AwareNow: Issue 29: The Love Edition

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AWARENOW

ISSUE 29

T H E AWA R E N E S S T I E S ™ O F F I C I A L M A G A Z I N E F O R C A U S E S

CALY BEVIER ‘OTHERSIDE’ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

EMILIE GOLDBLUM MOVIE’ & GROOVIN’

RAIN PHOENIX LOVE IS LOVE

YOSTE VIOLET

RAPHAEL MCMASTER

INDIVISIBLE W/EDDIE DONALDSON

LAURA SHARPE ABOUT & FROM LOVE

SHAN RIGGS

RECORD SETTING RIGGS

CRYSTAL BAYAT

A POETIC PARTNERSHIP W/LORI BUTIERRIES

DESMOND CLARK I HONOR YOUR CHOICES

THE LOVE EDITION A L W A Y S

I N

A L L

W A Y S


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ON THE COVER:

THE LOVE EDITION

CALY BEVIER

PHOTO BY:

NAME

AwareNow™ is a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties™ in partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties™ is the ‘Official Symbol of Support for Causes’. Our mission is to support causes by elevating awareness and providing sustainable resources for positive social impact. Through our AwareNow Magazine, Podcast & Talk Show, we raise awareness for causes and support for nonprofits one story at a time.

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MOVIN’ & GROOVIN’

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DANDILION

126 GROUNDED

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LOVE IS LOVE

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LOOK THROUGH A NEW LENS

130 LOVE IN MOTION

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NOT THE SAME

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BABY 774

134 ONE FOUR LETTER WORD

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PAINT IT FORWARD

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I HONOR YOUR CHOICES

142 LOVE AND TRAUMA

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VIOLET

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SELF-LOVE

146 ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

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INDIVISIBLE

96

ABOUT THE AFGHAN WOMEN

15O INFINITE HOPE

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ABOUT & FROM LOVE

100 LA HOPE DEALER

152 SPEAKING UP

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CLEAN WATER CORPS

106 RAISE YOUR VOICE

156 MULTI-FACETED

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RECORD SETTING RIGGS

108 CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM

158 WE ARE WHAT WE DON’T SEE

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FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY

114 PAST OUR TRAUMAS

162 GAME ON FOR GIRLS

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A POETIC PARTNERSHIP

118 THE HOUSE OF FEAR

166 GLIMMER OF HOPE

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AWARENOW AFGHANISTAN

120 BIAS STEP ASIDE

170 BREAKING THE CYCLE

EMILIE GOLDBLUM RAIN PHOENIX CALY BEVIER

SAGE GALLON/MARK SHEPPARD YOSTE

RAFAEL MCMASTER/EDDIE DONALDSON LAURA SHARPE

ALLIÉ MCGUIRE LEX GILLETTE

RUSS PRITCHARD DESMOND CLARK

A KIDS BOOK ABOUT LORI BUTIERRIES

CORIE MATTIE/EDDIE DONALDSON

ROB MCQUEEN

NASIMA K.

SHAN RIGGS

MJ PARANZIO/GINNY DOUGARY CRYSTAL BAYAT/LORI BUTIERRIES UPPERWOOD/AWARENESS TIES

YURTS RAMANAN/TANITH HARDING AALIA LANIUS

BURT KEMPNER SONJA MONTIEL

THI NGUYEN

PAUL S. ROGERS

NEALE WALSCH/JACQUELINE WAY ANA GABRIEL MANN LISA BOWMAN

GERARD JENKINS TIFFANY KELLY/TANITH HARDING RAIN PHOENIX/LAURA ZABO TODD BROWN

MODIBODI/PUMA ALI HORNING IMAGINE LA

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AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I don’t know much, but I know I love you. Lionel Richie


Love is a verb. It’s an action and a state of being. Love is a picture. It’s the connecting of dots, not the drawing of lines. Love is a gift. Whether given or received, it is precious and priceless. Love is love. Here in ‘The Love Edition’, we invite you to look at love through a variety of lenses and explore love’s definition and depth. We love you.

P.S. A very special thanks to Kerry M. Martin for loving on this edition.

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

JACK McGUIRE Production Manager & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties Jack is a Gemini. He got his start in the Navy before his acting and modeling career. Jack then got into hospitality, focusing on excellence in service and efficiency in operations and management. After establishing himself with years of experience in the F&B industry, he sought to establish something different… something that would allow him to serve others in a greater way. With his wife (Allié), Awareness Ties™ was born. DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in AwareNow are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Awareness Ties. Any content provided by our columnists or interviewees is of their opinion and not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, political group, organization, company, or individual. In fact, its intent is not to vilify anyone or anything. Its intent is to make you think. www.IamAwareNow.com @AWARENESSTIES @AWARENESSTIES @AWARENESSTIES 5

AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: @machetebangbang 6

AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY WITH EMILIE GOLDBLUM

MOVIN’ & GROOVIN’ THE MOVEMENTS OF LOVE

I think it’s fair to say that the couples that dance together romance forever, and families that groove together improve together. What songs do you play when you have dance parties with your kids? What record do you put on when you slow dance with your spouse? We all move and groove in different ways. As long as we do it together, it matters not the song or circumstance. Here’s how Emilie and Jeff grove at Maison Goldblum…

“Parents movin’ together! I love it when we are the four of us at home and somehow we break out into interpretive dancing or even better record pantomime dancing!” Emilie Goldblum Denim on denim here, the Goldblum’s are an epic example of what it looks and feels like to let love lead in this dance called life. With Emilie rocking her mom jeans and Jeff sporting his skinny tie, they set the tone for a moment designed for them to dance to.

Take their cue. Unlock your body. Free your soul. ∎

LEARN MORE ABOUT EMILIE & MAISON GOLDBLUM

emiliegoldblum.com

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Photo Credit: @machetebangbang 8

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Photo Credit: @machetebangbang 9

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‘Love Is Love’ Photo by: Abigayle Tarsches 10 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘LAUNCHLEFT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY RAIN PHOENIX

LOVE IS LOVE

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO TURNS 30 In this very special episode of LaunchLeft, Rain talks about the film, My Own Private Idaho (MOPI), which her brother, River, and Keanu Reeves starred in, to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. The episode features the film's writer and director, Gus Van Sant, the film’s producer, Laurie Parker, as well as the inspiration for River's character, Mike Parker. LaunchLeft also put out the call on social media for fans of the film to send in their testimonials about how MOPI impacted their lives. Tune in for these profoundly moving stories.

The episode also serves as a premiere of not one but two new artistic pieces directed by Laurie Parker inspired by the film. First, a special interview with Mickey Cotrell who played “Daddy Carroll” in the “Little Dutch Boy” scene of the film, and second, a music video starring Caroline Kingsbury with her inspired cover of “Deep Night” which appeared in the original film soundtrack. ∎ Film is a collaborative art form, and to celebrate that LaunchLeft is using the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking film My Own Private Idaho to lift up and highlight the individual artistic efforts of both cast and crew alike. Blockchain technology can be seen as complementary, with many people coming together to produce something no one of them could do on their own. Hit the link to experience launchleft’s NFT gallery featuring NFT’s celebrating My Own Private Idaho: www.launchleft.com/nfts

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO TURNS 30 SPECIAL EPISODE OF LAUNCHLEFT

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11 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We were not made so uniquely, person to person, to then have to conform and fit in little boxes. CALY BEVIER

RECORDING ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR LGBTQ AWARENESS 12 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CALY BEVIER

NOT THE SAME BUT LOVE IS LOVE

With authenticity and integrity, Caly Bevier is the embodiment of unconditional love. An advocate for acceptance, as opposed to judgment, she leads by example, reflecting the light she sees in others. Her own journey of identity and preference she openly shares with confidence, in hopes of inspiring self-love and self-worth in others. As a recording artist, her music is a labor of love fueled by emotion and driven by a dedication to serve others through storytelling. ALLIÉ: Let’s start with a song and move into its story. Caly, let’s begin with your song, ‘Not The Same’. Not only is it hella fun to move to, it’s also a power statement for the one who sings it out. Specifically, I’m referring to the lines “I'm not the one to blame. This time I walk away.” In relationships and life in general, many assign blame to themselves and stay in a situation. However, the blame isn’t theirs to own, and in fact they should go. Please share the story behind this song.

CALY: I wanted to share a story about a relationship that no longer serves you. And I think in a lot of relationships, it's very easy to blame yourself. At the end of the day, you're in control of your emotions. You're in control of your choices and your feelings, all of that. That's your responsibility. Leaving a relationship that is no longer serving you or no

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CALY BEVIER BY ALLIÉ MERRICK MCGUIRE

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13 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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You’re in control of your emotions. You’re in control of your choices… That’s your responsibility. CALY BEVIER

RECORDING ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR LGBTQ AWARENESS 14 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


CALY: (continued) longer making you feel good, that's what you shouldn't be putting blame on yourself for. It's okay if you want to leave a relationship that you simply just don't want to be in anymore. You don't have to have some crazy reason for it. That was the whole point of this song… “I'm not feeling good in this relationship anymore. I'm not the one to blame. I'm gonna walk away.”

ALLIÉ: For a moment, I’d like to talk about the title of that song, ‘Not The Same’. No love is the same. While ‘love is love’, there are infinite versions and countless stories. When it comes to the love of your life, please share the story of you and Shawn.

CALY: My whole life growing up, I always was like, "I'm never gonna get married." I had no clue of what I would want in my future. And then Shawn came around, and I was like, "Oh shoot. I actually think I could have a little bit of love in my future.” It started off with one of my best friends. She kept texting me to hang out. And I was in a very weird place where I was just ghosting everyone. I guess I answered at the perfect moment. I was like, "Okay, let's go hang out. She's like, "Oh, I have someone I wanna introduce you to as well." So I was like, “Okay."

It was actually 'Sam' at the time, Shawn. Sam and Eleni came, and they picked me up. Eleni's my friend who introduced us. And we were inseparable from day one. A little shy at the beginning, we saw each other. I think we both thought each other was cute. Literally, the first day we met, we ended up holding hands, just a little awkward. We were in Santa Monica, just walking around and then I stayed the night at his place. We were attached at the hip from the very beginning.

I would say our story is a little unique because I did start dating Shawn as Sam, and then he started transitioning very quickly into us getting to know each other, meeting and dating. He was just like, "Hey, I do wanna transition. I feel like a guy." I was like, "Okay, let's go. If that's how you feel, that's how you feel. I didn't start liking you because of your gender or how you identify." As you know, I identify as pansexual. So, that was something that was very easy for me

NOT THE SAME CALY BEVIER OFFICIAL VIDEO (W/LYRICS)

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15 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I didn’t start liking you because of your gender or how you identify. CALY BEVIER

RECORDING ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR LGBTQ AWARENESS 16 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“I’ve learned a lot... I love our relationship.” CALY: (continued) to just be like, "Okay, let's go. I want you to be happy." So, that was the beginning of our love story. We got married on July 17th, 2020. It was mid-pandemic. We had a wedding in my parents' side yard. We set everything up and even built the altar. We did everything very DIY. And it's just been fun. I mean, has it been easy? No, not at all, but its taught me. Our relationship has taught me so much, and I think we have both grown so much. I've learned a lot... I love our relationship.

ALLIÉ: When it comes to love, or any other thing really, society insists on assigning a label. When it comes to ‘transgender’, I’ve heard so many say, “I don’t understand it.” This, in turn, leaves so many who are transgender feeling they are not understood by others. All that said, is there a need to be ‘understood’? Or is the need to only be ‘accepted’, whether understood or not?

CALY: So, I personally don't feel like I can answer this question from a genuine point of view. But I have a star celebrity speaker here who wants to answer, Shawn Corchado.

ALLIÉ: Shawn, thank you so much for stepping up and stepping in to be part of this conversation. Being transgender, is there a need or want to be 'understood' or simply just to be 'accepted' whether understood or not?

SHAWN: I think it starts with the base level of just being accepted. A lot of times there are so many things that we don't understand that are so new to some people. So, sometimes, it's just needing to say, "I don't understand it, but I accept it." It's wanting to just feel that kind of sense of acceptance. Because a lot of times, it is new. And I know, at least for my journey, I didn't understand a lot of the changes that were happening myself. A lot of times, I did hear, "I don't understand it." But it's not for anyone else to understand really. Just having that sense of acceptance and belonging, that is really what's key. Being honest, I don't know that I would've had the courage to fully live like my authentic self, if it wasn't for Caly. She's someone who just accepted me and was loving from the start. It was like how she said, "Oh, we're starting this journey. All right, we're doing it. How do I help?" So that was great to have.

ALLIÉ: Love from a partner is different, of course, than love from a parent. Often times young people feel the need to choose one or the other, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. In your case, Caly, you loved who you loved and your parents loved you regardless. In fact, your parents loved him too. With your partner and your parents, you’ve experienced truly unconditional love. How important to you was your parents’ acceptance?

CALY: It was just so important. From the very beginning, my mom was extremely happy that I found anyone to help me and make me feel loved. That was kind of all it was for her. I remember she put a Facebook post up, when we first started dating. She was like,"My Caly girl, she's finally started dating someone in Los Angeles!" And she posted all the pictures that we had sent her of us together. She was just super excited for me. And that was just... for me it was just kind of normal. I always had such great support on anything that I wanted to go for in my life, from my parents. I think at the end of the day, that is the job of a parent -- to unconditionally support the being that you've brought into this world and to help push them forward in whatever endeavors they want to go on. It's not to question them. I mean, there's certain things that you can question them on, but if it's all love at the end of the day, I think it's important to support your children. That's all I ever got from my parents... They're like the 'blueprint parents', I would say for sure. So, if you're a parent listening to this, just support your kid in literally anything. 17 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We’re trying to make good changes… It’s all love at the end of the day. CALY BEVIER

RECORDING ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR LGBTQ AWARENESS 18 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


ALLIÉ: Shawn, do you want to comment on this? How was your journey with your parents?

SHAWN: For my parents, it was very hard for them. It was very hard first coming out, especially being raised Mexican Catholic. It was just very tough. And then when they found out about my transition process, I didn't talk to them for about two years... no communication at all. So, it was tough. The thing that brought me so much light was spending my Christmas with Caly's parents. That was my first Christmas that I felt like I was me... They just accepted me. And especially in that like beginning stages of the transition, they were just like "We're here to support and accept."

CALY: I also think that my parents, regardless of what they went through in their childhood and upbringing, they knew that they didn't want to carry on certain patterns, habits, beliefs or ideologies that their parents had pushed on them. I think that they wanted to totally change that... It's just like the generational trauma that's happening. When you actively see your parents trying to break that, it reminds me that I know there's still some things about me that I can work on, you know? We're constantly trying to work through that type of stuff and progress. 'Progression' is the biggest word. We're trying to move forward. We're trying to make good changes... It's all love at the end of the day. I keep saying that, but that's really all it is.

19 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I think my favorite part is just finding ways to hear the emotion that you’re trying to like convey. CALY BEVIER

RECORDING ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR LGBTQ AWARENESS 20 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

NOT THE SAME

Exclusive Interview with Caly Bevier

https://awarenow.us/podcast/not-the-same

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ALLIÉ: As long as we’re talking about love, let’s stay on topic, but switch gears to music. Making music, I imagine, is like making love with regard to the connection between the singer and their sound. As a recording artist, what is it about making music that you love most?

CALY: I love writing lyrics, first of all. When I was younger, I would love to sing and make up songs, but I never really knew what I was doing. It was just kind of happening. And then I moved out to Los Angeles, and I learned how to actually write the lyrics, put the melody on the track that a producer has made or even craft my own chords up. My favorite part is the lyrics and the storytelling. Whether it be when I'm watching Stranger Things, and pulling a story off of the show and really like diving into that storyline to make it my own or pulling from our relationship, it's kind of like an outlet. It's like journaling or whatever your outlet is to get your emotions out. That's the part that I love about it -really focusing on the feelings and emotions behind the songwriting. That's definitely my favorite. Even when it comes to sitting with the producer and trying to think of sounds to add to the music, to make it more grimy, more emotional or more like you're floating through the clouds, I think my favorite part is just finding ways to hear the emotion that you're trying to convey.

ALLIÉ: From your relationships to your music, there is a common thread of love that is woven with such authenticity and integrity. For those seeking to find and share that kind of love, what advice do you have?

CALY: The most cliche advice I think I'm going to give is to just love yourself first and everything else will follow that. And I know it's hard sometimes, definitely with social media where you see so many versions of what you're supposed to be. At the end of the day, those are just societal boxes and just stupid. We were not made so uniquely, person to person, to then have to conform and fit in little boxes. Your little quirks and the little things that make you weird are really just you, and that's how you're supposed to be. So, let that shine through and everything else follows that.

I was even just talking to someone about thrifting. I was like, "I've been thrifting a lot lately." I don't have the biggest budget to shop at the mall right now, but I've been real. A) Our world is dying. So thrifting is awesome. And B) You can be so unique. There's so much more to pick from, from all the years. And these clothes have stories, you know... It's those little things. Be yourself, love yourself. That's step one.

I'm gonna be myself, so you can be yourself. That's it, period. Be yourself. It's awesome. ∎

CALY BEVIER

@calybev

21 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FIERCE WARRIOR SAGE GALLON

22 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY WITH SAGE GALLON & MARK SHEPPARD

PAINT IT FORWARD RAISING AWARENESS WITH ART

There is a painting that has embodied a purpose to raise awareness one act of kindness at a time. It began with a painter’s donation then continued with a patron’s charity. ‘Fierce Warrior’ is on a journey to support organizations to protect others. ‘Fierce Warrior’ is the name of the painting that artist Sage Gallon donated to Awareness Ties for auction to support their work. As an Official Ambassador, Sage has given his time for personal interviews and public campaigns. Beyond his time, he has given his talent. ‘Fierce Warrior’ depicts a woman standing

"This painting speaks to the storms we face yet no matter how hard the winds blow, no matter how fierce the storm, we can still stand tall and not allow the storm to blow us over or away… “The Ocean is the singular most powerful force on the planet… the ocean is made up of little drops of Water. Just imagine how powerful a force we can be if each of us came together like the drops of water that make up the Ocean. There will be no storm we couldn’t weather.” - Sage Gallon The generous donation from Sage Gallon led to the generosity of Mark Sheppard, who purchased the auctioned painting. While these proceeds from ‘Fierce Warrior’ supported Awareness Ties, he wanted the painting to do more. Instead of keeping ‘Fierce Warrior’ for himself, he wanted her journey to continue and support others. Upon purchase, he donated the painting to Protect Us Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation in cyberspace.

“The Fierce Warrior piece is really one that stands out to me. It’s a strong woman who has a lot of things coming at her, but she perseveres. She’s strong. It reminds me a lot of the women in my life. By purchasing this painting, I was proud to support Awareness Ties, and I’m looking to pass it on. I want ‘Fierce Warrior’ to support a foundation I’m a board member for that helps prevent kids from being found in human trafficking situations. It’s a group called Protect Us Kids Foundation. I’m going to donate ‘Fierce Warrior’ so she can help protect other kids. She is being reauctioned. I hope she’ll continue to bless other organizations in whatever her journey may be.” - Mark Sheppard As the journey of ‘Fierce Warrior’ continues, we hope the support she raises and the awareness she brings will continue to inspire acts of kindness for the advancement of others. ∎

BID TO SUPPORT

Place your bid here: awarenow.us/auction/fierce-warrior/puk

PROTECT US KIDS

www.protect-us-kids.org

With a global mission to advocate cybersex trafficking awareness of children from underserved and rural communities, as well as drive strategic partnerships in support of developing cybersecurity international standards, guidelines and best practices, Protect Us Kids Foundation serves to drive the development of innovative technologies and solutions that can be leveraged towards protecting our youth in cyberspace; specifically in ending sexual violence, exploitation and abuse against children.

23 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Acceptance is necessary, but it’s not everything… YOSTE

SINGER, SONGWRITER & PRODUCER 24 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH YOSTE

VIOLET

SHADES OF A SONG, AN ARTIST & HIS MUSIC Rhymes with ‘lost’, Yoste is the moniker of singer, songwriter and producer Kurt Sines. With his music, he tries to answer his own questions while commenting on what he sees around him to produce songs that are cathartic and aligned with the moment. He moves others while standing still with music that stirs thoughts with relatable themes and relevant topics. Easy to love, his music is hard to forget, and never would you want to. ALLIÉ: A fan since your single, ‘Calcifier’, back in 2016, I’ve listened to you grow and evolve as an artist. Your latest album, ‘Never The Same’, mirrors your career in that you are constantly changing and progressing as an artist. Yet, you have a signature style that sets you apart from the rest. What is that common thread that weaves all your music together?

YOSTE: I don't entirely know. I'm really glad that you think there is one, because I remember when I was in musical projects and bands, before I started going by the name of Yoste and making Yoste music, I struggled with that. I think it's some kind of right of passage that you always try to achieve when you're a younger musician of trying to make your music all sound like your music and not pop-punk one second and ambient-neoclassical the next. You really want

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH YOSTE BY ALLIÉ MERRICK MCGUIRE

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25 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I change a little bit, but not too much. YOSTE

SINGER, SONGWRITER & PRODUCER 26 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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YOSTE: (continued) it to have some kind of connection. So, I'm glad you think it does have that. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I think to the point of the music changing over time, I think that's probably fairly inevitable because all my music's really introspective anyway. It's just a reflection of what I'm into, what I'm thinking about, and what I'm listening to. So I guess to the extent that I change over time, my music changes over time as well. But maybe if it all feels like my music because I don't change that much. Maybe it's that I change a little bit, but not too much.

ALLIÉ: Of the 6 songs that comprise ‘Never The Same’, my favorite track is ‘Violet’. I would love to hear the story behind this song.

YOSTE: Well, I wrote Violet way back in 2019. That’s actually when I first conceived of the song and first started the production. It was finished ‘ish’ fairly quickly. I played it on tour in 2019. And then for whatever reason, it never quite made its way onto the next two EPs that I put out in between then and now for this latest EP for which it's the lead single. I'm not entirely sure why, but to cut to your question of what it's about, it sounds as if lyrically it could be about a relationship — particularly “Tell me that you love me, that I'm part of your life,” but I really much more conceive that to be about a toxic relationship with an audience, not just social media, but the idea of an audience generally… to have people paying attention to what you're doing, and the extent to which you can get far too tied to that. It can be a problem for your own development and your own peace. So, that's really what I conceive the song to be about. It's almost like a cynical take of needing to be loved by an audience.

ALLIÉ: Specifically in ‘Violet’, there are a few lines I’d like to discuss. “Tell me that you love me, that I’m part of your life,” fast forward to “Tell me that I matter, it’ll all be alright.” This speaks to the need to be loved that we all have. That external emotional validation is something we all can identify with. As an artist how important is it for the work you create to connect with others?

YOSTE: I feel like it's a common thing for me and many of my friends in music that I talk to. It's such a double edged sword. You want people to listen to your music, but there's almost like this petulant childish rebellion that we all have.

VIOLET YOSTE OFFICIAL VIDEO (W/LYRICS)

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27 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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That was what I was trying to get out there, utilizing anxiety for its benefits without necessarily letting it overwhelm or become our whole identity. YOSTE

SINGER, SONGWRITER & PRODUCER 28 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

NEVER THE SAME

Exclusive Interview with Yoste

https://awarenow.us/podcast/violet

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YOSTE: (continued) Once you get to what you always wanted, which is people paying attention to what you're doing and enjoying it, that's great. But then you obviously can so easily become overly attached to that. And it just spirals out of control much like eating junk food or anything else. So, getting control over that impulse is an eternal struggle and that's kind of the core of Violet – rebelling against that a little bit.

ALLIÉ: In this same song, ‘Violet’, as opposed to the external validation we just spoke about, you reference internal mental validation with this line, “You're depressed, that's cool. Anxiety's a tool.” Now, more than ever, mental health is a major issue that’s been stigmatized all too long. I love how with one line, you not only normalize depression, but you reference it in a way that empowers. Do you have a personal story you can share about using anxiety as a tool?

YOSTE: My sense was that though mental health is ever more in the zeitgeist and ever more being normalized and talked about, which is obviously an unequivocally good thing, there was a sense for me of something missing from previous eras… I felt that the overwhelming consensus was that there were mental health problems, that's just the way it was, and we should accept it. And I feel like acceptance is necessary, but it's not everything… Especially when you're young, in pop culture and in all the greatest aspects of punk and everything, it was to be young from the past with this sense that everything might not be fine, but we're gonna rebel against that a little bit anyway. And we might have struggles, but we can overcome them or at least coexist and not just sit apathetically and let our struggles overwhelm us. That's the extent to which I was kind of rebelling against the idea that depression, whilst it should not be stigmatized, it shouldn’t be a status symbol either. I think it's something that we can accept and then also still rebel against and still try to overcome. That was what I was trying to get out there, utilizing anxiety for its benefits without necessarily letting it overwhelm or become our whole identity.

ALLIÉ: You’ve said, “The best artists create worlds with their music, and I’m trying to build one of my own.” What does this world you’re constructing look and feel like?

YOSTE: It's an ever evolving question. I'm just sketching it out as I go, song by song. But if I had to paint a vague picture of what I'd ideally like it to look like, it’s the sense of an evening time when you're walking in a beautiful natural space. Everything is frayed and desaturated at the edges. It's a little bit dreamlike. It's a little bit animated, in the sense that it might feel slightly hand drawn, almost like walking in a painting. And it feels like you are young and intelligent and full of self doubt, but ultimately on a path and you like where that path is going. <laugh> That's a very pretentious answer, but it's also kind of what I'm trying to achieve. ∎

SOUNDS OF YOSTE

soundsofyoste.com

29 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Art saved my life. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Kevin Gilligan 30 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RAFAEL MCMASTER BY EDDIE DONALDSON

INDIVISIBLE

WITH CREATIVITY & CONSCIOUSNESS FOR ALL Let me start by saying I am so excited to have had the opportunity to sit down and reason with Rafael McMaster. Not only is he an amazing being, he is a student and teacher of life, love and spirit on so many levels. I am very grateful for the opportunity to share his story with my fellow travelers. I know in my heart that every person that reads this interview will understand why. In addition, I highly suggest you dig deeper into his world and utilize the Creative Wisdom Tools and ideology provided by him and his team at Indivisible Arts. EDDIE: Tell us who you are, not just your name but who are you? Why are you here on this planet?

RAFAEL: Dang, starting hot right out-of-the-gate there, that’s a heck of a question. Well, first off let me thank you for sharing this time and this interview today with me. I hope our exchange today can help someone somewhere sometime reading this just now. May these words share some experience, strength, hope, or relief. Maybe it’s two decades from now - the right person, on the right day needed to read just the right thing to change the trajectory of their day. The Universe works in mysterious ways. Yup it’s gonna be one of those interviews - I’m in a “mood.” Okay, so the question… My name is Rafael McMaster, and I am here on this planet to be of service and to be loving. I cannot imagine a greater day-to-day purpose. More expansively and humanistically, I am an artist, musician, fashion designer, graphic designer, author, teacher, sponsor, husband, father, Executive Director and Founder of Indivisible Arts and the Resin Creative Labs. But I like the first answer better: Servant - whose purpose is to be loving. Because when I remember to lose myself and my identity on the daily, I also lose my opinions, judgements, anxieties, stresses and fears… At least to me, that seems like a good deal, and the days that I remember to relieve myself from the bondage to self - those are my better days.

EDDIE: You are what Laura and I like to call a fellow traveler. Can you tell us how you got here?

RAFAEL: We are each on our own crazy amazing soul journey-in-a-lifetime, right? Mine just happens to include emergency rooms, near death experiences, traumas, then becoming just-another-unsuspecting-big-pharma-victim in the opioid epidemic…sprinkled with Xanax from the psychiatrist that I thought had my best interest in mind…and Adderall from my primary care physician for whom I thought the same. Throw in getting hit by a truck as a pedestrian and light it on fire, and you have my scrambled brain at age 35. And somehow I still held a job, made nice, and made normal. But I was spiritually bankrupt inside and I knew it. I always wonder about all the professionals I interact with holding it together day-to-day but just dying inside and feeling alone in all that. The secret is that we’re not alone - so many people feel this way - but the perception of emotional isolation walls us off from help and connection - the ego is so tricky that way - and so we get more isolated, more socially disengaged. And so I took that leap of faith at age 35 to leave my career, leave security, and go to rehab to do a factory hard-reset: getting sobriety, sanity, spirituality, solidarity, and service in my life for the first time. And my recovery has been a conscious and curious explorative adventure through the world of therapy, and creativity. Art saved my life. That statement requires much more explanation, but for now please hear in my voice how authentically I mean it.

31 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We are each on our own crazy amazing soul journey-in-a-lifetime, right? RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Kevin Gilligan 32 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“You’ve got the social architecture for a blueprint of how to build a community of hope…” EDDIE: I love your logo for Indivisible. Can you share the story of how that was conceived?

RAFAEL: The name of my nonprofit comes from the symbol, which was created by a seven year old in our program, Luca Lovacelli. It’s a division sign with an X through it, as in NO DIVISION, unity, you know, “indivisible.” As in “United we stand, undivided we can stay standing.” The forces that we’re at battle with, thrive on separation and division that’s their fuel - so we have to stay undivided. Clearly, I mean this on many levels, but that’s another conversation for another day. As far as the symbol, each leg of the symbol is representative of the arts that are integral to our mission: visual arts, music, video, theater arts, healing arts, spiritual arts. For too long, the humanities have been on a backward slide in our schools: it’s time to unite the tribes.

EDDIE: Being someone that has been in and out of THE PROGRAM for most of my adult life, I am super intrigued by your process at Indivisible. Can you run us through your program's steps?

RAFAEL: I have deep reverence for 12-step work, fellowship, and the stewards of hope that have come before us and have saved millions of lives and even more families. I am one of those lucky survivors. Not everyone makes it, and it’s heartbreaking for anyone who has experienced that kind of tragedy up-close for a loved one. There are no words for it. I am grateful for my life. I could have missed this all. And like the Oxford group, which ultimately helped lay the foundation for the Program - which then yielded six steps that then evolved into 12 steps - everything has its heritage, lineage, and progress. So evolution every 60-80 years of these social healing processes is part of the natural unfolding - so that the texts, language, and maladies (today’s being pills and technology rather than just alcohol) can resonate with the audience because they hear themselves in it and can identify. And then they don’t feel so alone in their addiction or place of suffering. And when we realize we are not alone, and we connect to like-minded people through our pain, honesty, experience, love and vulnerability… You’ve got the social architecture for a blueprint of how to build a community of hope, especially now that Zoom is a thing. Let this sink in… we set a record during the pandemic for the most overdose deaths for a country in history, with over 100,000 deaths – mostly opioids and fentanyl. More than a 40% year over year increase. This is not a small thing or a trend that’s going anywhere or that will magically turn around on its own. There are so many suffering people who need help and just relief from the voices in their head. They don’t have access to the wisdom, tools, steps, and process if they don’t identify with the existing programs that contain step-work. But the step-work is such a powerful process that is designed to cleanse the soul, decrease fear, guilt, and shame-based thinking through carefully guided step-work, while creating a design for living with standards, principle, practice, community and grace… The thing is, I think we all could use that, or at least could benefit from it. Everyone is addicted to their phone at minimum, but most of us have a deeper suffering, and these tools and this process work. And for free from one person to another like an intellectual contagion that frees us from the clenches of the medical-insurance-pharma complex that tells us it’s the path to health. I’ve had too many doctors screw me over to go to that well again. As humans, we can help each other. I see it work, weekly, daily. The challenge, as always with change, is the existing dogma around who can access these steps, principles, values, and jewels within them. How does one stay reverent in respect to the past, while advancing it forward in the name of helping as many people as we can. And so during pandemic we made a process that was available to everyone, including if not especially for kids, because everyone suffers. Why wait until my life is in tailspin in middle age to begin reaching for the surefire tools and spiritual toolkit of a program? And so with the kids we use art and creativity as their entry point - the vehicle for the wisdom. These poor kids… their brains have been neurologically reshaped because of the phone to reflect the short attention span, fragmented loop-based thinking that we normally attribute only to drug addicts. But now everybody’s got it. Everyone’s got that addictive neurology, and now everyone’s addicted to their own thinking. Fueled with individuation, isolation, and social disengagement – you have a recipe for a lot of suffering people who need a pathway back home that feels like it’s a resonant fit for them. ∎ 33 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We do it because we love it. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Indivisible Arts 34 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“What we are is a village of artists, parents, and healers, that are trying our damnedest to create some love, support, tools, and hope for this youngest generation…” EDDIE: You have shared so many success stories with me privately. Can you share some of those with us now? Maybe the top 2?

RAFAEL: Oh man, let me see. First off, I am not a medical professional or trained healer. I am an artist and teacher. But real stories are what they are. One example, we have middle school students we have helped get off ADD medication, by teaching them to focus. Adderall has only one ingredient - methamphetamine salt - clean meth - and so instead of prescribing kids meth, we’re teaching them how to focus. I have a 13 page hand written letter from a different mom, who is tearful because her nine year old transgender boy finally has a place where he can finally feel at peace, being exactly who he is. His own acceptance for himself is, I am sure, inextricably connected, and invaluable. I’m not claiming miracles here. Nor do I want to sound like a snake oil salesman. At the same time, I can’t ignore these actual experiences. Shifts in consciousness that we see with kids and adults alike - shifting from the head to the heart by just giving them our love, and support, and experience. A heavy and clear disclaimer here, we are not therapy. We are not doctors. We are not academia or proven science. These kids aren’t our patients. They are our students, and maybe there’s something key in there. What we are is a village of artists, parents, and healers, that are trying our damnedest to create some love, support, tools, and hope for this youngest generation of local kids. After we figure out the blueprint locally, then it’s, “How can we help the next community of students?” And ultimately the parents and families, of course. Everyone is suffering, but the kids have the least amount to unwind and un-code less trauma and maladaptive coding. Their egos aren’t as hard shelled, defending our insanity to the very last ditch. I can’t fully, scientifically explain what or why we see the shifts in these kids, but it seems pretty commonsensical. Give anyone a spiritual tool kit, a relationship to a higher power of their own understanding - even if it’s science, physics, cause/ effect, mathematics… Give them some daily practices like meditation, prayer, service, doing art, and fellowship… And good things will start to flower in that person. We’re always trying to fix people, and focus on their problems, and the dirt… What happens if we just water the flower and love it with sunlight…

EDDIE: You seem to have a seriously focussed core team. Tell us about this massive volunteer support team you have developed?

RAFAEL: Indivisible Arts isn’t my mission, it’s OUR mission. No doubt, full stop. I’m just Visionary-Domino-NumberOne. There’s such a big collective community that makes this all possible, and so naturally and mathematically it’s the product of all of our contributing efforts, sweat equity, and resources. We don’t do this because we have to. I’m not even sure we do it because we want to… We do it because we love it. And when you can change someone else’s life trajectory by shifting the consciousness from their head to their heart - there’s no greater feeling I’ve ever felt. And that’s at the heart of service. This blueprint of a community that we’ve put together activates the volunteership from the artist community, combined with the student/parent community, melted together with Gen Z teens who need nonprofit volunteer hours for their college resumes, and you’ve got a spacecraft of service. I call it “The Mothership.” My partner-in-crime is Rachel Burkhardt, the president of our organization, and just a Jedi. We have so much fun together. Making it fun is so important, because our ambitions require an army of volunteers, and Rachel is a master at making it fun. Then you have professional fine artists like Jeff Lingle and Emily Tanaka, who are volunteering with 35 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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…the days that I remember to relieve myself from the bondage to self - those are my better days. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Indivisible Arts 36 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“…when you can change someone else’s life trajectory by shifting the consciousness from their head to their heart - there’s no greater feeling I’ve ever felt.” RAFAEL: (continued) me to teach art to kids including great partnership programs like the work we do with the Rise/ Richstone/da Vinci program. Without professional artists who are willing to give of themselves and their time - this type of magic and creative community that we’re growing, simply doesn’t happen. I can name at least six dozen community volunteers that come together to make this go. The way I figure, everyone’s got a superpower – something that would take them 15 minutes to do what it would take me three hours, because they’re an expert in it. We’re all about taking someone’s desire to volunteer for an hour a month at a specialized skill set, and turning that potential resource into impact for our community through love and service. The weaving of the skill sets and people, is in itself an art form, that I am growing very fond of. Lastly, you have the youth artist volunteer crew. We have about 60 volunteers, from eight high schools and colleges. Ages 15 to 22, and our youth volunteer group keeps growing by the week. I know volunteering at a nonprofit to teach consciousness to youth through creativity and art looks great on a college résumé - but I’m seeing a groundswell of service in our local youth, and they’re all starting to realize how much it naturally gives them relief, selflessness, confidence, and character. You’ve got some talent coming up - like Luke Osterkamp, age 16, and Eva Asiddao age 15 - whose bright minds, selflessness, and consciousness are as impressive as their art. I’m excited for both of them. The beehive mind of Resin really inspires the students to push each other. And when it’s done in a playground of positivity, that consciousness is beginning to show in the fabric of their creativity DNA that will define their generations’ culture. I personally don’t think you can force culture or even make it. I believe there’s an artform to creating the space - the petri dish or creative lab - for culture to grow. The right conditions, the right support. But for the culture to thrive as its freest expression, the process has to be pure and patient. We’ve built the mothership over the last six years, and I’m excited to see where Gen Z culture takes it next. It will have a mind of its own, and a starmap of uncharted perspectives that I cannot imagine because I was born of a different generation and culture. We’re going to need Generation Z and the following generation to save our planet. That’s not a small ask. So this is a creative consciousness platform that we’re building for these youth, put together as a labor of love from our volunteer army of local youth, artists, parents, and community.

EDDIE: Please tell us about Indivisible/Resin 2.0.

RAFAEL: Six years ago Rabbi Yossi Mintz, who is the Executive Director for the Friendship Foundation (a terrific organization that is the backbone for the special-needs community and their families here in South Bay), came into Resin - which is our art gallery/creative consciousness lab in Hermosa Beach. Inspired by what we had built, he told me about a one-of-a-kind facility he was raising tens of millions of dollars to bring to life: a community center to support the special abilities community and their families - with the hopes that it would be all about inclusion. He explained to me that these community centers exist, but in all reality, if you’re not in a family directly affected by special needs, then you’d have no reason to go to the center. In time, these centers become solely visited by the special-needs community, and it’s no longer an inclusive, universal, or wholly integrated experience.

What if we build such a place, and put a creative consciousness lab and gallery smack in the heart of it? We bring the community in that way, then add a center for teaching trade skills for youth living with developmental disabilities?

37 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We’re going to need Generation Z and the following generation to save our planet. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Indivisible Arts 38 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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RAFAEL: (continued) While we’re at it, let’s add a café where all of these youth can work. Since we’re shooting for the moon, let’s add a peer-to-peer youth mentoring model for all abilities. From my personal experience, as a student who graduated from an off-campus high school, because I got kicked out of two high schools and a school district – for those like-minded students to have proximity and access to volunteering to teach art to kids with special needs is gonna be powerful and transformative stuff. You can see where we’re going with this. Since Rabbi Yossi and his team are awesome, let’s add on a multi-generational center - because our elders have wisdom, time, and know the value of volunteer-ship, and love to give to the community of youth. The Friendship Foundation is breaking ground on the state-of-the-art, 60,000 sq ft project designed by Gensler, on August 10, 2022. Its estimated to open in the Fall of 2024. Watch this space take shape, it will be exciting, or at a minimum, I am very excited… It will be a world-class center of innovation and inclusion and where everyone has a place.

EDDIE: What’s your favorite book?

RAFAEL: Probably the Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu. There are many translations, but my favorite is by Stephen Mitchell. This is a book I’ve kept by my side for decades, and as I grow with each passing year, the delicate and laconic poems reveal more. I can’t say that about many other books - let alone books that are 2,800 years old. Throw in the mystery around it’s true originations, and it becomes a doorway to the invisible world for me. And for my personality type and predilections, that’s what I’m looking for in a favorite book.

EDDIE: Who is your favorite living artist?

RAFAEL: Blaine Fontana, from up in the northwest where I’m from. I believe he’s in Portland these days. Twenty years ago, he was mixing together every medium imaginable, from sculpture to graphic design to spray paint, wheat paste, screen print, fine oil, illustration and beyond. And so it inspired me and forever expanded how I viewed things as far as process and possibilities. I want to do that and more: exploring the relationships within traditional media - then

Photo Credit: Indivisible Arts 39 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Humans are the only known creatures that can experience a piece of art, film, or music and feel inspired. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Artwork: ‘Seam’ by Rafael McMaster 40 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“…to feel inspired by a piece of art is in part what defines our humanity.” RAFAEL: (continued) shoot macro photography of that - and then print that onto acrylic and layer it over the existing mixed media paint layers…a series that samples and resamples itself, like creative DNA expressing itself as the holographic whole. I’ve been wanting to do this exact process for 15 years, but it hasn’t been the right moment until just now. My next series will be those exact pieces. They’ve been waiting this whole time.

EDDIE: As an artist, what intention or purpose drives your practice and craft?

RAFAEL: Great question. My perspective on art has really shifted over the last three years through the pandemic. I’ve come to realize that my soul has two modalities: my masculine energy and my feminine energy. My expression of feminine energy looks a lot like receiving, holding space, researching, asking questions, experiencing. My masculine energy comes out as doing, creating, taking action. And whenever I activate this masculine energy through doing acts with repetition and practice and then elevating it with beauty and creativity - it becomes an art. So that art form can be gardening, cooking, dancing, skating, painting - any act whatsoever where I am “doing” - and elevate it to an expression of creating. So this could even be how I am walking, talking, thinking. It can all be elevated to the level of an art-form. And so the “Art of Being” is my next bullseye, because it’s the delicate and harmonized expression of the masculine and feminine energies together in real time through “wei wu-wei,” or “being non-being.” It’s the space between the moments, or the weightlessness of the loosing of the arrow. But to what I was saying earlier, I clarify this around art so that everyone can tap into their own source of being an artist. If you garden or cook or teach intentionally with repetition, effort, and creativity, then you are doing art. Humans are the only known creatures that can experience a piece of art, film, or music and feel inspired. So to feel inspired by a piece of art is in part what defines our humanity. And to be able to transmit spirit from one person to another through an act of expression - that’s where humanity and spirituality meet. Not as a cultural or even conscious thing - but as a personal experience. And it’s a birthright that we’re all invited to. This isn’t just for people who paint and draw. So yeah, daily life as a spiritual exercise, that’s my next art on my three-dimensional canvas of reality. Make it dedicated to a vision of service, fill it with love, and now I’ve got a recipe - rather a design for a living that makes my days enjoyable, beautiful, purposeful, and avoiding the crazy suffering I can produce within the mass box between my ears.

EDDIE: I hear you have an intersection with LOVE CITY coming up. LOVE SOUTH BAY STYLE.

RAFAEL: I’m so excited to get to talk about this, thank you for asking me about it. First off, thank you Eddie and Laura for including us in your national series of art experiences: love expressed in our own local style. What a great idea! I feel like our world needs this now more than ever. First off, let’s dimensionalize this word and concept of love. In my Friday morning Wisdom meeting two weeks back, someone pointed out that there’s like 96 different words in Sanskrit for love…and our shallow modern western conception is about romance and chocolates…or even a universal/God/ love when I’m hanging in the right circles. But how about agape love, brotherhood and fellowship love, compassion and “mudita” - which means having joy for someone else’s joy. We don’t have a word for mudita in the English language, and I can’t help but think it’s a contributor to us practicing it infrequently. To me, I’d define love as the energy and frequency of experiencing beauty. That’s inspired by Dr. Zach Bush - and I think it might be my favorite definition of the concept I’ve heard yet. But whether it’s joy, compassion, gratitude, beauty, connection, devotion these are like looking at the Jewel of Love from different perspectives, and they’re all true because they are all heartcentered states-of-being and expressions. And so ‘Love South Bay Style’, is going to be a reflection of that heartcentered living, and heart-centered philosophy that is currently weaving together the tapestry of South bay’s creative

41 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Daily life as a spiritual exercise, that’s my next art on my three-dimensional canvas of reality. RAFAEL MCMASTER

CHAIRMAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INDIVISIBLE ARTS Photo Credit: Kevin Gilligan 42 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“…the 18.5 inch journey from the head to the heart.” RAFAEL: (continued) arts scene. Atop of all the great visual artists showcasing at the exhibit, the entire day will be an experience featuring spiritual and healing artists who are inspired by the vision of heart-centered living in practices. Farnaz Reneker, who is actually the Spiritual Director for our nonprofit, will be doing a heart-centered sound healing experience. She’s masterful, and if you’ve never been to a sound bath, they can be transformative, especially when done by someone so intentional. Farnaz also wrote the book “The Love-frequency” during the pandemic, which we can have her do a reading from. There’s another amazing local Lindsay Rielly who helps teach the youth in our program at Resin. She wrote a book “The Happy Heart Journal - 365 Days of Happy” that is phenomenal, and she’ll be doing a heart-centered workshop during the day. And many more things. We're going to program an entire daylong adventure inward - taking people on the 18.5 inch journey from the head to the heart. You know, the root word for inspiration - which is actually the specific energy quality attributed to the heart chakra - comes from Ancient Greek word, “Spiros,” meaning spirit. So inspiration translates pretty directly to “breathing in spirit.” And so that’s our hope: for our audience and community to come celebrate a day with me and you, focusing on our hearts - Love South Bay Style, and they leave inspired and rejuvenated on the heart level, because they’ve been breathing in air all day and we’ve been facilitating spiritual uplift, helping them turn their oxygen intake into bio-electric energy centered from the heart - in essence, spirit. This is the energetic alchemy that Love and Art can do together. That’s the Magic. ∎

INDIVISIBLE ARTS

indivisiblearts.org

Photo Credit: Indivisible Arts 43 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Be careful, you are not in Wonderland. I've heard the strange madness long growing in your soul. But you are fortunate in your ignorance in your isolation. You who have suffered find where love hides. Give. Share. Lose. Lest we all die unbloomed. - Allen Ginsberg ‘POETRY WITH PURPOSE’


I don’t remember knowing what love was as a child, yet I remember longing for it. LAURA SHARPE

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAUMA SURVIVOR & ARTIST 46 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘FELLOW TRAVELERS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LAURA SHARPE

ABOUT & FROM LOVE THE MANY LEARNINGS WE HAVE

I‘m not sure when I first felt the feeling of LOVE. My early memories related more to feeling abandoned, confused, and un-loved? I don’t remember knowing what love was as a child, yet I remember longing for it. How can you long for something that you do not know? Was I longing for attachment? Connection? Experiencing decades of life, death, and rebirth through multiple versions of self, it is my belief love is the greatest intangible of all time. What is love? My interpretation and definition of LOVE is that it is a positive ENERGY frequency that is intentionally sent and miraculously, osmotically received through relationship.

Love or the lack of love impacts our heart, body, mind, and soul in ways we identify only after the delivery or nondelivery. There are many interpretations, subjective and objective. How do we FEEL love? How do we SHOW AND GIVE love?

We have much to learn about love and much to learn from love… beginning with relationship. Relationship is composed of friendship, sexual attraction, intellectual compatibility, and, of course, love. Love is the glue that keeps a relationship strong and solid. It is deeply biological.

But what is love, and how do you know if you are truly in love? It is difficult to define love because everyone’s perception of real love can be dramatically different. People often get confused between lust, attraction, and companionship.

Love is one of the most profound emotions humans experience. It is a combination of attraction and closeness. The person we feel attracted or close to is the person we are, usually, in love with. Such a person can be a friend, parent, siblings, or even our pet. Such love is based on a feeling of attraction or affection.

Is love an emotion? Yes. Can abstract emotions such as love be defined in specific terms? Not so easily. Emotions and feelings may often be confused for love.

Scientifically, love is the intricate dance between two neuropeptides that both regulate our ability to love and influence health and well-being. One element that repeatedly appears in the biochemistry of love is the neuropeptide, oxytocin.

Love is deeply biological and an epigenetic phenomenon: fundamentally, social behaviors, emotional attachment to others and long-lasting reciprocal relationships are plastic and adaptive.

The ability to interact dynamically with other living organisms to support each other evolved early. Research into how love protects us against stress and disease is in its infancy.

47 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Our brains interpret the primal messages of love, weaving a narrative around incoming visceral experiences. LAURA SHARPE

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAUMA SURVIVOR & ARTIST 48 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“We as people potentially react to that narrative rather than reality.” Emotional bonds can form during periods of extreme duress, especially when the survival of one depends on support of another. Oxytocin is released in response to stressful experiences, serving as hormonal ‘insurance' against overwhelming stress.

Human love is more complex. Love might create its own reality. Oxytocin might help to stabilize loving relationships, ensuring we seek and receive support from others. Our human brain ‘in love' floods with sensations, transmitted by the vagus nerve, creating much of what we experience as emotion. Both oxytocin and the experience of love change over time.

Our brains interpret the primal messages of love, weaving a narrative around incoming visceral experiences. We as people potentially react to that narrative rather than reality.

Artists For Trauma (AFT) ‘ Roll With It, Flow With It’ 1st Adaptive Fashion Show features 18 adult trauma survivors. Laura Sharpe produced this collaboration with Macy’s Topanga Plaza, Koziak Productions, Valley Cultural Center, and Rickie Byars Beckwith ‘RAJ Music Festival’. AFT Fashion Show Models are an inspiring collective of adult quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees, legally blind, re-landscaped and slow ambulatory individuals who are recovering from spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, disfiguring burns, PTSD, skeletal reconfiguration and limb loss, mental and emotional reconstruction. Trauma survivors can be and are cool, fun, confident, sexy, gorgeous, hip, and fashionable too!

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA (AFT) ‘ROLL WITH IT, FLOW WITH IT’ AFT’S 1ST ADAPTIVE FASHION SHOW FEATURING 18 ADULT TRAUMA SURVIVORS

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I am grateful for the many faces of love. LAURA SHARPE

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAUMA SURVIVOR & ARTIST 50 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“As a fellow traveler and wisdom seeker, my life has been a constant journey to better understand love…” Love is not without danger. The behaviors and strong emotions triggered by love might leave us vulnerable. Failed relationships can have devastating, even deadly, effects.

There is an old saying that ‘love heals’. We know there is truth to this. The biology of love originates in the primitive parts of the brain—the emotional core of the human nervous system. The heart relies on oxytocin as part the process of protection and self-healing.

These molecules of love have restorative properties, including the ability to literally heal a ‘broken heart'.

A life without love is not a life fully lived. It pervades every aspect of our lives and has inspired countless works of art.

As a fellow traveler and wisdom seeker, my life has been a constant journey to better understand love, the feeling of it, how to respectfully recognize, receive and express it. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE MANY FACES OF LOVE . . .

Despite the many faces of trauma, there is great opportunity for quality healing from all traumas through intentional love. Shared below are various expressions of LOVE through poetry, music, fashion, and other collaborative healing through art activations.

At the end of the day, the most important energy activation we can share with our-selves and with each other is intentional love. ∎ RESOURCES

What is love?: www.marriage.com/advice/love/the-true-meaning-of-love-in-a-relationship

The biochemistry of love: an oxytocin hypothesis: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3537144

Artists For Trauma: www.artistsfortrauma.org

Valley Cultural Center, Woodland Hills, CA: www.valleycultural.org

Macy’s Topanga Plaza, Canoga Park, CA: www.macys.com

Koziak Productions: www.koziakproductions.com

California Rehabilitation Institute: www.californiarehabinstitute.com

Bezgraniz Couture: www.bezgranizcouture.org/#about

Infinite Flow Wheelchair Dance Co: www.infiniteflowdance.org

Next Step Fitness in Lawndale, CA: www.nextstepfitness.org

LAURA SHARPE

Artists For Trauma Founder & Executive Director, Trauma Survivor & Artist www.awarenessties.us/laura-sharpe LAURA SHARPE contributes to AwareNow with her exclusive column, ‘Fellow Travelers’. Trauma, tragedy and miracle are all part of the life process. They do not discriminate nor are they fairly distributed. Simultaneously they occur across all diverse cultures, countries, colors, ethnicities, genders, religious beliefs, and dimensions of time and thought on planet Earth. In this process of life, birth and re-birth; decay and destruction are integral to creating new life. As fellow travelers, we are mindful, compassionate, and intentional through our attitude and actions to one another. We share our authentic personal story of survival or service to offer relatability, respect and hope to others who are navigating intense physical, mental and emotional life impact. Uncomfortably or joyfully, we share the range of human emotions related to our personal trauma or miracle. In the end or the new beginning, we learn we are all fellow travelers.

51 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I realized I’d found a new purpose that I didn’t know I needed. ROB MCQUEEN

FIELD OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, WAVES FOR WATER, CLEAN WATER CORPS Photo Credit: Waves For Water 52 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ROB MCQUEEN

CLEAN WATER CORPS

A VETERAN BASED CLEAN WATER TASK FORCE Headed by former U.S. Army Officer, Rob McQueen, the Clean Water Corps (CWC), Waves For Water’s newest division, serves as a specialized clean water task force, sharply focused on combating the global water crisis. It is operated entirely by veterans—many of them, though they have transitioned from active duty, are still keen to be out there in the world, applying their knowledge and expertise, into something bigger than oneself. ALLIÉ: After 10 years as an officer of the U.S. Army Special Operations, your commitment to service continued. You took on a new mission - the global water crisis. As the head of the veterans division of Waves For Water, the Clean Water Corps, I’d love to hear the story of how this all started.

ROB: When I first went to Afghanistan in 2012 I was attached to Seal Team 2, had a big pre mission and was getting ready to roll out. During workup, a good friend of mine, Mike, reached out. He had worked with Jon, Christian and Troy. Waves For Water had worked with him while he was a company commander in Afghanistan. So he's like, "Hey, if you're going to Afghanistan, you have to talk to these guys." So, I called Jon. We had a short conversation. He sent me a filter or two, and I then deployed to Afghanistan. Just the area I was in and the mission set I was working was

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I’m a piece of something that’s bigger than me. ROB MCQUEEN

FIELD OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, WAVES FOR WATER, CLEAN WATER CORPS Photo Credit: Waves For Water 54 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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ROB: (continued) way too kinetic for me to be able to bring in a nonprofit. It just didn't make sense. It was just more of a gun fighting environment. I just didn't have the structure and the amount of people to really take care of them. We were just small bases, moving village to village. It just wasn't gonna work.

Fast forward, with my next team I take, I end up going to run a small mission out of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. While I'm there, I just happen to be kind of the lead in the U.S. response to the flooding in 2014. So, in 2014, the Balkans had the worst flooding in a hundred years. Almost over a million people were displaced overnight. It was crazy. And I was like, "Hey, wait a minute. I remember a guy that did this." We'd found four or five... I think it was actually 15 communities that were completely cut off by mudslides and flooding, and all of their water sources were open water sources at the time. The massive amount of rain that came through had just washed a ton of contamination into those water sources. We've got these cutoff facilities. We can't get water out to them via truck. And I was like, "I think I know a filter guy." So, I went back to Mike and said, "Do you remember the guy you could put me in touch with?" He's like, "Yeah, Jon Rose at Waves For Water." I asked if I could get his number again. I called Jon, and he ended up coming over. We borrowed a pilot and a Bosnian helicopter. It was like an old Vietnam era Huey helicopter... swear to God, Post-it Notes on the switches. The pilot pretended to not speak English for the first day of flying... I've flown in a lot of different airframes all over the world, and I'm flying with this guy. He doesn't speak English. I don't know where we're going. We're flying through like crazy mountain passes and landing on hillsides. And Jon is looking at me like, "This is awesome!" I was like, "We're all gonna die." <laugh> It turned out that the pilot had something like over 3,000 hours. The guy was just an incredible pilot. He completely spoke English and was just messing with me for almost a day and a half. He's like, "No, I speak English, man. I was just messing with you." So, Jon and I flew around for a couple days and did work in a few different communities. It was great. It kind of started a friendship. We ended up bringing in Christian, Troy, and a second rotation. We ended up flying to a few more communities with the European Union's military forces. It just became a good partnership.

Fast forward again, I'm in another job, and I'm just kind of looking for that next piece. As an officer, I was lucky enough to have most of my career be operational, but at some point you just end up moving to a desk and a computer and PowerPoint. And that was just never where I wanted to go. And so as I'm looking at what's next for me, I reconnected with Jon. We started chatting and he asked me if I would help him build a veteran division. I told him I'd love to do that. And then about a month and a half later, he goes, "Hey, I know you're thinking about getting out. Would you leave and come build it and run it for me?" And I was like, "Absolutely." We started with the initial iteration and just a few people. We've revamped our model for the best way to take the amazing skill sets the vets have and build another team and another purpose. And we went from there. So, that's the obscenely long story of how we got to this point.

ALLIÉ: Not only does the Clean Water Corps give communities clean water to drink, it gives veterans another chance to serve. Rob, does this help in transitioning from active duty service?

ROB: The military is a very unique place. What you have is this group and family that is difficult to explain, right? You have a mixture of people from all walks of life that are all willing to put their life on their line for you. And it's all for the same goal and the same purpose. So, whatever job you're doing in the military, you're all working towards the same goal. That creates this, this sense of purpose... this sense of identity that's really, really difficult to pass on. So when you leave the military, it's a transition. My wife and I went through this too. Even for a spouse, my wife went from being a military spouse for over 12 years. And then all of a sudden she's like, "Wait, what am I now?"

It's become a really amazing thing. For me, I think the easiest way to put it is like this. When I was getting out, I was like, "Hey, this is gonna be an easy transition for me. I'm gonna jump right into this new job. It's gonna be amazing. And it's just gonna go easy. And then I get to build something that helps other veterans." I thought it was great. Then about halfway into it, I realized that maybe I was struggling a little bit. And I still remember this day, following hurricane Maria probably about six or seven months into our hurricane Maria response. I remember sitting at Wilderness in Puerto Rico and being like, "I'm a little broken, and this is finally the thing." I realized I'd found a new purpose that I didn't know I needed. 55 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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The impact it had on me was…‘life-changing’. ROB MCQUEEN

FIELD OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, WAVES FOR WATER, CLEAN WATER CORPS Photo Credit: Waves For Water 56 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“I built this to help other vets, and I ended up helping myself.” ROB: (continued) I thought just stepping into the job would be it, but I really had to get into the people. Honestly, since I was in Puerto Rico when Maria hit, I went through a little bit of trauma and recovery. It really became a thing where I built this to help other vets, and I ended up helping myself. In that process, we created a platform that really does help because if you have a group of people all working towards the same goal, who all have a similar shared background in some shared trauma, it just creates an amazing place for you to just say, "Hey, I'm a piece of something that's bigger than me. Now I can pick up and continue to serve and continue to move forward." And that is an incredibly important part of transitioning from the military. I completely underestimated how important that was gonna be when I left. And I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity that Jon has given me and other vets by helping me build the Clean Water Corps.

ALLIÉ: Having previous exposure to other cultures while serving in the military, veterans must have an incredible advantage in this line of work. Is working with different cultures and communities a skill that is second nature to the veterans in your program?

ROB: Absolutely. When we look at who we bring into the corps and the people that honestly gravitate towards it, quite a few have come from the special operations community, which is nested in being able to integrate work with cultures from all over the world. That is the baseline of army special operations. I need to be able to go to a village and integrate with whoever I need to in that village. I need to work by, with, and through them. So, that's a baseline, but if you look at what the military has been asked to do for the past 20 years, it's not the standard conventional mission. Even as a regular infantry platoon leader, I was managing relationships between tribes in Iraq. So, you just have learned to work in between cultures and navigate that and communicate, and really understand how to just look at it. The way I think the military does a very good job of training is that at the baseline, you're a human being. It doesn't matter where you grow up. It doesn't matter where you come from. It doesn't matter... your tribal affiliation, your religion or anything. We're all human beings... What it really comes down to is veterans have been exposed to different cultures in an amazing amount of circumstances at a very young age. I mean, you'd be amazed when an 18year-old soldier is asked to manage and how professional he's asked to behave in a very complex environment, and you just learn to do it well. And so the skill sets of veterans, especially through the global war on terror, really fits so well with being able to move to any environment on the planet, build a relationship with the people on the ground, and then have an impact that's gonna be lasting. Every time I see it, it makes me happy.

ALLIÉ: To date, the Clean Water Corps has launched 28 programs in 18 countries. The program has had so many wins. Rob, for you personally, what has been your biggest win with CWC?

ROB: Puerto Rico, hurricane Maria, hands down that is the personal win for me with the impact we were able to have. But as I mentioned earlier, the impact it had on me personally... I found myself on my 36th birthday sitting in a hotel with guys I'd met three days earlier, watching cars get blown down the street, watching the world end outside... Just the next three days we spent like, "All right. How do we survive? Let's find a place for you and your family. Let's do this... Let's fly to the Virgin Islands to continue the work. Let's come back. Let's move out to the West."

But in that process and being so embedded in it from the beginning, not just showing up after the event, but actually being there from the beginning, the team that I worked with over there have become a second family to me and my family. They're the most incredible people I've ever known. And then just the ability months later to run into people that

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Exclusive Interview with Rob McQueen

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“Find a way to just take a piece of that problem, and make an impact.” ROB: (continued) would have our sticker on the back of their car and be out surfing, they'd be like, "You guys are Waves For Water. You saved my life." And it was just such an incredible personal experience for me. It was the first disaster piece that I owned and managed. That made it very important. The personal aspect of it and the impact it had on me and my life was, I mean, for lack of a better term, 'life-changing'. And the people and relationships that I made from that changed my life. And it's been the best experience I've had in the Clean Water Corps. For me personally, watching other veterans have the same experience for some of my crew in Mozambique and Costa Rica and Mongolia, those things every day make me incredibly happy for this opportunity.

ALLIÉ: For those, like yourself, who have dedicated their lives to the service of others, when it seems the task at hand is too great and the mission seems nearly impossible, what advice do you have?

ROB: I always go back to a small saying that I learned in high school Spanish. It was 'poco a poco uno va lejos', which just means 'little by little one goes far'. So, if you try to approach a problem, especially a large complex problem, in the way of "I'm going to solve this," it's just so overwhelming. You won't even know where to begin, but if you can take a look at a system and something that's important to you and realize what small piece of this you can do... then you can find a starting point. You can find people with similar interests and groups that are finding the same line that you can step in and you can start to make a difference. Once you do that, then it just grows from there.

Jon and I have this conversation all the time. There is such a huge problem in the global water crisis. Access to clean water is so important and is so challenging that there will never be enough organizations trying to tackle it. And so we try to do our part and work and focus on those kinds of austere, remote environments, conflict zones, the places that most organizations can't or won't go to, and we just find our piece and try to bite that off from there. So, I'd recommend to anyone trying to get involved to do the same thing. Find what you're passionate about. Find a way to just take a piece of that problem, and make an impact. ∎

CLEAN WATER CORPS

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I’m averaging about 40 miles a day, with the longest being around 50. SHAN RIGGS

ULTRAMARATHON RUNNER Photo Credit: Shan Riggs/Joshuaine Grant 60 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAN RIGGS

RECORD SETTING RIGGS PUTTING IN MILES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Ultramarathon runner Shan Riggs is attempting to be the first to run the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway from Key West to Canada, alongside his partner, Joshuaine (Josh) Grant, who is transporting their supplies on a bike trailer. He is running to raise awareness and funds to support the East Coast Greenway. I joined him on his run via a video call to connect and catch up. Yes, I officially get to say, “I ran with Shan.” ALLIÉ: Allow me to begin by saying I’m super excited to be ‘Running with Riggs’, actually and literally running with you. Granted, I'm in Owosso, Michigan. Where are you at?

SHAN: I'm in Maryland. I'm in a suburb of Annapolis. Today, I'm gonna finish and someone's given us a place to stay here in Annapolis.

ALLIÉ: Awesome. Let's talk for a moment here about where you're running and why you're running. Let's talk about the East Coast Greenway. How green is it? I've been wanting to ask you that.

SHAN: Well, it's pretty green right here. I started April 16th in Key West. So far, it's been lot of cities, but it's hot and it's been pretty green.

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ALLIÉ: 3,000 miles. Some people probably don't walk that far in their life. Shan, there are those who walk the walk, but you run it. You are literally running it. Why? Give us the story about why you're running these 3,000 miles.

SHAN: So, I guess it starts in 2020. For years I've done multi-day runs in order to raise money for a variety of charities in different places around the globe, with my biggest being in 2020 where I ran across the United States from San Francisco to Connecticut for FoodShare, which is part of Feeding America. After that, we were looking for the next big thing. My partner, Joshuaine Grant, recommended the East Coast Greenway. She pointed out to me that the Greenway from south to north is the same distance as going across the country from west to east, which I didn't realize. But when you look at a map, you see that Key West, FL to Canada is about the same. And no one has ever run it before. There have been people that have biked it. It's a multi-use biking trail that connects 15 states and more than 450 cities and towns. I'd worked with the East Coast Greenway a little bit for some races we'd organized in Connecticut. And so I called them and said this is the thing we're planning to do. We wanted it to raise awareness and to raise money for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which is the small nonprofit that's helping to organize these trails. So, it's a 3,000 mile trail, about 1,000 of which is a connected trail. And then the rest of it is a variety of roads, mostly, which is why I had to pause when we first got on the line. Some of these areas are busy roads that are still a work in progress, which is part of the point of this. We want people to be aware that it is a work in progress and needs the support of the communities that it goes through for funding to make it a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists. And now, we're over halfway there, making our way north.

ALLIÉ: That is amazing. This just blows my mind. Not only have you run the whole length of this country from west to east, but now you're doing it from south to north. What an incredible accomplishment.

SHAN: You really feel like you see the country when you see it on foot. I know, because I've done it in a variety of ways, as you said from west to east and now south to north. You get an appreciation for the place. This is a lot different than my 2020 run that was very remote. I was in deserts, mountains and cornfields. Here, it's a lot of cities. Yesterday was really cool. We got to go through DC and it goes right down the mall. So we got to see all the monuments and everything. And we'll go through Manhattan and pretty much every major city on the Eastern seaboard. We'll go right through the middle. It's way different than going from west to east, but it's got its own charms. <laugh>

ALLIÉ: I can imagine it does. Now, let's talk more about miles. What is the most and least you've run in a day on your journey so far?

SHAN: I'm averaging about 40 miles a day, with the longest being around 50. I did take one rest day. I fell and busted my knee. So, I took one rest day. The lowest running day, I think, has been around 30 miles. It all depends on where we can find a place to stay. We're staying in a variety of hotels and Airbnbs. A lot of times, like tonight and tomorrow night, in Baltimore people are giving us their guest room because they support what we're doing. They support the Greenway or cyclists that come through. So, it's been fun in that we've met a lot of different people that have helped us along the way.

ALLIÉ: Incredible, Shan. So much variety in terms of your experiences, both in what you're seeing and people you're meeting. It's an incredible journey. Now as incredible as it is, and please be very honest, are there days where you just say, "Yeah, I don't feel like running today."

SHAN: Yeah, like every morning when I hear the alarm at 4:30 a.m. We have to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning. We've been dealing with a lot of 90 plus degree days and full humidity. It's been so humid. I basically just feel like I've just jumped out of the shower or pool or something. My fingers are always pruny. Today's not quite as bad. It's a nice day. It's in the 80s, and the humidity is not as bad. We're finally working our way out of the deep south. Hopefully, it won't be quite as humid, but we'll see.

ALLIÉ: Let's talk about eating. When I was in cross country, way back in high school, it was "eat pasta, run fasta". That was the thing. But what about you? What about your diet on the run? What are you eating?

SHAN: This is a little different because I'm running day after day, all day. And so the food is really focused around recovery. I eat tons of protein and good fats. Carbs will come, because I'm just eating a lot - everything that I can 63 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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It’s whatever people can do to make their communities a little bit nicer and safer. SHAN RIGGS

ULTRAMARATHON RUNNER Photo Credit: Shan Riggs/Joshuaine Grant 64 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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SHAN: (continued) stomach. It's usually around 5,000 calories a day. I mostly eat meals. I don't like to do gels because it's too much sugar and just gross. I stick to regular meals and just eat lots of them, especially at night when we're done.

ALLIÉ: So, we've been talking for not long and already I'm winded. Your days of running all day every day, is it just like walking? Is it just like breathing for you at this point?

SHAN: I think there's a little bit of that. I mean, I've been doing marathons and ultramarathons for a long time. You do have to get used to it. If I was huffing and puffing at an eight or nine minute miles, I would never make it. Having said that, the constant pounding causes problems. My feet hurt. My joints hurt. Luckily, I'm not too sore in the morning every day. And that's why I like doing 40 miles a day. It's enough where it's hard, but I have time enough at night to recover and do it the next day.

ALLIÉ: So when you're not running, eating or sleeping on this journey, I would imagine there are a lot of epsom salt baths? Or no?

SHAN: No. If I stretched, did roles and had massages, that would take up my whole day. So, I never did much of that stuff, and I'm glad I don't have to spend a lot of time that way. So basically, no. I don't do any of those things.

ALLIÉ: Well, you are an inspiration to so many. You're an inspiration to me, who used to be a runner and should be again. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you for raising awareness and inspiring an appreciation for the value of the nature and the resources around us -- these incredible trails that we have all across our country and specifically the East Coast Greenway. You're making me want to take a trip out east and give this trail a try.

SHAN: That's what this is about. There are a lot of really beautiful trails. I've got a website setup, www.eastcoastgreenwayexpedition.com. There people can follow along, connect with our socials and donate... Hopefully it does inspire people to get out and use the trails and tell your politicians to support them. It's whatever people can do to make their communities a little bit nicer and safer.

ALLIÉ: Right. Thank you so much again, Shan, for helping all of us become a bit more aware now, and thank you for giving me good reason to get out and get a run in today.

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There’s absolute comradeship. It’s a fellowship without religion. MJ PARANZINO

CO-FOUNDER OF LIBERTY CHOIR 66 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

MJ PARANZINO & GINNY DOUGARY Photo by: Georgina Piper www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MJ PARANZINO & GINNY DOUGARY

FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY UNLOCKING HEARTS THROUGH SONG

Liberty Choir was dreamed up by MJ Paranzino, singer, composer and choir director, and her partner, journalist and writer, Ginny Dougary, more than ten years ago. Their idea was a full circle charity. The first part where the seeds of hope are sown, takes the volunteers from MJ’s Choirs and others into prisons to create choirs with inmates in a continuous programme of choir singing. The second part of the circle is when the seeds flower outside prison as the ex-offenders are ready to be released and become Liberty Choir graduates joining MJ’s Choirs, where they recognize familiar faces and friends as part of a community outside of prison. ALLIÉ: MJ and Ginny, you’ve created something special. Please tell us how the story of Liberty Choir began.

GINNY: I'll say this about how it started. It was organic. MJ is a singer with an amazing, fabulous voice. She's a composer and a choir director. She does vocal workshops with all sorts of famous people and so on. But back to the community choirs, she has four of them. Various times there've been up to 300 singers, and sometimes they all get together for events. And MJ had this community outreach through song idea, where you don't just sing – you sing at amazing places. We’ve done like the Victoria and Albert Museum…

MJ: Highclere Castle

GINNY: Yes, Highclear Castle, AKA Downton Abbey. Where else have we done?

MJ: Westminster

GINNY: Yes, Central Hall Westminster. So, amazing places and great festivals and so on. But at the core of it was that we would also do community outreach through song where we would go and do more that just perform. We would then go and talk. It wouldn't just be a performance.

MJ: Yes, because I have a belief that you don't just go do a good deed and say “Well done” and disappear. The singing is wonderful and you get everybody to participate, but the good deed is staying and actually talking to people. At the Royal Neurological Hospital with people who have had an accident or have a neurological disease, people want to communicate. Some people are wheelchair bound with their family members, and you've sung a song. And maybe the person's only response is that they can grunt back to you, but they're communicating with you. To different audiences (people with Down Syndrome, senior citizens, children, et cetera) you’ve sung a song. You’ve sung several songs of different varieties to them. You explain them. You ask people to participate in them. But really the gift is staying and actually socializing with the people. 67 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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MJ is utterly fearless. GINNY DOUGARY

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“It had to be an integrated choir – one choir of prisoners and community choir singers.” GINNY: So then, this development with Liberty Choir started when we were invited into a psychiatric unit where people are committed for their own safety and the safety of the public. These are people with schizophrenia, psychosis, multiple personality disorders and so on. A doctor there just had heard of MJ and her inspirational ways with her community choirs and thought that we could do something together. So, we went and formed a mixed choir of the psychiatric patients with their caretakers in that place and the choir volunteers. It was an integrated choir that was effective beyond this woman's wildest dreams. She wrote a report that actually got the runner up award in the National Health Service Mental Health Awards.

Around that same time, we had been invited, again because of MJ’s reputation as a brilliant choir director, for a performance in Lewes Prison in Sussex. HMP Lewes, where we performed, was our first performance in a prison. And there were some quite hostile prisoners with this engagement, and MJ pinpointed one particular guy…

MJ: Well, I could tell he was the leader. I thought, “Ok, buddy… let’s go.”

GINNY: And MJ is utterly fearless. So, you know, I'm the very British kind of journalist like, “Oh, pipe it down”, and she's that kind of exuberant American. And I mean, she was never more fearless than on that day. She said, “Hey, come on guys. Come participate. You might as well, what else are you doing?” And of course they all broke up and in the end she completely won them all around. Particularly this ring leader.

Yes, we did a performance at the prison, but MJ realized that was absolutely not what she wanted to do there. It could not be just coming in doing the easy thing. It couldn’t just be a performance. It had to be the community on the outside coming in. It had to be an integrated choir – one choir of prisoners and community choir singers. Hence, the first idea for Liberty Choir.

MJ: Yes. I think whether it’s forensic psychiatric wards for people with schizophrenia or other neurological diseases or prisons where 72% suffer from a mental illness and 79% from a drug addition, some people have made poor choices. And, these are people who’ve come from both good and bad families.

As someone who was raised in an Italian-American Jewish family, fought for equal rights in the seventies, and performed as a gay entertainer for over 20 years in America, I had value, worth and intellect. I was raised in a family where I was very much loved. I knew that I was given permission to be anything I wanted to be, even though when I realized that I was gay, it frightened me to tell my parents of course, and all that kind of stuff.

Because I had a voice, people always asked me to come in and sing, but I would think if I'm the only one coming in and singing, then nobody else is going to be heard.

Somebody in prison is easy to avoid. It's easy to lock people away and then never resolve the issue. And of course, in the news, you always hear about the horrific person who's committed this horrible crime. And I thought, is everyone in prison bad? Or have they just made bad choices?

I know that I've benefited from being loved, nurtured and educated. People have been kind to me. People have also been jerks to me too, as a gay person. People have been jerks to me just cause I'm a woman, you know, for fighting for equality. But in my life, there have been more people that understood me and cared for me. You know that saying that goes “on their shoulders, here I am…” There are more people that wanna do that. 69 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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LIBERTY CHOIR Photo by: Mark Harrison

“You’re learning things without knowing you’re learning. That's what happens in choir.” That absolutely was my thing. When you bring people in with music --when you sing together-- it's a community choir. So, my choirs are non-auditioning, singing all styles of music. From opera like Carmen, “March of the Toreadors” to “I Predict A Riot” Uptown Funk to “It Don't Mean A Thing (If They Ain’t Got That Swing)” to Hamilton, I want people to be exposed to all styles of music. I want to give them reggae to rap. And even though you may not understand rap, it doesn't mean you can't do it. It just may be harder because you're not of that generation. So it may take you longer to learn it and understand it, just like it would be if you're singing something operatic or whatever. And it doesn't mean that you have to be ready to audition for X Factor. It's the point that you're doing it together. You're breathing together. You're singing words together. You're learning about phrasing and diction and math. You're learning things without knowing you're learning. That's what happens in choir.

So now if you take that into a prison environment, you discover they are people just like the people in the community choir. On both levels, everybody's recognizing each other and seeing that they're actually the same. So somebody who's grown up in England, as they say “grown up on the state” (or as we'd say in America, “grown up in the projects”) is sitting next to somebody who may be posh, like Ginny or somebody who is working class. Here they are all ages, all backgrounds, and all mingling together… prisoners and community volunteers sitting together, breathing together, doing Vivaldi’s Gloria or Jessie J’s Price Tag. Together, it's socialized singing. So, you socialize and you sing together. and all of a sudden you show up every week. The one thing that the prisoners know is every week, we're coming, no matter what.

It’s somebody giving their time in the afternoon that gives acknowledgement that they, as prisoners, actually exist. And in that space, it's a safe place. You don't have to put your eyes down. There's absolute comradeship. It’s a fellowship without religion. It's just people being together and singing. We giggle, and we laugh. We're moved by the words or the melody or the passion of a piece. We unite. In essence, Liberty Choir is people going into a choir environment while in a prison, and when they come out, they can join the community choirs and be supported through friendship. We're not gonna pay the rent for their apartment. But we'll help them orchestrate the system in a group. So, that’s what happens in Liberty Choir. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO DONATE TO LIBERTY CHOIR:

libertychoir.org

70 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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There is a big difference between having hope and having a plan. CRYSTAL BAYAT

WRITER, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE & FOUNDER OF THE CRYSTAL BAYAT FOUNDATION 72 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CRYSTAL BAYAT & LORI BUTIERRIES

A POETIC PARTNERSHIP SISTERS IN SERVICE OF AFGHAN WOMEN

Poetry has the power to pull people together around borders and across cultures. This is the story of former female searcher/combat veteran, Lori Butierries and female Afghan activist/refugee, Crystal Bayat, who connected through poetry with a shared love for humanity in their efforts to raise awareness and promote positive change for the sisterhood in Afghanistan. ALLIÉ: Let’s start at the beginning, Lori. How did you and Crystal meet?

LORI: Crystal and I connected over Instagram after I tagged her in some poems I had written about her (e.g., "I Am a Million Voices,” “The Drums of War,” and "We Don't Talk About the Women of Afghanistan"). I didn’t expect a response back, so I was thrilled when Crystal responded.

ALLIÉ: Lori, your poem, ‘I Am A Million Voices’, became a movement for Afghan women to be seen and heard. What inspired you to write this piece and others about Crystal and Afghan women in general?

LORI: When the U.S. and NATO forces pulled out and gave Afghanistan back to the Taliban, I felt something inside me shatter. After twenty years of fighting, we quit and went home, abandoning our local allies and nation-building

A POETIC PARTNERSHIP EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CRYSTAL BAYAT & LORI BUTIERRIES

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Our efforts were not in vain! LORI BUTIERRIES

AUTHOR, NAVY VETERAN & MOTHER OF 2 WITH SPECIAL NEEDS 74 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

A POETIC PARTNERSHIP

Exclusive Interview with Crystal Bayat & Lori Butierries

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LORI: (continued) endeavors overnight. What was the point of staying in Afghanistan after Bin Laden was no longer a threat then? I wondered to myself. Was everything else after that all for nothing? I was beside myself with grief and anger. As I watched the news in August 2021, I thought all hope was lost for Afghanistan until I saw Crystal Bayat’s interview with NY Times. Crystal proved that change was not only wanted but that it was possible. Our efforts weren't in vain! Ms. Bayat is a female Afghan activist, and she participated in a protest on Afghanistan's Independence Day after the Taliban takeover. When asked to explain her actions, she stated, "Lots of women wanted to raise their voice, but still they had fear that they couldn't come out of their home. [So] I am raising the voice of a million women.” Her bravery in the face of almost certain death to stand up for her rights and those of her country inspired me to raise my voice (and pen) to amplify hers because no one should have to fight against injustice like that alone.

ALLIÉ: Crystal, what impact have Lori’s poems have on you?

CRYSTAL: Lori's poems have had beneficial effects on me. I was strongly motivated by her poems. Sometimes poetry can have positive and negative effects on people and change their lives. Her poems had beneficial and effective impacts on me because she expresses my pain and that of millions of people. I felt the poem was written for me and for the millions of women in Afghanistan. As a writer, I can relate to poetry very quickly; because writing and poetry closely relate to most of the feelings, thoughts, and pains that are the same.

ALLIÉ: What are your personal hopes and plans moving forward, Crystal?

CRYSTAL: There is a big difference between having hope and having a plan. We may have high hopes in life and it will remain at the level of hope. But the plan has an operational aspect. I hope for peace, equity, freedoom, justice and security throughout the world. I plan to work for Free Afghanistan from the atrocity of a terrorist group. A group that has taken thirty-five million people hostage. One of my plans to reach a free Afghanistan is through the Crystal Bayat Foundation. The foundation works with donors to provide humanitarian assistance for women protesters.

My other plan is a book I am writing. Through the book, I narrate the voices of millions of people. I plan to be in the media all the time, criticizing the withdrawal of the United States Biden administration and calling on the international community to support the people of Afghanistan. I plan to work on eradicating Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan and strengthening secularism in the region. ∎

CRYSTAL BAYAT FOUNDATION

crystalbayat.org

75 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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76 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY WITH UPPERWOOD FOUNDATION & AWARENESS TIES

AWARENOW AFGHANISTAN AFGHAN STORIES UNTOLD (UNTIL NOW)

In collaboration with the Upperwood Foundation, Awareness Ties recently released this story as a press release announcing AwareNow Afghanistan, a quarterly publication for the untold stories of Afghanistan to be publicly seen and heard. AwareNow Magazine, a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties, recently released an all-Afghanistan magazine chronicling humanitarian disasters occurring in Afghanistan since the U.S. military withdrawal in August 2021. Awareness Ties has collaborated on this special publication with the Upperwood Foundation, created by aviation and technology entrepreneurs Marcel and Barry Oberholzer.

AwareNow Magazine, known for bringing to light never before seen or heard stories released the inaugural issue, ‘The War Edition’, with the Upperwood Foundation on Memorial Day in honor of the American and Afghan military who perished fighting in Afghanistan. ‘Shona ba Shona’, or ‘shoulder to shoulder’, was the motto used by American and Afghan military forces to describe the reliance both forces placed on one another during two decades together fighting the war on terror.

“These are stories that haven’t been seen or heard until now. This special issue started as a single story, and then a second, and a third. Within weeks we decided there was a need for a new publication, AwareNow Afghanistan, with more special issues planned quarterly,” said Allié McGuire, Co-Founder of Awareness Ties and Editor-in-Chief of AwareNow. “We stand behind our Afghan Allies who stood with us in the war on terror. Right now, history is being written. We give you original and organic content about the horrors occurring every day in Afghanistan and the successes on the front lines of resettlement in the U.S. People need to see the light within the dark.” Let these voice no longer be silenced amidst the violence. Please read, share and be aware. ∎

AWARENOW AFGHANISTAN (‘The War Edition)

www.awarenow.us/the-war-edition

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Perhaps you are more… ALLIÉ MCGUIRE

CO-FOUNDER OF AWARENESS TIES Photo Credit: Jack McGuire 78 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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ORIGINAL POEM BY ALLIÉ MCGUIRE

DANDELION

PERHAPS YOU ARE MORE For all those gifted a handful of dandelions carefully and proudly picked by their child, may we always with gratitude receive and give thanks for so much more than what others would deem as mere ‘weed’. There among the common grass

You stand as just a weed,

Appearing like a blessed flower

Although not what you seem.

Seldom see through grateful eyes

The vision of a flower.

Perhaps you are more

Than you are so often known to be.

79 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Seek to become a person of value. LEX GILLETTE

5X PARALYMPIC MEDALIST, 4X WORLD CHAMPION & KEYNOTE SPEAKER 80 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘NO NEED FOR SIGHT WHEN YOU HAVE VISION’ BY LEX GILLETTE

LOOK THROUGH A NEW LENS SIGHTS SET ON BECOMING A PERSON OF VALUE

If you know my story, then you’re probably aware that I lost my sight at the age of eight. It was a pivotal moment in my life, and the moment that I believe would help catapult me into a world of infinite possibility. But, let’s turn back the hands of time even farther to when I was three years old. At that tender age, my mom noticed that I would stand very close to the television to watch cartoons and other programming. Coincidentally, it was about that time when I would have my yearly physical. My mom mentioned her concern to the doctors and an eye examination revealed the cataract that was on my left eye.

This is National Cataract Awareness month.

We’re typically able to see clearly through the lens of the eye but cataracts cause cloudiness and as a result, it makes it difficult to see. I don’t know if there was any connection, but that cataract served as the precursor to my retina detachments which would lead to thirteen eye operations, ten of which occurred when I was eight years old. You probably know the rest.

That year is when doctors told me I’d most likely be blind for the rest of my life.

Cloudiness would then consume the lens of my mind’s eye.

That cloudiness creates uncertainty, fearful thoughts, and hesitation in our actions. These are all things that interfere with our ability to see clearly.

You may not be dealing with a literal cataract, but I want to help you look at life through a different lens. I hope you don’t mind.

Let’s start by not complaining.

Have you ever been around that person who complains all the time? Maybe not all the time, but a lot? It’s tough to be around. We hear it all the time and it’s true, there is always someone out there whose challenges are greater than yours. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t feel down or sad at times, those are human feelings. We all experience those things.

However, constant complaining isn’t going to change anything. Find something positive to focus on.

You’re reading this article right now so that should give you one positive. Your heart is beating. You’re breathing. You’re alive. There are a lot of people out there who can’t say the same. Let’s stop the complaining. The quicker we can focus on the positive, the quicker we get to achievement of our goals.

Take a break from social media. 81 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“We will all experience some level of blurred vision in life, but it doesn’t have to remain this way.” Technology has been a game changer for us all. I’m a firm believer that technology has been the great equalizer for me and others who live a similar experience. Our mobile phones can sometimes cloud our lens, especially the constant browsing of social media apps.

We sometimes swipe and swipe and swipe, only to see what others are doing. We see what others have and what we don’t have. We see the successes of others and that exacerbates our thoughts and feelings around what we don’t have. It’s exhausting. That can really take us to a dark place.

But there’s a quote that I heard a while back and the author escapes me. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone’s middle, or your middle to someone’s end.”

There will always be someone who has something that you don’t have. They might even experience things that you might not have experienced, and you may never experience those things. That’s life.

Never allow that to interfere with the amazingness that lies ahead for you. You too have some great things ahead, and the most important thing is continuing to work, to push forward. Your day is coming. If it takes you stepping away from social media to stay focused, do it. Don’t allow your sight-what you see now, to interfere with your vision-what you see for the future.

Seek to become a person of value.

When I was in the beginning stages of my athletic career, I saw my athlete friends getting shoe deals, beverage sponsors, and tv commercials. I wanted those same things, but never really understood how to get it. And let’s be honest, I wanted the money that came along with those things too.

My teammates were getting those opportunities because of the value that they brought to the table. Sure, they were amazing athletes who won a lot, but they were also great communicators. They could share their story in a way that could captivate a crowd. They were knowledgeable and could share that knowledge in a way that would positively impact the minds and lives of others. They didn’t focus on money, they focused on becoming people of value.

So, acquire as much knowledge as you can in the areas of life that interest you. Read as much as possible. Listen to things that will help elevate your thinking. Connect with other great minds that can help you level up. Do everything in your power to become a person of value because when you do this, success and opportunities will find you.

We will all experience some level of blurred vision in life, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. We do have the ability to change our perspective and create clarity not only in our eyes, but in our minds.

My hope is that the tips above will assist in you having a much clearer vision and lens to view life through. ∎ LEX GILLETTE

5x 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.

82 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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There was something about Baby 774. RUSS PRITCHARD U MEDICAL CORPS

Photo Credit: Russ Pritchard/Upperwood Foundation 84 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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PERSONAL STORY WITH RUSS PRITCHARD

BABY 774

A CAUSE & COMMITMENT TO NEVER QUIT 774. I’m not sure why this number hit me harder than the others. I remember when we hit 50, then 100, even 300, but it was mid-winter then in Afghanistan, and we were consumed with delivering food, winter clothing, and wood to heat homes. I was aware when we crossed 500. The spring fighting season had begun, and there was a palpable panic to get people out of Afghanistan against a tide of bureaucracy and an ever-contracting volunteer base as people faded away or shifted to Ukraine. 774. It began with a chat on Signal last September. It had been four weeks since the last U.S. plane had flown out of Kabul. I was crafting a story a day with my writing partner, Scott Chapman, an ex 2/75 Army Ranger, and the best mentor one could have on all things Afghanistan. Scott had deployed to Afghanistan twenty-two times over fifteen years in his various capacities in the military, government, and private contracting. Writing a story a day created awareness of the people left behind. Afghans found Scott and me hourly via social media and email. One of those people was an Afghan doctor, western trained with English textbooks, with impeccable language skills and a concern for humanity that permeated every conversation. He and his family were trapped in Afghanistan, and his refusal to work with the Taliban put him in grave jeopardy. Tribal issues, political, and religious ideologies meant nothing to this doctor. His concern, rather his calling, was to treat the ill. One day someone put out a plea for help on one of the many Signal chatrooms. They were in touch with someone in Afghanistan who in a diabetic crisis. Insulin was in short supply and could not be afforded by many. Did anyone know a doctor in Afghanistan who could speak to the patient directly? I did.

774. It grew from that one patient. The doctor I knew, via the internet only, started talking to a few patients here and there as word spread among the Signal chatrooms patrolled by volunteers with Afghanistan in common. The volunteers came from places like the United States, England, Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, Germany, Spain, France, India. Rarely did one hear the voices - only texts from country codes I looked up to see where they were from. Soon there were Signal chat rooms set up to respond to requests for medical help, and this doctor I knew suggested we should bring on some of his friends to help with the case load. I learned he was a medical school professor in addition to be a practicing a physician, and as a result he knew doctors all over Afghanistan. One night I shared with him I had been a flight medic and worked on helicopter medivacs and on a hospital code team during my college years. He suggested we develop a more formalized response to Afghan medical emergencies. If I got the word out to the volunteer community on the internet, he would enlist physicians he knew to handle what would be an ever-increasing patient load. It was 3:15am one night when we put together a triage plan of first contact coming from a primary care physician with a referral to the appropriate specialist. There were several stipulations. I must never share the list of doctors with anyone; they must never be on a computer that could be hacked; and all calls for help must come go through me for security reasons. That meant I took calls twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

774. The “Afghan Medical Corps”, an underground movement of physicians in Afghanistan treating patients in Afghanistan, grew rapidly and soon we were making house calls and transporting patients to hospitals. Since many of our patients were in hiding due to their family’s relationship with the U.S. military, creative means of transport had to be invented. It became apparent a whole subterranean population of Afghans existed in a perpetual state of hiding – 85 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: Russ Pritchard/Upperwood Foundation 86 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“I don’t know how it happened, but within a week or two we were receiving daily calls for assistance with pregnant women in Afghanistan…” afraid to be seen in public because the Taliban were executing former Afghan military daily – and in front of their families seemed to be the preferred method. In one weekend, we had a horrific tragedy and a momentous victory– both which shaped our trajectory and furthered our resolve. A doctor responding to a house call took his teenage cousin with him to carry medical supplies. The supplies were in an over the shoulder satchel. The medical emergency was a diabetic, former military, who had gone almost a month without insulin and was deteriorating rapidly. The Taliban stopped the doctor and his young cousin at a check point, demanded they empty their pockets, and turn over their phones. The teenager carrying the satchel of medical supplies stared down the Taliban guard while slowly taking the satchel off his shoulder. The Taliban soldier responded by shooting the boy in the face killing him. It was devastating to watch happen almost in real time via cell phone transmission. I thought it was the end of our Medical Corps. I didn’t think I could ever ask another Afghan doctor for help …. yet forty-eight hours later we delivered a baby in the field. Baby 1.

774. I don’t know how it happened, but within a week or two we were receiving daily calls for assistance with pregnant women in Afghanistan – who, for the most part, had ceased prenatal care in August when the country of Afghanistan collapsed to the Taliban takeover. Someone made up a joke “#pregnantcallRuss,” that spread through the Signal chat rooms, and I quipped that my name and number must be written on billboards in Afghanistan. The absence of prenatal care and the fear of going outside resulted in deliveries “in the field” that were neither safe nor clean, and Afghanistan already had one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world – before the Taliban. Two particularly horrific experiences made us realize we must find a better way for pregnant Afghan mothers to give birth. One was the birth and death of baby Abdul, who we wrote about in the all-Afghanistan issue of AwareNow Magazine, and the other was a C section done on a table in the basement of a bombed-out house by the light of cell phones from two physicians because the power was out in that section of Kabul. Some of the doctors suggested sneaking patients into clinics at night, but a mother’s labor does not know night from day, and we knew more formal relationships with maternity hospitals had to be developed. Around the same time, we received a call from a private foundation which asked how they could help – they called themselves the Upperwood Foundation.

774. Upperwood, founded and funded by aviation and technology entrepreneurs Marcel and Barry Oberholzer, yielded an open hand to funding a delivery program that would reduce infant and maternal mortality rates. We began a process of contacting medical directors at maternity hospitals referred by the more than three hundred doctors supporting our Medical Corps. The medical community in Afghanistan, like in any country, is a close one, and those referrals resulted with relationships with multiple hospitals throughout Afghanistan and the “birth” (pun fully intended) of the “Safe Delivery” program funded by the Upperwood Foundation. A generation of U (Upperwood) babies were coming into the world. Our birth rate took off, as did our creativity, because many our “referrals” came from Afghan military men in the continental U.S. and U.A.E. separated from their wives and families during the country’s collapse. These pregnant women, separated from their husbands, were at risk without the proper male escort. So once again, ingenuity was required, as was a system for catching up on the paperwork of our babies delivered in the field because if ever given the opportunity to come to the U.S. under the SIV, P1, or P2 programs, these babies would have to have their own passports. 87 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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It’s our own personal war – war against the infant and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan, war against the Taliban and what they do to women… RUSS PRITCHARD U MEDICAL CORPS

Photo Credit: Russ Pritchard 88 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“Are we winning? I have no idea. I do know our individual victories are palpable, and I relish every single birth.” 774. #pregantcallRuss continues to circulate, and all requests for medical help continue to flow through me. I have never shared our list of assisting physicians, and they aren’t kept on a computer. I have kept my word on that. Every day I think about that teenage boy who was killed on a medical response – killed on my watch. I hold myself accountable. My wife no longer blinks when I say I am scheduling an ultrasound, arranging a C section, or finding transport for a mother in labor. Every photograph of a newborn baby received is just as precious as the one before. The explanatory sentence of, “We provide prenatal exams, safe deliveries in hospital, and post-partum care with no costs to the patient free of charge” has become almost reflexive. Upperwood Foundation stands by like a stone pillar. It’s our own personal war – war against the infant and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan, war against the Taliban and what they do to women and medical science, war against the pain of separated families who have no idea when they will be reunited. Are we winning? I have no idea. I do know our individual victories are palpable, and I relish every single birth. Yet, there was something about Baby 774. That child marked seven hundred and seventy-four times I had facilitated the safe birth of a newborn child in a country more than six thousand miles away – in a place I have never been. Maybe it was the roughness of the image or the lack of a pose – a hastily taken photo to say thank you. It made me pause, ponder, and reflect on my favorite mantra. It’s on a rubber bracelet I wear on my wrist. NEVER QUIT. ∎

UPPERWOOD FOUNDATION

upperwood.com

89 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We are more than surface identities… those are incomplete shadows of deeper reflections. DESMOND CLARK

SPEAKER, AUTHOR & FORMER NFL PLAYER 90 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘PRINCIPLES OF WINNING’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY DESMOND CLARK

I HONOR YOUR CHOICES A FATHER’S REFLECTIONS ON GENDER

When Ashanna, who was born as my daughter, and formerly identified as a woman, asked me to take her to breakfast in January this year and told me that she would like to take hormones, shift to becoming a man, and would like me to refer to (formerly her) as him, I told him I support him in all ways. I’ve been reflecting on this ever since, and I think it might be useful to the overall conversation about gender. I warned DaShawn that a lot of people are going to say things. They, nor those words, define him. But more important: your own words are not your complete identity either. To become this change, and this change only, is to sell the rest of your experiences short. This is a new assessment in your life; not your core accomplishment.

Identity can be a ruse, a false-concept. If you read enough Buddhist texts and do enough meditation you see it as fluid. If we identify with anything, really, it’s our approach to understanding who we are; not any individual label applied to it. Thoughtful, is a closer description for DaShawn than either gender.

We are how we assess ourselves. Daily.

“...don’t be limited here.” We are more than surface identities, NFL football players, a gender, a number in a bank account, body fat percentage, a title in a company. Those are incomplete shadows of deeper reflections. So, be this, because it is part of you. But don’t be limited here.

You are both this, and everything else you are, remain, and will be.

So regardless of what you call yourself, what gender you identify as, or what pronouns you use, my love for you cuts through all of that and has for over nineteen years. My love for you also recognizes that the deepest, most trustworthy version of you is based in the thoughtfulness with which you make decisions, not any individual decision you make.

You, at the core, are the same. You are the sum of your experiences and this is one of them. And if you, or the world, were to define yourself as only this—you and the world are both falling short.

The world is a stimulus for your growth. You are defined by your thoughtfulness in approaching decisions and the actions you take based on the decisions you choose, not any specific decision or action. And if the world misses that —they miss you—and that’s their loss, not yours. 91 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“I love you dearly and deeply, and I honor your choices.” Love is love.

Your relationship to God is the same, regardless of gender.

And as long as you see that how you cultivate experiences, not how you label or react to them, is the core of who you are—you can be a stabilizing force for yourself. For a lot of people. In a lot of communities.

Stay true and thoughtful, DaShawn, and you will always have your assessments to fall back on. You will never be alone. Not only because I will always be with you; but because you will always, truly, have your deepest and best self to guide you, to look up to, to change—as you have, as you will continue to do—in a thoughtful and loving way, as you see fit.

I look up to you DaShawn. I love you dearly and deeply, and I honor your choices. ∎

DESMOND CLARK

Speaker, Author & Former NFL Player www.awarenessties.us/desmondclark Empowering sales professionals and leaders with ‘Principles of Winning’ to create a standard of excellence, DESMOND CLARK is a former star NFL Tight End, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Author, Speaker, and Inspirational Business Coach. During his 12 year tenure in the NFL, he played with the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and 8 years with the Chicago Bears, retiring as the second leading Tight End in Bears history for catches, yards, and touchdowns behind only Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. Before entering into the NFL, Desmond set Wake Forest University receiving records and finished his college career as all-time leading receiver in Atlantic Coast Conference history and a degree in communications. For more information about the ‘Principles of Winning’ group coaching course call 863.581.5161 or email desmond@dezclarkspeaks.com.

92 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY WITH A KIDS COMPANY ABOUT

SELF-LOVE A KIDS BOOK ABOUT

Self-love isn’t talked about very much, but this book seeks to open up a conversation about how important it is to love yourself.

The Book

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Often we notice the things that make us feel different or we don’t like. But self-love can help us see what makes us uniquely awesome! This book teaches kids how to choose their thoughts, manage their perspectives, and feel comfortable and happy with themselves, even when hard things happen.

The Author

Brandon Farbstein is a Gen Z world changer, motivational speaker, and author who was born with a rare form of dwarfism. Brandon’s “Ten Feet Tall” mindset and limitless impact has been felt by millions as he amplifies his global message to #ElevateEmpathy®.

A KIDS BOOK ABOUT SELF-LOVE

akidsco.com/products/a-kids-book-about-self-love A KIDS BOOK ABOUT COMPANY

Awareness Ties Official Partner in Purpose www.akidsco.com We’re here to tell stories that empower kids, hence our tagline: “Made to Empower.” Empowerment isn’t all about slaying dragons. It can also be about learning to love yourself, or love someone who doesn’t look, sound, think, or act like you. It can be about overcoming trauma, heck even understanding what trauma is! It can be about finding your passion. It can be about just getting through the day. Kids are people, too. They have real experiences, thoughts, and ideas. We (grownups that is) have to do away with “I’ll tell you when you’re older”, “You wouldn’t understand”, “We don’t talk about that”, or worst of all “Grow up.” Kids deserve better. And we can do better.

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‘SCARRED NOT BROKEN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LORI BUTIERRIES

ABOUT THE AFGHAN WOMEN A POEM, A SONG, A COMMITMENT IN SOLIDARTY Afghanistan is part of my life story. It's a place that contributed to my growth and development as a young woman in the military and as a human being. When the U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021 and gave it back to the Taliban after 20 years of fighting and nation building, I was beside myself with rage and grief. It made me wonder what the purpose of it all had been? It felt like all hope was lost for Afghanistan until I heard about a female Afghan activist named Crystal Bayat protesting against the Taliban takeover. As I watched TV footage of her speaking up for the millions of Afghan women too afraid to speak for themselves or their rights, I realized that SHE, Crystal Bayat, and every woman like her, was what made the war worth fighting for, at least for me.

Crystal proved that change was possible and that Afghans wanted it and that the potential for change still exists even if that change comes at tremendous personal risk and against nearly impossible odds in the face of great evil. The fight isn't over; it has just changed direction. With no firepower other than her words, Crystal rallied others around the world to her cause, including myself, because her cause is just, and no one should have to fight against injustice alone. Unfortunately, Crystal's message and a million other Afghan women continue to be ignored by the general public. To amplify their voices, I wrote a song based on the Disney song "We Don't Talk About Bruno" titled "We Don't Talk About The Afghan Women" to spotlight the Afghan women's plight. My song came to life thanks to Awareness Ties, Crystal Bayat, Gaby Montiel, and Kentucky Clawson/LiveCatch Studios.

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Words have great power. I pray that Afghan women feel seen, heard, and supported by this song and that my words will touch many hearts. May they positively impact all who listen to them and inspire people everywhere to get involved by supporting the Afghan women's efforts to reclaim the human rights that have been viciously taken from them overnight.

WE DON’T TALK ABOUT AFGHAN WOMEN This poem was first published by The Havok Journal on April 13, 2022. We don’t talk about the women of Afghanistan oh, no, no, no!

We don’t talk about the women - But!

It was August 30th

August 30, 2021

It was the day the U.S. Military left Afghanistan

People rushed planes; bodies fell from the sky

No one can hold onto airplanes in flight

The Taliban quickly rolled in, like thunder, wearing evil grins and the Afghani women said, “Our lives are over”

Guilt floods my heart

They were right

What a terrifying day

I am sorry that we pulled out and left that way

We don’t talk about the women of Afghanistan oh, no, no, no!

We don’t talk about the women - But!

The women grew to live in fear of the Taliban knocking

Yelling and threatening

I hear about them hurting citizens on the television- it's barbaric and shocking

I associate them with the sound of crying women- it’s deafening

Always the women are left suffering

Like struggling with dictates, they don't want or understand

Rules and punishments, which haven’t been seen in 20 years

Do you understand?

Each woman’s frame

from head to foot

Covered in blue

No voice in the regime

The Taliban saw their dreams

Took them away

And feasted on their screams

We don’t talk about the women of Afghanistan oh, no, no, no!

We don’t talk about the women - But!

One lady told me that she wished that she was dead

The next day she was- DEAD!

There is no future for me she said

And she was right 98 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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She said that all the women would disappear overnight, now look around

Their fate was sealed the day Sharia Law was reinstated by invading religious extremists.

Another Afghan woman named Crystal Bayat, however, would not be dissuaded

She did NOT let go of her dreams or those of her people

Under threat of death

She marched in protest against such evil

Hey Sis, I’m proud of you

You inspire me to speak up too

Can you hear me now?

I’m sorry I’m late

Um, the women of Afghanistan…

Yeah, about the women of Afghanistan…

We really need to talk about the women of Afghanistan…

Give us the truth and the whole truth, the women of Afghanistan are still here and are rebelling against Taliban rule

Time to open our eyes & ears!

Each woman’s frame

From head to foot

Covered in blue

No voice in the regime

They fade into the background unseen

The Taliban saw their dreams

And feasted on their screams

But the Afghan women, even as their tears fall like rain, continue to fight on and say,

“They can't silence us in this day and age!”

Afghan women flood the streets and use technology to rally support, ask for help, and demand recognition

They are still here… fighting.

Won’t you join them?

Talk about the women of Afghanistan

Use WORDS to gain traction and make a difference

I never should have waited so long to start the conversation. ∎

LORI BUTIERRIES

Author, Navy Veteran & Mother of 2 with Special Needs www.awarenessties.us/lori-butierries LORI BUTIERRIES is a full-time caregiver to two children with special needs, one child being terminally ill and physically disabled. Lori uses her life experiences and the medical knowledge she gained while serving as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy to help others facing similar hardships. Lori focuses primarily on advocating for and educating others about the special needs, mental health, and veterans communities. Her long-term goal is to reduce the stigma associated with disability by talking about it with people of all ages, thus minimizing the fear and the mystery attributed to the unknown in this regard.

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Love is unapologetically wearing your heart on your sleeve. CORIE MATTIE

ARTIST & ACTIVIST Photo Credit: @jamieschiloski 100 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘THE WRITING ON THE WALL’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY EDDIE DONALDSON

LA HOPE DEALER

A STREET ARTIST PAINTING WITH PASSION When I first met Corie at the Fame Yard in Los Angeles, I instantly noticed her spark. She is by far one of the hardest working artists I have had the pleasure of working with. The thing I like the most is that she paints from the heart and her art is full of purpose. EDDIE: Tell us who you are, not just your name but who are you and why are you here on this planet?

CORIE: My name is Corie Mattie. I originally grew up in South Jersey, outside of Philadelphia. I did everything I was “supposed” to do - received a great education in Kinesiology from University of Maryland, followed by a Master’s in Sports Management from Georgetown University. After all the “right” things, I followed my heart instead. I moved out west, and worked hard to become the artist I am today. I am on this planet to show people following your passion is possible. If I can do it, you can too.

EDDIE: I love your name, the ‘LA Hope Dealer’. Can you share the story of how that was conceived?

CORIE: I have a list of ideas in my phone that I keep in-hand. I had the idea for “Hope Dealer” for awhile now but never thought it was the right time to execute. When the pandemic hit, I thought it would be an appropriate time to introduce the LA Hope Dealer. I want to bring positivity in a unique and creative way to the world, as well as awareness and inspiration to communities.

EDDIE: Tell us about the PRIDE event at The Fame Yard on Melrose that you produced this year.

CORIE: The Pride event was absolutely amazing this year. GuerillaOne and I were able to provide walls for artists in the LGBTQIA+ community. What was beautiful about this specific event was that some of these artists have never done a mural before. We provided them with an opportunity to grow as an artist within our community.

EDDIE: We know there are multiple forms of love. What does ‘love’ mean to you?

CORIE: Love is everywhere. Love is letting go of your ego, staying present, feeling secure with yourself and the people you surround yourself with. Love is unapologetically wearing your heart on your sleeve.

EDDIE: Out of all the murals you have done, can you share a few of your favorites?

CORIE: From the pandemic, my favorite piece is: “After the Plague, Came the Renaissance.” This mural speaks volumes to the times and how history can repeat itself. Currently, my favorite mural is the one I just completed for pride. This was the first debut of my word maps. It really shows my vulnerability but also our vulnerability as humans processing life, love, and self.

EDDIE: What is your favorite book of choice?

CORIE: I think the most impactful book I’ve read was The Alchemist. It gave me the strength to abandon everything familiar to me on the East Coast to move West to follow my dreams. 101 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: @valenceprojects 102 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: @valenceprojects & @jamieschiloski 103 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I want to bring positivity in a unique and creative way to the world, as well as awareness and inspiration to communities. CORIE MATTIE

ARTIST & ACTIVIST Photo Credit: @papa_petros 104 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: @valenceprojects

“You have to spread your wings and let go.” EDDIE: What is your favorite song?

CORIE: My favorite song is “Power” by Kanye West.

EDDIE: Who is your favorite living artist?

CORIE: Oh man this is tough. My favorite living artist right now is Barbara Kruger. She is a brilliant conceptual artist that brings her feminist views of society and culture to life through her work.

ALLIÉ: I have to jump in and ask one last question. You have a recu, the recurring symbol in your work?

CORIE: The doves mean more than one thing to me. Doves are a sign of peace, but also can signify new beginnings. Life ebbs and flows, so it’s important when you feel lost, that a new chapter can be found around the corner. You have to spread your wings and let go. ∎

LA HOPE DEALER

lahopedealer.com EDDIE DONALDSON

GuerillaOne x The Seventh Letter www.awarenessties.us/eddie-donaldson 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.

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Raise your voice, Afghan women… Fight for your dreams and stand for yourself. NASIMA K.

WRITER & PROSECUTOR OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN ATTORNEY GENERAL 106 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY BY NASIMA K.

RAISE YOUR VOICE

A CALL TO AFGHAN WOMEN TO STAND FOR THEMSELVES & THEIR DREAMS I was born into an illiterate and poor family. That’s why I started working when I was a child, but I was 15 years old when my father forced me to get married. My father didn’t want me to study, and I left my school. Many years passed, and one day i said to myself, “Nasima, it’s not the end for you. Stand right now, otherwise you can’t do it later.” At first i was not brave, but i had to do it. I fought, I stood up and I studied. I didn’t let them prevent me from studying. I even had children, but I kept going. And now, I've won and can reach to my dreams. I'm working really hard so that my daughters never experience this.

I just want to say that a woman is not a toy to sell…

Women are human beings and have their own rights. They deserve the life they want. It’s their right to study and work in the fields they like.

Raise your voice, Afghan women. Fight for your dreams and stand for yourself!

Because no one is going to stand for you.

Afghanistan ranks as one of the worst places in the world for a girl to get an education. More than 2/3 of girls still do not attend school. Under Afghan law, the minimum age of marriage is 16 for girls. It is rarely enforced and girls continue to wed at even younger ages. But many brave families continue to fight to educate their daughters in spite of enormous obstacles. Still, it makes me really sad that we don’t have more open-minded people in Afghanistan that let their daughters study.

Also, by arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the future of all Afghan women is burned.

(Please don’t forget about Afghanistan… especially women in Afghanistan.) ∎

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There’s a whole world out there that they need to experience… YUKTA RAMANAN

PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF YOUTH FOR ETHICAL SOURCING 108 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TANITH HARDING

CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM A CONVERSATION WITH YUKTA RAMANAN

Yukta Ramanan is the President and Founder of Youth for Ethical Sourcing, an international nonprofit organisation. She is working to address sourcing for an economic supply chain, through an environmental, and humanitarian lens and helping people in need in over 30 different developing countries in alignment with over 8 UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to this, her passion for conscious consumerism has led to her becoming a published author. TANITH: Yukta you are the President and Founder of Youth for Ethical Sourcing which brings awareness and helps refugees, orphans, and other underserved demographics in developing countries gain access to quality education. Tell me how it all started?

YUKTA: It began with a childhood obsession with makeup products. I used to meddle with my mom's makeup kit and the more I researched, the more I realised that several of the products I was using had supply chains infused with humanitarian violations and environmental damage. That didn't sit well with me so I researched, reached out to professors, reached out to industry professionals, and Youth for Ethical Sourcing was born. I wanted to tackle the economic, environmental and humanitarian aspects of sourcing and supply chain with products that we use on a daily basis and shed light on the sacrifices that need to be made before they’re readily available.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH YUKTA RAMANAN BY TANITH HARDING

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What I hoped to do with my children’s book was to introduce children to this idea of conscious consumerism. YUKTA RAMANAN

PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF YOUTH FOR ETHICAL SOURCING 110 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“…we’re at a point where action is utterly necessary.” YUKTA: (continued) What we're ultimately trying to do is to punctuate global economic growth and business growth with sustainable governance, and make sure people and the planet are centered. I've gotten the opportunity to present at conferences and get more youth involved because it's something that I think we take for granted. I'm having a lot of fun and can't wait to see where it goes.

TANITH: In addition, you have raised thousands of dollars to help build infrastructure in these underserved communities. How have you achieved this and what drives you to do it all?

YUKTA: I discovered that many cosmetic products contain a mineral called mica, which is a mineral phyllosilicate commonly found in shimmers. A lot of mica is harvested from child labour in India and Africa. These communities that are marginalised consistently are taken advantage of and given no fair wages or working conditions. Children who otherwise should be in school are forced to work in mines to put food on the table. It's a vicious cycle without proper infrastructure for health care or education, so that's what I've been trying to raise money for. As a recent graduate of high school, there's not a lot of ways to get directly involved with those communities unless I work with organisations that already have grassroots programmes there, so I've been trying to help them build empowering systems of alternative economic opportunity for those underserved communities.

TANITH: Not all of the programmes you run are regular academic programs. Tell me about the other programs you run and why they’re important?

YUKTA: To divert a little bit from Youth for Ethical Sourcing at this point, I'd like to talk about how academics are compounded by opportunities beyond STEM - by empowering a person's growth in general. I think a lot of the work that I've done in this line is related to mental health, equity, diversity, and inclusion, because a person needs to feel welcomed in order to grow and in order to learn. It's important that we help them on their journey to that and a lot of the work is focused on younger generations because youth need to realise that we aren't the leaders of tomorrow. We're the leaders of today (something I've learned from my work with a policy think tank). I think adults are thrusting a lot of this responsibility on young people, and we need to indulge in this responsibility instead of throwing it away because we're at a point where action is utterly necessary.

TANITH: I mentioned in your intro that your passion for conscious consumerism has led to you becoming a published author. Tell us about Choco Tales?

YUKTA: It’s a children's book about the chocolate supply chain, which is heavily intertwined with child labour in socio economically disadvantaged communities across Africa. What I hoped to do with my children's book was to introduce children to this idea of conscious consumerism, and unethical supply chains without bombarding it in their faces with a slew of facts and statistics.

Young consumers are going to enter the marketplace eventually and make decisions about the things they purchase. Being introduced to ideas of sustainability and ethical governance early on, without being scared by them, is really important for their growth as an ethical consumer. Choco Tales (awarenow.us/book/choco-tales) weaves in ideas about sustainability and child labour into the framework of a children's book and tracks the tumultuous story of a chocolate bar as he makes his way from a seed to a full grown bar. 111 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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TANITH: I hear that you are currently brainstorming for your second book as a continuation of Choco Tales - what can you tell us about it and when will we be able to purchase it?

YUKTA: It took me a while with the first one, so maybe the second one will be a bit faster. I don't want to say too much, but it will probably fall in the realm of another children's book, just because I enjoy illustrating and working with those characters. I think at the end of this one, I'll have more of a guidebook. At the end of the last one, I had a few tools for advocacy and how young kids can get involved with what they were reading. I think I’ll do something similar by including a fact sheet at the end of the book for parents to read over with their kids. The book will follow the same sort of line but focus on a new aspect of ethical sourcing - perhaps environmental.

TANITH: When you are not busy creating change in the world, what do you enjoy doing with your time?

YUKTA: I just graduated high school a few days ago so I've had more time on my plate than I normally would. I've been dancing a lot and I love singing and creating my own music. I'm just a normal teenager and I like driving around with my friends. I've continued to work with a lot of organisations like US policy think tanks and equity organisations. I think a lot of people, like me, who want to get involved in advocacy get burdened by work and forget they're just a human being. There's a whole world out there that they need to experience and enjoy but they get trampled by pressure. I'd be lying if I said that didn't happen to me, so I’m trying to take it easy. Just be a normal teenager.

TANITH: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline and what is your big dream for the future?

YUKTA: The big dream is to eventually become a lawyer working in ethical sourcing and to help companies become more sustainable. Helping corporations balance business and profit with sustainable supply chains through a law standpoint, or maybe creating a legal framework for the empowerment of socio economically disadvantaged communities, is really important to me. It's the dream, a continuation of what I'm doing now. As for projects I have coming up with Youth for Ethical Sourcing, we recently became a member of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. It's been really great learning more about work that other youth organisations are doing in sustainability and humanitarian work, and bouncing off each other to create actionable change. I'm also working as an intern at the Sourcing Industry Group. I became their youngest ever Certified Sourcing Professional and have been learning a lot more about ESG and ethical sourcing stuff from a business standpoint. Everything's been really fruitful and fulfilling, so thank you for giving me a platform. ∎

YOUTH FOR ETHICAL SOURCING

youthforethicalsourcing.com 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.

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There is living well past the impact of trauma… AALIA LANIUS

NOVELIST, SPEAKER, PODCAST HOST & SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR Photo Credit: Josh Fogel 114 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘UNSUGARCOATED’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY AALIA LANIUS

PAST OUR TRAUMAS LIVING AND COPING WITH PTSD

I never considered that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD, until an evening with a girlfriend and a conversation that forced me to confront myself, and learn avoidance is not a cure for trauma. It’s circa 2011, and we were catching up while having drinks at a local bar on Main Street in Huntington Beach. She was a licensed psychologist that drove down from LA, and I was a friend she hadn’t seen in a while. At that time in my life, I was dealing with post health and emotional challenges after dealing with cancer and being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. My then marriage had in recent history experienced infidelity, domestic violence, and a separation, but we were on, what we perceived to be, the mend. I considered myself grateful to be alive and focused on living my best life as a wife, mother and businesswoman.

I knew my friend never liked to “diagnose” her friends, but as part of our chatter and me valuing her opinion, I wanted from her input on something that I was experiencing. What she gave me was a reality check.

I explained that I knew I was empathic, but recently I found that anything sentimental, beautiful or sad, just caused me to become overwhelmed with emotion and tears would spill over. I then asked her if she thought this was because of my evolving awareness as I came through these traumatic and eye-opening experiences, coupled with my subsequent appreciation for life.

Her response was a clear, “No.”

I sat surprised. However, she was so confident, I asked her to elaborate. She then told me that she felt I was depressed, and that this was a point where my body was rejecting a habit of pushing everything down, just for the sake of others. She said, “You are the person who puts on the smile, so that others can feel good, but your emotions come out—one way or another.”

I knew she was right, and our conversation didn’t go much further than that on the issue, but her insight caused me to dive deeper into my self-discovery and I came to see that I was living in a state of PTSD.

How could I be so full of life and depressed? The answer—I was grateful to be alive, but I had not addressed my traumas. I had just “kept it moving” as I was taught to do by my grandmother, a woman who refused to cry at her own husband’s funeral because she didn’t want her grown children to see her waiver in strength. In my family, expressing emotion was weakness and that was a damaging belief, because it was a lie. Emotions are a language and to deny them, is to deny yourself healing.

But it wasn’t the emotions trying to get out, it was the ones I kept buried. The mental anguish from reliving moments that brought me pain. The anger at myself or shame I covered up. I can recall being easily triggered by people, places, or things that took me to unpleasant thoughts or memories. Anxiety would cause me to be on edge and I recall drinking alcohol just a bit more than the rare occasion, or the self-sabotaging acts, just to numb my pain and sadness. I knew I wasn’t whole, and I didn’t feel safe from the things that had hurt me before.

I was so grateful for this conversation that led me to understanding PTSD. To be honest, more trauma was in store for me, including a divorce in 2014 and more health challenges, but because of my ability to see when I was operating from PTSD, I was able to develop better coping mechanisms, or tools that enabled me to navigate it more effectively. 115 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We are stronger as a result of these unfortunate events and the key is to be educated. AALIA LANIUS

NOVELIST, SPEAKER, PODCAST HOST & SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR Photo Credit: Josh Fogel 116 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“Here is the thing, the fact that we have suffered trauma does not make us pitiful or damaged, and I am passionate about changing the narrative on that to empower survivors of trauma.” Physical activity is a huge part for me. Even at times when I must drag myself to a yoga class, a walk, or the gym, I never finish feeling like, “Wow! That was a waste of time and energy!” It isn’t. With this physical activity, I am taking ownership of my body and I can sense the impact on my body, mind and emotional wellbeing.

Counseling was beneficial, even when my previous spouse didn’t want to go with me. The idea that counseling means you’re “broken” or that it’s only a “last effort” is part of the problem. Counseling with the right person is good at any time—beginning, middle or end of anything. Sometimes we need an outside perspective, and since most of us are not trained in matters of the mind, why wouldn’t it benefit us to speak to someone who is?

Journaling is incredibly therapeutic for everyone, but especially a trauma survivor. It’s a conversation with yourself and a way to express ourselves without fear of judgement. You have an opportunity to create a safe space and I suggest using it to fuel hopes and dreams, exploring all the possibilities within those pages. Contrary to what we were told as kids, talking to yourself, is not a bad thing.

Lifestyle changes was a significant one for me. It wasn’t about just about “living”, but what I was willing to do so that I could live the life I felt I deserved to live. That included spending time with people who I felt were uplifting and positive influences in my life and releasing the ones that weren’t. Through these methods I was able to reframe these past traumas and became more mindful, and mindfulness matters because it enhances present-moment awareness, increases self-compassion, and strengthens a person's ability to self-regulate—all important skills that support trauma recovery.

Here is the thing, the fact that we have suffered trauma does not make us pitiful or damaged, and I am passionate about changing the narrative on that to empower survivors of trauma. We are stronger as a result of these unfortunate events and the key is to be educated and not sit in our traumas, allowing the syndrome to take hold in such a way that we can’t make it through the darkness to find the light.

If you’re a trauma survivor, and you’re not walking into the room like a massive badass…you’re doing it wrong! There is living well past the impact of trauma, we only need to uncover it within ourselves. ∎

AALIA LANIUS

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 influence society through proper representation and accountability.

117 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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While I have dropped in from time to time, I have never taken up residence in the House of Fear. BURT KEMPNER

WRITER & PRODUCER 118 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘JUST BURT STORIES’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY BURT KEMPNER

THE HOUSE OF FEAR

Back in 1977, I received a dream assignment from a travel magazine. They were doing a special issue on Greece. The editor was going to cover the mainland and he asked me if I’d like to report on the Islands. We agreed to meet in Athens to make our final plans. I showed up at his hotel room at the appointed hour and knew right away that something was very wrong. The room was littered with those tiny whisky bottles found in service bars, and he was quite drunk, although it was only 10:00 in the morning. “Is there a problem?” I asked. Without a word he handed me a telegram. It was from his publisher, informing him that the magazine had been hemorrhaging money and he had no choice but to shut it down. We were on our own. They’d paid for a round-trip ticket, but I was damned if I was going to come all this way just to take the first flight back to Philadelphia. I wired my bank to see how much money I had left in my checking account: $900. I decided to see how long and how far $800 of it would take me (five weeks and very far, as it turned out). Bidding the tipsy ex-editor farewell, I took my leave of Athens.

For the next few weeks I skipped from island to island, meeting new people, seeing new sights and enjoying myself immensely. It began registering in my consciousness that I had constantly been seeing the same woman wherever I went: on ferry boats, at outdoor cafes, at the marketplace. She was in her late 30s, with curly blonde hair, very attractive, always by herself and with a severe look that made people keep their distance. At first I thought there was something in her that frightened people, but then I realized that it was she who was frightened of them. One day on a boat in the middle of the Aegean Sea, I approached her and said, “I can’t speak for the others, but you have no cause to be scared of me.” She laughed. Like many people who don’t smile often, her smile utterly transformed her face. Her name was Karin and she was German. For the next couple of weeks we were together all the time, on Ios, Kos and Santorini. I can’t assign the blinding white-washed walls, blue shutters or rocky coastlines to any one place anymore: they all blend in now. I do remember the incessant firecrackers during Easter week, the girl running up to us to give us flowers and the scandalized hotel clerk who made us take separate rooms and stood guard outside her door, never suspecting she’d climbed in through my window. She was purposely vague about her background, and when she waved off enough of my questions I stopped asking them. Our lovemaking was spirited but she seemed cloaked in sadness immediately afterward.

The time came for us to return to Athens and home. As the boat pulled into the harbor at Piraeus, she turned to me and said: “The minute we dock, you don’t know me anymore. I won’t even look at you. I have to return to the House of Fear. Promise me you’ll never live there.”

We collected out bags. I went out to find a taxi. She got into a black Rolls-Royce. My German was pretty fluent back then, so I know I heard the driver correctly when he said, “Did the Countess enjoy her holiday?” I tried to catch her eye as the car pulled away, but, true to her word, she didn’t even glance at me, and true to mine, while I have dropped in from time to time, I have never taken up residence in the House of Fear. ∎ BURT KEMPNER

Writer & Producer www.awarenessties.us/burt-kempner 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.

119 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Inclusivity only includes those who we see… CLAUDINE JAENICHEN

GRAPHIC DESIGN PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY 120 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘THE DECIDED HEART EFFECT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY SONJA MONTIEL

BIAS STEP ASIDE FEATURING CLAUDINE JAENICHEN

Claudine Jaenichen is an information designer. For decades, she has worked with emergency management personnel worldwide creating evacuation maps and instructions that get people to safety, effectively. She focuses on natural disasters like tsunamis, wildfires and earthquakes. More recently, Claudine began designing family reunification maps and instructions for schools so parents and caregivers learn how to find their child should a disaster occur during school hours. The concept of inclusivity was a core value that Claudine wanted to embrace, and she believed that she did for a long time. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, bi-racial, raised by immigrant parents where English was a second language, Claudine believed she knew what it would take to consider inclusivity in design. Whether it was through the lens of culture, language, age, geography and/or disabilities, she wanted every human to be able to access her maps and save themselves and their loved ones from harm. She had to be.

Then the day came when she realized that her maps and instructions were everything but inclusive.

It was April 2019 when she was asked to speak at a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Pep Talk event on "Visual + Effective Communication for Emergency Information." When she read the comments afterwards on YouTube, she faced the criticism that was directed at FEMA; however, she also knew it was criticism she would need to carry as well.

“Again…you didn’t have a sign interpreter!”

“You talk about inclusion, but leave so many people out.”

“Well, I guess I am not included in this communication because I have a disability that cannot access what you are trying to say.”

Claudine recalls, “My heart was broken. I was free-falling, and felt smacked in my face. Here I was thinking that I got to be some kind of hero helping people. Understanding that I didn’t ensure that a sign language interpreter wasn’t in the room made me face my hard truth about myself, my bias and ableism, and my work that excluded so many people.” Claudine started over, looking at design and asking the questions:

What is accessibility?

What is 508 compliance?

What defines disabilities?

What is disability etiquette?

Claudine looked at her maps. They were suddenly stupid. They were catering to people with privilege, including resources, level of literacy, and ableism. She realized that there were people “in the room” whom she didn’t see. It’s one thing to be intentionally inclusive, yet another to act upon the responsibility of being inclusive. Claudine shares, “Inclusivity only includes those who we see, those only in our circle, those who we interacted with.” To ask who is not in the room takes great active effort to step outside of everything you know.

After the talk, Claudine returned to Chapman University completely uncomfortable. She knew that her awareness came with responsibility. For one, she had to teach her students what questions to ask themselves as designers. She developed a new experimental course, Disability, Accessibility, and Design, where she would learn alongside students. The class was a co-design structure for students in Graphic Design and Disabilities Studies. After completing the course, her students wrote a letter to the Dean, Chair, and three fulltime faculty requesting that the 121 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Incredible opportunities are missed if one doesn’t merge their personal life experiences with their work. CLAUDINE JAENICHEN

GRAPHIC DESIGN PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY 122 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“…we haven’t fully taken ownership that love is the foundation of both our personal and professional lives, as one.” course be a graduation requirement for every student attending Chapman University. A particular phrase that was included in that letter was “We demand it.”

Claudine continued to seek out others having different conversations about design. She discovered artist, design researcher and engineer who problem-solved for disabilities, Sara Hendren, who proclaimed that “life and your work inform each other.” You see, Sara’s life experiences raising a child with Down syndrome informed her creativity and productivity when it comes to problem-solving as an engineer. However, our society teaches us not to integrate our personal matters in our professional careers. Claudine recalls, “I remember when I was new to teaching and my colleague told me to never mention my family for reasons of work and teaching.”

Although there has been slight recognition that one informs the other, we haven’t fully taken ownership that love is the foundation of both our personal and professional lives, as one. Claudine says that “Incredible opportunities are missed if one doesn’t merge their personal life experiences with their work.”

As Claudine settled into what it means to fully merge love and life experiences with her work, she remembers the messages she received when she was a child. She was so confident in what she wanted to do when she grew up. She kept hearing the same responses from adults:

“Oh you want to be an astronaut, first woman Air Force jet fighter pilot, forest ranger? That won’t work for you.”

As a child, she was intuitively informed by what she loved, and it wasn’t art. “I never had art as part of my vision as a child. I was good at it, but art was not the thing I wanted to do in life,” she said. It was the adults around her – family and teachers - who said that her talent in art would be a better fit for her than professions around emergency response. Claudine felt pressured to go to art school because she no longer saw access to what she loved. No one ever said to young Claudine that she could do both art and emergency management. She needed to discover this herself, which took compromises, longer periods of time, and unnecessary self-doubt.

After completing her degree at Cal Arts in Graphic Design, Claudine began to learn how design could serve others. When she became a professor at Chapman, she looked for ways to channel her artistic expression, and found that outlet through TAB Journal, a publication that “re-envisions literary cultural production using design thinking.” TAB Journal received a grant to explore different ways for readers to engage with literature for a more inclusive experience. For example, they are currently researching how readers can engage with a physical journal who have no use of their arms, rediscovering and exploring the experience of what it means to turn a page.

As a reformed information designer through tough educational lessons, Claudine has elevated her thinking and what it means to include. First, she had to acknowledge that she was more stereotypical and biased than she could ever have imagined. She said, “Confronting that truth has continued to be an uncomfortable path, but I cannot hide from it. I won’t. I have to confront it every day. I am looking for people who are not part of my circle and holding myself accountable to learning and understanding.” Claudine cannot compromise when it comes to learning about voices she has never heard from before. She feels responsible for ensuring those voices are taken into account in her emergency management design. Lives are literally at stake otherwise.

In Claudine’s current design work, she has shifted from inclusive design, which means “design for one,” to universal design, which means “design for all” influenced by the work of Liz Jackson, founder of The Disabled List. The new experimental course that Claudine created for undergraduates, Disability, Accessibility and Design, is now approved as a permanent course in design, and also a part of the disability studies minor and health humanities minor. Claudine will continue having tough conversations with colleagues and students nationwide with hopes that courses like hers become a national undergraduate graduation requirement. 123 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Despite being disappointed at times, I have so much hope and faith about humanity. CLAUDINE JAENICHEN

GRAPHIC DESIGN PROFESSOR, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY 124 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


AwareNow Podcast

BIAS STEP ASIDE

Written and Narrated by Sonja Montiel

https://awarenow.us/podcast/bias-step-aside

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

“I want my kids to feel that same hope that I have about humanity.” Claudine reminds us why she does the work she does. “I love people, I love humanity. Despite being disappointed at times, I have so much hope and faith about humanity. I will remain optimistic because I have witnessed that in times of disasters, people come together in all walks of life. In these moments, people are equal. My love comes from my family, my kids. My ten-year-old has already read ‘Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally’ by Emily Ladau. I want my kids to feel that same hope that I have about humanity. That is the only way to create equitable access.”

With every presentation that Claudine Jaenichen gives, the statement below will be one of the first slides read. It is a statement that acknowledges both her limitations and truth about what it means to continue confronting bias, and pushing bias to step aside.

“I recognize the work and research I am about to present offers limited access for all people and that evacuation privilege is assumed. My aim as an information designer is to continue to educate myself and champion inclusive solutions that become a priority and mainstreamed for neurodiversity, disabled people, and underserved communities.” – Claudine Jaenichen FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CLAUDINE JAENICHEN

Jaenichen Design: www.jaenichendesign.com

Design Network for Emergency Management: www.dnem.org The Disabled List: www.disabledlist.org

Tab Journal: www.tabjournal.org

SONJA MONTIEL

Co-Founder of The Decided Heart Effect www.awarenessties.us/sonja-montiel 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 fulfillment. 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.

125 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I wondered when our time would come to reunite with our family. THI NGUYEN

NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST 126 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


GO GREEN DRESS: ‘RECOLLECTIONS' EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY THI NGUYEN

GROUNDED

PART 5: REMINISCING LOVED ONES Awoken by the familiar smell of home and the sound of a busy market, I hadn't slept that well in weeks. The sun pierced through casting a blanket of warmth on the humid day. Although coastal, the air was unforgiving causing sweat to drizzle down your forehead and body. It was a hot day and people were hustling and bustling bright and early this morning. Deals were being made, lines were forming and food was being collected. Some were going about their day as if it was home for them, while others were frantically rushing to get off the island. Looking around I couldn’t help but wonder how everyone got here? What was their story? Whom did they leave behind? Whom did they bring with them? What were they escaping from? The strength, courage, and will to take this journey is nothing short of amazing. I wondered about losing loved ones for the family that has been left in Vietnam, losing loved ones who perished at sea or who may never be reunited. It is surreal when you realize that love gives us the strength to take on this feat, to risk our lives for ourselves, our family, and our hope that one day we can provide for our family in Vietnam.

Standing there, I couldn't help but wonder about the different types of love present in order to survive and thrive through this process. To take on this journey, some families split up in order to not risk the lives of everyone on one vessel. While some did it due to cost, others did it because it was the best chance they have. Imagine sending your kids off with cousins and hoping they made the journey safely, but not knowing their whereabouts or what had become of them. Imagine having your partner take some of your kids while you took the rest because you can't afford it or it wasn’t safe to all travel together and potentially never be able to reunite. This was the case with my family.

My father left with my 2 older sisters before I turned 2. I didn't leave until almost 2 years later with my mom. We were apart, taking a journey with an unknown destination hoping to reunite with our family one day. There are so many stories out there where locating one another never happened and the whereabouts of family members was left unknown. Take a moment and imagine what you would do...

My mom finally returned bringing back some food she received after standing in line all morning. It wasn't much but I was happy to eat solids and enjoy them on the ground. I knew this place was not permanent, but I liked staying and watching the people interact with one another, as I tried to understand the stories they carried. At times it seemed everyone was yelling at each other, but as I tried to listen closely, it was the sound of urgency as we figured things out day by day. 127 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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The day moved quickly and I knew that in due time, we would be back in those waters, steering toward our next destination. When would I get to see my dad? When would I get to meet my sisters? I wondered when our time would come to reunite with our family. When would it be our turn before we headed off again? Where would this next journey take us? As my mind drifted off, I was suddenly startled to life by gunfire. What was going on? ∎

Love is the strength given to us to overcome the obstacles life sets before us. Wishing you enough love to get through your toughest days, enough strength to overcome your challenges, and may your bucket be filled to the brim knowing that someone out there loves you.

These stories, just like all the stories in this series, have been written in a combination of my personal experiences as well as experiences of those I am fortunate enough to know. Some of their stories will never see the light of day. I'm hoping that through this series you'll get a glimpse into the sacrifices refugees take in order to have a better life for themselves, their families, and loved ones. Please be kind and spread love. We are all living a story that others are not familiar with. Follow along on my adventures @GoGreenDress on Instagram.

THI NGUYEN

Nonprofit Consultant, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist www.awarenessties.us/thi THI NGUYEN brings with her over 2 decades of non profit experience as a participant, advisor, board member, consultant, volunteer and research and development specialist. Her expertise combining technology to further advance the vision and mission for philanthropic causes has allowed her to serve as a trusted partner with many notable organizations large and small. Thi has experience working with organizations focusing on combating various global issues such as: human sex trafficking, homelessness, poverty, fair wages, global warming, malnutrition, gender equality, humanitarian assistance and human rights. She's currently developing an app to connect individuals and corporations to assist nonprofits in furthering their vision and mission.

128 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Raising awareness is love in motion. PAUL S. ROGERS

TRANSFORMATION EXPERT, AWARENESS HELLRAISER & PUBLIC SPEAKER 130 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘RELEASE THE GENIE’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY PAUL S. ROGERS

LOVE IN MOTION

THE ANTIDOTE TO INDIFFERENCE AND DISENGAGEMENT Release The Genie Fact: A Genie can cook 1 minute rice in 30 seconds. If you ask someone what they think the opposite of love is, most people will say hate. I do not believe it to be so. I believe that hate is love gone in the wrong direction.

Elie Wiesel said, “The true opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.” Indifference is the complete vacuum of disinterest and disengagement. It is the total opposite to the passion filled responses driven by love and hate. Virtually every act in human history has been carried out under the banner of love, hate, or their namesakes.

There is some good news: If someone hates - or hates watered down version “dislikes” - something, then there is still hope. As long as the person can still feel, light still exists. This is why awareness is such an important concept in fighting hate. With the light of awareness comes knowledge. With knowledge comes informed choices and understanding. With choices and understanding comes the potential for change.

If you want to know where Love truly lives, it lives in that wonderful space after we stop thinking.

Society will say: “So, if the world is so full of love, why are there still so many horrible things happening in the world?”

Dr. Wayne Dyer and other famous philosophers have said that the world and the universe are totally perfect; it is simply our perception or interpretation of events which causes stress.

Just like it would be false to think happy people never get sad, I believe love is not the absence of bad things happening. But happy people may be in a better place to deal with unhappy events when they arise. As a mix of both Dr. Wayne Dyers observations and mine, I believe that when society is confronted with acts of spite and hate, there will be a portion of people for whom it will awaken a desire to do something about it.

In every AwareNow edition, no matter what the theme is, we see stories of hardship and adversity, and at the same time we witness acts of kindness and love being born. The stories are not told for pity and sympathy. They become guides on how to make a stand and turn hate into something new.

It takes the heart of a mighty warrior to be hurt and still be able to give others love, so nobody else ever has to go through or feel what they felt. If you ask most people who campaign to raise awareness what success looks like, the most common answer is “if I was able to reach just one person and make a difference, that would be a success.” Raising awareness is love in motion.

Where thoughts go energy flows. Acts of hate and spite are like the red car theory in the world. You know the one; you think about a red car and then on your next journey out, you see loads and loads of red cars. The red cars were always there, but your radar simply tuned them out until you started focusing on them. The same is true with being bombarded by images of spite and hate everyday from the news channels and media. The media specialises on drawing these events to our attention, and we, in turn, have become conditioned to receive our next endorphin spike. 131 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

LOVE IN MOTION

Written and Narrated by Paul S. Rogers

https://awarenow.us/podcast/love-in-motion

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

“This is what true love really is: the antidote to indifference and disengagement.” The reverse is also true. When a news worthy item drops out of the media’s gaze, this gives the message that it is no longer news worthy, then there must be nothing more to worry about. Being aware of these mechanisms makes a huge difference. This type of awareness allows the person to choose what they want to put and hold their attention on.

Sometimes, this can only be achieved by shining the bright light of inconvenience to bring people’s attention back to what is really going on and what matters. This is what true love really is: the antidote to indifference and disengagement. ∎

PAUL S. ROGERS

Transformation Expert, Awareness Hellraiser & Public Speaker www.awarenessties.us/paul-rogers 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.

132 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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SUICIDE IS A PREVENTABLE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. YO U C A N BE T H E O N E TO START THE CO N V ERSAT IO N . H F T D.O R G


I define love as the essential energy of the universe. NEALE DONALD WALSCH

WORLD RENOWN AUTHOR AND SPEAKER 134 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘THE WAY TO HAPPINESS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY JACQUELINE WAY

ONE FOUR LETTER WORD

THE SOLUTION TO THE WORLD’S GREATEST CHALLENGES

INTERVIEW WITH WORLD RENOWN AUTHOR AND SPEAKER NEALE DONALD WALSCH “CONVERSATION WITH GOD”

When I was 25 years old, I read a book that would change the course of my life along with millions of others around the world - “A Conversation with God” by world famous and controversial author Neale Donald Walsch. His conversational book provided me with answers to life, love, and God that I didn’t even know I was looking for. The words spoke to my heart and gave me a compass to guide me through the best of times and worst of times of my life. I still use it today when I’m feeling a little lost. It has become my own “bible” of reference to remind me of who I truly am - love. If you had told me 25 years ago that I would have the opportunity to interview Neale I would have laughed out loud. But that’s the beautiful thing about this life we get to create anything is possible when love guides your path. Neale ‘s latest book “The God Solution” invites us to look at a simple way of being that would solve the enormous problems in our world. A way of being that includes everyone and is a common language we all speak. The four-letter word that would change everything – LOVE.

THE GOD SOLUTION A CONVERSATION WITH NEALE DONALD WALSCH

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135 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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JACQUELINE: Neale, how do you define love?

NEALE: I define love as the essential energy of the universe. It's a feeling of the greatest peace, the greatest serenity, the greatest joy, the greatest bliss, the greatest awareness. The greatest understanding that I could imagine. Love feels like acceptance - absolute, total unconditional acceptance of what is. It feels like a soft, gentle, warm sense of wholeness and completeness. It feels like who I am. I wouldn't have said that 30 years ago, but it feels that way now and has since my “Conversations with God” adventure.

JACQUELINE: It truly has been an adventure for you. Thirty-nine books translated into 37 languages and 137 weeks on the New York Times Best sellers list. Thousands of talks, TV appearances, a movie made featuring your story, podcasts, webinars, and you are still going strong. What was the moment when you understood what love truly meant for you?

“I wasn’t going to run out telling people I had a conversation with God!” NEALE: That’s a simple answer - Book One “Conversation with God” was my moment. I didn't sit down to write a book. I was simply having a very private, personal experience at a very frustrating point of my life. It never occurred to me in a billion years that it would be published - much less be read by anyone else. I wasn't going to run out telling people I had a conversation with God!

I was told in that very first encounter, so many radical things like there's no such thing as right and wrong. There are no victims and no villains in the world. My conversations with God caused me to know that virtually everything I believed to be true about life was simply not true. I had either made things up or I had been taught by others passed through generations and cultures.

It was a life turning moment. Everything was different in view. The whole story that I was carrying around and living was disassembled right in front of my face, and it didn’t stop there. The ongoing dialogue produced deeper understanding and further clarification.

Larry King asked me this question, “Do you have any doubts about what you heard?” I said to Larry, “The day I stopped touting is the day I become dangerous.” It's people who seem to have the absolute truth about anything that become dangerous. We must be malleable and open to something that we didn't know before or something that we thought we understood completely. And then we realized we didn't understand it completely. We might have understood it partially, but we didn't understand it completely. So, I remain open to the possibility that there may be something here yet that I don't fully understand - the understanding of which would change everything.

JACQUELINE: Let’s talk about that a little more. Is there a difference between belief and knowing?

NEALE: Yes, of course. The difference between belief and knowing is - Belief is a mental construction based on certain data. Knowing is the experience of embracing something as true without evidence. No data required. It’s a state of mind and being that supersedes evidence. The greatest example I can give is I know that God exists. I know

136 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“What if we could agree that God is pure love - an essential essence and energetic projection from the heart of the universe.” NEALE: (continued) that. We have theologians, philosophers and of course critics all over the place wanting me to show evidence that supports this knowing. And I tell them, no, I have none. I have no evidence whatsoever. Because knowing doesn't require evidence, belief requires evidence.

JACQUELINE: Let’s talk about that word God. It can be a slippery slope for many. There is an ongoing battle over the definition of God. People literally kill in the name of God.

NEALE: The God Solution is about that exact question. We have not found a way to define God with which everyone could agree but what if we could agree that God is pure love - an essential essence and energetic projection from the heart of the universe.

There's not a single human being that doesn't know what love feels like. If we can agree that God is love without condition, expectations, demands, and requires nothing in return, then everything changes. And we automatically come up with a new global ethic. No one can deny that the earliest laws and the earliest ethical, moral constructions arose out of the earliest religions. We were instructed to condemn and punish each other. If we violate these ethics our inappropriate behaviors should be punished. The earliest theological teaching “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

And people say, well, God made those choices to which God might reply. Oh really? God is the one who decided that for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years, women should not be paid the same as men for the same work? God was the one who decided that people should not be allowed to love each other and even express that love in physical ways if they belong to the same gender. God made that decision that's right?

There are 4,200 religions on the face of the earth trying to figure it out. And so, we have based human interaction on our understanding of how God interacts with us and what we do in response to people's behaviors that we find unacceptable?

JACQUELINE: That's such an interesting question to really think about from a different lens. We have seen via research that the best way to help someone that has committed a crime is rehabilitation, love and support vs long jail time. If love is so healing, you would think it may be the solution to our greatest problems.

NEALE: It is. Love is the answer to humanity's greatest problems. But the difficulty is that we have bought into the notion of separation. In the book “The God Solution” I asked the question: “What is the biggest problem in the world today?” The biggest problem in the world today is that nobody knows what the biggest problem in the world is today or 137 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We’re only afraid of anything because of something that we love. NEALE DONALD WALSCH

WORLD RENOWN AUTHOR AND SPEAKER 138 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“You cannot solve any problem using the same energy that created it.” NEALE: (continued) they just disagree. We see the outfall - the result. The result clearly is alienation but when you asked them what's causing multi alienation they can't give you an answer.

But the cause is simple. One word - separation. We think we're separate from each other. We think we're separate from life itself. From the tree outside the window, from the animals that stroll the earth from the stars in the sky. The belief in separation makes experiencing the full richness of any kind of love very difficult. Yet the elimination of the idea of separation and the embracing of the idea of oneness that we are all one would make it all possible. A quantum shift in our consciousness, our awareness and our understanding that makes pure love possible.

When one falls in love with life, we abandon the notion of separation because we see love in everything around us, in each other and most importantly in us. There would be war no more. There would be no more violence. There would be none of the behaviors that have made life on this planet so brutal. Those behaviors would simply go away. I mean, Einstein was so clear about this. He said you cannot solve any problem using the same energy that created it. You are not going solve killing with killing. You're not going to end violence with violence – anger with more anger. Such a simple statement and we can't get it. And so, we keep on doing the same thing repeatedly, hoping to get a different result. A classic definition of insanity.

JACQUELINE: But aren’t we confused about love then? In the famous Tom Cruise movie, he announced to the love of his life that “you complete me.” Don’t we need another person to truly complete us?

NEALE: Of course not. That's the great fallacy. I can share my completeness with you but no, we do not need another person or anything else to feel complete. But to the degree that we continue to search for that which can complete us we will never find it. Maybe it's another person, a career, a certain income level. We think that we need it to be complete - to be whole and perfect. But what God intended was we should know ourselves as whole, complete, and perfect just the way we are.

JACQUELINE: If only people understood this. Women are told they need a husband. Couples are told they need children. How do we get past the “need?”

NEALE: Need is the first of the 10 illusions of humans from the book “Communion with God.” When we realize we don’t need anything to be complete we also realize we are not separate, we can’t fail – the list goes on. It’s worth learning these illusions to truly see and live life from a new perspective.

JACQUELINE: I have two big four letters words that do change everything. Fear and love. How is fear an expression of love?

NEALE: Fear is an obvious expression of love. We're only afraid of anything because of something that we love. We're afraid of dying because we love living. We're afraid of losing someone because we love having them. So, if you look behind every fear what do you love so much that you have built that fear around that? The problem with humans is not that we don't know how to love it’s that we don't know how to love in a way that does not damage or hurt anyone else.

139 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

THE GOD SOLUTION

Exclusive Interview with Neale Donald Walsch by Jacqueline Way

https://awarenow.us/podcast/the-god-solution

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“Your life is not about you.” NEALE: (continued) What does a person love so much they are willing to kill for it? We even have devised a God who we say punishes and condemns us to everlasting damnation as an act of love.

JACQUELINE: Neale what can every individual in our world do daily to move the needle, to solve the world's problems?

NEALE: The best way to serve is when we choose to change ourselves into a living breathing demonstration of who we really are. Love. If we could accept the fact that we are individuations of God, decide to use each moment of our life as an opportunity to demonstrate that by asking a simple question, “What would God do right now?” If we believe in a God that is pure love, then the question and the answer become very simple. We would behave in a way that love demonstrates itself completely, fully, and absolutely needing nothing in return, no particular response, no particular outcome, no specific behavior. When we show up in the world this way, we touch the lives of millions without even trying. I haven't even come close to achieving mastery over myself, but I have placed myself on the path. And when you even place yourself on the path, you begin to impact and affect the lives of those around you. Or as I was told, when I ask God in the first conversation, what does it take to make life work? And she said, “It's so simple.” Your life is not about you. It has nothing to do with you. Your life is about everyone else who you touch and the way in which you touch them. I could of course be wrong about all of this, but I don't think so. ∎ FOR MORE ABOUT NEALE WALSCH & HIS BOOK

nealedonaldwalsch.com

awarenow.us/book/the-god-solution

facebook.com/NealeDonaldWalsch

JACQUELINE WAY

Inspirational Keynote Speaker, Philanthropist & Founder of 365give www.awarenessties.us/jacqueline-way JACQUELINE WAY is a dedicated world changer. Her soul purpose is to inspire and educate the hearts and minds of people globally to create a happy, meaningful life. She expresses her purpose through her charitable organization 365give created and inspired by her son with a simple vision to “Change the World 1 give, 1 day at time.” She is a world-renowned keynote speaker with one of the most watch TEDx Talks “How to Be Happy Every Day – It Will Change the World” Every day she is committed to living the highest expression of who she is as a human being through her work and by touching the lives of others.

140 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I still remind my husband to be careful and watch for traffic when he goes out. He still smiles and promises that he will. ANA GABRIEL MANN

CO-FOUNDER OF THE GO-GIVER MARRIAGE 142 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘THE GO-GIVER MARRIAGE’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY JOHN & ANA MANN

LOVE AND TRAUMA

BEYOND THE WOUNDS OF WAR AND PTSD The other day my husband and I were at an airport boarding gate, awaiting our flight. He told me he was heading down the hall for a latte. “Be careful,” I said. “Watch out for cars.” The moment the words left my lips I realized how absurd they were. We both had a quiet laugh, he kissed me and assured me that yes, he would watch out for traffic, and walked off for his coffee. He understood my moment of reflexive anxiety. He knows me.

He knows, for example, that my father adored me, and also that he was always watching out for my brother’s and my safety like the proverbial hawk, warning us about potential dangers, double-checking seatbelts, smothering us at times with a surfeit of fatherly caution.

My husband knows, too, about a discovery I made one Christmas as a young girl.

I’d been told not to go hunting for hidden presents, so of course, I did. As I dug around in my mom’s closet, a box of photographs on the top shelf fell off and spilled its contents onto the floor. When I saw the images, I let out a scream. My father came running.

They were photos of corpses, dead bodies piled on top of each other like cordwood.

I watched as my father fell apart—sat down next to me and openly wept. I had never seen him cry before.

My dad had learned to work about the same time he learned to walk, because his family ran a working New England farm in the middle of the Great Depression. Scarcity was etched into the fabric of his being. This much, I knew. What I didn’t yet understand, as he sat sobbing next to me, was how deeply trauma was etched in, too.

Years later, as an adult, I learned how, when he was a child, he watched his own father spend his only nickel to buy himself an ice cream cone, then eat it in front of his two young sons, giving them nothing. How his father abused his mother, verbally and physically, throughout his childhood. How at the age of 14, when my father walked into the kitchen and found his father choking his mother with his bare hands, he ran to the barn, grabbed a loaded rifle, went back to the kitchen, aimed the gun straight at his father’s head, and told him, “You let go of her and never, ever touch her again—if you do, I’ll kill you.”

He never had to make good on that threat, but nevertheless, within a few years he was surrounded by death and killing. When World War II broke out in Europe, my father joined the army and landed on D-Day on the beaches of Normandy, where he saw teenage boys like himself sink to their watery graves around him before even reaching shore. Soon after that horrific landing he witnessed the simultaneous deaths of his battalion’s three commanding officers. In that instant, he became their OIC (officer in command) for the duration of the war. When the conflict ended, he was one of several officers who opened one of the most horrific concentration camps in Germany.

Faced with the stacks of emaciated bodies, he took photographs because, he told me now between sobs, he didn’t think anyone would believe him if he didn’t document what he saw. The horror of war and of the camps changed him forever.

When I was young, I could never understand why he was so overly cautious with me and my brother, or why he persisted in seeing the world as such a dangerous place. I didn’t know the words “post-traumatic stress” (the term didn’t even exist until the late 1970s). I didn’t understand his endless speeches about being careful—until the day I discovered those photos. 143 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“His legacy is that he decided early in his life not to allow darkness to win…” Years of pain and helplessness surfaced as he held me and explained to me his desire to protect me from all the evil in the world. In that moment, I saw the world and my father with new eyes. I understood, on some level, that the world really was a dangerous place—and that my father’s love for me knew no bounds.

We all have a story we believe, a story held deep in our unconscious and programmed by the very being of our family. By age two we’ve already absorbed the story. We know how our father feels about our mother. We know how our mother feels about us. We know that Dad is always vigilant, always calculating the potential dangers around every corner, and that Mom is all business and seldom shows affection. We don’t know why, don’t even think to wonder. It’s just the way things are. Through emotional osmosis, we absorb every thread and facet of the story until it has become part of the fabric of our being, shaping us, defining us. Becoming our story.

It would take me many years to process the way my Dad’s post-traumatic stress carried over into my own life. Eventually I came to see that trauma is multigenerational. We carry the story we hold in every cell of our bodies. To say that I love my father would be an understatement. My father was the best person I’ve ever known. He loved his mother. He loved his wife. And he would have taken a bullet to protect me and my brother. But he lived his life under a shroud of deep trauma. He was triumphant and successful beyond that trauma, but never without it.

Yet his legacy is not his trauma, but how he transcended it. How, rather than being embittered or twisted by horrifying events—as perhaps his own father was—he bent that trauma to his purpose, used it to inform and deepen his capacity to love. His legacy is that he decided early in his life not to allow darkness to win and, despite an enormous amount of experience to the contrary, to teach his children to love with compassion and grace.

I still remind my husband to be careful and watch for traffic when he goes out. He still smiles and promises that he will. Overcompensation, perhaps; a surfeit of wifely caution, maybe. But he knows it’s also the ever-present echo of a love that knows no bounds. ∎ JOHN & ANA MANN

Co-Authors of ‘The Go-Giver Marriage’ www.awarenessties.us/john--ana-mann John David Mann is coauthor of more than 30 books, including four New York Times bestsellers and five national bestsellers. His classic 2008 parable The Go-Giver (coauthored with Bob Burg) earned the 2017 Living Now Book Award’s “Evergreen Medal” for its “contribution to positive global change.”

Ana Gabriel Mann, M.A., earned her degree in clinical psychology before going on to serve as an educator, therapist, corporate trainer, speaker, and coach. She currently coaches Go-Giver Marriage clients and leads the Go-Giver Marriage Coaches Training Program, training coaches from around the globe.

144 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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All you need is love… and affordable vet care. Photo Credit: Emancipet 146 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY BY LISA BOWMAN

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

EMANCIPET’S MISSION FOR ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE VET CARE As The Beatles so aptly put it during the “Summer of LOVE” 55 years ago, “Love is all you need”. This month as we focus on LOVE, all LOVE, I would be remiss not to call out the absolute and unconditional LOVE Mojo, my Alaskan Klee Kai rescue, and I have for one another. When I leave the house, I tell him, “I LOVE you.” The gaze from his crystal blue eyes tells me if he could, he’d say it right back. I LOVE this dog more than life itself and would do anything for him. He is a member of my family.

Sadly, an estimated one-third to one-half of all cats and dogs in the U.S. (out of an estimated total of 135 million pets) live with families who LOVE them too, but cannot afford to provide them with the essential veterinary care they need.

Pet parents with a household income under $50,000 struggle to afford vet care at least some of the time; the barriers to care increase as household income decreases. Households who are eligible for federal benefits with food and housing assistance are estimated to have twenty-six million pets who rarely, if ever get the veterinary and wellness care they need which results in unnecessary pain and suffering for both the pets AND the people who LOVE them.

The lack of affordable and accessible health care is a huge and complex problem – it’s known as a “wicked problem” in the social services sector because it is intertwined with other social problems and has a scope that’s large or difficult to define. The inaccessibility of affordable veterinary care has deep and tangled roots in other complex social issues like poverty, racism and economic inequality. This problem is also the ROOT CAUSE of other problems – like animal homelessness, neglect and stray dog and feral cat overpopulation.

The “access to veterinary care gap” is also, unfortunately, growing instead of shrinking. More people own pets in the U.S. now than at any other point in our history – in fact, for the first time, American households contain more pets than children. That, combined with the economic impacts of the pandemic and changes in the veterinary industry are making it harder for lower and even middle income families to find veterinary care they can afford. That’s why Emancipet and its CEO, Amy Mills, have set a bold goal of ensuring that by 2028, everyone in the United States will have access to veterinary care they can afford.

“If we can put a man on the moon in eight years then we can solve this problem in eight years too,” said Amy Mills, CEO of Emancipet. When Amy started as CEO 16 years ago, she spent one of her early days in an Emancipet clinic watching an incredible team perform 40 spay/neuter surgeries. She sat in the lobby with a woman who had a big, white, blue-eyed boxer pit mix she was getting spayed. She told Amy about her life and why she couldn’t afford another litter of puppies, even though they were the most adorable of anyone’s on the block. Amy went home that night knowing two things; 1) she seriously had her work cut out for her, and 2) it might take a while, but Emancipet was going to change the world. 147 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Photo Credit: Emancipet 148 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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By 2011, five years after she started, Emancipet was proof of something that didn’t exist before but was badly needed in many communities; a low-cost veterinary clinic capable of consistently delivering high quality, compassionate veterinary care for pets whose owners had been financially excluded from the veterinary industry. That model was based on the three important lessons learned:

1. All people, regardless of how much money they have, LOVE their pets and will do what’s best for them when given the chance.

2. Lower income consumers are willing to pay for veterinary care when it is priced appropriately and offered respectfully.

3. Real social change IS possible. Emancipet was seeing community-level shifts in both behavior and cultural norms around pet care — all stemming from pet owners having transformative experiences in their clinic.

Last year Emancipet’s network of seven clinics had nearly a quarter of a million visits, almost 10 percent higher than the prior year, for services like vaccinations, spay/neuter, dental cleaning, heartworm treatment, surgery to remove cancerous masses, and other life-saving procedures. Many of the families served had no other option for affordable veterinary care without Emancipet. Having received care at an Emancipet clinic, many have become advocates for the importance of preventive veterinary care within their families and communities, recommending Emancipet to those who haven’t heard of the organization. Some have become interested in careers in veterinary medicine. Others are helping to raise the importance of access to vet care as an issue that impacts families, and not just animals, especially in lower income communities. Amy was right. Social change IS possible.

And that social change expands beyond the pets served. Emancipet has trained nearly 1,000 professionals from 39 states to become stronger leaders and animal advocates, helping them launch or expand programs in their communities. By providing on-the job vocational training through employment as an Emancipet vet tech, community residents gain valuable and transferable skills in one of the fastest growing industries.

Their model is effectively moving communities to a future where more people can afford to take care of their pets, meaning more people and pets are able to stay together — where they belong. So perhaps in this case the song would sing… “all you need is LOVE…and affordable vet care”. ∎

EMANCIPET

Learn how you can give families the help they need to make sure their loved one is healthy:

emancipet.org/donations/pr LISA BOWMAN

Chief Mojo Officer of Marketing Mojo, Author & Official Awareness Ties Advisor www.awarenessties.us/lisabowman Lisa Bowman is the Chief Mojo Officer of Marketing Mojo. She has held senior level roles with organizations including UPS and United Way. Lisa considers herself a “Marchitect” and “Brandvangelist” who often works at the intersection of Purpose x Profit; where good businesses reside. Lisa and Mojo live in Atlanta.

149 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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I had persevered. GERARD PIERRE JENKINS, MD

CMO AT NATIVE AMERICAN HEALTH CENTER Photo Credit: Gerard Jenkins 150 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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PERSONAL STORY BY GERARD JENKINS

INFINITE HOPE

DESPITE FINITE DISAPPOINTMENT In early April 2021, I went out for a walk by the ocean.

As beautiful as the roar of the water was, the conditions at the beach that day were terrible.

It was cold, cloudy, drizzling, windy, and the weight of the sand felt immensely heavy.

It was one of the worst experiences at the beach I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately, those feelings stuck with me throughout much of 2021, which turned out to be in the top 3 most difficult years of my life. 2021 was the epitome of unrelenting adversity with consistent uncertainty. As difficult as some times were, I was blessed to have some amazing memories and experiences of what I consider episodic wins.

In January 2022, I went out for a walk by the bay.

That day the elements felt quite opposite than several months earlier.

The sun was beaming, the breeze was light, the air was warm, and the view was incredible. More importantly, it was the first time I felt the resolution of the challenges that persisted through the last several months… I had persevered.

I read a lot of quotes, and I love this one the most.

In the very wise words of Martin Luther King Jr:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

151 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“…when you speak from the heart with passion and purpose that is the most inspiring place you can come from.” TIFFANY KELLY

FOUNDER OF BEYOND BAMBOO, CO-FOUNDER PHOENIX17, AND FOUNDING PARTNER OF ROUNDTABLE GLOBAL 152 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TANITH HARDING

SPEAKING UP

A CONVERSATION WITH TIFFANY KELLY Tiffany Kelly is Founder of Beyond Bamboo, Co-Founder PhoeniX17, Author & Speaker and Founding Partner of RoundTable Global. Her first book 'Shine' was published in 2020 and she is an inspirational speaker leading women's empowerment workshops, leadership summits and innovation think tanks towards social change. She has spoken at female empowerment events to raise awareness of and prevent human trafficking and facilitated partnership collaborations for Unilever and DFiD global Transform initiative, aiming to provide clean water and sanitation to 100 million people by 2025. Her most recent speaking engagement was at The World Economic Forum in Davos. TANITH: TIffany, this and every edition of AwareNow is all about showing up and speaking up. Tell me about your fear of public speaking and how you have managed to deliver the global summit and TED talks including speaking, moderating and being a panelist at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month.

TIFFANY: Seven years ago when I Co-Founded RoundTable Global I knew that I needed to step up and have a voice as a leader in the areas that I feel passionately about but I was struggling with a debilitating fear of being on the stage. I tried everything from hypnotherapy to cognitive behaviour therapy and also psyching myself up to just get up and get

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TIFFANY KELLY BY TANITH HARDING

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153 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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TIFFANY: (continued) on with it but as soon as I stood in front of the microphone my legs went to jelly, my mouth totally dry and all the things I had carefully prepared to say disappeared out of my head. It was so upsetting and frustrating and everyone I worked with told me it was just a fear and I could ‘overcome’ it.

Then I started to learn what has become one of the core philosophies that we offer through our empowerment programmes which is that overcoming fears is a coping mechanism. A way of enabling you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do for a short amount of time but without any real learning or release for where the fear came from in the first place. What I realised during this time was that I wasn’t scared of being on the stage, I was projecting a fear that what I was speaking about wasn’t good enough and also that the audience wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say. My fear was telling me that I didn’t truly believe in what I was saying and that I wasn’t ready for the stage.

This realisation empowered me to work on myself and to really be honest about what I wanted to say and authentic in the way I showed up. Being an inspirational speaker isn’t about being the funniest, wittiest person on the stage, it is about capturing the imagination of the audience and helping them to think about things in a different way. As soon as I really believed this I immediately started to attract speaking opportunities and now I enjoy being on the stage.

TANITH: You only had three weeks to prepare for the event at Davos. Why did you decide to go with so much else on and what did you speak about?

TIFFANY: There are mixed feelings about the World Economic Forum, even from Philipp Wilhelm the Mayor of Davos who used to be a protestor and is now using his political influence to change things for the better. He has chosen to make change happen from within and that is what I want to do. Many see WEF as a masculine, exclusive gathering where discussions and decisions are made about economics and the environment which don’t have true representation from our global eco-system. We created the House of Balance in Davos during WEF in partnership with Heierling and The Cosmic Internet to launch our PhoeniX17 fund, programmes and community which is focused on increasing feminine leadership in the world. It was a 3-day event of speakers and experiences all focused on diversity, inclusivity and creating a more symbiotic way of thriving on this planet.

It was important for me to show up and speak as I have been working on bringing leadership decision making into balance for 20+ years by changing the narrative about the need to fight to empower women and instead encouraging all leaders to be more feminine in their approach.

TANITH: Most people think that feminine is female and masculine is male meaning that you are talking about feminism. Can you explain what you mean by this and how PhoeniX17 is different?

TIFFANY: This is something I have been speaking about for years and why I believe I am being given the opportunities I have to share a different way of looking at things. For me diversity can be divisive in that it puts people into boxes with labels. Gender equality has been something we have been focused on for a long time and although lots of change has happened we are still talking about equal pay and access to resources. In my experience working with women and men across 35 countries, the reason why we don’t have more women in leadership roles making decisions about inclusivity is because organisational cultures are too masculine. Masculine leadership energy is focused on self - what do I need for me, my company, my country? Feminine leadership energy is focused on other what can we do to create community, communicate and collaborate?

Organisations that are successful in the future will understand and embrace this. They will have cultures that encourage feminine for inclusivity and increased innovation and also recognise the importance of triple-bottom-line reporting - people, planet and profit.

PhoeniX17 is focused on creating this global culture change, not just on empowering women. 154 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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TANITH: As a serial entrepreneur with multiple projects what are the other things that you are passionate about and speak about?

TIFFANY: For true culture change to happen we need to focus on creating mindset and leadership change, a community for this to thrive and then much more awareness about being planet conscious and going beyond sustainability to restore and rejuvenate. I leverage the platforms that RoundTable, the Global Youth Awards, PhoeniX17 and Beyond Bamboo create to share these messages.

TANITH: What would you say to anyone else out there who would like to show up and speak about their passions but are too fearful to do it?

TIFFANY: Work out where that fear comes from and if there is anything you are saying that you don’t believe in or isn’t authentically you. Don’t try and be the best speaker - just be you. In my experience when you speak from the heart with passion and purpose that is the most inspiring place you can come from. ∎ FOR MORE ABOUT TIFFANY KELLY AND HER WORK

www.phoenix17.org

www.roundtable.global

www.beyondbamboo.life

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.

155 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Creating a piece for a multi-faceted artist is exciting and challenging… LAURA ZABO

UPCYCLING DESIGNER & ECO ENTREPRENEUR 156 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘TIRELESS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LAURA ZABO

MULTI-FACETED

SUSTAINABLE STYLE WITH RAIN PHOENIX An artist with great depth and character should have an accessory with the same qualities. Resonating with a love of all things recycled, this neckpiece fashioned from recycled bicycle tires was custom created by Laura Zabo who paired this piece with the one and only Rain Phoenix. THE ARTIST’S ARTICULATION:

“Creating a piece for a multi-faceted artist is exciting and challenging at the same time, because it goes very well and doesn’t match at all. I wanted to create a piece that is empowering and artistic at the same time. Each curly piece was carefully selected, positioned and directed to give this 3D effect. This ‘curlywurly’ style is my signature style, and with it I was hoping to express love, respect and a lot of passion through this statement neckpiece.” - Laura Zabo THE WEARER’S WORDS:

“I shop at thrift stores. I love them. I love anything recycled. That’s why I’m happy to wear this one-of-a-kind piece by Laura Zabo.” - Rain Phoenix

See and shop for Laura Zabo’s sustainable style: www.laurazabo.com

LAURA ZABO

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

157 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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We should almost expect films based on a true story to have elements of fiction. TODD BROWN

FOUNDER OF THE INSPIRE PROJECT & CO-FOUNDER OF OPERATION OUTBREAK Artwork by: Brenda Clarke 158 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘THE INSPIRE PROJECT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TODD BROWN

WE ARE WHAT WE DON’T SEE

HOW TELEVISION IS SHAPING OUR WORLDVIEW THROUGH SILENCE It was a simple question. After finishing the 1996 film, my son asked me if Fargo was a true story. I restarted the film for him to reread the title sequence: "THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred." Not being satisfied, he did what most teenagers do. He ventured into the world of Google to get his answer. He was shocked to find that the events occurred exactly as shown. Well, except for the characters' names. And the location of the film. And the dates that the events occurred. Essentially everything in the entire film sans the woodchipper.

By all means, do not take my word for it or Google's, for that matter. William H. Macy, who starred in the movie, commented on the film's outright lie, saying, "You can't do that!" One of the writers and directors, Joel Coen, responded, "Why not? If an audience believes that something's based on a real event, it gives you permission to do things they might otherwise not accept"(1). In Fargo's defense, this is not new. We as an audience have witnessed this trick repeatedly with movies like The Amityville Horror, Argo, A Beautiful Mind, 21, The Fighter, and many more. We should almost expect films based on a true story to have elements of fiction. Or are these films fiction with elements of truth? Maybe they are truthful fiction. Or wait, are they fictional truth? I'm confused.

The phrase 'based on a true story or actual events' provides writers, producers, and directors a license to muddy the waters in the spirit of storytelling, so let us turn our attention to a different genre built on cold, hard facts: documentaries. After all, sometimes reality is far more compelling than fiction. Take, for example, Netflix's docuseries, "The Staircase." For those who have not watched the fascinating true story, it is a 2004 French-produced, Englishlanguage documentary concerning the trial of a retired military member and novelist, Michael Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson. The series has everything. Twists and turns, shocking new evidence, corrupt officials, and even the potential of an owl (Yes, an owl. The kind of owl that is a bird) being a suspect. My wife and I debated about Peterson's guilt based on the series. Did he get off, or did he get a raw deal? As my son taught me, I asked the all-mighty Google. Hey, hold up. What is this? Article after article painted a much different picture, listing crucial evidence not included in the film. For instance, the life insurance policy, those darn deleted emails, the defense lawyer's wife sending letters to jurors during deliberations, etc. Astoundingly, the film's editor Sophie Brunet had a romantic relationship WITH Peterson during and after the filming of the series (2). Wait a second. Were the viewers of the Staircase misled intentionally? This is a DOCUMENTARY that tells the entertaining story of what happened— virtually filmed in real-time over a decade. There it is. Did you catch the magical phrase? Here it is again. This is a DOCUMENTARY that tells the entertaining story of what happened—virtually filmed in real-time over a decade. The answer hidden in plain sight is, 'tells the entertaining story.' Entertainment and storytelling are often more critical than accuracy in the new fad of true crime and courtroom documentaries. Unfortunately, more and more of these films and series have begun to follow the adage, 'never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.' While this may not be accurate for every documentary, we are often sold a bill of goods that focuses more on riveting storytelling than the truth. But it's just entertainment. What could be the harm in that?

To understand the harm, we need to step back and examine a 45-year-old theoretical communication concept known as symbolic annihilation (SA), when researchers began investigating the power of written, verbal, and video messaging. Sociology Professors Dr. George Gerbner and Dr. Gaye Tuchman found the more media, specifically TV, people watched, the more likely the audience defined the real world by what they had consumed. Essentially, TV defined their interpretation of reality. But what is the result of the media leaving out or not covering specific information? Interestingly, the audiences' viewpoints are equally affected by leaving out information. The more incomplete information consumed, the more of what is presented is locked into our brains as the 'truth' because we are unaware of the 'annihilated' topic. 159 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Maybe they are truthful fiction. Or wait, are they fictional truth? I’m confused. TODD BROWN

FOUNDER OF THE INSPIRE PROJECT & CO-FOUNDER OF OPERATION OUTBREAK Artwork by: Bec Button 160 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Here's a quick example provided by Jennifer Good, an associate professor of communication, popular culture, and film at Brock University:

"More than a billion iPhones have been sold around the world. Every step of its life cycle – from mining the metals to assembly to discarding – punishes the environment. Electronics TakeBack Coalition's advocacy organization reports that more than 416,000 mobile devices are discarded in the United States each day. The waste generated should be of major interest to the media and everyone else, but this is where SA comes in. Research I recently published in the Canadian Journal of Communication, I searched almost 300 Canadian newspapers for any mention of "iPhone" in 2007, the year it was introduced. I found 1,257 news items that mentioned "iPhone," but only 94 articles mentioned "electronic waste" or "e-waste." I checked again in 2015 when growing awareness of electronic waste had made it a bona fide global environmental justice phenomenon. The number of articles mentioning "iPhone" increased by 33 percent, to 1,679, whereas the number of stories mentioning "electronic waste/e-waste" decreased by 69 percent, to 29. But here's the real kicker: In both years combined, the number of articles mentioning both "iPhone" and "electronic waste/e-waste" totaled just three.

Upon further investigation, Good found that the consequences of low-wage workers dismantling piles of electronic waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, or Guiyu, China, are devastating. For instance, in "Guiyu, 80 percent of children have more respiratory illnesses, higher lead and cadmium contamination levels, and lower cognitive functioning than children from surrounding areas without e-waste operations.” (3)

Yet, we rarely are provided this information, and conversely, we are inundated with the positives of the iPhone.

SA recognizes the media's power to manipulate us when it doesn't present all the information. Being denied specific information about a reality we don't experience ourselves is an easy way to annihilate and replace reality with false narratives to suit the needs or desires of the controlling party. In 1978, Dr. Tuchman divided the concept of symbolic annihilation into three aspects, 1) omission, 2) trivialization, and 3) condemnation (4).

So, what does this have to do with Fargo or Netflix documentaries? In this series, I will describe and analyze how the media promotes stereotypes, denying specific identities, not through presented information, but maybe, more importantly, through the absence of information. Hold on to your hats. In this series, we are going on a ride that will dig into our newest craze of subscription channel 'documentaries' that continue to fuel a belief in celebrating male power at the expense of female dignity.

In the next part of the series, we will examine how easy it is to victim-blame talking with the supposed Bad Vegan, Sarma Melngailis, currently living Symbolic Annihilation. Then our journey will look backward to help us understand our present selves and our future through the bars of that old prison at Stanford and confidence games. Finally, we will set sail towards home with a bit of introspection when we ask ourselves if we are the driving force behind the problem and how our education system may subtly enforce the marginalization of women. And, for the record, all the information will be true during this wandering road of connecting the dots. I won't leave anything out. I promise. ∎ RESOURCES

1) Stockton, Chrissy (2022). Is 'Fargo' (1996) Based on a True Story?: www.creepycatalog.com/true-story-movie-fargo

2) Arnold, Jessica (2018). All the Things Netflix's The Staircase Left Out:

www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1140058/facts-netflix-the-staircase-left-out

3) Good, Jennifer (2016). Creating iPhone Dreams: Annihilating E-waste Nightmares:

www.researchgate.net/publication/314718643_Creating_iPhone_Dreams_Annihilating_E-waste_Nightmares

4) Tuchman, Gaye (1979). "The depiction of women in the mass media". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society: 528–542:

www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/493636

TODD BROWN

Awareness Ties Columnist www.awarenessties.us/todd-brown Dr. Todd Brown is a winner of multiple education awards, including the U.S. Congressional Teacher of the Year Award, U.S. Henry Ford Innovator Award, Education Foundation Innovator of the Year, and Air Force Association STEM Teacher of the Year. Dr. Brown is the creator and founder of the Inspire Project and cocreator of Operation Outbreak, which was named the Reimagine Education Award for Best Hybrid Program in the world. He is also an Education Ambassador for the United Nations and an Educational Ambassador of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

161 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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Periods shouldn’t stop young girls from participating in sport. ALI RILEY

NEW ZEALAND PUMA ATHLETE AND CAPTAIN OF THE FOOTBALL FERNS Photo Credit: Modibodi/PUMA 162 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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FEATURE STORY WITH MODIBODI & PUMA

GAME ON FOR GIRLS

GIVING CONFIDENCE TO MAKE PLAYS WHILE MENSTRUATING Sport is all about numbers. And when it comes to the celebration of sport, the goals kicked, and games won are the numbers that take centre stage. But there’s a series of numbers that are less well-known: the number of girls leaving sport daily, due to shame and fear of leaks. As part of the launch of their new leak-proof underwear collection, global sports company PUMA and leak-proof apparel company Modibodi® commissioned a global survey that investigated the reason girls are leaving sport; shining a light on the numbers that really matter.

The statistics unearthed were shocking, with 1 in 2 teens skipping sport because of their period. The PUMA and Modibodi® global survey discovered that for many girls, sport stops because of embarrassment, pain or fear of leaks during their period. The survey insights show how the culture and lack of innovation around periods is holding girls back from participating in sport. The discomfort of disposable products coupled, from a coaching perspective, with a lack of education and training, has meant that the result is female players finding the fear of leaking psychologically impacting their sporting performance.

With the subject of periods going undiscussed in the sports world, Australian PUMA athlete and AFL Collingwood star, Sabrina Frederick, is keen to break the stigma: “I was one of the ones who stayed in sport. But for many girls, that’s not a reality. Periods shouldn’t stop young girls from participating in sport. These are numbers we need to address, to keep girls in sport longer.”

Ali Riley, New Zealand PUMA athlete and captain of the Football Ferns, says, “It's time to break the silence and help women and girls stay comfortable and active during their period. What’s fantastic about the PUMA x Modibodi active underwear collection is that it has been designed specifically to help making playing sport on your period more possible than ever before.”

The PUMA x Modibodi collection replaces the need for disposable pads, liners and tampons as you play. Modibodi’s proprietary Modifier Technology™ wicks moisture and sweat, locks away fluid and odour and keeps you feeling fresh and dry, without the discomfort of disposables.

“3 in 5 teens skip sport due to fear of leaking or revealing their period which is why we are thrilled to launch this collection with PUMA and together normalize menstruation and tackle the stigma that women can't be active on their periods or when experiencing any of life’s leaks.” said Kristy Chong, CEO and Founder, Modibodi.

“Our data also shows that 1 in 2 experience discomfort from disposable menstrual products like pads and tampons when participating in sport or physical exercise- so by releasing this range of leak-proof underwear we are hoping to make playing sport on your period more comfortable, more protected, and more possible than ever. Changing the world should be as easy as changing your underwear. Waste-free, leak-free, worry-free protection.”

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3 in 4 women believe periods need to be more openly discussed in the sports world… ERIN LONGIN

GLOBAL DIRECTOR RUNNING AND TRAINING BUSINESS UNIT AT PUMA. Photo Credit: Modibodi/PUMA 164 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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“…we are hoping to make playing sport on your period more comfortable, more protected, and more possible than ever. Changing the world should be as easy as changing your underwear.” Under the “She Moves Us” platform, PUMA together with Modibodi believe that everybody who wants to participate in exercise or sport should be given the opportunity to stay active and play.

“3 in 4 women believe periods need to be more openly discussed in the sports world, and it’s why we are proud to partner with Modibodi to shine a light on these numbers that really matter in sports.” said Erin Longin, Global Director Running and Training business unit at PUMA. “As a global brand, we felt it important to do our part to address this issue.”

As part of the launch, PUMA and Modibodi will work with PUMA’s She Moves Us charity partner, Women Win, to donate bundle packs to 500 girls and women in need. “Period poverty is a huge issue globally but one that isn’t nearly spoken about enough. Making sustainable menstrual products widely available is something that needs to be addressed urgently and that is why I am so proud to be a part of the PUMA x Modibodi collaboration,” says Jodie Williams, British sprinter and PUMA athlete. ∎

PUMA

PUMA is one of the world’s leading sports brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing footwear, apparel and accessories. For more than 70 years, PUMA has relentlessly pushed sport and culture forward by creating fast products for the world’s fastest athletes. PUMA offers performance and sport-inspired lifestyle products in categories such as Football, Running and Training, Basketball, Golf, and Motorsports. It collaborates with renowned designers and brands to bring sport influences into street culture and fashion. The PUMA Group owns the brands PUMA, Cobra Golf and stichd. The company distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs about 14,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany.

MODIBODI

Founded in 2013, Modibodi® is Australia’s original leak-proof apparel brand, designing underwear, swimwear, active wear, maternity wear and reusable nappies to replace disposable hygiene products and offer a sustainable solution to manage periods, incontinence, discharge, breast milk leaks, sweat and more. Modibodi is warm, authentic and human. We help people with all kinds of leaky bodies get on with their lives. We’re plain speaking and taboo breaking. We’re comfortable in our own skin and not embarrassed to talk about leaky bodies – because they’re part of life. We offer a range of products and sizes across our three brands: Modibodi®, Modibodi RED for tweens and teens, and Modibodi Men to manage incontinence, sweat and chafing. Our Modibodi leak-proof products have been scientifically tested and proven to absorb fluid, resist odour, and keep you dry, thanks to the brand’s patented technology which keeps you feeling comfortable and confident and reduces the impact on the environment. Modibodi is committed to sustainability and social impact, helping end period poverty and normalising conversations about periods and leaks through education and supporting people in need globally. To date, Modibodi has sold millions of garments worldwide, saving billions of single-use disposable hygiene products such as pads, liners and tampons from ending up in landfill.

165 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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She was the bright light this world so desperately needed, and her light will never dim. ALI HORNUNG

FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 166 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALI HORNUNG

A GLIMMER OF HOPE IN HONOR OF ELLA

Glimmer of Hope Foundation is a non-profit organization showing girls their strength and beauty through donating bald dolls and bringing hope to families battling childhood cancer. Its founder, Ali Hornung, is a 22 year old student at the University of Rhode Island who has been a passionate childhood cancer advocate since the age of 12. Inspired by her honorary ‘little sis’, Ella, who battled leukemia for 3 years, Ali delivers hope one doll at a time to young cancer patients around the world. ALLIÉ: If the story of Glimmer of Hope Foundation was a book, its first chapter would be titled ‘Ella’’. Ali, please share Ella’s story.

ALI: Ella was a bright, bubbly girl with long blonde hair and an aura that made everyone feel included and loved. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of eleven and went through 2.5 years of various treatments including chemotherapy, which made her lose her hair. When Ella first lost her hair, she wrote a letter to a popular doll company, asking them to create a bald doll. Ella received a doll and named her doll “Hope.” It was her dream for all children battling cancer to receive this doll so that they could feel confident, strong and courageous in their battles.

Ella had her last chemo treatment on June 26th 2018 and was in remission for about 10 months before relapsing with leukemia in April of 2019. She began treatment yet again and was preparing for a bone marrow transplant at the end of the summer. Due to some complications with her leukemia, Ella passed away on August 24th 2019 at the age of fourteen.

A GLIMMER OF HOPE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALI HORNUNG

CLICK, TAP OR SCAN

TO WATCH NOW

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It’s these moments that help me to continually realize the difference this doll makes in the lives of young people with big battles. ALI HORNUNG

FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 168 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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ALI: (continued) Ella was loved by so many, and she was very loved by me. She still is. We called each other “big sis” and “little sis” and shared a bond like no other. Ella loved to do makeup, and showed me a trick or two. She was an honors student, an avid reader (she loved Harry Potter) and was a silver award Girl Scout. Ella was beginning to share her story and speak on her journey at nonprofit events and in the media. She was the bright light this world so desperately needed, and her light will never dim.

ALLIÉ: It began with Ella. It started with her wish for every girl battling cancer to receive a bald doll. How many dolls have been donated so far? How much does it cost to sponsor a doll?

ALI: To date, since our founding in summer of 2020, we have sent just about 400 dolls. It costs $150 to sponsor a doll. This includes the cost of the doll, the accessories we put with the doll, the cards sharing Ella’s story and other resources we share with the families as well as the shipping cost.

ALLIÉ: What a difference a doll makes. Can you share one of your favorite stories of the difference a doll has made for a young patient?

ALI: There are so many stories I would love to share. One of my favorite videos we have received from a child receiving their doll was from a little girl named Addison. Addison battles DIPG, a brainstem glioma with a 1% survival rate. Not all patients with DIPG lose their hair, but Addison did. I feel so lucky to have the privilege to have gotten to “know” Addison through her mom’s Facebook page and a few zoom calls. When Addison received her doll she had the brightest look on her face. She said, “It looks just like me! I didn’t know they made a doll with no hair that looked like me!” It’s these moments that help me to continually realize the difference this doll makes in the lives of young people with big battles.

ALLIÉ: To bring hope to young girls battling cancer, you donate more than dolls. Let’s talk about the packages and the paintings.

ALI: We donate wellness packages on a need basis to families we have supported in the past. These packages include anything from books, to toys, hygiene products, blankets and more. Every year we donate 30 “Santa Sacks” to the Izzy Room at Hasbro Children’s Hospital for children and teenagers battling cancer. This past year we also put together 30 baskets filled with makeup, hygiene products, books and more for moms of children at Hasbro. These packages are sent out to our warrior families as well as our families in remission and bereaved parents and families.

Additionally, we send out bereavement paintings to families whom we’ve supported whose child has passed away. These paintings are 8x10 watercolor or goulash paintings of the child in a happy moment, by artist Spencer Welch Studios who we partner with. She painted Ella after she first passed away, and I saw the joy that painting brought her parents. Being a childhood cancer advocate is a lifelong journey. It does not end when a child passes away. We support the family forever.

ALLIÉ: Young women helping young girls, Ali, you and your team have created something so special to help so many. What does the next chapter for the Glimmer of Hope Foundation look like?

ALI: I am someone who is never afraid of taking advantage of my dreams. I have dreams of bringing our “Best Day Ever” Photoshoot to every U.S. state as well as internationally. I want to share this doll with every child battling cancer that we can, with hopes that one day childhood cancer will be cured and our mission will be complete. My team has dreams they are taking advantage of as well by assisting in our mission as well as assisting with photoshoots and creating their own fundraisers. When families think of Glimmer of Hope, I want them to know that with Glimmer of Hope, they are supported, loved and thought of as a human being. Their child will never be forgotten by us. I have dreams to spread Glimmer of Hope’s mission and Ella’s dreams far and wide and continue to build, but humble myself in this journey by knowing that just impacting one child’s life is enough. I always say that one person may not make a difference in the entire world, but may make a world of a difference in the life of one person. ∎

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOUNDATION

glimmerofhopefoundation.org

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It is difficult to hold back and not push too hard, but you have to let people learn. BRENDA

IMAGINE LA ‘MENTOR OF THE MONTH’ Photo Credit: Imagine LA 170 AWARENOW / THE LOVE EDITION

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‘MENTOR OF THE MONTH’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY IMAGINE LA

BREAKING THE CYCLE BRENDA: AN IMAGINE LA MENTOR

Perseverance is at the heart of our families’ – and our mentors’ success! Both mentor and mentee must invest time and effort in their relationship, be highly communicative, show vulnerability, and work to bridge any differences so they might grow together. This isn’t easy. Despite the challenges, Brenda Imes, a three-time Imagine LA Mentor, never gave up. After her first two matches didn’t work out, her third time was a charm. Brenda was matched with Sarina, a mom of three living in East LA, on March 19, 2020 – Imagine LA’s last day in the office before going into lockdown. While the pandemic threw a major wrench into their plans, Brenda and Sarina managed to build a strong connection, grounded in mutual respect and Sarina’s desire to build a better life for herself and her children.

One area they found great success in was Sarina’s finances. While budgeting is often not fun, Brenda sat virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with Sarina, helping her understand how her income and expenses influence the creation of a budget. “It really opened her eyes to her spending habits,” recalled Brenda, beaming with pride. “Then, it became kind of a game! She kept asking, ‘Where can I save more? I found another one!’ It was an honor to help her access tools and knowledge that she can use for the rest of her life.”

But mentorship is also deeply relational, and Brenda related to Sarina personally as a mother. Brenda also has a son and spent hours with Sarina processing the roller coaster of parenthood and Sarina’s challenges keeping her kids safe and on the right path. Brenda is also especially proud of this: Sarina’s perseverance raising a teenage son and resilience through his health and social challenges. “She’s such a loving mother and hard worker,” Brenda said. “Even as the world says, ‘No,’ she looks for a way to find ‘Yes’ and support her family.”

The main lesson Brenda takes away from her experience as a mentor is this: “We’ve got to meet people where they are. Whatever mentors may have in their heads as to where mentees could be, it's important to keep in mind where they are in their lives, especially with financial education. It is difficult to hold back and not push too hard, but you have to let people learn.”

She also stressed how tough it was for Sarina to navigate the social benefits system and applauded Imagine LA’s work with the USC Price Center to show how expensive it is to be poor. “This system isn’t working for working families,” she declared. “We need to equip families like Sarina with better tools and more user-friendly systems, so they have a chance of actually overcoming the chips stacked against them.” Thank you, Brenda, for never giving up on your mission to help others! ∎ IMAGINE LA www.imaginela.org IMAGINE LA prevents first-time and repeat homelessness and equips families to maintain housing stability and thrive long-term. Every day, families across Los Angeles embody resilience and tenacity as they navigate their way out of poverty. Imagine LA provides the relationships and resources to help the entire family thrive for the long-term. Everything Imagine LA does is built on a foundation of trust and relationships. Whole-family, caring case management works to prevent first-time or repeat homelessness, and clear barriers to family goals, which sets the stage for economic mobility programming, financial independence, and success for the whole family.

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WITH THESE STORIES WE CAN SAY

“I AM AWARE NOW.”

R E A D , L I S T E N & WAT C H THE MAGAZINE, THE PODCAST & THE PRODUCTIONS

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