In this last episode of Conversations of Liz Gold, I talk with Nora Iknadossian all about her family and her new clothing line coming out in early 2021. Listen to Nora talk about how she has been dealing with covid-19, what it was like growing up as a queer child of immigrants who fled from war-torn Beirut, Lebanon and her easy, no-fucks-given style as a clothing designer.
On her family:
"They were refugees. They escaped. They came over here and my dad had his own business out there and they were all doing really well and my mom went to school and she did really well. Life was positive and hopeful and bright and then this war broke out. And they just fled. And they came here."
"Growing up, I'm a lot more like my dad. I have a lot of his traits. When he was in Beirut, he was a shoe designer. He was making shoes. He had a store and everything and then his shop got bombed. And I slowly followed in his footsteps."
"They definitely instilled a lot of hard work which I really really appreciate."
"Being Middle Eastern - being gay is like you're basically Satan. 'That's awful, you'll get disowned, this is the worst thing, you can't do this...'"
On starting her own clothing line:
"I was helping somebody launch their collection recently and I'm like doing all of the work. The really technical side of the business and I'm like 'what am I doing? I can do this myself.'"
"Our mind is what our blockage is. We're the ones that are the road block. I definitely don't promote my skills or my abilities."
"I started sketching items that I would love to have. I basically designed my closet - what I would wear."
"I used part of my last name, which I think is really important especially as an Armenian person. Having that Armenian exposure out there, supporting the Armenian community and being known that we are strong people and we are definitely overcoming our past and history and we have a voice. That was very important to me to keep that "ian" in there."
"I've just gotten so much support. It's been wonderful."
Nora Iknadossian bio
Nora Iknadossian was born in Pasadena, California but has been in New York City half her life. She's a daughter of immigrants who fled from war-torn Beirut, Lebanon. Nora is an identical twin but the youngest by 8 minutes. Professionally, she's been a clothing designer for some large brands all over the globe. She describes her style as, "Simple, easy and no fucks given" and oh yeah, she's queer.
IG: Zero + Maria Cornejo
Meet MJ Richardson. She lives in Senior Housing in downtown San Francisco and is currently feeding her homeless neighbors by making masks in a bag. What's a Mask in a Bag? We all have to wear masks these days and these masks are stylish, functional, entrepreneurial and serving community. Tune in to hear MJ talk about how the idea came, her decade-long career at IBM in sales and why she does what she does.
"I've been in senior housing, right downtown San Francisco for two years. It took me seven years to get in senior housing. But the location is fabulous."
"Because I live in downtown San Francisco, we've forgotten about our neighbors. Once I got this housing downtown, I realized going out the door, I'd see all these mass of people. Hungry, just hungry. And I said, 'I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I can make a lunch.'"
"Mask in a Bag is a mask with a purpose, OK. First, it protects you and me but more importantly, it feeds the homeless population, which I call my neighbors in the Bay Area. It also creates business because these are all seniors that are owning their own business and creating jobs."
"Two years later we have fed over a 1,000 people. I only live in 400 square feet so my masks have taken over my apartment. But I love it."
"Because I was so blessed, I honestly knew that I needed to do something. Mask in a Bag is the first product. What people see in the product is that first it's well made, secondly it supports our area but also they like the ethnicity of the cloth."
"This has been such a pouring out of people making a difference that it just makes my heart sing. Anybody can do anything."
"How do we reach out to our community because I'm about community, that's one thing you'll see in all of this - to empower other people in their communities."
Marijewel “MJ” Richardson is an accomplished career woman and entrepreneur. As a lifelong learner, she entered Felton Institute’s Senior Community Services Employment (SCEP) Program where she has flourished. She has helped people like herself find their inner strength, confidence and skills. She has helped to put them on a course for employment through her work at SCEP. Her education in merchandising and her past work along with her passion for helping others find self worth and hope led her to organize successful events, mini makeovers at Sephora and a clothes closet and fashion show, which transformed seniors from the inside out. In addition, MJ developed a hygiene kit for homeless people. Now she is creating a “Mask in a Bag” for her homeless neighbors in San Francisco.
Email MJ: email@example.com
Born Brown: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Did you know incumbents are re-elected 90 percent of the time? In this episode, I'm talking with Maria Yuan, founder of IssueVoter, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to give everyone a voice in our representative democracy. Described as "politics for busy people," IssueVoter helps people become more informed by summarizing hard-to-understand legislative bills and tracking representatives' activity. Learn how you can become more engaged with what your elected officials are doing between elections and why the nonprofit chooses to be nonpartisan.
"Thinking back, I realized that I grew up with parents who always voted. My dad's family fled Communist China, so I think from a very young age my parents taught me the importance of civic duty."
"I had a realization at a young age that there are people in other countries that don't ever get to vote."
"I didn't necessarily want to work in politics because I didn't necessarily agree with either party 100 percent of the time and I think that's most people."
"Politics and campaigns and candidates and dramatic narratives really overshadow what is just, if not more important, which is policy."
"As a nation built on laws, I think its policy change that will help us create the better world that we all envision."
"Congress introduces over 15,000 bills each legislative session. They may vote on about 1,000 of them and we're only hearing about a handful in the news."
Maria Yuan - bio
Maria Yuan is passionate about fixing significant, systemic problems by leveraging creativity and determination to achieve world-changing results and impact. As the Founder of IssueVoter, their mission is to give everyone a voice in our representative democracy. Individuals from all 435 Congressional Districts already use IssueVoter and they have sent over two million alerts to individuals and opinions back to Congress. IssueVoter has motivated Americans to vote, stay informed, and make their voices heard between elections, when the real work that affects our lives gets done. IssueVoter also collaborates with organizations to engage and activate their communities in impactful ways.
Maria's political experience includes introducing and passing a bill as a constituent, working for a Representative, and managing and winning one of the most targeted races in Iowa - an open seat in a swing district. Maria's professional experience includes investment banking, strategy, corporate development, recruiting, social enterprise, and consulting. She currently serves on the Bridge Alliance Board of Directors and Keep Families Giving Foundation Advisory Board and has served on the boards of Gibney Dance, The University of Texas Co-Op, and Friends of the Children New York.
Maria's interviews and writing have appeared in Real Clear Politics, The Hill, PBS, MTV, Fast Company, and more, and she has spoken at conferences, companies, and universities across the U.S. on civic engagement, technology, and democracy. Maria earned degrees from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and The University of Texas at Austin.
Issue Voter info
What's it like to slow down after traveling the world as a self-described nomad? In this episode, I talk with Amna Shamim about this and so many other things - including a new cannabis summit she's planning for the edibles community, her latest role at a cannabis tech company focused on data and compliance in California, and why she thinks it's selfish to be traveling for pleasure right now. Join us!
"I think if you are traveling for pleasure nowadays you are an asshole because it's a pandemic and you are being really selfish."
"I'm not flitting around the way I like to where I'm in a different country every week or doing trips and having adventures because to do so I feel would be really selfish and putting my personal pleasure and amusement over other people's safety."
"It's become very clear to me, at least that, the world is not past coronavirus and travel is a risky thing to do especially when it involves airports and different countries and possibly you being the vector that brings coronavirus from somewhere that is high risk into somewhere that is doing their best to control it."
"I go usually in a certain temperature range because I don't like being cold. I go for the people that I know."
"I was in New York for four months when New York was really doing badly and it is the longest I had been somewhere."
"It used to be very I didn't know where I was sleeping next week and I realized that was impacting my productivity because I was every week constantly having to figure stuff out and there was a lot of pressure to do it immediately because I really like sleeping indoors. But over the last probably two years of my travels, I started planning more in advance. I quite like that because it enabled me to do things like make plans with my friends."
"I've learned I'm not very good at being spontaneous."
"I don't know how much anyone who's listening knows about the cannabis industry but it is a mess. Every state comes up with their own rules, there's no level of cohesion and a lot of the rules and a lot of the things haven't been updated very well since legalization."
Writer. Nomad. Napper extraordinaire.
Amna is a full time world traveler, living nowhere and everywhere since 2015. The pandemic has slowed her down so she’s mostly adventuring through books and digital media this year. Professionally, she’s the Chief Growth Officer at Parsl and the co-founder of the Everything Edibles Virtual Summit. She also a freelance writer because she’s really bad at doing nothing for too long. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, especially if you’d like to talk about travel, cannabis or food.
Find Anma online
Web site: https://www.amnashamim.com/
In this episode, I'm talking about writing with author and poet Kai Kelly. We touch upon a wide variety of subjects including the gifts sharing your work with other people bring, the process of self-publishing a book, Issa Rae, Chadwick Boseman, and the joy of a good pen on paper. Kai also reads the poem, "Sycamore Fantasies," from her book of poetry, Love Kai. Join us!
"I was actually a dancer first. I started dancing when I was three. I loved dancing, loved movement but my dad thought I was really too emotional. He'd be like 'nobody wants to hear that, write that down.'" So I started to learn at a very early age that writing and paper was just a place that would never betray me. It was always there, it was always a sanctuary for me. "
"With writing I always had it. Whether I was journaling or writing poems that I didn't share with anyone, it was always kind of happening in the background and that's how the process started."
"I never thought that my writing was shareable. I always thought my writing was decent for me. It was like clothes you wear around the house. That's how I looked at my writing. I did not think that it would resonate or make sense to people outside of me. Or that it was as good as say the Nikki Giovannis."
"My writing process is extremely organic."
"Sometimes I feel like it's a safer space for me to go the paper."
"When something comes into my brain, I want a nice pen and some paper."
"Sex is good but have you ever had a really good pen?"
"If you can't get a good slide as a writer, it's like useless. You don't know where this poem is going to take you, it could be one page, it could be eight pages. You don't want a pen that's going to cut out on you."
"My brain is constantly moving. I get inspired by things that are happening outside of me. I get inspired by things inside of me."
"The distrust we are experiencing in our society right now, the high level of distrust from government and entities and the disrespect that people of color are being shown just has a lot of people on paranoia, has a lot of people on 10."
"If you're in an energy exchange that is not healthy, that's not inspirational, that's not positive, that's not uplifting, that doesn't pour into your soul - why are you doing it?"
Born and raised in Westchester County, NY, Kiana (Kai) Kelly is a passionate empath, that loves words and how they can tell a story. Writing since the age of seven, Kai began sharing her writing humbly through open mics and blogs. She has authored a book of poetry called, Love Kai and is currently a contributor for Born Brown: All Rights Reserved.
Link to all things Kai:
Purchase Love Kai
FB: Kai Kelly
Born Brown: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In this episode, I talk with Tab Wolod, a die-hard entrepreneur and mental health advocate based in the Baltimore area. We talk about our work at Born Brown: All Rights Reserved, the intersection of mental health and business and how to know if it's time to keep going with your ventures or let go. Join us!
"IEI is my baby. It was built off the premise that if you have an idea, you have an income."
"I'm a die-hard entrepreneur."
"A lot of business owners frankly are great at what they do, but not so great at what we call, business development."
"I just love to see people do what they love."
"I've always been very unconventional. I'm a rebel."
Tab Wolod is a mental health advocate and die-hard entrepreneur. Early on, Tab identified as a rebel - often bucking social norms and venturing down unconventional paths. Tab's rebellious attitude led her to a "regular" 9-5 job, which was a blessing, although it was the opposite of what she had wished for lol. During her "turbulent twenties," Tab found herself transitioning awkwardly into adulthood, struggling to find herself, God, and mental stability while maintaining employment. Over the years, Tab made many failed attempts at various business endeavors, in hopes that she would "get rich quick" and walk away from her cushy job. After much trial and error, Tab's "failures" paved the way for the creation of Ideas Equal Income LLC (IEI). As IEI CEO and founder, Tab created the company with one goal in mind: helping individuals transform their ideas into income by providing #biz dev support (operational, marketing, and project management). Tab was born and raised in Maryland (USA), she is currently residing in Baltimore City with her life partner and baby girl.
Tab on Instagram
IEI on Instagram
Ideas Equal Income
Email for professional inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Information
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-8255
Search mental health providers near you: https://www.psychologytoday.com/
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline for provider referrals and peer support services: https://www.nami.org/help .The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email@example.com
Born Brown: All Rights Reserved
Conversations with Liz Gold episodes:
In this episode, I talk with Sam Feder, director and co-producer of Disclosure, a powerful new documentary about how transgender people are represented in Hollywood now streaming on Netflix. Learn the back story of how this film was made, the intense research involved and how Sam met activist and Orange is the New Black actor Laverne Cox, who executive produces the film.
"It has not been easy. We are still hustling hard every day. It's definitely been a little engine that could kind of situation for five years."
"When we were first raising money, we were literally laughed out of boardrooms because our budget exceeded what they expected a documentary budget to be. And that was largely because we paid everyone their day rates and that's part of the standards I am fighting for in the documentary world."
"I feel like our culture is hungry right now. People want to know what they need to learn, they want to know what they need to unlearn. It's great to have this two hour document to give it to you and tell you one place and one area where you need to learn and unlearn. And so people are really receptive to the film so particularly because of where we are in our cultural conversations at the moment."
"Anyone who finished a film should get a huge prize. Making a film is so so hard. To know that it's being held in that capacity, kind of just gives us the boost we need right now."
"One of my dreams was how could lawyers who are representing trans people - how could they use this film to their benefit? And I imagine, my hope, was that they would see this film and then have these cultural short cuts to talk to their jury and be like you might have these stereotypes about my client because of xyz that you saw in this movie and this is why it's not true. And this is a real person here that we're talking about, real experiences. That was a dream of mine."
"This is such a community film and part of my understanding of how people would take in this imagery was to be in community, to laugh together, to feel the emotion together, to hear people sigh at the same time. And then have the conversations afterwards. Like that's so meaningful to hear people talk about it and then go out for dinner and talk about it some more and make connections. So yeah, it's been tricky to readjust to experience the viewer experience virtually."
Sam Feder bio:
Sam Feder has created several award-winning documentaries that center the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and conflict within the queer and trans community. Sam seeks to connect transgender struggles and liberation to the context of the present and legacy of the past by showing that our communal history makes our present lives possible. Sam’s second feature Kate Bornstein is a Queer & Pleasant Danger was named one of the best LGBT documentaries of 2014 by The Advocate, and cited by IndieWire as one of the must-see films of the 2014.
In this episode, I talk with Shalonda Ingram, social omnipreneur, strategist and community developer about how her work has been impacted by Covid-19, why talking about humanity is so important as we fight for social change and her perpetual secret underground mission.
"My perpetual secret underground mission is to bring folks together who may not otherwise have access to one another in ways that are congruent to their true humanity. Because we receive so many messages about each other and we rarely actually meet each other."
"My interests and commitment is to support human beings with recognizing the humanity in each other in a sea of nonsense and messaging that has us relate to each other in ways that are outside of that context."
"When you have a society that creates its poverty and solves its problems through the nonprofit industrial complex, which for me, looks a little bit like money laundering, it's deeply problematic and so a lot of things must evolve."
"Most folks that are governed in this society inside of the corporation of the United States don't really get that a lot of the intricacies are just really, really hidden in plain sight. The conversation around anti-Blackness started when the country started."
"I believe in the human spirit and that the systems were created by human beings and they can be transformed by human beings."
"The more we can evolve the conversation to being about humanity, the more rapidly we'll transform the things that aren't working for folks."
"I do believe we are moving the needle, it's just so pathetic that it would take so long to be so clear. I'm having a conversation that the old folks in my life born in 1929 or earlier were having."
Born and raised in St. Louis Missouri, Shalonda is a social omnipreneur, strategist and community developer. Shalonda is committed to elevating consciousness and empowering the collective liberation of individuals, organizations and communities. Shalonda has deployed worldwide for the transformation of people, principles, practices, and systems. Native to grassroots activism, Shalonda works with social justice, spiritual and corporate organizations to explore network effect and elevate opportunities for resource sharing while scaling. Shalonda is committed to the creation of whole, connected communities that thrive by building structures of clarity, capacity enhancement and trust. Shalonda consults for a range of clients; from independent artists to the enterprise tops across industries. Assisting with product development, experience design, special events and projects. Intersecting creativity and enterprise; Shalonda has served on many boards, commissions and advisory councils.
Shalonda Ingram website
Born Brown: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
If you're not following Pallavi Gunalan on social, I highly recommend you do. Not only is she pulling together a plethora of resources for supporting Black lives, but she is a comedian and funny AF. Join me as I talk with Pallavi about her activism, her career pivot and her comedy - as well as graciously correcting me (and others) for mispronouncing her name.
"You can make people the butt of jokes if you are not an asshole."
"People always say like punch up but I have seen people like punching down but it's not punching down when they are clever about the joke."
"You can talk about another group of people and make fun of them but in a fun way and not in just a like 'I'm trying to be offensive' or actually think I'm better than them kind of way."
"I think anything can be funny but it really depends on the context of everything."
"I love crowd work so much though cause it can completely flip a room. You have no idea what's going to happen and it always works better when people don't try to be funny, they are just being honest."
"I feel like being on stage is so unique and incredible and I just really miss it and I'm never going to take it for granted again."
"People are doing it [stand up comedy] right now and I just don't trust it and I don't think it's responsible for them to be performing."
"There are a lot of underground shows happening in NY, where they are not wearing masks, they are just sitting right next to each other and I just think it's so bad. What's been frustrating to me - a lot of these people support Black Lives Matter but Black lives are the one's most effected by Covid right now. They are the ones that are dying at disproportionate rates. They are the ones suffering the most, as always. What blows my mind is people who go to the protests and then don't take Corona seriously or go to the protest and don't take it seriously there and like hug or whatever because they are caught up in the moment. You are really undoing a lot of the things are you are trying to fight for. It doesn't make sense to me. People should really be careful."
Pallavi Gunalan bio
Pallavi Gunalan is biomedical engineer, stand-up comedian, improviser, actor and writer. Pallavi has performed at festivals and venues all over the world including Laugh Factory Fresh Faces, SF Sketchfest, Pacific Crest Comedy Festival, Portland Queer Comedy Festival.
Supporting Black Lives resource list compiled by Pallavi
To get on Pallavi's email list, learn more about the book and movie club, email Pallavi at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her.
Bad Date bit
Dirty Science - Intermittent Fasting
Facial Recognition Comedy Podcast
In this episode, I talk with Phil aka Corinne all about pivoting in the age of covid-19, rebuilding one's life, the power of choice, saying yes and following the pings that illustrate divine inspiration. Please note, at the beginning of the episode, I added a segment addressing police brutality and the protests that are taking place across the country as I felt it was necessary to acknowledge the shift in dialogue over the past week or so that is not represented in the episode.
"What you realize in your life sometimes is that the things that look like absolute disasters turn out to be like the best blessings ever."
"I truly believe in the fact that I have limited knowledge about what my life is going to look like but I think there's something greater than me that has much more information about what my life could look like. So you know what, I'm going with that guy."
"It's OK to just stop for a minute."
"I am very serious about walking out of this pandemic and going back into society with a different mindset and a different frame of mind."
Phil, is a podcast host, stylist, wedding officiant and storyteller at heart connecting people and ideas together in a way that resonates beyond the superficial, and challenges the way we think. they are continually interested in capturing unique stories and sharing them with the goal of educating and entertaining. They are especially dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ community and created Transition of Style, a podcast that brings focus to the unique “style journey” queer individuals embark on when seeking an authentic identity. They understand that neither style nor identity is static and that either one or both can be in a constant state of flux.
Phil has a varied career starting in music management. They then shifted to technology, serving as an Applications and Full Stack Developer at Boston Consulting Group and Applications Developer at JP Morgan Chase in New York City. They were a founding member of QueerCut, a radically inclusive e-commerce platform, engaging queer brands and customers. All of this experience has given them the ability to understand the complex nature of creation, development and distribution.
At present Phil is the host of Transition of Style, and the upcoming At This Very Moment podcast and Co-host of the I’m From Driftwood podcast.
Transition of Style podcast
Phil aka Corinne's instagram
Transition of Style instagram
Phil on Facebook
Facebook Group: White People. Doing Something
Phil's Medium article
When I created Conversations, I set out to record 12 episodes - and well, we just published episode 13. Join me as I recap all of my guests so far and talk about the show's highlights. It's the perfect episode to listen to if you haven't listened to one yet and want to learn more about the show and it's also perfect if you've been listening all along and want to hear a recap. Join me!
How can we take care of ourselves during this intense time of uncertainty? What is really essential about your life in the present moment? In this episode, I talk with somatic practitioner, community organizer and healer, Sage Hayes about how disassociation is a strategic, incredible sign of resilience; people's capacity as it relates to privilege and how to listen to one's body.
"The people who have endured marginalization over many years - queers, the POCs, the poor people, the people with larger bodies, the disabled population, there is a pretty epic, almost like, endurance."
"It's just a very illuminating moment for what people have a lot of capacity and what people haven't built much capacity at all. People who have built a lot of capacity have only built that because they've had to deal, it has not been a choice. And there's a whole bunch of people have had a lot more choice around that because of their privilege. I think that's really interesting to watch people get disrupted."
"We don't usually get the whole story about what's truly happening."
"There is a lot of fear in the social nervous system right now."
"How do we do micro-moments of just taking a breath, or just getting out for a two minute walk or like connecting for a five minute conversation just to help kind of down regulate our stress a little bit?"
"Never before in our lifetimes have we had a moment like this, that has been so disruptive, so systemically, globally disruptive."
"There's an element of this which we can really make this an opportunity to get a lot clearer on what's important to us - individually."
"Reacting is different than listening. And listening asks us to slow down. It asks us to drop in and feel ourselves a little bit. Which I know is not really, maybe realistic for a whole bunch of people right now."
"When trauma happens, it actually usually triggers many of our old traumas."
"We're going to be living with this sense of 'is this over?' for a very long time."
"There is always a good reason our body won't let us do something."
"Feeling ourselves is revolutionary. When we feel ourselves and we allow ourselves to connect with a little bit of the intuition of the body, there is so much there for us."
Cat de La Paz episode
Center for Anti-Violence Education
Sage Hayes Bio:
Sage Hayes (she/he/they) is a somatic practitioner exploring frontiers of embodied liberation. Sage is an anti-racist, trans and queer somatics practitioner with Embodied Liberation and a lead teaching assistant with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. Sage's work integrates biodynamic craniosacral therapy, systemic constellations, evolutionary biology, quantum physics, ecstatic dance, Somatic Experiencing and intuitive wisdom practices. As an educator, a community organizer, a healing arts practitioner, Sage is passionate about creative ways to create conditions for embodied liberation which interrupt and help us heal from the trauma of supremacy, binary thinking and marginalization, in both systems and in bodies. Sage lives on the ancestral lands of the Narragansetts and Wampanoags currently known as Rhode Island with her brilliant partner and travels around the world to support trauma healing.
In January 2020, Nicky Cutler's family faced a terrible trauma when their stepfather was hurt in a hit and run accident with an 18-wheeler. Luckily, Nicky's stepfather is on the path to recovery but the journey hasn't been easy. I talk to Nicky about how that experience impacted their family and how Nicky navigates stressful family dynamics regarding gender and pronouns.
"We are doing what we can, each of us, to sort of fulfill the time and make ourselves happy."
"They still have not caught the person who hit my stepfather, it was a hit-and-run accident that is still just a mystery."
"Everything is altered. Their entire lives have been turned upside down and I've gone along for the ride as being the support."
"It's definitely difficult to watch. You obviously want your parents to be OK at a certain age, to sort of like live out their life in some kind of retired state but it's just not that way for everyone."
"I am 100 percent for the safety of humans first before small business but I also understand as a business person what it must feel like to the owners of small businesses who may never recover from this."
I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happens on the return for something like fashion. I have a very intimate rapport with customers and I hope that people will still want to go in and place hats on their heads and do things for themselves that may not necessarily be a need or considered essential."
"It's such a strange time to go from ready to build, build, build, build, build and just have it come all crash down."
On parents: "We may never fit in the box that they want us to fit into or what they thought we were going to become. But we are their children and we need to be seen."
"Regard a person the way they want to be regarded. It's so important."
"I was called selfish because I wanted the right to have myself seen as who I am."
"You can't be distracted from all of the things that are right there in front of you. There isn't a way to do it. You can't step away and travel for work and ignore what's going on in your relationships. You can't bury yourself in anything. You have to approach it head on."
Nicky Cutler bio:
Nicky Cutler has been working in the fashion industry for over 15 years. As an early queer fashion label pioneer with the creation of DITC clothing line (Dykes in the City) back in 2004, Nicky paved the way for queer identity to be seen through the medium of clothing and hats. Nicky ended the label in 2011 when their newly trans identity no longer matched the initial cause. Nicky’s career in fashion has continued by working for Goorin Brothers as District Manager in the California and New Orleans areas. Over the last nine years they have continued to contribute to the lgbtq+ community in any way they can due to their extremely supportive company. Nicky currently resides in the Los Angeles area, enjoys working out, animals, bourbon, and ending toxic masculinity.
Nicky Cutler Facebook
Nicky Cutler Instagram
EDD CA - How to Get Through to EDD California by Phone
The Intentional Man Project
Goorin Bros., Melrose, LA
Gretchen Wylder is a theater actor who decided to take on the medium of creating a web series. The result is These Thems, a series on YouTube that centers around four queer friends in New York City. Hear the backstory of how "These Thems" came to be, how she pushed through some dark times to get this produced and some of the very tender storylines.
"This is actually my first film making project. It's been really, a very, very very intense learning curve."
"I am a cisgendered woman and although I'm queer as fuck I can only tell so much of someone else's story."
"I truly feel that every single person who crossed paths with me and this project was there to serve a purpose and was there for a reason. That's the only way to get through something like this because it's been so hard. No part of this has been easy."
"It is really a beautiful thing to watch in completion because I am so proud of the work. And I am so proud of what was able to be created but it was only because I had to push myself through literally the darkest times of my life. Truly. I hit rock bottom, trying to make this happen, probably at least three times."
"I view it absolutely as a tool for cis het allies to be able to watch it and enjoy it and really learn from it in a safe way. It's not just a queer series for queers."
"It's been an interesting balance of lots of stress, lots of frustration while also experiencing lots of joy, lots of positivity. It's been wild, just wild.
These Thems website
These Thems on YouTube
These Thems instagram
These Thems Facebook
These Thems Twitter
Gretchen Wylder instagram
Vico Ortiz instagram
Shaan Dasani instagram
Nick Park instagram
Directed by Jett Garrison
Produced by Sophia Clark
Gretchen Wylder started her acting career in Chicago and has been a working actor in NYC for the past nine years. She has originated roles in musical comedies Off-Broadway, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and also creates original sketch comedy content. In addition to working with legends Kathy Griffin, Julie Andrews, Anthony Rapp, and Judy Gold, Gretchen has performed sketch and improv at Amy Poehler's UCB theater, the PIT, Magnet, and Second City. Fav theatre credits: Avenue Q, Rent, Bedbugs The Musical. She has competed at the Miss Exotic World pageant at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. Gretchen is an advocate for the Queer community and in 2016, organized a float in NYC's Gay Pride parade to raise funds for the Ellie Conant memorial fund, benefiting Astraea Lesbian Foundation.
It's the 10th episode of Conversations and we're still in the middle of a global pandemic. Join me as I talk with old friend, collaborator and fitness instructor, BJ Watkins, about what it's like being in New York right now, the racial and economic disparities that continue to shake the city and country as this collective trauma unfolds and so much more.
On being in New York during the coronavirus quarantine: "People are wild tense. We don't have the luxury of some other spaces who are quarantined or holed up, who can just like hang out on their front porch or in their backyard and have a lot of space. People are cooped up in super small apartments. Just trying to make do."
"It's a wild time to be in New York. It's a wild time to be living right now."
"There is no plan for how we all come back."
"People basically are stimulating landlords and paying utilities. That's all [the stimulus] is really good for. And trying to buy food."
"Think about it, it took people like basically three weeks, maybe a month - grown ass adults - to figure out how to wash their hands and stop touching everything."
"I find myself working harder than when I did having to report to a space every day."
"When you have a lot of people telecommuting - working from home - there's this new expectation of availability and false sense of productivity."
"I also feel pressure as a black person, as a black woman, to create content and to produce and perform in a way that pleases everybody around me."
"I'd much rather do something right and well than do it in a mediocre fashion and it be such a low benchmark or starting point. I, more or less, want to lead by example."
"All these things about ourselves that we hide for whatever various reasons are really starting to show."
"Black people have been saying what about reparations, what about reparations, what about reparations? And it's always never been possible. But all of a sudden we were able to turn around and create stimulus like it's no big deal. That was instant."
"I think this is a defining moment where actually people have a lot more power than systems have power because everything is so unknown."
"This is a moment for us to access our power especially from a communal space - and also start to understand there are disparities out there and if you are experiencing these just for 30 days, if your world is rocked, you are feeling shook, like this is the experience of the rest of the world and this is what we've been trying to tell you for a very long time. And you have not listened. You are only listening now because it is impacting you."
BJ is a certified trainer, cat lover, bacon enthusiast and a 3 Sport Gay Olympian.
International Women Artists' Salon
What is courage? In this episode, I talk with Milo Razza, friend and leadership coach, all about what courage means (there's no easy answer), how running a business can be bootcamp for whatever your issues are and why there's courage in just admitting how much you want something.
"What takes courage really varies."
"We can gain strength and gain courage and have resilience supported by other people around us."
"I felt like I had to be different than I am in order to be successful."
"I'm very forthright; What you see is what you get with me pretty much. I wanted a brand that really reflected that."
"The growth for all of us lies in being just even braver than we were yesterday."
"There's this way that expertise gets so celebrated and one of the problems experts run into is often they become siloed."
"One of the advantages of being a generalist, a lateral thinker, or having a broad knowledge base is that a lot of times we can see the broader picture of impact and the connections that a subject matter expert can't see outside of that silo."
"There's a courage even just admitting how much you want something and then to actually swing out and go for it can be all the scarier, too."
"Conformity is one of the forces in our society. That's why we need so much courage."
"Almost everybody is wrestling with something."
Bio: Milo Razza coaches to increase the power, freedom, and choice of individuals and organizations so they can convert intention to action to impact more effectively, consistently, and easily. As your coach, Milo is unafraid to push back, call out bullshit when he hears it, and to be frank and direct for the sake of serving you. He is a dynamic partner in moving you through your internal resistance, and guiding you to see what is in your blindspots.
An outsider to mainstream coaching, Milo brings a combination of irreverence, humor, compassion, and encouragement to support your continued growth. Raised in Washington, DC, Milo earned a BA in Semiotics and Critical Thinking at Bryn Mawr College. His fascination with how we read and create meaning allows him to discern how you are creating meaning and framing your choices in your life and work.
He draws on his experiences with The Coaches Training Institute (CTI), whitewater raft guiding, nonprofit management, owning a small business, and other influences. He has served clients across numerous industries in more than 12 years of coaching. He is trans/genderqueer and black/mixed race, and acknowledges the impact of systems of oppression in his coaching with clients, never at the expense of ultimately focusing on his clients’ path forward.
CrossFit Torque Strength
Beginning CrossFit (blog post)
Join me during the show's first virtual happy hour when I talk with Shauna Hahn, a psychiatric nurse and storyteller in Portland, Oregon. We touch upon a variety of topics including TMS as a treatment for depression, vulnerability in storytelling and a little tangent on Tiger King! We also talk about her new book-in-progress that tells her personal story as a Plains Cree Indian losing her culture through adoption who sued the Canadian Government and is buying back her culture one activity at a time.
"When you're in a Zoom meeting, you see yourself. It's like looking into a mirror as you're supporting people. Some of my patients, particularly those with dysmorphia or body image issues, often feel very self-conscious looking at themselves as they are confiding. It's a sensitive format."
"We are literally forcing areas of the brain that don't tend to work well in anxiety, in depression, in post traumatic stress disorder, in brain injury. We are literally forcing these areas of the brain to fire down into the rich connectome - structures that aren't necessarily physically adjacent to that area, but we know are connected."
"A lot of people who suffer with depression - it is the exception and not the norm for people to feel better or to be adequately treated on their anti-depression medication."
"I'm a late-in-life nurse. I was just an unsettled young person; kind of a party girl. Then I had an unplanned pregnancy when I was in my first undergraduate degree, which kind of sidelined me."
"Psychiatry is just about having a kind ear for people's lives."
"I get to bear witness to some of the scariest, most shameful, deepest experiences a person's had."
"We can certainly have a meant relationship with a therapeutic provider and it can really take on a very deep soulful quality."
On live storytelling: "The person who breaks the ice, that is the hardest job, that is the anchor of the evening."
"There was always this one extra layer between me and the story where I wasn't really quite willing to crack open enough and invite that vulnerability in enough for people, to have raised the stakes and to make the story more compelling."
"That's why people seek out therapy, right? They need a sacred space with a professional stranger."
"The rough part of storytelling is cutting on your baby. You've got to cut cut cut cut cut. And it hurts."
"That's what a good story does, it just shows you an aspect of yourself and helps you know yourself better."
Shauna Hahn is a semi-accurate storyteller who very nearly tells the truth. She is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who owns her own TMS practice. She is a veteran of community health and twin parenting. She is a Plains Cree Indian from rural Saskatchewan who writes a lot about her experiences there. She makes and drinks wine, she enjoys reading really stupid books, and she skis—bunny hills only, because she is cowardly (which as she understands it, means towards the cow).
Framework Functional Psychiatry and TMS
Framework Functional Psychiatry
Shauna Hahn - instagram
Shauna Hahn - Facebook
Bad.ndn - instagram
The Moth - Portland
Children's Book Bank Fundraiser
It's not everyday you meet someone with a portwine stain, especially if you yourself have one. But when I met Kat Kelley, I knew I needed to talk with her. Join us as we talk about our birthmarks, what it was like growing up with a facial difference and how we handle people's stares and remarks.
"Kids can be pretty harsh."
"While I never experienced outright bullying, I did always feel this distance with people. Especially kids my own age."
It definitely wasn't easy having such a visible and big birthmark on my face. There was a lot of really difficult times of looking in the mirror and not liking what I was seeing. And being so different from other people."
"For me, I would rather someone ask if you are staring. I would way rather you just ask me point blank. Like you are already kind of invading my privacy in a sense of just standing there and looking straight at me."
"I have eyes, I can see you looking at me."
"The people that matter the most are going to want you to feel the most like you and the most empowered."
"I'm still unpacking things and understanding my experiences."
"I feel like so much of our world and media and social media, it's beneficial for you not to like yourself."
"I think it's just a really radical idea for everyone to just fully love yourself."
Kat Kelley was born and raised in Visalia, California and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past year. She studied and received her undergraduate degree in Psychology, which she hopes t someday put to use in a therapeutic setting. Kat believes in allowing space and conversations around mental health, especially around self confidence and acceptance. While she herself still has a long way to go with the later, she hopes to encourage others to let go of comparison and step into themselves fully.
Stephanya Lulua Portukalian
Everett James Lewis
You might recognize Lucas Silveira from the Toronto band The Cliks; join me as I talk with him about coming into self love, experiencing spiritual awakening and how he's navigating isolation during the coronavirus.
"I started this journey that was basically, 'if it feels bad, then it's out.' No matter how little or how big."
"I started trusting my gut. Anytime I started having negative thoughts about myself, I would find something forceably positive. "
"I finally figured out that I had internalized my marginalization and that is a tool of capitalism."
"I truly believe that if every marginalized person on the planet starts understanding what it means to love themselves, there will be a revolution."
"If it feels like it's not dignified, I have to walk away from it."
"Sometimes people are your lessons and sometimes you are the lesson for someone else."
"I think being an artist is innate in every human being. It is who we are."
Please note: There is talk of suicide in this episode.
In addition, I did not coin the term "divine inspiration" - I use it in the spiritual sense, rather than the Biblical. Feel free to Google!
Lucas Silveira info:
The Anchor Coach
Cover of Crying by Roy Orbison
Cover of Poker Face by Lady Gaga
Lucas Silveira is best known as the front man for the Canadian rock band, The Cliks. He rose to fame in 2006 by becoming the first out transgender man in history to be signed to an international major label record deal with Warner Music and Tommy Boy Silver Label. The Cliks toured worldwide with Cyndi Lauper, Tegan and Sarah, Blondie, The Cult, The New York Dolls and more.
After a long and successful career in the music industry, Lucas now divides his time between writing, public speaking, songwriting and a private practice as a certified Life Coach focused on artists and marginalized communities looking to empower themselves through the practice of self-love.
Lucas’ writing is mainly focused on mental health awareness, non-religious spiritual awareness and practices and LGBTQ+ issues with a focus on the transgender community, including how to heal community from within.
Lucas’ focus in public speaking surrounds many topics that encompass the transgender experience from his personal story and lending itself to education for those within and outside of the community with a focus on how to educate using compassionate activism rather than call out or cancel culture.
Lucas is currently working on a children’s book about trans and non-binary identities and preparing to record his first studio album in seven years.
When I first interviewed singer-songwriter and PDX-based musician Olivia Awbrey in late February, she was about to take off with her band on tour, scheduled to perform in venues all across the country and in Europe. For an independent musician, this was slated to be her biggest year yet. Then the coronavirus hit. I talk to Olivia about the impact of this pandemic on her plans, her new politically-driven album full of relatable angst, "Dishonorable Harvest," and the sacrifices she's had to make to create a sustainable music career.
"I've been writing songs for like 10 years. I've just always done it because it feels good."
Portland, OR guitarist, singer and lyricist Olivia Awbrey crafts transcendental guitar riffs that pierce through her self-aware and culturally critical storytelling, making way for a new voice on the indie rock scene that parallels the heavy hitters. Her debut, self-released EP Fight or Fight quickly found popularity and led to sold out shows throughout the West Coast and UK. A singer-songwriter by nature, Awbrey balances sardonic critique of politics and culture with measured optimism and witty self-interrogation of her place in the world as a queer woman. Her debut LP, Dishonorable Harvest (Quick Pickle Records), is an unparalleled blend of guitar feedback and pop-infused synth lines, of poetic intrigue and relatable angst.
After a year of touring solo on the back of Fight or Fight, opening for artists like The Beths, Mal Blum, and Japanese Breakfast, Awbrey allowed her life-long fascination with English political punk and rock to lead her overseas. She met and became good friends with CJ Thorpe-Tracey, one of England’s most prized underground political songwriters and someone who Awbrey has drawn inspiration from afar. She also met guitarist Jen Macro (My Bloody Valentine) and Jon Clayton (engineer at One Cat Studio). After returning home and partially recording a few new tracks in Portland with her band, Awbrey left her job as a social worker and went back to London in spring of 2019 for another successful UK tour and to finish recording Dishonorable Harvest with input from the British cohort.
Lauded as “one of the best albums to come through Portland in a long time,” by #WomenCrushMusic, Dishonorable Harvest takes on the personal and the political with songs that are surprising in structure and viscerally sharp in their message. Awbrey’s songwriting is dense, each line a narrative to unpack. Her ability to transcend listeners into the world she creates, formed by lyrical edginess and sonic flexibility, makes her one of Oregon’s most captivating songwriters to emerge in the last five years.
Released on her very own Quick Pickle Records, Dishonorable Harvest is out on international worker’s day: May 1.
Go Fund Me
Amazon Dragons Paddling Club
This is a very special episode of Conversations. I'm talking with my friend Cat De La Paz, a trans Latinx woman who has been successfully working a high level corporate job in the mortgage industry for almost a decade. We talk about her experience being stealth at work, how she lives day to day and her new trans novel in progress, El Fin Del Mundo. Please be forewarned: There is some discussion and comparison of Trump's administration and what was happening in Germany as the Nazis took over, as well as mention of the Holocaust in this episode. In the spirit of full disclosure, this was the second time recording this episode (we talk about this more in the show and may release the first episode at some point). The episode you are listening to now was recorded on March 15, 2020 and we were just on the tip of the coronavirus shutting everything down and were talking about that. Because so much has changed between now and then, that part has been edited out and we have added in commentary before the episode begins.
About her book: El Fin Del Mundo: "It's about situations in my life, but actually I'm exploring a different response than I actually made in my own life."
On Todd Kincannon's 2013 tweet: "I was really interested based on my entire experience of never having been alive when an entire nation paid attention to something that transphobic. That was a turning point for me."
"In 2015 to today, there have been over 300 active legislative laws that went into the House for each state, that were anti-LGBTQ. The majority of them did not succeed. There was resistance which means there is still fight."
"We are still fighting. We are still going out there. We are still winning. That is a moment of hope that should be shared."
On being stealth at her job: "Ultimately it was about safety. For me, the idea of being an open trans woman out in the public sector working as my true self didn't seem reasonable."
"We have to be responsible for those who can't do certain things. And they are responsible for us for the things we can't do either. Collaboration is essential."
"I've been alone. I go to work and talk about the work. I don't talk about my life. I don't talk about my realities. I'm primarily just left alone."
Why Holocaust Analogies are Dangerous
The US Holocaust Museum is Wrong to Deny That Trump's Racism Resembles Nazism
An Open Letter to the Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Take it From a Civil Liberties Professor - Trump and Hitler Have A Lot in Common
'I'm a Holocaust Survivor- Trump's America Feels Like Germany Before Nazis Took Over'
What's in store for us in 2020, astrologically speaking? In this episode, I talk with Diana Mahiques, astrologer and intuitive counselor, about the cosmic energies of 2020 and beyond, how to discern your intuition from your fear and why the critical mass for great transformation is coming.
"I always sensed things. I had precognition about stuff and I had a mother who was very supportive of that."
"As a child, it was scary to be able to sense so much."
"A chart is a blueprint. It's a planetary picture of what you've come here to explore."
"There is always potential to grow."
"The judgement that we carry with us through our lives towards others is unnecessary because people are what they are."
"The choice is basically yours - We are willful beings. We have free will and we can choose to move forward in a positive way, as an evolutionary being or in a negative way as a victim."
"Astrology is a very truthful way of reading patterns. That's really all it is. It's reading patterns and telling the story."
"Watch the movie. Because the movie is what is happening around you."
"Every time you insert yourself in someone's drama or engage in more drama in your life, you're literally creating more karma."
"The heart is an amazing indication of intuition as well as the gut. Both work in tandem. When we feel anxious, it's usually based on fear and past conditioning."
"Everything happens in divine timing. No one should ever question did I do this right?"
Diana Mahiques, an Aries, is a Western Astrologer, Certified Feng Shui Master and Intuitive Counselor with over 25 years of experience and clients all over the US and abroad. She is based in New York City.
Say you're in NYC, running a successful professional services firm and you find out that your business partner has betrayed you. Like in a big time way. What do you do? Mathew Heggem faced this head on and lived to tell the story. Tune in to hear Mathew talk about how this experience changed him, integrity in relationships and some of the tools that has helped him through.
"Somebody needs to be the first to go through. Somebody needs to be the first to pave the way. Somebody needs to be the first fearlessly to move forward through an environment that might not even be known yet and that's exactly what happened for me."
"One thing I learned that has to do with resilience and recovery is sometimes you just have to let go. You don't know the outcome. At all. Period."
"You get up and you do. And you do what you think is right and sometimes you are right and sometimes you make mistakes."
"Getting over this, 'Oh I can do it myself mentality' and asking for help was actually a really big milestone for me."
What is floating and how can it help transform our body, mind and spirit? In this episode, I talk with Dana Highfill, the owner and operator of Float North in Portland, Oregon. As a long time massage therapist with a qigong and meditation practice, Dana talks about the woo and the science behind floatation tanks and how taking care of your body is really, taking care of your spirit.
“I encourage people to go in with no expectations.”
“Things that are rewarding don’t necessarily start off fun.”
“Relaxing is a huge part of healing because when we hold so much tension it really causes us to not be present.”
“When you take care of your body then you can really take care of your spirit. When you take care of your inner knowing, listen to yourself, intuition, creativity – all of those things – come with floating.”
“It can bring up a lot of fears just because there’s the opportunity to get to know yourself.”
“What are you doing for yourself? Investing time, energy and money into yourself gives so many returns. You are your own gold.”
“Being in service is what I’m here to do. It’s also about creating community."
Amazon Dragons Paddling Club
Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Barbara Sher: People are problem solvers! Ask for help!