a minute. What about Louisville's deal with Adidas and the relationships with Adidas?

KENNY: Kenny Klein prepped me for that question. My bad Kenny (Klein), I didn't mean to throw you under the bus buddy. We were prepared for you. I'm going to tell you what I told Kenny Klein last night that nobody knows. In 1989, Adidas endorsed six basketball players for their shoes. I was one of the six. I have an af filiation with Adidas. I was one of the first professional athletes in basketball that they endorsed. My relationship with Nike, to be clear, is not a working relationship. They are my family, the head guy that runs that organization is like my uncle. He's a family member just like these guys. He loves me and I love him. The guys that run that organization, they are part of my family. They spent time together. What I'm saying to you is that we have the both of best worlds if that makes sense.

EDDIE: Did you ever think you would be the head coach at Louisville?

KENNY: When the young kid came from Mississippi came to Louisville, Kentucky he could not read or write. As a young black kid from Mississippi, choosing the University of Louisville to play and get my education is representative of a lot of different things. It represents being the first African American head coach at this school. That comes with a

and identify who you are early on. Learn what it is to conquer adversity.” AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
It’s the reason why I took this job. To bring people together.

KENNY: (continued) heavy responsibility with the type of leadership that I must have. I must be an example for this community, to be all inclusive, and to help heal this community. That is a lot. I need you. I cannot do this by myself. I am not a politician or a reverend. I am a man. A man that believes in doing right by people and I need help. This is a big deal for all young people who aspire to one day stand where I am right now.

EDDIE: What about gaining the trust of the fans?

KENNY: I’m not hiding. For me to take this job I must open my heart and give it to you all so you can understand what I am going through. Meaning, I must be totally transparent in everything I do. Transparent in every way that I go about coaching this team and representing this university. There are two different kinds of success. We win for the moment, and it goes away. Then there is sustained success, which is building a culture of winning with character, integrity, and humbleness. Real success is surrounding young people and having an environment that's conducive to winning. With each young man that comes through this program being able to win in life and not just a basketball game. I do not know what basketball is. I have never experienced basketball. I know that to be great you must love it. You are fighting for your life. Whether your dream is to be in the NBA, or to be successful in a business world, you are fighting for your life. If I open myself up and I am saying it in front of the world how can a fan be against me? And does it really matter if he is?

EDDIE: What does being the first black head coach for University of Louisville men's basketball mean to you?

KENNY: It is the reason why I took this job. To bring people together. What if I am able and we can put this program at levels above where it was at its best. What if, we can win multiple championships. What if, I stood up here and said it's not me. This community helped me to do this. What if, in doing all that I can stand here and say I am humble. This is bigger than me. That's why I took this job. ∎






There are pieces of art that inform dreams, there are others that inspire words. This piece of art by Ariya is one that did both for Allié & Jack McGuire, who responded with in an original poem paired with familiar lyrics.

sweet dreams are made of this creases in time and space that can’t be replaced moments that manifest with or without request who am i to disagree like it or not

i travel the world and the seven seas go further and faster you are your own master of your perception on your life’s reflection

everybody’s looking for something dreams aren’t meant for only the night




The wake up call of our century? Yes. This is the alarm in the form of a documentary that we’ve needed. Not only do you see the degree of deviation of both planet and people, but you feel it as well. THE TERRITORY provides an instant understanding of what’s been done and why we must find a way to undo it.

Q: A National Geographic documentary, THE TERRITORY is a film about the Amazon. What story does it share?

A: Partially shot by the Uru-eu-wau-wau people and filmed over the course of several years, THE TERRITORY offers an authentic portrait of an Indigenous community’s daily life and struggles. With its breathtaking cinematography showcasing the dramatic landscape and richly textured sound design, the film brings audiences deep into the precious ecosystem they are fighting to protect.

Since the Uru-eu-wau-wau were first contacted by the Brazilian government in 1981, their territory has become an island of green rainforest surrounded by denuded farms and ranches — the result of four decades of unchecked deforestation. The community has faced environmentally destructive and often violent incursions into their sovereign territory by nonnatives seeking to exploit the land. Illegal logging and land clearing incursions have become more frequent and more brazen over the years.

Inside Uru-eu-wau-wau territory, there are fewer than 200 people, including elders and children, to defend nearly 7,000 square miles of rainforest. On the edges of the protected lands, a network of farmers organizes to stake their claims through official channels, while individual land-grabbers begin clear-cutting swaths of rainforest for themselves. With the community’s survival at stake, Bitaté Uru-eu-wau-wau and Neidinha Bandeira — a young Indigenous leader and his female mentor — must find new ways to protect the rainforest from encroaching invaders. But rather than rely on others to tell their story, the Uru-eu-wau-wau take control of the narrative and create their own news media team to bring the world the truth.

Q: What was the inspiration for the film?

A: In the summer of 2018, director/cinematographer Alex Pritz was following the progress of proposed environmental policies in Brazil, which posed a grave threat to a unique ecosystem that happens to be a crucial piece in the fight against global climate change.

“For me, climate change is one of the most important issues for us to collectively address right now,” Pritz says. “Time is absolutely running out to deal with this and the solutions being proposed often ignore the people on the front lines. So I began reaching out to people that I thought were doing really inspiring work in the region.”

An early contact was Gabriel Uchida, an independent journalist and photographer who has lived and worked in the Amazon region since 2016, focusing on the lives of Indigenous peoples. A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Uchida speaks fluent English and is accustomed to working as a fixer to arrange interviews and logistics for national and international journalists. Serving the same function for the filmmaker when he visited in late 2018, he was impressed by how Pritz approached his work. “Alex came here to understand, to learn and to listen to people,” says Uchida. “He was openminded, very enthusiastic about talking to people and very respectful.”


The film’s director, Alex Pritz, offers this statement…

“The story of the Uru-eu-wau-wau — a group of just 183 Indigenous people defending an area of native rainforest spanning nearly 7,000 square kilometers in the Amazonian state of Rondônia — first came to my attention in 2018 when I met environmental activist, Neidinha Bandeira. Through Neidinha, the story grew to include Bitaté, the young leader of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, as well as Sergio and Martins, both settlers who wanted to claim land within the protected Indigenous territory. Over the past four years, we have encountered joy and pain in equal measures while building a film that seeks to understand the forces driving the destruction of this magnificent ecosystem and the violence against its protectors. This was a difficult film to make, but for all the reasons it has challenged me as a director, I know it will similarly challenge our audiences.

As a filmmaker, I am deeply committed to understanding more about our relationship with the natural world and empowering others to use film as a way to explore these questions themselves. When Neidinha introduced me to the Uru-eu-wau-wau, I knew the conventional filmmaker-subject relationship wouldn’t be appropriate for this film. First, I have no lived experience with an Indigenous identity. Second, long-form documentary filmmaking was a foreign concept for most of the community: many of the elders had never seen a feature film before. At the same time, the younger generation had a genuine interest in media and technology. I was moved by the Uru-eu-wau-wau and their fierce resistance but realized I had to rethink my understanding of informed consent if we were to work together in telling this story.

When I returned to Brazil, I brought an extra video camera with me and held an informal workshop for the Uru-euwau-wau to demonstrate my process. By moving beyond a verbal explanation of filmmaking and showing what participation in a documentary actually feels like, I was able to open up a more honest conversation about what I was asking of the community. When the pandemic hit, the Uru-eu-wau-wau’s participation in the film grew further. For safety, we agreed no non-Indigenous member of our team would enter Indigenous land until everyone was vaccinated. Instead, we partnered directly with the Uru-eu-wau-wau as co-producers of the film. Through this collaboration, we gained firsthand access to the Uru-eu-wau-wau perspective and found some of the film’s most memorable moments in the footage captured through their eyes.

In one of the early conversations I had with Bitaté and Neidinha, they encouraged me to engage with the surrounding farmers and illegal settlers encroaching on their protected lands. As an American, I saw something eerily familiar in the attitudes Sergio and Martins held towards the land. Both felt entitled to its ownership and viewed themselves as pioneering heroes in their country’s progress. The settlers presented a clear re flection of the mythology of the American West: The ideas of Manifest Destiny, biblical prophecy and the virtue of private property lay at the core of their belief system.

Creatively, I knew I wanted to tell a very focused story, drawing audiences into the lives of individuals directly involved in this conflict. At the same time, we had to ground our viewers in the larger historical and ecological context of the region. To do this, I worked to build a visual language that lived primarily at eye level alongside our characters, occasionally pulling out to wide satellite imagery revealing the scale of forest loss, or pushing in tight on a single insect, allowing us to revel in the magnificent beauty found within any given inch of the rainforest. Ultimately this film is about much more than the Uru-eu-wau-wau or the Brazilian Amazon; it is a story about resistance, conquest and the power of narrative. It is the story of our species, our planet and our collective possibility of a livable future.”

Photo Courtesy: 21st Century Fox

those who wonder if a story can change the world, my answer is yes. It changed mine. I hope it will change yours too.



of Awareness Ties Editor-in-Chief of AwareNow Magazine CLICK, TAP OR SCAN TO WATCH NOW AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
Photo Courtesy: 21st Century Fox
Watch the trailer below, then buy tickets to watch the film…
I gave them a place to express themselves in any manner…
Photo Credit: Spinelli’s


Authentic in every way, Brian Gaughan and his pizzeria are a staple in Louisville, KY. With an appreciation for and commitment to quality, from the ingredients on his pizzas to the writing on his walls, Brian founded Spinelli’s that serves as a cornerstone for a community of artists, musicians and lovers of pizza.

ALLIÉ: While your story started in Philadelphia, your legacy lives in Louisville with Philly’s Own Spinelli’s Pizzeria. Love to hear your story, Brian. Why Louisville? And why pizza?

BRIAN: Well, with Philly being Philly, I had kind of had enough and decided to move on. And I was on my way to Miami, but I ended up stopping in Louisville. I had a good friend from Jersey move down there. I ended up sticking around a little too long and got a good job. I was kind of cursed by opportunity and stayed there. And while I was there, I saw a lack of good pizza, being from Philadelphia. I decided to get into the game. I worked in pizzerias a lot in my life, being younger in Philly. So, I went back home and talked to the old heads there, and they pretty much showed me the ins and outs. And the only thing they told me is I could never come home and do it. That was an agreement we

Photo Credit: Spinelli’s
Photo Credit: Spinelli’s

You’re talking to a traditionalist…

Photo Credit: Spinelli’s

“No cutting corners.”

ALLIÉ: More than building pizzas, at Spinelli’s you’ve built a strong community. You're a cornerstone for creativity in your kitchen and graffiti on your walls. Tell us about the artistry Spinelli’s supports.

BRIAN: I’ve always been into the street art scene. As a young man, I wrote graffiti and pretty much just surrounded myself with people of common interest. I gave them a place to express themselves in any manner… be it music or art. Kind of very open to all kinds.

ALLIÉ: And sometimes that's all that’s needed, right? You just need a place.. and time. Let’s talk hours. Not open 24/7, but almost, your hours are 11am to 5am 7 days a week. Alternative hours for some, but just right for your crowd. Are these hours an integral part of the community you serve? Also, when do you sleep?

BRIAN: The 5 a.m. came up because in Louisville, the last call was 4 a.m. That's kind of how 5 a.m. happened. After the bars and the clubs, we want to be a destination, but we still wanted the whole day. We figured 11 a.m. is about as early as we were going to be able to get up. So, that’s how the hours happened, and we de finitely became a late night staple throughout the years. And I sleep with a lot of help from my people around me.

ALLIÉ: Most have heard of the epic pairing that is ‘chicken and waffles’. Many have very much enjoyed the classic combination, but fewer have experienced it on pizza. What?! Please share the brilliance of this creation.

BRIAN: I can't take credit for that one. My business partner who owns a location with me out in Arizona, Chris Palma, came up with that. I thought it sounded insane. He made it, and it's better than it sounds. A syrup base, no sauce, with deep fried chicken mozzarella, and powdered sugar on top. Honestly, people are like, “Oh, how is it better than it sounds?” It's good.

ALLIÉ: I know what I’m ordering when I stop in. But this isn’t about me. Let’s talk about you. Let’s get personal, Brian. If you had to choose only 2 toppings for the rest of your life, what would they be?

BRIAN: You're talking about a traditionalist. To me, a cheese slice, a plain slice, is the caliber of any pizza. The toppings are good, but if you can't enjoy a slice of cheese, then you're not doing pizza right. Sometimes, I'll get a little crazy and put mushroom on it. For me, that's about it.

ALLIÉ: One last question about pizza, Brian. What is it that makes it so damn good?

BRIAN: That’s easy. Everything we do is how it was taught to me from the older guys back home in Philly. No cutting corners. We do our dough and sauce from scratch. And another thing, even with inflation that we came on, we had to make a decision. There's two things you can do. You can raise your prices or cut your quality. And we've always stood by not cutting quality and using the best ingredients we can. You can't find these recipes on YouTube.


AwareNow Podcast


Exclusive Interview with Brian Gaughan

ALLIÉ: Pizza isn’t your only love, of course. Let’s talk about music. Love to hear about the live music venue you owned in downtown Louisville.

BRIAN: Yeah, we had our location downtown. Unfortunately, it closed down during the pandemic, but we had a location with a good size dining room. And like I said, we've always tried to provide a space for the arts… With this other venue, we're able to offer something, almost daily if we wanted to… It wasn't really a money making thing for us. It was really just to support. With that, it kind of grew and grew, seeing the likes of Jack Harlow and Knocked Loose. It’s amazing to see where they are today. We're real proud to even be part of that whole organic scene. Right now, we're in the process of building out a new venue. Unfortunately, it’s not the size of the last place, but we'll be able to at least offer that space.

ALLIÉ: Onto jetsetting… I’d love to discuss your obsession with travel, Brian. What is it about new places and new people that you love?

BRIAN: It's really just seeing how other people live. It’s just getting out there and looking around. It's my favorite thing in the world. I learned years ago, it’s experience over material items. So with any money I make, I'd rather go out there and experience things. My goal is to see everything. I'm not quite there.

ALLIÉ: Well, there's a lot of world to see, but it sounds like, you're well on your way. Do you have a favorite place you've visited thus far?

BRIAN: For cities, Paris is my favorite. For islands, it’s Bali. Bali is pretty amazing.

ALLIÉ: Whether you are building a pizza, a venue or a community, artistry is involved. What artistic advice do you have for those building something to serve more than themselves?

BRIAN: Artistically, for me, it's just be yourself. Build off of things that influence you. Persistence is 100% a key to anything. Everybody's got to tell you that you can't do it. You got to just push on. And if it's not organic, you can tell. You can tell what's fake and what's real. At the end of the day, time always tells. ∎

Follow Spinelli’s on Instagram: @spinellispizza_

I understand that feeling of ‘this just hurts too much’.
Photo Credit: Name



Allow me to introduce you to Isabella Blake-Thomas. She is the Awareness Ties Official Ambassador for Suicide Awareness. How well do you know Isabella?

In this episode of AwareNow Unplugged, we learn about Isabella’s drive and passion to raise awareness about suicide. We discover a few items on Isabella’s bucket list and hear her favourite celebrity impression. We also see what super power Isabella would like the most and how she would love to be remembered. It's all here and lots more. Here is just a taste…

PAUL: How would you like to remembered?

ISABELLA: I’d like to be remembered as someone who always gave good advice… I’d like to be remembered as someone who gave good hugs… This next one is serious and the last one is for fun. I’d like to be remembered as someone who was always there for my friends and my people who needed me. I like to think of myself as someone who is there for anyone. I always say to people, “Look, even if we’re in disagreement, I’m always here regardless.” That’s never going to change… And then I would like to be remembered as someone with really good skin… or nice

Writing by: Dream Photo by: PowerOne
Above: (Left to Right) Dream, Slick, Ice-T & Afrika Islam



I first met KING Dream from many Crews and PREZ of his own S.M.D. Crew in early 1985 at Belmont Tunnel but I never really talked to him until 1987 while he worked on the big walls along Crenshaw Blvd. This was in early 1987 when he was hanging with Ice T. I stepped up, asked the men to pose for my Can Control Graf fiti Magazine, they did, and I shot the classic photos of Ice, Dream and Ice's team that have been a fan favorite ever since.

From that day on, Dream, Risky, Charlie and I HUNG OUT a lot! We painted nearly every weekend and Bombed many, many weeknights. Dream was a warm, funny and REAL HUMAN. His heart was as big as his love of life, and I am proud to have called him a friend.

Dream, Risky and I started what we called THE HITTING METAL TOUR in 1988-89. This tour was just like it sounded; Paint everything and anything that was metal and if it "rolled" the better including AIRPLANES, CITY BUSSES, UCLA CAMPUS BUSSES, FREIGHT TRAINS AND A STRETCH LIMO.

In Early 1988, I drove Dream, Charlie, Risk and Slick to San Francisco and Oakland to hit EVERYTHING. Back home we were up together at every Yard, and we led the way on many Spots that Bombers still use today including the first to paint along the L.A. Metro Blue Line and every freeway from Carson to The Valley.

Dream was one of the first on freights too. Him, Charlie and I were Hitting Freights early in that scene and often. Dream was not just a Writing partner he was a friend that slipped right into any situation with anyone I knew from Punkers to Hollywood cool kids.

I miss him very much. The day I found out he passed was so crazy sad but also so crazy on its own because it was a day I spent painting for a private collector. It was the first time I had painted in a long time. To get this news that day was......too much. I cried. ∎




In Aug, 1989, King Charlie DTK and I released the worlds first Graffiti MAGAZINE. We loved the NYC, Graffiti News Paper before us but we wanted to go in a different style to show the world our Graffiti LIFE. A clear, glossy page, magazine layout that showed civilians our Graffiti culture. After one year under our working title of Ghetto Art I branched out alone and changed the name of the ZINE to Can Control! I increased the page count, increased the photo count and started the worlds first mutii page interviews with Graffiti Writers. I also went to color making Can Control the worlds first Graffiti MAG in color.

Writing by: Dream
Photo by: PowerOne
Writing by: Dream
Photo by: PowerOne
I want to encourage women everywhere to stay strong and hold the line.


Women are fighting battles all over the world right now, some without weapons other than their voices.

Women are fighting battles all over the world right now, some without weapons other than their voices.

In Afghanistan, women are fighting for a right to an education and to be seen & heard, literally.

In Ukraine, women are fighting for their country and survival.

In America, women are fighting for their reproductive rights. Etc.

Not every battle has to be so extreme.

Sometimes women's freedoms are infringed upon in other ways, like nursing babies in public without being shamed, but the wars rage on.

At times, it may feel futile to fight back, especially when the odds are not in our favor.

However, through it all, hope for a better tomorrow continues to spur women to raise their voices in protest even if their words appear to fall on deaf ears.

It is never a waste of time or effort to fight against injustice or to oppose those who would oppress a whole demographic based on their sex.

Change won't happen by accident, but it WILL occur little by little over time if women, in this instance, hold those accountable for their words, actions, and decisions.

I want to encourage women everywhere to stay strong and hold the line.

You are not alone.

Together we are a mighty force.

So, let's raise our voices proudly. Let’s hold our heads high, and continue pushing for a more desirable future for ourselves and our daughters… ∎



Sometimes voices Not heard but seen Offer lines To read between.

Sometimes statements Are made by action, Not by words With potential retraction.

Sometimes cries Made in silence Move the needle And evade the violence.

Sometimes voices Are fervently raised In stillness and silence To be equally praised.
CLICK, TAP OR SCAN TO WATCH NOW Original Poem by Allié McGuire
everything bottled in and I didn’t understand how to release and let go.




Kaspa is one of London’s most loved queer urban DJs and has resident spots at some of London's biggest Urban LGBTQ events including; Urban world (Scala), LXZ Events (Libertine & TAPE), Juice London, (Proud embankment) and G.A.Y (Heaven). Kaspa has DJ’ed for Pride on London's first BAME stage and UK Black Pride as well as making guest appearances on Exit and Don City Radio. In her spare time she writes music and helps with children’s workshops also writing music and running DJ sessions.

TANITH: Kaspa, you have mentioned that your music journey started in 2011 after attending workshops with Young Urban Arts Foundation - tell us about that experience?

KASPA: In 2011, I was living in a hostel and struggling with mental health. The hostel was supportive in guiding young people. They had life skills and music sessions and workshops for computers and things like that, and I decided to take the music workshops.
There were times, because of my mental health, I wasn’t able to come out of my room.

“…three times before the age of 19, I was a victim of sexual assault.”

KASPA: (continued) There were rap and DJ workshops I attended every week but there were times, because of my mental health, I wasn't able to come out of my room. The tutor would literally call up and say ‘Kaila, you've got to come downstairs. Let's write some lyrics. Let's do some music. Let's be creative. Don't be in your little bubble’. That helped a lot. It was a big discovery and a very much needed discovery at the time.

TANITH: I am aware that you were suffering with mental health issues at the time. What was behind your decline in mental health and how did music help you?

KASPA: I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression age 14. My childhood wasn't the best and quite traumatic, a kind of dysfunctional family. My mum was an alcoholic and epileptic. I was a carer before the age of 11 and helped look after my little brother. Then three times before the age of 19 I was a victim of sexual assault. That had a great impact on who I was and a massive impact on my anger and mental health. I was literally all over the place. I had everything bottled in and I didn't understand how to release and let go. I was in fights and would self harm. It could be anything from physical self harm to drinking. The music, especially the writing, was a huge release for me. It made me realise feelings that I didn't understand before. It was a certain way we opened our minds for workshops and wrote down words that you didn't realise you were feeling. I wrote this track and it’s something people wanted to hear and it’s something about myself. That sense of achievement after you've done that was huge. My first song was really deep but after I'd done it I was like, okay, I've got that out. Now I can almost be me. Everything after that was a bit more happy, Kaila was kind of dealt with, and it was Kaspa that was coming out now. That's where DJ’ing came from just knowing that I was able to express myself creatively.

TANITH: In 2013 you had your first booking and residential spot at an LGBT club in Vauxhall London. How did it feel to take your music to the next level?

KASPA: Mixed emotions. I went to a club one night and a lady, who’d seen me do open mic, asked me to MC for her club. And I told her that I don't MC, I rap and DJ. She said, “Okay, let us try you as a DJ then”. I literally just had house and garage then so I had to build on my music with literally two weeks to do so. Just before the booking came one of my brothers was suffering with drug problems and he had taken my laptop and sold it so all of my music was gone. I had four days to get everything I needed to do this. It was a huge challenge because as much as I was prepared, I didn't have anything. I had no choice but to spend time preparing. I was up until 7am in the morning and sleeping 7am to 11am. It was an impactful transition for me, but also a learning curve that prepared me for every challenge that followed. It was very rewarding knowing that I came from nothing and had nothing, but I'm here now like playing house and there are 300 people there for me. So it was a mad balance, but it was a sense of achievement at the same time.

TANITH: What’s the most impactful gig you have done so far and why?

KASPA: I’m not sure if it's just me that feels like this, but if you're growing in whatever career you're doing, surely everything that you do should be the most impactful? I would have said two years ago that it was UK black pride because as a queer person of colour I represent for my queer people and my black people. The fact that I was asked to DJ there in front of so many people was a massive achievement for me as Kaspa. The year after that, I got London pride, which is even bigger as a person of colour. This year I got the Meltdown Festival for Grace Jones. Yesterday I got booked for Tape London, which is one of the biggest clubs in London. So it's literally everything you move on from before but I also know where I want to be. So everything that I do is a greater impact than the time before.


TANITH: As mentioned you also do a lot of work with children, despite being so busy with your music career, why is working with young people so important to you?

KASPA: It's important for me because I come from a dysfunctional family. Two months before my mum passed away, I was crying and saying I wish she could have done more but because of her mental health, drinking problems and epilepsy she wasn’t able to be that mother that I know she would have wanted to be. I wasn’t getting it from my mom, my dad's not there and I'm getting in trouble at school, shouting at teachers, getting into fights. There's nowhere for you to go and as you get older (not me personally) you end up getting in trouble with the police.

It's only when I got to 21 I realised I've had all these opportunities to make something of myself and I haven’t. I do believe if there was support from anybody, that myself and a lot of the young people that you see in this generation would have had a platform for opportunity to actually make something for themselves just out of something as simple as creativity.

If it worked for me then I know we can work with these young people. I run workshops and literally let them write whatever they want, swear words, whatever you want to use, and then we swap the swear words and the threats out and it works. The flipside is finding out what's your talent? I want to see what the young people can achieve. Just to know that a child has got a role model that doesn't have to be the parent.

TANITH: If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would that be and why?

KASPA: When I knew that this was gonna be one of the questions, I actually cried because that is a big question. I watch RuPaul Drag Race and towards the end they ask the Queen's that and that means a lot because not only have they had the confidence to impersonate a female but they have also had their own struggles. A lot of that re flects who I am. You don't ever think that you'll be honest to yourself, so it did make me emotional because where do I start? Where do I end?

In a nutshell, hold on. Don't question too much that you don't understand because it will make you worse if you can't get the answers. Stay focused, find something positive that that you love, and work on that. Whether it's art, painting, music, singing, rapping, football, hold that, because there's gonna be a time when you don't have anything in life and that's the only thing that holds you.

Sometimes I'm not able to express myself or people can't understand where I'm coming from or we just can't communicate and the one thing I go back to is music, whether it's listening, writing or just meditating that's my go to. Go to your safe haven and do it unapologetically and to the best of your ability. Make sure you've got people around you that are on the same wavelength. Stay focused, hold on to something good and live it well. ∎


Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global

Tanith is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.

78 Listen to Kaspa’s music here: or Follow Kaspa on Instagram: @kaspa_uk

Your dreams are the language of your soul…

Photo Credit: Nina Duncan


Theresa Cheung has been researching and writing about spirituality, astrology, dreams and the paranormal for the past twenty-five years. She has a Master's degree from King's College Cambridge University in Theology and English. Theresa is a dream decoding expert and bestselling author who has dedicated her life to researching and promoting the transformative and healing power of what is invisible, infinite and unseen in our lives.

ALLIÉ: You decode dreams, Theresa. I have one for you… When I was a little girl, I had a recurring dream for a few years - not every night, but every now and again. I remember it clearly to this day. This wasn’t your standard dream with a specific set of characters or certain sequence of events. It was a moving image. This is what I saw and felt. Grey. A light grey background with a dark grey line pulled across the center. It looked like a piece of dark grey yarn, perhaps. As it pulled across I felt calm and safe. However, moments would come where the yarn would get all knotted up into a large tangled ball in the middle. I felt uncomfortable and scared. Then the yarn would untangle and straighten out. I felt safe again. So… what do you think?

THERESA: I love it. In my next book, I want to include it because it’s a textbook example of how dreams work. I'll try and be as brief as I can, but there’s so much to unpack here. First, when a dream reoccurs, it means that it's a very

We need to focus on what unites us rather than divides us. We’re all dreaming.
Photo Credit: Nina Duncan

THERESA: (continued) that you've actually got the message unconsciously without realizing what it was trying to tell you. But what was it trying to tell you? Well, I want you to think of your dream as a poem and a teacher at a school puts it on a table and says to you, “Interpret that.” You would go into your symbolic, metaphorical, literary mind and look for all the meanings beneath the surface. Let's just unpick them starting with the image. That's a memory, isn't it? We have images on our phone to remember things. So that's why it's an image. It's all about memories. The theme of this dream is memories, and in your dream, it's the gray color. Colors are very signi ficant in dreams. Gray is a classic symbol of maturity. So, this is something this dream is trying to tell you, something that you're going to learn through life experience.

The yarn is a symbol of a story. You spin a yarn, you get knotted up. And what it's saying is that in your life, you're going to encounter roadblocks, you're going to encounter points in your life as you grow up that just don't make sense. And you think, Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why was I with this person? Why did I do that project? And at the time you're going to be angry with yourself and not understand it, but what the dream is trying to say to you is to return to that theme of maturity and, with the hindsight of time, you will look back and you will understand all those loose ends and knots. But maybe not now. So, stop trying to work them out and just think of them as a lesson that you are being taught. That's one of the beauties of getting older. You look back and everything makes sense. But it suggests to me, as you haven't had this dream recently, that you actually know that life wisdom comes with age and sometimes the knots, conflicts and problems are absolutely essential for your evolution. There are things you need to go through. You have no idea why and it's asking you to shift your attitude. So, when you encounter these roadblocks again to think it’s happening for a reason. I don't necessarily need to understand, but it’s telling me to course correct. And that's what that dream is. It's beautiful and it shows someone very visionary and spiritual at a very young age. Your nocturnal intuition was already giving you that highly evolved message which people who are older would understand much more than a child.

ALLIÉ: Wow. Okay, so I have goosebumps right now. I’m a little bit teary. That's incredible. Here’s the thing… When a dream is shared, we often hear, “Oh, it's just a dream.” Often our dreams are discounted. And so my question is, should they be? What is it about our dreams, Theresa, that is absolutely valid and that adds value to our lives?

THERESA: Everything about your dream adds value. Nothing is trivial. And it breaks my heart that some people consider dreams nonsense to be forgotten. These are priceless messages from your heart, your intuition. What happens is during the day, your dreaming mind – your intuition – notices things that are really important. But your ego, your conscious, your reason, and your rational state, which you need to operate in the world, are not giving it airtime and not allowing you to reflect on it. Your heart however knows these things matter, that these feelings matter. So, what happens when you fall asleep and dream? Your ego, reason, and logic are missing in the dream state. They go away for a while. Your intuition is unleashed and it's bursting to tell you about things that you’ve missed in your waking life. Dreams are about what's happening right now that you need to reflect on more.

The reason we don't understand them is because they talk to us in a different language. And of course they do because you're in a different state of reality, you're unconscious, and there is a different language there. If you went to another country, you'd have to learn the language to understand it properly. You need to understand the language of your dreams. It talks to you like a poet in symbols, metaphors, and puns. Dreams, love, puns, associations, pathetic fallacy, all these things, they speak to you like an artist. If you’re an art lover and you look at works of art and all these meanings pour out, that's exactly how I dream every night. You're being given a work of art or poetry to decode. Why? Because it brings the power of reflection into your life. And I don't know anyone alive who could not bene fit from more reflection about what they're doing with their waking life.

“The reason we don’t understand them is because they talk to us in a different language.”

“Dreams illustrate our shared humanity.”

ALLIÉ: With a Master’s degree from King’s College Cambridge University in Theology and English, there are a number of specialties you could have pursued. You chose to focus on dreams, spirituality, astrology and the paranormal. What was it that personally called you to this pursuit?

THERESA: Theresa: Well, I kind of was born into it. I was born into a family of traveling spiritualists, astrologers, and psychics mediums. So, it was commonplace for me to go to services where people connected to the afterlife. We would consult tarot cards with astrology and decode dreams. I couldn't see visions but what my upbringing gave me was a longing to understand people who said they could. We were very passionate and unconventional. So, it was just commonplace for me to look at the world as signs and synchronicities to decode.

I don't know how, because I was home schooled, but I got offered a place at King’s College. I couldn't believe it when I went there. It was a shock to discover that not everybody thinks like me. A lot of my beliefs about there being an unseen world and dreams having power were seriously challenged. But it was also good for me to be up against academic scientist skeptics, as I was able to really fine tune my beliefs and what I settled on because, as I said, I can't claim to have psychic powers. I did however have very vivid dreams, and these dreams sometimes were precognitive. I'd have a dream, and then a couple of days later some aspect of it, often trivial, would play out. And I wanted to understand that. Also in religions, dreams play a big part, so I specialized in theology. And it just took off from there.

When I left Cambridge, I was blessed by book after book from leading publisher after leading publisher, who trusted me with quite controversial subject matters because of my academic credentials. So, it really helped because I'm very much someone who says, “Look, this is my experience, this is the research, but I'm not going to tell you what is true or not. You make your own mind up.” And what I found is dream decoding is a great way to interest the mainstream in the spiritual, in the unseen.

ALLIÉ: Dreaming is important. It’s an experience that everyone can identify with. Everyone can say, I've had a dream. It’s a connective thread.

THERESA: Whoever you are, whatever your age, political belief, culture, background, you dream. Dreams illustrate our shared humanity. They unite us. We need to focus on what unites us rather than divides us. We're all dreaming.

ALLIÉ: With regard to our shared humanity, I agree with you that we are all ‘spiritual beings having a human experience’. This ‘experience’ is one that has a start and an end. This lifetime is one of many timelines we have. Love to hear your thoughts on time.

THERESA: Theresa: Well, I'm glad you asked because as part of my research and writing, I collaborate with scientists, including those that research consciousness. About five years ago, I had the privilege to collaborate with an absolutely amazing neuroscientist, Dr. Julia Mossbridge, who I call the Time Lady. She studies time and precognition. Dr. Mossbridge also coauthored a book called ‘The Transcendent Mind’ which was published by the American Psychological Association. It was the first book to pose the idea that a part of us can exist separate from our body and brain, i.e., our consciousness. It's radical and exciting that the American Psychological Association could actually publish that. So, if consciousness can survive body and brain death, as often near death out of body experiences show, why not? Can we not exist beyond our material form? We don't know. There is no proof. But I always say there's no proof that there isn't life after death.

One of the great privileges about being a very proli fic writer in this area is when I invite people to share their stories with me by including my email address in my books, I get so many responses. Stories from people who believe they've had a past life and who believe in this part of us that can exist separate from our body and brain. Now, I call this the long self over time. Eric Wargo, a fascinating writer, wrote a book called ‘Time Loops’ where he talks about our past, present, and future self all existing at once. It's hugely complicated, and a lot of people will say this sounds like gobbly goop, but that's wonderful because in my research with scientists, both those who are interested in consciousness and those who are not, they don't actually know what time is. They can't properly de fine it, which is


THERESA: (continued) fascinating. What is time? And I guess all we have is the present moment right now. But even right now, the person I was at the start of this interview has gone, has evaporated, but it was still me. I mean the person I am now is new because my cells have regenerated. The person I was as a child is dead. But I'm still here. So there's a part of me that is eternal, that exists with all these cells that reinvent themselves every day. And you could say that body death is just another transition to another phase of existence. So have I answered your question?

ALLIÉ: You've actually inspired several more questions. In your time here, Theresa, as a best-selling author you’ve written over 40 books. Your latest is entitled ‘How To Catch A Dream’. It’s the ultimate toolkit for lucid dreaming. For those unfamiliar, what is lucid dreaming?

THERESA: Well, first of all, I wrote that because so many people said to me, I love what you're doing, it really makes sense, but I don't remember my dreams. So, I had to reassure everybody, you do dream. You're just not recalling it. And there are certain proven tools, techniques, and tips that I give in the book to trigger dream recall, because dream recall is a sign of holistic well being. People who have regular dream recall tend to cope better with anxiety, even if they have nightmares. If you learn to work with nightmares, you can transform them. Lucid dreaming is the Holy Grail of dreaming. It's what that movie Inception was all about. Essentially, you’re in a dream and you suddenly know you're dreaming and then you can potentially influence how that dream unfolds. Now, many people will have had that time when they're in a dream, they know they're dreaming, but what happens is there's a rush and they wake up, and the dream collapses. So, it's tools and techniques to stay in that dream state.

Going back to the earlier subject of manifestation if, in your dream state, you can actually be and do what you long for, you are really helping yourself in your waking life. Because most people's roadblock is themselves – their lack of selfconfidence, self-love, self-care, and self-awareness. If in the dream state you can create the world that you want your waking life to be, that's when the magic begins. That's why lucid dreaming is so powerful.

Lucid dreaming is very effective for veterans who can't get over the horrors of what they saw. After being taught lucid dreaming techniques, we see remarkable healing and progress. Another exciting development is bringing lucid dreaming work into prisons to help people better understand themselves. I was really surprised that in Chicago women's prisons, for example, my dream dictionary was one of the most requested items. If you are doing time, you dream and you want to understand yourself better. In schools, there is also an initiative to help children not fear their dreams and, in their dreams, explore their creativity. A lot of people think they're not creative because a teacher or somebody has said, you can't draw, you can't sing. But every night when we fall asleep, we are the ultimate creators. You can be or do anything. You can be an artist. You can be a singer. You can go to space. So, it can help children love their imagination and their creativity, and to not fear their dreams. That way, when they fall asleep, they’re excited to embark on the biggest adventure of their day.

Google was inspired by a vision in a dream that Larry Page, the co-founder had when he was at Stanford.”

As I mentioned, writing your dreams down is so important because it will help you brainstorm, because dreams take you right outside the box. In our waking life, sometimes you need a leap of faith, don't you, to make a movement forward in your career or with a project. Reason and logic will always shut those leaps of faith down and say, no, that doesn't make sense, that's ridiculous. But in a dream state, you can connect something with something else that you never would have dreamed of doing, because your dream state allows that to be possible. And that's where great leaps of faith and movement forward happen. Even Google was inspired by a vision in a dream that Larry Page, the co-founder had when he was at Stanford. He woke up in the middle of the night after dreaming that everything could be downloaded onto one page. He dropped out of Stanford, and a couple of years later, Google was established. A company which arguably has changed the world all began with a vision and a dream. Could he have done that in the waking state? That infinite possibility and potential of everything on one page? He was a computer geek so in his room all these computers were scattered about so he went to bed constantly with that on his mind.


AwareNow Podcast


Exclusive Interview with Theresa Cheung

THERESA: (continued) If you wake up in the middle of the night with a dream on your mind, that is a real calling card from your intuition. Write it down. It could be possible. One another thing. If you want to dream, set the intention the night before about what you want to dream about. Mull over it as you're very impressionable in that state. Between waking and sleeping, your brain is very plastic so feed it what you want it to tell you. Tell yourself you're going to dream, tell yourself you're going to remember it, and tell yourself what you're going to dream about. That's also a technique that is a precursor to lucidity. But don't despair if you don't wake up in a dream or have amazing lucid dreams. Symbolic, psychological dreams are just as valuable.

I don't actually go into lucid dreaming until the last couple of days, because it's a 21-day program. Before that, it's dream recall, how to understand your dreams and loving your dreams. Because I believe every time you love your dreams, what you're actually doing is you're loving yourself. Your dreams are the language of your soul, the messages from the heart talking to you in a very complicated, artistic, visionary futuristic language. Take the time to learn it, and you will not regret it. You can start looking at your waking life. Like, at the moment, I'm thinking, am I dreaming this? What's the meaning? That's a wonderful way to live because you don't take anything super ficially anymore. Everything has layers and deeper meanings. And I think our lives can be so enriched if we bring that depth to all our conversations and interactions.

ALLIÉ: For those feeling lost and trying to find their way through life, what advice do you have? For those wanting to become more aware not only of their dreams and their meanings but of themselves, where should they start?

THERESA: Having a good night's sleep is a great start, right? Self-care is absolutely fundamental. You must be your own life coach, your own champion. Stop looking for other people and things to nurture you and support you, and to tell you what you need to do with your life. And you can start in no better place than getting a good night's sleep, right? Make sure your bedroom is tranquil. This is an act of self-care, treating sleep as sacred. When you sleep, your body and cells renew. You dream these amazing dreams and you wake up recharged and refreshed. I know this sounds very basic, but this is fundamental self-care. Get a good night's sleep, and then when you wake up in the morning, just stay still for a few precious moments. Those first two or three minutes upon waking are everything. You set the tone for your day… We can consciously choose upon waking to just marinate, let any dreams bubble to the surface, and feel overwhelming gratitude for those dreams. We can imprint on our minds a grateful, mindset for any intuitive insights that come. ∎

Learn more about Theresa, her books and her work online:

…until she spoke out, it was we who were harmless.


We are on a luxury liner equipped with every convenience a modern traveler could desire. We can climb rocks, eat haggis, call our brokers and dance under the stars. There are no Somali pirates here, no bird-killing oily froth. We are equally comforted by the churning of the sea and the groaning of the buffet tables.

A few of us spot a glimpse of white far in the distance. We argue about what it could be. We flag down a steward.

“That white thing over there? What it is it? A sail?”

“Over there? That thing? Iceberg. No big deal. No problem.”

There is silence. According to what all the experts say, there shouldn’t be an iceberg within 500 miles of here.

We accost a bartender, order some gin fizzes and demand that he send someone from the bridge down to talk with us.

The man’s white uniform hurts our eyes.

“We’re heading toward an iceberg!”

“We’re well aware of that, ladies and gentlemen. We have an enormous amount of time to make course corrections and we will. There is no cause for worry. Go back to enjoying yourselves, please.”

The ship continues unswervingly on its path. Our laughter still comes, but it’s as stingy as a winter sunset. We know now that, no matter what we’re told, we will strike the iceberg. It is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it. Absolutely nothing.

A server rushes by with a huge tray of drinks. We steal them.

A voice cuts through our inebriated haze. “Why don’t you just take over the wheelhouse?”

It is a young woman, in her mid to late teens perhaps.

We hem and haw.

“We know nothing about navigation.” “They won’t let us!” “We should do what we are told.”


The girl is not persuaded. “There are many of us and only a few of them. We don’t have to be Magellan. All that matters is that we turn this ship around and use the radio to contact other ships that are in the same predicament.”

“But who will lead us?” we ask.

“You don’t need leaders,” the girl said. “You need actors, people who will take action. I will do my part.”

And she set off for the wheelhouse, her stride steady and her head held high.

After a pause, a few of us followed her, then more and more until every passenger was on the march. We couldn’t, after all, let harm come to a harmless girl, even though we knew that until she spoke out it was we who were harmless.

The ship slowly began describing a wide arc. The crew joined in our celebration. And the captain? He was last seen swimming for the iceberg, dreaming of the revenge he would never take with an army he could not raise. ∎

Writer & Producer

BURT KEMPNER is a writer-producer who has worked professionally in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Florida. His work has won numerous major awards, and has been seen by groups ranging in size from a national television audience in the United States to a half-dozen Maori chieftains in New Zealand. Spurred by his love for inspiring young people, he started writing children's books in 2015. Learn more about Burt and his books at his website:

COURSE CORRECTION Written and Narrated by Burt Kempner
fall asleep to the sound of waves, some fall asleep on top of them.

It was my dream… Not to run anymore.




Ogimaa carries the intact teachings, of the first people, forward in time. He was educated only in the world view and understanding of the first people of Turtle Island. He was hidden and educated without interruption until the 1970s. He carries forward the teachings and an uninterrupted hereditary leadership documented to the time of Chief Pontiac and the first peace and friendship treaties with Europeans. This is an international treaty between hereditary leaders of first peoples nations and the hereditary leadership of the crown as committed to by King George.

My name is Acha-Kooh-waay. This is my spirit name. Being the leader for Foothills Ojibway First Nation is not easy sometimes but it’s good in a way. I’m going to talk a little bit about what I learned growing up and how this world we were put in is all connected. I am Anishinaabe of Foothills Ojibway First Nation in Canada… which comes from our Anishinaabe word meaning “clean land”.

Today we have a beautiful day… Green, green leaves… flowers… lots of birds…. Life is good as it can be on this land. The water is not as good as it should be… I just wanted to say that life used to be good, when we followed creator or God, whatever his name is. When we follow his instructions, the law lies in what he has created for everything, and not only here in Canada but in all the world.

In my language there is a word that means clean and beautiful mother earth. That is how I would describe Turtle Island and not only here in Canada. We’re all in this world together… Whatever goes in this land you are part of it. Without water, that means nothing functions and that includes people. God, whatever you call him, created us to be human beings, to be people... maybe with a different colour or different features, but we’re all human beings in the eyes of God.

Creator put people in different parts of the earth. Wherever we may be, we grow and get to know the island or the world that we came to be in. We enjoy the air. We enjoy the sun. We enjoy the life we have. Everything that comes from the land. We are human beings, a spirit within the spirit of everything that was put here. We are all part of it.

In the eyes of God, we are people... We are human beings. Everybody came to be born in this world as was the intention of the Creator.

We have been on Turtle Island, in the part that is now called Canada after European contact. We are first people of the land. Other people came later after the flood from France and Europe. I know it’s like that all over the world. People come from different parts of this world to go to different islands, such as Canada, Europe, Africa, or different parts of the world, but my homeland is what I call this land. God has put me in this land of ours.

People came to visit us in the 1400s…. About 1492…. And soon after somebody decided he wasn’t going to recognize us as human beings. That was the beginning of cultural genocide…. people only recognizing others by race. This was the beginning, but this is not what we all are in God’s eyes. This was the Pope of that time.

My people of Foothills Ojibway, Anishinaabe people, are not even recognized in their homelands… Even though they have always been here. Someone else decides if we should be recognized in our homeland and I think that wasn’t the intention of God. Creator intends that we all belong to this world regardless. In my island called Turtle Island now Canada, I’m still not human according to the government in 2022 today. I’m still not recognized in my homeland by the government, which is a visitor who came from somewhere else leaving his ancestors behind. People who were put in different parts of the world know that as their homeland.

Now more than 60 years later, I still have that dream…to be recognized as humans.

I’m telling the world; I don’t know if it’s only happening here in Canada. Is it only this part of the the world that people are not recognized in their homeland? I’m reaching out to world leaders and reaching out to United Nations to please define and help with this. I’m also asking for the Pope to represent God in the way that God would have intended humans to be…. as one. I don’t think God would not recognize me in this world. I think God recognized all of us as one race, regardless of culture, even here in Canada.

In Canada we weren’t allowed to believe in our own culture or spiritual practices and were not recognized as human beings believing in the one God… the same as any Christian believes in one God and giving us human rights. Sadly, now there is only a very small number, a handful, that truly believes in the one God.

I think it is time that the Prime Minister of Canada, the Queen, the Governor General and the Pope start recognizing each other and all of us again in a way that God made us to be. We are people with human rights in their homeland.

Although my origin comes from what we call Canada… the government here ignores our needs and continues many forms of genocide.

First, they pushed us to different parts of the land. Some of us ran to protect our children. We ran to protect our culture, our spirituality, our knowledge, and our teaching structures so the in fluence of the Catholic Doctrine of Discovery did not impact us… I think that should be revoked because it’s not fair. I don’t think that was Creator’s, God’s, intention not to recognize all humans as one race.

So, leaders all over the world, we must begin to think about what God created for us, each of us, and the spirit and creation we share.

I thank you for listening, and I would like to share my dream as I am asking all of you to help work towards this…

My dream is to be recognized in my homeland with my people… All people dream dreams … they begin from when they are girls and boys.

My dream is a peace dream, for me to be recognized as a human being. I have a dream, but other people in my homeland, in Canada do too…

You have dreams, You have dreams on your own as a teenager…

You have dreams when you become an adult…

You have dreams when you become a senior citizen. All those dreams never end… And I have those dreams still today.

The dreams started when I was five, seven or nine years old…

A dream that I would never have to run…

A dream that I can take off my moccasins, Or not put them on to be ready to run… That dream was not to have to keep my jacket on while I sleep so I’m ready to run…

When you become a teenager, you dream.

My dream was one day to work, And to belong with other people… So that you are not looked at differently, Not a different race…

To be looked at like a human being, Who would work with others in a good way. It was my dream… Not to run anymore.

That was the beginning of cultural genocide… people only recognizing others by race.

“We are one race…connected to the spirit of all.”

As a teenager I believed I would live in peace on my own… Only later, the Government of Canada still doesn’t recognize me and my home. Somebody who’s ancestors came from Europe continues the decisions today.

Right now, my dream is for me to be recognized And live in peace in my homeland… Now more than 60 years later, I still have that dream for me, And for my children and my great grandchildren… To be human beings who are recognized as humans.

So, people out there, it would help me if I can be recognized as Foothills Ojibway First Nation… A nation fully human and equal.

Hereditary leaders are the ceremonial leaders. The government outlawed potlatches, sun-dances, sacred practices, and gatherings. Hereditary leaders were responsible for the future generations and their homeland. However, that was taken away and they were forced into different areas. Some of them were put in prison because they resisted giving up their homelands… But the land was already shared in something called treaty. This land was never sold… It was shared but the cultural responsibility was taken away by placing the chief and council to be elected under the Indian Act. That was not the intention of God himself, when he gave us a responsibility to lead people with the ceremonial, hereditary leadership that was outlawed and many things from other parts of the world were imposed on us.

If we resisted, then it would be imposed and even sometimes it led to hanging a head man while even forcing our children from residential schools to watch… Some of us ran…. still hanging on to the ceremonial cultural leadership.

I am so glad to hear of change, when the Prime Minister said, “We’re sorry. Cultural genocide happened.” Does he mean that he is sorry that this happened? Does he really mean that, or is he just saying that?

It is time. I am reaching out to people, especially leaders of the world to re-examine the lasting impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and the physical, cultural, and spiritual genocide that has become part of many places in the world… For I am sure this happens in other parts of our world.

It is time to think about change in the way we all recognize each other and all of creation. We are one race… connected to the spirit of all.

What if we all work to share our best dream for creation and future generations? ∎

Respectfully recorded and submitted by Kathy Kiss


Anishinaabe Knowledge Keeper, Chief of Foothills Ojibway on Turtle Island

I am Ogimaa (Acha-Kooh-waay), I begin with words from my own language to say hi to everybody. My identity… which is… because God put me in this part of the world is my Annishinaabe language and name. That means “leader” for people and environment here. So I am not saying I am the leader of Turtle Island but that’s what that means. It is an individual’s name, which is a spirit name that we carry on from our traditional culture and lineage in this part of the world. We were put here on this Turtle. This Turtle Island is massive.

The world, at the moment, needs more dreamers who are willing to walk the journey of hope…


Release The Genie Fact: When the Genie plays monopoly the whole global economy is affected.

On such a beautiful topic as hopes and dreams, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite poems which, for sure, will make you sit and wonder. The poem is ‘What if you Slept?’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

What if you slept And what if in your sleep You dreamed

And what if in your dream You went to heaven And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower And what if

When you awoke You had that flower in your hand Ah, what then?

One of the reasons I love this poem is the blurring of the lines of the dream world and “reality.” How do you really know when you are dreaming or awake?

If, like most people, once you wake you forget your dreams, however real and vivid they felt, what if you could bring back some tangible proof of a dream to the real world? This is not as fanciful as you might think.

There are many stories, including mine, of people having near-death experiences and spending some time in the afterlife. For me, the flower in the hand was the fragments of what I can remember from that place. It has helped and inspired me with finding my purpose.

Another great insight in this poem is that everyone is entitled to their own dreams and hopes. There is a never-ending supply of rare and beautiful flowers to be plucked. I view the strange and beautiful flower referred to in the poem as a fresh and new idea. This idea comes from a place beyond, where the imagination is free to run completely untroubled by the worries of the waking world.

The poem issues us a collective challenge. What are you to do with the idea/ flower you have awoken with in your hand? It is a call to action to continuously pursue the gift of the dream, to develop that idea/ flower into something greater than its parts.

If we want any hard evidence in our world of what these ideas brought back to us look like, you only need to look around. Let’s start with the device you're reading this on. This was once just an idea/dream. Just imagine if we had no dreams what a barren place the world we live in would be. To persist with a dream is not an easy road; many dreams are left un-pursued and become commonly known in the future as regrets. The secret ingredient we need to stop us from giving up and get those ideas growing is Hope.


AwareNow Podcast



Hope is to dreams what diamonds are to pearls. The fascinating thing about hope is that, like a diamond, it seems that the more pressure it is put under, the more likely it will become a precious gem. Hope gives us natural resilience. The amazing thing about hope is that it is when all signs and results are at their worst that the more powerful and brighter the light of hope glows. Finally, hope does not need to prove it exists.

I achieved this year what has been a dream of mine for the last 4 years. To travel from Quebec to visit the UK with my family. I did not know how this was all going to come about, but I had hope that I could make it.

This idea/dream takes place amongst a prolonged period of poor health with my TBI and PTSD symptoms. The doctor asked how I was able to do it and how I have been able to recover in a relatively short space of time without any change in pain medication etc.

To my own surprise, I said “hope.” I explained that by having hope, it made me feel more courageous and ready to follow my idea, notwithstanding the consequences. What I have discovered is that if you are willing to have the strength to hang on, and wait out those tough times, then you'll be there to cash in on the rewards and the better times ahead. It is that struggle which I believe is the Journey of Hope

Both a hope and a wish are used to express a longing and desire. However, there is a de finite difference in their meaning. Wishes are for Genies! Hopes are for dreamers. A wish is when there is a desire, but little to no chance of it coming true. Hope, instead, is when a person is confident that the desired event has a high chance of occurring. Notwithstanding that the person may not see all of the steps that lead up to the fulfillment of that desire.

The world, at the moment, needs more dreamers who are willing to walk the journey of hope, and who are brave enough to follow their dreams. ∎


Transformation Expert, Awareness Hellraiser & Public Speaker

PAUL S. ROGERS is a keynote public speaking coach, “Adversity to hope, opportunity and prosperity. “ Transformation expert, awareness Hellraiser, life coach, Trauma TBI, CPTSD mentor, train crash and cancer survivor, public speaking coach, Podcast host “Release the Genie” & Best-selling author. His journey has taken him from from corporate leader to kitesurfer to teacher on first nations reserve to today. Paul’s goal is to inspire others to find their true purpose and passion.
…most important, we are helping people sleep better and be healthier.


A mother, a wife, a cancer survivor, an inventor and an entrepreneur, Adele Camens has led a life of service taking on what comes and giving back as she goes. Grounded in grace, she’s found strength and success in so many ways.

ALLIÉ: Mother of 3, your profession of choice was ‘stay-at-home mom’. Raising children and managing a household is a full-time job that you held until your youngest went to college. Love for you to share your pros and cons of a stay-athome mom.

ADELE: I loved being a stay-at-home Mom. I had taught high school English for four years but that was in the early sixties and in the school system I was in, one could not be visibly pregnant and teach in high school. We decided I would stay home. I did help my husband in his clothing business by doing paperwork, and working apparel shows with him. Later, when he started his own apparel manufacturing business, I prepared salesmen’s samples, worked apparel shows, and did some of the business functions. I always volunteered. I grew up seeing both of my parents volunteer and being told that it was my privilege and responsibility to give back. I was a school room mother, helped people new to the US with English and how to navigate everyday tasks, and later with the American Cancer Society. There were times when I felt the need for “adult conversation” when the kids were really young so a good friend and I whose children were similar


ALLIÉ: As mothers, we will agree that it’s hard when your child gets sick. And as mothers, it’s hard to be sick, especially when the condition is cancer. The survivor that you are, Adele, you beat cancer not once or twice but 3 times. Please share the story of your journey with cancer and the strength you found along the way.

ADELE: My first cancer was breast cancer, found in my first mammogram at age 41. I was fortunate that it had not spread outside the breast, so I had a “modified radical mastectomy” – hate that phrase - and then reconstruction. I needed blood during the reconstruction and got a bonus that was not discovered until years later – Hepatitis C. Fourteen years later my same gynecologist who had early detected the breast cancer discovered my ovarian cancer. This one was rougher as I had chemotherapy. Lots of side effects but the best one is that I am still here. My husband held my hand during each chemo treatment as it started, and our kids were wonderful. Our sons wanted to shave their heads to be bald like me, but I convinced them not to. I developed a coping mechanism. I would only allow myself to cry in the shower – it was private, and I could be as loud and angry as I wished without bothering anyone. I admit there were a few days when I took more than one shower. I got my chemo in the hospital with an overnight stay, and I had a close friend who would come shortly after I checked in, visit awhile, bring me junk magazines and make me laugh. I knew the only thing I could change about what had already happened was my attitude, so I made sure I changed it. I had also volunteered with the American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery program so I would pretend that I was a volunteer for myself showing that I could recover. I also participated in a drug study that cured my Hep C. Thyroid cancer came many years later and fortunately that was also caught early and taken care of. At the request of the American Cancer Society another cancer survivor and I started a Breast Reconstruction Program which put on seminars and provided visits to patients.

ALLIÉ: After battling and beating cancer, you fought GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) and won. In finding a solution for yourself, you founded a company with a product you invented and patented. I love this story. Please share how MedSlant began.

ADELE: In 2000 I got a sore throat that would not go away. I tried hot tea, over the counter meds and all that happened is that I lost my voice. I assumed I had a strep throat, so I went to my internist. He said no strep throat and sent me to an ENT. I got scared at that point. I had survived two cancers and just wanted a sore throat. The ENT assured me my problem was silent reflux and sent me to a gastroenterologist. My throat was being irritated by acid refluxing. I thought he was incorrect but went along with his instructions. He prescribed an anti-acid med and told me to sleep elevated on a wedge pillow that supported me on an even plane through the torso. When I asked where to find the wedge, the reply was “I don’t know”. I started the meds and got on the internet. I had no chocolate to calm my nerves – good for the girl but bad for the GERD. Everyone had the same advice, sleep with you head elevated 6-8”, make sure you are on an even plane, and the wedge needs to be long enough to support you through the entire torso. Too short a wedge will make you bend or fold in the middle and put extra pressure on your stomach, making reflux worse. I felt like Goldilocks –the few wedges I found were too high, too hard, and all were too short. I could not find the right wedge. My husband told me to call a neighbor who manufactured head pillows and ask him to make a wedge. He did and it was perfect. After several days sleeping on my wedge and avoiding certain foods, my reflux was better. Of course, the meds had helped but I would prefer a lifestyle change. After a few weeks I successfully stopped the meds; since then, my wedge and figuring out my trigger food and avoiding it has kept me reflux free. A friend had reflux and her husband had sleep apnea – we made wedges for them, and they helped. A pediatrician had two young children with reflux. We gave her wedges and they worked. Soon we had 80 wedge samples helping friends and friends of friends. My research showed that sleeping elevated on an even plane helped other things also. Our younger son who is a physician was then a resident, so I had him send me to some obscure medical sites who confirmed that gravity is an important answer to reflux. Our kids were all in college or beyond, my husband was planning to retire in a few years, and I knew I needed something to do that I could be passionate about... I was 60. We decided to start a business and see what happened. When I travelled with my husband for his clothing business and did not have my wedge, my reflux got bad again. We decided to make it

“I knew I needed something to do that I could be passionate about... I was 60.”


ADELE: (continued) fold for travel and storage. We tried Velcro, fabric strips – nothing worked. Finally, we cut the wedge in half, made a fabric hinged cover and that worked. The wedge folded for travel but opened to be the perfect size to prevent reflux. We had a zippered, handled travel bag made; as we were the original folding wedge, we applied for and received a US design patent and were ready to start MedSlant. Our goals were to make a quality product in the USA, sell it at a fair price, and provide excellent customer service. My husband had been in business his entire adult life so with his knowledge we started MedSlant. A friend’s son wrote our first website, I researched what I needed to accept credit cards, ship etc. Less than an hour after our website went live, we got our first order. I was hooked! 22 years later our goals are the same – our foam is made by the largest and oldest foam fabricator in North America, most of our covers are sewn domestically; our price is fair, and our customer service is excellent. And, most important, we are helping people sleep better and be healthier.

ALLIÉ: They say things come in 3’s. For you, it was 3 successful children and 3 times successfully beating cancer. But there was another successful ‘3’ for you, Adele. The 3 letters QVC resulted in another success. How did you get in? And how quick did you sell out?

ADELE: In early 2005 a friend told me that Kennasaw University business school had a free program that helped new small businesses with suggestions. I made an appointment and after the first few meetings, the person who was helping me called to tell me that QVC was holding a local event to search for new products. I got the information and signed up. You could register to show your product but were allowed 1 sample and 1 piece of paper with contact information. I put testimonials and pictures on the back of our contact information. Several QVC reps walked the large area, and I was told that they liked the idea of MedSlant and that someone would contact me. I was persistent in my follow up until I made the correct contact and got a sample order for 900 wedges. I was given 20 minutes at midnight. We sold out in 7 minutes. We kept getting reorders and selling out for several months. Then they got a new buyer who wanted to source his own products and not continue with the previous ones. That ended our QVC experience.

ALLIÉ: Successful in life in so many ways, you’ve made many investments in your life. Adele, what was your best one?

ADELE: Believing in myself. I had a problem I needed to solve and once I did, I knew that I could help others also. Everyone wants a healthy, more comfortable night’s sleep. Waking up refreshed makes life look and feel better.

ALLIÉ: Life is a series of losses and wins. Of the many wins you’ve had, what has been your biggest?

ADELE: Staying alive! I am grateful that with the help of my family and excellent medical care I beat 3 cancers. I am healthy and can still work out regularly. We have three healthy, happy, successful children, and three granddaughters who are healthy and happy. Our adult granddaughter has a wonderful career, got married last year, and the two in high school are on their way to accomplishing their goals. My husband and I, along with our daughter who helps us now with MedSlant, get to run a business that helps everyone get a healthier, more comfortable night’s sleep. ∎

Learn more about MedSlant:

AwareNow Podcast
Exclusive Interview with Adele Camens TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN
106 Like Maximus’ declaration to the spectators in the film, Gladiator, we can hear the filmmakers shout, “Are you not entertained?!”
Photo Credit: Adam O’Neill BFDG

In part one of this series, we examined how streaming services such as Netflix manipulates stories to control narratives for pro fit using symbolic annihilation (destroying a topic by not informing the audience). In part two, we dove deeper into this idea through Sarma Melngailis’ story. In this segment, we will investigate whether these manipulations are a contemporary ploy or have happened in the past. Have we fallen victim to what Gore Vidal called “the United States of Amnesia”? It turns out that there is a history of companies that have utilized phenomena like symbolic annihilation and outright false depictions that shape our lives. Is this their fault, or are we to blame?

I was scrolling through Twitter and was struck by a tweet from a government member stating how sad it is that people following a former President were acting like lemmings and hurling themselves off a cliff. I immediately understood the reference, picturing these poor little creatures sprinting to the edge of the precipice and diving to their doom. When discussing this with my wife, she asked why the lemmings would do such a thing. I am no wildlife specialist, but I think it has to do with some innate population control mechanism, but I could be wrong. So, again, as my son has taught me, I Googled it and fell down a deep rabbit hole of lemming lore and behavior. Interestingly, lemming behavior fits perfectly into the third part of this series. Among many reading this (hopefully many), I fit perfectly into Miles' Law (1), with my understanding shaped by outright false information from a nature documentary shown to me in elementary school.

Disney's White Wilderness was released in 1958 and has been seen by millions of people worldwide over the years. One of the most harrowing scenes (scarring me a bit at a young age) was a large group of lemmings committing mass suicide in the Arctic. If you have seen the film, you probably remember this scene—furry little things falling in slow motion, spinning, and flopping to their miserable doom. If you have not, you may still be familiar with the saying referenced in the tweet. While the film clip was horrific, the truth is even worse. In the article published in 2020 by Nadine Smith, the lemming segment of White Wilderness, filmed in the Arctic, was not filmed in the Arctic, it was filmed in Alberta, Canada, where lemmings do not live. According to interviews, "None of this is a realistic depiction of the lemmings' natural behavior.”

For one thing, the subspecies of lemming depicted in the film does not typically migrate. Also, this section of the movie was not filmed in the wild; the lemmings in question were flown from Hudson Bay to Calgary, where much of the lemming footage was shot. And the lemmings did not hurl themselves bodily out into space. Instead, the filmmakers dumped lemmings over the cliff from a truck, filmed them as they fell, and then eventually drowned” (2). More research uncovers that White Wilderness was not the only award-winning documentary that distorted the truth. In The Living Desert, Disney went so far as to fabricate much of the film completely. Instead of being in the wild, “the filmmakers constructed little studios and sets, in which spiders, scorpions, and insects were wrangled and directed."


We must understand that actions are tied to ideas…

Photo Credit: Oceanwide Expeditions

The history of documentaries and how they affect our worldview is accelerating as 'reality TV' runs wild. The market for unscripted, real-life drama and documentaries is becoming so great that all streaming network devote a substantial amount of its content to the genre. We must understand that the lemmings and scorpion fights depicted in the Disney documentaries are not about staged wildlife but us as an audience. Filmmakers supported by Disney threw lemmings off a cliff, and filmmakers supported by Netflix helped nudge the livelihood of people like Sarma Melngailis to the same fate. Yes, the lemmings did not have a choice, and Sarma did to some degree, but we also need to understand that this is about us and how we love it. The convincing filmmakers' stories are driven by money, not truth. Why? Because we as an audience are highly transactional and extractive. The audience needs to get what they pay for and filmmakers deliver. Before blaming filmmakers and streaming services, we should be mindful of their potential response. Like Maximus' declaration to the spectators in the film, Gladiator, we can hear the filmmakers shout, "Are you not entertained?!"

We find ourselves in a vicious cycle. We, as an audience, crave the content provided by filmmakers and services like Netflix, Disney, and HBO Max, and they continue to deliver. The more unbelievable and salacious, the better, regardless of the truth. But is this harmful on a large and meaningful scale? Do lemmings and Sarma's story really matter in the grand scheme? Of course, they do. They both set precedents promoting misunderstanding and ultimately cementing falsehoods in society's perceptions and expectations. The more information on a topic is left out of our environment, the more the topic is annihilated. For example, the less we are exposed to successful, strong, resilient women, the less we think they exist. It begins to shape our views and enables belief in inferiority to creep to the surface. Over the last hundred years, it has been well documented how often women’s reports are dismissed because they are too emotional, stupid, or gullible to be believed. Most recently, a story surfaced about the mother of a 17-year-old girl reporting the daughter's boyfriend to the police as potentially being the Hillside Strangler (spoiler alert, the mother was correct). The mother was ignored because the mother was overreactive (3), and the killer went on to kill again. Even today, law enforcement admits to and is attempting to change how they handle reports from women (4). Examples of this continue to grow (5), and we see them so often that we may have become numb. Look no further than what happened to Gabby Patito in Utah (6).

This social norm is so ingrained in the public that we seldom give it a second thought. Not only are women left out of the school curriculum (coming in part four), but what we are consuming in media is painting the picture of women being lesser. Watch almost any con artist or murder series on television and movies. There are countless examples of women being in a position of power vs. men instead of vice versa. For instance, Jennifer Wright's book, She Kills Me, chronicles 40 women (7) that are predators of male victims, not their prey. Whoa, hold up here. To clarify, this is not trying to convey that, oh look, cool, women can be horrible humans too! Quite the contrary, it illustrates that men can be victims, not just women. Continually highlighting stories of women being victims often leads to victim blaming and harmful stereotypes that hurt society (How can they be so stupid or gullible? Well, they deserved it dressing or behaving like that!). In Sarma Melngailis' case, others conned and manipulated were not mentioned. In the case of the popular series, The Tinder Swindler, other male victims were scarcely mentioned. It is a consistent theme. We must understand that actions are tied to ideas; if they are toxic, they can be incredibly harmful.

“…the less we are exposed to successful, strong, resilient women, the less we think they exist.” AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
This path leads to harmful stereotypes that become more difficult to reverse the longer we walk down the path.
Photo Credit: Sippakorn Yamkasikorn

Filmmakers can manipulate us as consumers through symbolic annihilation and outright lies. In large, by itself, a film or series may not be harmful, but repeatedly portraying women in a particular light and not illustrating males can be victims too alters how we see one another. This path leads to harmful stereotypes that become more dif ficult to reverse the longer we walk down the path. Just as we should hold filmmakers accountable for the stories they tell, we should hold ourselves responsible for driving the market of salacious content where truth is secondary. But, before we leave this series, we need to dig a little deeper and investigate how our education system plants the seeds that the pop culture world cultivates, blinding us to the forest because of the trees. To do this, in part four of the series, I will need your help. ∎

(For all article citations, visit


Awareness Ties Columnist

Todd Brown is a winner of multiple education awards, including the U.S. Congressional Teacher of the Year Award, U.S. Henry Ford Innovator Award, Education Foundation Innovator of the Year, and Air Force Association STEM Teacher of the Year. Dr. Brown is the creator and founder of the Inspire Project and cocreator of Operation Outbreak, which was named the Reimagine Education Award for Best Hybrid Program in the world. He is also an Education Ambassador for the United Nations and an Educational Ambassador of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“…we need to dig a little deeper and investigate how our education system plants the seeds that the pop culture world cultivates, blinding us to the forest because of the trees.”
Most times, we manage more than we think we can.




From the Barents Sea of Norway to you and me comes EO3, a product where the pursuit of sustainability and patented technology meet in service of healthy living. Janne Sande, inventor of EO3, is the mind behind this magic.

ALLIÉ: Consider the source. This is important in all things in life, especially when talking about what we put in our bodies. Jane, let’s talk about Omega-3. For those unaware, what makes Omega-3 so important?

JANNE: Well, Omega-3 is crucial for the structure and function of cells. Every organ is only as healthy as its cells. So, you really need to have Omega-3 for the cells and for the organs to do their jobs. Omega-3 is essential - especially the DHA and EPA of these fatty acids that have shown so many health benefits. They are found in seafood. So, you have to have a diet where you get seafood or take supplements with Omega-3.

ALLIÉ: Okay, so Omega-3 is an essential part of our bodies. It’s essential for the function of our cells and organs.

JANNE: It is. For example, the brain, which is such a complex metabolic organ, is contained of 60% fat. And of these


this unbalance that is really bad for our health…”

JANNE: (continued) in the brain. It’s fascinating to listen to neuroscientists, like Michael Crawford, regarding the development of the human central nervous system. DHA was the link for us to evolve and to develop. And still today, Omega-3 is proving to be so essential for the brain to work. It's no wonder that there are so many studies showing that conditions like depression, autism and epilepsy, are linked to a lack of Omega-3 or utilization of Omega-3 fatty acids. And also for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's, Omega-3 is so important.

Another thing that I find especially important for everybody today to understand is the role of Omega-3 for the immune system. The immune cells are much better at defending and doing their job if they have enough Omega-3. Inflammation is kind of a buzzword because almost all of the chronic diseases are linked to chronic in flammation, which actually means that your immune system is not able to turn off in flammation when you don't need it anymore. So, it becomes a chronic state, leading to disease.

While we know that you also need also Omega-6, which is another polyunsaturated, fatty acid, the balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 needs to be right. And in our modern diet, we get so much more Omega-6 than Omega-3. The ratio is very often 10 to 1 or even 30 to 1, when it should be 4 to 1 or 2 to 1. It's this unbalance that is really bad for our health, which makes most of us have a inflammatory conditions in our body.

ALLIÉ: Now caught up on Omega-3, I’d like to get to know EO3. Please share the benefits that come from this beverage that serves as a better way to get Omega-3.

JANNE: EO3 contains fresh stabilized Omega-3 fatty acid with DHA and EPA. at a good level (1600 mg) that provides good benefits. These lipids are combined with specific nutrients, protein, vitamin D, carnitine, black cumin oil, and also juice from berries and fruits, which make it also contain a lot of polyphenols and antioxidants. And these nutrients provide additional health benefits with synergy created because they work together. For me, it was really important to create a food format that resembles the Mediterranean diet, known for helping people have a healthier, longer life. It's very much due to the fact that it is anti-inflammatory. It contains a lot of healthy fats, especially like Omega-3 and healthy proteins. It’s a lot of fish and also antioxidants from berries, fruits and herbs. So, in a way, the drink resembles the essence of the Mediterranean diet. And then also, it's tasty… A lot of foods can be both healthy are tasty.

ALLIÉ: Let’s get scientific and talk about ‘oxidation’ and ‘emulsification’. Specifically when it comes to Omega-3, please share what makes oxidation its enemy and how your patent-pending technology has used emulsi fication to be its savior.

JANNE: It’s very difficult to stabilize these fatty acids. They're very unstable. I've worked on this for many years to learn more about how to stabilize them. Regarding oxidation, when these lipids oxidize, they change character. The lipids change character during the formation of products. It’s shown in studies that you don't get the same health value of these lipids when they are oxidized.

A lot of the supplements on the market contain oxidized fish oil. I mean, you would never eat old fish with a lot of fishy smell. Even a cat doesn't want to eat an old, smelly fish. But a lot of the fish oils in capsules are the kind you would find in old, smelly fish. So, you should really open the capsules and smell. If it smells horrible, then I would advise not to take it.


JANNE: (continued) Apart from oxidation, it's about bringing in lipids in a way that is healthier. This is why I wanted to do a food format. An emulsion is a food format. The emulsion that I have developed here is the reason why the fish oil is kept stable for several reasons. One of the reasons is the combination of nutrients. Because of how the nutrients that are put together, they don't only potentiate each other; they also protect each other. The combination of nutrients is a key. But then also the emulsion contains small, droplet sizes of encapsulated fish oil, which also helps to keep the fish oil stable. And finally, the production is fine tuned, where the fish oil is protected in every step. So, it's not one thing. It's a lot of things that have to be right in order to keep the fish oil stable and fresh.

ALLIÉ: We’ve talked about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of EO3. I’m interested now in knowing the ‘why’. Your ‘why’ specifically, Janne. More than a product to sell, it seems like this is about a purpose to serve. Please share your personal story about why you developed this product from Norway with love.

JANNE: It’s been a long route, actually. My ex husband and I, we started a company 20 years ago where we wanted to bring Omega-3 in a good format to the market. I was then pregnant with our second child. I worked from home, reading, learning, also starting to do testing on the kitchen table. It was inspiring, but hard work. The first years, it was very much working in the evenings and at night. We had three kids then and very little income. It wasn’t bad at all, but it was hard work.

I connected with food scientists and researchers who I could learn a lot from, and eventually developed the first format which was also an emulsion, but a very different one from the one which is in EO3. Eventually, the company grew. We had several products and several employees. I was responsible for the product development, the intellectual property patents, and also the collaboration with researchers who used the product in clinical studies. It was a very inspiring time. Apart from the kids, who have always been, of course, the most important thing, work was everything. Maybe that’s not a good thing, but it was so nice to see results in studies and to get patents.

“I found a new, better way.”

We had really big hopes for the future, but it costs a lot of money to do all the patent work and to document your product development. So eventually, investment funds took over more and more. We realized that we lost control. The strategy and the culture that was implemented was not at all what we wanted it to be. To keep it short, the last years there were painful. It was not easy to leave the company four years ago, and I really didn't want to give up. I had put so much into it, and I believe so strongly in delivering Omega-3 in healthy food formats. So, I started to work on finding an even better way to stabilize the fish oil, and eventually I found it. I managed to do a test production and saw that it was stable. It worked. I found a new, better way.

I knew that if I wanted to succeed this time, I really had to get on board with and collaborate with people who are good at bringing the product to the market. It's not enough just to have a good product. You really must have people who have other skills than you. You need people who have the experience, the integrity and the knowledge to do it. So I contacted people who had success before, and I've been lucky. I've found really good people who have experience in building brands and building sales… and who really believe in the product. So now, EO3 has been brought to the market in US.

ALLIÉ: “Ingen roser uten torner.” Translated from Norwegian to English, “No roses without thorns.” As this pertains to your product, getting the best Omega-3 (the rose) can only be found in the rough, frigid waters (the thorns) on the Norwegian coast. How does this saying pertain to you personally, Janne? What thorns have you personally encountered to find roses?


AwareNow Podcast


JANNE: I think the journey has been a kind of route where I had to dig deep in myself to find the strength… to find the courage to not give up. If you had seen me five years ago, I was very much on the edge of not having any more energy or courage to do this. You might say it's not so important, but for me it feels important to have continued… to try and really make this a good ending or at least a good route. I didn't want it to end four or five years ago. And I think even for my kids, it's also for them. This work has been so much part of their life as well. They were proud of what we made. They identified a bit with what we were doing. I mean, they were the ones who tested everything I made. So, for them too, I think it's quite good for them to see this. Sometimes you can really get hit to the ground, but it's possible to get back up.

ALLIÉ: For those who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in this world, yet find a hard time making it. What advice would you have for fighting through the thorns to find the roses?

JANNE: I suggest not giving up. You can choose a new route, of course, but you may find that it always feels bad. Maybe you should give it another go. Maybe you should not leave it there but try and give it a new thought and energy. Most often, we manage more than we think we can. ∎

Exclusive Interview with Janne Karin Sande TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN
The dreams we chase are built on the back of the support we give each other.



So, I’ve been gone for a while. It’s ironic that this edition is the Dream edition as, while I’ve been gone, I’ve finally caught one of my dreams. I spend my working days advocating for those with neuromuscular diseases as Director of Access Policy at the Muscular Dystrophy Association. There have been so many things that I wanted to write about in the months between now and when I was last able to make myself put pen to paper: the crisis in Ukraine, the misconceptions around nonprogressive conditions, the Dobbs decision, and the fact that I finally caught part of my professional dream. Maybe I’ll talk about those things in subsequent months, but for now, I need to tell a different story. The thing is, capturing a dream doesn’t automatically free us from our demons and expecting it to, does both ourselves and that dream a disservice. So, I’ve been working on nursing myself back to being ok the last couple of months, and it’s taught me something, but predictably it’s going to come in a few parts. Bear with me, it’ll all come together in the end. I promise.

Literally today, August 16, 2022, I was looking at the key to my sister’s house. It’s a painted key, and today, for whatever reason, it finally dawned on me how much the paint has chipped after years of taking it in and out of so many pockets. I also can’t look at that key without thinking about the circumstances around when I got the key. That moment is one of those moments where I, the king of keeping things bottled up, learned how to open up a little. But to understand that I have to explain where I started on that particular journey, so step back with me for a second… we’ll be back.

March 2017, Hamden, CT:

It’s 2:00 in the morning, and I’ve just woken up from a “nap” that was supposed to be 30 minutes, but ended up being several hours. I’ve still got 20 pages of Property to get through before tomorrow’s… today’s 9:00 class, but that “oh shit” I can’t believe I fell asleep feeling many of you might expect is actually not the first thought that crosses my mind. The first thing that crosses my mind is pain bright and hot running from deep in my hip flexor pooling above my knee and spiraling down to my ankle. Unfortunately, my body reacts faster than my mind to this reality, despite having woken up to some version of this reality basically every day for most of my life, I can’t stop my body from tensing, and because of the shape I’m in (too much stress too little sleep) I can’t keep from sending my shoulder into spasm further pinning me to the bed. While I lay there waiting for my body to sort itself out now my mind takes over. It tells me things like “You will always feel like this” “No one is coming to help you.” Eventually, my body regulates, I carefully shove those thoughts of hopeless anxiety back into their box, give myself a shake, and move to my desk to get back to work. I’d finish my reading around 6:00, collapse into bed for a few more hours, and then wake up in time to get to class somewhere in the neighborhood of on time. I would speak about my night to no one, when people would see my haggard expression and ask how I was I’d brush it off with a patented “I’m fine.” Make no mistake, I enforced my own isolation with the misguided belief that I needed to handle it all myself. I’d carry that stubborn perception for the next two years.


“We stood on the shoulders of giants. We were each other’s giants.”

October 2018, North Carolina: Now, back to my sister’s key. A thing you have to understand is that as a consequence of being introverted, going to undergrad four hours away from where I grew up, then law school 12 hours away, and finally settling 4-5 hours away, my family (through no fault of theirs) has met relatively few of the important people in my life. My best friend from law school and I had made a road trip down to North Carolina to watch Duke’s annual preseason scrimmage as the cheapest way to get to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium. Given how few of my friends my family had met, this trip was doubly a big deal. We were staying with my sister for the trip, and at some point, my friend brought up the point that I, much to his frustration, struggled to ask for so much as a ride to the grocery store, so that I could, you know, eat? He cited this as an example of my fear of feeling like a burden, as a way of asking my sister if I had always been this way. She confirmed, and we moved on to lighter topics. But later, my sister and I were debrie fing in the kitchen, and at some point, she said “you require more than other people, that’s ok and he’s willing to do it, so let him take you to the grocery store.” I then proceeded to burst into tears saying that I didn’t know how. When I stopped over on my way home for Christmas my sister gave me the aforementioned key with the reminder that I/we would always have somewhere to stay. My slow climb towards being able to ask for things that I needed didn’t happen all at once after that, but that key represents a massive turning point.

So how does this end and what is my point?

One of the ideas that lives in my head rent-free is rooted in the concept of “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Basically, everyone works with each other to get where we’re going. Recently, I had the honor of taking part in my same friend’s wedding. One of the most interesting parts of the whole thing was that it brought together so many people from across the timeline of the groom’s life. From the men who made my friend into the man he was when I met him, to the four of us that worked our way through law school. Those two perspectives juxtaposed looking backward over the arc of my own life, served as an object lesson that my best friends from law school were the most recent set of people to shape me into the man I’ve become.

A lot happened that is important to me at the wedding, but perhaps most cogent was a comment my friend made to me. He said that he had noticed that in the intervening years I had very clearly gotten more comfortable leaning on other people for support. I’m still not perfect at it, but progress has been made. During my break from writing, I was pretty good about reaching out to people and making sure to remind myself that I wasn’t alone in the fight. They were also good about reaching out to me (the world is falling apart and no one is doing well), and we made it through together. But none of that would have been possible without my sister and without my friend’s support years prior.

In short, I stood on their shoulders, and frankly, we all stood on each other’s shoulders to get where we are today. We stood on the shoulders of giants. We were each other’s giants. The dreams we chase are built on the back of the support we give each other. We are never alone. ∎

Lawyer, Awareness Ties Official Advisor & Columnist

JOEL CARTNER is a lawyer and public policy professional with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia and Retinopathy of Prematurity. Cartner has a background in public health, disability, and education law and policy. He received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Cartner currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works as Director of Access Policy for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In this role he works to ensure greater access to therapies, devices, insurance, and specialists for those with neuromuscular diseases by conceiving of and enacting public policy efforts.




The intensity and passion Drs. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan dedicate to everything and everyone in their extensive orbits becomes evident at a first meeting. Both astoundingly accomplished scientists, researchers, and medical professionals, they have, independently and together, shared parallel interest and dedication to New Orleans Opera and other community organizations in the greater metro area, regionally, and abroad.

The Bazans recently committed to sponsor the New Orleans Opera debut of Jorge Parodi, the Jerry W. Zachary and Henry Bernstein Maestro Chair, who will conduct NOOA’s upcoming production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. The sponsorship was pledged in honor of Maestro Robert Lyall, Dr. Ranney Mize, and soprano Sarah Jane McMahon. Yardbird is the second production of The Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Chamber Opera Series and will take place on January 20, 21, and 22, 2023 at the New Orleans Jazz Market.

Born in Argentina, the Drs. Bazan trained as research fellows at the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University in New York before completing fellowships at Harvard Medical School. He was appointed to the faculty at the University of Toronto at age 26, and after two years of innovative brain research, they decided to return to Argentina to train newer generations of scientists. Nicolas became the founding director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquimicas, an Argentinian university’s joint project with the National Research Council, as well as the founding director of a biology school. Haydee accomplished her Ph.D. while simultaneously completing their nuclear family with five children. (They now also have 14 grandchildren.)

Forced to flee Argentina in 1981 due to ongoing political unrest, they returned to the United States and settled in New Orleans. Nicolas became the inaugural founder of the Ernest C. and Ivette C. Villere Chair for Retinal Degenerations (1982-), Professor of Ophthalmology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Neurology at LSUHSC School of Medicine in New Orleans and, in 1989, became the founding director of the LSU Neuroscience Center of Excellence. He is also, since 2017, a Foreign Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Today, as the Center’s Director, he conducts groundbreaking research on Alzheimer’s, Stroke, traumatic brain injury, ALS, Parkinson’s, Pain, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration, exploring the complexities of brain and retina diseases and neurodegeneration. He is also breaking potential therapeutic grounds on long COVID affecting the brain and the heart. Haydee is an equally accomplished Professor of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSUHSC’s New Orleans Campus of the School of Medicine. Her principal work is on the cornea of the eye.


Bottles4College wants to be a source of hope to help.



Bottles4College is an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that collects recyclable cans and bottles to fund college tuition for kids in Hawaii. We go by 4 Pillars of Education, Environment, Community, and Lifestyle. It is spearheaded by me, Genshu Price, a 14-year-old Hawaii kid. This organization is a scholarship program that helps clean the environment and raises awareness towards recycling while sending students to college.

This is a collective effort and without the help of all that have supported Bottles4College would not be doing what we are doing and we still have a lot of room to grow. This all ties into a lifestyle that advocates for strong educational systems, a healthy Earth, a cohesive community, and a healthy mindset that is about helping others and the future of this planet and all that exists on it.

Bottles4College originally started as my dad’s idea for me to collect 1 million cans and bottles to help with my college tuition. This was inspiring already as I wanted to do something worthwhile to help the environment and was always excited about learning and wanted to go to college. However, I realized that this could be so much more and innovated the idea to what Bottles4College is now — a scholarship program solely for other students to inspire kids in Hawaii to pursue education while cleaning the environment. The purpose of what Bottles4College is doing and the growing community of this effort inspired and inspires me still to keep going.

After originally starting in 2018, in September of 2020, the organization was revamped and Bottles4College really started to make moves to grow. Our next step is to collect more cans and bottles and recycle over 500,000 cans and bottles by March 29th, 2022 when the 1st anniversary of Bottles4College happens. We are also trying to get grants and monetary donations to cover operational costs and get a lightweight box truck to counter transportation issues.

The COVID Pandemic really affected Bottles4College, in more ways than one. When the pandemic first hit, it halted Bottles4College altogether. For nearly all of 2020 Bottles4College was stagnant. But COVID was also fuel to get going and take bigger steps for the organization as it was obvious that now of all times, hope was needed. Bottles4College started Public Drop-Off Depots at King Intermediate School in Kaneohe in fall 2020 and on New Year’s Eve 2020, Bottles4College started our 2nd Public Drop-Off Depot at the KualoaGrown Market and Kualoa Ranch who we now directly partner with.

The main goal of Bottles4College is to create a system within the next two years to collect at least 2-4 million cans and bottles per year so annually, one to two students in Hawaii can get a full 4-year ride to college. Other goals past that include creating an on-island processing center for recyclable material so no recyclables have to be outsourced to other countries. Bottles4College also wants to expand past the state of Hawaii to other states and countries to help as many people as possible.

Accessories by: Laura Zabo Modeled by: Allié McGuire

With strands of style bound together, they embolden with clementine hues and accents both noir and golden. Repurposed and renewed, pieces like these bring both pride and pleasure. THE ARTIST’S ARTICULATION: “She (Alliè) reminds me of the sunrise, the first gold and orange rays of light after a dark night. Bringing awareness into our world, inspiring and empowering every month.”

LAURA ZABO strives to create a cleaner world by collecting and upcycling scrap tires into chic statement accessories. Laura creates striking belts, jewellery and even sandals for urban and ethically conscious men and women who believe in a brighter future for our planet. Her work has been spotlighted in various magazines promoting design and sustainable fashion and continues to gain exposure through social media platforms. Laura’s upcycling journey began in 2015 whilst exploring the beautiful landscapes of Tanzania. The inspiration for a sustainable fashion brand came when she stumbled across a brightly painted pair of sandals made from scrap car tire at a local maasai market. This moment planted the seed for her company, highlighting that beautiful clothing and accessories don’t have to be made by mass produced material but can be crafted by recycled objects instead. Now, six years later, Laura collects and repurposes thousands of bicycle and car tires, making not just fashion statements but promoting progression towards a healthier planet.

Laura Zabo
“Why dress up? A better question, perhaps, is why not? All things in moderation, including modesty. Wear what you love.”
LAURA ZABO Upcycling Designer & Eco Entrepreneur
and shop for Laura
sustainable style: AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
To me, art is the way the human soul speaks.



Fiona Dowdee is a truly gifted artist and a bright light who gives of herself wholly to mastering her craft, while giving the gift of art to others through teaching youth. Recently I was able to sit with the young artist, to pick her mind and heart from hopes to dreams…

RAFAEL: Who are you? Who is Fiona Dowdee - not just in name - but what is your essence?

FIONA: I am an artist and a dreamer. I find my inspiration in the natural world, the people I have had the pleasure of loving, and the energy that envelops us all. I love creating art and there’s nothing I want more than to make paintings and love the world and nature around me. And, being only 21, each day I'm learning a little bit more about what my essence is. But this is how I feel at the present moment.

RAFAEL: This being the ‘The Dream Edition’ of AwareNow, what’s your big dream right now?

FIONA: My big dream right now is to do something worthwhile. I want to use art and teaching to heal the world I live in, that’s the ultimate dream. I, like many young people now, have a lot of anxiety, and there’s so much that scares me about all the horrible things happening.

But I’ve been able to stay hopeful because I know that if people are still creating, and still hoping, we collectively can do anything. My dream is to build an immersive body of work that can transport the viewer to another realm or put the viewer in a distinct feeling, with each piece working as a sort of mirror. I would love people across the world to see my work and spread hope and love and acceptance, and hopefully healing. That would be amazing.

RAFAEL: You, as much as any 21-year-old I know, are fully committed to being an artist with all your being. Why?

FIONA: I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. I was homeschooled and both my parents are artists. My father, Kevin Dowdee, is a sculpture artist. My mother, Heather Dowdee, is an author. My siblings all create in some form — with my little sister, Gwyn Dowdee, being a photographer and one of the founders of the Young Artist Society (aka YAS). My whole family lives and breathes art.

As I grew older, I think my relationship to art evolved even more when I started feeling the weight of the world — it was no longer just a thing I did as a hobby, but a thing I had to do. Art, speci fically painting, has become the way for me to tune out the noise in my head.

I’m usually a very uncontrolled person. Like many people of my generation, the access to constant information and the pressure of the constant change in the world has made my focus almost non-existent. But when I sit down and paint, I become zeroed in. I reach a flow-state where I can focus on one tiny portion of a painting for hours, tuning out any worries or overwhelming feelings.


the soul’s language… It

beauty and understanding.”

RAFAEL: Why do you think art matters?

FIONA: To me, art is the way the human soul speaks. It’s the soul’s language… It connects us all, through beauty and understanding. If I and another person look at a painting, we will both experience different feelings and associate it with individual memories. Part of the magic of art is that it gives value to the unique perspectives held by both the artist and audience. And art is personal no matter who makes it. I perceive being an artist as the ability to pour my soul into a piece with my hands, attempting to bring it to life, raw - and display it for anyone to see. It's an exquisite thing. Anyone who has been to an art gallery has been affected (even in a small way) by a piece of art - the universal ability of art to communicate emotion and experience is why it’s such an incredible tool for change. Sometimes words just can’t really represent a situation, or an experience, and art is the best way to make someone truly feel something, instead of just hearing it. It affects your heart as much as your head. You can in fluence a viewer with something of your own creation in a way nothing else can.

RAFAEL: What has creativity and art done for you? If you could tell someone else in your generation why they should start doing art and skills of creative expression, what would you say?

FIONA: Art is a beautiful gift. It brings me the ability to create while providing me with emotional release and catharsis. If I could tell people in my generation one thing it would be that the greatest tool for change, and the easiest way to connect and express yourself, is to find an outlet for creativity. Art can be a therapeutic escape from the jumble of emotions out there, and its finished product can have a transformational influence on society.

All throughout history humans have made art and used it to influence, entertain, and inspire. In our current world where there seems to be only an illusion of personal power and choice, art is the best way we can make our voices heard and create the change we need. I paint to feel better and to hopefully make other people feel better too.

RAFAEL: You’re one of the Founding Members of the Indivisible Arts x Resin x Young Artist Society Crews. What can you say about that scene?

FIONA: I started working at Resin Gallery for Indivisible Arts three years ago and it has given me so much inspiration, so much growth, and it’s invigorated my artistic practice in so many ways. The fact I get to spend my days teaching children art and using tools of social/emotional wellness has made me so happy.

I love the space itself, I love watching the children get inspired and seeing their creativity validated during the week, and I love getting to see the Young Artist Society’s concerts - watching bands sing their hearts out and teenagers moshing on the weekends. Young Artist Society was created by three amazing teachers at the Resin gallery - my sister Gwyn Dowdee, Audrey Whitehead, and Sasha Lerman. They became best friends through the gallery and while still in high school decided to devote all their time to create an amazing music movement, spearheading massive concerts, creating gallery shows and crafting a music scene that is growing everyday. They are just another example of the absolutely amazing young people who are a part of Indivisible Arts. My dream as a kid was to have an inclusive

connects us all, through AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION

FIONA: (continued) place to create and be around queer, alternative, creative types, like me. Being a part of the curation and creation of this space that provides this next generation with support, compassion, and connection means the world to me. I have seen Indivisible Arts students experience real change and growth, while falling in love with creativity. They come out of classes with a bigger tool set for creatively handling tough challenges and a newfound appreciation and skill for art.

RAFAEL: You’re also one of the young minds that helped create the Creative Wisdom Tools through the pandemicwhat can you tell us about that, and how was that experience?

FIONA: The Creative Wisdom Tools are a collection of emotional wellness tools crafted by the Resin founder, and my friend, Rafael McMaster. The tools are curated to teach children how to deal with anxieties and dif ficulties they may face. I’ve seen it work so well, from children experiencing mental illness, kids in foster care, kids who can’t sit still: the Wisdom Tools teach them how to handle themselves and their emotions.

It’s not just for our students though. All of the teachers and volunteers have learned so much from helping with the lessons through the years. One of the tools, awareness, has really helped me. We teach that all the thoughts in your head aren’t you, rather you are the person deciding between the thoughts. It’s observing the thoughts and choosing to agree or disagree with the thoughts - instead of being the thoughts. This lesson blew my mind when I heard it at age 20 and has helped me gain control of my mind and not allow myself to spiral mentally. If I can gain so much from these lessons, it’s powerful that these young kids grasp the concept at such a young age.

RAFAEL: Generationally you are Gen Z, which is roughly ages 7-24. I’m curious - how do you think your generation’s hopes and dreams are different than other generations?

FIONA: I think our hopes and dreams are driven by the world we live in. Our society is divided so drastically, and we’ve had to face so much in such a short time, that our ambitions are mostly based on wanting to live life in peace and harmony with freedom of self-expression. I think our ideals are no longer to have a career and a white picket fence, because those options seem more and more impossible everyday - but the ability to express our identities and live diverse lives. To have sovereignty. Especially going through Covid, all of us faced isolation and fear at such a young age that it’s hard to revert back to the mentalities and expectations put on us by society.

“Having hope is crucial.”

We want change to occur. We want our Earth safe. We want our fellow people to exist in love and self-expression without the chains of finance and 9-5 work weeks. We dream big because we have to. Everyday I see a whirlwind of traumatic news. We go numb from it and that numbness leads to more devastation. Having hope is crucial. Dreaming big helped me through quarantine and it’s the thing that’s gonna get us through this all.

RAFAEL: Why do you think dreaming matters?

FIONA: Dreaming is such an important thing. Without dreams we could never create beautiful things and craft beautiful institutions. Without dreams we suffer a life of unfulfillment because we never reach for the stars. We never get there. Our ambitions are what is gonna drive my generation to make the change we so need. When I think of dreams, I think of a good night's rest. I believe that’s what we all want — peace and love — and our goals can bring us there.In our classes at the Resin gallery we teach intentions in three steps: have a goal, create a 3d imaginary vision in your head, and fall in love with it. It’s a pretty incredible thing that we as humans can use our heart and brain frequencies to bring about our manifested intentions, if we all harnessed this gift we’d be much better off.






We dream big because we

have to.

RAFAEL: Who is your favorite artist?

FIONA: My favorite artist is the Ukrainian oil painter Dennis Sarazhin. He paints in figurative style but with these expressive and emotional colors; they radiate across the form showing every crinkle and motion of the body’s contortion. Most of them are floating in space in a way that keeps them off the grounded earth and in the clouds. I found his work a couple of years ago. I’ve always had artists I’ve loved like Jenny Saville or Emma Hopkins, but Denis Sarazhin holds the claim of inspiring me beyond all means. I aspire to reach similar expressionist feelings in my figurative pieces.

RAFAEL: Every time I see you, you’re so styled up, so expressive. Tell me more about this...

FIONA: I believe that creativity can take form in every aspect of your life. I decided a long time ago that it's like creating a character in a video game; you customize every aspect in fun ways to display your feelings. Why wouldn’t you customize your vessel? The only person you will spend your whole life with is you, and therefore the most important relationship we have is with ourselves, and one way to nurture that self love is to find the styles that you vibe with and express them. Every article of clothing I choose is not based on trends but on how I want to express my inner self, especially with makeup.

I've been trying to flip the switch from self-perfecting to self-expressing. It’s like art on your body no matter how you do it. Makeup, hair, everything. Hair grows back, trends change, and makeup lasts a day. It is all worth it to go through an exploration process. I feel my truest when i'm showing it.

RAFAEL: One thing I notice in your work is that it’s so raw - skin pores, blemishes, acne.... It’s clearly a conscious decision as an artist…

FIONA: The reason I paint figurative pieces is that to me, people’s faces and skin reflect the feelings inside. We wear our feelings on our flesh and that’s what I paint. Our society embraces fake personhood. We post what we think our audience will absorb the best and we create our exteriors and interiors to fit a standard created by a society that wants to sell that false image back at us.

But we are the most real when we are bare in our flesh. Bareness presents itself as our so-called flaws and imperfections. Everything we do in a day affects our bodies. Every choice we make, every experience we have, reflects on us. Painting these “imperfections” is also a way of me responding to my society-driven insecurities. I have burns on my legs and scars on my skin and hair on my body, and acne on my face, and all of that re flects the life I am living. Why not include our flaws when representing someone’s spirit? ∎

See more of Fiona’s work online ( and follow her on Instagram (@fionadowdee).

“We wear our feelings on our flesh and that’s what I paint.”
Gravity comes in many forms, naysayers, doubters, and deadly storms.


Gravity comes in many forms, Naysayers, doubters, and deadly storms, It tells you why you should not fly, And reveals your flaws to all, oh my!

The path that leads to smoother air, Is filled with folks who might not care, The path that leads up to the sky, May cause a tear to escape your eye.

You can rise and soar above, Soar above the trees and shrubs, Gravity wants you on the ground, It finds great joy when you’re held down.

You’re too small, and you’re too big, There’re way better people for the gig, You’re too young, and you’re too old, The lies it tells, be brave, be bold!

Exhausting times when gravity’s there, It makes you feel like life’s not fair, You’re not the one, it says to you, Oh, you are the ONE, and not the TWO.

Gravity is no match for you, Resist its pull is what you do, It tries to lock you to the earth, The wings you have, they have no worth.

But that’s a lie you can’t believe, When gravity knocks, “Gravity leave!” You’ll overcome, you’ll elevate, You’ll touch the sky, it can’t relate.

Failure and pain, a bruise they yield, But a wound from quitting never heals. Trust with all your heart that you will fly, And when you do, there’s nothing you won’t try.

LEX GILLETTE has quickly become one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the market. Losing his sight at the age of eight was painful to say the least, but life happens. Things don’t always go your way. You can either stay stuck in frustration because the old way doesn’t work anymore, or you can create a new vision for your life, even if you can’t see how it will happen just yet. His sight was lost, but Lex acquired a renewed vision, a vision that has seen him become the best totally blind long and triple jumper Team USA has ever witnessed. ‘NO NEED FOR SIGHT WHEN YOU HAVE VISION’ BY LEX GILLETTE
x Paralympic Medalist, 4x World Champion & Keynote Speaker
You need to ask how can you meet yourself where you are… AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION
Photo Credit: Christopher Malcom


Ottawa-based Yin and Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, YouTuber, author, and the face of ‘Yoga with Kassandra’, Kassandra Reinhardt is on a mission to help others feel great with yoga. As one of the first yoga instructors to embrace online teaching, her channel has grown to more than 1.9 million subscribers. In this conversation, we meet on the mat to hear the story behind her story.

ALLIÉ: Thank you for joining me on the mat today, Kassandra. Before we start our conversation, I’d love to speak about the pose we’re in - ‘butterfly’. Can you share how to properly do this pose and its purpose? Love to learn the benefits that ‘butterfly’ offers.

KASSANDRA: Butterfly Pose, the Sanskrit name being Baddha Konasana, is also sometimes called Cobbler's or Bound Angle pose. It is one of my favorite hip openers because it tends to be suitable for all experience levels. Nice and simple. You take a seat and simply bring the soles of your feet together, so they are touching and let your knees fall open. And each person gets to decide and adjust how close they want their heels to be towards the groin or how far away, and based on the positioning, they'll have a different sensation. The closer in you bring your heels, the more you'll really feel this throughout the inner thighs and abductors. Whereas bringing your heels further out, especially if

It just gave me a different outlook on life…to something that is greater than me.

KASSANDRA: (continued) targeted. But regardless, we are working the hip, overall. So, a great pose to encourage some flexibility through the lower body. And if we add a forward fold, which is generally how the pose is practiced, either in an active way where we're engaging, strengthening our muscles, lengthening the spine, contracting, hugging muscle to bone, and leaning forward with a flat back, or in a Yin yoga version. I am a teacher of Yin Yoga, so I do like the Yin version where you just let yourself relax and soften. And in that case, it'd be okay for your spine to round. And then while you're also for sure getting a nice stretch through your hips, you might also be getting a stretch along the spine, a nice little stretch along your back. So just a really lovely pose. This is great for people who have maybe a more limited range of motion. You can also make it a lot more accessible if you find that you're rounding and falling backwards. Often people will feel like they're falling backwards, and they have to grip to move forward. You can just lift yourself up by sitting on a few blankets, pillow, bolster, or block. And you can also do the reclined variations of the pose by just laying all the way back down. You're still going to get lovely benefits from the pose that way.

ALLIÉ: When it comes to yoga, we’re all a bit like butterflies in that we all start as one thing and then become another. Today, you are a Yin yoga expert, YouTuber & author, but when did your yoga journey begin? When did you first step onto a mat?

KASSANDRA: Yeah, so my little caterpillar phase when I first stepped onto a yoga mat was around 2008. I would have been 18 years old, and I just started very naively and innocently, not really knowing anything about the practice of yoga. I was a dancer at the time, doing a lot of ballet and just struggling with the sport, feeling very stiff and feeling like I had a lot of weakness in my body in certain areas. So, a friend recommended yoga. She had started it and really loved it and suggested I give it a go thinking that maybe I would also enjoy it. So, I was really thinking about it purely from a physical perspective and lens. I did not know the richness, the history, or the philosophy of yoga. I, just thought, okay, there's a yoga studio nearby so I dropped into a yoga class, and I enjoyed it. But I didn't really fall in love until probably six months to a year later of doing various classes. It wasn't really until I found a teacher I really connected with and a style or two styles of yoga that I really connected with, that things really fell into place. And then I really discovered the richness of the practice and became a little bit more obsessive about it. A few years later, I started my teacher training, got certified, started teaching, and started my YouTube channel in 2014. So, it all kind of slowly evolved over the years in that way.

ALLIÉ: There are those that do yoga, and then there are those that direct it. What made you want to be more than a student but a teacher instead?

KASSANDRA: It's a good question, but I will always think of myself as a student first. I'm a student who happens to teach from time to time, but there's just so much to learn. I feel it’d be a little bit arrogant at times to call myself a yoga teacher just because I'm still very much learning. But I was always really drawn to teaching in some form or, another. I really like the various elements of it. I really like guiding people through something. It felt like a natural fit for my personality. And, I'm not saying that in a way to sound conceited, but I just think teaching plays to my strengths, which is a good thing. So, it’s relatively easy for me to lean into communication and public speaking as I’ve always thought those are my strengths and also something I really enjoy. So I felt like there was a good fit there. And then at the time, in 2012, I wasn't searching for yoga teacher training, even though I kind of had it as an idea in the back of my mind that it would be fun and maybe challenging. There was like this little voice. I thought, I would love to be at the front of this room one day and teaching my own yoga classes. I was still quite insecure about it and not sure if I was ready, if I was capable, if I was good enough, if I was smart enough. So many insecurities. I only really signed up to my teacher training because the teacher I was studying with announced that she was going to be leading a small and intimate teacher training. So, I thought, well, I'll just take it. I'll just sign up. And I wasn’t really thinking about whether I would teach or not. I wasn't trying to think too far ahead. I'll dip my toe in the water. I'll learn more about this practice that I love so much. I was already trying to devour and consume as many books as I could on the subject, so let's just commit to teacher training. And pretty early on in that process, I realized, I'm definitely going to teach after this. I think for me, this just aligns.


“It’s a great source of solace for me…”

ALLIÉ: From practicing, to instructing and from writing to recording, through your YouTube channel, app and books, yoga is a practice that you give so many people access to in so many ways. With an online community of over 2 million. You support the growth of so many, when it comes to your personal practice, how do you continue to grow?

KASSANDRA: That's a very flattering way of putting it. The reality feels very different for me because at the end of the day, I don't see myself in front of 2 million people. I see myself in front of a camera at home trying to marry the number with my day to day. Life is a very strange process. It's different being an online yoga instructor. Like, when you're teaching public classes, you see your students and you interact with them. They're real physical people in front of you. Whereas for me, I'm kind of limited to comments and people's profile photos. It's a little bit more abstract and a little bit less tangible. And I think, honestly, that just helps to keep me grounded, because I think if I had 2 million people in front of me every day when I was teaching, I think that would get to my head pretty quickly. And I don't think it's a very healthy way to maintain balance, even in my own practice. So mine has stayed simple pretty much throughout the years. I do a balance of Vinyasa and Yin yoga. I would say lately, this year particularly, it used to be 50/50 with both, and now I would say it's probably 80% Yin yoga and 20% Vinyasa. I'm gravitating a lot more towards these restorative practices. I used to practice a lot more in the morning, like more Vinyasa, strong flexibility-based classes to really get the energy moving to start my day in a certain way. And I still really love that. But I find myself needing and craving my practice much more towards the end of the day. I tend to do a lot almost every night. It's a bedtime Yin yoga practice. That's what I found to be the most therapeutic for me right now, but I'm sure it will change. It's evolved quite a bit throughout the years. I've never, ever put pressure on myself to practice for a certain amount of time or a certain amount of practices per week. That's something that works very well for some people but does not work well for me. The minute I put that kind of expectation on myself, I add pressure, which means I add judgment, which means I add criticism, which means, I'm kind of sucking the joy out of the whole thing. I must be very careful with my view of discipline. It can quickly become controlling to me, so it's fluid, it changes, but it's really been a lot of Yin this year.

ALLIÉ: Nice. ‘Year of Yin’… I like that.

KASSANDRA: Maybe that will be my next book.

ALLIÉ: Speaking of books & authors, this is one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” From when you started up to now, how has the practice of yoga changed you, Kassandra, both as a practitioner and as a person?

KASSANDRA: I feel like it's easier to think about the ways it hasn't changed me or what has stayed the same, because it really has changed me. I think it's provided me with a new take on life, a different perspective. In my personal day to day life, the greatest impact has been on my ability to manage stress and anxiety. That's a very practical application for me. But, of course, anyone who struggles with anxiety will know that it can feel huge and overwhelming. It can have really long lasting and widespread effects on your life. Having yoga as something else in my toolbox to help manage that was a huge game changer. That is why I practice Yin so much, even though other styles of yoga are phenomenal as well for managing stress and anxiety. But for me, Yin was the greatest one, especially for dealing with insomnia as well. Practicing Yin at night was really helpful. And from a wider perspective, I think it just gave me a different outlook on life, a greater sense of connection to other people, to something that is greater than me. A way of not necessarily completely eradicating my ego or anything like that, but just an awareness around my ego and an awareness of when it's taking over and taking control and what that means to me in my life. And, I think it's just given me something to turn to in a time of need. It's just things that I know I will always have when times get a little bit tough in some form or another. And, it's also something that I can turn to when things are going really good. And maybe I am starting to feel my ego get a little bit inflated and my head gets a little big. It's a great anchor, a great way to ground yourself. It’s a great source of solace for me, for sure.



ALLIÉ: There is so much I love about yoga from the release on so many levels to the strength found in its simplicity and intricacy. Kassandra, of all the things to love about yoga, what do you love most?

KASSANDRA: If I had to just narrow it down, the best thing about yoga to me is that it works on health from all its different facets: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual and all in one package deal. It's hard to find that with any other movement modality, for me anyway.

ALLIÉ: Because I love words, I appreciate that yoga is referred to as a ‘practice’. And while it is said that ‘practice makes perfect’, your personal practice never needs to be ‘perfect’. It only has to be yours. For those just getting started with yoga and find themselves struggling with the imperfection with the practice, what advice would you give?

KASSANDRA: I think physical goals will only motivate you in the short term. And I would encourage people to embrace the practice from a place of wanting to just care for themselves or wanting to just do something because it feels really good to do it. Not doing it necessarily because they're trying to change or fix something. And I'm not knocking that as there's a time and place for that as well. But I think if you're looking to build a practice that can support and sustain you throughout your life, as you get older, your body will change. Some things will get a lot easier over time. Some things will just get harder and harder over time. Yoga is supposed to be something that allows for all of that to exist and all of that to happen. A place where you can meet yourself exactly as you are. I can't do some of the things I could do ten years ago. I don't really have as much of a strength based practice as I used to, but my practice is a lot deeper, a lot richer, a lot more meaningful now. And in ten years, it might look completely different than what I'm doing today. So I think letting go of the idea of what we think it's supposed to look like and what a proper class, a proper sequence, a proper practice should look like, is the first step. And honestly, when it comes to beginners and people who are new to it, it can be so intimidating and so overwhelming. It's basic advice, but I really believe in it. Start small. It doesn't have to be super complicated. It can be a ten-minute practice. It really doesn't have to be so crazy because, again, that might, motivate you in the short term. But once that high wears off, what's going to keep that fire burning? A slow fire that you can keep stoking throughout the years I think is best. Some days you'll have a lot of energy and some days you won’t. You need to ask how can you meet yourself where you are and accommodate that without judgment, without criticism, and without too much expectation. ∎

Exclusive Interview with Kassandra Reinhardt TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN Learn more about Yoga With Kassandra ( & follow on Instagram (@yoga_with_kassandra).
I like to go through the exercise of looking at random things and finding a way to make it better.

With a mission to remove the barriers that keep people from camping, Tim Liberty founded ‘Campbox’, providing all the products and services needed to enjoy the great outdoors… all in a single box.

ALLIÉ: Some ideas come to us in dreams. Scientifically, they come from synapses firing and connecting creative dots between thoughts and images. How, Tim, did the idea of ‘Campbox’ come to you?

TIM: Well, I would say I'm a dreamer, but I like to go through the exercise of looking at random things and finding a way to make it better. It’s like a paper towel holder. How can that be better? I'm looking at a bird house right now. How could that be better? I guess I was going through that exercise one day and thinking about our town that we live in, Newaygo. We have the Dragon Trail that's been created over the last few years. We're having the U.S. Canoe and Kayaking Race here this weekend. It's a hub for outdoor activity. And I got to thinking about camping. How can we make the camping experience better? I realize that it's kind of a daunting experience for any first timer. You have to figure out where to camp and how to camp, what you need to buy, where you're going to store everything, how you're




TIM: (continued) overwhelming for first timers. So I came up with the idea of essentially taking them through the full concierge service of camping from soups and nuts to take out all the stress of camping. They put their foot out the door, get to experience it, and enjoy the outdoors where they want to do it again. And eventually the goal is to get them off of Campbox. Right? I don't want them to be a lifelong Campbox user, but rather have them use it once or twice, understand all the things in camping that they can enjoy and then have them slowly purchase all the materials themselves.

ALLIÉ: It’s a camping concierge service, really. You help people select a site, set up the tent, provide the gear and games that make camping fun. Why do you do it?

TIM: I love the outdoors. I also love people. And although sometimes I come off as someone with a somewhat gruff appearance or having that RBF face, I actually do like people and I want to help them. So, it kind of accomplishes two missions, helping people and bringing more attention to the outdoors and recreation.

ALLIÉ: Let’s get personal, Tim. What is it that you personally love most about camping?

TIM: I would say looking up at the stars is a big infatuation for me. Camping brings back nostalgic memories. When I was in the Marine Corps I was a grunt, or an infantryman, and spent a lot of time outdoors. Sleeping not in tents but in holes or bags in the desert, looking up at the stars, being around my best friends, my brothers. That's what I enjoy and what I miss. And camping kind of gives me a taste of that by looking up at the same stars that I was looking up at 15, almost 20 years ago now.

ALLIÉ: A bit more personal now. Tim, I’d love to hear about a favorite memory of yours from a camping trip?

TIM: So, when I was sleeping in a sleeping bag in the forest in Camp Pendleton, we had little mice scurrying around us a lot and it felt like they were always going over my sleeping bag. From what I could tell the next morning, the guys were messing with me and rubbing a stick across my legs, cracking up. But I wasn't too thrilled with them that night. But after I figured it out and after a couple of good nights of sleep, it was just a joke. And it was part of the things I always remember of that brotherhood.

ALLIÉ: You have a gorgeous wife and two beautiful little girls. Let’s dream for a moment, if you could take them camping anywhere in the world, where would it be?

two missions, helping people and bringing more attention to the outdoors and recreation.”
My philosophy in life is love as hard as you can.


Kerry O'Brien BEM is an award-winning drum & bass MC and founder of the Young Urban Arts Foundation, a charity with a mission to empower the lives of young people by strengthening mental well-being through creativity, culture and access to opportunities. Her passion for supporting youth is driven by her own life experiences and a passion for music.

TANITH: Kerry you were one of the first Lady MC’s in jungle drum and bass in the UK where does your love of music come from?

KERRY: My dad played guitar and sang and it definitely brought me into a creative space. We used to write songs and my first experience of music was being on a TV show called Top Banana. Back in the 90s me and my class went on to the TV show and we were called the Rapping Witches. Me and my dad wrote the rap for the class and we won the competition. But really my passion for music came through the dance scene, raving and being in crowds of like minded people. It really did something for me. I felt that there was no judgement, it was just pure unadulterated, self expression. I'd never experienced that before. I had a lot of baggage from what I went through as a child and I just felt so good being in that environment. The music was mind blowingly amazing and everyone was so lovely. There was just so much love. So my passion for music really came through dancing and through the party scene, because that's where I really fell in love with music.
I feel healed and then something else will come up.

“I think a lot of my troubles came from emotional abuse from my dad…”

TANITH: You have mentioned before that as a teenager life wasn’t easy, can you tell us more about your early experiences?

KERRY: Like millions of other children in the UK we were quite poor but mainly because my dad drank all the money. My dad was an alcoholic and a very troubled soul. Very talented, very loving but very troubled. Through the alcoholism he was violent. So experiencing, witnessing and being on the receiving end of violence. Being awake 2/3/4am in the morning because the police are round, there's blood everywhere and there's broken windows, really affects you especially if you're going to school, because you're going tired, with bruises and not wearing the best clothes. I felt like scum of the earth at times.

I think a lot of my troubles came from emotional abuse from my dad and I did a TED talk about it. Being emotionally beaten down and told that I'm not good enough and I'm never going to be good enough. That really affects young people. Even now going through my healing process, I feel healed and then something else will come up. It's ingrained. I’m 42 now and I'm still noticing things popping up. As a young person it makes you angry with the world, but I was angry with a smile. I was angry and I was lost. I was trying to find a family because I didn't believe the family I had was good enough, because it was just pain and trauma. I ended up hanging around with different people which weren't necessarily good for my path. It definitely taught me a lot but it led me down some very dangerous roads and music was my saviour.

TANITH: You founded your amazing youth charity YUAF in 2009, what was the motivation behind it?

KERRY: It wasn't something I thought about. It just organically happened. I started doing workshops with young people and there was one moment around 2008 where I went to a school and I was doing a talk about being a female MC in the music industry. I remember this young girl came up to me, she was dark haired and quite chubby. She was the same complexion as me. She looked like a mini me. She came up and said, ‘You know your story that you shared about your dad? That's what I'm going through right now.’ I get really emotional talking about it. She came up to me and was telling me her story. And I was like, that's my story. I feel like it was some divine intervention coming to me. It was the mini me, telling me what I needed and what young people need. So there were signi ficant moments, then I started doing workshops and seeing the difference it was making. I think that on re flection, it wasn't just about the kids. It was about me. It was about me healing me.

TANITH: I know you have recently invested in a new bus for YUAF, what are your future plans for the charity?

KERRY: We had our bus for nine years and it was very old when we bought it. It's been an amazing resource and our USP. We've managed to reach some young people that never would have had access. So I'm so so grateful (R.I.P. old bus). With the old bus we realised a lot of things weren’t there that we needed and it was not sustainable. I couldn't sleep at night knowing how much we were damaging the environment with the generator as you know I'm all about sustainability.

We’ve now got a double decker bus, so doubled the capacity. It’s solar powered and has access for five wheelchairs. Our old bus only had access for one. I want to work with more organisations that work with young people with mobility issues, so we can create space for them to be together on the bus. We've got the latest software and computers, so it


KERRY: (continued) looks like a like a state of the art studio. We've got 10 Studios in there, leather chairs, screens, and then the top floor, which is an open access space. We've got a big screen up there and a Mac and and we've got a vocal booth downstairs, which we didn't have on the other bus. The upstairs space is all about the young people who want to hang out. We’ve also got a little closed off area for meditation, or if young people need a bit of time out or to have a one to one. It's all ambiently lit with music. We've got our launch 1st/2nd September. I'm really proud of myself and my team, I can't speak more highly of them. I had this emotional moment a couple of weeks back. I couldn't have done any of this without my team and also without the funders believing in us and seeing the great work that we've been doing and knowing that we need this for the young people.

TANITH: You are also getting back into your music, what do you have in the pipeline and how can people listen to your amazing music?

KERRY: I’ve been trying to reduce my hours at the charity for four years and as of next month I'll be going part time as Chief Exec. There's going to be some transitional time but the reason I'm doing that is to create time for my music because, as much as I've absolutely adored doing all this work with the charity, there's been a very obvious pain within me. I've not been able to fully express myself and follow my dreams. I'm actually going to be rebranding. Lady MC has been around for 26 years and when she was born there were no other female MCs. She was very original and very jungle but it's not who I am anymore. I will still be doing gigs under Lady MC but I've been getting into dance and my whole vibe is now more about soulful music, the more musical drum and bass. I feel like that's a different person. So welcome in my new artist name…Indigo Reign.

The story behind Indigo is that I'm Indian, so derived from India and also, there are many spectrums of Indigo colour, you know the Indigo colour but you can have Indigo red, Indigo blue to Indigo green, so it was about being able to access all the different realms of who I am through colour. Reign originally was like raindrops but actually my god daughter said to me, ‘No, it's not rain. It's REIGN because that is who you are, you conquer everything’.

When I speak about this new artist, it feels good. I've got my first radio interview next week as Indigo Reign. I don't know what I'm going to say yet. I'm figuring out everything but I'm really excited about it. My goals are to be on a lot of the massive festivals next year and I have a dream to be a professional dancer as well.

TANITH: Can you share with us your philosophy in life?

KERRY: It’s all about creative expression in all forms. A lot of the music that I've been working on previously, I didn't feel like I could openly speak about things I wanted to speak about. It's just not very conscious. So it's about being able to speak my truth and be a storyteller, everything I've been teaching these young people to do. In terms of my philosophy, if you look at me as a whole being, my philosophy in life is love as hard as you can. ∎

Learn more about Young Urban Arts Foundation:

Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global

Tanith is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.

Being completely inclusive… all ways of thinking and problemsolving are of equal value.


It is a truism that accurately identifying talent is the first stepping stone towards achievement.

When it comes to our youth, there is a strong reliance on standardized measurements such as grades and test scores to determine access to opportunities. Whether it’s applying for competitive boarding schools, honors classes, academic programs, internships and colleges, youth are constantly assessing their worthiness to apply for opportunities based on their records of achievement.

But are these standardized measures effective in terms of sparking the innovative thinking required to solve humanity’s greatest challenges?

Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, thinks differently. Acting on the premise that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not, Rise was born — a partnership between Schmidt Futures and The Rhodes Trust that identifies brilliant people who need opportunity and supports them for life as they work to serve others. Rise is a global program that offers equal opportunity for youth ages 15 to 17 who demonstrate exceptional talent. Rise crosses all geographic, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, celebrating 100 winners representing 42 countries in 2021.

What makes Rise unique is that there are no specialized areas of study or skills that teens must focus on to solve problems they care about. Being completely inclusive, whether it’s through STEM, the arts, social science, humanities or through an interdisciplinary lens, all ways of thinking and problem-solving are of equal value. Brilliance and a willingness to solve humanity’s most pressing problems are the program’s top determining factors.

In addition, Rise is more concerned about protecting the characteristics that support the curiosity, courage and endurance to solve problems rather than what educational program or institution that young person pursues after high school. The program looks for hidden brilliance, in whatever form it takes, wherever it is in the world, from high school classrooms, to refugee camps, to science fairs. Rise is agnostic in the way they support their winners, catering to each winner on an individual basis. Whether this is offering scholarship support for a selective international university, providing a technology package to aid learning at a public university in their home country or fostering connections for entrepreneurial endeavors.

There are more distinctions that set Rise apart from other scholarships.

One, Rise is truly global in nature connecting with over 170 countries across 6 continents. Gregory Manne, Rise’s Senior Manager of Selection & Global Outreach, emphasized how Rise responds to the reality that while “talent is distributed worldwide, opportunities are anything but equitable.” Rise focuses on ways to find young talent in areas where opportunities aren’t accessible.


AwareNow Podcast


Every teen who applies to Rise will benefit, even if they don’t become a finalist or winner. Once an application is submitted, there is immediate access to the Rise and Schmidt Futures network as well as project-based and social impact learning experiences. Applicants will be able to further develop their talents, attain clarity on their personal philosophy and sense of purpose, and have access to all Rise content for continual learning. In addition, they immediately build a global network of peers.

Rise is the platform and community to nurture the brilliance of our youth. They are our future problem solvers for our environment, medical advancements, social justice and education reform, technology innovations, agriculture and food securities, and health care reform, just to name a few. ∎


Co-Founder of The Decided Heart Effect

SONJA MONTIEL has served more than twenty-one years in the college admissions profession, having extensive experience in the areas of freshman, transfer, and international admissions. During her time working with thousands of teens and young adults worldwide, she began to witness many societies creating an unhealthy college-bound culture that misguides our young people in their pursuit of living a life of ful fillment. In 2021, Sonja met Hilary Bilbrey to begin something amazing. They created The DH Effect – The Decided Heart Effect with a mission to guide individuals, schools, and organizations to build high-trust relationships and belonging through self-discovery and personal accountability.


We have faced far worse back home.


What has become of Ky?

Was he followed when trying to make his escape? We left wary of his outcome, barely making it to the open water once again. We were informed the next leg is not too far away and hopefully landfall within reach.

And just like that, we made it to Hong Kong around 2:00 pm with over 30 of us in a tiny fishing boat. Elated, everyone on the boat breathed a sigh of relief and excitement.

Although the water was still coming into our vessel, it was patched up well enough to get us to our final destination… or was it? No one knows. But as we reached landfall we noticed there were many boats just like ours floating nearby. We made our way, inching closer to the wooden walkway. Upon arrival, the dock was filled with media, photographers, and people trying to interview those coming in. All we wanted was to dock and get some food and water. Lights were flashing, and people speaking in a foreign dialect were shouting at us but for some reason, no one would allow us to dock. There were other boats surrounding us in the same predicament, yet no one seemed to understand what the other party was saying.

I started crying, unable to understand this chaos. My mom held me close and tried to comfort me. People were pushing to get to the front. There was a lot of chatter, most of which was incomprehensible to us. Suddenly a man named Hung arrived. He was Vietnamese and started to translate for us. People were wanting to interview us but the locals would not let us get off the boat.

“Who brought your boat here?” “What ship did you arrive on?” “What route did you take?” “Where did you come from?” “What are you doing here?” “Why did you risk your life to come here?” GO GREEN DRESS: ‘RECOLLECTIONS' EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY THI NGUYEN LANDFALL PART 7: DREAMS WITHIN REACH AWARENOW / THE DREAMS EDITION

Questions were thrown at us rapid-fire with no end. Flashes were going off and we had no idea which direction to look. Hung translated the questions and, as we responded sharing our journey, none of the foreigners and reporters could believe us. How could a tiny fishing boat, carrying more than double the size, survive such a journey? They were astonished that we managed to fit so many in but were even more surprised that we made it all the way here from Da Nang. They did not believe the story and would not allow us to get off the boat until we told the “truth.” It was hectic, loud, and chaotic. Finally, Hung jumped in and said, “Our people are very brave and are not frightened at the sight of death. We faced far worse back home.”

Just then my nose led me to these men standing on the dock to the side of the reporters. I could smell something sweet and became fixated on the men in uniform. In their hands were crackers and a colorful can of soda pop. I tugged on my mom's shirt and motioned to her pointing in that direction. She was too busy trying to plead with these people to let us off the boat, and I was busy scheming a way to get my hands on these goodies.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, we were transferred to another larger vessel and shipped off. Where are they taking us now? It didn’t matter. For once in a long time, we felt more at ease. We prayed the next destination would be our ticket to freedom. ∎

This story and the stories before are a culmination of actual events that took place during the migration of the Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War. It is based on my personal experience as well as those I have been fortunate to cross paths with. Feel free to follow the @GoGreenDress on Instagram for more stories, images, and tips and tricks for life's memorable moments.


Nonprofit Consultant, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist

THI NGUYEN brings with her over 2 decades of non profit experience as a participant, advisor, board member, consultant, volunteer and research and development specialist. Her expertise combining technology to further advance the vision and mission for philanthropic causes has allowed her to serve as a trusted partner with many notable organizations large and small. Thi has experience working with organizations focusing on combating various global issues such as: human sex trafficking, homelessness, poverty, fair wages, global warming, malnutrition, gender equality, humanitarian assistance and human rights. She's currently developing an app to connect individuals and corporations to assist nonprofits in furthering their vision and mission.
“Our people are very brave and we are not frightened at the sight of death.”
I dream that everyone who is eligible to vote, can vote.


Like many things, I did not start out with a grand plan for Give A Damn Vote.

The idea came about wanting to set an example for my young son that we can all be a part of making our communities better. I wanted to use my many years of working as a creative director and apply it towards some sort of GOTV effort. I tried reaching out to various political groups and non-for-profits to offer up my services—with no luck.

I quickly realized that if I wanted to do anything using my skill set, I was going to need to do something on my own.

And thus, Give A Damn Vote was born.

Give A Damn Vote advocates voting and civics through artist inspired clothing and products.

I believe the change we need will come from both our lawmakers and the streets. We need both.

I also believe art will be a part of the answer. My friend Michael Delahaut is a huge street art and graf fiti fan and he helped show me the way of that world. The vibrancy and energy of street and graffiti is second to none.

The first effort asked artists to create “GIVE A DAMN. VOTE.”

After the election, I wanted to celebrate and thus asked artists to work with “POWER TO THE PEOPLE.” Unfortunately, things quickly turned from a celebration to a story about voting rights and protecting the right to vote (H.R.1 For The People Act) . And thus, I asked artists to create the word “VOTE.”

I then added this art to the phrase “FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE WHILE YOU STILL CAN.”

Now the message has turned from protecting the right to vote to defending democracy.


Top to Bottom & Left to Right: Art by MadClout (@madclout), Menso One (@mensoone), Gigstar (@gigstar_csf), Ouchey (@ouchey), Sneke One (@snekeism), Reds (@redskeee), Sonic Bad (@sonicbadnyc), Restoring Your Belief (@restoringyourbelief), Enem (@enemthagreat_tdk), MQ Planet (@mqplanet).
Top to Bottom & Left to Right: Art by Extra Ketchup (@extraketchup), Freako (@freakorico), Indie184 (@indie184), Dr. Dax (@dr.dax), CLAW (@clawmoney), dek2dx (@dek2dx), DELVS (@delvs102), Easy B2B (@mysterease), CES (@ces4wish), Peter Paid (@peterpaidnyc).
Art by: Jim Evans (@jimevanstaz_official)

“Think of voting as one’s personal non-violent revolution.”

I don’t believe government is the problem. We the people are the problem. We are the problem when we don’t vote. We are the problem when we aren’t informed by facts. We are the problem when we don’t care. Not to vote, not to be informed by facts, not to care, is to cede one's power to others. And they will manipulate you with misinformation. They will enslave you with their unjust rules and laws. They will subject you to dishonest leaders and bad policies.

If one wants to be in control of one's own destiny and if one wants to be free, one must care, get informed, and vote. Unfortunately, none of this will guarantee better days ahead, but at least one will have a fighting chance. Not to vote is to guarantee helplessness. Think of voting as one's personal non-violent revolution.

Right now. Today. Protecting our democracy and the right to vote is the single most important task of our time. Solving issues related to climate, justice and equality all hinge on keeping a free and vibrant democracy.


Finally, I would like to thank all of the artists. Without their support this dream would not have been possible. ∎

please visit
. On
For more information,
follow @giveadamn_vote
For me, it was a realization that I had to ask for help and be able to receive it.
Photo Credit: Tangel’s Photography




Mary Firestone survived the unthinkable. In 2018 she lived through the Montecito mudslide that dropped 200 million gallons of rainfall in 15 minutes, washing away her home. Trapped alone in her bathroom while pregnant, not sure if her husband and fouryear-old son were still alive, she wasn’t thinking that her trauma was a gift in disguise. Yet, as she began her journey to healing, this is exactly what she discovered.

ALLIÉ: “It’s always darkest before dawn.” This is true. Mary, I’d love for you to share a personal story of a darkness you’ve endured and the dawn that followed.

MARY: Following the Montecito mudslide, I had a near death experience. I was trapped for five hours and thought my husband and child had been killed. Fortunately, they survived. We all survived. We all made it. However, many neighbors were not as lucky. It was a very dark time. We lost our house and all our things. We had no money, no cell phones, and nowhere to live. I was also pregnant at

…recognizing how fragile life is. That made it so much more beautiful.
Photo Credit: Tangel’s Photography

“I think as women we often aren’t comfortable with receiving…”

MARY: (continued) experiencing a lot of PTSD and nightmares. If my nightmares didn't wake me up, the poison oak did. And, the stress from all the uncertainty about our future: where were we going to live, where was I going to have the baby, etc. So that was an incredibly dark time.

The dawn that followed was the incredible healing work I found in practitioners. The first thing I did that gave me that feeling that things were going to be okay was Cranial Sacral work which I think can be bene ficial for a lot of people that have gone through an extreme trauma. Just lying down and receiving it was incredibly powerful. As my head was cradled by this amazing woman, Sarah Webstock's hands, I felt relief in my body – a sense of unhooking and letting go and moments of receiving – for the first time. I think as women we often aren’t comfortable with receiving, and we do a lot of giving. For me, it was a realization that I had to ask for help and be able to receive it. It reminded me of how many amazing people – strangers, friends, family – showed up. It was really inspiring to remember that we're good human beings.

ALLIÉ: While we all live stories of our own, you lived a series of stories that you wrote and published to empower others. Subtitled “How To Choose Freedom and Joy After Trauma’, the book you wrote is entitled ‘Trusting the Dawn’. Please share the story behind the story.

MARY: I have my master's degree in psychology, and my sister and I have been running these life retreats for almost a decade as a way to share tools and practices that have helped us tremendously with others. I've also had these daily practices that have helped me stay grounded and clear. And one of these daily practices is reading something inspirational for a few minutes and then writing a letter to God, myself, the universe – whoever you want to write it to –depending on what I'm grateful for when I'm creating in my life. Harmony, relationships, houses, whatever it is. And one of the books that's been such a touchstone for me is written by this woman, Florence Scovillion, who was so ahead of her time. She was writing around the turn of the century, but she talks about a lot about things that Joe Dispenza and others are tied up in now. She was talking about it then and she has a quote in there, “trust in the dawn.” It's always darkest before the dawn, but the dawn always comes. So, the title came from that. And it also came from the fact that when I was trapped on my bathroom counter for five hours, it was dark. So, as I was sitting there, I was praying for the dawn so I could assess my situation. So that's the trusting the dawn part. There’s also a third piece to it because of the PTSD. I was feeling frustrated because clinicians and even strangers would be telling me that I would be suffering for probably the rest of my life. It felt like it was a curse because, at the same time, I was having these incredible experiences of connecting with others, connecting with myself more deeply, and also recognizing how fragile life is. That made it so much more beautiful. And I'd had some kind of connection with something bigger than myself that night that was with me and made me feel protected. There are so many reasons, so many what ifs, that I believe there was some divine presence with me and protecting us that night. I wrote this book to acknowledge that yes, we will all suffer in life. We're human and that is part of the human experience. And if we heal it, then it can open us up to such a more dynamic, enriching, connected life. I wrote this as an offering to other survivors to know that once we move through and work with the healing, it's so much brighter on the other side.

ALLIÉ: Beyond your book, you and your sister, Lucy, founded Firestone Sisters, Inc. to provide others with healing opportunities through events and products. Please fill me in on the events and the products… When it comes to products, I’d love to hear about ‘The First’.

MARY: ‘The First’ is an essential oil-based perfume. Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense. It anchors us back to a situation. People would come on our retreats and have these amazing life changing experiences and then


AwareNow Podcast


Exclusive Interview with Mary Firestone

MARY: (continued) they would go back to their regular lives and feel it slipping away and slipping away and slipping away. So, we wanted to bottle it. We call it a retreat of bottle sometimes because every ingredient we put in there is designed to make you feel a certain way. We add sandalwood for grounding, juniper for detoxifying, rose geranium to alleviate fears. And, yes, it smells good too. Everyone gets a little perfume in their gift bag and we use a scent at the retreat, so then when they go home, they can mist themselves. And we call it The First because it is our first perfume. We have a second one coming out in the next couple of months. That one is more about heart opening.

ALLIÉ: When it comes to trauma, it’s a personal hardship that requires personal healing. What advice do you have for those experiencing trauma who don’t know where to begin?

MARY: I think the first thing is recognizing that you're not alone. The first thing I did, the Cranial Sacral work, was great in that respect. The entire second half of my book is dedicated to different healing modalities. I also discuss how to find somebody and how to implement different practices at home. So, I would suggest maybe look through that and whatever resonates, try that first. EMDR with a therapist is also helpful in unhooking certain neural pathways. We can get stuck in a traumatic loop in that fight or flight response so that can help reset you. Yoga can be good as well just to get back into our bodies. It's like a form of movement shaking therapy. And again, maybe talking about it with somebody safe, obviously, but just to begin to speak about it, and even to acknowledge that what you've gone through has been traumatic. I think sometimes there's a tendency to minimize it; like, “mine isn't that bad because I didn't have a mudslide.” But everyone's trauma is the worst because it happened to them, right? There's no hierarchy of suffering, as the amazing Doctor Edith Eger says. She's a Holocaust survivor who's been practicing psychology in La Jolla for decades. She's written two books called The Gift and The Choice. People will say, “but I didn't survive Auschwitz.” No, but you survived what you survived. And that is the worst because it's yours, right?

ALLIÉ: Mary, you have a beautiful smile. For those searching for a reason to smile and don’t know where to look, where would you suggest they start?

MARY: I would say getting out into nature. I appreciate that people live all over the place, but there’s something magical about water, unless you had a water trauma. But if you can just get out into nature wherever you are and pay attention to the sounds, smell the earth, smell the sea, notice the flowers, and the beauty that is around us. I can empathize that when we're in that dark place it can feel like nothing's beautiful, but really working to find a few things that you're grateful for every day, even if it's just like coffee or a breeze or your child’s smile. Start to kind of reconnect with life again as a first step. And then I would move into more of the daily practices as a second step because I think it’s really important to have your own practice to set yourself up for the kind of day that you want. ∎

Learn more about Mary online:




988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), and is now active across the United States. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are afecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

It’s a community of fans, rooted in their love for the festival and rock & roll.
Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher



I first met Danny in the ‘90s at the Napster tour with Cypress Hill and Limp Bizkit. It was probably my favorite tour ever. When Danny invited me to come to Louisville and experience the festivals for the first time it rocked me to my core. It was amazing to see some of my friends on stage in front of that many people in my hometown, not to mention some of the bands that I love. And the fact that he can run a marathon before meeting me at Soho House for lunch is amazing. He’s a family man, promoter of the biggest rock festival in the world and all around good guy. Thank you Danny Wimmer for all you do for the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Grateful to you, Danny, for all you do for me as well. -E.D.

EDDIE: Who are you? I’m not asking for your name but tell us who you are.

DANNY: I’m a husband, father and entrepreneur who is slightly obsessed with running, biking, hiking and sur fing. I’m also a consummate student, and love learning from others in an effort to be better and do better everyday.

EDDIE: Why is Louisville, Kentucky the home for Louder Than Life and Bourbon And Beyond festivals?

DANNY: I came to Louisville to learn more about bourbon and really fell in love with the people of Louisville. It’s truly my home away from home and I love every second that I get to spend there.

EDDIE: I get the 'Bourbon' in Bourbon And Beyond but explain the 'Beyond'?

DANNY: The festival is definitely rooted in bourbon, but we have multiple stages of amazing music and some of the best culinary talents in the US featured throughout the festival weekend, not to mention some great sponsored activations, tons of activity in our Kroger Big Bourbon Bar and new in 2022 an on-site fine dining experience by our friend Anthony Lamas of Louisville’s Ceviche Restaurant.

EDDIE: I see that DWP is very active in giving back to the Louisville community. I also see that you guys partnered with Artists For Trauma this year and have a program offering field trip passes to fellow travelers that have suffered life altering traumas. Tell us about that.

DANNY: We work with a lot of charities, both local and national. We always want to give back and leave the community better than we found it. This year, between the two festivals we are also working with Take Me Home Animal Rescue, Living The Dream, Rock Against Racism, To Write Love On Her Arms, American Red Cross Kentucky, Musically Fed and more to come.

EDDIE: Tell us about one of your favorite festival moments in Louisville?

DANNY: A few years ago at Bourbon & Beyond my wife and I were able to meet and spend some time with one of our favorite artists, Stevie Nicks. It was a pinch-me moment and to share that with my family was awesome.

We always want to give back and leave the community better than we found it.
Above: Kathi, Jack, Danny & Haley Wimmer (Family/2022)
Above: Hunter Graham, Kelly Jones, Doris Sims, Danny Wimmer, Mike Maloney, Bill Goetz, Jody Meiman, Karen Williams, Mary Ellen Wiederwohl (Louisville)
Above: Kathi, Danny, Jack & Haley Wimmer (Family/Facetune)

Our fans are EVERYTHING to us…

Photo Credit: Nathan Zucker

EDDIE: Have you been to the Derby? If so, tell us about that experience.

DANNY: This year we were able to produce the entertainment for Thurby, which was amazing. Can’t wait to get back next year to experience the full Derby weekend!

EDDIE: Being from Louisville, I know how special this city is, but tell us a few things that you find special about Louisville, Kentucky and the people here.

DANNY: We love Louisville – the bourbon, the culinary, the people and the culture. All of it combined truly make Louisville one of the best cities in America.

EDDIE: I heard through the grapevine that you are bringing in more visual art to this year's programming. Can you share a few details?

DANNY: We are growing our art programming with more pillars and art installations throughout the site, creating more excitement within the site and photo opps for our fans. It is an area we will continue to focus on and grow in the years to come.

EDDIE: When it comes to Louder Than Life, what is a 'Loudmouth'?

DANNY: It’s a community of fans, rooted in their love for the festival and rock & roll. We love that relationships have been formed because of Louder Than Life and that the community of fans exists year round, outside of the four days of the festival!

EDDIE: What are a few new things Loudmouths & Bourbon And Beyond attendees can expect at this year’s festivals?

DANNY: It’s going to be an amazing 11 days in Louisville! The lineups this year are unbelievable and being able to provide a vacation experience to our fans, where they can enjoy the best live music while drinking a delicious bourbon and making memories is something we are very proud to be a part of.

EDDIE: You’ve been producing and promoting events since 1995. You must love it. What do you love most about it?

DANNY: I love the experience we provide to our fans. Our fans are EVERYTHING to us, so giving them an event where they can be themselves and experience an epic weekend they’ll remember for years to come is the best feeling in the world. ∎

Learn more at and

“All of it combined truly make Louisville one of the best cities in America.”


an empowerment campaign

to benefit trauma survivors, thrivers and difference makers around the world

'Focus' is enigmatic. Her piercing, penetrating eyes crept into my dreams and leapt into my soul. In that metaphoric moment I would never, ever, allow anyone or anything to take away my self worth and well being ever again.

Embraced by the strength of her protection, I recognized her as ME, my own protection wrapped in focus around my heart. I am accountable for me. I am responsible for me. I love and accept myself in all my power.

'Focus' was manifested to empower others through artistic expression, human connection and medical collaboration. This is for the wounded and the broken who continue to dream and heal.

“FOCUS is an original painting out of my Black and White Series. My intention was to capture her expression of strong resolve.” - Susan N. McCollough

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.