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AWARENOW

ISSUE 16

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 TRIUMPH

COVER STORY/EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

RJ MITTE

THE NEW HUMANITY

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS

PASSIONATE

EMILIE GOLDBLUM

KINDNESS IS ACTION

BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION

A DUBAI DETOUR

CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

NOT JUST FOR A DAY

LEX GILLETTE

THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

IAN ADAIR

TO VAX OR NOT TO VAX

DR. ROBERT PACE

CULTURE CONSCIOUS

THI NGUYEN

THE MAYDAY EDITION CONVERSION OF AWARENESS TO ACTION


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


THE MAYDAY EDITION In this issue, we present stories that speak to the needed conversation of awareness to action. For the causes we support that tie us all together, there is an urgency to think and act now. May the content here inspire and inform you beyond words of understanding, toward actions of change.

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.

06 THE NEW HUMANITY

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS

58 A DUBAI DETOUR

102 UNSUGARCOATED

14 NOT JUST FOR A DAY

LEX GILLETTE

64 METAMORPHOSIS FOR MUSICIANS

NICK BOTTINI

104 CULTURE CONSCIOUS

THI NGUYEN

18 TRIUMPH

70 THIS IS DOABLE

108 TO VAX OR NOT TO VAX

24 TRIUMPHANT

74 MY MAY DAY

112 THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

28 PASSIONATE

76 NOT WITHOUT MY NURSES

JOEL CARTNER

116 DO YOUR SUFFER IN COMFORT?

PAUL ROGERS

32 DAYS LIKE THIS

LORI BUTIERRIES

80 NOW WHAT

120 THROWING OFF THE STRAITJACKET

NED STRANGER

36 NAKED UNDER MY CLOTHES

82 NEVER TOO YOUNG

124 THE ARC OF ELIKEM ARCHER

44 A CONFERENCE FOR CREATIVES

86 SPRING RESET

128 THE HAPPY BOX PROJECT

48 CHECKING IN

90 CREATOR’S CALLING

CHIEF OGIMAA

132 A LETTER TO THE MODERN MOM

52 MOM FAIL

96 MOTHER’S DAY EVERY DAY

KRISTEN MARTIN

56 KINDNESS IS ACTION

98 I AM ME

RJ MITTE

MICHAEL COFFEY

EMILIE GOLDBLUM

SAGE GALLON

MAXIM JAGO

DR. JENNY MARTIN

CORI LEVINSON

BTWF/CHANNEL KINDNESS/TEREZ HANHAN

3

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CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

COLONEL RUSS BARNES/ALEXANDER TAYLOR

PROVIDENCE BOWMAN

DESMOND CLARK

NATALIE ASATRYAN/TANITH HARDING

JONATHAN KOHANSKI

ERICA LAUREN/AALIA LANIUS

DR. ROBERT PACE

IAN ADAIR

ELIKEM ARCHER/ALEXANDER TAYLOR

TAMMY LAWRENCE

LORRAINE D’ALESSIO

CLAIRE LIBBY/TANITH HARDING

www.IamAwareNow.com


MAYDAY! This is a call for help.

With this edition of AwareNow, please help us in welcoming new additions to our awareness raising, cause supporting family. New Official Ambassadors include EMILIE GOLDBLUM for Health & Wellness (who will also contribute as a columnist), SAGE GALLON for Homelessness, BRIANNI WALKER for Bullying. We also welcome LORI BUTIERRIES as a new Official Columnist. In addition, every month Lady Gaga’s BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION will be contributing content via CHANNEL KINDNESS.

There’s more… This month we unveil ‘AWARENOW OFFICIAL SELECTIONS’ recognizing cause conscious media in the form of FILMS, BOOKS, MUSIC & ART. In this issue, look for the first 3 named selections.

On behalf of Allié, myself and the whole Awareness Ties family, we are honored to be a stage where we come together to have faces seen and voices heard to raise awareness for the causes we’re all tied to.

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 original 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™.

Connect with Allié on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alliemerrick 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.

Connect with Jack on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jack-mcguire-609339186 www.IamAwareNow.com

@AWARENESSTIES

@AWARENESSTIES

@AWARENESSTIES 4

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FIND STORIES, STATS & SUPPORT

FOR THE CAUSES THAT TIE US ALL TOGETHER

WWW.TABLEOFCAUSES.COM


‘RIDERS OF THE LIGHT’

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS 6

AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTY LEE ROGERS

THE NEW HUMANITY

UNDERWATER EXPRESSIONS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION Christy Lee Rogers is an International underwater artist from Hawaii. In 2019 she was selected as Open Photographer of the Year for the Sony World Photography Awards. She is a two time finalist for the Contemporary Talents Award from the Fondation François Schneider in France, and has been commissioned by Apple to create underwater images with the iPhone 11Pro, as well as being featured in one of their behind-the-scenes process films. The Independent of London compared her underwater photography to the works of Caravaggio, Delacroix, Rubens and Titian. CNN mentions "Rogers is changing the way water is used in photography to create images that can easily be mistaken for paintings and that push the boundaries of reality."

Allié: Through underwater photography, with incredible artistry you capture rich hues and saturated tones with figures and fabric that seem to be weightless defying gravity and all rules in general. What first inspired you to explore this dramatic medium?

Christy: Growing up in Hawaii, I always felt so alive in water. Needing that feeling of beauty and tranquility first inspired my experimentations with it as an artistic tool about 20 years ago. Every molecule of life on this planet is connected by water. It means life here. I saw that I could use this to represent the emotions I had brewing in me. Water representing purity and creation; and the human body free from gravity but trapped by the very thing that brought it life. And from that moment water became my tool of choice to express the essence of mankind, with these same beautiful dichotomies. There is mystery and magic under water. It’s an undiscovered world beneath the surface. So, of course, I wanted to create there all the time because anything is possible. All you have to do is dream it up. That’s the way life should be.

‘JUSTICE LIBERTY & PEACE’

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS 7

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‘VENUS RISING’

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS 8

AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH UNDERWATER ARTIST CHRISTY LEE ROGERS

THIS IS A PERSONAL LOOK INTO UNDERWATER ARTIST CHRISTY LEE ROGERS' PROCESS, BEHIND THE SCENES & EMOTIONAL INTRICACIES.

“I’m always trying to find the solutions to existence and pushing toward more freedoms for myself and the world.”

Allié: I can’t imagine the complexity of the mechanics and logistics of your underwater shoots. Can you walk us through the process? How long does a shoot take? What is the most difficult part?

Christy: For me the creative process is always raw and experimental. I live it everyday. This is what allows me to explore new frontiers and to make the necessary mistakes that will lead to something beautiful. It starts with notebooks that I keep throughout the year of ideas, inspirations and thoughts. I’m always trying to find the solutions to existence and pushing toward more freedoms for myself and the world. So this plays a part in the process. I truly believe that mankind is so angelic underneath all of the junk that weighs us down. The most difficult part is finding a way to express that visually. How do I show you that in a single image? A collection of images will take about a year from concept to fruition. Costumes, props and fabrics are gathered or made as the concept is coming together, like building a sculpture very slowly. One piece builds on the other. There’s a point where everything feels right and that’s when I plan the actual shoot. Shooting may only be for four days, but it feels like an eternity, as there’s so much work behind it. From there the post production process may take 6 months. I like to breathe with the images and let them soak in. 9

AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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‘UNBREAKABLE’

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS 10 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“There’s not one day that I don’t feel vulnerable…”

Allié: As an artist, what is your favorite part of the process - developing the concept or capturing the content?

Christy: I love the whole process, but my favorite part is after the shoot when I’m looking at the images that were captured. Developing the concept can be painful in some ways, until that last moment when it all comes together. Shooting is also exhilarating, when everything is working out. But it’s like a marathon shooting with water; I’m problem solving the whole way. And then I sleep for days once it’s complete.

Allié: My favorite quote of yours is this: “Through our deepest vulnerabilities we somehow find our most profound strengths.” Can you share a personal vulnerability of your own and the strength you found there?

Christy: Actually, the start of my art career began as one of my most vulnerable points. During the 2008 market crash I lost absolutely everything. I was without a place to live, not one cent to my name, huge debt, loss of a massive project I had worked on for over 3 years, my relationship, and loss of my own dignity and hope. It all happened so fast and I probably cried for a week straight. That led to me fainting, falling and hitting my head, and cracking my eye open. I wound up in the emergency room and with huge doctor bills that I could not pay. There’s a point where you think “I’m going to die”, and then you don’t. So I went back to Hawaii and stayed with my family. And that’s when I became a true artist. I had nothing left to lose. I locked myself away and created like mad… I wrote, read, studied, bettered myself and then shot my Odyssey collection. I’d sell a print for $300 to a friend, take $100 of it to rent the best camera and the rest would go to barely pay a few bills. But I felt alive. And it was the freest I ever felt, even to this day. That’s when I decided on this concept of hope through vulnerability, because I lived it and I knew that other people did as well. There’s not one day that I don’t feel vulnerable, but that’s what life is after all. We’re vulnerable to death, our bodies, viruses, relationships, everything; but how we respond to it is what’s makes us great. ∎

Transcending mediums and mechanics,

the work of Christy Lee Rogers

is not only meant to be seen but felt.

Steeped in human empathy,

her photography is not simply a collection of photos, it’s an anthology of emotion

that defines our very humanity.

Allié McGuire

Co-Founder of Awareness Ties

Learn more about Christy Lee Rogers and her work by visiting her website: www.christyleerogers.com

Follow her on Instagram: @christyleerogers

11 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘DESTINY’

CHRISTY LEE ROGERS 12 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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A WORLD OF CONTENT

FOR THE CAUSES YOU CARE ABOUT

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Someone who helped to build our dreams instead of tear them down… LEX GILLETTE

4X PARALYMPIC MEDALIST, 4X WORLD CHAMPION & KEYNOTE SPEAKER 14 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


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

NOT JUST FOR A DAY

CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE TO OUR MOTHERS & GRANDMOTHERS During this month, we recognize and celebrate all the amazing mothers. There are so many special moms on this planet, and believe me, each one deserves more than just 24 hours of recognition.

Do you have any special mommy memories that come to mind? I’m talking about those times when your mom made you smile? A time when she went above and beyond for you? How about those times when mom would make your favorite meal?

Listen, if you want to talk about food, imagine this. It’s been a long day of school. You even had practice after school. Band practice, track practice, any type of practice. You come home to an aroma filled home. That intoxicating scent of crispy golden fried chicken, with a piping hot serving of Mac and cheese, a healthy dose of green beans, and to top it all off, a piece of cornbread. And not just any cornbread, the corner piece. The piece that has a very subtle buttery tasting, crunchy edge. Sheesh, I’m making myself hungry.

Moms are incredible.

But today I want to shed light on another mom. My grandma.

Back in a little North Carolina country town lives my grandma. The type of town that maybe has two stoplights, one grocery store, a couple gas stations, and a rooster for an alarm clock. She lives in the type of town where everyone knows each other. My grandma lives in a small house with a big back yard, but although the home was small, she helped me to birth some big dreams.

“I see him. He’s doing just fine.”

My grandma is special.

At a time when most people expected blindness to hold me back, she expected a different outcome.

I spent many days floundering around in her backyard, doing flips and cartwheels. I’d bet you my pants always had grass stains on them. We would spend New Year’s Eve together, waiting for the clock to hit midnight. My grandma would have the fireworks ready once the time hit 12:00 on the dot. I’d sit on the front porch as screeches and loud pops filled the air. And food? I’d put my grandma’s cooking up against anybody’s! You’ll never go hungry at her house.

The biggest thing that she did for me was eliminate barriers that the world attempted to plant in my mind.

“That boy is out there flipping upside down.”

My grandma’s response, “I see him. He’s doing just fine.”

“Goodness gracious, you gonna let him jump off of the porch like that?” My grandma’s response. “He ain’t doing anything wrong. Everything is just fine.” Talk about a guardian angel. There were windows on all sides of the home which meant that my grandma had a direct line of sight to all of the locations where I played. And get this, she would even come outside and play right along with me, and she’d fuel my imagination along the way. After torrential down pours, we’d be outside with imaginary fishing rods, catching the biggest fish in the sea.

15 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

WORDS FROM LEX GILLETTE’S MOTHER, VERDINA GILLETTE-SIMS

We’d even kick the soccer ball back and forth. I would listen to the ball as it would travel across the grass, and once it was close, I’d stop it with my foot and wind up for the return kick. I remember there was a black 18-wheeler truck that my grandma bought me for Christmas. You could twist the crank on the side of the door, and it would light up and rev up for a long haul. Guess who was along for those cross-country treks to deliver hundreds of crates of North Carolina’s very own Pepsi. My grandma.

My grandma helped to open my mind to a world of endless possibility. A small house with a big backyard served as my trampoline into infinite imagination, and today, I’m reaping the benefits.

Our mothers and grandmothers are extremely amazing. Where would we be without them? Where would we be if we didn’t have someone to pour fertilizer into the soil of our minds? Someone who helped to build our dreams instead of tear them down. Someone who refused to allow outsiders to dictate our outcome.

I don’t even want to ponder the thought.

What life would be like if we didn’t have amazing mothers, grandmothers, and similar figures, in our lives to help establish a foundation for success?

Let’s celebrate our mothers!

And not just for one day. ∎ LEX GILLETTE

4x 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.

16 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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NOW STREAMING

LISTEN IN. CLICK THE PODCASTS BELOW.

AwareNow™ Podcast is the 'Official Podcast for Causes'. Presented by Awareness Ties, AwareNow is rated 'O' for original and organic content to raise awareness for the causes we're all tied to, through personal stories and exclusive interviews. Tune in as we raise awareness a story at a time about topics that aren't always easy to talk about through conversations that are sometimes hard to have. Together, we are aware now. Listen and download. Available via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts & more.

S U B S C R I B E A W A R E N O W P O D C A S T. C O M


… having a disability does not make you a liability. RJ MITTE

ACTOR & ADVOCATE FOR DISABILITY COMMUNITY 18 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RJ MITTE

TRIUMPH

A FILM (AND CAREER) TO FUEL CHANGE At the age of three, Louisiana native RJ Mitte was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, though that has never deterred his drive to succeed in television, film & fashion. After moving to Los Angeles, Mitte landed roles in various shows such as Showtime's "Weeds," NBC's "Vegas," and CW's "Everybody Hates Chris" until being cast in his life-changing role on "Breaking Bad." Now, as an Executive Producer of “Triumph”, he stars in a film based on a true story that raises awareness for Cerebral Palsy.

Throughout the years, Mitte has been an inspiration to his peers around the world by championing over his Cerebral Palsy in hopes of removing the stigma associated with disabilities. In order to bring awareness to his own issues with bullying and prejudice, Mitte has engaged in public speaking and serves as the official Ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and Shriners Hospitals for Children. He's also involved with SAG-AFTRA as a member of the union's Performers with Disabilities Committee.

Matthew: What are your thoughts on representation of talent in the acting/entertainment/modeling industry for people with disabilities? What would you like the industry to know about talent with disabilities and what they can bring to a role and a project?

“I think everyone is disabled,

whether they want to believe it or not

in one way or another.”

RJ: One of the hats I wear is working on getting more inclusivity and representation of groups and not just disability, but all groups — but disability being my group, very focused on that. Over the last 20 years, I've been working in the industry. I started Breaking Bad when I was 13-years-old. I didn't really see a lot of representation of people that represent me. I think the closest one I had was Forest Gump. And that was played by an able-bodied person, which I did not understand. I grew up in a weird way where everyone in my life had some disability or another. So really, I viewed everyone as having something.

I think everyone is disabled, whether they want to believe it or not in one way or another. It can be physical. It can be emotional. It can be family or could be friends. It can be situational. But I think the representation has grown significantly in the last five years through social media, just because we have a voice. People can just go out and say, “This is what I want to see… You're not representing me.” We used to not have access to that. We had blogs and stuff, but no one really saw them. But I've seen a positive change for the industries just because it's inevitable, you know. There is 15% of the world's population that is estimated to have a disability that’s an actual categorized, diagnosed disability. 15% of the world's population. And if you think about it, there's more than that. 19 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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I've seen a lot of change when it comes to more inclusion, more accessibility and opportunities for people. RJ MITTE

ACTOR & ADVOCATE FOR DISABILITY COMMUNITY 20 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“Disability is an asset.”

RJ: (continued) If you talk about everyone, that's not diagnosed, everyone that's not being treated or even knows that they even have something. A lot of people go through life, not knowing. And then one day they go, “Oh, by the way, you wonder why you can't do this, or you wonder why you're not sleeping or doing this. You have ‘X’ and here you go. Welcome to the community. I’ve seen a large growth. It's hard because this industry is not an easy industry. People see it on Twitter and Instagram. They see TV and movies. They go, “Oh, I want to do that.” They don't realize that Triumph has been in the works for over five years of work, hundreds and thousands of dollars into it, hundreds of millions of hours of time and dedication go into these projects. But people just want the instant gratification.

But over the last decade, I've seen a lot of change when it comes to more inclusion, more accessibility and opportunities for people. Yes, you still get a lot of people that are able-bodied that are playing people with disabilities, but I think it's a double-edged sword. I think at the same time, we need more people with notoriety portraying roles to get mass media interested — to get the communities engaged in talking about what we want to see and what we don't want to see. Now we have a platform for that. We have the ability to say, “I want to see this type of film” or “I don't want to see this type of content.”

Matthew: The second part to this question is what would you like industry to know regarding what actor with disabilities can bring to the table for a role?

RJ: I think the biggest thing is that having a disability does not make you a liability. There's been a big issue when it comes to not just the entertainment industry, but industry as a whole — manufacturing, producing, packaging, and business in general. They have this misconception that disability equals a liability. It's subconsciously about that, but really it's the opposite. Disability is an asset. It’s knowledge. It’s power. It’s empowerment. Case studies have shown when businesses hire individuals with disabilities, it raises morale for workers and increases productivity.

TRIUMPH

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RJ MITTE (FULL UNCUT/UNEDITED VERSION)

21 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“No, don't just try and get through the day, own your day. Own your life.”

Allié: In your film, Triumph, you play the role of Mike, a teen with Cerebral Palsy who pushes himself to join the high school wrestling team. Mike gets bullied. Is this something you can personally relate to, when you were a kid growing up with CP?

RJ: I personally think everyone can relate to bullying whether they want to believe it or not. Think everyone in one way or another has been bullied or is being bullied. You don't have to be a kid to be bullied. There are adults who are being pushed around right now at jobs that they hate by people on powered trips that have the ability to place authority. And, you know, I did, I did get bullied grounds as a kid and it wasn't so much like like name calling her or anything.

I had some physical stuff. I was running in gym class and someone grabbed my hoodie and pulled me down to the ground. And they're like, “Oh, get up quick!” And I have my hand broken and then stuff like that. It wasn't mean, so much as it was aggressive, but I think the bigger thing is when you have a bully recognizing that bullying is a cry for help. Bullying is someone that is being put into a position where they need to feel powerful. So whatever is happening at home or whatever is happening in their life, outside of that situation, is making them compress and feel weak and helpless. That trains them to place their authority on to you. “I am now powerful.” That is the bully mentality. And that's something that we have to look at on a psychological level, because there's an aspect of that, where that person needs help in his or her own right. That person is being bullied or is learning this behavior from a poor living situation, a poor environment, or whatever it may be.

I look at bullying as a cry for help. Probably, that pushing they're doing to you is likely more interaction than they were ever getting at home. We have to look at bullying in a way where we ask ourselves how can to diffuse the situation. If you are being bullied, if you are being intimidated or manipulated or whatever the case may be, how can you recognize a situation, diffuse a situation and ask “Why are you doing this to me?” You'll get BS answers because you seem weak and slow. You may seem both these things, right. But there's, there’s a bigger factor in that. That's a perception. That's not the reality. And that's something that I think is very hard for a lot of people to understand. You see and hear a lot about bullying. “Stop bullying.” You can’t. If you could do that, we would have world peace. That's just a fact. “That's not your toy. That's my toy. That's not your oil. That's my oil. That's not your country. It's my country.” That's initially all bullying. It's all about being in a place of power.

I think it's so important to have representation. What I really like about Triumph is that we show bullying and then we show the diffusing of the situation. We show how that individual was being bullied. We show the bully becoming his friend — someone he respects. In my case, that's what happened with my bullies. I stood up for myself. Now. I said, “What do you want a piece? Come at me. You're not going to get me from behind anymore. You're not gonna get me from the side. I'm here. I'm facing you.” And you know, what was wild is in that one instance I became friends. Like it was like they said to themselves, “Oh, I can't just like push you around.” I stood my ground, and you would be surprised if you stand up for what you believe and if you stand up for yourself how far that will get you. People just don't do it. People are always afraid. When you're at home, you're afraid, and when you go to work, you're afraid. You're just like, “I'm just trying to get through the day.” No, don't just try and get through the day, own your day. Own your life. It's your day. It's not their day. People can ruin your day and take your day from you. Yes. But the good news is there's a new one tomorrow. You can claim that day.

22 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“You could be winning, but when you're in it, it doesn't always feel like winning.”

Allié: There are many insights to be gained through the relationships Mike has with kids at his school, his coach and his father. While so much can be learned from your film through various lenses, if there was just one thing you wanted people to take away and keep from Triumph, what would it be?

RJ: There's a lot of things. I think the biggest thing is it doesn't matter if you win or lose, just don’t give up. You know, I fail all the time. I've had decades of setbacks sometimes. I paid for them with time and money and resources and never get them back. But I either could have continued to dwell and wallow in my failure or I could learn from my failure and grow from it and be able to utilize it for the next project and the next job and the next goals… The thing is winning. It doesn't always look like winning when you're in it. That's the big thing. You could be winning, but when you're in it, it doesn't always feel like winning. You gotta just enjoy it. Keep the grind. ∎

…it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, just don’t give up. RJ MITTE

ACTOR & ADVOCATE FOR DISABILITY COMMUNITY 23 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL D. COFFEY

TRIUMPHANT

INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE SCRIPT “Recognizing the dignity, drive and ambition of Michael D. Coffey and those with cerebral palsy and differing abilities is crucial to understanding inclusiveness,” said Ilene Wilkins, MD., CEO of United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. “We applaud Relativity Media and Cinemark Theatres who championed TRIUMPH and its story of resilience showcasing that people with disabilities can live a life without limits.” In partnership with United Cerebral Palsy, RJ Mitte invited over 100 children with special needs to a special screening of TRIUMPH. “I wanted to share this night with children to celebrate the story of Michael Coffey’s life and successes,” said Mitte. “I spent years in therapy with others just like my guests, and I want this to serve as a reminder that despite our disabilities we can all break stereotypes and live a life without limits. We can all triumph.” We were honored to speak with the man behind the scenes and behind the story, Michael D. Coffey.

Allié: As the producer and screenwriter of TRIUMPH, what was the most difficult aspect of producing a film inspired by your own personal story?

Michael: I am the writer and a working producer of TRIUMPH, which I started to produce by myself in 2014. In 2014, I worked to get RJ Mitte on board, and Wes Studi was interested in the coach role. I had other talents lined up for other roles and a great local production company lined up for the film equipment. I was going to co-direct. Even with much lined up, it was difficult to raise enough funding to make TRIUMPH. I launched a Kickstarter in 2014, but wasn’t able to raise my funding goal in time. About six months later, a “producer” emailed me saying that he was interested in my movie project and that he had worked with RJ before. We ended up signing a co-production agreement, but much later he turned out to be a conman and was sued. Be very careful who you work with and trust.

25 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Allié: How important was it for you to cast an actor with CP to play your role?

Michael: I wanted a great actor who has CP to play me and to be authentic. Having CP adds depth into the character and story from both my writing and RJ’s raw performance. It makes for an awesome combo! We live with CP, so we know what it’s like and that inner knowledge was used to help tell a heartfelt story while enlightening people about CP.

Allié: What was it like appearing with a cameo in the film you produced about the story of your life? I can only imagine it was an emotional and surreal experience.

Michael: I thought it would be cool to see myself talk to my semi-fictional self when I wrote my cameo scene and it was fun to see it all play out for real. That scene was shot on shoot day one on August 5th, 2015 in Nashville, where we shot around 18 long shoot days. I was in Nashville for around six weeks and enjoyed getting to know the great film crew.

Allié: Those who have CP can identify with the film’s main character, Mike, played by RJ Mitte. Those who don’t have CP can empathize with him. Your film offers so much to so many, what is the greatest insight you hope people gain?

Michael: I hope people gain a better understanding of CP because some people tend to be afraid of or shy away from what they think due to a lack of knowledge about CP and other challenges. ∎

26 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


TRIUMPH

“Living with Cerebral Palsy, it is such a rarity to see people in movies and TV that “look like me”. It never really happened until I decided to binge breaking bad on Netflix in high school. Watching the pilot, I was happily surprised to see someone that looked liked me, Walter Jr., played by RJ Mitte. I was even more elated when I learned that RJ does have cerebral palsy. He brings authenticity and heart and isn’t afraid to make sure that disability is at the center of the story, as is the case in his latest film, Triumph.

In the film, Mitte plays Mike, a high school wrestler with cerebral palsy who is out to prove to himself,

his father, his coach, and his peers that despite his disability, he can succeed as a high school wrestler.

The grit and tenacity that Mitte brings to the role, as well as taking on the all too familiar struggles of fighting for acceptance at school, making friends, getting a girl to see past the disability, and above all else, fit in, really make this movie hit close to home for me. I’m yearning for more films and television shows with stories centered around people with disabilities, played by actors and actresses with disabilities.”

Matthew Walzer

Awareness Ties Official Ambassador for Disabilities Awareness


I turn to books to become aware… EMILIE GOLDBLUM

OLYMPIAN, MAISON GOLDBLUM STRETCH MOVEMENT COACH & MOTHER 28 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘MOVED’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY EMILIE GOLDBLUM

PASSIONATE

ABOUT TRUTH AND CREATIVITY For me, starting a family has become about being a part of a bond that is bigger than myself and I get to have the shared privilege and responsibility of playing a pivotal role in laying the foundations of truth, courage and passion for our young boys so that they can grow into adult men who will (hopefully) contribute to society.

"What I hope to accomplish in writing this column is to open up conversations around embracing our diversity in every aspect of our humanity.”

We are not all meant to be the same in shape, size or in our points of view because we’ve all developed distinctive perspectives born out of our lived experiences. What I hope to accomplish in writing this column is to open up conversations around embracing our diversity in every aspect of our humanity and to be a supporter of the truth that is based in science, history, and empirical evidence. I love playing make believe and pretending to live in a fantasy world but I think it’s of paramount importance to be honest with myself and to be able to draw distinctive boundaries between what is real and what is phantasmagorical. People and their stories have always inspired me and I turn to books (currently biographies and poetry) to become aware of what life was like in other times and to learn about different cultures. To me it feels crucial for coexistence, health, gratitude, and the ability to contribute to a thriving global community.

I read fables to my two very playful boys that I was taught by my french grandparents from well known French fabulist, Jean De La Fontaine. Although we all know that fables are not real, their stories can become important life lessons for our children. My kids’ favorite fable at the moment is La Cigale et La Fourmi by La Fontaine (The Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop). They like to listen to the story in the car on their way to school and they have me read it to them during their story time before going to sleep. We’ve noticed that there are many different versions of this tale. In one variation, the moral of the story has to do with the work ethic and planning for the future. In other adaptations the themes extend to compassion and charity. My instinct is to keep explaining to my boys the difference between reality and fairy tales (ogres, unicorns, santa-claus, etc.). I want to forever encourage their wild creativity AND expose their minds to factual information in hopes of providing them with a balanced approach to living a healthy life. Just now I’m flashing on the quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still maintain the ability to function”. ∎ EMILIE GOLDBLUM

Olympian, Maison Goldblum Stretch Movement Coach & Mother
 www.awarenessties.us/emilie-goldblum My life has been dedicated to mastering my skills in stretch fitness even before I knew it. Since competing at the 2000 Olympic Games in Rhythmic Gymnastics I always focused on intuitively creating warm-up and strength training routines for my own body that focused on stretching our big muscle groups while strengthening our micro muscles for healthy joints and long and supple muscles that kept me injury free. Now I've taken all my years of training to create classes for every BODY that are offered online.

29 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


For me, starting a family has become about being a part of a bond that is bigger than myself… EMILIE GOLDBLUM

OLYMPIAN, MAISON GOLDBLUM STRETCH MOVEMENT COACH & MOTHER 30 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Hear ‘Passionate About Truth & Creativity’

written and narrated by Emilie Goldblum via the AwareNow Podcast:

https://awarenow.us/podcast/passionate-about-truth-and-creativity

Learn more about Emilie as our Official Ambassador for Health & Wellness:

www.awarenessties.us/emilie-goldblum

Follow Emilie on Instagram:

@emiliegoldblum

EMILIE GOLDBLUM

OLYMPIAN, MAISON GOLDBLUM STRETCH MOVEMENT COACH & MOTHER 31 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Today, I stood in the shower. LORI BUTIERRIES

AUTHOR, NAVY VETERAN & MOTHER OF 2 WITH SPECIAL NEEDS Artwork by: Annie Flynn 32 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘SCARRED NOT BROKEN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LORI BUTIERRIES

DAYS LIKE THIS

SENTIMENTS IN THE SHOWER Today, I stood in the shower.

I never stand still beneath the spray of the hot water because I don't like to waste time.

Usually, my anxiety about the day's schedule motivates me to hurry up and get out.

Today, I did not listen to music as I bathed.

I never wash in silence because I can't bear to be alone with my thoughts, so I sing to drown out the voice in my head trying to make me think about things I'd rather not.

Today, I took a minute to truly feel.

I never really let myself bask in the pain because I hate feeling vulnerable, but the tears were a much-needed release.

Today, I stood still, in the silence, and let the pain wash over me.

I didn't enjoy the experience, but sometimes days like today are necessary. ∎

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.

33 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Today, I stood still, in the silence, and let the pain wash over me. LORI BUTIERRIES

AUTHOR, NAVY VETERAN & MOTHER OF 2 WITH SPECIAL NEEDS Artwork by: Annie Flynn 34 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



It is so much easier to love than it is to judge or hate. SAGE GALLON

MULTI-MEDIA ARTIST, AUTHOR & ACTIVIST 36 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SAGE GALLON

NAKED UNDER MY CLOTHES

FROM HOMELESS TO HOPEFUL WITH ARTISTRY & INTEGRITY Everyone has challenges and dark times. Sage Gallon is no different. He spent 10 years living on the streets, park benches, subway and train stations of NY, DC and LA. While battling an addiction much stronger than himself and doing unspeakable things to feed it, he never begged or robbed. That experience taught him love (for those who save AND those who suffer), gave him strength, and showed him how to see beauty in the ugly crevices and empathy. These are his tools vital to his approach as an artist and to how he lives & gives of his life.

Allié: From living in a commune in California to living on the streets in New York City, the places you’ve called ‘home’ in your life are drastically different. Please share your story that took you from one extreme to the other.

Sage: my Parents were kids when they had me. My Father had just turned 18 and my Mom was 17. Neither of them equipped to be Parents. My Father, like many young men, was drafted to The Vietnam war and like many young men, he had come home changed. My Mom was sent to a commune in Northern California called Synanon. My two Grandmothers raised me.

In 1974, my Father was trying to get custody of me. No one thought that that would be a good idea, I was sent to Synanon. I was introduced to my Mother, for two years they had told me that she was “sick” in a hospital far away. When I met my Mom, I was hurt and confused because she didn’t look “sick” to me. I spent my formative years living in Synanon, raised by hundreds of people from every walk of life. I knew nothing of racism, misogyny or any other form of hate. I knew who my Mom was and we became very close but she was not my primary care taker.

In 1979, my Mother and her then husband decided to leave. I wished them well not realizing that they were taking ME with them. A transition that o was not prepared for in the least. Getting used to the “real world” was difficult and I retreated into myself.

I was introduced to my Father, who I couldn’t understand at all. I was introduced to the things that Synanon shielded me from like hate and racism, parents fighting… fear. After my Mom divorced her husband it was just she and I. She was a great Mom.

I was raised in Hempstead, a Working/ Middle Class predominantly Black Community. I was a very square kid, a bit insecure, an honor student, editor of the year book… I was Prom King. I hated everything to do with drugs and alcohol because of what I witnessed from my Parents… that is until I left home for school in the City.

I was introduced to crack cocaine in the early 1990’s, being a square kid, I had no idea that I was smoking crack for three months. By the time I realized I was smoking crack, it was to late, I was hooked. I was working three jobs, had a little place in Brooklyn and was doing pretty good. In one year almost to the day I had lost the jobs, the home and my dignity. I was on the streets, invisible, in a lot of pain. I slept in abandoned buildings, trains and Penn Station, picked out of a garbage can to eat… I would become the person I once judged, stuck my nose up to, crossed the street if I saw coming. This experience did teach me a lot though… how we are all human. No one at 5 or 6 years old looks up to their Parents and says “Mommy, Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be homeless.” Everyone has their story. I had mine. Because of the foundation given to me by my family, there were things I could NOT do, I couldn’t beg and I couldn’t rob a person. I understood my pain and would never want to inflict pain onto others. Looking back though that’s just what I did though, I hurt my Friends and my Family but they loved me even when there was a deficit of love for myself. It was their love that helped me heal. 37 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘ENVISION’

SAGE GALLON

38 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“I try to find beauty in the ugly, calm in the chaos. Creation is my prayer.”

Allié: For those who don’t know what it’s like to be homeless, what is that you would like them to know?

Sage: Being homeless is being invisible, it’s being despised, it’s being rejected… it hurts. The pain that got you in that space is magnified by the pain inflicted by others while you’re in that space. One can easily slip deeper into the abyss and lose their mind. There is nothing colder than being invisible, inhuman. There was a warmth, kindness and sense of generosity I found with many of my fellow transients. Where ‘normal’ people would walk through you, discard you, there were times when another hungry homeless person would offer you half of their sandwich. I learned a lot about compassion and empathy while living on the streets. I also learned how to survive.

Allié: It’s been said that ‘home is where the heart is’. It was your art that served and still serves as a residence for your heart and your passion. When did art first become your sanctuary?

Sage: Art has ALWAYS been important to me. Since I was a child I drew. In school I would doodle and that’s how I took notes and absorbed the information given by the Teachers. I was always afraid of Painting because I thought that if I made a mistake, I couldn’t erase it. When I was homeless in Washington DC, a man named Walter Neal saw some of my drawings, he was an Artist and became a Mentor. Walter took me to an Art Store and bought me $100.00 worth of paints, canvases and supplies. He dropped me off to where I was staying and in I did my first Painting, it was called “Blue Solitude”. I would paint hundreds of pieces until I left DC for LA in 1997, then I stoped painting completely.

I moved to LA to get away from the drugs… LOL. I was clean for 6 months then was off to the races. I think the only thing I Painted in that time was a piece for a Friend of mine who was pregnant with her second child. It was after painting that piece that I heard these words reeling in my head, they were relentless so I wrote them down. It was my first poem, “Woman” which would evolve into my first Book, then CD, then Short Film. I got sober and started the healing process. I was sober for 11 years and then had a relaps that almost took EVERYTHING I had built and worked for, including my life. I can home to my apartment one day… no more drugs, no more money, just a lot of pain. I had some old paints from DC and a piece of old ripped canvas. I laid on my floor and poured ALL of that pain on that poor canvas. The job I was about to lose gave me some time off instead of firing me. I moved into a Sober Living Home and started painting again. It just poured out of me, painting after painting. I would post the Painting on Facebook just for shits and giggles, never thinking much about it. I sold my first painting in 2014, had two solo exhibits and then things kept growing.

Allié: Your paintings are both boldly primal and beautifully poetic. This juxtaposition is powerful. Where do you get the inspiration for your work?

Sage: I tell people, and I believe this to be my truth… God (whatever that is) is the Artist, I am just the vessel. I don’t step to a canvas thinking, “I’m going to paint a rainbow with butterflies”.

I just try to open myself to what the painting needs to say. I am inspired by women, love, pain, by politics, by the human condition. In all of my Work I hope to explore the ways we are more alike than different, I try to find beauty in the ugly, calm in the chaos. Creation is my prayer. 39 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘QUEENS/KINGS’

SAGE GALLON

40 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“The thing I learned when I started shooting is how much I never saw.”

Allié: An artist who manifests brilliance through multiple mediums, please share your work with photography, specifically as it relates to your Queens/Kings project.

Sage: Thank You. Photography came, like everything else, as a fluke. I’ve never studied or been trained in Art, outside of my highschool Art Teacher, Linda Schwartz and my Fashion illustration class at FIT, I am self taught in everything I’ve been blessed to do. Photography is no exception. I inherited a Cannon that sat in the corner of my apartment for months. One day while working I looked over at it and thought, “you should either sell it, pawn it, give it away or figure out how to use it.” I chose the latter. I had a little Mercedes convertible at the time and would drive around Skid Row documenting the Homeless Community with a zoom lens. It took a long time to figure out how to use the camera. I showed my photos to my Boss, who is an amazing photographer himself, David Stork. David likes the pictures and asked what my process was. I told him… “top down, zoom lens”. He some advice that would change everything. “Sage” he said, “get out of the car, take the zoom lens off and talk with the people you’re shooting.” The thing I learned when I started shooting is how much I never SAW. I wanted give faces to the invisible and when I followed David’s advice, the images became more personal, more poignant… real.

I was in Hollywood shooting a Series called “PeeP ShOw” about Abult Bookstores, I was on Santa Monica and Highland coming out of a Bookstore and a Homeless Transgender Girl was walking down Santa Monica Blvd, nothing uncommon about that. What I was struck by was how the motorist at the red light were looking at her. The Glares of disgust from them enraged me. When I was homeless in DC it was the Trans Community that took me in. No expectations of sex or of money, just compassion for a broken boy. A light when on in my head… I thought “how awesome would it be to document these kids lives?” I approached Sericia, the Trans Girl walking down the street and told her my story. She introduced me to the rest of the Kids. I spent the entire year on the streets with the kids documenting their lives. I did however take me 4 months to earn their trust. These were all amazing kids, beautiful, smart, funny and broken. All of them came from pain, foster systems, brigs, jails. They were surviving, trying to find spaces of life and joy between the burden of their reality and identity. I had the honor of premiering this series of the LGBT Center in Hollywood and later showing it at the African-American Museum in Philadelphia.

“I literally cut and pasted with scissors and glue.”

Allié: While ‘Naked Under My Clothes’ is a truth that each and every one of us can claim, it serves as the title of your book and CD. Please share the story.

Sage: Naked Under My Clothes is something I am super proud of. I would have never imagined myself writing, I’m a horrible speller. When I wrote that first Poem, Women, more poems kept coming out of me. One day I woke up and heard that “God Voice” in my head telling me to make a book of my poetry. I had be money and no idea how to write a book. My computer skills were duller than a butter knife but I relented to that “God Voice”. I literally cut and pasted with scissors and glue. I ended up selling thousands of copies of the book I made all by myself at Kinko’s. 41 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Sage: (continued) The “Clothes” are all of those things we wear to separate us from others… money, zip code, gender, orientation, race, gender. But what happens is that we have so much on that we are burdened by the weight of those “garments” and eventually can not even see ourselves. When we stand Naked, we are revealed, authentic and most importantly we get to see that you have the same stretch marks that I have.

Both the CD and the Short Films came from the same “God Voice”. Each time I would always tell the God Voice how I didn’t know how to do what it was asking and how I didn’t have any Money tondo it with… somehow, it always worked out.

Allié: For those wanting to do and be more to serve others, what advice would you give?

Sage: I try to see the human in everyone. I try to be kind. If you see someone who is hungry, it takes less effort to feed them than to judge them. If you see someone cold, it takes nothing to clothe them, if you see someone broken, it costs nothing to wish them a good day, a smile, a hello. I know that we are all connected and everyone and everything has importance. It is so much easier to love than it is to judge or hate. Just be kind. ∎

“In this issue, we are proud to announce Sage Gallon as the Awareness Ties Official Ambassador for Homelessness Awareness. Honored to support his artistry and words to reach and teach others.”

Allié McGuire

Founders of Awareness Ties

Learn more about Sage:

www.awarenessties.us/sage-gallon

See more of his work and story:

www.sagegallon.com

42 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘PIECES OF BLUE’

SAGE GALLON

43 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I believe only by being truly ourselves will we ever meaningfully manifest our real potential. MAXIM JAGO

FUTURIST, FILMMAKER, AUTHOR & DIRECTOR OF THE CREATIVITY CONFERENCE 44 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


FEATURE STORY BY MAXIM JAGO

A CONFERENCE FOR CREATIVES

AND THE COMMUNITY IT BECAME

I sometimes joke that I was raised by intellectual hippies, and that it was like being raised by wolves but with better tea. We were certainly not wealthy, and I remember, each year, feeling the shame at school of wearing my brother’s hand-me-down clothes (now very much out of fashion) and thinking of holidays overseas, restaurant meals, or even taking rides in taxis as things other people did—that is, wealthy people.

But we were incredibly rich in other ways. I could ask any question and would always receive an explanation or, as a minimum, an honest ‘I don’t know’. I believe it’s powerful for children to be so trusted by their parents with the truth that they are willing to admit they do not know something. My mother would rarely say ‘Because I said so’, except in jest. Instead, she would say something like ‘Because I feel like it’.

My father, the author, poet, playwright, director, and choreographer, and my mother the painter, sculptor, dancer, performance poet, and now author, always made sure the Arts were at the centre of our world. My father would say that he could not sleep if he had not at least written a line of a poem, added paint to a new abstract work, or adjusted the dialogue in a play—something, anything that was productive. Whatever the time of night, he would get up and make something new.

“Nothing compares to seeing the light in someone’s eyes as they step closer to expressing their real potential in the world.”

I learned Ballet, became a photographer, filmmaker, author, (secret) poet, actor, public speaker, futurist, martial artist, educator, and mentor. That last role has turned out to be the most deeply fulfilling of them all. Nothing compares to seeing the light in someone’s eyes as they step closer to expressing their real potential in the world.

For decades my mentorship took the form of passing conversations (this is still often the case) but gradually it became a central focus in my work. As a film director, I discovered that my role was in the service of everyone working on the film. My task was to discover and nurture everyone’s potential so that they could safely ‘grow out of their skin’ and become something or someone more like their true self. I believe only by being truly ourselves will we ever meaningfully manifest our real potential.

When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, its cells first ‘melt’ back into a kind of cellular soup before ‘beginning again’, this time as a new, unrecognisably different creature. For the caterpillar this does not just seem to be an end, it truly is an end—of that form. Does the butterfly remember being a caterpillar? Do we truly remember who we were before we transcended our imagined limitations, broke through learned helplessness, and self-realised?

I’m not talking about some great spiritual breakthrough. Rather, I believe each and every intentional step we take— every decision, affirmative opinion, and active thought is a breakthrough. We are ourselves, anew, in every moment 45 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION www.IamAwareNow.com that we are conscious.


“What is it about an idea that it can compel a person to dedicate their lives to it?”

I’m not talking about some great spiritual breakthrough. Rather, I believe each and every intentional step we take— every decision, affirmative opinion, and active thought is a breakthrough. We are ourselves, anew, in every moment that we are conscious.

And this leads us to The Creativity Conference and The Creative Community. Having spoken at conferences and film festivals around the world for the last 20 years, I noticed a pattern in my own behaviour. When speaking at events, I rarely attended other talks, except to heckle a friend or give support. Instead, I experienced great joy at being able to have chance encounters with the kinds of amazing people who are ready to put time aside for the purpose of personal growth—people who will move themselves and invest time and energy (and cash) to attend an event that will aid in their own personal transformation.

I’ve heard you cannot help a person who does not wish to be helped, you cannot teach a person who does not wish to learn, and you cannot connect with someone who wishes to be alone. The kinds of people who attend events are the opposite of all these things. If you are familiar with the concept of the Five Love Languages, I suppose for many such people their primary love language is Quality Time.

I started to wonder what kind of conference I would choose to attend, not to speak at but to soak up the brilliance of the amazing minds, hearts, and souls around me. The Creativity Conference was born of this wondering. I invited many of my most incredible friends and colleagues to share with the world what makes them tick. We don’t explore workflows, techniques, or technology. We learn about the kind of creative inspiration that is so powerful that it demands to be manifested. What is it about an idea that it can compel a person to dedicate their lives to it?

Our first conference was an amazing success and the response from attendees shocked me—positively. I suppose I anticipated friendly well-wishing and polite white-lie compliments—instead, the responses were often profound and emotional. Attendees thanked us for providing a safe space and a sense of community they had been searching for, in some cases for years. I came to realise that the conference was a kind of butterfly—bright and lively and no-longer the idea I remembered it to be. It as a life of its own!

Attendees asked for a way to stay in touch and so I founded The Creative Community. Both the conference and the community are completely free and offer an opportunity to stretch your wings and fly without fear of falling. People share projects they are developing, experiences that have inspired them, and challenges they are facing.

I describe The Creativity Conference as ‘a campfire around which we all sit, sharing our creativity and inspiration’. Now, the campfire continues to burn, and the marshmallows never run out.

I hope I will see you at our next conference in August, 2021 and that you’ll join us in The Creative Community to share your experience of living life creatively. ∎ Learn more about Maxim:

maximjago.com

Attend The Creativity Conference:

creativityconference.is

Join The Creative Community:

the.creativecommunity.is

46 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



It can be difficult to recognize when loved ones are struggling, and it can be even more confusing to know what to do when they are. DR. JENNY MARTIN

LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR MENTAL HEALTH 48 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘DEAR DR. JENNY’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY DR. JENNY MARTIN

CHECKING IN

DO’S & DON’TS FOR MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-INS In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some ways to become more aware when having conversations around mental health. It can be difficult to recognize when loved ones are struggling, and it can be even more confusing to know what to do when they are. The more we speak about the signs of mental illness and have conversations around how to support those struggling, the more power we cultivate toward finding the wellness we all deserve. Here are some tips to keep in mind this month, and beyond.
 Some of the signs that a person is struggling with depression include increased withdrawal from others, increased moodiness, apathy towards once enjoyed activities, and a generally hopeless demeanor. That said, depression (and every other mental health struggle) can present entirely differently for different people. Trust your instinct. You know the typical feel and behaviors of those in your life. If you notice a change, there is probably something going on.

“You will not push someone over the edge by asking.”

It is ok to ask someone if they are thinking of hurting or killing themselves. It is a misnomer that bringing up the subject can “plant a seed” in someone’s mind. You will not push someone over the edge by asking. In fact, it will likely feel relieving that you noticed and cared. It can feel awkward to ask, but being fairly direct is best. “I’ve felt that you’ve been pulling away lately. It worries me. I have to ask, are you feeling suicidal?” This kind of question conveys empathy and care and may open an important door for your loved one to walk through.
 Thinking about death does not necessarily mean someone plans to take action. Especially when we are sad or anxious, it can be natural to see death as a form of a relief from pain. If a loved one shares that they are having thoughts of death, it’s important not to panic. Find gratitude that this person feels comfortable enough to be honest with you, and recognize the bravery in sharing. To gain support and learn about what steps you can take if this conversation does occur, call 1-800-273-TALK for 24/7 guidance.
 On the flip side, here are some tips on things to avoid saying or doing. For instance, if you notice a friend or loved one pulling away, it can be our natural instinct to become annoyed or defensive. Before landing here, take a moment to consider that there may be a hidden storyline beneath your loved one’s exterior. Consider this as you decide how to interact. 
 Be mindful to keep the focus of the conversation on the other person. Your struggle is just as valid as your friend’s, but it’s important to show you are there to listen, not tell. Especially when we are struggling we can be highly susceptible to “grief comparison,” which could lead your friend to shut down and invalidate their feelings. Wanting to share that you can relate is common, but often a more useful approach is, “I don’t have the perfect words or know the best way to help. But I want you to keep telling me how you feel.” 49 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“It’s not your job to have the perfect words or answers…”

Finally, try to avoid phrases such as, “This is just a phase,” “Think about your family and how much they love you,” or “You should try harder to get out and about, it will make you feel better.” All of these, while they may come from a loving place, invalidate a person’s struggle and will likely shut them down. Instead, you can offer responses such as, “I’m sad to know you’re hurting. I want to learn how to best support you,” or simply, “It’s OK to feel this way.” 
 It’s not your job to have the perfect words or answers to help someone you love that’s hurting. Words rarely fix things, anyway. What matters most is an approach of active listening, empathy, and validation. The best place to start practicing these techniques is with ourselves. When we commit to creating a deeper sense of internal empathy and compassion, it naturally exudes to those around us, too. ∎

DR. JENNY MARTIN

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Author & Awareness Ties Official Ambassador
 www.awarenessties.us/jenny-kristen-martin Dr. Jenny Martin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL. Her private practice, Gemstone Wellness, specializes in working with adolescents and adults touched by depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, purposelessness, and issues related to race, sexuality and gender expression. Jenny possesses an extensive background in the arts, specifically in music, and she enjoys incorporating creative mediums to facilitate emotional expression. Jenny received both her Masters Degree and her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Music and Songwriting at Berklee College of Music.

50 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


YOUR THERAPIST IS ANXIOUS, TOO

The beautiful way ‘Your Therapist Is Anxious, Too’ unlocks a therapeutic experience

that engages not only the analytical mind, but the artistic spirit as well, is phenomenal.

Engaging and entertaining, as well as educational in a way that simplifies a hard topic,

this artistic workbook for exploring and managing anxiety make it a must-read for mental health

and an Official Selection as an AwareNow Cause Conscious Book.

Jack McGuire

Co-Founder of Awareness Ties


When my child hurts, I hurt. CORI LEVINSON

MOTHER

52 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


PERSONAL STORY BY CORI LEVINSON

MOM FAIL

GETTING RAW & REAL WITH FEELINGS OF FAILURE Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows with butterflies and unicorns. Sometimes it’s just not, and when it’s not, we are expected to say that it’s okay and have only positive thoughts and words. This story from Cori Levinson is not what you might expect, but it is a raw and real reaction to life that many parents of children with disabilities can relate to. These are thoughts and feelings that few parents dare to admit having or consider sharing, but in the sharing here perhaps there is healing.

Ricki face planted off of a curb in his Wally, (the name he gave his walker for those who don’t know). I was opening the car door to put him in and told him to wait for me but just when I turned back, he stepped off and I couldn’t break his fall in time. Immediately, the tears hit us both as I examined his fresh road rash hands and sweet face.

Reflecting on that moment, I kept asking myself, would that have happened if...

Would that have happened if I had taken the time to make sure we went all the way around the parking lot to reach the wheelchair accessed route? Why was I in such a hurry that I didn’t provide the very access I complain about him not having on the daily? Mom fail.

Would that have happened if Ricki wasn’t born at just 24 weeks and had unfair brain trauma that caused his disability? Mom fail.

Would that have happened if we worked on depth perception in therapy more? Gosh, when’s the last time we got his eyes checked? Can he see okay? Mom fail.

If, why, how… It’s all such a slippery slope.

Yes, I know. Kids fall. They’re going to get hurt. I get it.

That’s not what the underlying realization is here… This is about motherhood and my resentment towards embracing something that continues to rob Ricki of so much — DISABILITY.

There, I said it! Cue another MOM FAIL.

Because I’m not so sure I’m even allowed to have skin in the game considering I’m not the actual person with the disability - it’s not my place. Am I allowed to say that? Or, does this put me in the newfound territory of “ableist parenting”? What does that word even mean other than knowing it’s something I’m trying desperately to avoid in fear of disrespecting a community I care so deeply about? Yet still trying to advocate and learn and find ways to provide my son with the very best.

Truth is, I’m pissed off.

I want to know and better understand what my place in all of it is, I guess. Because regardless of what’s politically/ socially acceptable, I’m a mom. Period. And, when my child hurts, I hurt. When I see him frustrated because his body isn’t allowing him to do the things he wants, I’m frustrated. When I see the way he looks at kids on the playground his age running around freely, him frozen in awe and saying “I want to go with them by myself. No Wally”, it crushes my soul because I want that for him, too. So so bad.

53 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“…this is my unapologetic and ugly truth for all to see.”

It is in these moments, I can’t help but hate how disability has impeded so much. And, saying that aloud feels absolutely wrong and yucky because I know this type of mentality can come off as self-loathing, destructive, and just plain gross. I also know someone will always be there to say: “But look at all the things he IS doing!”, or “He’s gonna (fill in blank), I just know it”, or my favorite, “But it could be so much worse”. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you, those empty euphemisms don’t make me feel better. They’re actually quite damaging.

So what is this all really about? To be honest, I don’t know.

I’m not in search of pity, affirmation, reassurance or even understanding... Or, am I?

Couldn’t tell ya.

But, this is my unapologetic and ugly truth for all to see... Perhaps, judge.

My painful, guilt ridden reality I tend to bury down so deep as if to hide it in fear of how it will be perceived by others. Something I’ve learned to absolutely love and loathe, depending on which side of the coin lands that day.

Now, here’s the part where I’m supposed to insert some uplifting gesture of gratitude for it all and remind myself and others to “keep on, keeping on”. Not today, my friends... today, I got nothin.

Mom fail. ∎

Connect with Cori online

& follow her son’s page on Instagram:

@a.rabbits.tale

54 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


When I see him frustrated because his body isn’t allowing him to do the things he wants, I’m frustrated. CORI LEVINSON

MOTHER

55 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


While kindness can be many things, above all,

it is rooted in action. KINDNESS IS ACTION REPORT

BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION

56 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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‘CHANNELING KINDNESS’ FEATURED COLUMN BY BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION

KINDNESS IS ACTION

NEW SURVEY ON IMPACT OF KINDNESS ON YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH Kindness not only helps young people get through tough times — an act of kindness can help save a life, according to a new survey, Kindness Is Action, released by Born This Way Foundation and The Harris Poll.

Data from the survey of more than 2,000 U.S.-based youth (ages 13-24) identified how young people define kindness, the impact of kindness on mental wellness, and how young people are using kindness to cope with the immeasurable challenges facing our world today. Nearly all (93%) youth said that kindness helped them move forward in the past year. In fact, 79% of respondents said that they want to be a kinder person, proving the power of kindness in times of despair. Other notable findings include:

Most young people say that kindness boosts their mental wellness, whether receiving it from others (73%), seeing it in the world (71%), or just being kinder to themselves (74%).

Parents/guardians are the most common source (63%) of inspiration for youth to be kind, especially for 13-17 year olds. A majority (79%) of youth surveyed said that someone going out of their way to show that they care would have an impact on their mental wellness.

There is a kindness divide. Some youth experience less kindness than others, potentially impacting their mental wellness. For example, those who are less financially secure, older (18-24), and/or LGBTQ+ are less likely than their counterparts to say that they regularly see kindness in the world. White youth are more likely than Black, Indigenous, and youth of color to say they experience or receive acts of kindness.

My teenage sons learned first-hand that kindness is a buoyant force. We moved across the country and away from our friends and family in the summer of 2020. Virtual learning proved nearly impossible for forging new friendships. We had (and continue to have) many difficult conversations about loneliness and feeling disconnected. I reminded my sons as often as possible that their feelings are valid, and I tried to be open about my own struggles on tough days. Almost two-thirds (68%) of youth said that they noticed a greater willingness among family and friends to speak about their mental wellness.

As the Kindness Is Action results showed us, a majority of respondents (62%) agreed that kindness is doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return. Little acts of kindness can make a big difference in mental well-being, according to 94% of young people.

My family and I try to focus on acts of service, and when we can, sharing goods with those around us. While we feel a range of emotions each and every day, trying to make a positive impact, however small, in our community by volunteering in a food bank or collecting books for free community libraries helps our spirits stay afloat. ∎ For the full Kindness Is Action report, visit https://bornthisway.foundation/research/kindness-is-action, and for wellness resources and anchors, please visit https://bornthisway.foundation/get-help-now.

TEREZ HANHAN

Programs & Research Manager of Born This Way Foundation
 bornthisway.foundation/team/terez-hanhan Terez Hanhan is Programs and Research Manager for Born This Way Foundation. She began her career in media relations and worked for Merrill Lynch. Terez volunteered for several years as a facilitator for children’s grief support groups, managed a Ronald McDonald House within a hospital, and worked at an elementary school as a teacher. She obtained a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Terez lives in California with her high school sweetheart and three sons. She is passionate about the impact of kindness on mental health, and the intersection of trauma, stigma, and youth wellness.

57 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I arrived at the Dubai airport, with nothing but my inner compass and my ‘culturosity’ to guide me. CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

FOUNDER & CEO OF CULTUROSITY Photo Credit: Ahmed Qadri 58 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘FEARLESS’ BY CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

A DUBAI DETOUR

I’VE BEEN IN THE DESERT ON A ROAD WITH TWO WAYS We all know the phrase “everything happens for a reason”, but when things don’t go according to plan we can be overcome with the feeling of fear, as if we’re lost in the middle of the desert sands with nothing but time in our hands.

Sometimes we are forced to walk off the beaten track to embrace our curiosity and explore our ‘culturosity’.

However, when we see the possibilities that lie in the distance and cover fear into enthusiasm and excitement we find that we don’t always have to stay on the track planned in order to reach our destination. Sometimes we are forced to walk off the beaten track to embrace our curiosity and explore our ‘culturosity’. It may be that there is indeed a reason why we are redirected on a different path in order to expand our own horizons.
 On the 8th of May 2021 at 6 AM, I was about to board my flight from Amsterdam to LAX, when suddenly ground security announced that all business visas had been denied due to new COVID-19 restrictions. That said, there was no way I would be getting on that airplane.

On the other side of the world in California, a production team was waiting for me to host a new tv show where we would be inspiring upcoming artists to pursue their passions and promote positivity through media. Instead of inspiring the world to follow their destiny, there I stood alone in an abandoned airport terminal, confounded and confused by the sudden change of my own destination.

Anxiety began to creep up on me and was directing me out of the airport and back to bed, where I would be able to sulk about my terrible experience and how I had seen my dreams literally fly out of reach. However, my curiosity was pulling me toward the airline counter where I was greeted by a sympathetic woman who was clearly overwhelmed by experience. She explained it was definitive. I wouldn’t be able to travel to LAX, neither could I receive a refund. However, I would be able to travel to another destination free of charge within the next 24 hours.

The following morning I arrived at the Dubai airport, with nothing but my inner compass and my ‘culturosity’ to guide me.
 By believing that everything happens for a reason, you empower yourself to create meaning from the tragedies and setbacks you experience in life. I decided to explore the possibilities of expanding Eleven11 Media in The UAE. This resulted in meeting numerous talented & beautiful people connected by the same passion — to create positive impact and awareness through media. 59 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


In the desert on a road with two ways… CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

FOUNDER & CEO OF CULTUROSITY

Wardrobe: Tutus Kurniati Photo Credit: Ahmed Qadri

60 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


We are excited to announce that not only will Eleven11 Media & Awareness Ties be producing a segment of Culturosity UAE, we are also currently developing other formats with local partners in order to make the world a better place and create global connections to raise awareness for the causes we’re all tied to. ∎

CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

Founder & CEO of Culturosity
 www.awarenessties.us/charlotte-alexandra Charlotte Alexandra, founder & CEO of Culturosity is a business mentor, empowerment coach & serial entrepreneur with a passion for Media. She is on a mission to help You unlock your fullest potential! Helping people around the globe expand, grow, connect and to build a business they are proud of, a life they love and a mindset that will take them places. After kickstarting her career in Marketing + Advertising following a journalism & communications degree, she decided to launch Eleven11 Media Networks. Creating a platform for likeminded creatives to collaborate on spreading a positive message through media. Her work as both an entrepreneur and a media coach has provided her with an international network of inspirational and influential associates ranging from entrepreneurs, business leaders, public speakers & celebrities - uniting and combining their talents to make to world a better place.

Photo Credit: Ahmed Qadri 61 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Everything happens

for a reason… CHARLOTTE ALEXANDRA

FOUNDER & CEO OF CULTUROSITY

Wardrobe: Tutus Kurniati Photo Credit: Ahmed Qadri

62 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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WE WILL NO LONGER ASK FOR PERMISSION

TO CHANGE THE WORLD

BUT WE WILL ASK FOR YOUR HELP

WITH A DONATION OF $50 OR MORE, YOU’LL RECEIVE THE AWARENOW UNISEX RECYCLED T-SHIRT.

YOUR SUPPORT WILL HELP US KEEP THESE STORIES TO RAISE AWARENESS SEEN AND HEARD.

AS WE KEEP AWARENOW MAGAZINE FREE FOR MILLIONS OF READERS EVERY MONTH.

SELECT YOUR LEVEL OF SUPPORT

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(Visit our site & click ‘Support’.)


LAURA ‘AURA’ WESTCOTT WITH RAY WILLIAMS WHO DISCOVERED ELTON JOHN AND WAS HIS FIRST MANAGER, INTRODUCING ELTON TO BERNIE TAUPIN. RAY WAS A GUEST SPEAKER THE SAME WEEK ROCKETMAN WAS RELEASED AND SPOKE ABOUT HIS MENTAL HEALTH AFTER BEING FIRED WITH A NEWBORN BABY. 64 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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‘MUSIC FOR MENTAL WEALTH’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY NICK BOTTINI

METAMORPHOSIS FOR MUSICIANS

FROM MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS TO ACTION

Until a few years ago I didn’t realise just how remarkable butterflies really are. We all know that butterflies start out as caterpillars – humble, unremarkable little creatures that are beautiful and interesting in their own way. But it wasn’t until a dear mentor of mine really explained to me the metamorphosis that the humble little caterpillar goes on that I developed a newfound respect.

At a certain point in its life, the caterpillar gets an urge from deep within to transform itself. It attaches to a branch, and a chrysalis begins to form under its skin. It sheds its old skin, and over the course of around two weeks, tiny imaginal cells that have always been part of the caterpillar start to connect up. There is a period where the caterpillar dissolves into something resembling ‘caterpillar soup’, and then finally when all the new connections are complete, a beautiful majestic butterfly escapes its protective cocoon and flies free.

Now, as a coach, there are several things I love about this as a metaphor for personal transformation:

Firstly, because of the imaginal cells, the caterpillar is already born with this higher purpose within. And it’s the same for you - the nature of your own transformation is contained within your very being, at the core of who you truly are.

Secondly, the caterpillar doesn’t need to do anything to try to become a butterfly. It was born destined to become one and the wisdom of nature just seems to know when it is time.

Thirdly, this isn’t just about a caterpillar taking new actions as a caterpillar, this is about a genuine transformation at the most fundamental level. The artist formerly known as ‘caterpillar’ literally dissolves…

So what does this have to do with the work we do at Music for Mental Wealth? Well, as a coach I get to witness this kind of metamorphosis on a day-to-day basis, but instead of caterpillars turning into butterflies, I get to see it with people in the music industry. Music for Mental Wealth founder, Laura Westcott is one such person.

Laura trained as a classical singer before experiencing stage fright and panic attacks, which spiraled into agoraphobia. She quit her aspirations of being an opera singer and instead joined the London Philharmonic Choir and retrained as a journalist and began working for The Times in London and New York.

Moved by the positive impact that mental health coaching was having in her own life to overcome her anxiety, Laura founded non-profit Music for Mental Wealth in 2017 to help musicians before they have preventable mental health issues. She also launched a live events campaign ‘Music with Meaning’ with established and emerging artists sharing the personal stories behind their songs in support of mental health awareness.

Prior to COVID-19, concerts were regularly hosted in London, and the largest event so far saw Music for Mental Wealth as the official mental health partner of The Royal Marines Mountbatten Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2020 attended by Prince Harry and Meghan. Laura moved the campaign online during lockdown with help from Music for Mental Wealth Ambassadors KT Tunstall, Joss Stone, James Bay, Brandi Carlile and many more all sharing exclusive and deeply personal stories about their music. 65 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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LAURA ‘AURA’ WESTCOTT WITH ANTHONY "TONY" MOORE, AN ENGLISH SINGER-SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN, RADIO PRESENTER AND MUSIC PROMOTER. HE WAS MEMBER OF IRON MAIDEN AND FIRST BECAME FAMOUS IN 1986 AS KEYBOARD PLAYER WITH THE BAND CUTTING CREW, AND IN 1997 HE FOUNDED THE KASHMIR KLUB TO SHOWCASE LIVE MUSIC IN LONDON. 66 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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It was around this time that Laura was given a voice recorder for her 40th birthday and felt the “urge” (I mentioned earlier) to transform herself into “Aura”. She began experimenting with her voice like an instrument to portray the intense emotions felt across the planet. She teamed up with composer and producer Chris ‘Wood’ Marshall to help improve mental wellbeing globally.

Laura and Chris have created an album of meditative soundscapes during lockdown to help people relax, sleep, dream, heal and transform. Their latest soundscape ‘MetaMorphosis’ was inspired by the cocooned caterpillar’s painful transformation.

The Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Jon Ridley, discovered first hand the healing powers of Aura’s music during spinal surgery last month:

“I had just undergone intensive surgery on my spine and was staying in hospital for the initial recovery period. During the first night I was in a good deal of pain and feeling anxious, nauseous and unable to sleep. I decided I needed music to come to the rescue and donned my headphones whilst trying to decide what to listen to. I have incredibly wide-ranging musical taste and my initial thought was the Adagietto from Mahler 5.

Before I pressed play, I had an urge to change my mind, sensing that I was being drawn elsewhere...

I thought of the music of my friend Laura ‘Aura’ Westcott and immediately knew that should be the choice. I listened to her soundscapes one after the other - Somewhere in Time (for sleep), Dreamland (for imagination) and her latest track MetaMorphosis especially for healing and transformation.

Aura’s music changed the connection between my brain and body and I can’t fully understand it or entirely explain it. Moreover, I don’t feel I need to understand it. My lifetime in music and the trust I have in its power are enough for me to fully accept it and embrace what happened to me. All anxiety was gone once the music ended. The pain was different, it wasn’t just pain any longer, it was the experience of my body healing, which my brain processed differently.

I was absolutely at one with my mind and body listening to Aura’s voice and music.

Metamorphosis allowed me to connect with my body and soul in a way that normal medical intervention could not achieve. My anxiety and medical pain was returning rapidly after I stopped listening, so I decided to loop Metamorphosis for the night. I managed to drift, I managed to rest, I managed to sleep and I managed to begin my recovery.”

Thursday June 17th marks a personal milestone for Aura and Music for Mental Wealth. Not only is it the first postpandemic Music with Meaning live concert this year with very special guests such as Birdy, but it also represents the culmination of Laura’s coaching journey, as this is the first time she is taking to the stage as a solo singer and performing live for the first time as ‘Aura’.

The healing power of music and the positive impact of coaching on mental health are nothing new, but the ‘Music with Meaning’ campaign is unique in that it combines the two. By doing this it provides a potentially industry-changing funding model to solve the mental health crisis.

Money raised from concerts go to Music for Mental Wealth’s bursary to fund the coaching costs for musicians and create a happier, kinder music industry. 67 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“…the industry’s mental health revolution is about creating the structures for musicians to live a thriving, musical life in a more holistic way.”

Typically, musicians spend the majority of their training on honing their musical skills, but often at the expense of more well-hidden human skills required to be a well-grounded, high-functioning professional musician. Transformational coaching is not only linked to realising one’s innate capacity for mental health, but also to improve musical performance.

It’s long seemed strange to me that while the world’s top business executives and sports stars often have mental performance coaches, comparatively few musicians have experienced the power of 1:1 coaching. The music industry’s attitudes to wellbeing are changing, though. The time for mere mental health awareness has passed and the next phase in the industry’s mental health revolution is about creating the structures for musicians to live a thriving, musical life in a more holistic way. A way that has coaching embedded at the very heart of the industry.

This edition of AwareNow is all about taking the step from awareness to urgent action, so this is the perfect moment for you, the person reading this, to help. We all have these defining moments in our lives where we choose a higher path. These are the moments when the transformation begins and like the caterpillar about to start building its cocoon it doesn’t know where the urge came from but it just knew that it was time. ∎

Now is the time for action.

Please share this article with musicians, friends, and musical organisations.

Support the Music For Mental Wealth coaching bursary for musicians by donating here:

https://awarenow.us/donate/music-for-mental-wealth

Watch the livestream of ‘Music with Meaning’ on June 17th

Featuring: Birdy, Caitlin, Minna Kerr and Aura’s debut performance of ‘MetaMorphosis’

via the Music for Mental Wealth Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MusicForMentalWealth

Learn about Music For Mental Wealth coaching services for musicians:

www.musicformentalwealth.com

NICK BOTTINI

Author, Speaker & Coach
 www.awarenessties.us/nick-bottini Nick Bottini is the author of the number one bestseller Just Play: The Simple Truth Behind Musical Excellence which was endorsed by Grammy winners, music industry professionals and mental health experts. Nick is also a speaker and transformational coach to the music industry and for over ten years has worked with musicians at all levels from competition winners, child prodigies, entrepreneurs, conservatoire students, sports people, to aspiring professional musicians and international rock stars. For more info about Music For Mental Wealth visit: musicformentalwealth.com

https://awarenow.us/donate/music-for-mental-wealth 68 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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We cannot expect to follow the path of someone else and get the same results. COLONEL RUSS BARNES

VETERAN, STRATEGIST FOR SMALL BUSINESS, INTERNATIONAL SPEAKER & AUTHOR 70 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY ALEXANDER TAYLOR

THIS IS DOABLE

HONORING THE MILITARY SERVICE OF COLONEL RUSS BARNES Colonel (retired) Russ Barnes is the CEO and Senior Business Advisor to Entrepreneurs and Executives at Systro® Solutions, an organization design firm specializing in strategy development for small business. His 30+ years of experience in organization development is drawn from military service, franchise ownership, academic achievement, and strategy consulting, specifically with small businesses. After retirement from the military, Russ pursued his entrepreneurial objectives full time. His success was based on a clear vision, building an effective network, consistently delivering a quality product and maintaining a relentless focus on customer service. Dr. Barnes received his Bachelor’s Degree from Manhattan College (NY), his MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, his Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from Air University and his PhD in Organization Development from Benedictine University.

Alex: What got you to serve?

Russ: My dad emphasized college as a way to extend our earning years by using our brains rather than the labor of our bodies. As the third of eight children, family financing for college was not an option. Having done well on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests in High School, I was approached by the military services to compete in their scholarship programs. I was pleased to win an Air Force ROTC scholarship because the mission of the Air Force was interesting to me. It turned out to be a great fit. Once I started ROTC, I found that my natural intellectual and interpersonal skills were well suited for the Air Force. My fascination with leadership and the mission of national security inspired me to continue to serve. I’ve always been motivated to do things that had a purpose larger than myself.

Alex: How long did you serve for?

Russ: I served a total of 31 years, 4 years of ROTC and 27 years of active duty. I was initially trained as a navigator. I served in the aviation career field for 11 years progressing from navigator to radar navigator to evaluator and to positions on the squadron and group staff. I am a graduate of the US Air Weapons School, which is an elite aviation training program. I served the remaining 16 years on Higher Headquarters staff in the roles of action officer, branch chief, and division chief, among others. I am a graduate of the Air War College, which provided me with strategic leadership training. Only the top 15% of officers are chosen to attend.

Alex: What was your career path?

Russ: My first assignment was to the 23rd Bomb Squadron at Minot AFB ND. It was a high performing unit which set the stage for me in terms of how to prepare for excellence. My second flying assignment was at the 668th Bomb Squadron at Griffiss AFB in New York. I flew combat missions with this unit. My first staff assignment was at Air Combat Headquarters where I was a program manager and learned how the military buys and delivers equipment needed by the operational and maintenance units. I next served at Strategic Command where I was on the team responsible for developing and maintaining the nuclear war plan for the nation. I earned the designation of Joint Staff Officer (JSO) which identified me as uniquely qualified to work in a multi-service community. I spent nine of my 16 years on staff doing joint work such as the Joint Staff (Pentagon), European Command (Germany), and Central Command (Florida). I retired in December 2009 as a full Colonel.

Alex: What area of your time are you most proud of?

Russ: There are many experiences that challenged me and led to tremendous feelings of pride and achievement, but what made me most proud was watching waves of bombers return from the first night of combat mission during Desert Storm. Bombers tend to get shot down in combat and, on that night, 19 bombers flew out and 19 bombers came back. On day two, the same thing. Day three was my turn. I didn’t think my chances were good for coming home since the enemy now knew more about us. As you can see, my group came back as well. We continued to come back and I eventually flew 11 combat missions and learned that training is a particular skill of the military. We came back because we were prepared and did our jobs well. 71 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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Alex: What are the lessons you can offer to a young entrepreneur?

Russ:

A - Do your homework and focus on outcomes, not procedure. Be adaptable.

As a military officer, I could not wait for a problem to show up before beginning to think about what to do. We had to anticipate problems and prepare as best we could to solve them before they start. I worked with teams of people who were really good at it. We did such a good job preventing threats from becoming issues, that most never reached the news. Through my strategy development company, I teach small business owners how to create entrance and exit strategies in a way that helps them to solve problems before they start. When they do this, they are proactive and when they are proactive, they are more confident.

B – Community and Collaboration is Key.

Learning the culture of other services as a Joint Staff Officer allowed me to further my work in collaboration with other military branches and international units. I learned why an Army officer would use directive leadership behavior in a situation where an Air Force officer would not. I learned about the mission driven basis for such cultural differences. In a war, the Air Force flies, the Navy floats and the Army is on foot. The way we each fulfill our mission is different but if we don’t work together, we all fail. This understanding helped me to resolve conflict in the workplace and focus the team on the outcome. It’s similar in business. No one succeeds alone. Take time to learn about how you fit in the community around you and how you can support others by doing what you do best.

C - Have a framework to think things through.

With the National Defense at stake, we could not get it wrong. It required us to be 100% effective each time. As a strategy skilled officer, I always had a framework to guide my thoughts. An example of a framework is the Army’s Military Decision Making Process. It guides you to identify the problem, consider assumptions, identify resources, look at best case and worst-case scenarios. In some cases, the framework available was not suitable to handle my problem, so I learned to create my own frameworks. Systro Solutions teaches small business owners to create the frameworks that are customized to their specific circumstances.

Alex: How do the paths to success vary?

Russ: Every path to success is different. We start in business with different skills, talent, abilities, personalities, and resources. We cannot expect to follow the path of someone else and get the same results. We can learn from them, but we have to make the decisions that lead us to our desired outcome. A model helps you to customize your path. It can help you think about the right things at the right time and take the right actions in the right order. One of the models I use in the Purposefully Profitable Program is this progression model:

Level One – Personal Development – Prepare yourself, Use your talent

Level Two – Product Development – Package your solution to a painful problem

Level Three – Platform Development – Get your message to the masses

Level Four – Business Development – Sales success

Level Five – Market Development – Join or build a community

Level Six – Organization Development – Create and improve structure

If you follow these levels as you think your way through the growth of your business, you will not overlook important areas of development along the way. If you are trying to achieve sales success before you have packaged your solution and developed the right message, you will have a difficult time. ∎ Learn more about Colonel Russ Barnes by connecting on LinkedIn:

www.linkedin.com/in/rcbarnes ALEXANDER TAYLOR

Founder & President of Artem NexGen
 www.awarenessties.us/alexander-taylor Alexander Taylor is a public speaker and youth ambassador that empowers young social entrepreneurs to address societal, community, and environmental issues. He is the Founder & President of Artem NexGen and Youth Ambassador to The Global Challenges Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, representing the 1M2030 Initiative in partnership with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, as well as an honors student at Morehouse College. He developed Artem NexGen and scaled 1M2030, as international youth leadership organizations, to provide access to professional opportunities for youth leaders of the rising generation and to raise 1 million youth leaders towards UN sustainable development goals beyond 2030 respectively.

72 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



My degree feels like a mayday call to me. PROVIDENCE BOWMAN

AWARENESS TIES PROJECT MANAGER & COLUMNIST 74 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


PERSONAL STORY BY PROVIDENCE BOWMAN

MY MAY DAY

DEGREE IN HAND, DIRECTION IN DEMAND I graduated on May 1st at 4:10 p.m. The culmination of 4 years of hard work summed up in 10 minutes with the Covid mandated stop time of my graduation recognition at 4:20pm.

One of my biggest fears is not living up to my fullest potential. Not exercising every tool in my belt, making every connection that I can, and using every second of the day to my advantage. I , like many other people in our country, get lost in the hustle and what everyone else is doing. We see the LinkedIn updates about new jobs and opportunities, and get lost in what we should have done or could have done. I wrestle with agonizing fear and anxiety with the fact that one day I will no longer be on this earth, and that I will have to be at peace with what I have accomplished with my time on earth. Will that be enough? Did I become everything that I could and break down every wall in my way?

“…a fast pass to a panic attack…”

I am living such a small piece of my story right now, yet as these words march across my keyboard it feels like the heaviest burden to bear. I am 22 years old. Soaking up knowledge, stories and experiences in every corner of my life that I can -- meeting people that will be in my life forever, and some that will merely be passing through. I am a recent college graduate, wrestling with the horrible question of, what am I going to do with my life?. What am I going to leave as a legacy? What are other people my age doing? Yet, I am filled with a whole new sense of freedom with my degree in my hand. I made it through four years of higher education; a milestone that many women around the world do not have the opportunity to earn. Right now it feels like a piece of paper, a fast pass to a panic attack, a question left unanswered.

At the age of 22,I thought my life would be moving at record breaking speed. It seems to only be that way in my mind. I accomplished one of the biggest things in my life at a time where the world and the economy seems to be at a stand still. I graduated college in the top 10% of my class, at a time where 10% of the world is experiencing hunger everyday. These past 18 months have given many of us in the world every right to feel cynical and bitter and wonder why life would choose to be this way.

My degree feels like a mayday call to me. A heavy weight. Flashing lights. Post grad blues. In reality it is not a cry for help, it is not a distressing motion. My degree is a practice in patience, diligence, and pride. My degree was challenging and worth every ounce of sweat, a degree I earned in hopes of helping others with their mayday calls. ∎

PROVIDENCE BOWMAN

Awareness Ties Project Manager & Columnist
 www.awarenessties.us/providence-bowman Providence Bowman is a college student attending Grand Valley State University, studying International Relations. She is passionate about using her words for good and is currently piecing stories together in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves to spend her free time traveling, with her head in a book, and by the water. She lives everyday by her mantra that we are here to pursue opportunities and “go be awesome”.

75 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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No matter how many questions I have, she grounds me. JOEL CARTNER

LAWYER, AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL ADVISOR & COLUMNIST 76 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘UNYIELDINGLY HUMAN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY JOEL CARTNER

NOT WITHOUT MY NURSES

WHERE CLINICAL CARE MEETS HUMAN HOPE

I would be absolutely nowhere without nurses. This isn’t hyperbole; I’ve been in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices my entire life. Not my family or myself could have survived the last 26 years without them. Nurses interact with a patient and their circle more than anyone else on a care team.

Nurses are, more often than not, the first and last people we interact with in some of the most stressful situations many of us will find ourselves in. These are just a few stories of what nurses have done for me:

JoAnn and Cindy

I was born at 25 weeks. My chances for survival were not good, and I spent my first months on this earth in the NICU. It is there that my family and I met two extraordinary women JoAnn and Cindy. Not only were they incredibly an incredibly comforting presence for my family during an extremely difficult time, but they also did what they could to lighten the mood. No one can seem to remember who now, but either JoAnn or Cindy liked me better in blue, and the other one liked me in red. Since one of them was on during the day and the other at night, they would change me into the outfit of their choice as they rotated. Then one day, Cindy got an idea. I had a stuffed cow. Said cow was as big if not bigger than I was at that point, and Cindy decided to play a trick on JoAnn by replacing me with the cow and taking me, dressed in Cindy’s color of choice, into the bathroom. Enter JoAnn with a cow in the incubator and Cindy hiding in the bathroom with me in the “wrong” color. We laugh about that story to this day. JoAnn and Cindy took a fraught situation with worry and stress and brought light and love to the situation and for years after.

Brandy

Between the surgery in 2004 and my early high school years, I, largely, took a break from Botox. Then, I had a bad fall, among other things, and my Orthopedic appointments went from mid-level stressful back to the high-stress; every appointment is an inflection point affair they used to be, and we tossed Botox back on top of it. Enter Brandy. Brandy had a singular ability to cut right through that stress. She’d talk to me about school and make me laugh (not an easy thing to do when I’m stressed). Particularly, when she saw I was reading in the waiting room, she’d come over, sit down next to me, and at least let me finish my page. Sometimes she’d even let me sneak to the end of a chapter if we had time. Those little moments of levity made all the difference for me.

More recently, as I’ve gotten older and had to take charge of my healthcare, I’ve gotten a firsthand look at the wonders of nurses’ ability to guide patients through the complexities of healthcare. Now that I have to worry about my own insurance and how treatment gets billed and scheduling treatment within appropriate windows and all of that insanity, I’ve found myself talking to nurses with even more frequency. My Orthopedic’s nurse, in particular, is a master at reminding me that I’m still a human in a sea of numbers. She sees me two times a year, sometimes more, and talks to me on the phone about billing at least that often. Every time we talk, I’m still a human, and no matter how many questions I have, she grounds me. 77 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“…nurses have played a vital role in getting me where I am today.”

These are just some of the nurses that have made my life better over the years. From the nurse that held my hand in the operating room in 2004 to the nurse that reminded me not to look as they did a blood draw at my last primary appointment, nurses have played a vital role in getting me where I am today.

During law school, I was asked to talk to nursing students to put the opioid crisis into perspective as someone who has/does use opioids as an effective treatment and just as someone who has interacted with the healthcare system a lot. One of the points that came up during the talk was the idea that nurses can be used as a front line for patient advocacy. A student asked a question about how nurses are supposed to manage to be all the things that nurses are supposed to be and can be for their patients and be the first line of defense against the opioid crisis. Basically, how do we give all of that? Who can we cry mayday to? My response was that apart from the support nurses should get from their institution, nurses also give a tremendous amount of hope to their patients. Hopefully, creating a feedback loop of hope lessening the burden they feel.

Thank you, nurses. ∎

JOEL CARTNER

Lawyer, Awareness Ties Official Advisor & Columnist
 www.awarenessties.us/joelcartner Joel Cartner is a lawyer and public policy professional with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia and Retinopathy of Prematurity. Cartner has a background in public health, disability, and education law and policy. He received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Cartner currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works as a Document Review Attorney while seeking legislative employment.

78 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON


New goal reached.

Great. Now What? DESMOND CLARK

SPEAKER, AUTHOR & FORMER NFL PLAYER 80 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘PRINCIPLES OF WINNING’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY DESMOND CLARK

NOW WHAT

TWO WORDS FOR NEW FOCUS Every morning: Now What?

One of the best scenes in Mad Men is Draper to Peggy, at a crisis point, saying “this never happened. It will shock you how much this never happened. Life moves in only one direction: forward.”

Our lives are unpredictable roller coasters of events, and often, emotions.

Those emotions come from our wins, our losses—our activity or inactivity.

When I speak and coach, I always suggest two words to find a new focus: Now what?

The past: our mistakes, our procrastinations, our celebrations, come morning—are gone. They are part of the fabric of our experience, but no longer determinative. To hold onto a celebration, or defeat, or depression, too long, is simply burning up time we could better use by simply adjusting our mindset toward the place we’re going anyway, the next moment.

At any given moment, when the focus is lost—ask, Now What?

New goal reached.

Great. Now What?

Failed businesses.

OK. Now what?

End of a relationship.

OK. Now what?

It took me too much time to realize that time doesn’t wait for us to accept it. To take the most advantage of it, I now ask, as often as I can: From Here: Now What? ∎

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.

81 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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Mom has taught me that you can create

your own reality. NATALIE ASATRYAN

16-YEAR-OLD CERTIFIED YOGA INSTRUCTOR 82 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY TANITH HARDING

NEVER TOO YOUNG

A DAUGHTER AND MOTHER DARE TO DO MORE At twelve years old, Natalie Asatryan became the youngest certified female yoga instructor in America having started practising at five years old. At the age of nine she had already decided to become a yoga teacher and her Mom, Stella Balsanian, put all of her efforts into making that dream come true, refusing to take no for an answer and spending three years pursuing studios until finally she was met with a yes. They both join me now to share their story.

Tanith: People might think that nine is very young to want to become a yoga teacher! What made you both so sure that it was something you needed to pursue?

Natalie: We knew it wasn't going to happen immediately when I was nine, I felt like it was a process that was gonna take a little time but we didn't think it was gonna take three years. Yoga is such an incredible and healthy practice around wellness I thought it would be great to start early. It's like wanting a nine year old to start eating vegetables, it’s a really great thing to pursue from such a young age. That's one of the reasons that we decided that it was okay to start doing it so early.

Stella: Yoga is such a wholesome practice. It's not just physical, so much of it’s mental practice, and if your five or nine-year-old is interested, why wouldn't you encourage that? I’m very happy that Natalie started practising yoga at five. By nine, she would run into friends who had no idea what it was and want to let them know about yoga. Natalie has always had awesome eating habits and interest in wellness, I was excited to see her interest in yoga, and of course I was going to encourage her to pursue it as far as she wanted to take it.

‘NEVER TOO YOUNG’

AN EXCLUISEVE INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE ASATRYAN & STELLA BALSANIAN

83 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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Tanith: It took three years of studios saying no before you got a yes, can you talk me through the journey you both went through?

Natalie: I was nine, so didn't know that when you call everyone would say ‘it's not happening’. I thought it's gonna be a long process, but let’s go for it. What ended up happening was a call to the local yoga studio and they said no, then another yoga studio said no and that went on with every other studio for about three years. For a little bit I thought maybe it won't work but then I thought no, we need to keep calling people. That this is really important for me, it's something that I want to pursue. I think three years straight of hearing flat out no was actually good for me because I want to be an actress, so if you hear one ‘no’ you can't just give up. I think it was really important for me to build perseverance.

Stella: The journey was an amazing part of this. I would come home and say to Natalie, I called two studios today and they said no, and then next week two more studios and they said no. She was always saying, ‘Mom, you just haven't called enough yet’. And I would think, thanks for the pep talk Natalie! I'm so grateful that this was part of her story because it really was the beginning stages of seeing how she goes after the things she wants and how she doesn't give up. I teach my clients that if you're tired you need to learn to rest and not give up, but Natalie was doing that at nine years old. She’d say, we’re tired, so let’s rest and tomorrow we can start all over again. I’m so grateful for all the no’s.

“…my biggest accomplishments have been the people I've been able to meet, reached and connected with.”

Tanith: Now you have been qualified for nearly four years, Natalie! What have you accomplished in that time?

Natalie: It's been the most jam packed three to four years of my life! More than anything, my biggest accomplishments have been the people I've been able to meet, reached and connected with. The fact that I was able to have a positive impact on the lives of the people I've met and the charities that I do stuff for. When I was nine, I was gonna be a yoga teacher to show my fourth grade class workouts, then it ended up leading to work with the Unstoppable Foundation, Red Cross and Red Nose. I'm now helping kids in Armenia. I'm so incredibly thankful that I have a space to do that and that I found that through yoga. Also RoundTable Global has been such a blessing and not something I expected to come out of this at all. I mean I was like, I can teach down dog to my friends now at elementary school, but I ended up getting Global Youth Awards! Now I'm meeting incredible people and doing such incredible things.

Tanith: It must have taken a lot of your energy Stella, helping Natalie to reach those dreams! I’m sure it has been worth every moment but what have been the highlights for you?

Stella: It has just been a beautiful experience watching her become who she's here to be. It's really incredible, children can teach us so much, if we just stay awake, if we just have open hearts and open minds, children are our greatest teachers. I've had some amazing teachers in my life, but Natalie is my greatest teacher. She's here to do big things and my number one responsibility is to support her in that. I take my role as being her mom, extremely seriously and I'm grateful that God has trusted me to be her guide in this lifetime. I want her to always remember her divinity, her connection to God. She’s here for a special reason. The other thing that has just been really amazing to watch is how at 12 years old she first started speaking and teaching and she was inspiring. It was amazing watching her change the conversation amongst 12 year olds, and now I'm watching her change the conversation amongst 16 year olds. Teenagers, especially 12-14 year olds start comparing themselves and second guessing, Natalie just didn't have time for that. She was thinking, I’ve got a school to build! She's still a perfectly normal teenager, but she brings a different level of conversation amongst her peers and that's amazing to watch. 84 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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Tanith: Both of you do so much both separately and together, what is next for you both and what are your aspirations for the future?

Stella: Wellness has always been a huge part of our lives, and service has always been really important in our family. I've always said a life of service is the best kind of life to have. We are now thinking about combining all of that and taking it to parts of the world where that conversation is needed. Health and wellness is extremely important, mental wellness just as much as physical wellness and understanding the power of the words we use can make or break our lives. We're going to start combining all of that and bringing some of these conversations into different communities.

Natalie: Mom has taught me that you can create your own reality. I was told that when you get to high school, it's gonna be really hard as a teenager. That you're gonna be really upset all the time, probably gonna break your relationship with your parents, everything's gonna be really bad. My mom said, no, we're not going to manifest that for you. So we've literally just created a whole separate reality. We're going to be grateful instead of giving into the complaints that everyone tells us that we should have. That's something that's so important that I really want to teach as many people as possible because yoga is seven eighths mental wellness as well as physical wellness. I think focusing on mental wellbeing and bringing that to as many people as possible is something that’s gonna be really fun for us to do together. ∎ Learn more about Natalie by visiting her website:

www.natalieasatryan.com

Follow her on Instagram:

@NatalieAsatryan 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.

85 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


…learning to press “reset” and learning to be okay with change, isn’t just helpful, it's necessary. JONATHAN KOHANSKI

OPEN WATER SWIMMER, PHOTOGRAPHER & MS WARRIOR

86 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


PERSONAL STORY BY JONATHAN KOHANSKI

SPRING RESET

FEARS VERSUS PASSIONS

Forty-One. That’s the number of springs I’ve lived through here in New England, in fact I’ve never lived anywhere else that has less than four distinct seasons. Summer with all of its sunshine and warmth is a distant memory while in the throes of a snow filled and frigid winter. With the exception of sledding, winter sports are largely beyond me these days.

As summer gives way to fall, the squirrels are frantically seeking out and hoarding food, the temperatures begin dropping, the stability of summer now gives way to a restlessness that permeates the landscape. In almost slow motion, the trees transform from the radiant green of summer to a canvas of blazing reds, oranges, and yellows before losing that brilliance to the ground in the fall. As the days grow precipitously shorter and colder, the frequency of cold nights and frost increases. The first snow arrives and it hits you, 5 months of short cold days. At the best of times, we might get a 60-degree day at the halfway point, February, just to tease you and remind you that there’s something other than the cold that seems to infest everything. Sunlight can be a premium at this time of year, mostly the sunlight seen is from window, even the commutes are dark at this point. After what seems like a never-ending onslaught of cold, the days start growing longer, the temperatures aren’t so frigid and the blanket of white that has persisted for weeks and months begins to fade into the brown of mud.

“…it’s not too late to start over.”

With spring comes a sort of rebirth of everything, it may be the same landscape, but everything is new again, fresh. Everything was dormant through the darkness and cold of winter, much like a depressive spell, shedding a brilliance and light and withdrawing, internally from the rest of the world. Sometimes spring can be a metaphor for our lives and a fundamental reminder that it’s not too late to start over.

I’m no stranger to those bouts of withdrawal, and at times feeling like the darkness won’t end. Sometimes it’ll last days, sometimes weeks, but there’s always a spring. One thing that I have found that helps during those situations is change. Not a new pair of shoes type of change, but actual disruptive change. The kind of change that forces me out of the repetitive and mundane patterns that have landed me where I currently am. Maybe I’m just a tad overzealous when it comes to hitting that reset button to change things, but turning the page of life and moving onto the next chapter has generally come easier to me than perhaps it should. I’ve debated if this is such a terrible quality to have or a reasonable course of action; recognizing when a situation isn’t healthy, even if it once was, or life circumstances have changed to a level that wiping the slate clean makes sense.

Being diagnosed at 25 with a disease that slowly takes things away, learning to press “reset” and learning to be okay with change, isn’t just helpful, it's necessary. One of the “gifts” that MS has provided me is a completely different perspective. What life is, what it can be, what I value, the type of people I want and need in my life, and ultimately how I define happiness. It has provided me, many times, situations where I can practice leaving the past in the past and moving forward. 87 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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What does “reset” look like? Sometimes a friggin mess! For me it’s come in the form of two divorces, an everexpanding collection of gear from hobbies I’ve long since moved past. Admittedly though, I’ve learned to love the excitement that goes along with starting something new, not so much the divorces...that sort of reset can be rough and scary. Throw in a chronic illness and I’ve ended up with more anxiety about my future than I ever thought I would.

Ultimately though, what I’m doing is finding myself. It’s a journey of self-discovery, of understanding who I am and my place in the world. I’ve found a peace and contentment with simply living life on my own terms versus following a path that’s based on a societal norm or expectation. To me, following and reaching for the same goals as everybody else is a recipe for half-fulfilled dreams, missed opportunities, and wasted potential. Pursuing your passions and those things that ignite your soul though, there’s no substitute for how that makes us feel. When we find something we love, it ignites a fire within us, there’s a drive that doesn’t require willpower because there’s something bigger that’s pulling us along. When we ignore those feelings and desires, we ultimately betray our potential and who we are.

Can change be scary? Yes.

Can starting over at any age feel overwhelming? Yes.

Then the question that we should all ask ourselves is what do we live our life based on? Is it our passions, aspirations, and dreams...or are we living based on fear? Fear of change, fear of trying something new, fear of following that fire inside that wants you to feed it. ∎

JONATHAN KOHANSKI

Open Water Swimmer, Photographer & MS Warrior

www.awarenessties.us/jonathan-kohanski Hi, I'm Jonathan, I'm a wanderer of sorts, looking to further enrich lives and share experiences that show we are all capable of truly amazing feats that push my own boundaries and can many times turn heads. I'm a sucker for raw and real stories and attempt to share my own, with all the good and bad through that same lens. I'm always open to finding my next adventure that will help me to continue writing the stories that can help others overcome their own demons. I'm a lover of the water and spend a lot of my free time in it, whether it be swimming, body-boarding, or taking photographs while in it. I was diagnosed with MS at the age of 25 and it has changed the course of my life, not just in a physical sense, but also in my perspective of life, what is valuable to me and worthy of my time. We all have our struggles and triumphs, I'm here to share mine and maybe, help others through theirs.

88 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I can practice leaving the past in the past… JONATHAN KOHANSKI

OPEN WATER SWIMMER, PHOTOGRAPHER & MS WARRIOR

89 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


That symbol looks like us. When I put on my Chief hat, that symbol looks like me. OGIMAA (ACHA-KOOH-WAAY), JIM

ANISHINAABE KNOWLEDGE KEEPER, CHIEF OF FOOTHILLS OJIBWAY ON TURTLE ISLAND 90 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘FROM THE BEGINNING TO NOW’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY CHIEF OGIMAA

CREATOR’S CALLING

FROM THE BEGINNING TO NOW: LESSON 7 Throughout the world there are honored, preserved and protected, historical and sacred sites. Consider this as you read Chief Ogimaa’s “Mayday Message” for sites on Turtle Island. The whole human family is called to respect and learn from the messages of Creator where ever these may be, for we are one with all creation. People can help with this by bringing pressure to governments and organizations. Creator is calling .

Once again, I’m talking to you from here on what we used to call Kânata, it became Canada. It was one part of this world we call Turtle Island (this includes North America). The Anishinaabe people always maintain the connection to Turtle Island, in spirit. What I mean by that is there are spiritual ties, spiritual connection, in my leadership. People call me Ogimaa (Acha-Kooh-waay)…. which means leader of the sky. I maintain that, because it has to do with the Spirit. That’s how we had our connection to the beginning of the creation, for this part of the world, Turtle Island.

“I'm the last of those keepers of our connection to this land…”

When God created the world, He thought about everything that we need, for identity and to develop ourselves and look after everything that he has put together…. everything, like a puzzle. Think of different parts of this world; the Values God created in this one world that we're all in. There is a spirit…. there's a soul…it is Life. Life is on the land, there's life in the water. Life in the air and that includes everything that flies. Everything in God's creation. We need that spirit, because God created everything that we need. That’s how much he thought about us.

Like I always say, Cypress Hills is a sacred place.

When the creator worked he took this soil from Cypress Hills to create first people in this land. It is part of this one world, and it's part of the land, part of the Turtle Island. That wasn't by coincidence, that people were divided Creator intended it to be like that. People are part of creation, but not all together then…. but from different parts of this world.

However, first people at this part of the world need symbols. God must have known that in a future, someone was going to outlaw his creation… for his people, his land, places that he has created as part of this turtle. He has taken that soil, creating that spirit that became and what we call the Mother Earth today. We are created from this place and this particular location, as the First People of Turtle Island as we called it…. with no States or Canada…. no boundaries.

So, when creator made the world he created different places for humans to be. He created in special places for the first people here, like those other people in different parts of this world…. In Europe, Africa, China. There He created those people from that area. 91 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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When we understand ourselves…we understand how we're connected to this land. OGIMAA (ACHA-KOOH-WAAY), JIM

ANISHINAABE KNOWLEDGE KEEPER, CHIEF OF FOOTHILLS OJIBWAY ON TURTLE ISLAND Photo Credit: Georgialh 92 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“We must respect each other.

We must understand each other.”

Something that I know for sure is what God has written for me as a first people to this Turtle Island. He made people like me, first people and some people call us Aboriginal. Some people call us Indigenous or Indians. We are many…We are Annashinaabe, Cree or Dene’, Blackfoot, Blood, Stoney, Cherokee, Nakita, Mayan, Navajo, Chipawa, Souix, Apache, and so many more.

Let me tell you because I'm the last of those keepers of our connection to this land. I was one of the runners to protect our culture and protect our land; to protect our values, to protect our education, to protect our spirituality, and education structure, but I still teach today.

When God took that soil from Cypress Hills and that’s where all the organs come from. God has embedded those medicines in our body, God has taken that soil from Cyprus Hills and He wrote the symbols on the land that shows our sovereignty of this land. We are symbolic people.

First people of Turtle Island whose origin comes from Cypress Hills didn't come from somewhere else. We weren't given a chance to explain it, because things were outlawed for us. We couldn't explain ourselves. We could not protect where our own origin comes from….that sacred site. In this case, I would say, really highly sacred site… really, highly historical site, because it began the day when the Creator created this world, he created Cyprus, he created people from that soil, because they were supposed to be. That's where our own origin comes from.

If somebody were to ask me, “Can you prove that God has put you in this?”

“Yes, all you have to do is look at the symbols. And look at how many millions of us there used to be, and there's still a few of us who live in what we call Turtle Island. We're still here, because God intended us to be like we are. I think God made sure and wrote on this land. These are God's writings that people call symbols. Symbols are our writing from God, in this part of the world, that's where we come from.

No matter how much we've been studied, when we understand ourselves….we understand how we're connected to this land, because God has put us here. He made a symbol that we're part of this Turtle and part of the world like everybody else. Like what is now called Europe, Africa and Asia, and there are other islands. However, God has put us in this part of the world. Only first people can interpret Gods writing here because this has to be in the language from here, that I speak. European language comes from Europe. What comes from this part of the world tells us how to live and care for this world.

If somebody was to ask me, “Do you have a document that you're put here in this part?”

I would say, “All you have to do is look at Creators writing (symbols). He wrote these things…. so we started our own sharing, and we really highly respect that, because this is about humans. This is about people. It’s not only about us, it's about God's creation. So people start to make treaties; peace and friendship, even though we weren't fighting. We can be friends helping each other, the way we were intended to be as human beings. It is about caring for all families everywhere. Treaties told of family here, everywhere and was even understood by the British Royal family, who agreed to this importance. This is why different parts of this world there were treaties between first peoples and those from other islands.

93 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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If things weren't prohibited back in 1800s, today, we would be living in a better world.

Today, we wouldn't have all these sicknesses. No matter if you are in different parts of this world. Things that occur when sicknesses come impact all over the world. That means we're no different than anybody else. I mean, we're all in this one world. And we must respect each other. We must understand each other. That's why in this part of the world…people of my own origin, and words, are the only ones that can explain our values and structures because no one knows us better than ourselves. That’s why people when they came to visit us….. we helped them to survive in this part of the world.

We are the land. We're part of this. When people leave this world, they go back to this soil, our home soil, where God has put us. We are not taken back to Europe or somewhere else. Our bodies are put back to where we were from. We don't abandon that turtle. We don't go to some other Island. This Is Where we were created, we have always been. We can prove that we are here, because God has written that we we belong. So therefore we're from here… what we call Turtle Island before it's known as United States, Mexico or when it's known as Canada.

Today, I am worried that our own origin will be destroyed. Our future generations need their identity….. to know where they come from. God wrote this. Where we come from, we didn't make this up. God wrote it himself. I cannot give you any document, because God doesn't write documents. His symbols are on everything on the land…. on this Turtle. Cypress Hills is written by God Himself. We didn't make that up. We didn't create that ourselves. Or the the symbols in the mountains…... No alien, came down here to come and create. God is not an alien. God is God. And he didn't use aliens to come and create people. He created them himself from the land that he has created. He created all of us with connections to that spirit world.

In Cypress Hills, in the past, our people used to gather there. There's all kinds of medicines. There's all kinds of ceremonial sites. People came from what is now called States, Mexico and Canada. There was no division at that time.

It is not only that there are a lot of places, in this Turtle Island, but also a lot of places in the world that he wrote. God wrote these things himself . We didn’t have big machinery to make these these symbols, and things in the mountains.

Cypress Hills has significance for First people in this part of the world. That symbol looks like us. When I put on my Chief hat, that symbol looks like me. We are the sovereign people because God has taken that soil from Cypress Hills, which is why the world needs to protect the spiritual, historical connection to these sites that God has put here.

Cypress Hills is one of them and my own origin comes from Cypress Hills.

And somebody might ask, “Why talk about it?” I'm writing to tell us about these special sacred sites.

But you know what, things were outlawed. Things were prohibited, for a long as time, because if we're going to talk about these cultural sacred sites, we must do a protocol to the Creator….to God. It takes a ceremony and what they call a spiritual ritual and this was prohibited. These were outlawed….

94 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“…help us to protect these sacred sites.”

So today, I am worried.

What God has written here in this area…. particularly around talking about Cypress Hills might be destroyed, because there is already an oil site and a road going into to the cultural sacred sites. They are now private property. They are not valued as Sacred… Only for money….So I'm asking the world… to protect this cultural sacred site. It should not be mined, drilled, farmed. It is from the hands of God for worship, ceremony, protocols and medicines.

Jesus was put in that cave. It was given some importance, and it’s protected. So no talks about how much it's worth or its value to the Creator, to God.

We can not even access our cultural origin connection. (Cypress Hills)

We can not even get close enough to point to it, or to go and worship in our own sacred site, where people were created from here, in what we call Turtle Island. People have been taken from there. It is surrounded by “No Trespass Private Property”.

It's one of the sites that I'm talking about. There's other symbols.

There's a lot of other sacred sites that are worried about. And like Australia, their sacred sites are not even being protected as we speak.

Here we're asking for all Aboriginal people of this world to help us to protect these sacred sites. Please help us protect our educational structures. Everyone out there, who reads this please help. We all have children, who should know these sacred sites and what they mean. We are part of one world, with one Creator. If they're destroyed……They will never know. There are many other sacred sites that I'm talking about protection for like Cypress Hills. That’s just one of those sites. There's other sites that are in Jasper National Park, or Banff National Park, Chief Mountain, Sweetgrass Mountain, Peterborough, Ontario Whiteshell Park and Black River Manitoba. There are many throughout Turtle Island and the other islands of the world.

These sites are like a puzzle…. Because it is a puzzle of education….it is a structure…. Sadly, our future generations might never know their own origin of this island. It is part of this one world, but in this time, I'm asking everyone to help us to protect culture and heritage, historical sacred sites

Migretchs,

because it means a lot.

And if we hold together…. Like the way God is intended to be we're like a structure.

We all have values. We all have children who should enjoy these cultural sites, and get to know what's there…. And then what's going to help them…..in this world. It is about the environment. It is about life. It is about spirit. It is about the future generation. Tomorrow, and then to the future. Thank you all. ∎

OGIMAA (ACHA-KOOH-WAAY), JIM

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

95 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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I found that motherhood unlocked a whole new kind of love… KRISTEN MARTIN

BROADWAY ACTRESS, ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR MENTAL HEALTH 96 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘THE ARTISTRY OF ANXIETY’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY KRISTEN MARTIN

MOTHER’S DAY EVERY DAY

NOT EXPLAINED, ONLY FELT

I was fearful that once I had a baby I would lose part of myself... or ALL of myself.

Instead I found that motherhood unlocked a whole new kind of love that I had never felt before.

A deeper, more layered kind.

A kind that can’t really be explained but can be felt.

So rather than feeling like part of me was missing, I felt like part of me had grown.

I know it’s not Mother’s Day anymore, but every day moving forward for the rest of my existence and even when I’m gone... I will be Murphy Laine’s mother. ∎

KRISTEN MARTIN

Broadway Actress, Artist & Awareness Ties Official Ambassador
 www.awarenessties.us/jenny-kristen-martin Kristen is a Broadway actress residing in NYC, where she appeared in Wicked and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. National Tours include Wicked, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street & Cats. "Through acting we are forced to empathized with, as well as deeply evaluate the human condition. Our mental health journey dictates so much of how we react to each and every moment of our lives as it unfolds. I want people to embrace the great care we should consistently be gifting our minds. I want people to feel comfortable expressing their struggles as well as triumphs. I believe the current stigmas still surrounding mental health is not only primitive but dangerous. I’ve struggled with my own mental health, and my goal is to help break down those barriers surrounding what is simply part of the human experience."

97 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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…it’s all about being of service to young people. CLAIRE LIBBY

FOUNDER OF I AM ME 98 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY TANITH HARDING

I AM ME

A MENTAL HEALTH APP TO EDUCATE, ENABLE & EMPOWER Claire Libby has always been passionate about wellbeing and as a result of growing up with an alcohol dependent parent, Claire felt the need to take control of her own mental health and wellbeing from a young age. Claire’s career over the last 10 years has been focused on supporting young people, helping them build employability skills whilst in school, college and university, supporting them with their move from education into the commercial world. So, after two years of research into the area of mental health, embarking on a Masters in Psychology, numerous focus groups with young people, discussions with schools, and with the help of professionals in the field of mental health, i am me was created.

Tanith: Claire you are passionate about helping to support mental health in young people, what made you want to create such a comprehensive tool?

“The early stages of a young person’s life can really go on to define and shape who they become in later life.”

Claire: Mental health has always been part of my life, from growing up with an alcohol dependent parent and being exposed to attempted suicide during my teens. I felt I needed to take control of my own mental health and wellbeing from a young age. The early stages of a young person’s life can really go on to define and shape who they become in later life. My early childhood experiences have certainly shaped the woman I am today. Things have shifted since my childhood, with regard to the use of technology and social media, and the stats surrounding mental health in young people are alarming and so I started to think about what could be done. I began my research journey to understand more about the mental health of young people, and it was clear that the majority of support services available were based on cure, so once a diagnosis had been made. Through my discussions with young people it became clear they needed something that could help as more of a preventative tool, guiding them through life and helping them to become more able to cope and support themselves. Young people need to be educated to recognise the signs of when things start to not feel quite right, so they can use an intervention tool to support themselves. That’s where the work that we are doing comes in. It is that intervention and that’s why we created i am me, a free positive mental health app, designed to educate, enable and empower.

Tanith: How do young people interact with i am me and what are the key benefits as a young person?

Claire: The focus of the work we do is a free educational app that focuses on 6 key areas of lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine is a relatively new approach, currently being used in the medical profession. It is focused on lifestyle because they are the things that anyone can influence. The choices that we make regarding our lifestyle are responsible for a staggering 70% of all deaths worldwide according to the World Health Organisation. So, our mission is to educate all young people about how things such as stress management, nutrition, sleep, relationships, movement, and headspace can impact their mental health, so they can go on to make informed choices about how they go on to lead their lives.

Whilst the app is focused very much on prevention, there are whole host of articles, tools and tips, audios and videos for those that are struggling with their mental health or want to simply learn more about themselves and how they can positively impact their wellbeing. The content has been created by our amazing supporters, made up of psychologists, nutritionists, psychotherapists, mental health practitioners, counsellors, and teen Samaritans. We do a lot of work with educators and run sessions for pupils in schools, colleges, universities, and employers to position the app as a resource for their young people to tap into. These sessions also help each young person to realise that they can take an active role in supporting how they feel and how they deal with life’s challenges, now and in the future. 99 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“We must focus on education.”

Tanith: Why do you think youth mental health so important, and how can parents and the wider community support young people?

Claire: The cost to the economy for days lost due to stress, anxiety and depression is in the billions. We must provide better support for the next generation. After all, these young people are our future writers, film makers, doctors, nurses, shop keepers, lawyers, accountants and entrepreneurs etc who will drive our economy forward and make key global policy decisions.

We must focus more on education. Waiting until a diagnosis is made is not acting quickly enough and putting a strain on our health services. Waiting times for mental health support vary, with some having to wait months. We know from our research that this ‘waiting’ time can cause young people to turn to more harmful ways of coping. Imagine finally having the courage to ask for help, and then being told to wait it out for 3 months. Too many young people are taking their own lives because they feel they have no other option. Not only that, but don’t we all have a right to know more about how we can best support ourselves, and gain control over our mental health and lead a happy, healthy life?

Tanith: Through your work with I am me, I know you have researched facts and statistics around youth mental health, which of these do you think people would find the most surprising?

Claire: I don’t know if people would find it surprising but maybe more alarming, 75% of diagnosed mental illnesses develop by 18, and 1 in 10 young people aged between 5 & 16 have a mental health illness. The most alarming for me is that 50% of mental illnesses are established by the age of 14. As a mum of two teenage boys I find all of these stats to be really hard hitting. That is just the beginning of a young person’s life. Children start learning about their physical bodies and fitness from a very young age, it should be the same with mental health.

I AM ME

AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE LIBBY

100 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Tanith: How can young people access the app and what is next for you on the I am me journey?

Claire: Firstly, we plan to move forward with further research into the app as an intervention tool. We’ve just launched our learning alliance which will establish whether a preventative approach to mental ill health reduces the number of young people that go on to develop mental illness in later life.

Secondly, we need a two-pronged attack so that funding supports those where a diagnosis has been made but also as focuses on prevention measures and start to look at how we can really support young people to be able to proactively support their own mental health. That’s why we will continue to spread the message as far as possible.

Finally, for us it’s all about being of service to young people providing as much support to as many young people as we can. We will continue to work hard to develop new content and tools that are needed by young people and that reflect the challenges they face in today’s world. A key element of the initiative is our young advisory group. The young people that are part of this group are our eyes and ears, they advise us on the app content and the look and feel so we can ensure it remains up to date and relevant. The app really has been created for young people, by young people. ∎

Download I am me for free on Google Play and the App Store, as well as a desk top version:

www.iammeapp.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.

101 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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nar· cis· sism: (n.)

excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance
 
 102 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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‘UNSUGARCOATED’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY AALIA LANIUS

UNSUGARCOATED

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH A NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY WITH ERICA LAUREN In episode 53, Aalia Lanius and guest co-host, Sarah Jayne Johnson, share a deep, emotional, and relevant conversation with trauma recovery coach and narcissistic personality disorder specialist, Erica Lauren— a survivor helping other victims of emotional abuse. Lauren has faced a long journey of trials and tribulations within the entertainment industry and her own life that brought her to a career as a specialty therapist (7:30). Lauren discusses the symptoms of “narcissism” and what it is like to have a friend, family member or partner who is a narcissist (14:30). Aalia and Lauren open up about how relationships like these have impacted not only them, but the children pulled into the narcissist’s toxic orbit (17:30). Trauma bonding— the way abuse survivors are so deeply affected by narcissists— is a large focus of Lauren’s recovery work with survivors (28:00). After narcissism had so greatly impacted her relationships (32:00), Lauren saw quarantine as a time to step up her work and create impact through education (35:00). Through her toolbox for fighting narcissism (43:00), Lauren is helping others escape damaging relationships and recover from trauma. Tune in if you are interested in learning about narcissistic personality disorders and how victims can become survivors while keeping it UNSUGARCOATED. ∎

For more information on UNSUGARCOATED Media or your award-winning host, go to www.UnsugarcoatedMedia.com and stay connected with Aalia on IG: @aalia_unsugarcoated and on Clubhouse @aalia_lanius

AALIA LANIUS

Novelist, Speaker, Podcast Host & Social Entrepreneur
 www.awarenessties.us/aalialanius Aalia Lanius is the Founder and President of UNSUGARCOATED Media, a 501(c)(3) media organization. Dedicated to helping survivors of trauma lead mentally healthier lives, Lanius' focus is creating media and events that empower, educate, heal, and inspire another the way it has for her. Lanius is also a multiple awardwinning American novelist, social entrepreneur, and advocate with over 20 years of sharing her personal experiences with audiences of all age groups and diverse backgrounds. Executive Producer and host of the award-nominated seasonal podcast show, “UNSUGARCOATED with Aalia”, a visual and audio experience that features conversations intended to bring value and amplify voices that create more empathy and understanding of one another.

103 AWARENOW / THE INCLUSION EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I never imagined having to worry about a direct attack due to my ethnicity. THI NGUYEN

NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST 104 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GO GREEN DRESS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY THI NGUYEN

CULTURE CONSCIOUS

AAPI ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & AWARENESS

Among many celebrations such as Mothers Day, Teachers Appreciation Day and Nurse Appreciation Day; May is also Mental Health Awareness, Military Appreciation, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) month. It is a time to celebrate the contributions and influences of the AAPI community towards the culture, history and achievements to this nation.

Imagine a world without…

‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣

Zoom

YouTube

LinkedIn

Twitter

Pinterest

Fitbit

Twitch

Kickstarter

Rotten Tomatoes

Linksys

WebEx

Poshmark

The Knot

Wedding Wire

Guitar Hero

What would we do? How would we stay connected? How would we thrive?

These are just SOME of the brands we know and love that were founded by Asian Americans.

And yet, during a time of celebration, many Asians continue to be targeted in racial hate crimes. As we focus this month on 'exploring conversion of awareness to action', I implore you to support your local AAPI community, friends and colleagues. Stand up against injustice and speak up when you have something to say. Help out another human if you see something that should be stopped. Personally, it has been extremely difficult to see footage and read about the senseless attacks happening to individuals around America. It is heartbreaking to know these incidents are happening in my own backyard.

As a Vietnamese American woman who enjoys traveling, exploring and making friends with complete strangers, I find it unsettling to know the possible dangers during my adventures could be due to how I look. Although dangerous situations can take place from a freak accident, an animal attack or getting sick, I never imagined having to worry about a direct attack due to my ethnicity.

My ability to explore freely gives me the strength and freedom to continue sharing my adventures with the world. I cannot imagine a time when I'm too afraid to leave my home, too afraid to hike alone or too afraid to take on a multi day trek. I will not allow what is happening in today's society to dictate my ability to live a fulfilling and fruitful life. My goal is to continue to live without regrets and do what I can by positively impacting one life at a time. 105 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“…our greatest achievement is overcoming our own fears and continuing to live our best lives."

Too often do we think about the impossible until it becomes possible. We must unite and move forward in solidarity to end hate for all of humanity by bridging the gap of division. Let's focus on fixing today so we can build a better and brighter future for tomorrow. I truly believe that our greatest achievement is overcoming our own fears and continuing to live our best lives. Maybe one day I can be part of the AAPI Heritage Month celebration. It is time to grab life by the horns and just go for it! Follow me on Instagram @GoGreenDress for more photos and positive messaging. Thank you for your love and support. ∎ 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.

106 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


THI NGUYEN

NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST 107 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


People don’t need to trust the government, or pharmaceutical companies, or me.

Just trust your biology. DR. ROBERT PACE

NEUROLOGIST AND DIRECTOR OF NEUROIMMUNOLOGY, MEMORIAL INSTITUTE FOR NEUROSCIENCES 108 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘KEEPING PACE WITH MS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY DR. ROBERT PACE

TO VAX OR NOT TO VAX

TRUST YOUR BIOLOGY

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and not intended or implied to be a substitute for individual medical advice. You should discuss the Covid-19 vaccine with your own health care provider. Seriously, I don’t even know you. More importantly, you don’t know me – I could be making all this shit up - my name, my credentials, the statistics in paragraph 5… Use some common sense and talk to your own health care provider about these things for crying out loud.

It took an embarrassingly long time for me to figure out a topic to write on for this edition. I don’t really know why – I suppose I’d been in one of those self-consciousness spells where I can’t think of what people would be interested in hearing. I want to discuss something interesting and useful and broadly applicable. But how to find such a topic, unless of course dozens of people were to directly ask me a specific question every single day.. All day. For the last five months. Thus, I found myself stressing at work on the eve of the deadline and unable to concentrate… If only I wasn’t getting distracted by all these damn portal messages and phone calls from patients asking what they should do about the Covid vaccination again.

Eureka.

So. The Covid vaccine. Although I get loads of different questions about it, they all hover around the same central concern: “is it safe for me to take?”

Vaccines have long been vilified as potential causes for a variety of conditions, from inflammatory conditions like MS to complex neurodevelopmental conditions like autism. The Covid-19 vaccine has been especially criticized, at least in part due to the politicization of this pandemic. As a result, the covid anti-vax community continues to grow in number and publicity, while millions around the world harbor crippling vaccine hesitancy.

Put more simply: people are terrified of this vaccine.

It was made too quickly.

They bypassed safety checks.

It will sterilize us.

It will cull the Earth’s population by 90%.

It's bioengineered with nanochips that will allow 5G control over our bodies and enslave humanity.

To combat these pervasive Twitter narratives, there’s been a litany of information campaigns around the world. Government programs, educational resources that link to the science of vaccination, and countless Op-Eds from physicians and scientists around the world (not unlike this one) have tried to hammer home the idea that this vaccine is completely safe. The result? These attempts have been about as useful as the “ay” in “okay”. Up to 39% of US adults polled have stated they do not intend to take the vaccine at this time, and over 20% say they will never take it. People are still terrified, despite the reassurances from folks like me.

Why? Well, in part it’s because they know we are lying.

There are risks to this vaccine. We don’t know what long-term risks are.

It may kill some of us.

And we should all still get it anyway. 109 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Neurological side effects of vaccines have been feared since the first inoculations for smallpox in the 1800s. Back then, there were reports of recently-vaccinated patients who developed what was (terrifyingly) referred to as “neuroparalytic events”. Despite monumental advancements in the past 200 years, neuro-inflammatory conditions (conditions in which one’s immune system attacks the nervous system) have still been spotted with increased incidence following many different vaccinations. These include such disconcerting conditions as Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), Mononeuritis Multiplex (MM), and Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP), all of which just roll off the tongue. Now that my patients have as much access to medical literature as I do, I can’t pull off the reassuring “Don’t worry - it’s completely safe” routine without some Google-savvy skeptic calling bullshit and citing some Nature article about the incidence of Guillain-Barré following swine flu vaccines in the 70s.

However, saying that vaccination leads to a slight increase in incidence of these events is not the same as saying that vaccines cause these conditions. One simple factor (like a vaccine) isn’t sufficient to cause these complex anomalies. It’d be like saying that Hurricane Ike caused the 2008 recession. Although it probably didn’t help, it certainly wasn’t the cause. And, much like macroeconomics, biology is really, really complicated. At best, there is suggestion that vaccines can lead to a very small increase in one’s odds of developing certain rare conditions. That sentence isn’t as straightforward or exciting as “vaccines cause autism”, but it is a much more accurate depiction of the threat they pose.

In all, the odds of having a neurological event that results from a vaccine are around 0.1 in 100,000, or one-case-permillion-vaccines low. You are about 10 times more likely to get struck by lightning than to have a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine.

Now, some will say that even if the odds are low, any increase risk is bad. But that logic doesn’t account for the decrease in risk that the vaccine confers by protecting from severe Covid. Although most people who get Covid do fine, your odds of a bad outcome if you get covid without vaccination are orders of magnitude higher than 0.1 in 10000. Avoiding the vaccine because of the fear it will harm you is similar to refusing to wear a seatbelt while driving because of the possibility that could get into a crash where the seatbelt jams and traps you in while the car catches fire and you burn to death. While this could conceivably happen, your odds of surviving any given car ride are dramatically higher when you buckle up.

Vaccines are made in a variety of ways, but the basic idea behind all of them is presenting the immune system with some surrogate to dangerous pathogen that allows for development of immunologic memory - it introduces some piece of a bug so you can learn how to fight it quickly and efficiently in case you ever run into it. This piece could be a protein (like the “spike protein” present on the outside of ‘rona), or the instructions (mRNA) for the body to make its own copy of that protein and learn to fight it. In either case it requires your body to recognize a foreign something and respond appropriately to it - which is something it is already doing all of the time.

Your immune system appropriately deals with billions of foreign proteins that are introduced into your body every day, and it does so without going haywire and annihilating your organs or rewiring your neural connections. It is very, very good at its job. Our adaptive immune system has been around and evolving for over 500 million years. We’re not going to throw it off by injecting some tiny protein made by a bunch of nerds at Pfizer. People don’t need to trust the government, or pharmaceutical companies, or me. Just trust your biology. ∎ ROBERT PACE, MD

Neurologist and Director of Neuroimmunology, Memorial Institute for Neurosciences
 www.awarenessties.us/robert-pace Dr. Pace cares for and has expertise in a variety of neurologic conditions. He is passionate about demyelinating conditions of the central nervous system and holds a fellowship from the University of Michigan in clinical neuroimmunology and MS. Along with Dr. Aburashed and Dr. Cote, they make up the provider care team in the MS center at Memorial Healthcare Institute for Neuroscience. He has experience using a variety of immunomodulating and suppressing agents and also lectures nationally regarding treatment options in Multiple Sclerosis.

110 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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We rush to sign a cast on a broken leg, but avoid and stay clear of anyone who tells us they are feeling depressed. IAN ADAIR

NONPROFIT INDUSTRY INFLUENCER, SPEAKER & AUTHOR 112 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


FEATURE STORY BY IAN ADAIR

THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND ACCEPTANCE

Words like mental illness, addiction, and suicide – can immediately and forever change a person’s life. They did for me. For those who suffer in silence this can be a life or death issue.

So why aren’t we talking about mental health more? How can we live in a country where suicide is ranked among the top ten causes of death in almost every age group, yet there is little outcry for action in the media. Where 20% of the population is suffering at any given time and yet the significance of the issue is still not widely understood or even being addressed.

“No other illness is so impacted by stigma more than mental illness.”

As part of my job, I speak about my mental health journey and past challenges, I also share the personal testimonials and stories of many others. I have reached a point where I feel angry and tired most of the time, not because of how these stories are received, but how attitudes about the importance of mental health awareness are not changing fast enough. Advocates and educators continue to speak about the human to human impact of mental illness, but still progress is slow and stigma remains an ever present adversary in this fight.

To talk about mental health you really have to understand stigma, and the power it has over people and their decisions about taking care of their own mental health. The stigma associated with mental illness can be divided into two types: social stigma, which involves the prejudiced attitudes others have around mental illness; and self-perceived stigma, which involves an internalized stigma the person with the mental illness suffers from.

No other illness is so impacted by stigma more than mental illness. We rush to sign a cast on a broken leg, but avoid and stay clear of anyone who tells us they are feeling depressed. The fear of disclosing a mental health issue is real, because it brings with it a fear of being labeled by your illness.

Over the last few years the conversation around mental illness has become more open and public, mainly due to the high profile suicide deaths of people like Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Robin Williams. What has also pushed the conversation further are the increasing number of professional athletes, performing artist, and social media influencers publicly disclosing their battles with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Although this has helped, there is a certain amount of air cover (what I call forgiveness) we give celebrities and athletes because we expect them to make mistakes or collapse under the intense public pressure they are under. Where the mental health discussion is stilling falling short concerns regular people - working professionals, retired seniors, and students - those of us not in the public eye.

For everyday people, when we disclose a mental illness we still fear losing the three things that matter the most in our lives: our family, our friends, and our jobs! Disclosing a mental illness shouldn’t mean giving anything up or losing those who should be supporting you, but for many that fear is real. 113 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“…talking about mental health today is a movement.”

I believe the mental health awareness community has a major marketing and education problem. One of the biggest factors keeping the general public from understanding the importance of mental health concerns how we educate them. All the national awareness organizations promote the same statistic, that 1 in 5 adults in Americans will experience a diagnosable mental illness in a given year. What these groups forget to promote - is that 5 out of 5 of us have mental health. By forgetting this they discount the connection we all have with anyone who has suffered a mental illness or is suffering today.

Whenever I speak about mental health to any size group, I always try to show the audience they are in a safe place to have this discussion. I ask them to raise their hand if - they, someone in their family, or one of their closest 4 to 5 friends has ever been impacted by mental illness, suicide, or addiction. Each time I ask this question almost every single person in the room raises their hand. This allows the audience to see they are surrounded by people with a shared experience and makes it easier for a candid conversation about mental health to take place.

The point I’m trying to make with this exercise is, if an overwhelming majority of us know someone who has struggled or we have been impacted ourselves, then how come we are not promoting the urgency of this issue in way that makes more sense and gets people’s attention.

Everyone should have the ability and opportunity to share their voice. Like many, I struggled for years to express the heartbreak I felt over how addiction and mental illness had impacted my family and close friends. But in the wake of that pain has come purpose and a willingness to be vocal, share my story, and continue to encourage others to do the same. Silence is not an option. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard.

Mental health needs more advocates, activists, and champions. Talking about mental health today isn’t just a moment, talking about mental health today is a movement.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please take this time to share resources and inspirational stories of ‘lived experience’ and recovery – you never know who it may help, motivate, inspire, or even save.

I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to all the mental health professionals, care givers, and advocates out there, who every day support and champion the millions of people suffering from mental illness. Your efforts, work ethic, and kindness are seldom recognized, but to so many of us who suffer - you are our heroes!

To all of the individuals and families who were able to navigate the tragedy of loss, and turned that sadness into purpose and action: Your VOICE changes the discussion around mental health and addiction. Your EFFORTS help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and recovery; and Your ACTIONS save lives every day.

I don’t think people fully realize how much effort, strength, and courage it takes to pull yourself out of a dark place mentally. To anyone struggling right now with their recovery, mental illness, or profound grief and loss – you are brave, you are strong, and you will get through this. Most importantly always remember - you are not alone. ∎

Ian Adair is a nonprofit industry influencer, TEDx speaker, and recognized expert in leadership, fundraising, and nonprofit management. He is the author of: Stronger Than Stigma, A Call To Action: Stories of Grief, Loss, and Inspiration! Ian is the Executive Director of the Gracepoint Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Gracepoint, which impacts the lives of more than 30,000 individuals in our community each year, seeking mental health, medical, and addiction services.

To learn more, visit gracepointfoundation.org.

114 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



I did not know I had wings… PAUL ROGERS

TRANSFORMATION EXPERT, AWARENESS HELLRAISER & PUBLIC SPEAKER 116 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘RELEASE THE GENIE’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY PAUL ROGERS

DO YOU SUFFER IN COMFORT?

THE TRANSFORMATION BEHIND THE SMILE Genie Fact: A Genie can tell Cher how to turn back time.

“Mayday" is derived from the French word “m'aider" that means “help me" and is a shortened form of “venez m'aider", which means “come and help me".

It is a 911 call when a situation deteriorates to the point of "grave and imminent danger," thus warranting immediate action (intervention, assistance, response). Drop everything and converge on that point.

“Pan-Pan” is a situation of a lower level of importance. Derived from the French word “panne", Pan-Pan most often refers to "possible assistance needed". The captain remains confident that the situation can be handled, and that there is no current danger.

The paradox is that one defines the other. It is in this space between Pan-Pan and Mayday where most of us live. We “suffer in comfort”. We become masters of internalising and enlarging our zones of discomfort. It is the area that lies behind the smile. It is the gap between “I’m fine” and its mirror reflection of “Save Me”. We can handle problems and take on more and more, whilst continuing to be high functioning and of service to our brothers and sisters. However, this does come at a cost. Like any truth which is buried, at some point, it breaks through the zone of comfort to its Mayday “Suffering in Discomfort.” This is when we can no longer pretend. It is the beginning of the release; the start of the healing.

A perfect example of how Mayday can bring amazing growth, is the transformation of a caterpillar. A caterpillar may suffer in comfort in its final days before declaring Mayday, but when it awakes after its Mayday, it finds itself transformed into a beautiful butterfly.

117 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“It provides us with our true purpose and passion.”

The butterfly would then ask why did I not see or use these wings before. The caterpillar would reply “I didn’t know I had wings.” Mayday, in this instance, represents a transformation from distress and pain to growth, light, and love. Mayday is a break in the clouds, and the emergence of a magnificent ray of sunlight which reveals the beauty of the landscape below.

Mayday is celebrated in countries as a sign of joy and happiness. It represents an end to the darkness and the beginning of the light. In the “en-lighten-ment” caused by declaring Mayday, it allows us to grow and embrace every waking moment. It provides us with our true purpose and passion.

It gives us the privileged position to shine the light on others who are “Suffering in Comfort.” It is our struggle which becomes someone else's “Mayday Survival Guide”.

Each of us has their own set of heroes. It may not be who you expected who answers your distress call. It might be the everyday person who has a hero and rescuer living inside them, just waiting to step forward. Those unsung heroes are seen in awareness days and months. In the words of Captain America, “Avengers Assemble.¨

In my own life, I had help from an unexpected and hidden hero. It was in the shape of my angel in furry disguise, who was born in the middle of a Mayday situation. My white wolf answered the call, rescued us, and became my family’s and I recovery and journey to the light. This, my dear friend and hero, is dedicated to you. (RIP Sikou)

“If you knew who walked beside you at all times, on the path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again.” ― Wayne Dyer

Those who come to our aid are the brave heroes and causes which are honoured and celebrated in each issue of this wonderful magazine. Stories of light and inspiration which become our path to recovery.

You are not alone and never were. You have moved beyond your “Mayday.” On your continuing journey, you stand shoulder to shoulder with the founders, honoured ambassadors, columnists and featured guests who you know presently and will come to know. ∎

PAUL S. ROGERS

Transformation Expert, Awareness Hellraiser & Public Speaker
 www.awarenessties.us/paul-rogers 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”, Director at Core Mentors Association (Not for profit) & Best-selling author. His journey from corporate to Kitesurfer to teacher on first nations reserve to today. Paul’s goal is to inspire others to find their true purpose and passion.

118 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


SIP OF HOPE IS THE WORLD'S FIRST COFFEE SHOP WHERE 100% OF THE PROCEEDS SUPPORT PROACTIVE SUICIDE PREVENTION AND MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION. Prevention starts with a conversation, and the conversation starts here. To learn how you can break the silence, visit SIPOFHOPE.COM

3039 W FULLERTON AVE. CHICAGO, IL 60647


I need more people to listen to my song. NED STRANGER

SONGWRITER & WRITER 120 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘MUSIC WITH MEANING’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY NED STRANGER

THROWING OFF THE STRAITJACKET

ENDING ‘NUMBERS PRESSURE AS A SONGWRITER

I launched a YouTube channel last year talking about songwriting and music.

The channel lasted a few months before I realised it wasn’t the best focus for my energies (more on that later) but there were some revealing lessons along the way.

One of my first ‘episodes’ involved a Q&A and one of the questions I was asked was: What has been your proudest musical achievement to date?” I didn’t think much about it and answered on instinct, talking about the moment a song I wrote with my band hit one million Spotify streams.

I filmed the episode, put it up, left it. And then I was thinking about it afterwards and I remembered one of the more special moments I’d shared with the band. We were invited by a friend of a friend to play am acoustic concert in the oncology ward of the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London for all those people waiting. At the time it felt like a fairly thankless experience (both for us and the listeners who understandably just seemed absorbed in their own problems and worries). We went away feeling like it was a complete waste of time.

And then a week later, out of the blue, we received a long email from one of the people who’d been sat in the waiting room. He thanked us for our music and said that he hadn’t realised at the time just how much he’d needed it at such a dark personal moment. This completely blew us away. We’d had no idea the depth of the impact our playing could have on one person like that.

“It reduces audience members to metrics rather than individuals…”

Thinking about these twin moments from my musical past - the million-stream milestone and the single listener in the hospital - made me realise just how much the obsession over numbers has become a creative and emotional straitjacket. It reduces audience members to metrics rather than individuals and can not only create anxiety in how you analyse the outcome of your promotion (how many likes, how many listens, etc), but even affect the creation of your art in the first place. I’m writing a chorus and thinking ‘will this chorus get the song onto a playlist big enough to win me thousands of listeners’.

I know this problem doesn’t just affect me, but other songwriters as well, and I know music isn’t the only industry affected by it.

Recently I decided to do something about it. Working with a coach, I started unpacking the recurrent thought: ‘I need more people to listen to my song.’

First we analysed how correct this statement was. The more I explored it, the more I realised that my sole objectives should be to create meaningful art and show it to other people. Not a lot of other people, just some people who might find it as meaningful as I did. 121 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“I focus on the individuals and the impact I want to have on them…”

But then we went further and started exploring what would happen if I thought the opposite of that thought. For example, could I find ways to justify the reverse statement: ‘I need fewer people to listen to my song.’

How I approached this was to think of myself not just as an artist sharing work and expecting people to receive it in a one-way process, but as a customer service manager as well. Rather than listening, I want them to interact and get deeper into the songs. So I should be talking to them about what music means to them, or sharing the process that goes into creating it, or having conversations with them that could inspire new songs. But if I have too many audience members like this, I can’t maintain this dedicated customer service approach. And so I’d found a justification for having fewer listeners.

This thinking helped me to switch off the automatic thoughts that told me that I needed more listeners (and all the workstreams that supposedly achieve that) and focus more energy on the art itself. I know that, in the long term, this will result in better songs, and the listeners - especially if they feel valued and looked after - will do the sharing for me. Getting away from the short-term involves a shift away from outcome and onto the process itself.

So now, when I look back on my musical achievements (and forwards to my goals), I focus on the individuals and the impact I want to have on them, as well as appreciating the process and the challenge of writing more meaningful songs. And all of this is doing wonders in reducing my anxiety levels day-to-day. ∎

NED STRANGER

Songwriter & Writer
 www.awarenessties.us/ned-stranger Ned is a songwriter, writer and recovering law student.He turned his back on a promising career in the city to focus on his true passions - music and writing - forming indie-folk act August and After with a close friend from university. Several years later, they'd built a loyal London fanbase and toured various European countries, securing millions of online streams across the world and features in The Independent, BBC Radio and numerous official Spotify playlists. Ned launched his solo project this year with a series of new singles, exploring the boundaries between indie-folk and electro-pop.

122 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I need fewer people to listen to my song. NED STRANGER

SONGWRITER & WRITER 123 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I challenge myself not to limit what’s possible. ELIKEM ARCHER

CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER OF GLOBAL CITIZEN YEAR 124 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY ALEXANDER TAYLOR

THE ARC OF ELIKEM ARCHER

CULTIVATING GLOBAL CITIZENS

Elikem Archer is a social investment executive driving multi-sectoral change globally. Deeply believing that talent is universal but opportunity is not, she is passionate about removing barriers so people can have a fair shot at living to their fullest potential. Elikem is committed to driving change for the collective good by using her experience and expertise at missionfocused organizations.

Alex: What is a day in a life like for you during the pandemic?

Elikem: Well, I’m a mom, so my day typically starts with rallying the troops and getting the boys ready for school virtual school in this case. However, that’s what happens when I get out of bed. I have during this time started to journal - so I take a few minutes (5-10) each morning to journal, sometimes read a poem or a quote and set an intention for the day. I do this before I get out of bed and before I check my phone for messages.

When I start my work day, I typically check my calendar to see what my day looks like - which often determines the cadence of my day. My days are typically meeting heavy, although now I’ve also started to block time for deep work. Last summer was just hectic- we were going through so much, being fiscally responsible, caring for our team members globally and also innovating quickly to design the Academic. So my days were super long. Often back to work after my boys were in bed for the day.

I’m also intentional about taking care of myself each day. I take an hour-long walk every day - at the end of the business day. It’s kind of my transition to family time. It’s a way to clear my head and re-energize. No matter how busy my day gets, this time is something I guard jealously, and has helped me stay grounded during these unprecedented times.

Finally, I end my day just as I started - journaling and reflecting on the day. I always include three things: moment of joy, something I’m grateful for, and prayers.

“…talent is universal, but opportunity isn’t."

Alex: Tell us about yourself and your background with Global Citizen Year.

Elikem: I joined Global Citizen Year five years ago as the organization was looking to bring executive leadership to the Programs team. At the time, the question the executive team and the board was asking was could we grow without compromising program quality? So, my first job was really to ensure that we had fixed programmatic and operational holes that potentially compromised our program quality. From this,I had to build a strategy that had responsible growth at its core. The last piece was really to deepen the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as make sure that we were centering that in all aspects of our work: from staff recruitment to program design to Fellow support. Before joining Global Citizen Year, I worked in global health for a decade and also spent the early part of my career in economic development, specifically as a strategic management consultant. For me, the throughline in my career path - which by no means is a straight line - is my commitment to working on issues that close the opportunity gap globally. I believe that talent is universal, but opportunity isn’t and this knowledge has shaped my choices as I chart a path in this world. 125 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Alex: What was your experience graduating from Clark University in Worcester?

Elikem: Worcester was cold! I’m from the tropics, so anywhere cold is just hard for me to love deeply. However, I loved my experience at Clark. The International Development and Social Change program was a small and highly diverse pgm. About 50% of my class were from the US and the other 50% were not. It was such a rich experience learning and discussing complex issues like war and peace, environmental justice, global health etc with people whose lived experiences were vastly different. The program was really designed to give you practical skills in addition to the theoretical framework of global development. After coming from the University of Chicago (which I also loved for different reasons) I was looking for a program that could ground the theory in practice for me. On a personal level, I met my husband at Clark - so good things definitely came out of my time in Worcester!

Alex: What are you proud of your team for?

Elikem: The kick@$$ work they have done this past year, Alex. I’ve worked over the last few years at Global Citizen Year to build a high-performing team, with all of us having a clear vision of where we’re going and committed to getting there together. But I think you don’t really know if that’s true completely until a crisis hits - and a global pandemic is definitely a crisis of epic proportion. I’m very proud of how the team worked across five countries: India, Brazil, Senegal, Ecuador and the US to evacuate our Fellows last March when we have to suddenly end the program and get everyone home. We were getting about 130 Fellows, to over 30 countries and 20 states over the course of a long weekend- as countries closed borders around us and airlines cancelled flights. It was a coordinated effort - and every member of the team stepped up and we did it - with efficiency, generosity and keeping our Fellows and their families at the center of all key decisions. Then we quickly had to pivot to redesign a new program and build what we now have in the Global Citizen Year Academy. For this second semester of the Academy that we just wrapped up, we enrolled over 250 students from 80 countries and 26 states! This program was not a thing last at this time. When you lead a team that pulls off a feat like this - you can’t help but feel super proud of them.

“…dream a little before you think.”

Alex: What is your favorite mantra or quote?

Elikem: I love quotes as you know, Alex. One that feels true to me right now and which I often reflect on these days is from Toni Morrison: “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think”. I often find myself coming to this these days - especially as my role often has to balance innovation, aspiration and practical operational realities. I challenge myself not to limit what’s possible because I’m failing to dream a little. ∎ Learn more about Elikem Archer by connecting on LinkedIn:

www.linkedin.com/in/elikemtometyarcher ALEXANDER TAYLOR

Founder & President of Artem NexGen
 www.awarenessties.us/alexander-taylor Alexander Taylor is a public speaker and youth ambassador that empowers young social entrepreneurs to address societal, community, and environmental issues. He is the Founder & President of Artem NexGen and Youth Ambassador to The Global Challenges Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, representing the 1M2030 Initiative in partnership with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, as well as an honors student at Morehouse College. He developed Artem NexGen and scaled 1M2030, as international youth leadership organizations, to provide access to professional opportunities for youth leaders of the rising generation and to raise 1 million youth leaders towards UN sustainable development goals beyond 2030 respectively.

126 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



Nearly 290,000,000 children in India have been affected by COVID-19. 128 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


FEATURE STORY BY TAMMY LAWRENCE

THE HAPPY BOX PROJECT

HELPING INDIA’S CHILDREN ONE PACKAGE AT A TIME “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

The tragedy of covid-19 is reflected in the faces of India. Over 300,000 new cases of covid-19 per day, 22.66 million cases and over 280,000 deaths are stark results of this devasting disease. And in one of the world’s largest vaccine producing nations, less than 5% of the population is fully vaccinated. Local authorities report vaccine shortages while experts are predicting up to 3 years for the country to reach herd immunity based on current rates.

THE SITUATION

In February of this year, India was in control of the pandemic. Or so they thought. Their infection rates were down 90% from the peak of the first wave, businesses were open, and people were moving about freely. But noticed too late, a variant started to take hold and spread like wildfire in a land without restrictions. This variant, called B.1.617 is now known to be more contagious and spread rapidly. Although not necessarily more deadly, its swift spread makes the numbers climb so rapidly that it appears more dangerous. This variant took hold of the population and spread exponentially before the government or health officials could stop it. India is now in the grips of a renewed pandemic that shows no signs of slowing.

This second wave has become a tsunami of death and destruction to the people of India. Funeral pyres are seen burning in mass cremations in an effort to deal with the overflowing morgues throughout the country. Hospitals are at capacity and families are forced to drive from one city to another to find a bed for loved ones suffering from this cruel illness. Hospital beds and crucial medical equipment is in short supply – from PPE to ventilators and oxygen. The government has shut down all commercial use of oxygen in an effort to get a breath of life to those who so desperately need it.

“Their mental health is quickly deteriorating…”

Support and relief are on its way from all over the globe but there is a segment of the population that is being forgotten in the midst of this crisis. The children of India. Many have become orphaned and many have been locked in their homes for over a year with no access to school or social interaction. Their mental health is quickly deteriorating and has the potential to affect them for their lifetime.

INDIA’S CHILDREN

There are 472 million children in India, they make up 39% of the population. The pandemic has had a serious impact on India’s children and this recent second wave threatens their physical and metal health like never before. The education of nearly 290 million children have been affected and 6 million children are out of school. With 144 million children distant learning, which in most cases is inadequate, many struggle with social isolation and basic lack of care due to devastating economic and physical decline of parents and care givers. 65% of India’s population is either rural or poor, and the pandemic is spreading through this vast countryside and affecting the most vulnerable. 129 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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Mental health is often the most neglected aspect of a crisis like this one but not an aspect that should be ignored. Children need psychological and support if they are to survive this pandemic and its potential long-lasting effects. Research shows us that best predictor of a successful satisfied adult is their emotional health in childhood. If we don’t start helping the children today – the long-term effects in India will be felt for generations.

HAPPY BOXES FOR CHILDREN

One person is trying to bring happiness to these children – one box at a time. In partnership with The Pollination Project, one man has created “Happy Boxes” for the most vulnerable children to help them with mental health during this crisis. This initiative has been created by Sandip Sankar Ghosh to “intrigue child’s minds and boost their creativity through activities like music and art”. These boxes will include a musical instrument, an urban garden kit, one game and one comic to “catalyze creativity, bring smiles, and improve mental health”. Getting these Happy Boxes to India’s urban poor youth is not only a goal but a necessary action to help children fight through this pandemic and come out the other side with strength and resolve. Encouraging creativity in time of crisis can improve mental health and help these children get through tragic and devastating circumstances beyond their control.

ONE CHILD AT A TIME

Helping one child at a time may seem like a drop in the bucket, and that is exactly what it is. Each drop creates a ripple, and each ripple affects all those it touches. By helping one child at a time, we can start a groundswell of healing that starts small, but creates a ripple affect that reaches far beyond. Encouraging creativity, sparking joy, and bringing smiles to one child at a time will not only help that child, but will affect the family and people surrounding that child and help to heal a community, and then a country, in desperate need. When children grow up happy and emotionally stable, they can take on the world. And together we can help them get there.

HOW CAN YOU HELP

The request is simple. We want to make giving possible for everyone. So many feel the need to do something to help India but may not feel like their giving will make a difference. Now it will.

Sandip’s goal is to deliver 150 Happy Boxes to children in need. It becomes a simple math equation that you can do with your friends and family to make a difference together.

$5 Donation x 10 People = 1 Happy Box

Could you and 9 friends give up something as simple as your favourite special coffee or your weekly lottery ticket, for just one day - to bring some happiness to a child in India?

If the answer is YES follow this link and donate today:

https://give.thepollinationproject.org/campaign/joy-packets-for-india/c341006

Please know that the children of India thank you. ∎ TAMMY LAWRENCE

Founding Board Member of 365give

Tammy is a founding Board Member of 365give and is a valued contributor to the blog. She spent years working in the non-profit sector advocating for girls and women in sport and physical activity and fundraising for Big Sisters. She currently works from home as a freelance writer while raising her children. Always passionate about children and youth and giving back to the community, Tammy found a perfect fit with 365give. “I love being part of a global movement that is creating a society where people feel good about themselves through giving back. 365give has the potential to change the world and create the future we all want to see.”

130 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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131 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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There are no borders that can contain us. LORRAINE D’ALESSIO

FOUNDER OF D’ALESSIO LAW GROUP 132 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘CROSSING’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LORRAINE D’ALESSIO

A LETTER TO THE MODERN MOM

ALL MOMS ARE MULTI-HYPHENATES MOVING THE EARTH Given the state of the world, the pace that life is moving at, and the nonstop demands of working within a global industry, finding the time to slow down and reflect on the big picture can be a difficult task. My career and business require me to be on-the-go, both physically and mentally, but I’m working on slowing down from time to time to take it all in.

Working with professionals and artists from all across the world requires me to be on call for a long portion of the day, and ready for conference calls, consultations, or team meetings during hours most would associate with deep sleep. My body is here, now, but my mind can be in any given time zone depending on the day.

But nonetheless, it’s important that I press pause regularly to remind myself of why I do this. Why some nights are sleepless and why some flights feel endless. I use this time to also think about the various people I have in my life that enable me to pursue my dreams and the support I receive from my family, friends and team that allows me to conquer the challenges I face.

This year for Mother’s Day, I counted my blessings and thought about what it means to be a Modern Mom in 2021. Every mom working and learning through motherhood is a multi-hyphenate in my book.

“Being a Modern Mom means we don’t have to choose one identity…"

We’re artists in the way that we paint creative solutions to the problems our families face. We’re athletes in the way we build up our stamina to clear the hurdles thrown in our way. Coaches in the way we exercise our children to build up strong muscle memory to overcome obstacles through practice, teachers in the way we provide the vocabulary and tools our families need to move in the world. We’re business people in the way we budget and negotiate, gardeners for the way we inspire growth, entrepreneurs in the ways we pursue opportunities for ourselves and for our families. And so much more.

Being a Modern Mom means we don’t have to choose one identity that best encapsulates who we are. But if there is one title that defines the totality of the Modern Mom - it is ‘a world builder’. We bring life into this world and foster a space for life to grow. There are no borders that can contain us. And while we do have goals we are working towards, there is just as much reward in the journey, as well as the lessons we help our children learn along their own path.

While quarantine and a global pandemic put some semblance of normal life on hold, the world still spins. Despite the shifting tides that may hold us back, there’s still the ever-increasing challenge of maneuvering through unfamiliar waters to reach our goals. Whether that be within the context of our professional lives or personal ones, the Modern Mom knows a thing or two about these challenges. 133 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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“…one aspect of motherhood that I did not anticipate was how sharpening your problem-solving skills and drive carries over into other aspects of your life.”

Sometimes it takes a village. Other times it takes an afternoon of paper-mache, cardboard cutouts, and a big bag of glitter. Sometimes we all need to lean on our support network to make it through the tough times, and other times it takes putting our head down and understanding the way out of a challenge is through it. But every time, it is the reward of a job well done, and the look of accomplishment on my childrens’ eyes that gets us through.

Growing together with them has instilled a greater curiosity of the world within me, and to be able to witness my children coming into their own identities has been the most rewarding aspect of being a mother.

But one aspect of motherhood that I did not anticipate was how sharpening your problem-solving skills and drive carries over into other aspects of your life. Whether it’s helping my children with a school project, strategizing winning approaches for my clients, or even just coordinating a family feast during the holidays, all of these skills carry over into other parts of my life that have helped me get to where I am today.

I am thankful to be in a position where I have multiple outlets and avenues to express the totality of my interests and identities. I am thankful for my beautiful children, my loving husband, and for my supportive family for seeing and supporting every side of me.

They handle me at my craziest, have been there with me on my journey throughout my highs and lows. Through times of sickness and through health. They make me the Modern Mom I am today. I struggle to think about who I would be without them in my corner as I navigate the waters of the modern world.

I am thankful for all of the Modern Moms out there who are contributing their expertise, lessons, and trailblazing grace to a storied legacy, and who will surely pave the way for the next generation of movers and shakers to come. ∎

LORRAINE D’ALESSIO

Founder of D’Alessio Law Group
 www.awarenessties.us/lorraine-dalessio Founding partner of D’Alessio Law Group, Lorraine was named the 2017 Leader in Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal and is the recipient of the 2018 Enterprising Women Award. A former Ford model turned legal powerhouse, Lorraine is a multi-award-winning, immigration expert who regularly contributes to the Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Business Journal, Playback and other leading outlets in the U.S.. Lorraine has provided counsel to hundreds of prominent and award-winning entertainment agencies, unions, private companies, academic institutions, tech startups, entrepreneurs and enterprises, and has worked on highly successful refugee and deportation cases with immigrant communities across Los Angeles.

134 AWARENOW / THE MAYDAY EDITION

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NOW PLAYING

T U N E I N . C L I C K T H E E P I S O D E S B E L O W T O WAT C H .

AwareNow™ Talk Show is a series of conversations on social causes. In this national broadcast, a selected cause serves as the topic for a raw, unfiltered panel discussion among a diverse group of individuals. Prior to the one hour live conversation, a thirty minute preshow sets the tone with musical performances, poetry, stories and statements. From actors to artists to athletes and impact leaders to industry legends, featured panelists share personal stories and perspectives to raise awareness for relevant issues and identify actions viewers can take to change the narrative and bring sustainable change to our communities. A national broadcast with global reach, AwareNow is featured on KNEKT TV and available on Apple TV and Roku.

S U B S C R I B E AWA R E N O W TA L K S H O W. C O M 135 AWARENOW / THE HEART EDITION

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THROUGH THESE STORIES WE SHARED

I AM AWARE NOW.

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R E A D , L I S T E N & WAT C H

T h e M a g a z i n e , T h e P o d c a s t & T h e Ta l k S h o w