THERE IS HOPE.
With scientiﬁc innovation through a father and son collaboration, this is a picture of hope and a story of research resulting in an alternative, a safer non-addictive medication that kills pain, not people. The best way to battle addiction is to prevent it.
partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties™ is
AN IRANIAN TRAGEDY
AFRAID MICHELLE OBAMA
HOPE DRS. NICOLAS
YASMINE CHEYENNE FENCED THI NGUYEN
PAUL S. ROGERS
OF PRINT SARA
TAKE ME OR LEAVE
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.
Hope is something
gears to wine where
Production Manager & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties
Jack got his start in the Navy before his acting and modeling career. Jack then got into
in operations and
experience in the F&B industry, he sought
After establishing himself with years
that would allow him to serve others in a
Editor In Chief & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties
MY FACE LEARNING HOW TO CELEBRATE YOURSELF
A lad from West Yorkshire spreading a little bit (a lot a bit) of love into the world, Jono Lancaster was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder that caused his facial bones to develop in an asymmetrical way. Jono has dedicated his life to helping others who look different know they are not alone and that they are loved.
ALLIÉ: Let’s talk about TCS, Treacher Collins Syndrome. Jono, for those unaware, what is it?
JONO: Treacher Collins is something that you are born with. In my situation, it was a sporadic mutation, so there was no family history of Treacher Collins. But I was born with it. So now for me, that means that there's a 50/50 chance that I will pass it onto my child, should I ever go down that route. Treacher Collins affects my face. For me, I don't have any cheek bones, so my eyes appear a little bit downwards. I have these little ears. I love them. They don't get cold in winter… I'm hard of hearing. So, I need a hearing aid. It means when I ﬂy over to the states, I can turn my hearing aid off and just zone out. It’s blissful. No listening to screaming babies. My jaw is a little receded. So for me that just means I snore really badly. And I do consider myself quite fortunate… Treacher Collins has just affected me in these subtle ways. For others, the airway can be so narrow that they need a trach to help them breathe. Some need a feeding tube. Some have to go through a lifetime of surgeries just to maintain life. So yeah, I'm very fortunate.
“…I went from celebrating who I was to actually seeing that ‘different’ was not a good thing.”
ALLIÉ: There are those we are ‘born to’ and those we ‘belong to’. There is the mother who brought you into the world and then the mother who brought you home. Abandoned two days after you were born, you were later adopted by Jean Lancaster. Tell us about life with Jean.
JONO: Jean did such an incredible job of raising me. She met me at two weeks old. And she's always told me that when she ﬁrst saw me, she couldn't help but smile. When she ﬁrst held me, she just felt this instant bond and this instant connection. She just couldn't wait to take me home and care for me. For the ﬁrst ﬁve years of our time together, she tried to reconnect me with my birth parents. She supported me… going to every health appointment, visiting every specialist and with me when getting various surgeries. Through that stability she gave me a second chance of having a forever family. And I'm incredibly grateful.
I naturally celebrated who I was growing up. I celebrated that I had these little ears. I celebrated… At school, I would say to all the kids that my mom went to the hospital and out of all of the kids there, my mom chose me. Your moms and dads got stuck with you, but my mom chose me. I would take my hearing aid out at school. And I was like, “Oh, you know, if this gets wet, it'll blow the entire school.” And the kids would say, “Oh my God! That's so cool. Shall we do it? Shall we do it?!”
With my mom, every question that I had, she would just stand in front of me and openly answer every question in words I would understand. And through it all, I had so much self love and natural celebration. It was really good. I am very lucky. I hate to think where I'd be without her.
ALLIÉ: For me, it was the 3rd grade. We were learning about slavery. A boy said, “You’re brown. That means you’re my slave. I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and saw myself as ‘different’ for the ﬁrst time.” Do you remember the day you realized you were different?
JONO: I've always known I was different. Nobody else in my school celebrated an adoption day. Nobody else had to go to have surgeries at the hospital. I've always known these different things about myself, and they were really, really cool. I guess the ﬁrst time I saw difference in a negative way was when I'd gone up to secondary school, high school. And me and my friend, Luke, are walking home from school, talking soccer. And at the end of the streets, outside of a ﬁsh and chip shop, there was a group of older boys, and they're all chanting and shouting ‘toffee’ repeatedly. Toffee. And I was just like, huh. It was just something that they sang. And we walked past them. They were laughing and they were joking. And I said to my friend, Luke, “Why are they singing ‘toffee’?” And he looked at me and he was like, “They sing that about your hearing aid.”
And my hearing aid, I'll show you, is this little sandy, box-shaped thing. And he was like, “They sing that about your hearing aid.” And I was completely oblivious about that. And it really hurt. What hurt more was that he knew that was going on before I did… That really, really cut deep. I didn't know what to say to him. He went home and I continued to walk home with just this confusion. Like I went from celebrating, talking about my hearing aid to just instantly being really embarrassed and really ashamed about it. I got home, went to my bedroom and looked in the mirror. And I
“We all have all these beautiful, unique stamps across our bodies… they have stories.”
JONO: (continued) remember those ears that I used to love and say, “Oh my God, I love my ears.” I started looking at my ears, and I'm like, “Oh, they're different.” And I looked at my eyes, and I saw them being different. All of a sudden I went from celebrating who I was to actually seeing that ‘different’ is not a good thing. And that was really, really tough. Yeah, it was a kick in the gut.
ALLIÉ: There are those of us who after looking at our differences see we are all the same. Jono, when did you realize we are all the same?
JONO: Fast forward a lot of years, I was in Egypt, and I was about 24. I was with my girlfriend at the time. And I was reading one of her magazines, a celebrity gossip magazine. And in this magazine, there was an article called ‘the circle of shame’. And there were all these celebrities with bright red circles, circling people's cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles... And I was just reading this in disbelief. Just being on this journey from celebrating who I was, to hating who I was, back to celebrating who I was, I was reading this article, and it made me really angry. At one point, I thought I was unlovable because I was different. And here I was in Egypt with my girlfriend, just very happy. And I was like, this is just so sad… We all have all these beautiful, unique stamps across our bodies. And they're so attractive and they have stories. And when you share those stories with others, they develop connections. It's just beautiful, and that needs to be celebrated. So, in my twenties it was deﬁnitely around that time when I started realizing that, you know, we're all different, and that's just the best thing ever. And it's beautiful. Yeah. And it makes us all the same.
ALLIÉ: For so long you must have felt so alone in some respects. When and why did you make it your mission to help others love themselves and not feel so alone?
JONO: Shortly after that holiday in Egypt, I shared my story with this magazine that had that circle of shame in it. And they were talking about ‘self love’. And from the back of that, I ended up visiting a school to talk to the kids about self love. It was my ﬁrst ever school visit in front of ﬁve hundred kids. They all just sat there in row, cross legged, just staring at me. I came out, and my bottom lip started to shake. I was that nervous that I wanted to cry. I started talking about my life, and I showed them my hearing aids. I dropped my hearing aid. I stuttered. I bumbled through the assembly. And they all gave me a round of applause afterwards. And I was just so de ﬂated. I was like, “Oh, that just went terrible.” And then the school bell went, it was break time. So, I went into the school yard, waiting for my taxi. A couple of kids saw me, and they ran over to me. “Jono, Jono! Can we see your hearing aid?” And I was like, okay. So, I showed them a hearing aid. Some more kids come running over. “Oh my God, that's cool! Oh my God, look at his ears! They're amazing! Jono, Jono! Can you play football with me? Can you race me?” So all of a sudden, I'm in the school yard playing with all these kids, and more kids are just coming over. And then all of a sudden, I've got a big, massive hoard of kids around me. And then all of a sudden the conversations change. “Jono, I get bullied because I've got freckles.” And then, “Jono, look…” A kid pulls his sleeve down and he’s missing a ﬁnger. “I get picked on because of my ﬁnger.” All of a sudden, all these kids are sharing things about themselves… that they get called names and what they're embarrassed about or scared of. In that moment, while I thought that school assembly went terribly, all of a sudden I've got kids just opening up about so much. And I was like, I need to do more of this. And I did.
That self love journey and story has taken me all over the world, visiting schools, visiting families, visiting people with the same condition as myself and various other conditions. It's such a beautiful way to see the world, and it's through celebrating various differences. And it's just… I'm so blessed to be able to do it.
JONO LANCASTER SPEAKER, ADVOCATE FOR TREACHER COLLINS AWARENESS & FOUNDER OF LOVE ME, LOVE MY FACE
“I’m not sure what it is that makes things hurt more than others at various different times in my life.”
ALLIÉ: Love to get raw and real with you, Jono. You’ve been both bullied and praised. What was the worst thing someone has said to you? What is the best thing someone has said?
JONO: The worst things… People have told me that I should go kill myself, that my parents should have aborted me, that it looks like people have tried to set me on ﬁre. And they are things that I've thought about myself in my darkest days. Like do I actually belong in this world? And that really hurts… I don't know why, but on my Instagram, my own Instagram, under a photo of myself, a group of girls started a conversation. It was like, “Imagine you’re out, and you're absolutely wasted. And you ended up pulling this guy back to your house, or you ended up going to his house. What would you do?” And then all these girls started commenting on what they would do if they accidentally slept with me while they were drunk. And they were like, “I’d need to put something over his face.” “Oh my God, I’d need to run out and bleach myself.” “Oh, I would never be able to tell anybody that had done that.” And they were just debating about it on my Instagram, just so casually… and that hurt. So, it's a mixture of things really. And it changes from time to time… I’m not sure what it is that makes things hurt more than others at various different times in my life.
On to the happier things… I went to a concert a couple of years ago. It was Coldplay, and ‘Yellow’ came on. I was with a girl that I was seeing at the time. I stood behind her, and I was cuddling her. She turned around, and she sang along to the song. “Your skin and bones turn into something beautiful. You know, I love you so.” She looked at me, and she sang to me. In that single moment, I felt so loved and so adored. It was beautiful and unexpected, just the way she turned into me. She looked at me and she mouthed those speci ﬁc lyrics. That was a beautiful moment. Again, you could ask me this question next week and I would give you another answer. I'm very lucky to have so many beautiful things that have been said to me, but right now that is something that really is making me smile right now. What about you, Allié? What’s your beautiful moment?
ALLIÉ: My beautiful moment… There's been so many of them. But certainly it would be with Jack, my husband. We write poetry together. There are endless lines of poetry and endless little love notes that I keep and sometimes hide for myself so that I can one day ﬁnd them accidentally. But in terms of a ‘moment’, it was when we exchanged vows. We didn't have a big fancy wedding. We just went down to the courthouse. It was just those two words. It was “I do.” It was that moment. It was the simplicity of that, and the weight of it at the same time. Thank you for asking.
JONO: That’s beautiful.
ALLIÉ: Let’s switch gears. Let’s talk ink. You have some incredible pieces. What is your favorite tattoo and why?
JONO: On this arm on the inside, it says "And then along came an angel." And then I've got my angels everywhere. That's a tribute… There was very much times in my life where I tried to ﬁx things. I tried to turn my life around. I tried to ﬁnd the light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what I could do, I couldn't ﬁnd self love. I couldn’t ﬁnd happiness. Then somebody would come along. It might have been a stranger, a friend… someone just being themselves. In a single moment, they changed my life forever. Might have been a smile. It might have been such a small exchange. It might have been singing to me at a Coldplay concert… And then along an angel. It’s as if somebody just put
“Sometimes we do need a little guidance. Sometimes we do need a little bit of a love thrown our way.”
JONO: (continued) somebody there, right when I needed them to ﬁnd that light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we do need a little guidance. Sometimes we do need a little bit of a love thrown our way. And then along came an angel. So, yeah, that's one of my favorites.
ALLIÉ: More regarding ‘ink’, you are writing a book. Please share.
JONO: This is something that I've been working on and dreaming of for the past 10 years, as I've been traveling and sharing my story, but it’s never materialized. And then I did an interview last year with somebody who's become a really good friend of mine and she was like, you need to do a book. So, I wrote a book proposal, and it got accepted. I basically share how my life, starting from that natural celebrating of who I am to kind of losing it, and then discovering that self love. It’s how I got there, and tips and tricks that I'm sharing with people. I share sad stories, funny stories, dodgy cuts and hairdos that I used to give myself back in the nineties. There's so many stories there, but it is a guide. I hope for people to ﬁnd self love for themselves.
It's very much a love/hate relationship right now with the book. I love doing it… There's traumas that I'm sharing, but then there's healing and then there's inner child work that I'm doing. There’s talking about those angels, the strangers that are changing my life forever. And we just need to be open to meet these people. Yeah… It's quite a journey, but it's been amazing to document it all. It comes out next year - July 2023. And I just can't wait to put it out there.
ALLIÉ: With ‘Love Me, Love My Face’, your nonproﬁt is educating and empowering individuals and families. In your work, what is it that you want the public to know and understand?
JONO: So, the nonproﬁt is run by myself and three other people who have known me since I was ﬁve years old. I'm incredibly blessed to have them alongside me. We go into schools talking about the effects of bullying. We talk to kids about self love and acceptance of differences. And then for anybody in the world that's living with a condition with a facial difference, we're there to support them. We introduce them to other people with that same condition so they're not alone going through that journey. Here in the UK, we had 17 families that all have Treacher Collins. We had them all meet and spend the day together. So, you've got kids seeing another child like them for the ﬁrst time in their life. You've got moms talking to moms that are going through similar sort of feelings, dads connecting in only ways that dads can connect, siblings connecting, sharing and opening up. In poor countries, we fund medical procedures like cleft palate repair. We fund medical supplies. We do a bit of everything… It's amazing.
ALLIÉ: It sounds incredible. I like how you are saying it's just making those connections, letting people know that they're not alone and how closely connected we all are. To wrap things up, for people who see this interview and the energy and light you bring, because you do... For people who are feeling very much in the dark and trying to ﬁnd that light, what advice would you give them? How do they ﬁnd it?
“The more we connect… the more we feel alive.”
JONO: I'll sit in front of you right now, and I'm very conﬁdent. I'm very full of self love, but there are still times when I ﬁnd myself being in the dark. I lose my spark. I lose my energy. That still happens. And sometimes I'm able to ﬁnd it myself. I'm able to do the work. It might be journaling. It might be meditation. It might be prayer. It might be comfort eating. It might be friends. It might be isolation. But then I'm also very aware that there's times when I need the help from a therapist. I need help from my mom. My mom's 80. She turned 80 last Saturday. She getting shorter and shorter, but still gives so much energy. There'll be times when I'll need my friends. But then there'll be times when that morning cup of coffee, ignites a spark… or a song or a smile from a stranger. So I guess it's… don't lose hope because a spark is always there, I guess it just dims sometimes. It always can be reignited. You've just gotta be open, and you've got to put yourself out there. The more you do, the more chance you have of reigniting that spark.
Human connection. That's what life is about... our connections with the environment and the world around us. The more we connect with everything around us, the more we feel alive. ∎
hope is not gone.
CHIEF OGIMAA ANISHINAABE KNOWLEDGE KEEPER, CHIEF OF FOOTHILLS OJIBWAY ON TURTLE ISLAND
CREATOR’S CALLING FROM THE
TO NOW: LESSON 17
Once again, I’m talking to you from here on what we used to call Kânata, it became Canada. It was one part of this world we call Turtle Island (this includes North America) the Anishinaabe people always maintain the connection to Turtle Island, in spirit. What I mean by that is there are spiritual ties, spiritual connection, in my leadership. People call me Ogimaa (Acha-Kooh-waay)…. which means ‘leader of the sky’. I maintain that, because it has to do with the Spirit. That’s how we had our connection to the beginning of the creation, for this part of the world, Turtle Island.
I come to you from Turtle island, and there are many, many things in the world that need hope right now.
This is about hope. Hope is very important in my language and I’m pretty sure it’s much the same all over the world. It’s something you fall back on…in the spirit side of things…..like…. “I hope you get better….” You are putting your spirit or soul to help that person get well….. to help that person heal.
Hope is spiritual language, spiritual thinking… it has spiritual support and help.
The more people think that way, it becomes more powerful and stronger.
Like to wish and hope… but it’s a spiritual thing in our language. It is something you say because your spirit can help.
Same as with mother earth….
We hope mother earth will be healed because she is alive…
It is spirit ..it is a word you use when you feel something needs to be better.
It is used only in a positive way,… never negative. Throughout the world we hope for the best….
In my language- we say it with feeling. It is with spirit…. It gives someone sick the feeling that they can come home… It gives them energy to go forward…
It is not just a word. It is bigger than a word itself… It is something that is not material… because it has spirit…
We do not give up.
It is something that we can hope for and it it gives us function… there are lots of these things that give us function.
hope the water is going back to the way it was…. with the destruction.… that takes hundreds of years to heal, But we do not give up.
hope is not gone… Throughout the world we send the energy… hope Miigwetch. (Thank you.)
Respectfully submitted by Kathy Kiss
CHIEF OGIMAA (ACHA-KOOH-WAAY)
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.
which is a
that we carry on from our traditional
So I am not saying I am the leader of Turtle Island but that’s what that means. It is an individual’s
Island is massive.
INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA FREW
VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS
An Awareness Ties Ofﬁcial Ambassador for Disability Awareness, Jessica Few is an actress and model with cerebral palsy. While nonverbal, she doesn’t allow her disability to silence her. A voice for the voiceless, Jessica is creating conversations to bring about needed change in the fashion and ﬁlm industries.
ALLIÉ: Through conversation, change can be made. Lives can be changed. I’d love to hear about a conversation you’ve had that changed your life. Who was it with, and how did it go?
JESSICA: I have to say, when I had a conversation with Mindy Scheier on the Gamut Network about two years ago, that changed my life because that conversation started my journey in entertainment/fashion and gave me so much conﬁdence in myself.
I wouldn’t be here today talking with you and making a difference in this industry for performers with disabilities if I
ALLIÉ: Regarding life-changing conversations, here enters ‘The Jesse Show.’ You are preparing to unveil an exclusive interview series where you speak with industry leaders and icons in the fashion and ﬁlm industries. What is it that you hope to accomplish with this show and why?
JESSICA: First off, I thank you for producing The Jesse Show; I seriously couldn’t do my talk show without you. I remember when I did The Jesse Show on Instagram live all by myself, and it was great, but I was just starting my career and didn’t have the resources to keep the show running. So, I stopped doing the show until now. I’m so excited to start The Jesse Show again. My purpose of the show is to break down the walls between the entertainment/fashion industry and support diversity. They are putting disabled actors in a speci ﬁc category apart from other able-body actors. They should let disabled actors play non-disabled characters to be equal.
“They think I’m just looking into space without a mind when they see me for the ﬁrst time.”
“In this exclusive interview series, I will have conversations with professionals in the entertainment and fashion
ALLIÉ: You and I have had a number of conversations, Jessica, about a number of things. One topic I’d like to talk about now is ‘assumptions.’ Often, if people don’t know they don’t ask. Instead they assume. What assumptions have people made about you that were simply untrue?
JESSICA: People automatically generalize me as having a severe cognitive and neurological disability because I’m nonverbal. In other words, they think I'm just looking into space without a mind when they see me for the ﬁrst time. They think I’m helpless and can’t be successful in my life, which is simply untrue.
ALLIÉ: Your voice is so needed, Jessica, not only in the ﬁlm and fashion industries but in society in general. Beyond acting and modeling, what plans do you have for yourself? I’d love to hear what you have planned at William Paterson University.
JESSICA: I started William Paterson University about a month ago; my major is Disability Studies. I was a co-teacher for children/adults with physical and cognitive disabilities for two years after high school. I genuinely love working with individuals with disabilities and inspiring them. I am planning to become a special ed or mental health counselor.
ALLIÉ: For those who feel unheard and unseen, with or without a disability, what advice do you have for ﬁnding and using your voice?
JESSICA: I would tell them they need to just step out of their comfort zone, don’t let anyone get in their way, and go for their dreams. They are amazing just as they are, and they don't know if they will accomplish anything if they don’t try. Just look at me. They could do it, too, if I did it. ∎
“…they don’t know if they will accomplish anything, if they don’t try.”
DR. HERNAN BAZAN CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF SOUTH RAMPART PHARMA
PICTURE OF HOPE
A FATHER & SON DISCOVERY FOR SAFER NON-ADDICTIVE PAIN KILLERS
In the United States, it’s estimated that 1 out of 5 adults experience chronic pain. That is 50 million, and more than 75 million have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours. Worldwide pain is one of the most prevalent and costly public health issues. Pain medications currently available are either highly addictive or cause harm to the liver and kidney. When it comes to addiction, last year opioids were associated with over 100,000 drug overdoses. Regarding liver failure, toxic hepatitis from acetaminophen is the leading cause. There is a need for an alternative, a safer non-addictive medication that kills pain, not people.
Here enters Drs. Nicolas and Hernan Bazan with the innovation of a small molecule that may revolutionize pain medication. Work is underway at the LSU Health Neuroscience Center of Excellence, serving as the research institution on a joint NIH/NINDS STTR ‘Fast-Track’ grant with South Rampart Pharma. A clinical-stage life science company, South Rampart Pharma is focused on advancing innovative medications for the treatment of pain and fever.
"Acute and chronic pain continues to be a huge problem globally,” said Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence. “While pain relief options are widely available, there is a signiﬁcant need for effective pain medications that do not come with the risks tied to current options. I believe SRP-001 represents a cutting-edge opportunity to treat pain effectively without the negative side effects associated with acetaminophen or NSAIDs. This is the very ﬁrst drug discovered, patented, and developed at the LSU Health New Orleans approved by FDA for phase I clinical trials. It is now a proof of principle that effective translation of discoveries can be done at LSU Health New Orleans. We are beginning to apply this model to two other startups that I am working on with the opportunity to develop new drugs aiming to treat neurological and ophthalmological diseases without effective therapeutics.”
South Rampart Pharma (southrampartpharma.com) is working to develop new small-molecule solutions that can overcome many risks associated with current pain medicines. The company's lead compounds have effectively reduced pain and fever in preclinical studies without the liver and kidney toxicity of current non-opioid analgesics. As a new small molecule treatment option that is not a biologic therapy, South Rampart Pharma's compounds have great potential as a value product that will be low cost and accessible to many patients.
“We look forward to continuing our efforts to bring our novel non-opioid approach forward to the high, unmet need of pain management that is safe, effective, and non-addictive,” says Hernan Bazan, MD, DFSVS, FACS. Dr. Hernan Bazan is an academic vascular surgeon; the John Ochsner Endowed Professor of Surgery in Innovation, co-inventor of 7 issued or pending patents; author of over 50 publications; co-PI of an NIH fast track grant supporting various CROs and CDMOs in the pre-clinical and formulation development of our lead pain asset. He has a B.S., Molecular Biology (Vanderbilt University), Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Research Scholar, M.D. (Georgetown University), General Surgery Residency (Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York), Vascular Surgery Fellowship (Yale University). Hernon Bazan is the CEO and Co-Founder of South Rampart Pharma. “
“We are incredibly pleased with the progress of our SRP-001 program,” said Dr. Hernan Bazan. “Our ability to meet NIH STTR milestones and to support the continued advancement of our clinical development pipeline on multiple fronts. The STTR fast-track award enabled us to pursue crucial pre-clinical work, including GLP toxicity studies, oral formulation development, and ultimate IND ﬁling that brought our lead asset into the clinic. It also supported further pipeline expansion by developing our compound's novel intravenous formulation for post-operative pain. Several mechanisms of action studies added to our understanding of how the lead asset exerts pain relief while lacking liver toxicity.”
South Rampart Pharma recently announced that patient enrollment and dosing in its Phase 1 study evaluating SRP-001 for pain began. Randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, the Phase 1 study is designed to assess the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics (PK) of single ascending oral doses of SRP-001. In addition, it will characterize the pharmacodynamics in healthy male and female subjects. The goal for the study is to provide SRP-001's safety and tolerability by assessing the following: adverse events, vital signs, electrocardiograms (ECGs), physical examinations, and multiple laboratory safety tests.
LSU Health’s Assistant Vice Chancellor, Innovation & Partnerships, Patrick Reed, said, “It has been gratifying to see an LSU Health-developed drug enter clinical trials, a ﬁrst for our institution. Because of Tylenol’s known toxicities and in the face of the opioid epidemic, new non-narcotic treatments for pain are essential.” It was LSU Health’s Of ﬁce of Innovation and Partnerships that managed the relevant patent ﬁlings and assisted South Rampart Pharma with introductions to local and federal programs for funding and assistance.
Drs. Nicolas and Hernan Bazan are getting closer to ﬁnding a solution for the pain medication problem that has plagued the U.S. and the world for far too long.
Father and son working side by side with the support of LSU Health and the foundation of South Rampart Pharma, Drs. Nicolas and Hernan Bazan are getting closer to ﬁnding a solution to the pain medication problem that’s plagued the U.S. and the world for far too long.
For Dr. Nicolas Bazan, the progress made is not only a professional success, it’s personal. He shared the following:
“I am blessed by two exceptional sons, Nicolas III and Hernan. With my actions I have tried all my life to provide them with a silent example that honesty, integrity, responsibility, hard work, love of God, love of family and treatment to everyone with respect is a necessity to contribute to our community.
Hernan has excelled as a medical doctor, bringing a new dimension to medical sciences. For a father, to see Hernan contribute in such a large, deﬁnitive manner to make a path forward with this from the discovery, I am proud. He and I organized the research needed to get closer to the bedside of patients with a new painkiller. I am so proud of how he uses his remarkable talent, energy, and unique creativity to help mankind in an unmet area of society — pain and addiction. Above and beyond all his achievements, I am proud of Hernan for the good human being that he has become.” ∎
Support Dr. Bazan’s work with a donation to the LSU Health Foundation. While LSU Health New Orleans strives to discover, teach, heal, and serve, LSU Health Foundation New Orleans strives to connect the needs for critical funding to those capable of providing critical funds.
Donations to support Dr. Nicolas Bazan’s work can be made here: https://give.lsuhealthfoundation.org/givenow Please designate: ‘Medicine – Neuroscience Dr. Bazan Research’
Born in Argentina, MD, at the University of Tucuman in Argentina, trained at Columbia University P&S, NYC, and Harvard Medical School. He was appointed faculty at age 26 at Univ. of Toronto/Clarke Institute of Psychiatry.
He is Founding Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence, School of Medicine, LSU Health New Orleans, inaugural founder of The Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair for Research in Retinal Degeneration (1984-), and appointed to the highest academic rank in the LSU System, a Boyd Professor (1994-). He is also a Foreign Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Learn more about Dr. Bazan: www.awarenessties.us/nicolasbazan
“I am so proud of how he uses his remarkable talent, energy and unique creativity to help mankind in an unmet area of society… pain and addiction.”
Kaylee Bays is a dancer with EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). While diagnosed at the age of 21, she began to feel her symptoms at the age of 12. At one point given only 5 weeks to live, she lives, still dancing all the while, inspiring and inviting others to do the same. Despite her progressive degenerative connective tissue disorder, she dances on.
ALLIÉ: Kaylee, EDS is an acronym you came to know at the age of 21 when you ﬁrst received your diagnosis. For those unaware, what is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
KAYLEE: So Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a group of inherited connective tissue disorders that are caused by faulty collagen. So, what that basically means is my body, from the time that I was very young, the collagen that I make is not complete. And over time it can get worse. The condition is degenerative. You are born with it. You just don't see most of the symptoms until you're usually in your early twenties, but there are 14 different types of EDS. So, every case is very different, even a lot of individuals living with the same type that I have. We all experience it differently. It affects anywhere that connective tissues are in your body. Connective tissues are everywhere. So, it can affect your vision. It can affect your mobility and your joints. It affects your stomach. Everywhere connective tissues are, where
DANCE ON WHERE THERE’S WHEELS THERE’S A WAY
ALLIÉ: Let’s deﬁne another term. In the animal world, a ‘zebra’ has black and white stripes, in the medical world, stripes have nothing to do with the term. It references a rare disease or condition. But when I see you, I see a swan. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KAYLEE: You know, when I look in the mirror… For so long, I didn't want to look in the mirror. I refused to look at the girl in the mirror that I saw in front of me because I hated what I saw. I just saw everything that was wrong. And most people can't see the things that I do. They can’t see what I experience. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw everything that I didn't want to see. It took a long time to embrace the fact that I was a zebra, and now I wouldn't trade it for anything. Absolutely nothing. So, when I look in the mirror, I see a zebra who has self love for the ﬁrst time. I love being a zebra. I absolutely love being a part of this community. And I love what EDS has brought to my life and the perspective that it's given me on the world and on others.
The best thing about being a zebra is the fact that we appreciate time in a way that other people might not. Every single moment matters when you're a zebra, because you only have so much energy and so many opportunities to do things during the day before your body is done. So we have to almost budget our energy, like you budget your money. Every single moment matters when you don't have the ability to live every single moment. So, when I look in the mirror, I see a zebra with self love for the ﬁrst time.
ALLIÉ: More than your diagnosis, you are a dancer - always have been and always will be. What is it about dancing that you ﬁrst fell in love with? What is it that you love most about dancing today?
KAYLEE: It's the same thing today as it was when I was three years old dancing. It's the storytelling. It's the ability to create a picture and an entire story from beginning to end with movement. I came from a musical family. My mom's a pianist, and my dad's a singer. We all play music in some capacity. From the time I was very young, when I listened to music and began to understand music theory, I saw dances to the crescendos that I heard. I could see them in my head. I saw dynamics. I saw things that I felt based on music. And for me, the best part of dance is the storytelling, which sometimes in the world of competitive dance can get lost because it's all about the tricks, especially in recent years. But when you get down to the heart and core of it, dance is a conversation. I am conveying to you what this song means to my character. And that is the best thing about dance. And that is something that anyone, no matter what your abilities are, can do… Over time, I feel like we've lost touch when it comes to dance, because it is so commercialized now with everything being a certain look, a certain type and you have to have certain tricks and abilities. And in that world, a dancer like me really struggles because there's only so much I can do from my wheels. But at the heart and core of it, I can do exactly what dance was created to do. Dance was created to tell stories.
ALLIÉ: Let’s talk about a speciﬁc dance you did that I fell in love with. Your tap dance number with Nia Sioux was amazing. Love to hear what that dance gave to you and what you hope it gave to others.
“It took a long time to embrace the fact that I was a zebra, and now I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
is a conversation.
KAYLEE BAYS DANCER & ADVOCATE FOR EHLERS-DANLOS SYNDROME (EDS) AWARENESS
KAYLEE: It gave me everything that day. Up until that day I had not danced in years after I got my diagnosis when I was working as a professional dancer. Once I had started to experience symptoms, I was excused from all my jobs. I couldn't physically keep up with the demand. So, I stopped dancing. I completely shut down and went into deep depression. I went into this place where I truly hated everything that I was living and experiencing. While the future was uncertain, dance deﬁnitely wasn't a part of it. Or so I thought. My boyfriend convinced me to post a picture on Instagram and hashtag it #dancerwithdisabilities because at this point my body hurt so bad when dancing and moving. The only way that I could still have dance was with photography because I could just throw my leg up in the air, which is no problem at all. For someone with a connective tissue disorder, I could throw my leg up in the air, someone could take a picture, and then I could crumble on the ground. No one would know. So that was what I did for a couple years. I took pictures, just me and my boyfriend. And it was that hashtag. The ﬁrst time that I ever posted a picture with owning that title ‘dancer with disabilities’, it was two weeks later that the producers from that show contacted me and asked if I wanted to tell my story with Nia. It was two days of ﬁlming, and it was so emotionally heavy because of the subject matter and working through years of trauma related to medical conditions, as well as dance trauma because I had horrible dance teachers growing up who de ﬁnitely were harmful when it came to me being disabled and them not knowing. When we ﬁlmed that dance, I truly barely remember the actual ﬁlming because I was so in the moment and in the zone. But when we wrapped, I looked at Nia, and we broke in each other's arms. We both sobbed hysterically. It was bringing a close to that dark chapter of my life. And it was me moving into this new chapter. I really have to give Nia pretty much all of the credit for where I am right now because she taught me self love. And she's the one who showed me that I was worth my value, that I was talented enough to make it as a dancer, and that my disabilities would not hold me back.
ALLIÉ: Another performance of yours that I absolutely loved had something to do with Victoria… and a secret. Please share the story of the ﬂash mob outside of Victoria’s Secret with Jax where you crushed it in your wheelchair.
KAYLEE: Fun fact, that was only my second day of dancing in my wheelchair ever… We rehearsed for just like two or three hours right before the ﬂash mob and in the middle of it, Jax came in. I have yet to meet someone who is as genuine, real and loving as Jax. When she walked into the room, it was like there was a bright light shining on this human and that's just how it is with every room that she walks into. She is the brightest in the room because she has so much love for people and life and moments. I connected with her immediately and we went and ﬁlmed this ﬂash mob. We went into Santa Monica, and we didn't know we were ﬁlming in front of Victoria's Secret. Jax was like, “By the way, if you see the cops, just abort mission. Go. I'll stand, and I'll take it. Just go, just run. We'll meet up somewhere later on…” So, we go to ﬁlm the ﬂash mob. We start the music. Not only is the message of the song so empowering for everyone, it completely resonated with someone like me who was never Victoria's Secret material. I don't look like any of those people that are in there. I never could relate to Victoria's Secret. I remember even feeling ashamed and embarrassed going to Victoria's Secret because I really only have one visible shoulder blade. So, when I'd try on bras, they’d never ﬁt. They never worked. They always looked weird on me, and the ﬁtting ladies would always make comments. It was just like, “Well, it doesn't look like we really have anything. You could try something that crosses in the front to maybe cover it a little bit.” I mean, it was just passive aggressive. It wasn't helpful. It just made me feel worse about something I didn't need to feel worse about. But on this day I challenged myself to wear a bikini top, which I never would've done. It was the message of the song. It was the message that we were all putting out there, which was that you are worth love exactly as you are. Don't let these people de ﬁne what beauty is by these made up standards. We've put Victoria's Secret standards on a pedestal for so many years, and now we're taking that back.
That day meant everything to me. That moment of going down that runway meant years of healing for me and for so many others as well. It resonated with a lot of individuals who are also wheelchair users, disabled, or who just never necessarily ﬁt in the box. That changed my life forever, and it's empowered me. I loved that day. The best part of it all that no one really knows is that at the moment the boys lift Jax up, the cops started coming in. We literally had talked about this hypothetical situation of what happens if the cops come. Then they were there. You can see it in Jax's face
KAYLEE: (continued) the moment she notices the cops are there. We had to ﬁlm this in one take. We had only one chance to get this. So, the cops started coming in, and we just kept going. The cops stopped. They watched it. They watched the whole rest of the ﬂash mob. I think if it was any other song, maybe they would've stopped it, but there was a huge crowd there that was just vibing to the message. It was the best day of my life. I wish I could live it again.
ALLIÉ: Beyond being an inspiration, you’re giving an invitation to all to dance. Let’s talk Jazz Funk (enabled for all).
KAYLEE: Every Sunday on Zoom, I teach jazz funk classes, and ‘enabled for all’ is exactly what it sounds like. I give you the tools to feel enabled enough to adapt dance for yourself in whatever capacity that looks like… however that looks like for you on your body. I encourage my dancers to always honor their bodies, mental health, emotional needs and physical needs for the day. My dance class is positive. It's positive vibes. We are there just dancing, learning, and encouraging each other. I teach seated from my wheelchair while I have another assistant there who teaches the standing version. I also caption my classes. I do movement descriptions for vision impairment as well. Any way that I can make dance accessible to someone I want to do. I'm still learning, and I'm still growing. But every Sunday on guygrooveinteractive.com, I teach classes. And I truly would love to see anybody and everybody in that class because it is all about self empowerment.
ALLIÉ: Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman. It’s my favorite song to dance to. Question for you now, Kaylee. You’ve danced to so many songs in your career, what is your absolute favorite to move to?
KAYLEE: I loved the Victoria's Secret song before the ﬂash mob. I love the message, and I love the catchiness of the melody. I love the empowerment that it gives me, but… I'm a musical theater kid. I was a musical theater nerd, and I did musical theater my entire life. So, I gotta go with the gym scene from west side story, that music… the Mambo scene. That was the last thing that I got to do standing as a dancer. It was that movie. I was a background dancer with the Shark, and it was that song… It just makes you feel alive.
ALLIÉ: For those who feel like they don’t have the strength to keep dancing, what advice do you have?
KAYLEE: Never stop doing the things you love because on the darkest days when life is uncertain and when all hope feels lost, sometimes the only things that keep you connected to your soul and your existence are your passions. Because every day is different for me, on the days that I am unable to even sit in a chair, I'm still dancing with my hands laying in bed. I'm dancing with my eyes, or I'm dancing with the things I see in my head. Dance, for me, is the one thing that keeps me connected to my soul. I encourage you to continue to make the things you love work for you, even if you have to adapt.
more about Kaylee and follow her on Instagram: @slayleebays
PRESCRIPTION A SOULFUL SONG ON PRESCRIPTIONS TO PARTNERS
There are songs that get in your head that you can’t get out, not would you want to. For tracks that you keep on repeat for days on end, it’s always cool to hear the story behind the song. How did the song ‘Prescription’ by Caly Bevier come to be? She shared its origin in a post… “Prescription was a super amazing one to create from start to ﬁnish. One day Shawn and I decided to write a song with a new technique. So I pulled up a random word generator and the word generated was prescription. From there it kind of naturally happened that I compared a person making you feel better than your prescribed a drug. I personally never have any sort of prescribed drugs other than maybe some nausea medicine. But Shawn on the other hand had gone through a couple different kinds of prescriptions, and he never liked the way they made him feel. At the end of the day we realized if we really worked together and we set our minds towards a goal, eat healthy, etc… It truly helped him, and it actually really helped me as well.”
ALLIÉ: Teaching people how to create healing practices that improve their lives, I’d love to begin our conversation with ‘boundaries and bandwidth’. Where a person’s ‘bandwidth’ de ﬁnes the amount of space, time or energy they have available, ‘boundaries’ deﬁne personal borders that need to be respected. I heard you share a story about boundaries that took place in your grandmother’s kitchen. Can you share that now?
CHEYENNE: Growing up, I cooked often with my grandmother, and when we’d cook together she always took the time to show me how to do things and explained along the way why we were doing them. I asked a lot of questions, and she always took care to answer them while also being clear that some things were off limits. Like, I couldn’t use the sharp knife yet when I was smaller because it was dangerous. This boundary at the most basic level helped me to understand what was okay and what wasn’t okay in a clear, safe and loving way.
My grandmother would make it clear that she was happy to be spending time with me in her kitchen, but that she was still allowing me to be in her kitchen and in her space, which meant that I wouldn’t always be able to do things the way I wanted to. Because I was in her space, I’d have to do things her way, and there was room for compromise sometimes. But as it always is with boundaries, they aren’t an opportunity for debate. We can ask questions so we can further understand each other, but it’s an opportunity to learn to respect each other and our needs.
ALLIÉ: With all healthy practices in our lives, there are a number of bene ﬁts that come with it. On the subject of ‘boundaries’, what beneﬁts do they come with?
CHEYENNE: When we have boundaries we teach the people around us how to treat us, we’re more likely to advocate for ourselves, and we’re more likely to treat ourselves as a priority. All of these impact our lives and make space for living from a place that ﬁlls us up.
ALLIÉ: Love to go back to ‘bandwidth’ for a moment. When it comes to self-healing, in order to create space in our lives for ourselves, what do we need to let go of to give ourselves room?
CHEYENNE: Often, we’re encouraged to let go of the expectations of others. So many of us want to do “the right thing” for everyone in our lives and the truth is, we only have so much space and time to give. Being honest with ourselves about what we actually want vs what we’re doing because we feel we “have” to frees us.
Featured by The Today Show, Forbes, InStyle and more, Yasmine Cheyenne is a selfhealing educator, author, speaker, and mental wellness advocate who believes in “Selfhealing For Everyone™”. In her upcoming book, ‘The Sugar Jar’, she shares how to create boundaries, embrace self-healing, and enjoy the sweet things in life.
is a conduit to connection with ourselves, but with others too.
CHEYENNE MENTAL WELLNESS ADVOCATE & SELF-HEALING EDUCATORPhoto Credit: Erika Layne Photography
“I felt like I had so much of what I always wanted in my life, but I still felt so depleted.”
ALLIÉ: It’s been said that “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”, but in the case of your new book, ‘The Sugar Jar’, the sugar is our energy and we are the jar. This metaphor of yours serves as a medicine of sorts that’s helped so many. Please share the story of ‘The Sugar Jar’ and what we’ll ﬁnd inside your book?
CHEYENNE: The Sugar Jar started in my kitchen one afternoon, when I was overwhelmed and exhausted by the amount of things I was committed to. I felt like I had so much of what I always wanted in my life, but I still felt so depleted. As I explored this, I began to feel like a jar of sugar, where the sugar inside the jar represented my time, energy, money, or anything that could be exchanged/used. The absolute sweet stuff that attracts people to us. And I felt like my sugar was being taken out of my jar, recklessly, with parts of me spilling all over the ﬂoor, falling into irretrievable places. And I realized the only way that I could limit people’s access to me is if I ensured there was a lid on my jar, the boundary that would keep me in a safe and healthy relationship with myself, but also with others. Ultimately, The Sugar Jar shows you another way to begin to look at how your energy is being used by yourself and others. Sugar can be used with intention to make many wonderful things, or it can be accessed without care and become very messy and hard to manage. The sugar jar journey starts on the inside and eventually impacts all the ways we show up outside ourselves because everything that we need to care for ourselves internally and externally also impacts our jar.
ALLIÉ: For those who are dealing with bitter trauma and sour moments in their lives, what advice do you have for ﬁnding something sweet?
CHEYENNE: I love this question because this is what so many of us are grappling with. How do I ﬁnd joy in the midst of the tough parts in my life? My advice is to ﬁnd ways to connect with the safe and loving people (even if it’s just one person) in your life that you can be yourself with. The person you can laugh with, cry with, and have a good time with. I believe that healing is a conduit to connection with ourselves, but with others too. And being with those who help us feel that love and connection is such an important part of life. That’s where the sweet parts of life really shine. ∎
NGUYEN NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST
We were taken to another port, on the other side of the island. Perhaps it was actually a part of the island from where we were (it is truly hard to tell). Unable to leave the boat, we were at least given a pack of cookies and a small carton of milk to hold us over for the evening. After I ﬁnished both, I begged my mom for more, so she gave me her portion. It had been a while since I had anything this tasty and all I wanted to do was ﬁll my tummy up with this deliciousness. It seemed we would be sleeping here for the night as we were not allowed to deboard. Chatter ricocheted among other docked boats and we could hear the overlapping discussion of the dire situation. It didn’t matter. I was tired, and we felt like we were one step closer to a family reunion for a long time.
The next morning we were awakened by shouting and screaming. There were individuals trying to get us off the boat and move us toward a sea of people. It was crowded as we were slowly herded in a single ﬁle line one by one to be thoroughly processed. As we inched closer to the front, our photos were taken, information was written down and ﬁngerprints scanned. We were processed, questioned, and thoroughly checked to make sure we were fairly healthy and documents were taken to conﬁrm our identity. My mom asked if we could send a telegram to let our family know that we arrived safely but they wouldn’t give us access to communicate or reach out to anyone.
Once again, we were herded off through the glistening barbed wire gate and towards the big block buildings. There were so many other Vietnamese refugees waiting, waiting since 1975; that’s almost 10 years! What will become of us? Do we have to wait as long?
The building looked like an old warehouse, crowded and noisy. The sleeping quarters were built like 5’x3’ rectangular square boxes stacked on top and right next to each other (imagine 3 tiered metal cots in a bunk style). With a piece of fabric acting as a curtain on 3 sides and a boarded wall on the back, it’s only big enough for a family of two to sleep in and tall enough for an adult to sit upright. Yet, each family unit was squeezed into one of these spaces; luckily for us, we were small enough, so we had a little extra space to move around.
Many felt like we were caged animals, unable to leave the area. There were no hot meals served, no proper sanitation, and ventilation in our sleeping quarters. Each day we get a ration of under 3 oz of rice per person, although someone my age did not get that allocation so my mom only received one serving for two mouths to feed. With our rice, we could get canned beans, mackerel, and a biscuit. Already started, these portions barely kept us alive but we managed to count the days until we would be reunited with our family. Due to the poor conditions of the camp, many fell ill, myself included. Some were upset with the treatment and opted to return back to Vietnam while others pushed through hoping for a better future. Riots broke out, and ﬁghts and even internal disagreements between those who ﬂed from the north versus south Vietnam were coming into contact with one another. The refugee camp was more of a detention center, perhaps a human jail with extremely poor conditions. To us, this was just another obstacle to our ﬁnal destination.
Every day I ask, “When will we see our family? Why hasn’t anyone visited us?” I don’t think I truly understood the conditions we were in at the time. I enjoyed playing with the dirt and rocks and spending time with other kids my age running around in the sweltering heat. The adults would gather around and talk, sharing stories of the journey, their family, life in Vietnam, and the future they hope to experience soon.
Many perished, not just at sea but also in these living quarters after surviving such a harsh journey only to pass away inside a compound behind barbed wires.
THI NGUYEN NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST
After more than six months, the day ﬁnally arrived for us to get our interview and prove our refugee status to reunite with our family. We were escorted into the room with a white male interviewer sitting behind a desk and a translator nearby. We could see our ﬁle open in front of him, my photo and my mother's (that were taken when we arrived) were sitting there as he shufﬂed through the pages and asked us to sit down.
He looked at both of us and proceeded with the interview. Questions were being asked about our place of origin, the family that we left in Vietnam (grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles) their ages, names, and residences. We were then asked about our immediate family, which unit did my father ﬁght in, where was he based, how long did he serve, when did he ﬂee and where did he end up? More questions came in about our personal journey, how we left who we traveled with, and to provide additional documents that we have (if any) of our family. This included photos, letters, and other evidence that we may have in our possession. At this point, I was getting antsy (unable to tell how long we’d been sitting there but knowing I didn’t want to sit any longer) I tugged on my mom's shirt and said:
“Mom, when are we going to get to see my sisters and dad? I thought that is where we were going. Why are we sitting here so long? Can we please go see them?”
My mother ﬂustered from the interview and upset that I interrupted, raised her hand to hit me but was quickly stopped by the interviewer as he shook his head and waved his hand back and forth. At that moment I started crying because my mom yelled at me and told me to sit still. The translator chimed in:
“You are not allowed to hit your daughter.”
“But she won’t sit still,” my mother said.
“She’s a child. The interviewer doesn’t want you to hit her,” replied the translator.
And just like that the interviewer opened his drawer and pulled out two shiny items. One was chocolate and the other was bubble gum. I wiped my tears, immediately stopped crying, and looked at my mom for approval. She nodded and so I took the goodies and thanked the kind man.
After that incident, the interviewer asked my mom, “What unit did you say your husband was a part of?” My mother responded with what she knew and shared about my father’s injury. He mentioned that he used to be stationed in the same area and knew exactly what my mother was talking about. This went on for a few more minutes, back and forth between the translator, interviewer, and my mother.
From that point on, the interview went in a different direction. Instead of asking questions about our family, the interviewer asked if he were to approve of us going to America, would we be contributing to society? He looked at my mother and me, then suddenly spoke in ﬂuent Vietnamese. Shocked, we couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. Here is this white male speaking in my mother’s native tongue with perfect pronunciation. Why didn’t he conduct the entire interview in Vietnamese? It seemed that having a translator was unnecessary, but we soon discovered it helped determine who is lying versus who is telling the truth. Apparently, he served in Vietnam for 6-7 years and made a point to learn the language. Now he helped repatriate Vietnamese refugees. Pretending that he didn’t understand the language helped him catch people in a lie. After our interview, my mom was in great spirits. She said that it was because of me, that our case was expedited. We were one step closer to being reunited with our family.
At last, our prayers were ﬁnally answered. Finally, for the ﬁrst time in over two years, both my mother and I could have a restful night with the hopes that we will soon be together as a whole family.
Brian Johnson is quickly becoming one of the most inspirational thought leaders of his generation. Brian is a talent producer in Hollywood and an Amazon #1 best-selling author. He is also a host and inspirational speaker. Upon overcoming his own personal challenges, including homelessness and intense depression which almost caused him to take his own life, he has dedicated his life to helping others ‘Live Your Dreams Out Loud’.
ALLIÉ: You’ve been on quite a journey, Brian. From a small town in Alabama (population 600) to Tinseltown, you are now living out your dreams in Hollywood. That’s a tough journey and this is a tough town, especially for a black man. Please share the difﬁculties you faced along the way because of your race and how you overcame them.
BRIAN: Everything was such a blur to me. It was so confusing why somebody would dislike me because of the color of my skin. And to have those bouts and to have those things, growing up in the south, being from African descendants, being from Christians and understanding the plight, the journey, my family always instilled into me some sort of unwavering faith. There was just something that was deeply rooted into us. It was just our faith and that comes from a long lineage of hundreds of years of everything that transpired pre-Brian Johnson. But it was really faith which was my foundation. When I look back at it and reﬂect while I'm writing a new book chronicling my journey from LA to
“…I moved out here with $325 and a red suitcase.”
BRIAN: (continued) lot of love. And so I've tried to implement that in all areas of my life in terms of just being loving and kind, and doing the small things. It was truly, truly my faith. My mom always told me, “just keep the faith, just keep the faith.” And honestly, there's nothing that I can paint or this crazy picture about this happened, this happened, this happened, it was just a faith that I had ingrained in me. I have to succeed. I don't have a choice. I have to succeed. It's just my faith so it is my faith.
ALLIÉ: Let’s talk more about Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe said, “Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and ﬁfty cents for your soul.” How have you been able to win success without losing your soul?
BRIAN: If I would've come out here in my early twenties, I probably would've lost myself. But because I came out here at a much more mature age, and I had been through some life experiences, I was able to understand and to stand on the other side. And I tell people all the time, I'm in Hollywood but I'm not ‘of Hollywood.’ I'm here but I'm really not here. I don't partake in all the stuff. And it's interesting because I'm the person that is working on all of these big shows, having to develop relationships with publicists, agents and managers. You have to understand how to carry yourself and conduct yourself, and not get caught up into the trap, because it really is a trap. And you could really go out here and sell your soul, and I know tons of people who move here all the time, speci ﬁcally, women. Guys are just throwing things at them and it's like they can really go down that path. And I have a lot of people that I mentor that I know that's the case, and I know that they could. I just chose to not do it, but I will say, like I said, going back to my initial point, if I would've come out here in my early twenties, I probably would've lost myself. Just because you've never seen this. There's nothing like the element, the energy out here, and then also knowing my purpose. Let's just really stay there. I'm very aware of who I am, what I'm meant to do here, so that keeps me separated from the crowd. That's really the key. It's really about me being aware of who I am more so. And a lot of people in life don't know who they are and what they're supposed to be doing here, and by the time I got here, I'd already ﬁgured that out.
ALLIÉ: Deﬁning when you ‘made it’ isn’t always easy. You’ve had so many successes, Brian. From managing talent for the Arsenio Hall Show to the Bill Nye Show and publishing a best-selling book, what was the de ﬁning moment of your success thus far? When did you know you ‘made it’?
BRIAN: Honestly, its was when I moved out here with $325 and a red suitcase. I knew that if I could just get here, I made it. And I think so many times in life, we wait until the successes are ﬁnancial or all this other type of stuff. To keep this very simple, and I heard this, I can't take credit for this, every day that you wake up, you get another chance. The choice is up to you. I knew once I got here, that I got a chance. And so every day that I'm waking up, I know I'm getting another chance. What choice am I going to make? Well, the choice was I took the journey and the leap of faith to get out here. So let's celebrate that, let's have gratitude for that. That's the win. Just getting here. I knew I made it once I got here. The book and all this other stuff, I knew that was going to be a part of the journey. But it was me getting here. And I celebrate getting here. Actually it'll be ten years in December since I moved out here. So it's me getting here, that's when I knew I made it. Honestly, I don't think about all the successes and the things that come along with it. Celebrate where you are right now. I make these choices every day, but it's really about the fact that I get another chance when I wake up every single day. And that's the biggest thing for me.
ALLIÉ: I love that it wasn’t enough for you to make it… You had to help others make it. Let’s talk about your book, ‘Live Your Dreams Out Loud’. Please tell us about the 6 steps you de ﬁned for conquering your fears and achieving your dreams.
BRIAN: Number one is clarity. It's all about clearing your mind and focusing on your passion and purpose, understanding who you are. And the second one is commitment. The third one is connection. The fourth one is competence. The ﬁfth one is condition. And the sixth one is cash ﬂow. Because no matter what, you've got to have some money when it comes down to it. What does that look like if you are an entrepreneur or thought leader, somebody that has this idea? And since the birth of the internet, there's so many ways for you to create informational products, physical products and things of that nature. So it's a matter of just giving people a great framework for them to go out and live their dreams.
ALLIÉ: The other day when we spoke you mentioned, “It’s not about going through it. It’s ‘growing’ through it.” Of all the things you’ve grown through, which one has helped you grow the most?
“I knew it was just a moment. It was for now, not forever. It was just a moment.”
BRIAN: Such a great question. And I would be remiss if I didn't go right back to the point where this life is so beautiful, but because of circumstances (not having the emotional intelligence, alcohol abuse, hurt, trauma that I wasn't even conscious of) it would be when I got to rock bottom and considered taking my life. That would be the thing that I've grown through the most because I was at the tail end of wanting to end it all and to get myself out of that and be on this dream journey. That was the deﬁning moment for me. That was the point… I had nothing. I was broke, I was depressed, I was homeless sleeping out of my car and it was on the verge of getting repossessed. I was taking showers at LA Fitness and I was just a struggling entrepreneur. My pride was in the way. I didn't want to get my family involved in this. I was an adult and just because I had a college degree, doesn't mean anything, but I knew there was something going back to just that unwavering faith. I knew it was just a moment. It was for now, not forever. It was just a moment. It was just for now. And so if I could ﬁgure it out now, then I knew that I would get through forever. Because if I could grow through that, I knew on the other side that there was so much beauty and bliss that I would be okay. And so I never allowed myself to do anything to compromise my morals of who I was as a person. I continued to treat people with the utmost respect and continued to love. I just had to ﬁgure it out. So I tell people all the time now, if you just give me the phone and the internet, I'll be okay - and some french fries. I mean, if you gave me some french fries and a bottle of water, I'll be okay. Because I love french fries. But literally, the phone and the internet, and I'll ﬁgure it out. I will ﬁgure out how to survive because technology has made it readily affordable for us to do anything and create anything. And it was there that I also learned just true business and not feeling like you have to have everything together to get started. There were things that I started pre-selling – ideas that I birthed in these moments. And it's just like, if you're going to a concert, what do you do? You buy advance tickets, right? So people pre-sell things all the time. Like you don't have to have everything together. Start pre-selling because people will help you build. They will support. If you make them a part of the process and the journey, you can get really creative and start to build and cultivate that community, make it exciting, and really create something amazing.
And that's what I did with my book. I didn't have a lot of money at the time and I started pre-selling the book months before it came out and the book just went crazy. And it taught me a lot. So, when I was broke, depressed, homeless, suicidal, I learned so much about myself, and that's the pivotal moment for me.
For anybody that's listening to this right now, I don't know where you are, where you are in your journey – you could be broke, broken, depressed, or you could have all the money and success in the world – I'll tell you this. At the end of the day, just be a great and kind human being. That's really what matters. None of this matters at all. This is going to go away at some point in time. Energy remains, energy sustains, and if you can just be a great person, I hope that is the energy that will sustain in the ecosystem long after you're gone. That's truly what really matters, and just being aware of who you are. And if you're aware of who you are, then guess what? Everything changes. ∎
Where nature promotes healing and community inspires courage, there you will ﬁnd Camberwell Grief Sanctuary. Here transformation through grief is possible. Mark and Kelly Parrish founded Camberwell to help those who grieve believe life can be beautiful again.
ALLIÉ: For every cause, there is a community to support it. When it comes to grief, Camberwell is that community. Because there is a person that inspires every purpose served, please tell us about your daughter Kaytryn, who is the inspiration of Camberwell Grief Sanctuary.
MARK & KELLY: Thank you so much for allowing us to tell you about Kaytryn. Often, people are hesitant to ask about her or even mention her for fear that we will be upset. That is not the case, in fact, NOT speaking about her is upsetting. Like most parents we love to talk about all of our girls.
Kaytryn was a breathtakingly beautiful human, inside and out. She was tiny but mighty. She had a way of lighting up a room. All eyes were drawn to her when she entered. Kaytryn had an infectious laugh and loved to make others happy, even at her own expense. One of the most inspirational traits that she possessed was her ability to be transparent and honest in her struggles. Kaytryn often cheered for the underdog and wasn’t afraid to step up, lend a hand, or show
PROVIDING HOPE FOR HEALING
MARK & KELLY: (continued) It was a pure and beautiful gift that God gave her and one that many will never have the ability to emulate or understand. It was that pure and genuine love for the broken and lost that continues to inspire us. If we can help the grief stricken or broken-hearted in our community then we can continue to put into this world the love and compassion that God blessed her with.
ALLIÉ: With profound loss comes profound grief. To process your personal loss, where did you begin and where are you now? Please share your journey that led you to the founding of Camberwell.
MARK & KELLY: Well, grief is ongoing. It never ends but it does transform, it gets different. For us, in one phone call we went from a happy family to parents that we obliterated mourning the loss of our child. We joined that “club that nobody wants to join.” We lost our purpose, our future and the world as we knew it stopped. In the beginning days, weeks and even months after Kaytryn passed it was difﬁcult for us to even get out of bed. We lost our ability to work, to function in society, to take care of ourselves and certainly to tend to each other. At the time all we knew that we had left was our faith. We now know that that was precisely where we needed to cling but at the time, even though we never stopped trusting and loving God, we certainly were angry with him too. We had to wrestle and and really dive into scripture and what God says about grief, pain, loss, heaven, His love for us. We read Job and related to the rage and disappointment. We read all that we could about what God says about heartbreak.
It was a huge struggle to be around anything man-made. Cars were a trigger, of course. Machines and doctors couldn’t heal our daughter, people couldn’t make the pain stop and often unintentionally made us feel worse. Along with our faith, being outside, watching the birds, feeling the sun and the breeze, taking hikes and walks became an outlet. We searched for natural beauty, places only God could’ve created. As comforting as that became it still was unsettling at times because we couldn’t ﬁnd a park or path or place in nature where we could cry, wail, scream without others being witness to our unraveling. We wanted a private place in nature to mourn, a place where the trees could handle our pain, where the breeze could carry our cries.
We also found that exercise was an escape. For an hour or so we could focus on the physical part of ourselves and pretend we weren’t in emotional agony. Even if it was only for a brief amount of time, it helped. We just wanted relief.
Over time we started talking about how we wished we could ﬁnd grief support groups that were outside because many of the groups inside felt suffocating to us. We started to explore what that would look like if we could mesh all of those ideas together. We prayed for a place in nature, a safe place, a SANCTUARY, where we could grieve and exercise, pray and talk with others about our pain with no judgment, no expectation on how we should mourn or “get better.”
Over time we started to share bits and pieces of these ideas with those we trusted. Many had loss stories too and they all urged us to try. Many felt like we did; if they had found a place like this in the early days of their loss and grief maybe they would have been able to ﬁght a little sooner, try a little harder to discover who they were in the aftermath of their loss. It gave us the courage to try and help, to put some hope back into the world in some small way for those that were broken like us.
“It gave us the courage to try and help, to put some hope back into the world in some small way for those that were broken like us.”
ALLIÉ: Just as people grieve in different ways, people heal in different ways. At Camberwell, what different programs do you offer to support that process?
MARK & KELLY: Just like grief, recovery from loss and trauma can look and feel different to different people. It can vary for an individual from day to day too. Many come to Camberwell to talk and to tell their story. Some want to exercise or have a physical outlet for their emotional pain, some want to be immersed and surrounded by trees, the water, the ﬂowers and sounds of the outdoors.
Nature is such an important element for our programs. We have monthly Saturdays at the Sanctuary where we offer trauma-sensitive yoga, grief support groups, massage therapy and our trails and property are open for those that just want to hike, picnic or sit outside. We have special events for women, men and children each year that are geared to not only foster ways to work through and carry grief but to offer hope and healing. Our grief support groups are offered not only on our 19 acre sanctuary but also held in a couple of local churches as well. We have licensed therapists that can work with individuals, families and children, grief counselors and facilitators and mentors that offer various ways to walk with those that have experienced a loss.
We offer seasonal open house events called Coffee and Conversation for those that want to just visit and learn a little bit more about our programs and services. These events are held in our outdoor pavilion around our ﬁreplace and are always a favorite for the community.
We are extremely excited that we are now in the process of our capital campaign that will allow us to build a Wellness Cottage and a Children’s Therapy Treehouse to further expand our ability to offer grief support for all ages year round. We are also in the planning phases for a ﬁshing dock and stables for equine assisted therapy.
We are honored to host Celebrations of Life and have many tree planting and garden and trail benches named in memory of loved ones located throughout our property.
CLICK, TAP OR SCAN
ALLIÉ: I found this message on your website, “Little by little we let go of loss...but never of love.” What are the different ways people who are grieving can hold onto that love?
MARK & KELLY: Again, this is going to be unique to the griever and the loss. For me (Kelly) it took many years before I could look at old photos because the pain was too intense. It felt brutal to look at those happy times and know I wouldn’t get to relive the memories with her. But after time and a lot of grief work, I have begun to look at the photos and dive into the memories with more gratitude than brutal pain. Instead of being so distraught that I will never get to make new memories with Kaytryn, I just hold tight to the ones I made, and thank God with all my heart that I was given the beautiful times with her. She will forever be such a blessing and gift in our lives and I have moved from letting go of the “what I will never have” phase to the “I am so thankful for what I was given” phase.
Each person will be different and their grief is too. My prayer is that as grievers learn to carry their loss they understand that it is ok to form new memories and a new form of their life. The future won't ever diminish the love and memories and beauty they had with their loved one.
ALLIÉ: For those who are just beginning to grieve who have just experienced a loss, what advice do you have?
MARK & KELLY: Grief is cumulative. It is like an enormous pile of laundry that never goes away. Each time you put another loss on your pile it reminds you of your entire pile. Some piles are small while others are so high it can take your breath away. Grief is described as one of the most powerful of emotions, but often the most misunderstood. Grief is ongoing, it is sneaky, and out of nowhere can debilitate you when you least expect it. The de ﬁnition of grief is a change in a familiar pattern of behavior. In 2020, the entire world was grieving as all our familiar patterns of behavior changed. For me, I thought of Kaytryn more in 2020 than many other years because of the number of losses we experienced that year.
I would tell those who have just begun to grieve to be patient with themselves and realize that many do not know what to say or how to help even if they are well intentioned. There is mass grief illiteracy out there. I want to get rid of the phrase, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I did not lose my keys, my wallet, or my phone. How about “I”m sorry” or “I”m sorry your life has been changed forever.” That’s closer.
Know that many days will be a blur. It’s important to write things down because “grief brain” will cause you to forget even the simplest of tasks. Drink lots of water because shedding tears will give you headaches. Get rest if you can. Set aside time to grieve that will allow you to remember, reﬂect, and feel it. I’ve often referred to it as emotional weight lifting. Just like lifting weights at the gym changes your physical body, lifting emotional weight and grief will change you from within. You cannot get around it, you must go through it. The other thing I would share is to connect to a grief community who have experienced the same.
“I would tell those who have just begun to grieve to be patient with themselves and realize that many do not know what to say or how to help even if they are well intentioned.”
MARK & KELLY: (continued) Know that grief and addiction have a tragic relationship with one another. One can cause the other and vice versa. Pain will not kill you, but substance abuse and misuse can. There is no amount of drugs or alcohol that will bring back the one you love. Some learn that the hard way unfortunately.
Even though there are those who have written about stages of grief, it is important to know that those stages are not linear. You will jump around a lot with feelings of denial, sadness, anger, shock, loneliness, etc. I imagine a process of grief that begins with recovery which is lifelong and ongoing. In that process of recovery you will immerse yourself in the pain and do the emotional weight lifting. This immersion will lead to growth as you develop new gears and capacity to receive and cope which begins the process of healing and hope being restored. The transformation occurs when you can take your story of grief and allow the person you lost to have their legacy live on in community with others who have experienced the same. ∎
HANCE JACK’S MOTHER
SUPER JACK RAISING A SUPERHERO SON WITH DOWN SYNDROME
At our 20 week ultrasound, we learned that our child had a kidney defect and a heart defect. We were told that the particular heart defect our son had was a marker for Down syndrome. We were referred to the Maternal Fetal Medicine ofﬁce in Grand Rapids, Michigan where we eventually received the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Children with Down syndrome typically face delays in certain areas of development. There can also be unique health challenges for individuals with Down syndrome. There were many unknowns and endless thoughts swirling around in my head. I felt as though life had just thrown me the biggest curveball, and I questioned my ability to parent a child with extra needs all while caring for my four other children. I was fearful for his future and for the medical complications that can accompany individuals with Down syndrome. I worried that people wouldn’t see his worth. I feared bringing him into a world that may not accept him or see past his diagnosis, and the weight of these thoughts was heavy. I cried...a lot. Then, I began researching. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about Down syndrome so that I could be the best mom to this child I loved so much.
Jack inspired me before he even entered this world, and he continues to inspire me every single day. He faces medical challenges on a daily basis which include; a heart defect, kidney defect, hypothyroidism, chronic lung disease, and a handful of other health related issues. He conquers these challenges with such grace, you’d never know the battles he’s fought.
He learned to walk by age two and he hasn’t stopped running since. He works daily on self care, safe eating practices, shapes and colors, and communication strategies. He uses sign language, visual aides and some vocalizations to navigate his world. It may take him longer to reach certain milestones, but that just makes celebrating those milestones all the more special. Jack has Down syndrome, but in no way does it deﬁne who he is.
I took Jack on some runs this summer - a 10k and half marathon. He loved it. I’m hoping to push him on a full marathon this summer. I told him I’d push him as many miles as his little heart desires.
The best part about being the parent of a child with Down syndrome is watching him spread his life light everywhere he goes, all while breaking down preconceived notions about Down syndrome.
He works incredibly hard to meet goals and continues to defy the odds. Witnessing these successes is a highlight for our entire family. He utilizes a variety of tools to communicate and he attends an inclusive preschool where he has built beautiful friendships. There, he is surrounded by people that see his abilities, shout his worth, and embrace his strengths. He is involved in our local community through our church and athletic organizations.
He has shown us time and time again that he can do whatever he sets his mind to. He loves with a capacity that is unmatched and he brings out the best in everyone. I simply cannot imagine a life without Jack. It is a life full of contagious smiles, belly laughs, and the most amazing hugs. He exudes joy. We get a front row seat to all of this, and I am forever grateful for this life we live.
For me, the hardest part about being the parent of a child with Down syndrome is the fragility of Jack’s health. His complex medical needs impact our entire family. He has endured open heart surgery and many other smaller surgeries as well as countless hospital stays, tests, procedures, lab draws, ambulance rides, trips to specialists, and too many illnesses to keep track of. His health can decline quickly which encourages us to celebrate the good days all the more. We have a greater appreciation for the gift of life. We see his struggle, resilience and perseverance. Embracing our new normal means letting go of expectations and riding the waves of life, whatever they may be. Our family has missed holidays and play dates. We’ve shortened vacations or cancelled them all together. We are extra cautious during seasons of illness. The threat of a sickness is ever present on our minds, but Jack is worth every ounce of concern, there is no doubt about that.
I would encourage new parents of children diagnosed with Down syndrome to seek local resources and support. For us that looked like connecting with a family that had been through what we were about to embark on. It meant joining our local Down syndrome association and mended hearts organization. It also meant utilizing early interventions services. These services were vital to us. As a family, we learned physical therapy and occupational therapy exercises we could do at home with Jack. Through speech therapy, we learned about a variety of communication strategies we could incorporate into our daily lives that would promote communication. The skills he acquired helped build a strong foundation for success.
Finally, I would add this: Trust me when I tell you that this diagnosis is not a tragedy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I believe with all my heart that Down syndrome will be the most beautiful thing your family will ever experience. There will be highs and lows, but you will have the strength to face each day with grace and courage. There are unique challenges that come with this reality and unparalleled joys as well. You will have many unexpected blessings along this journey. You will meet incredible doctors, nurses, therapists, parents, and teachers that will become life long friends. They will celebrate your family and all the milestones that you work so hard to accomplish. They will also lift you up with love, encouragement and prayer on the days life feels too heavy. Initially it may be dif ﬁcult to look past the diagnosis, but know that love, hope and joy await you on this next chapter of life. There is something truly magical about that extra chromosome. ∎
See this tragedy didn’t just start today…
DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR PHYSICIAN, MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT & AWARENESS TIES AMBASSADOR FOR HEART DISEASE
See this tragedy didn’t just start today
It’s been since ‘79 when we ﬁrst watched it decay Propaganda blinded the reality
To hide the injustice and brutality
Before it was exploited, overtaken, and destroyed
Our rich ancient culture, the news kept devoid Replacing a thriving empire with excessive greed
This instigated a revolution that backﬁred and made us bleed Seeking equality that seems fundamental to you and me Created generations of young helpless martyrs to be
Back in ‘86 when my family left I was too little to realize the depth of that theft
My parents sacriﬁced to protect us from this end
To give us opportunities and allow us to ascend
But my identity was ripped and divided
A heavy price to pay to keep this pain shrouded
Meanwhile dictators gaining momentum over the years
No help from the outside, just Muslim bans that caused tears Separating our families in grief that created a drift
Trapping people inside who die in that shift
Now you see the Morality Police with no morality
Forcing false ideals with no legality
Threats I faced every time I returned
But with bribes and concessions my cases adjourned
An opportunity not available to all Guilt I hold as I watch so many now fall
I hope the death of young Mahsa can awaken our voices
To re-empower those with much fewer choices
She was a precious light of many others extinguished
A despair I wish for my people relinquished
Now we can come together to concede
And unify in not needing more death to proceed
As my heart bleeds for my other nation
I know I must ﬁght for my people’s salvation
They stole my option to ever repatriate
So I’ll protest from here until they ﬁnally abate
See this tragedy didn’t just start today
But with your help there is an end, so it won’t replay
DELA TAGHIPOUR, MD, MPH, MBA
Physician, Medical Correspondent & Awareness Ties Ambassador for Heart Disease www.awarenessties.us/delataghipour
Venous and Lymphatic Medicine Fellow, Medical Journalist, and Activist. Prior training in Preventive Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and General Surgery at Howard University Hospital, DR. DELARAM TAGHIPOUR spent two years as a Research Fellow at the Clive O. Callender, M.D. HowardHarvard Health Sciences
Center, contributing to the ﬁeld of outcome disparities; authoring or co-authoring several abstracts, posters, manuscripts, and presentations. Dela also had the opportunity to propose grants to help better deﬁne the impact of Medicaid expansion via the Affordable Care Act on patients’ outcomes; contributing to one of the seminal health policy debates of this generation.
“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don't be afraid—you hear me, young people? Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear.”
FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES
DON’T BE AFRAID WORDS OF HOPE FOR OUR YOUTH
hope [hōp]: (noun) a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
Grafﬁti writing and grafﬁti writers are the perfect example of living day by day with hope… It’s different from others using this energy. Our hope is not just a random idea. It must work in a certain order as follows:
Grafﬁti writers hope…
1. to see more grafﬁti to get more ideas
2. to be able to have their original sketches on paper look at all like real grafﬁti
3. to be able to have their early works look anything like the writers they admire (The grafﬁti writers that worked before them are the reason they joined this grafﬁti culture.)
4. to ﬁnd safe spots to get up
to not get caught by the cops
to not get f*cked up by gangsters as they bomb a new spot
to become and stay original in style
I reached out to a few grafﬁti writers that have been in the culture for over 20 years with this important question:
did you hope to be as good as when you started in grafﬁti?
BLEEK: “I had hope to be as fresh as MEK. He not only was one of the ﬁrst writers I met, but he is from CBS Crew and the Shape Shifters.”
JABER: “The writers I hoped to be as good as when I started were
KOLAGE & JAMES HNR.”
GKONE: “RISK & SKILL”
JERONE: “BRONX WRITER
STATEMENT OF HOPE
ON BEHALF OF WRITERS
Release The Genie Fact: A Genie knows whether the letter ‘S’ or ‘C’ is silent in the word ‘scent’.
In my recovery from my accident, I have come across a phase of “learned helplessness”. This was new to me, but it is a very insidious thought process. The example I was given to explain it was this: imagine you are on a sailing boat in the middle of the ocean. You spot a storm approaching. You decide to ready the boat for the storm so you take down and secure the sails, baton down the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm inside the boat.
When the storm is passed, you emerge from the boat and ready it for the continuing journey. You hoist the sails, repair any damage and set a direction. So far so good. Learned helplessness occurs when, even after the storm has passed and the ﬁne weather has returned, you lose the will to raise the sails and do any repairs. Your thinking is: “What’s the point? The next storm is going to do just the same. I can’t outrun it or do anything to avoid it.” The boat remains in its locked down form, just drifting with no direction. Any damage is not ﬁxed and gets worse with each storm. Learned Helplessness is not “being able to do anything to affect the outcome.” It doesn’t have to be in all parts of your life, it can occur only in certain areas and affect you just as much. My storm cloud, which I am emerging from as I write this to you, is chronic pain.
I have found that an answer to the trap of helplessness is not just ﬁnding hope, but instead, discovering a Hopeful Attitude. Sounds simple and easy right? Wrong. I have faced too many false hopes, which can lead to the helplessness becoming worse. Earl Nightingale once said that one of the most powerful words in the language was “attitude”. I didn’t really understand what that meant until very recently.
If you are anything like me, when I hear the word ‘attitude,’ I can’t help but picture in my mind me being a moody teenager with attitude.
What I have learnt is that you can push yourself past things that are obstacles, and achieve things you never thought were possible, with the right Hopeful Attitude. It’s why acts of kindness shine so bright against a backdrop of cruelty.
Let’s look at the science of a Hopeful Attitude and see what you think.
A cardiologist, Dr. Richter, discovered this when he was studying the “diving re ﬂex.” He wired up laboratory rats and placed them in water-ﬁlled glass vats. He noticed that rats swim for many hours and then appear to dive deliberately to their death at the bottom of the vat.
Richter did not let the rats die. He was simply checking out their heart rates as they swam. When each rat reached the bottom of the vat, Richter lifted it out of the water.
Some days later, he used the once-rescued rats again in the experiment. To his surprise, each once-rescued rat swam twice as many hours as it had in the initial experiment. As a psychiatrist, Jerry Lewis points out, “It is hard not to invoke the idea of hope: those rats, once rescued, swim twice as long before diving to death because Richter had been there for them once before.”
A Hopeful Attitude is not simply being optimistic for everything to work out just ﬁne. For me, a Hopeful Attitude is knowing that, if you can hang on in the tough times, for long enough, you will rescue yourself and be able to be there when the good times arrive. Viktor Frankl is one of the leading lights in this area. He stresses the importance that “If you ﬁnd a why, then you can bear any how.”
My Hopeful Attitude has been helped by the following factors:
• Having the right people around me, who are rooting for me
• Being part of a hopeful AwareNow community (i.e. family)
• Unexpected individual acts of kindness by others
Here I’d like to shout to my dear friends Jack & Allie who sent me a spoon necklace. It has become my symbol of hope.
If you are not familiar with the “spoonie movement”, it is a way of describing to someone an invisible illness/disability in terms of energy.
I hope this article has given you reasons to develop your Hopeful Attitude. That is good news, because the sails are up on my sailing boat, the weather is clearing up and there is an unopened invite for you for drinks on the deck with friends. See you there! ∎
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.
Pamela Zapata is a Latinx entreprenista, diversity and inclusion trailblazer, and founder of the leading 7-ﬁgure talent agency, Society 18. Her unique range of experience includes over 12 years of mastering inﬂuencer strategy. She believes diversity should not just be a checked box. Rather, it should be an intentional initiative to represent what our society looks like.
ALLIÉ: There’s the generational gap and the gender gap. Then, there is the diversity gap. When it comes to representation and compensation, Pamela, how are you working to close that gap with Society 18?
PAMELA: I come from a marketing background. I used to work at several marketing agencies, and I would oversee the inﬂuencer marketing partnerships and strategy for a lot of brands, personal care brands, beauty brands. And what I realized across the board was that when we were receiving rates for content creators that we wanted to cast for speciﬁc campaigns, a lot of the creators of color were coming in way lower than their counterparts. So black and brown creators would traditionally come in a couple thousand dollars lower than creators from other ethnicities and backgrounds who had management teams and who had the support and expertise of a company backing them. A lot of the creators of color were self representing themselves and just didn't really understand their value because they
PAMELA: (continued) lucrative, but not really understanding the full scope and how lucrative it could actually be. So, after about ten years working in this industry, I decided to quit and start my own company and to really focus on what I felt like was a marginalized group of women and creators and creators of color and try to help them understand their value and their worth. So, we started with around four or ﬁve clients, a lot of them coming in way lower when we looked up at their rates and what I had seen across the board from the brand and the agency side. And so our goal now is to help our clients negotiate and strategize, making sure that their rates are standard across the board and that they're getting what other creators would be getting for similar scopes of work. It’s also pushing for top dollar while we're negotiating with the brands and agencies. It's also ﬁguring out how to grow, how to build their brand and ﬁnding what other ways they can monetize - not just from brand partnerships, but from other business initiatives. Our goal at Society 18 is to really help push for top dollar and rates that are competitive within the industry, so that our creators are making just as much as their counterparts.
ALLIÉ: Setting the bar and making the list, you were featured on the Forbes Next 1,000 as an entrepreneur hero. Who is your hero, Pamela?
PAMELA: That's an interesting question, because I was thinking back… Who did I idolize? And I feel like throughout my life, my heroes have changed. And I feel like at this point in my life now, my parents are my heroes because I am very grateful for the life that I live. I'm a ﬁrst generation American. My parents came here right before I was born to ﬁght for a better life for myself, my sisters, and our family. And without that sacriﬁce that they made… Leaving all the family behind, coming to a new country, not knowing the language, not having a network, and now to be where I am with my life and in my career, I'm super grateful for them every single day. I wouldn't be living this life and ful ﬁlling my purpose at this capacity if it wasn't for the sacriﬁces that they made. So, I would say that they are my heroes. They're really the driving force behind my motivation, my ambition, and why I'm so driven. I want to make sure that their sacriﬁces were worth it. I want them to have something to be proud. I want them to be proud of me… I'm super grateful for them every day.
ALLIÉ: Recognized by Business Insider as one of the top 15 talent managers helping in ﬂuencers land brand deals, what did it take to get to the top in this business? I’d love to hear how you made your way up.
PAMELA: I'll start at the beginning. I went to school at Emerson College in Boston, and I studied broadcast journalism. I was like, I want to be the female Latina version of Ryan Seacrest. I want to do everything. I want to produce, I want to host, and I want to do radio. I want to do it all right. And so he was kind of the goal. Throughout my career, I tapped into a lot of those different areas. I did radio in college, I did hosting, and then I started working in development. Actually, my ﬁrst job out of college, when I moved to LA, was working for Ryan Seacrest and his development team… developing show ideas. Through several internships I got that opportunity. For me, it's always been about the grind, about hustle, and about working hard… never really giving up. I've always been very driven. Like I said, I think it's because I came from a background where we didn't have a lot. So, I knew the harder I worked, the more education I got, the more experience I had under my belt, the better my chances were to secure a job in this industry. I got to LA and worked in development for a couple of years with Ryan Seacrest. Then I made my way into talent and casting at E Entertainment. I worked there for four years. I worked for a startup called Sweetie High and created their entire inﬂuencer division. Then I moved to New York, worked at several marketing agencies. I was overseeing Unilever strategy, as it pertains to inﬂuencer marketing. I handled a lot of their personal care brand partnerships, from Dove to Tresemme… Then it was working with Estee Lauder. So similar role, just in a different vertical, so very heavily in beauty. So Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, MAC. After all that, I just got to a place where I loved the work I was doing, but I was seeing a need and an opportunity… Not only was I seeing that content creators weren't really making as much money as they could be (especially creators of color), but I also saw that there wasn't a marketing or management agency focued on underrepresented communities and communities of color. It was really hard to cast sometimes for the campaigns that I had because a lot of the agencies we had worked with just didn't really have a very diverse roster. It was a lot of similar creators… It didn't feel as diverse as it should have been. So, I wanted to create a solution for a problem that I saw.
Don’t get caught up with the likes.PAMELA ZAPATA CEO & FOUNDER OF SOCIETY 18
“I have a belief that we’re here for a bigger reason. And I think our journey is to ﬁgure out what that is.”
PAMELA: (continued) To get back to your question, for me it was about learning as much as I could with the experiences that I had. So, in college I did more internships than anyone else… I didn't really sleep. It was just making sure that I was working hard, getting the experience, and then working in different facets of the industry so that I really knew. Then I got to a place where I was like, all right, I love the career that I've built for myself. What can I do that's a little bit more purposeful, purpose driven, and something that is a bit more meaningful to me? I love the space... I love how the inﬂuencer marketing industry has exploded in the last couple of years. But I was like, how can I use my knowledge for good and help women and people that look like me? That’s what drove me to start the company. I’m really leaning on my experience, my knowledge, and everything that I've learned in the last ten to twelve years to fuel the start of Society 18.
ALLIÉ: I feel like you should be wearing a superhero’s cape, as the ‘Defender of Diversity’. A heroine to both the talent and brands you serve, you and your work have created a space for multicultural and multiethnic content creators. When did you ﬁrst realize that this is the work you were called to do?
PAMELA: I was in a relationship for eight years with one of my best friends. Now we're still very close friends. And I remember, there were moments through our relationship where he would ask me what my purpose was… “What are you doing in this world? What are you here for?” And I was like, “I don't really know how to answer that. I feel like just working.” I didn't really think there was anything more. But he planted the seed… We're here to serve our purpose. Our role in this life, what does that look like? I think a lot of times, we're just trying to ﬁgure out what that is. And I think every job I had added to another level. I could see myself working in this space and having my own business…I have a belief that we're here for a bigger reason. And I think our journey is to ﬁgure out what that is.
I hit rock bottom, and I was just burned out. I was tired, and I was not happy. And I asked myself what I needed to be doing. I was praying on it. And it just hit me… You need to start your own management company. You need to start working with these creators that you've thought about working with forever.
It happened, but it wasn't easy. I fought it because I didn’t want to quit. Let me just save more money… Let me just do this… Give me a year or two years when I'm a VP… and then I'll feel better about going out on my own. And it was God that said, no… It's time. And so I quit. I started the agency. And it was probably like… No, it WAS the scariest thing I've ever done. Coming from an immigrant family, I didn't have entrepreneurs in my immediate family. I didn't have resources that a lot of people had... It was terrifying just ﬁguring it out, like ﬁling an LLC, hiring an accountant, understanding the legal piece. There are so many unknowns. Yes, I know in ﬂuencer marketing, and I know our business. But starting a business was something that was very new to me, and it was terrifying. And I still say I'm ﬁguring it out… It's always just learning new things. I had a moment after several breakdowns, because I feel like you have to hit a point of like, this isn't it. I need to make a shift…
Three years later, I built a seven ﬁgure business. We now have 35 clients. We have a team of six. And it became something bigger than me. Now I can see the life changing things we've done for our clients, whether it's helping our clients make their ﬁrst six ﬁgures or helping a lot of our clients just quit their full time jobs and do this full time. A lot of our clients have bought houses and have homes. And that, for me, ﬁlls me with happiness and joy because I feel like I've been able to change women's lives. And I love that.
“Create content that you love.”
ALLIÉ: It’s good to get ‘likes’, but leveraging them is better. There is a science and artistry that drives the in ﬂuencer industry. For so many looking to be seen in a sea of proﬁles and personas, what is your advice?
PAMELA: I would say what really works for a lot of creators and what we look for is authenticity. We want someone who can be themselves, not trying to be someone else.
I think we get caught up. We say that's working for them, let me do that. But be your authentic self. Be true to yourself. Create content that you love. Don't create content that you're just creating for people, because at the end of the day, you're not going to enjoy it and you're going to do less of it. It’s about ﬁnding your niche. Figure out what you love to do. What can you talk about endlessly? Right?! What are you really knowledgeable about? Where can you share that? How can you share that knowledge? Figure out what it is that you want to do, in what capacity, what is your brand.. and be authentic and true to that. I think we see the best success with our clients who are just themselves. Whether they're talking about mental health, whether they're talking about their body, whether they're talking about therapy, whether they're talking just about fashion, makeup, or beauty… Everyone has their lane.
Figure out what you love. When you create that community of people that support you and that love you, that's the best way to grow. And when you're doing things that you love, that's the best way to get the best out of everything, because your audience will appreciate that. And then you'll also be creating things that you're passionate about and happy to see. Don't get caught up with the likes. Don't get caught up with the reach. Just create something that is going to make you happy.That is something that ﬁlls you and that will come through in your content… That is going to resonate with your audience.
In honor of “World Teachers Day,” I want to recognize the many dedicated teachers who are committed in service to the students in their classroom. Since 2014, I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor for Classroom Champions, an organization whose mission is to educate students nationwide, and abroad, on the importance of pertinent life skills like goal setting, perseverance, courage, and healthy living.
As an athlete mentor, I share monthly video messages focused on an assigned topic and how a particular skill is incorporated in my own life. At the end of each video, I give my students a challenge, which gives them the chance to implement that skill into their own lives. My students will then send to me anything from video responses, PowerPoints, to essays, outlining the work that they did to apply the monthly theme to their lives. Classroom Champions lasts for the duration of the school year, and as you can imagine, those ﬁnal days of school make it really tough to say good-bye to the students. Toward the latter part of the school year, some classes are fortunate enough to receive an in-person visit from their mentor. One year, I was invited to visit my students attending Margaret R. Brown Elementary School in Seymour, Indiana. After exchanging videos and live video calls during the school year, meeting in person brings the mentor-student relationship full circle. As soon as you walk in the door, it feels as though you’re catching up with old friends.
Recently, I was elected to serve on Classroom Champions’ Board of Directors. My focus will be to create strategic plans and partnerships that will empower more athletes, especially those with disabilities, to be mentors for schools across the continent, bringing a vision of Classroom Champions to life for schools serving students with visual impairments, and working with the staff to raise funds for schools and districts.
I want more children to have the opportunity to work with athletes and mentors and have full access to what Classroom Champions has to offer. There are a lot of kids out there who are living life with a disability, and I remember when I was a young child that getting guidance and advice from others, including wonderful teachers, helped pave the way for me to move forward. I want to make our programs more available to those with disabilities to make sure we’re equipping them with the conﬁdence and skills necessary in realizing their potential.
I’m very fortunate to be a part of such a great organization. Always remember that kids really do have what it takes. They just need someone in their corner to help them see their potential and a great teacher can make that a reality. ∎
x Paralympic Medalist, 4x World Champion & Keynote Speaker www.awarenessties.us/lex-gillette
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.
“I have had the absolute pleasure to be paired with Lex Gillette as our athlete mentor through Classroom Champions 3 times. He has inspired, guided, and supported me and my students with his magnetic personality, and his accomplishments and trials as an elite athlete. He is truly an amazing mentor — sharing his experiences to pay it forward and encouraging students to take control of their lives and do what they dream.”
RESPECTABLE RECEIPT OF KNOWLEDGE
Every year I put out an itemized receipt of what I learned on my birthday. This year I held off. For that I am thankful, as for what I learned then vs what I have learned now is vastly different.
This is what I’ve learned turning 23…
1. In life we have seasons. It cannot be sunny every day or rainy every day. That is simply not how our world works. Accept the weather and prepare for sunny days in high anticipation, but know that saving a little money away for a rainy day is imperative as well.
2. Don't ever let someone have to tell you twice that they don't want you.
3. If you are worried about something, write it out. Cross off the things you can't control, and deal with what is in your court.
4. Your brain cannot be grateful and anxious at the same time. Sit with that.
5. Sometimes you think you will get the chance to love someone for a lifetime. In reality you are going to have to love their absence for the rest.
6. Hold the grudge. Forgive and forget, but don't forget how imperative it is that you remember.
7. “No.” and “No, thank you.” are full sentences.
8. Some people come into your life to teach you how to let go.
9. Dreams require sacriﬁce. Don't let someone else put a price on your dreams. Don't let someone else's actions prescribe you to a box. That's bullshit, eloquently speaking.
10. Find things you love to do alone. The relationship you have for yourself is the most important.
11. Positive thinking is a habit, rinse and repeat.
12. You need multiple streams of income, no negotiating that.
13. Always go shopping sober, or you are going to end up with too many leather pants.
taking things so seriously.”
is easy, that's why we feel
going to be
Who am I? Well that's a good question. I am 23, without a
am in a phase of life where I am
have found a great
that is who I
I was scrolling through Twitter the other day (I really need to stop doing that) and came across a Fox interview with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (1). And per the usual, he was commenting on student loan forgiveness and 'woke' education. Two things struck me. One, he utilized four of the ten strategies of fascism (victimhood, law and order, antiintellectualism, and sexual anxiety) (2) in just 29 seconds, and two, he poked fun at 'Gender Studies.' DeSantis is not alone in his plight to undermine higher education and speci ﬁcally target gender-based research. For those unfamiliar with gender studies, it began in the 1950s in Australia with Marge Dawson concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics (3). Today it is an interdisciplinary ﬁeld that focuses on the complex interaction of gender, race, class, and sexuality in social relations, institutions, and systems and how these topics relate to social justice (4). Lately, DeSantis and others have attempted to undermine the importance of women, their contributions, and the complexities of society under the guise of economic ‘fairness’.
I put it out of my mind and ﬂipped on Netﬂix to watch Inventing Anna. Wait, no, Netﬂix is being sued now by Rachel Williams over her misleading and false depiction (5). I cannot watch that! Whew. I do NOT want to fall into the Net ﬂix trap of being fed incorrect information following the story off a cliff like a lemming. Oh, shit. Wait. Hold on, the lemming this is not true either (6). Ugh. Forget it. I could talk to my son about what he learned in school. Wait. A student asked a question about the 19th Amendment, and the long-winded answer was all about Woodrow Wilson and did not include Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, or the host of other women who almost died for the right to vote. But…but….I went and sat on the porch.
While I sat and began reﬂecting on all of this, it got me thinking back to my middle and high school days. I remember being taught about Alice Paul, the Radium Girls, Ruby Bridges, Martha Washington, Hatshepsut, and many other groundbreaking women. Wait, I am kidding. I meant Woodrow Wilson, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, George Washington, and King Tut. Not a woman in sight. I got up and then spoke to both of my sons, ages 24 and 15. They were not taught about these women or others either. Hold the phone. Didn’t I just watch Ron DeSantis rant about how Gender Studies and other ‘woke’ ideologies have taken over education? I spoke to teachers in Florida, California, Virginia, New York, Louisiana, Utah, Colorado, and Maryland. They told me that nothing resembling gender studies is integrated into the curriculum. In fact, for the most part, there is not a woman in sight in the curriculum. But wokeness and indoctrination! Where? When did it begin?
Throughout the history of education in America, female scientists, entrepreneurs, and social movement queens have been ignored in schools. Look no further than your own and your children’s experiences in the classroom. How often were you taught about females as leaders other than the short but obligatory Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks? Do I smell symbolic annihilation (7)? Regardless of tactics, is leaving out almost half of the population harmful? Does anyone even notice?
In the previous parts of the series, I have touched on examples of documentaries and pop culture shaping our views by blaming victims and, at times, being entirely untruthful for ﬁnancial gain. I have also discussed that we, as an audience, may be at fault because we love a juicy story, even if it is not entirely true. This cycle of audience desires being met by faulty depictions to meet audience desires may be the result of what we are taught or not taught throughout our academic lives. How often were you taught about women that changed your country or the world? The lack of female presence in the curriculum slowly erodes our understanding of their contributions and eventually begins to tip the scales toward masculinity and a male-dominated world. Yes, I know, I can hear the yells of 'but our Founding Fathers' or 'oh yeah, Newton, Einstein, and Hawking!'
“If we only acknowledge one gender or race’s contributions, we begin legitimizing that gender and race at the expense of all others.”
These responses illustrate two signiﬁcant points. First, yes, Founding Fathers, I get it and do not deny their contributions. Would it be harmful to learn about Martha Washington and her wealth that helped change her husband George's life, along with her contributions to the American Revolution (8) or Abigail Adams' contributions to shaping our early government (9)? Yes, Newton, Einstein, and Hawking absolutely deserve credit, but who is the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two categories? That would be a woman, Marie Curie (not to mention her daughter won a Nobel too). The list of females ignored in the curriculum goes on and on. Please do not make me list them. I would be here for months, typing so frantically my keyboard letter would fall out like Paul Sheldon.
Secondly, and most importantly, when females are left out of the curriculum, it alters our educational and social framework. As gender or equity are included in the curriculum, we are suddenly hit with circulated sound bites that obscure the contradiction between a struggle for equal respect and a battle for dominance from men like Ron DeSantis, relying on the sense of victimization. This ideology typically features moaning rants of anguish, fearing a loss of dominant status that soon becomes a new form of oppression by wokeness. Instead of sharing, these manbabies gang up publicly to decry no fair; we are being replaced! The idea of equity is not about replacement. It is about acknowledgment. It allows students other than males (predominantly white, by the way) to see themselves and set the stage for hope.
If we only acknowledge one gender or race's contributions, we begin legitimizing that gender and race at the expense of all others. We construct a mythical past where only white men are heroes and game changers disparaging equality. We begin to create generations of students that only support dominant perspectives and ignore or, more dangerously, actively suppress anything outside of the prevailing dogma, like, say, Gender Studies. In doing so, these outside perspectives are viewed as wokeness threatening the dominant viewpoint that has become the truth. We see this happening in real-time. In her 2017 book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, Masha Gessen discusses how "Russia's antigay, antifeminist university agenda emerged out of a 1997 conference in Prague called the World Congress of Families, organized by Allan Carlson, an American historian at Hillsdale College in Michigan." She writes, "Inspired by the turnout, the organizers turned the World Congress of Families into a permanent organization dedicated to the ﬁght against gay rights, abortion rights, and gender studies." This movement is not limited to Russia. We see this mindset taking root in many European and South American countries and being used in the United States by Governors like DeSantis, Noem, Abbott, and Reeves (10). Even television personalities have jumped on board, like Carlson, Watters, and Ingraham (11).
This ﬁght against standards and curricula that promotes wokeness, at least in Florida, began in 2021, AFTER their Department of Education passed new standards that were approved by, yep, you guessed it, Ron DeSantis (12). Essentially, he sounds the alarm against his own approved standards, without any speci ﬁc examples of students being indoctrinated by wokeness or the effect wokeness has on students. Conversely, I can attest that ignoring females in curricula is happening and does have an impact.
Within the last several years of my teaching, I was approached by three female middle school students wanting to know why they were only being taught about male contributors, and I challenged them to prove that was the case. Together, they built a historical ﬁgure recognition quiz, and within two weeks, the entire school took the quiz.
The results were astounding. The ﬁndings illustrated that male historical ﬁgures were correctly identiﬁed by males 84% and females 80% of the time. Conversely, female historical ﬁgures were correctly identiﬁed by males 18% and females 20% of the time. Horrible. Just horrible. But what about people outside of our school? The students took to the street (actually a mall), and over ﬁve weekends, they had just under 1000 people ranging in age from 9-89 take the quiz. Guesses, anyone? The results were almost identical. Males and females identi ﬁed male historical ﬁgures between 86% and 82%, respectively, and recognized female ﬁgures correctly between 18% (males) and 21% (females). We posted the results online through our school. Within a few months, a psychologist in the Midwest contacted me and offered to place the quiz online through her organization. Over the next three years, nearly 200,000 people from around the United States took the quiz. Incredibly, the totals were almost identical to the ones we found in our school and the local area. Males identiﬁed males correctly 85% of the time, while females were correct 81%. Males identiﬁed females correctly 18% of the time, while females were correct 20% of the time (see below). This enormous discrepancy illustrates the dire need to include females in the curriculum across the nation. This exclusion perpetuates male superiority while eroding the impact of females. Look no further than decades of research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (13) in which boys are more ‘outgoing’ in the classroom than girls. Why? Instead of chalking this up to boys will being boys or boys, or boys being more boisterous, we should consider the expectation ingrained in society. Boys are dominant, and girls are submissive because of being left out or viewed as secondary. This trend actually increases as students age from preschool to twelfth grade, with females being represented as heroes or game changers less and less in education (14).
This lack of representation as students age is just one facet of the issue. Even before phasing females out of educational materials, “studies of children’s literature revealed female portrayals were more often than not limited to “traditional” activities, such as women preparing food, and girls helping mothers, pleasing or serving their brothers, shopping, or playing with dolls” (15). Furthermore, research in 2011, 2015, and 2020 shows more and more the portrayal of female characters as “passive, dependent, and submissive than male characters.” Gender identity at a young age becomes linked to submission, and then as the students get older, female representation fades altogether. With that, the boys will be boys, and girls should know their place mentality is entrenched in us at a young age and solidiﬁed as we continue through school. This ﬂawed foundation fuels pop culture to take the next step by sexualizing and victim-blaming females because they are weak. And unfortunately, society loves it.
CHEUNG DREAM EXPERT & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
Theresa Cheung, dream expert and best-selling author shares, “Your dreams are the language of your soul.” In this AwareNow exclusive column, The Stuff of Dreams, every month Theresa will decode a dream submitted by one of our readers.
”Had a bunch of people over at the house, some sort of party. Had several large screen tvs. One wasn't working, and there was a guy messing with it. I went over and told him what needed to be done to ﬁx it. He messed with it a bit, but didn't get it. Something to do with brackets. So, I worked on it and got it to work. Next thing I know, I'm putting my hat away on a rack with a bunch of other hats stacked. A woman, friend, or lover (I can't tell), is looking over my shoulder and waiting. I am trying to put my hat in its alphabetical order spot within the stack.” - Liz
THE DREAM DECODED
Just admire for a moment the wealth of dream poetry in this dream or should I say night vision, as the dreaming mind is an artist, poet and visionary offering nocturnal therapy every single night in the language of the unconscious. And that’s the language of symbols and metaphors. And just incredible symbols here for a professional dream decoder like myself to analyse. The best person to analyse a dream is always the dreamer as personal association is key. But here’s how I would brainstorm this dream.
Let’s begin with the foundation symbol of this dream – the house. For the founding father of dream interpretation Carl Jung, houses represent your life structures or what you have created for yourself as a way of life, for example, values, attitudes, goals or things you feel ‘at home’ with or you can be yourself with.
So, what is ‘home’ in this dream? Parties it seems. The dream meaning of ‘party’ is celebration but not in the waking sense of a gathering of other people but in the sense of celebrating something about yourself. What would that something be? The next symbol may have a clue as we move to TVs suggesting your thoughts and the power of your intuition. In dreams screens point to your inner voice or what is currently going on in your mind – so pay attention to what is on the screen in your dream. Interestingly, here someone – a guy so assuming a stranger – is messing with the screen and obscuring the view. This stranger indicates a part of the dreamer which they don’t yet know or which they are not paying enough attention to, or which other people are distracting them from. This something is the dreamer’s inner voice.
The stranger takes over for a while but then the dreamer manages to solve the issue and the issue is to do with brackets. This is deeply profound stuff. It is telling the dreamer that anxieties and fears about their own ability may make them hand over responsibilities to others in waking life – but this isn’t the way forward. They need to take charge of their own life because they have what it takes. They can ﬁx whatever needs to be ﬁxed. Brackets underline this point dramatically because in a dream brackets are typically a symbol of being persuaded or convinced to do something which you may not necessarily agree with as brackets by their nature are optional. In other words, always listen to the still calm voice within you ﬁrst. Don’t be swayed by the expectations of others.
“In essence, this dream is a screaming out to the dreamer to focus on the journey of life – the experience – rather than the destination.”
The dream then switches to hats and the dreamer’s concern that the hats are not being systemically stacked. This is such beautiful symmetry as hat stacking is how the dream ‘ends’ (in quotations as dreams never end, they are ongoing reﬂections and run like a compelling nightly series). Jung symbolised hats as viewpoints you have which again links perfectly with the thought symbolism of screens at the start. This could very well be foreshadowing the dreamer’s personal growth and how it is intertwined with long held views becoming ‘old hat’ and needing to be discarded before new ideas and creativity can develop.
So, to learn, grow and evolve the dreamer needs to be less concerned not just about the expectations of others (reinforced again by the pressure the woman over the shoulder is piling on) but also about the pressure they are putting on themselves with their thoughts about everything in their lives needing to be sorted, tidy and ordered. Sometimes chaos needs to be embraced as it offers an opportunity for fresh starts, or to quote JRR Tolkien, ‘All those who wander are not lost.’ In essence, this dream is a screaming out to the dreamer to focus on the journey of life – the experience – rather than the destination. And the best way to start doing that is to look within for guidance rather than to others.
Dream Expert & Best-Selling Author www.theresacheung.com/about-theresa
THERESA CHEUNG is a best-selling author and dream decoding expert who has been researching and writing about spirituality, astrology, dreams, and the paranormal for the past twenty-ﬁve years. With a Master's degree from King's College Cambridge University in Theology and English, and several international best-selling books, including two Sunday Times "top 10 bestsellers", Theresa has over 40 published books and cards on topics of the science of cognition to intuition. Her Dream Dictionary from A to Z (Harper Collins) regularly sits at number 1 on its category's Amazon list, and is regarded as a classic in its ﬁeld.
truly believe that tech is good.URSULA MORGAN PRESIDENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR OF BEYOND BAMBOO
USING TECH FOR GOOD
Ursula Morgan is an award winning entrepreneurial leader with huge amounts of experience in generating scaleable revenue business and producing top teams in the e-commerce and textiles sectors. As an advisor, she has brokered multimillion-dollar deals, increasing valuations and developing exit/investment strategies to attract seasoned investors. She has now taken on the role of President and Managing Director for Beyond Bamboo providing products and services that support the restoration and rejuvenation of the planet.
TANITH: Ursula, you started your career off in publishing where you remained for 10 years. What attracted you to publishing and what made you decide to change your career?
URSULA: I’ve always loved publishing and magazines it was always a passion of mine. When I realised I could actually make money and have a career out of it, that was super exciting to do something that I love. When you're working in the magazine industry, there's magazines everywhere, so the exposure was huge, and that was exciting and invigorating. The other thing is having that passion and being with like minded people. I really don't feel that I ever changed my career. I'm a US citizen, and every time I go in they asked me what sort of business I’m in’, I always say publishing
CONVERSATION WITH URSULA MORGAN
DIRECTOR OF BEYOND BAMBOO
URSULA: (continued) because I still publish websites. Everything we do is about communication, I think I was really drawn to that part of it and I still feel I am publishing communication. Whether that’s the products on Beyond Bamboo, or a story that Beyond Bamboo is telling, that communication is still part of that thread going through everything that I do.
TANITH: Following that you joined Creativebug and became President & CEO there. What was your greatest achievement whilst you were with the organisation?
URSULA: Two achievements that I'm really proud of - one that everybody thought that I was running a video creative business, which in essence, that's what it looked like from the outside. Actually, it was a totally proprietary tech platform, nobody noticed because it ran so smoothly, there were so many bells and whistles and things that we adapted to make it really user friendly.
The second thing is brokering deals and raising cash, it was so much fun. Hard work, sweat, blood and tears, but so much fun with Creativebug. I had the gamut from tech platforms in LA so going between LA and San Francisco. Then The Chernin Group, Peter Chernin, who had moved from Fox in Asia had started up a fund with AT&T the world's largest telecommunications company in the US. They invested in us and that was so much fun. They changed focus and really leaned into the male dominated 18 to 35 year old male market. I said, can I find another happy home? And they said, Absolutely. Then I brokered a deal to a multibillion dollar retailer in the US and stayed with them for three years. We got Creativebug off the ground into long pants, out of kindergarten shorts, and they're still there. The team that I nurtured and brought on are doing really well and it still feels like a family really. The day I left I closed the door got into a taxi and it felt like when I dropped my children off to university. I was bawling my eyes out because I was so happy and I knew they were going to be okay and I was going to be okay but it was sad that era ending.
TANITH: You have recently taken on the role of President and Director at Beyond Bamboo tell us more about your role in the organisation?
URSULA: I was introduced to Tiffany and Beyond Bamboo through a group that I support in the US called the Astia. Only 2% of women founders get funding from VCs. It's staggering. I was one of that 2% so feel very proud. It was whilst trying to bust that ceiling I was introduced to Astia as a fund for the under underrepresented in startups. They do a sift process where you look at who's doing what presentation and if they are going to get the funding or not. I saw Tiffany's video and thought they have something there but they probably won't get investment from this because they need to simplify some things and connect more dots. I was more than willing to give some coaching. I started just chatting occasionally to Tiffany. Jokingly she said to me last year, ‘when will you be back in the UK’ and I said ‘I'll be back next June and when I got back she she said ‘can you start tomorrow and devote five days a week to helping us with the next funding round and taking on those roles that you took on before’ and I said, ‘Yeah, sure. Brilliant’.
TANITH: What role does Beyond Bamboo play in using technology for good?
URSULA: I totally believe in tech for good and when I worked at Creativebug I always said it was like high tech and low tech mashing together. With Beyond Bamboo, it's high tech but then how do you use that to amplify the good that Beyond Bamboo can do to a greater extent or a massive audience. One is sourcing locally, we can do bespoke catalogues. So if you're looking for slippers we're not just gonna give you the slippers that we say you've got to have, we'll find out where your location is, who's the best one in that location, which is the greenest. Tech can really help with that. Then vendors can put up their own goods and go through our accreditation process. I talk about tech as nodes. There's a great book called the Phoenix Project. They talk about if everything’s going to pass through one thing, it becomes a node so it can never grow. So if there's one person having to vet something, or make sure that this cog in this wheel is exactly this size and measure before it can go into a machine, the more things you can do to circumvent the better. The node is something that's blocking it and with the technology that we have, we're taking a load of those nodes
“…as a group and as society, most of us want to do good and there will be people that take action against the bad actors. .”
URSULA: (continued) away so that people can self serve by putting their products through the accreditation process which is all automated. Then we make calls and make sure before they get completely on our site, that everything they're saying is true. There's a huge amount that's automated. Also for our clients they're able to have bespoke catalogues that are designed for the criteria that they want to hold themselves accountable for and being able to deliver that on the tech platform is exciting. With the accreditation there is ‘working towards’ and then ‘fully accredited’ because even if they're ‘working towards’ it's really important for people to take those first steps.
TANITH: We have all seen sci-fi films depicting our current lives as being very different from the one we are in now. What is your vision of the future with tech?
URSULA: That's a really interesting thing because I'm talking to you from Bath which has been high tech since the Roman times. They built these amazing steam rooms, with advanced plumbing and raised floors for the natural hot thermal waters coming from the centre of the Earth. They were uncovered by the Victorians untouched when they were building a tram line in Milsom Street. That Roman technology and then the Victorian technology on my doorstep. I'm just a stone's throw away from Bristol and the Bristol Clifton Suspension Bridge and I think about technology a bit like that. We've been through these different ages with technology and tech. I think we'll take so much for granted but I think we've accepted so much tech in our lives now with iPhones and Android phones actually tracking pretty much everything we're doing, that we will probably have some built in technology within our bodies that will be for convenience, but we will have much more control. I truly believe that tech is good. I believe that people will have found systems to override things and keep certain information private. It won't be the Wild West that the internet started off with, it will be curtailed. There'll be so much tight legislation around it. Every time somebody talks about the Metaverse people are saying it’s going to cause a lot of harm because people are going to use it for their advantage. I'm telling you as a group and as society, most of us want to do good and there will be people that take action against the bad actors. We will have some technology built within us but it will be to enhance our lives and make them better. Even just in the healthcare sector, It's very exciting, what’s going on now. Things can be monitored and people can catch things before they become critical. ∎TANITH HARDING
Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.awarenessties.us/tanith-harding
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.
A story has come down to us that the Baal Shem Tov, the revered Jewish mystic, once received word that his people in a distant village were undergoing great suffering. He made his way into the deep woods to a clearing, built a ﬁre and sang a wondrous chant. Conditions immediately improved for the Jews. Years later, the Baal Shem Tov’s chief disciple received similar news. He called his followers to him. “I don’t know the words to the chant our Master sang, but I do know where the clearing in the woods is and I also know how to build a ﬁre.” He worked with these attenuated tools and the outcome was equally successful.
Over the next few generations, more and more of the Baal Shem Tov’s miracle-making ritual was forgotten, so when the fourth Hasidic leader was told a now-familiar tale of woe, he was crestfallen. “Alas,” he said. “We are a diminished people. I don’t know the chant, I can’t build a ﬁre, and I have no idea where the clearing in the woods is.” Tears rolled down his cheeks, but suddenly his face lit up in a smile. “But I DO know the story!” And lo and behold, that was enough to save the day.
I had always described myself as an optimist, but I stopped doing it a few years back. I can no longer assume a happy ending. But I do know the story of what one would look like, and I’m sworn to keep telling it -- so I continue to hope. I hope we will ﬁnally ﬁgure out that all living things are interconnected and act accordingly. I hope we will recognize that while violence might be part of human nature, so is art and music and medicine. I hope we will banish the phrase “It can’t be done,” and make a start anyway.
I’ve heard it said that hope is pernicious because it’s based in the future and prevents one from living in the eternal Now. I don’t buy it. I hold with the Iroquois that making major decisions based on how it will affect the next seven generations is just and honorable and I hope it will become the guiding principle of the post-Corporate Age. Skeptics can call me naïve or misguided, and they may well be right, but my fellow writers and I are going to keep telling the story. They can’t close their ears forever. ∎
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: www.burtkempner.com.
THE STUDENTS SPEAK INSIGHTS OF HOPE FROM STUDENTS
I remember the days when I was a college admission counselor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Every day my cup was being ﬁlled with the vibrancy and energy of college students. They were the bloodline of our work, walking around on campus with a something that I couldn’t articulate then. It was like they had a sense of urgency, and I wondered why their walking pace was a little quicker than mine. I felt like the luckiest person on earth to have landed in a profession that ﬁlled me with joy.
Two decades in higher education created shifts in my positions, places and people. Yet, I never left college admissions, I just changed desks. There were rough times when I questioned if I enjoyed my role as a college counselor, witnessing educational policies that distanced students from their educational purpose, let alone becoming lifelong learners. And yet, I stayed. My roots as an educator are so thick and intertwined with the mission of The DH Effect, a company I cofounded with my partner Hilary Bilbrey, which is to create trust and belonging worldwide, from the students and families we serve to companies and organizations we create educational experiences for. To put it simply, I remained hopeful.
Going through my own virtue work with The DH Effect, I now can articulate the something that college students had when I was at UCSB. Eyes bright, faces pointing to the sky, they are moving towards their dreams, aspirations and hopes with enthusiasm and excellence. They are courageous, compassionate, servant leaders. They seek out justice and unity.
For this edition, I want to honor
continue to inspire me, way beyond their high school and college years. I hope they inspire you too.
in January 2023
and will begin
One memory that stands out to me was in 2015 during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. I traveled with a cohort from my university to Greece to help intake refugees seeking asylum in Europe. By providing basic human needs (food, shelter, safety) to marginalized people, I focused on protecting their dignity. While Greece was just the ﬁrst stop in their very long journey, I wanted to show them
still be kind. I am grateful for the smiles I
MONTIEL UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
our voices is the one thing we can control. It’s the one thing we have to evoke change.
LUYANG (ROBBY) HUANG
Masters of Engineering at Cornell www.instagram.com/robby_huang_luyang
“In 2022, I was an electrical engineering intern for Cruise working on autonomous vehicle development. In 2021, I was an electrical engineering intern for Meta working on the development of smart glasses.
In the engineering community, your "voice" is determined by your experience and skill sets. As I developed my career, I realized that being a young student coming from a background with abundant resources was/is a privilege. The selection process of the on-campus project teams, research labs, and tech companies is extremely biased towards those who have a lot of hands-on experience and received proper mentoring.
When I became an upperclassman two years ago, I began to dedicate time mentoring younger students and sharing the knowledge I have. For my project team, I developed a workshop for freshmen who had no to little experience. I wanted to ensure that students from all backgrounds had access to engineering projects I led.
On campus, I became a teaching assistant in entry-level courses and accepted all the coffee chat invitations from students who were eager to learn. Outside of school, I collaborated with EETech Media to create electrical engineering project videos and blogs. My goal as a graduate student is to inspire and mentor younger engineering students.”
ISABELLA MONTIEL University of Utah firstname.lastname@example.org
“I am currently completing my last year of college as a business major (I’m almost done!).
One of the most powerful events I have witnessed was a protest I attended in Salt Lake City after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Women and allies from all walks of life came together to use their voice at a protest. Hearing the chanting of all of our voices coming together revealed our immense raw power. I was convinced that we were heard. Having our voices is the one thing we can control. It’s the one thing we have to evoke change. I learned that you shouldn’t let anyone take that away from you.”
ANYA RAMPAL University of Waterloo www.instagram.com/anya.rampal
“I am currently completing my Bachelor of Science in Public Health, writing this during my abroad program in Malaysia.
I had the opportunity to work for my local state senator over a two-year span. Each day I would go to work ﬁelding phone calls and addressing concerns of constituents. One particular Wednesday I received a call from a parent of a young child battling cancer. They called the senator's of ﬁce to seek help to refute some of the charges that the hospital had required them to pay for chemotherapy.
Over the next three months I worked in conjunction with the family and insurance agency to collect receipts and claims in order to effectively build a case to present to the hospital accountant. It was then that I realized my work had real world effects. It restored my faith in our elected legislators.”
Santa Barbara High School
At the beginning of my sophomore year, a friend who was supposed to be taking pictures of me in the forest for his school art project grabbed me by the throat. I was shocked and panicked. I felt helpless for weeks, especially when I found out that he had sexually assaulted ﬁve other girls. I wanted to stand with those women and ﬁle a police report, but since no one else felt comfortable doing so, I ended up ﬁling a police report by myself. I then decided to work with the administration at my school to create a new program for sexual assault education, and this program has given me hope that survivors can receive and provide support in a compassionate and educated way.
This past summer, I curated an art show in Montana called Divine Femininity, carefully selecting artists worldwide who expressed women empowerment in the most profound creative ways.
I hope that this group of young people gave you hope today. I imagine an army of compassionate service leaders like these who continue to solve our world’s problems with love and courage. Thank you. ∎
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.
With tires recycled and reimagined, Laura Zabo upcycles materials and manifests pieces styled with sustainability. This piece created for actress, producer and director, Julia Varvara, makes a bold, beautiful statement.
THE ARTIST’S ARTICULATION:
“When I look at Julia, I see a sophisticated balance of beauty and power. Delicate and strong, sexy and powerful, she is the absolute manifestation of the woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. I created my favourite piece for her, because it’s designed for those who bravely explore their purpose without apology.”Laura Zabo UPCYCLING DESIGNER
Julia VarvaraPRODUCER & DIRECTOR
exposure through social media platforms.
the beautiful landscapes of Tanzania. The inspiration
stumbled across a brightly painted pair of sandals made from
the seed for her company, highlighting that
produced material but can be crafted by
repurposes thousands of bicycle and car tires,
towards a healthier planet.
THE POWER OF PRINT SEEING (AND FEELING) IS BELIEVING
Mixam is raising the bar when it comes to printing publications. With both their process and their product, Mixam has created a new, higher standard for stories preserved in print. In a conversation with Mixam’s Head of U.S. Operations, Sara Wimmer, we discuss printing with purpose and serving today’s storytellers.
ALLIÉ: Famous lyrics will tell us that “video killed the radio star”. Some have said something similar regarding digital publications replacing print publications. As a publisher of both, I feel there is room, a desire and a need for both. What are your thoughts?
SARA: I 100% agree that there is a desire for both. But I believe that there is a shift for print publications going from something necessary, as the only form of spreading information for a long time in our history, to something more desired. I think that digital publications deﬁnitely have their place, especially for accessibility and a way to share information across many platforms and places. But nothing beats receiving a physical copy of a book, where thought has gone into everything, from the design to the paper selected. It is all a very calculated process that people see the
“…there is also a very human element behind the technology.”
Allié: While you produce beautiful print publications, it’s your brilliant digital platform that gets the job done. And the job that’s done is done so well with state-of-the-art technology. Share what makes your platform different from the rest.
Sara: Mixam is really trying to create something that is unique and easy to use. We want to cater to everyone who wants to print with us, from those who have been in the print industry for decades to someone who is printing for the ﬁrst time. The instant quote calculator is by far my favorite feature, and we hear the same thing a lot from customers. The ability to pull in different speciﬁcations and get quotes instantly is not something you see much on other print platforms. Usually you have to sit through a lot of steps to get to a quoted price, which makes it very dif ﬁcult when you want to change something like the number of copies. When I was in design school, I wished I had something so easy to use! Beyond that, uploading ﬁles and processing orders is quick and easy. But there is also a very human element behind the technology. We have wonderful staff that customers can contact at any time in the process for assistance and we have print experts who review every ﬁle to ensure that customers will get the best printed product. That combination of technology and the human element is really where we strive to create the best experience for our customers. We want to make printing smarter, not harder.
Allié: When storytelling, for those who decide to only go digital because they can’t ﬁnd an eco-friendly printing option, please share the story of Mixam, particularly your chapters on the paper you source and the ink you use.
Sara: Absolutely, the environment and our impact on it is at the forefront of our minds. We want to leave as little impact on the environment as possible. Not only because as a company we really care about the environment but also because it is simply necessary to ensure that we have the opportunity to print products for our customers. Our planet is so very important to what we do as a company, but also so important to us on an individual level. We spend every day on this Earth together, so whatever we can do to lessen our impact on it, we will! Our website supports recycled papers in the UK and beyond that all of the papers we use at our facilities are FSC certi ﬁed. The Forest Stewardship Council ensures our papers are manufactured from a sustainable resource. We also print using vegetable based inks, and recycle all of our waste. We are always looking to improve our environmentally friendly options as we grow as a company. I hope to have recycled paper options on all our platforms and continue to ﬁnd new and more sustainable ways of creating our products. We can always do better.
Allié: Beyond products and processes, it’s people who make or break any organization. From personal experience, I can say your people, Sara, have made Mixam a company we are honored to call our Of ﬁcial Partner. Every conversation I’ve had with anyone at Mixam has always resulted in ﬁnding a win and sharing a laugh. From a person on the inside, I’d love to hear about the culture you’ve cultivated at Mixam.
Sara: Mixam as a company began in the UK, so we really try to keep the work culture rooted in our origins across countries. For a while, at the start of the pandemic here in the US, I was actually the only US based employee for Mixam. I worked by myself, at home, for about six months before we started to grow our team on this side of the pond. Even though the rest of my team was on the other side of the world, I never felt disconnected or on my own. That was the feeling I wanted to instill in the US branch. We try to cultivate a motivated, friendly and open environment. Nearly all of our managers, including myself, started in the Customer Service position so we know what it takes. As Head of US Operations, I am very open to feedback from our team to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Afterall, you
of the process…
“Storytelling in any form really is so important to our culture and its progress.”
SARA: (continued) can never stop learning and improving. Mixam is very collaborative. We are constantly learning from one another and that open communication is very important. I have worked at previous companies where the hierarchy really got in the way of progress and a healthy work environment. I strive to keep doors open and to ensure that all of Mixam’s employees can approach me for anything they need. We love to laugh, share art, music and stories together. Everyone at Mixam is genuinely happy to be here which I can say from personal experience that is a ﬁrst for me at a company. I hope to continue to foster this culture as we grow.
ALLIÉ: You help us change the world one issue at a time with printed editions of AwareNow Magazine that we can put in people’s hands. How does it make you feel to know that your work helps others work to change the world through the preservation and presentation of stories?
SARA: It’s honestly very humbling to be in the position to do so. Storytelling in any form really is so important to our culture and its progress. It holds a special place in my heart because so many stories have impacted my life. I had always hoped that whatever I did for a living, that I would have some sort of positive impact on the world, even if only for a small handful of individuals. So it makes me so happy to see editions like AwareNow passing through our website, where we can help your dream become a physical reality. Our platform supports all kinds of content, from magazines to cookbooks, you see everything from a large run of thousands of copies to a few copies of a selfpublished book. Each order is important to us. When memory fails, stories like these will live on forever. We are so grateful to be part of the process in preserving them for years to come. ∎
It’s 1989. A young girl of 14 years sits in a hospital ICU waiting room. She sits alone, distressed and her eyes are red from crying. After a short time, she heads to a chapel a few rooms down the hall. Brown curls frame her small face as she kneels before an altar. Searching the stained glass for signs or messages, she sobs uncontrollably.
The child is homeless, and this place is a temporary haven, keeping her off the streets. Going unnoticed, the young girl knows she can’t stay forever, but for now, it is all she has.
Leaving the hospital, she walks to a convenient store just down the street. When she gets there, she covertly slides a package of NO DOZ, an alertness aid, in her jacket pocket. Returning to the hospital ICU area, she ﬁnds the bathroom. Cupping water in her hand, she swallows every pill in the package. Going back to the chapel she lays down on a wooden pew, ready to die. Feeling no sense of purpose or belonging, she cries herself to sleep.
Several hours later the young girl stirs. Instead of ﬁnding herself in an afterlife, she feels nausea. Rushing back to the restroom, she vomits froth and heaves, accepting that she has failed. Returning to the wash basin, her dark eyes stare back at her in the mirror. She hears the words in her head, “You’re not done yet. That’s why this didn’t work.”
That young girl was me and I was right—I wasn’t done yet. My situation at that moment was not an easy one to be in and it didn’t change easily. I wasn’t homeless because either of my divorced parents were poor or uneducated, rather I had challenged a very authoritative family belief system that lacked emotional intelligence to support me as the teen I was.
My mother often said, “If you don’t like it, there’s the door. But remember, if you leave, there is no coming back.” She wasn’t kidding. I experienced ex-communication and was not even allowed to have her phone number or know where she had relocated to.
It took years to ﬁnd my footing and I’ll admit that for me, it became incredibly important to me to have control over my safety or ability to have a safe space—because I know what it feels like to not have one at all.
As a mother of four, I dedicated myself to ensuring my kids did not experience what I had, and I’ve been tested on that for sure. My oldest daughter, now 25, had a stint around 15 where I was in the role of a challenged parent.
Thankfully though, I was fortunate enough to have grown in my emotional intelligence. My teen was being a normal one, reacting to the traumas she’d endured, testing boundaries, questioning authority, and having an identity crisis. The question was, what was I going to do about it? Was I going to allow her to be out in a world that would subject her to more pain and struggle, or was I going to be the mother I wish I had when I experienced the same?
The answer, for me, was the latter. And that dedication remains with all my kids. Despite how challenging it becomes —while my family was intent on showing me “tough love”, I’d rather not miss out on an opportunity to show what unconditional love truly looks like.
According to The National Conference of State Legislatures site, each year, an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness, of which 700,000 are unaccompanied minors, meaning they are not part of a family or accompanied by a parent or guardian. On any given night, approximately 41,000 unaccompanied youth ages 13-25 experience homelessness.
“…be the raft our kids need to survive the storm.”
Not surprisingly, it is reported that 69% of homeless youth report mental health problems. In addition, homeless youth are vulnerable to multiple threats, including not having their basic food and shelter needs met, untreated mental health disorders, substance use, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection, sexual exploitation (including survival sex to meet basic needs), physical victimization and suicide.
Recently, a viral video showed a young girl walking away from her home, a carry-on luggage behind her as her father yells to her, “When it gets hot, don’t come back!”
There’s no denying that the teen years can be extremely difﬁcult, but I feel compelled to raise the issue of how it is more important to stay the course and be the raft our kids need to survive the storm. Their brains are being hijacked by growth changes and of course, it is hard for them to appreciate the level of care we provide. As parents we want to be appreciated and respected for our efforts and time, and it’s easy to look at them and miss the little person who used to call you their best friend in the whole world.
It’s even easier to forget that we must model the behavior, values and respect we want from our kids. You can’t do that if you’re giving up on them.
Solutions range from family counseling, being open-minded to exploring ways to connect with our teens, to just giving it time. An empowered parent operates detached from any outcome, only knowing that we are planting a seed of love that has the potential to grow into the appreciation and respect we seek.
My oldest daughter, now a mother herself, has come back and said to me, “I get it now and thank you for never giving up on me.”
Because of an increased emotional intelligence, I’ve had the opportunity to watch my relationship evolve back into the loving one we experienced early on, and I know that in doing so, I’ll save them from far worse consequences. In contrast, I don’t have the same words to offer my own parents, who I do not have close relationships with to this day.
So, consider this the next time your teens send you into a state that causes you to forget that all things pass, including the moment being experienced, but how it resolves is largely contingent on how we handle it. Find ways to operate from a state of increased learning. Don’t miss an opportunity to break generational beliefs or actions that continue to fail our youth. ∎
Producer, Award-Winning Writer & Host www.awarenessties.us/aalialanius
AALIA LANIUS is an International Multiple-Award Winning Novelist, Executive Producer, Publisher and host of the award-nominated globally top-rated social good show, UNSUGARCOATED with Aalia. As founder of UNSUGARCOATED Media, a 501(c)(3) media enterprise, Lanius is creating social impact through storytelling while building community, providing education, and ending isolation for trauma survivors. Aalia's role extends to leadership as a creative, and she is considered a thought-leader in approaches to media, believing that artists are pioneers of the human mind with great potential and responsibility to positively in ﬂuence society through proper representation and accountability.
THE LONG ROAD HOME
CHALLENGE WITH CHALLENGES
My name is Eisa Jadran. I am a U.S. citizen by birth. I was born in Alexandria, Virginia. As an adult, I worked with the special forces in Afghanistan in 2002. I was away from the U.S. for 14 years due to a lack of support from my family and my mental health condition.
I have a disability called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). It is also referred to as an early onset of Alzheimer’s. It’s miserable dealing with this mental health condition. The symptoms are lack of memory, depression, and anxiety. I cannot do simple calculations. I cannot ﬁnd addresses. I suffer from apathy and so much more.
After the fall of Kabul, I was in a safe house where I waited as Legend tried to get me evacuated. The enemy called me a spy and was looking for us. It was difﬁcult for me, especially because I have children. I was also out of my life saving medication. I felt devastated and thought the government would never evacuate us.
I started making videos begging the American people and government to allow us to return home to America with my family. After my evacuation was approved with the help of Legend, I was able to travel to the neighboring country. We were then moved to a U.S. Army base in Qatar.
I was in Qatar for four long months, where I got medication that only helped part of my disease. I was treated as any other refugee. There was no priority in bringing American citizens home. SIVs were given priorities over us. The Qatar base was like a prison.
I felt abandoned. I didn’t know how long it would take for my family to get their security clearance so that I could return home with them. While we waited, we were moved to Kosovo. We spent more than two months there and were given no reason for the delay.
Once I reach America, I will have to start my whole life over again… a difﬁcult challenge, especially with my disability. My hope is that I, along with others who have disabilities, can ﬁnd resources to restore our faith in humanity and what is possible as we make our way home. ∎
SHAH FOUNDER OF
Shwetal Shah was born and brought up in Mumbai. She moved to the UK almost a decade ago. Her journey has led her to working in the tech sector alongside launching several initiatives to improve the diversity within the tech and science industries and she also sits on several charity boards that work towards improving social mobility.
TANITH: Shwetal you have been living in the UK for nearly a decade. What is it that made you decide to leave India and move to the UK?
SHWETAL: Growing up in Mumbai, I was surrounded by but never in poverty. It made me question my privileges. To make a difference I started teaching English to homeless children. The trajectory of what I wanted to do with my life changed when one evening in 2013 one of them mentioned they wanted to be a pilot. It is difficult to access higher education in India for people from low-income backgrounds. My late grandfather too left education and slept on the streets selling onions so he could provide a roof over his family. These instances taught me life isn't fair, however, I can be intentional about using my privileges to open doors for young people and give them a chance at life. Thus began my journey researching education accessibility by moving to Scotland, where locals get free education. Seeing the difference it made, I decided to replicate the model by working in the UK to get higher wages to fund education in India.
WITH SHWETAL SHAH
TANITH: You are passionate about tech and, outside of your day job, you are Grants Committee Member at Youth Futures Foundation amongst other roles! Tell us more about that?
SHWETAL: Experiencing the role digital sector plays in improving livelihoods, but seeing diversity imbalance within the sector, I made a documentary sharing women’s stories demystifying tech careers. The ﬁlm inspired the feminist library to launch a free digital course and I was appointed a BAFTA Jury member. Driving these actions fostered a sense of diversity and inclusion being foundational principles for my future leadership.
Hence, I joined the Youth Futures grants committee to inﬂuence the allocation of their £90 million fund to charities helping underserved young people in England gain employment. From Black Lives Matter to Climate Change, youth are driving change. To amplify their work, I developed and manage a Europe wide Laureate of the Future initiative with PeaceJam, giving them access to grants, securing funding from Rotary, and mentors from my network, for socialaction projects. Driving this has challenged my views on what impact really is, because few will bend history itself, but with these grants the recipients are contributing to healing their communities, which helped me convince the Burns Price Foundation to sponsor the Change-Makers grant I am spearheading across the UK.
TANITH: In addition to all of the above you are also sponsoring girls education in India - how did you get involved and why do you think it's so important?
SHWETAL: Questioning my privileges in Mumbai made me see the power I had to foster change. To achieve real equality, a whole range of resource sharing needs to be rethought. Knowing that I grew up in a family where my parents were fully supporting and made sure I had access to good education made me want to help those who weren’t as privileged as I was. My dad actually helped me with the research of ﬁnding a school I could support. Through this contacts, he contacted a school principal in a semi rural small town in India. The Principal sent me a list of all the girls who stopped going to school, as their parents had lost jobs during covid. I funded 7 girls’ education. I hope to increase the number year on year going forward.
The reason why I think this is important is because we need more people to invest in those who don’t have all the accumulative advantages and believe in them to become the best they can be. But also to put it simply the single biggest thing I learned was from an Indigenous elder of Cherokee descent, Stan Rushworth, who reminded me of the difference between a Western settler mindset of "I have rights" and an indigenous mindset of "I have obligations." Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I am born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations.
“Questioning my privileges in Mumbai made me see the power I had to foster change because to achieve real equality, a whole range of resource sharing needs to be rethought.”
TANITH: You have won several awards for the amazing work that you do. Which was the most amazing and why?
SHWETAL: Well, it was actually a fellowship you nominated me for, Tanith. I am so grateful and humbled that you put me forward for the Dalai Lama Compassionate Leaders fellowship. It’s been an incredible experience over the last 3 years with us meeting His Holiness this October. As a group, we’ve been having regular Zoom calls and sharing all our community work we undertake, as we learn from and build each others strengths. I don’t know what I did to deserve this opportunity to be among truly resilient changemakers from the Global South to the Global North. I am forever grateful to you for it.
TANITH: What are your personal and professional aspirations for the future?
SHWETAL: Personally, I want to support at least 50 girls education in India over the next 10 years at a minimum. Perhaps stand for local council one day. Professionally, I want to continue serving on boards, work at an Ed Tech for good company and continue learning commercial skills.
TANITH: If you could change just one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
SHWETAL: Reduce political polarization. ∎
Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.awarenessties.us/tanith-harding
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.
TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME
Not one success story is the same. Each win is written in a different way, with and on different terms. While real success is manifested and measured by the subject of the story, it’s assistance and persistence from another who can make all the difference. Richie Lampani is a recruiter who keeps it real, helping others write their own stories of success.
ALLIÉ: You’ve made a career out of directing, Richie. A Director of Marketing, a Director of Entertainment and now a Division Director of Sales, Recruiting and General Wizardry, what is the best part of being a recruiter? And then, what is the worst?
RICHIE: I went from the music industry at the Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI, which you've been to, into recruiting because of some life changes. I hated recruiting at ﬁrst, but over the years, because I've been doing it for like nine years now, I stopped focusing on the numbers, the money, and all of that. That came with getting to know people and getting people jobs they wanted or needed. It turned into a mission in and of itself. I didn’t turn down people because I couldn't place them immediately. I talked to everybody and helped them on their resumes. I tried to offer advice, no matter what. And the altruistic feeling plays into everything that I'm doing now. I don't end the day happy based on whether I placed somebody or not, because I probably talked to ten great people. That's what I love about recruiting.
Then it just all came.”
ALLIÉ: Awesome, Richie. I love how in making that shift from the dollars and the numbers to the people made all the difference for you.
RICHIE: Oh, yeah. I mean, it comes from bartending, working in music, and just being around people my whole life… and then trying to be in the business world. I didn’t ﬁgure out how I ﬁt in until I made it not about money anymore. Then it just all came.
ALLIÉ: Toward the end of a personal post on LinkedIn (your platform of choice), you shared this… “You have to decide what to take and what to leave.” With posts like these, you give advice, ask questions, and make people think. You seem to be an open book for the beneﬁt of others. Is it ever difﬁcult being so open, blending your personal and professional life like you do?
RICHIE: It's funny because I have a really good friend that I met on LinkedIn, and she always gives me a hard time for being such an open book, but I don't even realize I'm doing it. I also wrote for Recoil Magazine for a while, and I did the same thing where I just wrote for my own voice and people really liked it… And then with these posts on LinkedIn, I'm not sitting down and writing a post. Usually, I'm going out with my coffee and sitting outside. I’m going on my phone and posting whatever is on my mind. It doesn't feel super personal to me, but I've been writing for so long…
The quote that my friend says is, “Take me or leave me. I'm just Richie.” That, she said, should be my motto. And it really is. With what I'm thinking, I'm going to put it out there, and then I'm going to have the conversation about it, regardless of good or bad. It just happens to be positive most of the time. So, that's my advice to everybody else too. Just be you. People are going to like you or not. You'll ﬁnd out pretty quick, if you're just authentic about it.
ALLIÉ: You have an interesting relationship with bacon on LinkedIn. For those who don’t follow you (yet), please share. What’s the story behind the bacon you serve up every day?
RICHIE: Number one, I grew up on a farm, and we had pigs. So, I eat bacon, but I'm not a huge bacon fan, which is probably disappointing. But there's another content creator named Luke Matthews that posted that he hated bacon. And it struck me as really funny to see on LinkedIn. So, I started writing about loving bacon on every post to be irritating. And then, I stopped but everyone seemed to like it. This was weird. I was like, why am I making all my bullet points bacon emojis? When I stopped doing it, people actually complained in the comments and in messages. They would ask me if something was wrong if I didn't use bacon emojis. So, that's where we're at with that thing. And a lot of people know Luke because he’s a pretty big creator, so they know… I mean, there's a whole post on Sunday where I was literally not going to post. And Luke wrote speciﬁcally to antagonize me, I think, about how bacon was terrible. So, I made a whole post. That's where the picture came from, of me pretending to steal bacon. It's been a thing for about three months now.
“I didn’t ﬁgure out how I ﬁt in until I made it not about money anymore.
“…it’s going to work out eventually.”
ALLIÉ: With every public post or private message, you elevate others. Richie, who is it that elevates you? And how?
RICHIE: There's a gentleman, Dave Deaver, that was really inspirational to me early in my career in music who taught me that doing things for others, not necessarily for any gain, would give you the knowledge you needed to do it for yourself later. That's been big with me. And really there's so much dopamine in helping people ﬁgure something out that, you know, that's really the driver. Every day, every person I talk to will come back to me weeks later, even if it wasn't me who placed them in a job. And they will say, “Thank you so much. I got a job.” Well, I didn't get paid for that. So, if I'm not doing this for the right reasons, I wouldn't care or I'd get mad about it. But I absolutely love it… It really lifts me up to hear people getting jobs that were giving up hope before.
ALLIÉ: For those feeling lost with no job and no direction, what advice do you have for ﬁnding both?
RICHIE: I was there for a while. I was unemployed for a while, not recently. But it’s ﬁnding people that are doing what you want to do and asking questions and not being afraid to ask those questions. Keep doing that and not giving up. I mean, it's going to work out eventually. It might not be the way you think it's going to be, but it will work out. That's it really. Just keep going. We say at work. “Keep it moving, baby.” That's what we say all the time. Things don't always go the way we want to, but just keep it moving, baby. ∎
In 2002, The Women’s Journey Conference was created and ﬁve years later the Women’s Journey Foundation was formed with Patty Turrell as its founder and president. Creating a transformational shift in the way women and girls view themselves, the Women’s Journey Foundation is a non-proﬁt organization whose mission is to strengthen conﬁdence and self-reliance in women and girls of all ages.
ALLIÉ: Exclusion creates delusion. In education, this is partially true when we look at history books and don't see the women who were part of the story but left out of the narrative. Patty, you are the founder of the Women’s Journey Foundation. While women have come a long way, we have so far to go. Please share the importance of recognition for women in the past and its impact on the future.
PATTY: Well, to your point and the fact that women are left out of the history books, less than 5% of educational materials include women. So kids, boys, and girls are not learning about these women who contributed greatly to our country's formation and to that of society. I'm going to share one of my favorite quotes. This is what kind of led me to create this program we call MAKING HERStory, leading to building a museum in three to ﬁve years - Women's Legacy
LEFT OUT NO LONGER
take the time and share some
PATTY: (continued) going to add all my own special words here, because this is also important. Every time a boy opens a book and reads a womanless history, what kind of message is that sending to boys that women were insigniﬁcant? What were they doing during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and any war after that? What did they do to contribute as far as our society and the growth of communities? Women were very much entrenched in all of that, but rarely get mentioned. So, we decided to create MAKING HERstory, which is a production. It's a stage production where girls, along with women my age, portray great women in history. They're all on stage together. When portraying these roles, there is a sense of pride they now understand because they've embodied the role of this woman. They understand what is possible for them because they also see that these women had to undergo tremendous challenges. The things available to us today were not available to them. Let's take the suffragettes, for instance. A lot of those women probably knew they would not see women gain the right to vote in their lifetime, but they continued to ﬁght. They risked everything - their reputations, their families, and their livelihoods. Why did they continue to ﬁght? I believe they were ﬁghting that ﬁght because they wanted future generations to have more than they had. So, it's up to us. It's up to future generations to pick up the baton, carry on, and keep the ﬁght going until we reach that level of equality, where we have an equal place at the table with men. That's all. I love this quote from Gloria Steinem. She said, “We didn't want to rule the world. We just want to have an equal place at the table.” It's not a lot to ask.
It's also really important for a girl's conﬁdence. Does she know her lineage? Does she understand that this is her legacy to look back on? You can do a tremendous amount of research on the internet and ﬁnd these women who are rarely mentioned, and the things that they did are just phenomenal. There's thousands upon thousands of stories that we have yet to hear.
ALLIÉ: There are a number of ways to empower women. While the women’s journey foundation does this in many ways, I want to focus on multi-generational mentorship. Why did you decide to take this approach? What sort of impact has it had?
PATTY: When we started the Women's Journey Foundation over 20 years ago, it started off as a women's event, and we realized that we were missing the element of generations being involved. So, we started our girls program ﬁve years into it. And, when we did research, we realized that there were over 70% of girls who had low self esteem. At the Women's Journey Foundation, we focus where the greatest need is, and that need has been growing. For instance, the leading demographic of suicide in the country right now is for girls 10 to 14. It's crazy to think that a 10year-old would consider suicide. We've had some of those girls at our conferences and in our programs. When looking at how we work with them, we thought, well, let's take the women who've lived their lives, who've raised their kids, had careers, had life experiences that they could share with these younger kids. The cool part of it is that this organization has always been about collaboration. When these women come together and they decide to mentor these girls, the girls eat it up. They love being in the presence of older women who are willing to take the time and share some information with them that will probably help them along in their life journey. We have women in their 80s
“Every time a boy opens a book and reads a womanless history, what kind of message is that sending to boys that women were insigniﬁcant?”
PATTY: (continued) mentoring young girls, and the girls love it. So, I remember not wanting to spend time with my mom because my mom wasn’t ‘cool’. But now I look back on all the wisdom that I gained from her, and the other women who came into my life, how much I've learned through the years for them. They saved me some steps along the way where I didn't have to go through that anguish or that pain or those challenges. Because I realized, okay, I don't have to repeat what she is telling me. I can move on in my own direction and ﬁgure this out. What I love about the mentoring program is the women who mentor the girls ﬁnd a sense of fulﬁllment that comes from that experience. And the girls, like I said, they just eat it up. They love being in the presence of older women. They truly understand what they are getting… What they're receiving as a gift.
ALLIÉ: Fostering self-esteem in girls has become your life’s passion. What made you devoted to this work?
PATTY: I was very insecure growing up. My mom was a single mom, and she struggled. Her main thoughts were to make sure we have food at the table, have clothes to wear, were in school and in a safe environment. She was always in survival mode, so she didn't have a lot of time to devote towards trying to ﬁgure out why her older daughter was insecure and self-doubting. She tried Girl Scouts and getting me involved in school clubs. None of that worked. It wasn’t until someone else (another woman, a school teacher) recognized that I had some talent and strengths that I wasn't aware of. She sort of pointed me in a direction. She said, “You know, I bet you'd be good at photography.” And as it turns out, I was really good. It became my artistic expression. And so, it’s when I can pass that information onto a younger girl, or we as an organization can create experiences for girls where they can understand that they, too, have talents and strengths. They're not as apt to make poor life decisions and are more con ﬁdent. They are probably less likely to even consider suicide. What we do here at the Women's Journey Foundation is extraordinary. We create these workshops that are highly interactive and engaging, but we also create workshops that are fun and thought provoking because we want to get to the heart of the matter. When the girls have a heartfelt experience, they remember it. They'll probably practice with those tools that we give them to help get through the tough times and challenges in their own lives.
ALLIÉ: It’s not sugar, spice and everything nice. Girls are made of so much more and need so much more to recognize their possibilities and realize their potential. Here enters ‘GirlsCon’. Please ﬁll us in with the details, Patty.
PATTY: We have our upcoming conference on October 22. It'll be our 17th annual. These last two years, we had to go virtual, trying to ﬁgure out how to do this type of program online. It's not quite as easy as we thought it might be, but we're getting better at doing it online and creating that experience for girls, especially since girls are really struggling with the whole suicide thing and isolation, stemming mostly from the pandemic and not being at school. We have some great workshops. To give you an example, we have a mirror workshop that we pretty much do every year because it's the most impactful one that we do. It's called ‘Reﬂection Perfection’. We have these little compact mirrors, and we have these little recording devices. Part of the workshop is to record a positive message for yourself. So,
“They love being in the presence of older women. They truly understand what they are getting… What they’re receiving as a gift.”
PATTY: (continued) when you open that mirror, you hear a recording of your own voice. I might say, “Hey, Patty, your perfection is eminent… You have such a beautiful smile… You can do anything you set your mind to.” If I'm having a bad day, I'm just going to ﬂip that thing on and remember, oh yeah… I did say that to myself.
We also have a community mirror that we decorate, and we use gel pens. The girls have to look in the mirror and think of one word that represents their reﬂection. And we're not asking them to be writing down the most positive words. Maybe they're looking at their reﬂection and they're thinking, I'm not feeling so great today. They’ll write down that word. What happens then is we point out those other words that are all around them, the other words that are positive, sort of diminish that feeling or that word that is negative. They look at all the different words around them while looking at the same reﬂection of themselves.
ALLIÉ: For girls who feel they aren’t enough… not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough not strong enough, what advice do you have?
PATTY: Boy, if I had this advice when I was young, it probably would have saved me a lot of heartache. I would say that those are negative self thoughts. And negative self thoughts can be dispelled by changing your mind about how you feel about yourself. Everyone, no matter what, has talents and strengths. It doesn't matter what you look like. What matters is how you feel about yourself on the inside and recognizing that you are here for a reason. You have a purpose on this planet. Find out what that is. Explore it. It doesn't matter. Maybe you have self doubts. You may think you can't do this or you can't do that. But there is something you can do. There is something that will give you such happiness and such fulﬁllment in your life. You just have to ﬁgure out where it's at. Find it. It's there waiting for you. ∎
Written by Aanand Mehta and Rohan Fichadia, this is a story of mechanical magic made in the lives of children with disabilities. This is the story of Magical Motors.
“Wow! I can ride the car? This is mine? I wanna ride the car! This is the best Christmas present ever!” exclaimed Ollie when he ﬁrst saw the car that we modiﬁed for him. Ollie is a 4-year-old with sacral agenesis, a condition characterized by the absence of the lower spine.
We recently rewired a ride-on toy McLaren for him, providing him the experience of moving independently. Moments like Ollie’s reaction are what motivate us to assist as many affected children as possible in regaining mobility.
In 2018, Rohan took on the project of building modi ﬁed cars for his Eagle Scout project. He became enamored by the fact that he could transform just a few hours and limited money into something that children with developmental disabilities could use to foster social and motor growth. In 2019, Aanand began volunteering at the Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, where he was introduced to the role of music in rehabilitation therapy for children with developmental disorders. His passion to directly help children with developmental disabilities gain a sense of freedom inspired him to start an organization with which he could accomplish that aspiration.
‘CHANNELING KINDNESS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION
MAGICAL MOTORS CHANGING CHILDREN’S LIVES WITH TECHNOLOGY
“We aspire to create assistive technologies for children with developmental disabilities.”
Finally, in July of 2021, we founded Magical Motors with the goal of initiating an organized system of building assistive technologies for children while creating chapters throughout the world, in an effort to make such technologies accessible to the world and ensure that every child has the right to mobility. We aspire to create assistive technologies for children with developmental disabilities. Through the modi ﬁcation of children’s toys, we aim to foster and improve the social, motor, and developmental growth in children ages 3 to 8. We also plan on introducing several of our own curricula, elaborating upon our approaches, to high school districts across the country.
You may be wondering, “How do you modify these cars?” Well, we adapt these cars for children with cerebral palsy and caudal regression syndrome by rewiring the vehicles such that they are controlled by a hand-powered button, as opposed to a foot/accelerator pedal. By performing the aforementioned process, we cultivate an enriched environment for all participants; by teaching essential qualities such as soldering wires and drilling techniques, we prepare car builders for a successful career in the STEM ﬁeld, and continually reinforce a sentiment of compassion, teamwork, and empathy.
Moreover, after receiving cars, participants develop a newfound attitude of independence and freedom of expression. Overall, our mission is to bring about a more inclusive community. ∎
A Project of Born This Way Foundation www.channelkindness.org
Channel Kindness is a digital platform created by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. It is a safe space for young people to tell their stories of kindness, resilience, and community. By highlighting the people and organizations that are doing good in their communities, Channel Kindness’ audience is inspired to create a kinder and braver world, one story at a time.
When life drains, art ﬁlls. It is the will of the artist that is stronger than circumstance. Artists united in community can ﬁll hearts and minds with passion and purpose. Proud to share the words and work of a few talented fellow travelers from Artists For Trauma and Indivisible Arts.
Louisville, Kentucky native Eddie Donaldson moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and became involved with the grafﬁti movement as an alternative to the turbulent gang activity of his generation. Immersed ﬁrst as an artist amongst diverse L.A. crews like TCF, AWR, and The Seventh Letter, Donaldson had the vision to develop their homegrown grafﬁti movement into something beyond the streets. His loyalty and business sensibility transformed the grafﬁti scene and he evolved into the point person for producing art events and exhibitions that inspire and spread the stylistic of southern California art into the world.
"Every time I put up a new blank canvas, I expect for the painting to leave my mind and come to fruition in a visual form that meets my expectations. Even when I fall short, hope is the driving force that nudges me along to do better.” - Richard Bell
FORMED AND FILLED WITH HOPE
x The Seventh